The Wailing Wall

This is the post excerpt.

wailing wall
The Wailing Wall

My first post…I had imagined this moment much before I got around to actually do it. I had expected it to be bright and sunny or just plain funny but doesn’t look like its gonna be any of this.

The term wailing wall has always intrigued me. Literally it means a place to weep. And today this blog serves that purpose. Why do we need a wall to weep against. It would be so much more convenient to weep on a shoulder. May be because that shoulder howsoever empathetic, sympathetic still belongs to a person who can think and hence judge. And we also have to be on the receiving end of words of advice which even if well intentioned, do not mean much. Sometimes all we need is  a good cry and what better than to have a designated wall to do so.

The bucket of self esteem that all of us carry has to be filled to the brim so that the world cannot poke enough holes to make it dry. And the holes that the world pokes…oh my God. In the face of so much negativity how long do you stand with your chin up. Smile through your tears. Some days when your defences are down , which is bound to happen, the world pounces on you. It is then that you allow yourself a good cry, then gather your wits and wisdom and struggle to stand.

This is where the wailing wall comes useful. Wail and it shall absorb and you do not have to worry about a reaction.  Newton’s law not withstanding. Believe me it works. Let me know if it did.


My Daughter And I- Our Goals for 2019


Making resolutions is something we all do and most if not all, also end up NOT sticking to them. Yours truly is no exception to that and fed up of my ways, in 2018 I finally ‘resolved’ that this would be a ‘no-resolution-year-for-me’.

If I say it took a weight off my shoulders, that would be an understatement. 2018 was a very unpredictable year, with so many changes and transitions and I quite enjoyed the adventure that came with going with the flow. Hopping off the resolutions’ bandwagon allowed me a vantage point to look at my life as an observer. The year taught me a lot and for 2019 I am distilling that wisdom to form resolutions for my daughter and myself, not just for this year but for life. In no particular order, here they are,

Move out of the comfort zone

We literally did. So, this is the year we try out things you have never done before. A different music genre, a musical instrument, a new sport or a new language, anything that stokes the fire inside us.


Moving out necessitated decluttering. As I threw away stuff I didn’t need, I resolved to throw away the negative emotions and the people that I don’t need either. For my girl the resolution is not to let such influences creep into her life.

Spend time outdoors

Soak in the sun and savour the breeze. Cut down on screen time and relish the wonderful screen that God has created. Observe and learn from it.

Write more but Read even more

As I took to writing, I realised it was taking me away from my first love- reading. Not only that, as a writer also I should be reading. Whatever the reasons, this year I have a to-read list ready for both of us.

Rely on your intuition

If it doesn’t feel right it ain’t right. As Rumi said, your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. This is something I especially want my girl to work on. I truly believe it to have talismanic proportions.

Be an improved version of yourself.

In a rat race, even if you win you are still a rat. I wouldn’t be able to bear seeing my daughter as one. I keep telling her that she is her benchmark. Comparisons are a waste of time.

Eat healthy and sleep enough

My food habits are fine but my sleep pattern is disastrous. And unless I spruce my act, I cannot be expecting my girl to. So that’s a box I necessarily have to tick.

And finally,

Be yourself and Love your own company

Our circumstances have pushed us in a corner where we often find ourselves alone. Both of us are figuring out ways to connect with ourselves and enjoy it.

It’s a tough task we’ve set ourselves up against but these are some resolutions I intend to stick to, if not for myself, for my daughter.

This write up is part of a blog train that is being hosted by www.prernawahi.com, www.vartikasdiary.com and www.mothersgurukul.com, sponsored by Pandora’s Box and Recipe Dabba. I chose to write on the topic ‘Honey I grew up the kids – resolutions not just for me but my kids too!’



Uri- Strikes a chord



Disclaimer: I am a die-hard fan of Vicky Kaushal so if he is a part of any project, I have to watch it and I have to love it, right from Masaan through Manmarziyan to Uri.

With that confession out of the way, Uri is based on the 2016 surgical strike that was carried out by the Indian army in retaliation to the attack on Army headquarters at Uri, killing and injuring many Indian soldiers. It portrays the army men in as realistic manner as is possible trying its best to steer clear of any jingoism. I have always been amazed as to what motivates people to join the armed forces, knowing fully well the risks involved. And even more amazing is how they remember to smile and laugh through it all. A small party scene captures this zest of theirs beautifully.

Vicky Kaushal owns the movie from the word go. His silences, his measured words, his emotions make us believe in the character of Major Vihaan that he’s playing.

