Let me be ME

LifeCycle of “Like”

I met somebody a few days back, supposedly the one who can look right inside you. It’s scary because the layers that you managed to keep for long are now exposed, you feel naked. But we terminated our conversation with a thought of “What I want .”
Ok, so you are asking a woman what she wants. The most learned people have failed to answer this question what will my tiny brain do? He was triggering the most intricate, unpredictable and complicated thing – a woman’s brain.
Before I could think, “what I want,” my mind wandered and thought hard for “What I like ”
Again, a tricky business. My likes have changed so much since childhood that if I start thinking what I like I’ll need a century to figure that out. I like many things. Yes, materialistic too. Oh! Common I am a woman, and I love dresses, that lovely liner, new matte finish lipstick. I’ll surely try to squeeze myself in a short dress and then blame my trainer for all wrong workout.
I am a woman, and I have full right to blame another person for my folly. I am blessed with this power.
Coming back to what I like.
Let me narrate the lifecycle of my likes.
I have always studied in all-girls school and then all-girls college. Somehow I managed to do my post graduation in a co-ed. Thank god, that’s where I met my boyfriend now my husband else I would have never explored my female sexual side.
In my school, I always liked army girls. I was in a convent school which was in a cantonment area, and we had a lot of girls from the army. I used to find it very royal when they came to school in that truck cum bus. That big huge truck, with stairs at the end, driver, and conductor in army uniform, Wow! I instantly disliked my father. I was always a specy girl and always wore huge, plastic frame glasses which used to cover almost half of my face. I never knew life without glasses. So, I liked the girls with big eyes. They had so much drama around their eye movements.
We had Miss.Braganza type of a teacher named as Mrs. D’Costa, oh man! I was in total awe of that lady. Her short skirts, matching lipstick, hairstyle, speaking English with attitude. Wow!
She used to check us; girls don’t’ walk like this, girls don’t talk like that. Wear your skirts four fingers above the knee. You need a bra ask your mom to get one for you. I liked girls who wore a bra when others were just blossoming.
I liked other girls
As I have grown up in a township and you can’t mess around if you are in this kind of a small setup. One naughty business and parents get to know within no-time. In government townships, everything is rank and caste based. Things might have changed now, but back then an official of a general category was respected more than an official with the much higher rank of a SC ST category. We had our own circle based on the unsaid rules. I chose to like girls who used to wear night suits. Why? Because I used to wear nighty. That long tent, which you keep pulling down even while sleeping because mom said, girls should be all covered. I still wonder how did I obey this?
I also liked girls who used to wear jeans/denim. Why ? because I never did. I got my first pair of jeans in my graduation. I used to love the way legs moved in that pair of my dream dress, the curve of the bottom ( covered mostly). I used to look up to girls who wore tight denim in public gatherings. They were real divas for me, and I used to flutter around them just to have a closer look.
I liked other girls.
Then came college. Well ! what new? Girls again. Ah ! I have seen it all there. Lesbians, girls having a crush on me, someone madly in love with me, flirting with only bald head sir (lucky chap, I must say), girls claiming to my elder sister or mother or some platonic connect or just you, and I types to assure the connect. By this time I was like that child who demanded one ice cream when his /her parents were in a bad mood, and they offered a cup of ice cream with multiple scoops. Same was with me. Just too many scoops in my cup, I inevitably burst. I turned a rebellion. The tomboy in me was now up in full swing. But, what I did? Remember I am still at an all-girls college. With so many girls around a tomboy will stand out, and it did. I didn’t like any girl now and not even the boys. Well ! Poor me, where were the boys?

I didn’t like girls.
Finally, during my post graduation, I had boys in my class. I went to the college with a thought that I’ll see all types of superbikes, macho boys, those punches, boys looking at me and I’ll be like that pond’s girl who would enter the class, and everyone turns their head towards me. I even bought the best smelling Ponds talc and Liril soap. I should not miss any fragrance to allure others .
But , what a crash ! Nothing happened. Just nothing.
Why ? I was still a tomboy. Laughing loudly, riding a geared bike, wearing shoes always even with salwar kameez, very short hair. No upper lip or threading done.
I envied girls who wore terrific dresses, had a long mane, had their lips colored with beautiful pink, had shapely eyebrows, nail paints.
Again, I liked other girls.
After the placement, it was a culture shock for me. From a small town to Mumbai. It happened too fast. I was amazed at the pace of this city. Confident girls, moving out even when it was dark, how they snapped at autowalas, managed their way in the train, wore jeans (my dream pair of legs) with a short top (at times cleavage showing too- cheeky isn’t it ) It was overwhelming. I loved every girl in this city.
I liked other girls.
I finally got married to a guy hence was able to prove my fertility and had two kids. Now, I was overweight, sagged skin, unshaped better to say shapeless body, what was once north found the way southwards.
I loved women who got down of the car in their best looks, smelling good, hair in place, clothes ironed, lovely sandals, designer bag dangling on one arm and a mobile phone in the other.The maid was carrying the child and the baby bag behind. How much I dreamt of walking like that with a high head.
I liked other girls.
God I feel is too smart. He might have heard my mumblings and offered me an all-boys family even my dog. Fooling him is silly. My focus shifted to all-boys stuff. Geared motorbikes to geared cycles, all rough and risk-taking activities. I now focus on my biceps than my lipstick shade. I am cool if I have not waxed myself and I have to wear a short or sleeveless dress. I give a damn to “log kya kahenge” (what will people say ). I aim to get super toned abs for my birthday (my mom doesn’t like this ! )I am comfortable in my skin. Those beautiful girls, wearing stilettoes and walking like stilt walker don’t attract me anymore. I love looking at myself and blow a kiss in the mirror. Too-much-self, if you may call. Then please do, who cares.

