Warrior Women: Mom

Warrior Women

Warrior Woman Pic Credits: Tejaswi Bonda

20 years ago, It was 6 in the morning, Supriya was already juggling between cooking, waking up the Charlie’s angle trio, packing the bags for the day. Her precision, speed and comfort in managing these multiple tasks all at tandem are communicating years of her practise. After the clock ticked almost an hour, which would feel like ages if watched in slow motion, her sharp ears could sense the bus approaching. She managed to find the missing sock of the elder one, filled up the water bottle of the second and gave a peck on the cheek of the youngest just in time before the bus reached the gate.
A sense of accomplishment sparkled her face as she managed to get them inside the bus on time. She celebrated the triumph with a flavoured filter coffee while checking out the news of the day. She loved those few moments of solitude and which she wouldn’t trade for anything except for her daughters. She quickly moved to the Shares page where her eyes landed right on her recent bet. As she saw those 3 digits on the paper, her lips curved up and her brain was racing faster than a calculator to arrive at the exact profit she made in a weeks time. With great pride she moved on to her other holdings and made a mental note of the instruction she wishes to communicate to the broker.
She gradually picked up and sorted things to clear off the mess the girls left behind. She then packed evening snacks for the kids and left notes for the elder one. She then rushed to finish her chores before she locked the door and sped on her scooty well over the speed limits to reach her work place in time.
Not all her days were as picture perfect as this one! With her husband being away on work most of the days, she always handled the show single handedly at home. Like an expert juggler she managed house hold chores, cooking, grocery purchases, her job, 3 growing kids,  their education, health and safety needs. She had her good days and bad days too.
Being brought up in an affluent family, with a doting father and two brothers, she was never trained to play these multiple roles. She was the apple of her mother’s eyes and teachers’ pet. She was a bright student, who surrounded herself with multiple hobbies and great friends. She was a natural leader who was nominated and unanimously elected as the college leader by her classmates while she was away taking a Hindi exam. Besides her other academic achievements, she was the first girl in the family to obtain a bank job through competitive exams. Her friends and teachers always thought she would reach a pinnacle in her career and they would one day be proud to have known her.
But things changed. Things changed with her marriage at a young age of 18 following the social norms. She was married off into a family which was not comfortable with their women taking up jobs outside home. She struggled for 4 years on a daily basis to keep her job and sanity intact through 2 child births and 3 transfers owing to her husband’s job. There were days when she stayed alone miles away from her 6-month old kid to keep her job. There were days when she had to travel across states to reach her parents home  to get some medical assistance. There were days when she had to reason with the whole family which questioned her priorities. Besides the hardships, she also made great sacrifices in terms of her professional progress by rejecting promotions [just to have the flexibility to tag along with her husband’s transfers].
Her persistence and patience won her the life that she now enjoys. Her Charlie’s angles have turned into beautiful, intelligent and smart professional women. She is their inspiration and continuous source of energy. She made sure her angles don’t face the same problems she did. She may not have made the professional progress she deserved but she continues to see the reflection of her spirit in her 3 daughters!
More power to “Women of Courage” and more power to “Changing times”
Author’s note:
This story has been written for the Warrior Women Blogathon. Women’s Web & Juggernaut Books invite you to join us on an exciting blogathon, inspired by the warrior women of history.
When a Greek pirate ship sails in to loot the wealth of the Cholas, it is brutally defeated by the navy and forced to pay a compensation. A payment that includes a twelve-year-old girl, Aremis. Check out this new historical novel Empire (http://bit.ly/DeviEmpire) with a warrior woman, Aremis at the heart of the novel.
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What shall we leave behind for our kids?

Not so long ago, on becoming a father Mark Zuckerberg  decided to pledge 99% of his fortune for social good. Among all the convoluted propaganda about his personal agenda behind the move, I still see a parent’s concern to ensure his kid lives in a better World. I know that feeling because, when I became mom for the first time I realized how polluted the air is, how contaminated the water is and how fertilizer loaded the food is. I did what I could – I made sure my son traveled only in a car, shifted houses when there was a construction next door, bought RO system for water purification  and started the practice of salt water cleaning of vegetables besides opting organic foods.

Despite all these measures, my son still suffers with respiratory problems and falls pray to many infections. He is paying the price for my misdeeds, our kids are paying the price for our misdeeds. Yes I dare to blame each one of us (including myself) for our life styles which are causing all the interference with the nature.