The look and feel of the movie are slick and very real. We’ve come a long way from the sandese-aate-hain days though we still have a long way to go if we compare it with a movie like Zero Dark Thirty, a movie I was reminded of when I watched this one.

There are moments and snatches where the movie shines. Like when the little niece let’s out the war cry or when Kaushal stifles his tears, on the loss of a friend who was family, to finally vent it out in the moment when he kills the terrorist directly linked to the Uri attack.

There is no romantic angle whatsoever, thank the lord, and both the actresses stand out in their small roles. Wish they had been given some more scenes especially Kirti Kulhari who is so convincing as the widow Seerat waiting in the wings to prove herself. And then there is Mohit Raina, who is someone I shall be looking out for in the future.

The political angle in the backdrop, again thankfully, doesn’t overshadow the achievements of the army. As an actor Paresh Rawal is always a delight. Rajat Kapoor doesn’t have much of a role but you don’t mind that.

The background score is brilliant and so is the music with some inspiring lyrics that linger with you even after you have left the theatre.

What’s left to be desired is probably that they have oversimplified the plotting and the actual strike. They have deviated a bit from the original events in an attempt to entertain but may be a little more detail would have made it more interesting.

I recommend the movie for two reasons, one is Vicky Kaushal (obviously) and the other is in deference for the Indian army.

Pic courtsey: Filmibeat.com

From A Princess To A Karmyogi- A Tribute

She was lovingly named ‘Raj Kumari’ (princess) by her parents. Their first born, she was born with the proverbial silver spoon, and was pampered silly by all. Growing up in the pre partition era, she must have known what abundance meant. But when random lines were drawn, her entire family, immediate and extended was advised to make the move. Comply, they did, but in return had to give up everything they had…to find themselves cooped up in refugee camps in what we call India now.

For a nine year old girl, life as she had known, vanished into thin air. What they must have taken for granted back home, was now a luxury. Making ends meet was an uphill task but the family managed. They were relocated to a small town where her studies couldn’t be continued so she was packed off to a relative’s place where it was possible.

These were way too many changes for a young girl to take in and she gave up somewhere on the way and went on to get married as most girls around her were, too. She deeply regretted dropping out on her education but life was moving at its pace. When a cousin of hers picked up her books, that was probably the inspiration she was looking for. But with two kids in tow, life was tougher than ever before. Her parents were supportive and took the responsibility of the younger one who was just a toddler. Though in the same city, she would meet him only on weekends. Mondays used to be painful but she trudged along with the support from her husband and her parents.

In all these years, school was no longer where she had left it. The curriculum had changed and now English was a ‘must-know’. It is difficult for us to visualise but for someone who had never read a word in English, it could might as well have been Greek and Latin for her. Tutors were tried but it turned out to be a morale breaker at which point her younger brother took the responsibility of teaching her the language. The young girl, now a mother of two, would pore over her books, dawn to dusk and finally managed to finish school. No mean achievement that, but not one to rest on that, she pursued higher education. To cut a long story short she eventually became a teacher and with great pride she would tell me how her batch of students turned out to be the brightest ones. I have met some of her students and the effusiveness and warmth with which they spoke about her was proof enough of what an amazing teacher she must’ve been.

What I often remember about her is her indefatigable zest for life and the courage to try new things. She was a social being, sometimes pushy but she could charm her way through it. She just couldn’t sit still or idle. There was always something that needed to be done. Up at dawn, she would be on her toes all day. She was always in a tearing hurry, may be because all she wanted was everything! A perfectionist to the core, once she undid a whole sweater that she had knit and redid all of it again! Why? Because she didn’t like the way the design had turned out. There was not a single lazy bone in her.

She was the usual woman-next-door, though I would say she was always quite well turned out. She took great care of her long black tresses and skin and did indulge herself there.

All her life I observed her closely, loved her dearly and acknowledged the traits that I mentioned but somehow beautiful wasn’t one of them. It was only when she left us all, one night, in the same hurry as she lived, that I realised there was so much more to her. In the prayer ceremony, that followed her death, a few days later, I heard people talking about her with so much love and warmth. They narrated how she had touched their lives, sponsored marriages of orphan girls and had pledged her eyes.

That day, I realised, I never knew this ‘ordinary’ lady, who was my maasi (my mother’s elder sister), and that was the day I saw her as truly beautiful.

My regret always would be that I took her for granted, assuming she would be there always. It does make me happy that she was very proud of the fact that I was a doctor and would often publicly proclaim that I was one of her favourite girls. She was one of my biggest cheer leaders. I would wave it away casually then but secretly glowed in the attention.