What I want will take a while to answer but what I like? I like me.
I like myself. Period.

girls

Sulu : Just like You and me

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Power to dream and fly

Writing in haste else I take few days to finish a blog. I think and rethink, then try on some excellent reference, but this one is a no-brainer. It comes directly from the movie I watched today.
I took my help at home for Tumhari Sulu this afternoon. She was free and was excited to join me. I canceled one of my meetings, and we went for our movie outing.
I loved the entire storyline, acting, drama and the execution. Vidya Balan as ever stole the show. She is fabulous, but I think she should shed some weight (she inspire many women around and keeping good health can be a way forward as well). Sorry, the fitness freak in me sees the tummy and arms bulge first, others can ignore.
The movie talks about the struggle of a woman when she decides to step out to make her mark .The “mark” is a little not-so-accepted-thing. How her own family, leave aside the society discourages her and holds her responsible for all the chaos in her OWN family.
I could relate every moment . I am sure so many of us around can relate too.
Sulu gets a job in what she was good at.
She excels in her work.
She truly enjoyed her work.
She tries to manage everything back home.
She lures her husband as well (which so important).
But still, what she gets? Backfire… from everywhere.
When her son doesn’t behave well, and the school suspends him, the blame is on her. She is asked to leave her job. She is asked to spend time with her son. Take care of the house. Why? Because she is a mother, wife, daughter, homemaker and it is her responsibility to take care of all the errands of the house. She has just started to work, and her salary raise will take time, but she is asked to quit because she is the one who runs the house and without her ,home is a mess.
I thought that when a woman is held responsible for everything, mostly bad- mark it and mainly when it comes to children it is SHE. Just imagine the immense power she holds in herself. The fantastic capability to manage the show yet she is blamed. Her expertise is at the highest level, yet she backfired for her irresponsible management.
I loved a particular scene where the school suspends her son , and his entire clang was blaming her, yet she lifts her bag and moves out for work.
That is the kind of kick-ass attitude a woman must possess.
I also loved a dialogue where she asks her husband, “you are in which team ? mine or theirs ” (“their” are the relatives who were asking her to stop working)
No matter how much she kept the husband in the loop, lured him, gave herself (willingly or unwillingly), it was the husband who doubted her and questioned her work. But thank god, the husband got enlightenment in time else this woman goddess wouldn’t have let anyone come in between herself and her dreams.
The dedication she had for her family, towards her child, husband and household responsibilities is remarkable.
Trust me it hurts when YOU are held responsible,
for poor house management
poor grades of your child
poor tiffin packed for lunch
misbehavior of your child
for not giving enough time to children
being over ambitious
being passionate
But ,
I loved every bit of Sulu.
She is a dreamer
She is a happy soul
She knows her responsibilities
She knows how to keep her man (that’s a tricky business)
She has immense love for her child
She is a dutiful wife, mother, and caretaker of the house
She is outgoing, yet she knows how to keep unwanted men at bay
She is fierce yet beautiful
She is a woman as YOU and ME.

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Chin up ,Ladies !

P.C. www.pragatisharma.com

Power a woman holds in her/ P.C http://www.pragatisharma.com

High five to all the mothers!
Remember you are THE BEST.

I was in a workshop when all of a sudden my phone beeped; I had a message from my younger son with all sorts of angry emoji and text stating that I hadn’t fixed the bottle holder on his new bike.I smiled a little, but instantly I thought where I had kept the screwdriver so that I can set the holder once I am back home. The complete boredom of the workshop fizzed away. I knew my purpose for the evening.
How inconspicuous this purpose is, isn’t it? Fixing a bottle holder becomes my purpose. How stupid is that? The purpose is always BIG and something which gives you a feeling of accomplishment once you achieve it, isn’t it? Well, I’ll talk to you about it.