Look at what struck Chennai last week. Is it not a man-made disaster? Why blame Government alone? Shouldn’t we (ok atleast partially) blame ourselves for chocking the drainage with  non-degradable waste – read PLASTIC? We didn’t leave water any outlet, it was left to erupt out of our floorings into  our living rooms.   In Chennai water could eventually find a way in to the sea. What would happen if such rains hit land-locked places like Hyderabad?

So the big question we need to pause and ask ourselves is what do we want to leave behind for our kids? If we want to leave a pollution free planet here are somethings we can do:

  • Minimizing / avoiding usage of Plastic. Please keep a bag hand whenever you go out.
  • Segregating our waste. Buy 3 colour coded bins and practice waste segregation today. If you can then buy and distribute these bins to every flat in your apartment.

Suncity - Waste Segregation (2)-page-001.jpg

  • Talk to your raddi wala and ask him what could be done to help ease his work. Do read this article on hyderabad’s garbage journey.
  • Try composting your organic waste.  If not composting atleast see if there is any incineration center near by which could take this waste. This will reduce the waste being sent to dumping yards by 50% -> 50% less emission of green house gases
  • Try and use public transport / pool your rides to the extent possible.
  • Put up a rain water harvesting facility in your home / apartment

I know writing this is easier than implementing this. I will update my experience once I try my hand. Please do share your experiences in this journey. I am sure the road ahead is not easy and we could benefit from each others experiences

 

#chennairains The skies are falling down but the spirits are flying high!

Since two days I am very restless. My cause of restlessness is my inability to reach my friends in Chennai. I sat down to write about how I feel when I started browsing the internet to see what is going on in Chennai.

I must say, I am impressed with the way people are using internet and social media in their rescue missions. There is only useful information floating around. Some of the links I thought might be useful are:

All information / contacts  collated

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Xd5cAD-LGI0CFoFDsxEsJ29A0W2BTrCCWNQHPEJFK3c/pub

A Community of volunteers – Approach if you need rescue / if you can offer help

https://www.facebook.com/ChennaiRainRelief2015/?fref=ts

List of doctors / hospitals

http://prac.to/chennaifloods

Chennaites be safe – my prayers with you!

Here is to sum up the scene in Chennai

The skies are falling down but the spirits flying high!

I am sharing a poem by  Deepan Ramachandran – which aptly describes the spirit of Chennai at the moment – 

It’s raining in Chennai.
And it’s not just the skies that have opened up…

Many homes are letting in water, but quite a few are letting in guests.

The First floors are embracing the Ground floors.

Malls are welcoming footfalls, and that too without wallets.

Movie halls are counting box office numbers differently.

Hotels are giving out foods that aren’t leftovers for a change.

Marriage halls are solemnizing more marriages of souls than ever before.

Social Walls are tearing down their Civil counterparts.

140 characters are travelling faster than a ‘108’.

Taxi services are plying boats, MTC buses are plying like taxis.

Religious differences are being doused in a relentless downpour.

Politicians are knee deep in water and politics has sunk.

But Leaders are being born at every waterlogged junction.

Soldiers are being born at every dangerous turn.

And humans are being born at every deserving instance.

It’s raining in Chennai.
And it’s not just the skies that have opened up.

‪#‎chennaifightsrains‬ ‪#‎proudofchennai‬

 

 

Deserting mother (land) over sibling rivalry?

Aamir Khan, I am one of your many fans. I am neither the crazy watch-every-movie-first-day-first-show kinds nor the my-hero-is-far-better-than-yours kinds. But I am a fan who watched your sensible movies like lagaan, rang de basanti, taare jameen par, 3 idiots, pk etc. I have also made it a point to watch most of your Satyameva Jayathe episodes and I really hold a very high opinion of you.

mgwa5bdifjcsi

You made a difference in my life. So, when you say that growing intolerance is making you think about leaving the Country, I trust you. I want to hear you in detail and understand the cause of your concern. Is there something we can do as Citizens to improve the tolerance levels? Let us all try and make amends where possible.

But please do not say you are considering leaving this Country. Lot of people are leaving the Country (we call it Brain Drain) for a lot of reasons. Most of us who decided not to leave the Country would have considered leaving it at some point of our life for our own reasons. We would have loudly cribbed about many things from pollution to traffic to lack of civic sense /security to increasing incidents of women harassment. And would have quoted xyz reasons for wanting to leave the Country. Kiran’s dialogue with you (as mentioned by you at the RNG Awards function) sounded to me as one such out burst.

I would like to remind you that influencers like you considering leaving the Country, especially for the reason quoted, will reflect badly on our Nation. We run a risk of a lot of your fans following your footsteps. Even worse is if the International media catches a whiff of it, God help our innumerable startups waiting for funding. What to do, Celebrities like you are curtailed of your freedom of speech some times.