How I wish I could tell her in as many words that I love her and I miss her! I’m not new to loss but somehow her absence, the suddenness of the loss, it has had no closure for me. And hence here I am paying my tribute to her in a way that I know best.


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Sister Act

#SiblingStories is a Blog Train hosted by varmaila in association with brand #angtatva. In this blog train, thirty-six bloggers are coming together to travel on the Blog train for #SiblingTalk, down the memory lane to talk about their most cherished memories with their siblings. Hop on to the train with us to be a part of this beautiful journey.

I am Dr. Shivani Salil, a Clinical Microbiologist professionally, now exploring the writer in me, as it brought me the contentment I was looking for. When I came across #SiblingStories, I knew I had to be on board, the topic of siblings being close to my heart. I thought this would be a smooth sail for me to write but when I actually got down to penning it, I realised I have bitten way more than I can gulp down. How do I squeeze in the thirty eight of my forty-one years that I have shared with my baby sister??

To begin from the beginning, I was three when I came face to face with this little bundle, eyes tightly shut and fists clenched, as if she was angry to have been brought into the world. But she was MINE and the only thing I remember from that first hospital visit is pure joy. In my three-year-old innocence, I had assumed that the moment she is home, I will have a play pal. Of course, I was disappointed but I just couldn’t leave her side because everyone who’d visit us would mock threaten me, “Hum isko apne saath le jaayenge(We will take her along with us). Mock or not, potent it was. Potent enough to make me sacrifice my play time even. I am told, it was only on my mother’s reassurances over days that I finally left her side.

Early on, I realised that I couldn’t boss her or order her around. What did the trick however was that if I spoke to her nicely, the same thing could be achieved in a jiffy. (I have my mother to thank who gave me this secret talisman to deal with her). We had our squabbles but never a major showdown, nothing dramatic to report here. And whatever little it was, just lessened further since our mother refused to play the referee. She would say, she didn’t want her hands dirty with what she called ‘Koyale ki dalali(dealing with coal). Because every time we had a fight, we would get back together soon enough but she would be labelled the villain by the one whose side she didn’t take. With no one to intervene, the fights lost their charm soon enough for us to give them up.


Growing up, we couldn’t have been more different, we are in fact the poster girls for the theme ‘Chalk and Cheese’, especially considering that both of us come from the same gene pool. If I was the extrovert, she was the proverbial introvert. I was the tall girl, with thick straight hair and an unusually long nose (a la Pinocchio) and she was this little delicate wisp of a girl with wild medusa curls…you get the drift. But don’t get fooled by those looks, beneath that exterior calm, she hides a storm. I was the protective big sister alright… I was supposed to be. But you mess with me and you get to deal with her which ain’t something you’ll relish. People who think I overshadow her just because I am the more vocal one …. uh huh… wrong again. Once she famously confided in our mother, “It’s a good thing I have a nice didi.” And before our mom got a chance to bask in the warmth of that moment, she quipped, “Good for her, else I would have squared her anyway!” So there!! No ambiguities. But our apparent differences never translated into sibling rivalry. We have always revelled in our differences. If anything, it made us a good team.

We were fortunate to grow up in the eighties because times were simpler, evenings were longer because the distractions were less, the never-ending summer vacations with those sleepy Doordarshan’s ‘dopahar ki sabha’ shows…. I cannot explain what charms they held for us but we talked, laughed and bonded big time. That is something I often find lacking in today’s siblings. Talking of vacations cannot be complete without those holiday homework projects that she hated and crazily enough I loved. So, I would end up doing mine AND hers as well. She still doesn’t get it how and why did I do them so willingly. All of these tiny bits make our relationship what it is. She’s that one person with whom I have shared my childhood secrets and my grown-up dreams, something that neither my parents or my husband can ever be privy to.


I have to mention those sickening ‘Do-behane-bhai-nahi-hai-kya?’ moments. I have lost count of the times my sister and I have confronted that question. We’ve had those intruding eyes searching here and there as if expecting a ‘bhai‘ to spring out any moment like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat. Though neither of us missed having a brother, but Rakshabandhan would be particularly painful or rather irritating. I would just want to get it over it. As kids our mother would bring us threads so we could tie it to each other. I remember asking her once if she misses having a brother. She shot back, “I have you to protect me. And you seem to be doing a good job. Don’t really need a brother for that.” Her answer still warms my heart. Who would trade this for anything else in the world? And it’s not just I who’s protected her, but she’s has had my back ever since I can recall. She’s been my rock of Gibraltar in some of my very dark periods. She gets me like no one else can.


