Happy birthday to my mentor :)

I am a strong believer of the fact that people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes we understand their need in our lives, other times we don’t. But they are there to bring meaning to our lives or make us understand the meanings of our lives.

Among all the people who have made a remarkable difference in my thinking and in my approach to my life is my husband’s eldest brother. And today, I wish him all the happiness and love, as he celebrates his birthday!

This post may come as a surprise to him or shock him too, but these birthdays are the best times to thank people for their presence in our lives and how it means a lot to us. So, I hope he’ll bear with me for writing this.

He has this simplistic way of looking at things and never minces words to express his thoughts. This is something which I yearn to be – “I live my life in my own terms”.

Another amazing quality which I am in awe of, is his magnanimity to give and not to think or talk about it later. What makes him unique is that he doesn’t have an air about him. A quality which I aspire for…

And since the time me and my husband have turned entrepreneurs, he has been a great source of positive energy for us. He has this way of appreciating us for the work we do and also encourages us to take more risks. The apprehensive me has learnt to let go and be more energetic in taking up new projects. This mentoring has enabled us to grow as an industry with the values intact.

As I believe in the fact that some people come into your life to teach you something or be there for some reason. Here is a person who inspires me to bring the best in me, just with his presence in my life.

And my heartfelt gratitude to my mentor, as he celebrates his birthday today!

Sunday rumination – Life’s always throwing lemons…

Its up to me to decide if those lemons are meant for making a sweet lemonade or to make a spicy hot pickle or just crush it out to clean the whites of stains 😀

Actually every lemon that gets thrown at me is an opportunity for me…

…to distinguish the good from the bad, in my own way

…to move away from closed doors and start looking at small windows that are trying to open for me

…to understand that some incidents happened in my life to change my course of journey and to make me think differently about the same situation

…to turn the sour lemons to sweet melons, just by looking only at things which give me happiness

…to ignore the things that cause hurt and pain to the heart – oh yeah, this could be a daunting task, but well worth the effort, as I love myself more than anyone, now a days

As I woke up this morning, “When life throws lemons, make lemonade” came to my mind…its one of those bizzare thought process of my sleepy mind. Just out of the blue, I started thinking more about that line. As I loaded the clothes into the washing machine, I thought that it need not be lemonade always and it could also be made into a pickle – the citrus-y spicy can make the tongue wanting more of it!

And when I was making coffee, came the philosophical thoughts – some days are like that – I just learn to take it as it gives me myriad of thoughts and critical analysis of myself. The only difference to the whole scene today is I don’t carry on the guilt of not performing to my standards. After all the thoughts are processed, I realize that I am more important to myself and my happiness is more important to myself and it is one of the treasured things which I should not forego at any cost.

So, keeping myself happy, whether with lemonade or lemon pickle, I go about my day, writing my thoughts in my space – a recording to be read another day to calm the mind and soothe the heart.

Friday musing – Wearing what you want with confidence…

I can say with great affirmation that I decide what to wear, clothes, accessories or anything.

But there are other kind of people too. One set of people are driven by their children. The son or daughter decides what the mom should wear. “Ma, wear sari when you come to school” “Ma, wear salwar kameez when you drop me at my friend’s place” – this and that. It can even go to levels like “Ma, don’t wear jeans…it doesn’t suit you” “Ma, those big bindi on your forehead – I don’t like” “Ma, wear small studs for your ears, these jhumkas are for younger people” – And I feel like throwing some very bad curses at all these comments as these are very opinionated either by the children’s peer pressure at school or by the family’s comments and decisions on what suits the woman / mother. Of course, its only her and always her and her dressing sense, which is under scrutiny.

Then there are women, who are uncomfortable in their own skin – they feel fat, ugly and not fair skinned – may be all put in one. It takes too much of insecurity about one’s own self to be critical of one’s body and deciding against wearing clothes which may not suit the body type. After all, we’ve this one life to live, which we can remember. Why not live it fully, by wearing whatever the heart desires!! Why should someone die in the hope that one day they can wear slim-fit jeans? Why not buy and wear them today?