Without beating much around the bush let me talk about some pervasive mental state which many mothers, new or old, working women and homemakers have shared with me and are seeking a way out.
Mood: anger, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or panic attack
Whole body: fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness
Psychological: depression, fear, or repeatedly going over thoughts
Behavioural: crying or irritability
Cognitive: lack concentration or unwanted thoughts
Weight: weight gain or weight loss
Also common: insomnia
(courtesy Wikipedia)
Dear mommies, young /older moms / working mothers/homemakers, trust me, there is nothing wrong with you. It is just the horrible hormones that are playing the game.
For young mothers, these can be the symptoms of post-partum depression –which we don’t talk because it is unknown. I have been through a very traumatic phase hence I can relate (with experience but not clinically). For other women, it is mental flux.
We women are born with a trait – “to worry about everything and nothing too.” accept it 🙂
Dear ladies, let me tell you that if you have come out of your current negative state, then no one on the planet can help you until YOU want to do it.
Mark this in bold and put it in the mirror to see as the first thing in the morning
I AM, ME

You got married and changed your surname which you carried since birth (few change their name too), with due respect to traditions.
You decided to quit work in the name of motherhood
You chose to devote all your time and energy towards your family and then give an excuse for NO TIME for yourself
It is YOU everywhere.
But, don’t worry you still have time to take things under your control. Sharing how I fought and may help you too:

1. Think of a purpose each day: When you get up each morning, don’t forget to thank the almighty for waking you up alive.I had a near death experience hence I know what it feels to see the fresh sunlight. Think what your purpose of getting up. How it will be different from yesterday. Extract fifteen minutes for yourself before you hit the bed? Think about your day, not about work but what value you added to your life today. How have you grown as a better human being? Each day has something to offer, it depends on you on how you see it. Give time to introspect yourself.
Think, because thoughts become action.

2. Be a ruthless planner: I was told this by one of my dear friends, “you are a ruthless planner.” I thought over it and realized, yes actually I am a very strict planner. Plan your day, your week and even your month.Get yourself organized. Maintain a timetable of your daily routine like getting up, breakfast, house cleaning, Television, afternoon siesta, everything. For working and traveling moms like me sync your calendar with your children’s dairy and school routine. For instance, no matter in which time zone I am going I always keep a check on my kids and house routine. My alarm beeps as per their schedule, and we don’t miss out on anything.

3. Homemakers to treat their job as a corporate work: I was a homemaker for a very long time and was extremely annoyed with my time management. How to fix this? Treat yourself as the chairman of your household. Now make things run around it. Most important, get ready for office timing, dress up well and not into same boring household clothes. Have breakfast with your partner (on time) and allocate time for everything. You are running an organization where you are the master, manage it effectively.

4. Delegate work/hire help: Don’t try to be a superwoman, if you can’t handle then hire a help and delegate tasks. Get some free time for yourself. Even while at home I had three maids coming over for help, I was questioned this every time. It pinched me purely because I was not earning that time and I thought I am wasting my husband’s hard earned money. But I gulped it the way it came to me. I needed help and it ends there.

5. Your partner is not Gautam Buddha, talk to him/her: We very often miss out on the significant part, “communication.” Men will not understand until you scream and tell them, it is in their DNA while women will want men to understand everything without saying a word, it is in our DNA. So until you express what you are feeling how will your partner understand you.

6. Lift weights: I always find it amusing when women share pictures of festivals, celebrating in full fervor but the same women will never show up for a morning run, walk or yoga with the excuse of “too tired to get up this early”. When you can get up at 4 am at karwachauth, can be so meticulous in your festival then why can’t you be disciplined for yourself. Remember, female body deteriorates faster than a male, you need to take care of yourself without any excuse.

7. Be independent: Don’t depend on husband or driver for small chores. Learn to fix a tube light, gas cylinder, depositing the cheque at the bank, online banking, car servicing, etc . Why only kitchen work is for women while outside kitchen is all men? Learn to do everything. I am thankful to my dad and two elder brothers here who never treated me like a girl . I knew how to change spark plug of papa’s scooter, how to charge the car battery, change the fused tube light, lift my bags , banking errands. Be a help to your partner than another luggage to carry . Share your responsibilities.

8. Be financially independent and occupied : Most homemakers get an allowance from their partner to run the monthly household chores . Start saving that money and term it as your salary . Keep asking for a hike too(Oh ! common we can do this ). Get yourself busy. If not for money but to keep yourself mentally occupied. A hobby class , volunteering , blogging or anything creative , take your pick .

9. Give a big tight hug : Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. Hug your children often . It is an excellent exercise to build trust . get intimate with your partner and share a warm hug. Sex doesn’t mean only penetration but cuddling, hugging, laughing together releases same hormones that can give you pleasure.

10. Never sleep over issues : There will be fights and tiffs with children , partner , maids , boss or neighbour but basic rule is – never ever sleep with negativity . If you want to maintain silence and refrain from talking, do it but then find a way to release your negativity. My approach is, I run or lift weights. When you get up the next morning, you should have an afresh mind and a positive outlook towards the day.

I have tried to cover most of the pointers as asked to me but as I always tell myself and to my boys that, “ only hard work and discipline can change your life .”
Discipline your life with one step at a time, and then there will be no looking back. Imagine the power of universe within you. Only you can nurture a living being in you, to give life to the lost sperm and finally shaping it up who everybody later terms as “our” child.
So, dear mommies lift the chin up, walk tall and high, wear those skimpiest clothes, put the brightest lipstick and don’t’ forget to wear your widest smile because it’s your first step towards making the best of YOU.