Her opinion and approval matters to me, sometimes even more than my parents. She approved of my then-boyfriend-now-husband and it did wonders to my confidence thinking I had her ‘blessing’. (The one before him, whom she didn’t approve of, became an ex soon after). She’s my sibling, mischief partner, friend, confidante and cheer leader all rolled into one.

God up there was kind to us that both of us ended up in Mumbai, post marriage. It brought us closer and the best part was that it gave my daughter and my nephew a chance to know each other. They have a different equation altogether, a Tom-and-Jerry situation to be exact. Can’t live with, can’t live without…. The most baffled is our mother who tends to compare our relationship with theirs, which is futile. What I really love about the little ones is that my daughter takes after my sister and a lot of people confuse my nephew to be my son. No reason why, but it does give me a nice warm feeling.



I’ll end there before I start on this pair. I shall leave that for another time. May I thank Sayeri Bhattacharya for introducing me. And I now need to pass on the baton to Princy Khurana who shall be posting her blog today ( clanpedia) and Kalpana Mannivannan who is a teacher, a new age farmer, a blogger and lord only knows how mant hats she’s hiding in there. She blogs on lazysummerdiaries

Out goes Mc Flurry as in comes Mom’s Smoothie- How I get my child to eat healthy

As mothers, it’s natural for us to obsess over our kids’ food habits, their intake, their likes and dislikes. My concern notwithstanding, I personally didn’t want my conversations to center around food. “Khana khaya, kya khaya, kab khaya?” ……you get the drift. So subconsciously I wanted to steer clear of that stereotype. Another reason was that in the past few years, childhood obesity has become a bigger problem than nutrition. And probably our food obsession is to be blamed for that, partially at least. On one hand we advise older people to eat like children which means not to eat if we are not hungry and on the other hand we spend considerable energy in stuffing our children’s mouths for fear ki kahin hamara bachcha kamzor na reh jaaye.

The strategy of not fretting over food has worked well for us in many ways. For one, my daughter is in touch with her hunger center so even if it’s her favourite junk food, she never goes overboard. Our fridge may be spilling with chocolates and goodies but she will take only sparingly. Secondly, now as she’s growing older she feels more in charge as a decision maker. This definitely does not mean that we are taking food lightly. There have been certain ground rules that we stick to

  • The rules apply to all of us, age no bar.
  • Whatever’s on the plate essentially needs to be finished. No excuses, absolutely none. And that includes spinach and methi and dill leaves and all those veggies we snort at
  • If we are planning to pig out we balance it with eating healthy BEFORE that meal. Because let’s face it, all of us crave for junk.
  • Fox nuts and peanuts are the go-to options for snacking
  • I encourage my daughter to have warm water even if she doesn’t have a sore throat. In fact, warm water seems to keep it at bay.
  • I have an unshakable faith in our traditional cooking so some things just stay in our kitchen. My daughter has to have a spoonful of desi ghee (clarified butter) in every meal.
  • Eat seasonal and local.

Besides the general stuff there is some specific stuff that I have recently added. We have recently moved to Hong Kong and still finding our feet. There’s a major shift in the food scene and a lot of stuff that we took for granted in India is either not available or its too expensive and the quality isn’t the same. So, we browsed through the supermarket aisles to look for potential replacements. My daughter though not picky with veggies, changes colours when it comes to fruit.  Here are two recipes I have come up with, which go well with my no-fuss-cooking mantra but still makes the cut on the nutritional index.

Very Berry Smoothies

I discovered that the supermarket shelves are loaded with berries of all imaginable colours. Strawberries, raspberries, cape gooseberries, green and black grapes, blue and black berries…you name it and they have it. And though they may not have our greens, they have quite a handful of their own. They have kale, Chinese spinach, bok choy, all sorts of lettuce and what have you.

So, what do I do? I mix all the berries, add any two greens, a pinch of cinnamon powder and squeeze some lemon and blend it all with as little water as possible. Drink it without straining. If you like it colder, refrigerate it for a while, though not too long. Somehow, I am a little paranoid on consuming it fresh. You can make the same smoothies as per the regional availability. Mix any two greens and any two fruits. If its melons you are using, then stick to melons. Back home I had a soft spot for mint because I really love the flavor and curry leaves for their health benefits. You can juggle around for variety and till you hit the sweet spot.

Raw foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are great for the gut while improving the oral health on the side.