Another major deterrent is the fact that the husband find the wife fat or ugly.  He doesn’t want to go out with his wife anymore, because of her body shape or structure. His reasons “She wasn’t like this before the children were born”. It takes a lot of maturity on the part of the husband to understand the consequences of being pregnant with a child and going through the process of delivery. The hormones play havoc on the women, who go through these stages. Some put on weight on their thighs alone or back alone or it could lead to different health issues after a post-pregnancy depression. Without understanding all these, the husband just wants his wife to come out of a pregnancy and delivery stage, looking like those movie stars. Excuse me…man, you’re not fit to be a human at all!

While it takes a woman of very strong confidence to look down on those kind of people like the dust in her shoes, many women are still struggling to fight their own fear of “Am not good enough for my husband”!

The other day I saw a woman, shorter than me but wearing a long kurti with side and center slits and tight pants. From my point of view, it looked nice on her, as she was wearing what she liked. But I did hear a comment like that the dress doesn’t suit her because she is short of nature. It seems that short women are supposed to wear short kurtis so that they look tall. Really? Which world do you live in…people? Even if this is true, let that woman be the deciding authority on whether she wants to look tall or short.

Sari designs – “Oh…these are for the older women”
Spectacle frames – “M’am choose something your age…this is for the younger generation”
Heels – “Oh no! A big no no for older people”
Dupatta / shawl – “A must for women, especially the heavy bosom ones”
Anarkali type kameez – “A big no for fat women”
Crisp cottons – “Thin women look like sticks wearing sari”
Myths…myths…all made by our own society…

Is covering from head to toe, an apt dress??

Also, saris are the most desired attire for married women – Really? Women wearing other kind of dresses don’t remain married or what?

First, we bring up the girl child in our homes to hold on to all the fears of the previous generations. She cannot wear pants, she needs to wear pavadai davani after puberty, she needs to wear sari after marriage, no other dress code is allowed for her.  And it’s the societal prejudices that drive the women to dress in a particular fashion.

It takes a woman, an extreme dose of strength, inner guts, trusting her intuition, a don’t-care-about-others attitude and most of all, excessive loads of self-love to be herself and wear what she desires – clothes / bags / jewelry / bindi.

So, love thyself first woman!!
Wear what you want and be happy 🙂

Music heals…

As is the norm with any TamBrahm family, especially those hailing from the banks of river Kaveri, and nearer to the musical town of Tiruvaiyaru, I started my music lessons around 5 years of age. I didn’t know if I had any interest in learning music nor did any elders at home wanted to know my interest levels. The music lessons were a must. I and my sister, accompanied by patti, went to Kalyani mami, the expert in conducting music classes and within walk able distance from home. As was the tradition, we went with a tray of fruits, vethalai, pakku, flowers and some token of guru dhakshina. And it all began on the auspicious day of Vijayadasami, when beginnings to new ventures or classes always took place.

Kalyani mami – a face I cannot forget. Her smiling face with the big kumkum bindi in the center, the kondai and malli poo and her neat way of tying the sari…sigh, she was incredibly beautiful. And her music made her all the more lovable. She was not rude to us, but firm in a lovable way. She gave into our uncontrollable laughter over the lyrics that sounded funny many a times. Even among all that laughter, she’ll find that one girl among the group of 10, who missed the sruthi or who missed the taalam. She was that amazing.

We bought the regular first book of music and of course, I and my sister shared one book. We thought that we can always sit together, as we shared the book. But from day one, we never opened the book in class. It always remained closed. Mami would teach us a new lesson, made us practice it many times, made all of us sing individually too and then would send us home. The only instruction was we had to sing it correctly without seeing the book in the next class. Both of us used to sit and practice together the new lesson, till it was etched in memory. In the next class, we used to recite the previous lesson from memory and then Mami would teach us a new lesson after making sure that we had all perfected the previous one. In the next class, she would make us sing from the beginning, all the lessons learnt so far and then only she would go to the new lesson. It was amazing how we learnt the whole book by memory and having so much of fun at the same time.