Let us just forget about the impact of your statement for a minute. All I want to ask you is, ” Do we desert our mother (land) over sibling rivalry?” If not then why do we need to give it a thought and air space?

I request you to ignore all the vitriol going on and live up to your image.  In Rehman’s words lets join hands and do the class act.

To all the trollers, please watch the video before you do what you do the best. There is a context to the statements made.

 

Inspiration! – Ishita Katyal

I always loved Ted talks but this one by Ishita Katyal, is just out of the world. As a child my single big worry was performing well in exams. I was in a hurry to grow up because that was the only way I would get a real World opportunity to perform. Even today a lot of people I talk to think they got to gain more experience before they could actually experiment. Look at this girl, in 4 minutes she managed to invert this thought process.

This 10 year old girl, attended a Ted talk when she was a 7 year old. She innocently says, ” I didn’t understand the topic  but I loved the attention and appreciation the speaker received “. Her ambition to become a Tedx speaker and her resolve to not wait till she grows up is something that inspires me. This is that seed of thought she tries to communicate in her talk – “You don’t have to wait till you grow up”. The opportunity is today and now.

I call her an inspiration because she is neither a gifted child nor a child prodigy. She is a simple, self-made girl who is well-nurtured and encouraged by her parents. She is like you and me. Her courage, resolve and focus are the attributes that helped her make a difference.

Ishita Katyal keep going girl. I am one of your fans and will keep following you to see you succeed in all your endeavors. God bless you.

My view on ‘Can I have a chocolate milkshake?’

I would have been awed by this book, if I didn’t have the fortune of knowing the author “Capt. Rajat Mishra” personally. The inspirational element of the book is intact for me but the inquisitiveness part of knowing the next course of events was lost because I already know what happened in reality. With this disclaimer I will try to give a balanced view on the book.

CIHCM

Yes this is a very inspiring book. It helps one realize the inner potential one could count on. It nurtures the self-confidence and never-say-never attitude. The USP of this book is its simple language and its capacity to inspire without being preachy. It is just a plain simple story of a common man who dealt with all that the life had to offer and managed to evolve as a successful individual. The fact that this is a real life account adds the necessary trust factor.

The account on NDA & IMA experience is just in the right dosage so as to inform and inspire aspirants rather than scare them away. The aspect of dealing with a bad-breakup is maturely handled. The ISB / IIM-A stint is aptly described and invoked a lot of nostalgia. The infinite energy and unending support we receive from our parents and family is duly accredited. Above all the hope that drives Sidhanth through out the thick and thin (Sin curve?)of life is something to emulate.

Some references to blog posts and other published material on the author were so tempting that I felt torn between finishing the book and looking up the references.

Personally having gone through similar situations (of a nasty accident, an inter-caste relationship and a heart-wrenching breakup before its culmination into a marriage,) I know how challenging it could be to target, focus and clear CAT.   I felt the modesty of the author has interfered with communication of the determination one needs in order to achieve this. It is no easy feat to stay focused while in the middle of the puddle. It would have been lot more useful if there was special focus on the strategies employed to stay tuned. The NDA modified DNA helped Sidhanth but not everyone is fortunate enough. Rajat, may be one more book some other time?

All in all, I recommend this book to every NDA aspirant, to every MBA aspirant, to every competitive exam aspirant, to every broken heart and to every human being who wishes to lead a happy life.

My well guarded little secret seizes to be a secret!

The recent twitter dual between Ameesha Patel and Kushal Tandon set me thinking on why am I so secretive about my cycle? (I personally thought the way Ameesha responded was amateurish. My views are close to those mentioned in this blog post)

Since the onset of my periods, I used to suffer incessantly with the accompanying stomach pain. I had to miss classes, sports, practice sessions, sleepovers, camps, exams, labs and sometimes even the most fun-filled cultural festivals.

During the unavoidable circumstances like board exams, I had to resort to hormones to postpone my period and mess with my regular cycle. Some times they worked and some times they didn’t. In such circumstances, I had to overdose myself with pain killers – sometimes tablets and sometimes even injections.

In addition to the physical pain, I had the additional self-induced burden of being secretive about the whole issue. Whenever I needed to go back home abruptly, I faked head ache, fever or any other ache which is the farthest possible illness from the menstrual cramps. Due to my regular excuses of ill-health, among friends I came across as a unhealthy person, unreliable for being a partner in any activity. Inspite of my consistent academic performance, I was not a teacher’s pet because I missed exams sometimes. When I started work, I felt lucky to report to a female boss because I could finally be truthful about my problem.  Later on when I shifted jobs and started reporting to a male boss I fell back into the trap of faking. Until one day when my boss expressed deep concern about my health and offered to refer a good doctor. That day I told myself I had enough and told him that i am just having my regular female problem and that I am in touch with a good gynecologist.