Nutty Buddies

There’s another bounty that I hit upon here, and that’s the variety of nuts and seeds. Apart from pistachios we have hazelnuts, pecan, sunflower, melon and pumpkin seeds. Dry roast them and while still warm grind them with an equal amount of organic jaggery. Roll the mixture into small balls and voila we have laddus that pack a mean punch.


As I am on my discovery trail, much to the despair of my daughter, I hope I’ll keep coming with more such stuff. So, let’s watch this space for more. To Happy and healthy eating……….


May I thank Shipra Trivedi  for introducing me. She is chronicling her journey as a working mother while she juggles between family and office. you can read what she writes on www.vibhuandme.com
May I also introduce Shruti C Thakkar who is a homemaker, a mother, an experimental blogger, Financial Enthusiast and an educationist. She loves to cook, is a yoga Practitioner, she paints and makes DIY stuff. Follow her on  https://creativepencilblog.wordpress.com


I am participating in the ‘Get Fit, Stay Fit’ blog party with Bon Happetee!Hosted by
First Time Mommy
Aesha’s Musings
Kreative Mommy



Mumbai Taught Me How To Love and Live

When I landed in Mumbai roughly fourteen years ago, I was lost. Lost and scared. The first thing that greeted me, were posters splashed across the city, with ‘Mi Mumbaikar‘ (I’m a resident of Mumbai) written in red. Whatever Dilliwaala bravado that I may have claimed to possess, evaporated. I felt as if it was a way of telling me, I didn’t belong here…… As if these posters were asking me to leave.

If it wasn’t for my MD, I would have probably taken the next train back. However, I did make a mental note to do just that, the moment my studies got over. Fate however had other plans for me. Cupid struck and I was stuck in the city, for better or worse…… and my best laid plans were laid to rest.

Today that I pack my bags to leave this city, it tugs at me and wouldn’t let me go. As I look back I can say this city taught me a lot of things. Here in no particular order is some of the stuff Mumbai taught me, sometimes against my will (one for every year of my stay)

1. Let there be peace

This one exasperated me in the beginning. No one seemed to want to fight. Initially I thought what wimps they were or were they just too lazy. Come to Delhi, and I’ll show you what a good fight is. Over time I realised that they knew something I didn’t, at that time at least. I admit that this seemingly chaotic city has paradoxically made me calmer.

2. If it is to be its up to me

I have witnessed a deluge, train blasts and a terrorist attack during my stay here, not counting the yearly monsoon travails and the occasional stampedes. Every single time, the city comes together on the streets to help out those in need. The administration will take its sweet time but you will see make shift shelters in areas of worship, schools and similar institutions. What keeps them motivated, God only knows but this spirit rubs on to you and before long you find yourself opening your hearts and the doors to your home to total strangers.

3. Chalta hai

Again, a tough lesson for a control freak like me. Never mistake it for lackadaisical attitude. It only means take life in your stride and things will fall in place.

4. Work ethics

If you have worked here once, you would find it tough to work in any other city of the country, if I may daresay. The kind of professionalism and the willingness to work as a team is exemplary which any number of soft skill workshops just cannot teach you. If your cook tells you she’ll be there at 6 in the morning, choose to believe her. And don’t expect too much small talk because she’ll have committed the next slot to another household.

5. Less gas more content

More or less a continuation of the above point but it’s a trait that cuts across all strata and boundaries. As outsiders we may find their no-nonsense attitude very dry but when they deliver the goods, you have no reason to complain.

6. Humour

Ah…. humour here is all pervading and you’ll find all genres- slapstick to wit, from dark to self-deprecating and from observational to wry humour. And this humour is protective in a lot of ways to help survive in this tough city. If you don’t find your funny bone soon enough, you risk ending up in a grumpy, dark corner.

7. No strangers here, only friends we haven’t met. Friends for life

Everywhere you go, there is a sea of humanity but you wouldn’t experience any stranger anxiety provided you remember to smile. Smile and you are smiled back. I have used this trick countless times and it has never failed me. Try smiling at your co commuters in the train for a week in a row, and you’ll find yourself sharing their dabba on the eighth day. This is a city that has a subset of friends called ‘train friends’. These are the co commuters who travel with you back and forth, who start with sharing their seat and dabbas and end up sharing their lives with you. And no, they don’t unfriend you if you leave their lair and take another route. They refer you to that slot of train friends who happily adopt you with that recommendation

I always believed that the older you grow, the more difficult it is to make true friends. This city proved me wrong with the number of friends it has given me. In crisis I have unabashedly looked up to them with the instinctive confidence that they have my back.