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“You all have to come home for this Diwali“, ordered mom and you very well know that you can’t mess with mom. So, like very obedient lamb we three brothers and sister adhered to her order.

We generally go for a family holiday during Diwali break and been practicing this for almost three years in a row now. We carry our diya and light it up in the hotel room as a symbolic representation for Diwali.

But this time we made no holiday plans and our flights landed at Bhopal (a city in Madhya Pradesh where my parents live). Just a day after the Diwali break of school, we were ready with our bags and all excited to go home for Diwali.

I was going home for Diwali after thirteen years!

We were the first family to arrive and a day after eldest brother and his family from Delhi were also home.

My boys always get overexcited once they are at their nana’s house, the reason being – “nana, has such a huge house mamma, it’s like a resort.” Space crunched Mumbaikar knows the true value of space and a bungalow seems like a resort. I truly empathize with my boys here.

The resort cum bungalow now had eight adults and six children all in the range from thirteen to five years old, with my niece as the only eldest girl followed by five boys. No brownie points for guessing how noisy, chaotic, WWE favored, football lovers, over energetic and an utter mess it would be for the next couple of days.

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Each day was something different. Dhanteras, choti Diwali and then finally Diwali. We made paper lanterns to decorate the house, Rangoli to decorate the porch in order to impress goddess Lakshmi (most sought-after of all god fraternity). The best part was that my entire gang of hyperactive kids participated in the activity. We sat together, shared our colors, encouraged each other for doing good and it was such a positive environment.

Then came Diwali eve.

We in north India do elaborate Diwali puja and mom looks forward to making it grand. As we all got dressed up for Diwali my boys were quite dazed by all the rituals around. They had almost forgotten the nuances around Diwali puja . Drawbacks of holidaying during Diwali break.

It was a wonderful Diwali eve followed by token phuljhari and sumptuous dinner.

Next day we all went to watch “Golmal Again.” Ok, I agree it was a horrible decision but you see being a parent is not easy and we have to kill our happiness several times for our children and we nicely did it again. Kids loved the movie as well as the popcorns, fighting and quarreling over that last bite as famished, never-seen-food type children. I discounted all this because more than the movie I enjoyed the atmosphere of the movie hall.

It was then I realized the difference between A class and B class city. Sharing my observation.

As we entered the movie although it was INOX it appeared as if it’s a higher version of a small, not so well maintained local theater. Truly, I wasn’t too pleased with the first look. But I was happy to sit next to Som (my husband) all through the movie after a very long time because my boys ganged with their cousins. The movie started and went on without tickling me at all. I wasn’t surprised that all the children of the family were laughing their heart out moreover mimicking each other.

I wasn’t interested in neither to watch nor laugh on the dialogues of the so-called family –blockbuster-rib tickling-movie. Som and I were happy sitting holding hands and talking with each other (which we rarely do otherwise). Moments later, both of us unanimously said, “What a wonderful environment to watch a movie”.

The crowd in the hall was thoroughly enjoying the movie, bursting out in bouts of laughter which I found not even worth smiling. An aged person sitting right behind me seemed paid by Rohit Shetty(Director of the movie) to laugh at each dialogue. The crowd was cheering, getting into loud laughter and eatables were continuously pouring in.

When the movie finished and as we moved out of the hall, I observed that most of the people came in large groups like full family with grandparents and grandchildren as well. They all were happy with the movie and were giggling over the most stupid dialogues I had ever heard.

I came to watch the movie while they came to enjoy.

I came back home and pondered over on why I found the environment of the movie hall so attractive and compared this to movie hall in A grade city.

Movie halls in Mumbai are plush, spacious, best sound effects, best in customer service, a variety of food and very attractive. But I have rarely seen people bursting out in fits of laughter even at funniest dialogues. We are too sophisticated you see. I have not seen big groups coming for a movie. Going solo is very common. I have not even seen or heard people in the hall clapping. (leave aside me because I do this in most of the movies and my husband kind of disowns me for that very moment)

The metros have their own charm to stay but we are largely disconnected with each other giving the reason of hectic work schedule, long distance to commute, busy lives and only a weekend to rest. We run very short on time. Our daily life is mechanical and clocked.

Friends if any rarely talk to each other leave aside meetings. Whatsapp is the only way to communicate that too if one has time will respond. Before a call, we need to ask, “Can I call.” Surprise visits are a total NO. Visiting and exchanging gifts plus savories with neighbors is not a common practice.

Children learn so much with each other which no summer camp can teach. Sharing things, settling their own quarrel, learning to eat on their own, trying new dishes without making a fuss, enjoying their childhood the way they should without being judged or checked, speaking in their comfortable language than being pressurized to speak only in English, wishing Namaste than Hello to guests, pooling in money to get a football for a game than each child getting his/her own football. Listening to all stories from grandparents and the best part to see when their mom is checked and scolded by Nani but she can’t answer back. Finally, they see someone who can do that to their mom!