In retrospect, I regret the fact that I faked my own unreliability. I now think I should have been open about my issue. I should have allowed my world know my problem. That way there was atleast a possibility of empathy and may be we could have worked around my schedules keeping in mind my cycle. I suffered most because of my secretiveness and my intention to keep everyone in the dark.

Over years and especially after giving birth to my child, my cramps have significantly reduced. But my heart goes for all those girls who are conditioned to keep quite about their regular bodily function.

I know I have to be the change I seek. So, to play my part, I have started speaking openly about my periods with male members in the family. My 3 year old son understands that he should not strain me when I have my cramps. Now through this blog post I have gathered myself to write publicly about my story. I hope this act of mine would encourage many more women to talk and discuss this issue. We are the only ones who could give our girls the courage to talk openly about their menstrual problems.

 Cover of She’s Gone album: an innocent illustration of three teen placing their hands together in camaraderie

Cover of She’s Gone album: an innocent illustration of three teen placing their hands together in camaraderie

So women, please comment and let the world know your tryst with your periods!

The Art of Giving!

Giving is imbibed into Indian Culture. For us every occasion / celebration is linked up to some kind of giving. Giving is rightly defined as an Art because it is neitherGiving gained by virtue of money nor intelligence. It takes its form in a kind heart that can pause and think about a fellow human being. There are rich who haven’t yet developed a taste for giving and there are people at the other end of the spectrum who have mastered the art of giving. Let us explore some avenues and grasp some tips while we embark on the journey of giving.

Why do we give?

Giving gets us happiness. Yes, more happiness than any THING that we could buy, any TRIP that we could plan, any SAVING/ INVESTMENT that we could do for future. Don’t we all fondly remember every detail of our giving experiences? Can you recollect that smile on your face when you gave away those old clothes, that satisfaction you felt while drawing a cheque for that girl from the NGO, that call you get from a beneficiary saying he / she has got the book set / computer that you sent, that news that the child you tutored passed the exam, that uncle who called up to say the Uber you installed on his phone changed his life? Yes I do too. Every single act of kindness will make us happier. They help us identify the cause we live for!

What can we give?

Besides money there are various things that we can give in various forms

FOOD: Giving food full-fills the most basic need of a fellow being

  • We all give the unconsumed food to our helpers.
  • We could carry some spare food to donate to aged beggars we find at the signals
  • We could avoid food wastage after parties by intimating GlowTide or any other NGO which picks up the food and distributes among the needy.

TIME: The greatest gift you could give someone is your time

  • Do a task – ask that elderly couple if they need something before going to grocer; help them install APPs and make their utility payments online.
  • Make someone feel important – Call up that old aunt of yours on her birthday
  • Fill up a survey / feedback form – Be a good customer, take a minute out to fill up that odd feedback form with genuine information.
  • Share the load – Try helping an over worked colleague in your spare time. Trust me what goes around definitely comes around

KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge is a peculiar thing which increases by sharing!

  • Tutor a kid – look around you will find a maid’s son struggling with Mathematics / English. Couple of hours on weekends that you spend with him helping him with his basic concepts could make a sea of different to his education.
  • Train someone in a skill – it could be as simple as teaching an enthusiastic watchman how to type. We may never know how such skills help them in the future.

OLD / USED stuff: Pre-loved things are special and they could become more special by giving!

  • Clothes / shoes / bags /accessories – We could donate these to our helpers at home. I feel happy whenever I see my maid wearing that favorite salwar kameez of mine which doesn’t fit me anymore. There are NGOs who could arrange pickups like cssvision.org
  • Electronics – We could forego that 1000 rupees we may get on selling an old phone and give it to the neighborhood repair shop guy. Trust me he will disassemble it make much more out of the spare parts.

LIFE: Family is not always blood relations. It could be made of people who want you to be in their lives.

  • Adopt a kid – Instead of having a second child we could adopt one. Giving life is any day better than giving birth! There could be a lot of social stigmas attached to this. But we have to be the change that we wish to see. Adoption Coordination Agency (ACA) could help us through the procedure
  • Adopt a senior citizen – In this age of globalization, the kids live far away. If we stay away from our parents and we miss them dearly we could adopt a senior citizen in your locality. My husband’s friend drives my in-laws around whenever they can’t find a driver. He has become a part of our family now.