8. Never judge a book by its cover

I lose count of the number of times I have made the mistake of jumping to conclusions about people based on their appearance, clothes or language and more often than not I have ended up embarrassing myself. I distinctly remember the deluge of July 2005, when my train came to a halt in between Matunga and Sion. The thought of stepping down in the murky waters was not my idea of adventure. Out of nowhere these Dharavi slum dwellers materialised with step stools and literally held out their hands to help us land safely on our feet. On top of that they gave us food packets to survive the long walk home. I hope I have learnt my lesson well.

9. A little adjustment goes a long way

Madam ‘thoda adjust please’ (Please adjust a bit). On a local, when someone poked into my back and said that for the first time, I looked aghast and shocked at the suggestion. In that packed train where was the room to adjust. But everyone stared back at me as if this was the most regular of requests. I shuffled a bit and that is how the entity called ‘fourth seat’ was revealed to me. A train seat meant for three accommodates four. So now every time I see someone approaching, I automatically shuffle to leave room enough for her. Even the Lord Ganesha has to adjust for this city, I’m a mere mortal. During Ganpati festival, the idol is supposed to face in a particular direction. So, depending upon the makeshift pandals, the idol’s angle is adjusted accordingly.

10. Rain and the romance

This city loves its rain. The demand and supply rule of economics fails here. Despite the pouring rain and slowing down of the city’s pace, no one blames the rain. Instead they plan ‘rainy picnics’. Check out your Mumbai friends’ social media page and at this time of the year you’ll find it inundated with soaked happy faces with the rain and rolling mist as a backdrop. Romance thrives but a word of caution, remember to look up and not down. Because if you did, it runs the risk of evaporating.

11. Less is more

Their houses may be small but not their hearts. I remember when I moved in, I used to feel caged and crave for a glimpse of the sky but now when I go back home the houses in Gurugram seem to have an obscene amount of space. This city makes you embrace its shortfalls with ease.

12. Meditation andNirvana

You don’t need vipassana or spiritual retreats to meditate and achieve Nirvana. It comes to you naturally. It may take a while but the traffic snarls, the potholes and the water logging ensure that it will happen.

13. Time is money

There is an inherent discipline in every individual. A 7.41 local means 7.41. Yes, yes, I know, Ek jayegi to doosri aayegi may be true, but no one will tell you that thedoosri would be more crowded than the first one. And a delay anywhere has a cascading effect on the rest of your day. So, you have no choice but to be disciplined.

14. This city never sleeps

Its not an aphorism but a fact. The city’s wheels are always whirring. The last local is often around two in the night and the first one is at four or five in the morning. Those few hours it may shift gears but stops it never.

I know this sounds like too good to be true but it definitely doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with the city. It evokes strong emotions in its citizens. You either love it or hate it. There may be a lot of flaws but to retain your OWN sanity focus on the positive aspects which are many. This city has made me drop a lot of my cynicism and if I may say has made me a better version of myself.

As I bid good bye to the city, I admit, Mumbai wasn’t love at first sight, not even second. It took me a while to take to its ways and I can say that Mumbai is an acquired taste for me. This city MADE me fall in love with it and before I leave, let me introduce myself……

mi kon (who am I?) ……

……….. Mi Mumbaikar

Its NOT Mumma’s Job

I am married to a feminist stronger than I am and this I realised with even more clarity after my daughter was born. Even before her birth, both of us would manage our house chores as a team but around the time my daughter was a toddler, I sensed that my husband became quite proactive in doing these chores. As a tired mum, I was more than grateful to receive help of any kind.

But his steadfast insistence made me sit up and take note and I wondered aloud as to what his reason was. And his answer brought me to tears at that time (the messed-up hormones and mind-numbing fatigue didn’t make it any better). He said and I quote him, “I always believed that both genders were equal until biology took over and I realised that the feminine gender is a little more than equal. I cannot switch biological roles with you. So, you have already done your bit and more what with the giving birth and feeding, now I need to step up my act for our daughter.”