People are not judged by the kind of clothes they wear or how fluently English is spoken but the manner in which they adjust in a family. Family culture and values are kept at a higher pedestal. Even Som commented that I get fully covered whenever I am in Bhopal. Shorts, sleeveless and hot pants don’t know their existence but it doesn’t bother me as long as I am comfortable in what I am wearing.

Shifting to a B town will be a tough task because of job prospects and various other reasons but celebrating festivals together is a must do. I have silently made a promise to come home for Diwali each year to live and cherish each relation deeply.

 

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The great big family

 

While I was in Europe for work last month both my sons had their exams. I was tensed and it was easily visible in all my actions. While the younger-one is sincere and sat with me to study before the exams but the elder one, who is in his pre-teens refused to agree on the need to study prior to the exams. I tried to explain but he wouldn’t budge from his argument. His logic being, “mom, you only say that you are not after grades then why are you pestering me to study?” well, it is wiser to stop the argument once you know that you have pre-teen on the other side.

I tried to put things in place like craft work needed at school, any projects  done, doctors list on the fridge, menu well explained to cook for all meals, emergency numbers of stationary –wala, grocery store etc. Mothers who travel can very well relate here.

Two days before the travel my younger son fell sick. Being asthmatic he had terrible wheezing attack. The sight of Abhi struggling to breathe was enough to make me panic . We saw the doctor and tried to put things in place. By this time, he had already missed his three exams. Elder one did not take this too well as to why he was supposed to go the school and appear for exams? There was no logic and explanation  given for this and like a very stern mother I ordered – You have to so you have to. There are times when you have to put your foot down on some absurdly irrational arguments.

My flight was at  10.30 pm and even at 6 pm I hadn’t even removed the suitcase from the loft. My mother-in –law was getting hyper and questioned continuously if I had made up my mind or not.I was in a very indecisive state. I never wanted to leave my –although- now- stable -son behind and I couldn’t say “no” to my team as well. I was too overwhelmed by the entire scene around me .

Finally, I sat with Abhi and asked him if I could go, if he would be fine, if he was ok with mamma not being around?

His reply was, “mamma although I want you around but I am much better now and dadu, dida (grandparents), aunty(maid) will be home so I’ll be taken care of . Also , doctor has asked not to go to the school until I am totally fine so, I think you can go”

I thanked my boy for this but knew the bottom line  – Doctor has asked not to go the school until I am fine.

Finally , the eldest boy ,Som my husband told that I could carry on and things are manageable .That confidence was enough for me .

At 7.45 pm I removed the suitcase from the loft , dumped the things in and I was at the airport at 9.30pm

Travel went on fine with lots of video calls , desperate calls , solve-my-fight calls , big brother-is-hitting me calls .

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Then came the day when the doctor allowed Abhi to go to the school and earth came shattering down because it was Hindi test . I got some 10 calls (irrespective of the time difference) that Hindi exam is the toughest thing on the planet and I am responsible for making it worse . With lot of tears and sobs we somehow managed to revise Hindi over video call . Thankyou Vodafone international roaming for the perfect network which I never get in my domestic travels . Phew !! we managed Hindi, although Abhi wasn’t too happy as he is a very meticulous student and wouldn’t take any shortcuts towards learning .

Now , came another bummer . My elder son called up.He doesn’t talk much , because he only speaks through his WWE moves . Anyway after lot of persuasion he didn’t speak much but tears rolled down . I kept asking him but he refused to tell . Well, we mothers have extraordinary sixth sense and I knew the issue . I didn’t tell him anything but told him to be strong and will talk once back . He has crossed the stage of baby talks but as men never grow up and same applies to my 43 yr. , 12 yr. and 8 yr. old boys .All of them need cajoling and sweet mamma talks at times .

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I was home after 10 days . After a customary hug , boys directly jumped to the bag of gifts, which I discounted because I was home like that student who has not fished the homework of the strictest teacher and wondering how to face the situation .

Due to jet lag I slept almost the day and finally when I met them at dinner I had some very heart breaking disclosures :

Abhi ,

“You went leaving me behind even when I asked you not to go”

Me (silently ) my dear boy , you only asked me go and told me that you are better.

“You left me to study Hindi alone”

My (mouth shut) , Yes , I know . You never studied Hindi with me before the exam.

“You are responsible for my poor marks in Hindi”

Sid as ever , refrained from speaking anything . I then used my motherly magic and sweet talked him only to listen , “it is because of you I flunked in geography ”

I took all this with a pinch of salt and felling terribly guilty.

I was anyway swaying due to jet lag and with all the blame game on my head I thought a wonderful red wine will ease out the stress . As if my children read my mind and there they sputtered , “mom, you are on diet and you are into sports, you can’t have wine”

I just grinned as shutting mouth at this moment was very wise .

I was constantly reminded for next few days that I am ONLY person who did not do the duty of teaching , revising and persuading them to study for exams . I am the ONLY person who was responsible for their poor grades .

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It took me around two to three days to come out of my jet lag and flu state .

I got up that morning with a fresh smile , packed them off to school , went for my strenuous gym session , attended not so important calls and mails , heard my mother over a call on parenting and significance of mother in a child’s life .