ORGANS / BLOOD: Don’t we all want a part of us to stay back in this world?

  • Blood: A healthy human being (> 18 years) could donate once in every 3 months. We stand to gain by donating blood as it boosts the production of red blood cells besides we also get a regular and free blood screening.
  • Organs: It hurts to know that only 1 out of 30 people who need a kidney receive one. Organ donation allows us to live after death in not one but multiple forms. The website Donate Life India provides a lot of information to bust our myths and make us take the plunge.

COMPLIMENT: Last but not the least; we could occasionally spare a heartfelt compliment. It has the potential to make a person’s day while it costs nothing to the giver.

When do we give?

Give to Celebrate: We could inculcate the habit of giving in your kids by celebrating their birthdays at an orphanage. A wedding could get bigger and better by donating food to an equal number of needy people as the number of guests.

Give on Success: My employer, Greenko, takes up complete responsibility of educating 3 girl children for every win of the Telugu Titans team (The Kabaddi team owned by Greenko). What a way to celebrate success! We could definitely try this on a smaller scale that fits our bill.

Give to Mourn: When a beloved one passes away, the pain associated is excruciating and the memories haunting. Get relief by donating the belongings to people in need.

Give to de-clutter: If you find anything in your house that you have not used for the last one year. Then GIVE it away

How do we give?

I would like to differ with the age old saying that goes, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand donates”. I would say let people know and let them get motivated. Your giving gets bigger by encouraging others to give.

Happy giving and happy gaining!

Read, weave or translate Stories!

It is an uncontested fact that stories are the best tools to teach kids. Besides the moral values, they could help provide the child a wider vocabulary, introduce them to different characters, increase their world view. The kids who read more are  much more confident in facing the world and sailing through unexpected circumstances.

Last but not the least, they are awesome soothers. They help the kid calm down, forget the stress and slip into a peaceful sleep. Not one day passes with out a bed time story routine for Little D.

Thanks to the group The Reading Raccoons , I was introduced to this website  storyweaver.org.in 

Weave your stories here!

Launched on September 8, 2015, this platform is started with an objective of increasing literacy. With 800 stories in 24 languages it is definitely the largest database of Indian stories. Besides open access to these stories, the platform enables users to create stories of their own with the help of 2000+ free sketches. One could just pickup few sketches and weave around a story. One could also translate stories into their mother tongue. I took a shot at it and now have a story to my name – Take a look .

adhi amtha pilli thappu!

Just imagine if all the stories there were in all the languages are translated across all the other languages, will there ever be any shortage in the availability of good stories?

I am a great fan of my mother tongue – Telugu. But I always got disappointed when I search for Telugu story books for my son. This initiative will quench the thirst of many moms like me!

And I have no doubt that this platform will grow leaps and bounds in spreading happiness through those short and sweet stories. I urge all of you to let your creative juices flow and weave awesome stories or if you are half impossibly-non-creative as me then translate few stories!

Memories of Teachers’ day!

This day every year the nostalgia of the good old school days come back to me. On this day way back in 1998, in senior school, we were expected to enact as our teachers and manage the whole school for one full day. That day we looked forward to, that day which brought excitement along with chills down our spines. Ah Teachers’ Day it is again!

teacher

My math tutor got me upto speed on some calculus topic. My mom lent me a nice crispy green saree of hers for my big day. I held my head a little higher than the usual as I hung my hand bag (instead of the usual school bag) and got into the school bus. Good morning teacher! pleasant greetings from all the junior school kids really boosted by confidence. I needed a lot of it as I was headed to play the triple role of our vice-principal cum class teacher cum math teacher.

To put a stop to my trembling nerves, I rushed straight to my own class. I killed some time by handling the routine tasks like attendance and  started off introducing Calculus. I thought I cracked it until an innocent hand shot up into the air disguised in the form of a doubt. I hardly reached the boy and asked him what his doubt was, the naughty last benchers took off. They just started making some noises, moved the benches around and would act deaf when I asked them to calm down. I remember I had to fight back my frustration and just keep my pace to accomplish my target of conveying the importance of calculus. That day gave me glimpse of how hard being teacher was and my respect for my teachers went up by many notches.

Besides the mock classes by students we also had on stage cultural performances by our teachers. We the enacting teachers turn judges to evaluate their performance and distributed prizes. The whole this was so much fun while it helped us get closer to our teachers.

teachersday

I am not sure if such celebrations exist across schools but would definitely make sense to introduce them!