From lullabies to diaper changes to weaning to cleaning up to night vigils during illness, he has kept his word. The chores were boring, unpleasant at times but he ploughed through. He wasn’t much of a help around the kitchen but he learnt how to knead the dough and roll the chapatis. At that time, I remember feeling proud of my choice (I safely assumed I could take the credit for that too). But the far-reaching effects of this dynamics in our house became evident to me, when I overheard the conversation my then five-year-old daughter had with a friend of hers while they were playing house. They had mutually agreed that the friend play the ‘daddy’ and my daughter play the ‘mommy’ to the dolls they had. So, the ‘daddy’ got up and got herself a newspaper, pretending to read it. Now the ‘mommy’ hollered for the ‘daddy’ to come in the kitchen and chip in. The ‘daddy’ yelled back with the newspaper still stuck in her face, “Hey, its Mumma’s job”. Out came my daughter, and told her little friend in as many words, “It’s NOT Mumma’s job, play fair or don’t play at all.” I may not recall, what the friend chose to do but I do recall marvelling, how our actions, our interactions affect our child’s behaviour.

Looking at her parents going around doing the house chores, she assumes there is no gender bias. And that is what she expects from everyone around her. She will not have to UNLEARN the biases that we have grown up with regarding what a woman’s or a man’s job is.

A little step that my husband took could have such a big impact, neither of us may envisioned at that time. But when our daughter would grow up, her concepts on gender equality would be crystal clear. That gives me the greatest pleasure. There are many men, irrespective of how they were brought up, who are now stepping in to acknowledge that gender does not decide the jobs we do. I am confident that one small step at a time, one mindset at a time will add to a big change in the fabric of our society. And then my daughter wouldn’t have to counter, “It’s NOT Mumma’s job!”

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe now. For every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

Parenthood – Do the job well or do not attempt it 

Every generation is unique both in their achievements and also the troubles they face. Now that both partners are usually equally educated and have a similar earning potential, a disturbing trend is emerging. Once married, unlike their parents though they usually do not jump into parenthood promptly, but at the some point of time they do consider having a child because still for most of us that is the norm.Having a child is probably the easiest part of parenthood. It is the rearing up of that child which requires long term (read lifelong) commitment!! And that is when all hell breaks loose. Couples who do not foresee this journey go through a tough time. They are often not ready for the adjustments and compromises that this decision demands. Not all are lucky to have a reliable support system at home which means even bigger compromises especially by the woman. Some women eventually find that they love motherhood as a full time thing which works out well for them. Some take it in their stride while others make peace with it which also is fine. But there are a few who do so grudgingly which is bad because of its scary long term effects on the family as a whole and the child in specific.

This reminded me of the acronym DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) and as I googled I came across DINKER (Dual Income, No Kids Early Retirement) which is a step up from DINK. Then there is DINKY (Double Income, No Kids Yet) for those who cannot make their minds yet. In fact there is also a term for the environmentally conscious DINK- GINK (Green Inclinations, No Kids) referring those who choose not to have children for environmental reasons.

As I dug deeper I came across DINKWAD (Double Income No Kids with a Dog) who would prefer a dog to having a kid and immediately next to pop up was the DINKYANDE (Dual Income No Kids Yet and No Dog Either) who were clear about their preferences.

Not to be left behind are SINK (Single Income No Kids) who probably chose to be practical than to be emotional and are definitely wiser than SILK (Single Income Lots of Kids) or SITCOM (Single Income Two Children and Oppressive Mortgage).

The natural consequence of DINKs are the PODWOG (Parents of Dinks With Out Grandchildren) and WOOF (Well Off Older Folk) is probably how the future will be for the DINK.

The point is that there is a whole menu out there and you can choose what suits you. All the options come with their set of advantages and disadvantages. We need to be clear what we can handle.

There is no mandate or a gun over your head to have children. Just because everyone around you thinks that you should have them is the worst possible reason to have them. Often such reluctant parenthood ruins the child. I have seen parents who have had kids and then dumped the responsibility on grand parents or worse have left them to the mercy of nannies and maids. Then there are those mothers who had to ‘sacrifice’ their happening careers at the altar of mommyhood. It should be a conscious choice not a compulsion. Such mothers are often depressed, angry and frustrated and the kids end up as a soft target, without any fault of theirs. Such kids often grow up with a lot of emotional issues. You have absolutely no right to mess up a child’s life. Discuss with your partner/ future partner about this. You have to have common goals when it comes to family. it has to be different strokes for different folks. One size fits all can no longer be a viable option. Take a well informed decision and happily embrace its consequences…both good and bad.

Bringing up a child is a responsible job and if you do not fit into that job profile it is better NOT to apply for it.

Ye hai Bombay meri jaan- If it is to be, it is up to me! 

Let me begin with an honest confession. I am NOT a true blue Mumbaikar… I am an outsider…. And horror of horrors, that too a Dilliwalla…..