Once done , I was ready to welcome my children from school. I felt like a wounded soldier who has to give his last shot before succumbing to his bullets .

Over the lunch “I am the only person responsible” issue again came up .

Now , it was my turn . I was pondering over what all my children said over last few days . Cried silently in the pillow , ran faster in the eve , did more crunches , lifted heavier weights to burn it out . But this should be communicated to them – Clear and stern .

I asked my boys to listen to me attentively without cutting me in between .

Here is my speech ,

My dear boys , first I am sorry as I was unable to fulfil your expectation . I am sorry that because of me you got poor marks . I am sorry that I left when you wanted me .

But , tell me something

Did you listen to me when I said that it is always better to study before the exams and not wait till the last moment ?

Did you revise and complete your lessons on time ?

Did you even think that as you have the job to study and go to school, your mother has a job too?

You had so many people around you to take care when you were unwell , who was with me when I was down with flu during my travel ?

Your ONLY work was to study for your test , while my work was to attend all your desperate calls , mange with the cook , follow up on your WhatsApp group as you would not even know what do in the school next day , revise the lessons with you over video call , mange my work and team .

It is very easy to blame your mother for your failure but did you even try to put in  best effort ?

I would like to make it very clear , that your mother has a job which she loves the way she loves you both . My work will make me travel but that doesn’t mean I am irresponsible . My work and commitments will increase over the coming years and we all have to accept it . Blaming me for your poor performance  is not accepted . I am deeply hurt by your words . I thought I have two very sensible, intelligent and cooperative boys but you proved me wrong . I would expect more understanding when I travel next even during your exams . Let’s work it out together boys .

Phew!!!! I said all this in one go. Perks of being a national rank holder in debates and elocutions you see .

There was a silence for few minutes . we looked into each other’s eyes for a while and with a deep breath my younger one said , “but mamma , you can’t travel when our exams are on”

I smiled slyly because I knew whatever I narrated above will be reaped again.  I’ll keep on giving this speech until they get it crystal clear.

If you are 21th century kid and then I am also 21th century mom, bring it on!

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The two things which I love the most as they let people move forward without any wastage are books and bicycles.

“When you want something, the entire universe conspires in making happen for you”

Something similar happened with me.

The itch to ride

I suffered my first major fall from my bike on 19th March, 2016 as I remember the fateful day of my operation. It was the day when my right arm was operated upon, so as to insert a metallic plate for treating my broken bone. The accident just broke my bone not my spirits, as I was back on the saddle with the support of my fellow group riders after a prolonged recovery. To fight my fear and to face it eye to eye, I rode through the same spot on 5th November 2016. But the fate didn’t want me to defeat my fear this time on the way back a bike banged me from behind. I almost flew and landed with a thud on the right side of the body and got dragged for a distance. This one left me with almost three weeks of limping, bruises and lower back injury. When I look back at 2016, it was a year witnessing some major falls and some painful recovery period too. I was itching to get up brush off the past, and get back on my saddle to ride towards happiness. It was not easy though, the pain and the fear to fall again started sinking in my psyche too.

I was in Delhi for work in January, 2017. It was then that I shared my will to ride again, with my cycling buddies in the city. Passionate people have a different kind of enthusiasm and energy around, which never fails to attract me, so were these  riders and I was already in for a nice, long ride with them. Sai Pratyush ,my rider buddy in Mumbai helped me selecting the best bike for my ride and coordinated with Mukund of Mastermind Bike studio for the right fit for me . But this time I wanted my ride to stand strong for a cause, and I chose ‘Mental Health’ for the same, as it was close to me in many ways.

The three important men (senior and the juniors) in my life came in full support (read hubby and boys). But my little one had some sincere advice to pass on as I buckled up for the ride. He considerately said, “ride properly mumma , don’t’ have a fall this time ”.

I also shared my fear with one who is the force behind me picking up endurance cycling, Rajesh Kalra and as he always says.”Just Do it” and I was determined to DO IT!

Obstacles

It is rightly said, the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. There were few obstacles in our path too, so as to make our journey more glorious may be.  The tougher one came out to be the already stirred jatt andolan across Haryana. We were to pass through the most active belt of andolan (protests). We made up our minds to ride through and take a call regarding the completion as per the situation confronted.

All other obstacles were a passé. I had to face the major one: fear of rising on streets and downhill (courtesy my previous falls). I mentioned this to Saurabh (one of my riding partners) and he assured me that I’ll be fine. I took his assurance.

So, it was all set and I was ready to fly to Delhi on 2nd March 2017.