In my thirteen years, I have seen the 26th July deluge, train bomb blasts, a terrorist attack, the recent 29th August water logging and now the Elphinstone stampede. I am mentioning all these in a bid to fatten my CV, hoping to sound more credible.

My observation is that every incident follows the predictable path of initial shock, the casualties, administrative blame game, media crescendo and all of this eventually ending with a whimper. Somewhere between the initial attack and the casualties are the efforts of the common man who instinctively jumps into action and does whatever can be done. As the media and administrative vultures start closing in, this common man gets up and dusts his clothes before walking away into the horizon. These good Samaritans are the modern day Arjuns who work without the expectation of any accolades. And these Mumbaikars are the physical basis of the oft celebrated ‘Mumbai Spirit’.

This spirit is what has intrigued me, irritated me and impressed me in turns. It is amazing to see a rag tag disaster management team form within minutes and their sincerity is so heart touching. What surprises me is that the media has a field day trying to out shout each other in a bid for TRPs but the common man never descends on the roads with his outrage. Sometimes I wish he did because his silence and resilience has pushed the administration into a deep slumber. Even the most forwarded whatsapp messages are those that talk about what the ‘crowd’ should have, could have done. The messages that express frustration and anger float around but are magically eradicated. It never ceases to amaze me how this spirit works to cull out the negativity and keep what is positive. What makes it perpetuate itself? I think it’s this cumulative good Karma that keeps the city afloat despite the disasters that are waiting to happen. It definitely does not mean that the Mumbaikar has given up. Nor should his love for peace be mislabeled as cowardice. In fact the mantra that is ingrained in this Mumbaikar is that ‘If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me’. They have learnt the lesson of self-reliance that they are not letting go.

I have a hypothesis for this attitude. It can probably be traced back to the great textile mill strike of 1981 when Dutta Samant led a large group of Bombay mill workers in a precarious conflict between the Bombay Mill Owners Association and the unions. An estimated 250,000 workers went on strike with more than 50 textile mills shut in Bombay permanently. The government took a firm stance leaving more than 150,000 workers unemployed. The textile industry that was part of Mumbai’s identity faded into oblivion.

This has left an indelible mark on the collective psyche of the city. They have learnt it the hard way that the common man bears the brunt of any event. No one comes to his help when he needs it the most. Mumbaikar just chose to become wiser than staying bitter.


(Un)Happy Teacher’s Day 

It’s Teacher’s Day so I have to put in my one bit. The teacher is at the core of any education system…its heart. We entrust our little ones in their hands to make something out of them. Our huge expectations must bog them down. But they must and they do trudge along.

Which makes me come to the conclusion that only the brave teach… Yes you need courage more than anything else to venture into teaching. It is one profession that lays down the foundation for the rest. The responsibility that it entails is huge and the teacher needs to remember that. As Joyce Meyer said, “Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges”. 

However a lot is going wrong with education. There are disgruntled parents and frustrated teachers and clueless students. The parents blame the teachers naturally but there’s much more that lies beyond the obvious. The fact education can be ‘bought’ with money is the most unbelievable and distressing of all facts. When I was growing up, my parents would tell me about Lakshmi and Saraswati and how the twain never meet. It’s so deeply ingrained in me, that when I first came across the ‘have money, will buy’ attitude for education it was shocking beyond words. Parents hire home tutors who are told, “Hamare bachche ko pasand aana chahiye.” Excuse`moi…. Since when did education come down to the level of grocery shopping? Imagine the plight of the teacher who has to worry more about his ‘appraisal’ than drilling in the concepts to the pupil. And when the child is aware of this, what respect does he have for the teacher or the lessons?

And then we have private colleges sprouting in every corner who peddle their wares for eager parents out to buy a degree for their children. Some even give the option to send the degree at home so the child never has to lift a finger or leave home. All of this comes at a price which for some is not an inconvenience. 

When did our society sink so low? How and why are such alleged institutions allowed to legitimately flourish? And then we reminisce the good old days when we had such good teachers. A teacher is only as good as his/her students. The response of the pupils eggs him/her on to teach better. If the students treat education and teachers as a commodity, how can we expect to have dedicated teachers. Somewhere down the line, they just throw in the towel and function on auto mode. Remember that teaching is not a lost art but the regard for it is a lost tradition. 

On this Teacher’s Day, let’s think about our own wonderful teachers and introspect as to how we can contribute to the making of such teachers. It’s our 

Tell me what you think about this and how can we undo the damage? Is all lost or there is hope? 

Picture courtesy – Pinterest