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Bike all packed and ready to fly at Mumbai Airport

Day 1 (3rd March 2017) Delhi to Kurkshetra

3rd March 2017, the day decided for the commencement of our ride and also the day to defeat all my psychological fears. Our ride was flagged off from India gate at 5.30 a.m. I and Saurabh took a deep breath, sat on the saddle and soon we were zooming through Delhi streets. So, here we were riding for a cause and we were enjoying it. The first halt happened to be at Murthal, which is precisely remembered by us for the yummy paneer parathas. Saurabh constantly accompanied me to comfort me against my fear. The weather was pleasant, making our ride an enjoyable and fantastic one. Halting at fields, clicking pictures, interacting with the local people and sipping sugarcane juice helped in smoothing our ride. By the time we reached Kurukshetra in the evening, we were dead tired. A comforting shower helped in relieving the physical tiredness. Yummy Punjabi food satiated our hunger and was a perfect full stop for the day. My inner self was already patting my back and I was thinking, “Yay, I could cycle on the highway. It was a battle which I think I was slowly conquering”.

Day 2 (4th march 2017 ) Kurukshetra to Ludhiana

We started the day at leisure as the distance to be covered was less. As usual we had our amazing paneer parantha to kick start our ride. What we thought to be an easy ride turned out to be the most treacherous one. It was very strong head and cross winds that were not allowing us to pedal ahead. We were pedaling very hard, forcing ourselves to move forward but we realized that we were cycling at snail’s pace. All this made us stop at several halts; we had to continuously sip water, drink sugarcane juice, even ORS (to keep ourselves hydrated). We pedalled with all our might after every stoppage. We kept on noticing the trees on the roadside bending with the winds, which made us realize the strength of the air currents.

Goodness finds a good cause itself, similarly Mr. Karanveer Singh and his group found about our ride on the social media. He and his team greeted us with guava juice and also a lot of encouragement. After battling the winds it was such a delight to meet Mr.Karan and his group.

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Mr.Karanveer Singh and his group

We finally reached Ludhiana by evening. Our stay arrangements couldn’t be done due to short notice, but help poured in from all sides. One of my rider friends in Mumbai, Swati Sablok’s father, Mr.Jagdeep Sablok, came forward to help us. We couldn’t thank him enough for the way he took care of us like his own children.

He received us at Ludhiana entrance and then took us straight to a cycling expo. The expo was quite wide spread and as soon as we entered the expo we were greeted by Ludhiana cycling club. We were easily recognized as cyclists firstly because of our attire and secondly with dirt all over us. It was fantastic to meet this super energetic group and all our tiredness due to our ride fighting the vicious winds vanished in thin air (ironical).

We then headed to the guest house to call it a day (a very tiring but enriching day).

Day 3 (5th March 2017) Ludhiana to Amritsar

Our tired bodies rested well and we started early. It was the second last day of our ride, and we were super excited to reach Amritsar. The route was beautiful, while the weather favoured our movement. We had a different zing in our ride today (today being the concluding day). The excitement of completion of our journey, made the hard hitting winds from all directions, quite bearable on this day. We chatted, ate good food, stopped at several places and pedalled faster every time Saurabh chanted encouragingly, “Chal puttar pedal maar”.

An old saying goes like, birds of same feather flock together, may be this is the reason we could get to meet passionate riders like us every time. We were lucky to spot few riders wearing fluorescent orange jerseys riding in the wee hours. We stopped them to inquire about their club if any. They informed us about their club called Jalandhar Cycling Club.

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With Jalandhar Cycling Club members

They lead us to Haveli, a wonderful huge open restaurant serving most delicious north Indian food we ever had. The morsels satiated our tummies, taste buds and even souls with their taste. We then bid good bye to them as we had to reach our destination.

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Breakfast at Haveli near Jalandhar

 As mentioned earlier too, the vibe attracts the tribe, so were we attracted to so many amazing cycling groups on our way. The experience was enriching as a rider.

 We reached Amritsar by evening and were greeted by the gates of the huge and pious Golden temple. Yes, the long stretch of the ride was over!

We visited the Golden temple in the evening to seek blessings and had sumptuous food at brothers dhaba. As the day came to an end at the peaceful and blissful gates of Harminder Sahib, we were the happiest souls around that day.

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For all the blessings at Harminder Sahib

Day 4 (6th March 2017) Amritsar to Wagah Border

The final lap was the shortest, hence we were totally relaxed. We started late and started to ride after moving out of the city.  We drove for a distance and then assembled our bikes to ride towards Attari. As our fate was with us throughout the ride, we met another set of riders from Amritsar cycling club. We enjoyed tea together before heading towards the border. Mr. Harminder joined us to the border, as we approached the partition line we beheld the huge Indian flag hoisting with pride up in the sky. The feelings fall short for words and can’t be ever expressed verbally. While we approached the border, I was overwhelmed with the completion of our journey.

Yes, I did it and we did it !

Take Away

This ride was mind over matter for me. I was able to overcome if not all but few of my fears and undoubtedly Saurabh , my co-rider played a major role in making me complete the ride by his encouraging words. He made me draft behind him when head winds were hitting us , he slowed down with me when he saw that I was exhausted , he did not bother about his strava average but rode along with me irrespective of the speed . I owe you a lot Saurabh !

Excuses come handy but to make things happen what it takes is – WILL

Family , children , home , responsibilities  , social image , duties ,expectation will never leave but to find a way out from all this and live for your passion is the key .

 Get up and move! Do it !

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End of the ride ,at the border with India Flag flying with all pride

P.S: Special thanks to Apollo Hospital , Sledgehammer Foundation , RiteBite ,DNA,Poineer ,My Powai for coming in full support in very short time .

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“Do you want mamma to slap you? Do you?”

Another round of silent yet loud enough  sobs.

I could hear the hard thud, the shouting and the sobs again kind of making a repeat sequence .

This is almost every day routine that I hear before going to bed.

I stay in Mumbai and no matter how big or small the houses are, our one bedroom window will overlook the living room of the other flat. So, only way to stay within our privacy is to keep the curtains drawn .

Curtains are the barrier in viewing but not listening.

Every night before retiring for the day when I enter  my bathroom for the last round of brushing I hear this on n off . It  lasts  for few minutes for maybe more but I never had the courage to hear it for long .Other day the shouting and sob cycle went for a little longer . I stood there in the bathroom  frozen as if there was flashback going in front of me on the huge mirror in my bathroom .

I was 26 when I delivered my elder son. Too overwhelmed by first time motherhood I tried to do and get  the best for him. Right from imported diapers to a particular bottle feeder, softest clothes, cutest shoes and what not. But something was not right . I was constantly dissatisfied, angry , screaming , panicking , OCD , all my expressions and emotions were on the extreme side .

Sid was two and a half years old when he started his playschool in Gurgaon. It was a very child friendly school. I was happy but I think after a while teacher’s weren’t’. I had constant complaints that Sid was pushing , hitting , screaming and fighting with other children .I tried every possible way to explain him but things were not going fine . I was clueless.

It was about time to move from Gurgaon to Bangalore where my younger one was born .I was 29 then.

Things didn’t change much or  I was so occupied with two kids that  I didn’t pay much heed towards my thought process . Husband had erratic working hours and he had a guest appearance in the house . I was in a zombie state throughout. But, something was still not right.

Well, again it was time to move from Bangalore to Mumbai . We moved to a high-rise on 14th floor and we had a huge common balcony running across all rooms. Sid and Abhi were around 6 and 2 years by then.

One fine evening I was standing in the balcony with Abhi in my lap and Sid sitting and playing with his toys.An instant thought occurred to jump from the fourteenth floor with my boys. Shiver ran down my spine and there was a complete blackout. I have no memory of what happened next but what  I remember is ,that I was  sitting in my living room with Sid and Abhi clinging to me. I didn’t jump! Since, then I have developed extreme fear of heights. 

My situation was alarming.

Things were not fine. No, they weren’t at all. I was concealing my issue under the excuse of being over occupied.

I was under huge depression. I now knew it well .

But, why depression? Who to talk ,share or discuss?

Husband? Poor thing, he was clueless himself. Long working hours and then children taking all the time where was the scope to sit and explain. But I remember I kept on telling him that something is wrong with me. He used to come home complaining that either my car was unlocked or the window is left open or the door key is left outside. I had no answer.

I had to take charge of myself but how?

I started reading on my symptoms and relating each reaction to a particular episode. Very soon that I knew I was going through huge postpartum depression .

Suddenly, there was a knock at my door. It was my younger one asking me to come out of the bathroom.

I knew exactly what was going on in that house.I wonder no mother can harm her child until n unless she herself is under some problem .

A woman goes through lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy and post-delivery. Hormones could be monstrous or blessing. Mines were monsters. postpartum depression is not well-known; less talked, misunderstood and many times goes unattended.

I vented out my entire depression on a soft target – my son. What a horrible mother I have been? My poor baby bore the burnt and I had no idea for my uncalled behaviour.

Well, things were to go fine now. I started taking care of myself very well. I would not be ashamed if I say, I became selfish.

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Few troubleshooting strategies I adopted, sharing them here:

  • I listened to my body and mind , no one knows you better than yourself
  • I had MY time. Extract time for yourself – JUST YOU. Things will work as they are even if you are not around. You cannot make everyone happy every time, after all you not chocolate fudge!
  • I started loving myself. Love your body. Work hard on it, sweat it off, let it get dirty, pamper it. Put that liner, kajal and go out for a run. Wear the brightest red lipstick and go out in dirt. Give a damn shit to “others ”
  • Children will grow and move on, what will you do then? Get involved in anything of your choice that may or may not give you gainful employment but will keep you mentally engaged.
  • Talk and talk it out don’t keep the negative thoughts or feeling to yourself.
  • Everything can’t be perfect and why to even aim there ,be there where the fun is ? Be easy in life , in household , with children and spouse
  • If the last bite of your favourite dessert is left , ask you children to share with all the family members.Why do you have to be Mother India and sacrifice your bite?
  • Laugh the loudest ,gladly flaunt that cleavage , wear what you wish to without taking body shape into consideration , just be YOU

Depression has nothing to do with being mentally unstable but it’s more to do with emotional instability. Get a companion or better be your own companion.I strictly follow flight instructions for myself – “Before saving others wear your oxygen mask first”

It’s just one life we get, live it the fullest and the way YOU like it.