The swaras, jandai varisai, thattu varisai, mel sthaiyi varisai, geetham, swarajathi, varnam…I still remember them all from memory.

Recently, I happened to get hold of my music books from the loft and that joy was immense. I opened up the book and all the music lessons came to my memory. I just had to flip the pages and the music started ringing in my ears. I started singing even when my throat didn’t agree to that much of voice modulation.

I always try to hum some song while cooking; it was always a movie song. But after the music book came back into my life, I sing some song from the music book, learnt years ago. It may not be in accordance to the sruthi or the taalam – forgive me Kalyani mami! But there is a certain joy to that singing, which cannot be measured.

And today it was “rara venu gopala…” and I felt healed of all the stress ☺

No flashy cards…

I was a hoarder for membership cards. I loved to flash those colorful cards around and get points accumulated to my account, not money…mind you 😀

And whenever I bought purse, it was always a huge one. More than looking at space for money, I always checked for the no of cards a purse can hold. And within a matter of seconds I filled up all the card holder space and will carry another separate card holder for all the left over cards. It was a difficult phase to decide which are the important ones to carry in the purse and which can be moved to the card holder.

I’ve this fetish for buying certain things in certain places, ONLY. Provisions are bought in one store of my liking. Even if they provided good vegetables and fruits, I’ll not deviate from the loyalty I had for the small time vegetable vendor in my apartment. Am like that 😉

Jeans are bought in one store, kurtis in another, inner garments in another place…in effect I was always going from one store to another to buy the various things and absolutely enjoyed the whole experience. And in all this going around, I was accumulating points of loyalty!

BOOOOOOOOOOM !

I was jerked into reality and practicality just a few years back, when I started working alongside my husband. Time was the constraint and I had to do all the shopping I needed in one place and at one time flat. I was crying for shopping time, spent alone, cruising the aisles, looking at new products, new brands and all that fun thing. But, that love was getting split and I started enjoying the time spent building the business and learning the nuances.

The bolt came when I tried to redeem all those cards which I had collected for years. While I imagined an amazing equivalent of money for all those cards, I was dumped down from my card-collecting-high-pedestal and made to understand that all those colorful flash cards were for nothing.  The money redeemed was just peanuts. Maybe all these were there when I signed those forms for membership, without even reading the fine print, but I felt disappointed.

I stopped going to different outlets and tried to buy things from one single shop, so that it’ll ease me from getting into those traffic chakravyuhams !

Now a days, I buy from the small time vendor, who brings produce from near his house or a nearby farm. One old lady brings drumsticks from her garden and sells it to me at my office. Another lady makes ghee at home and brings it for selling. Drumstick leaves are gifted by my staff.  There is joy in buying from these people. And they bring good products and you can check the authenticity of the products. The happiness they feel when I buy products from them is immense and equals my satisfaction levels.

There are no more flashy cards but only toothy grins as return 🙂

Another one for the menstrual cycle!

I remember those days, when my girls had just started menstruating –  days were – extreme tension filled, sanitary napkin buying spree, screaming because of cramps, whether to go to school or not and also the disgust in seeing those bloody pads. Sigh…seems like decades back! Oh yeah…maybe a decade !

I’ve written many posts on the humor side of this menstrual cycle, jokes made at home by the girls and my own struggle on the same territory.

Today by chance, I came to know that yesterday was Menstrual hygiene day and there is this initiative to educate the girls and the boys on the same for healthier acceptance of this monthly cycle among the younger generation. Its not something to hate or love, but acceptance of the physical creation of the human body. There is nothing to be ashamed or be scared.

There has been many instances at home, when the man, my wonderful husband has felt a little bit shy or even terribly embarrassed at the mention of periods or related menstrual talks or complaints of pain and other such related issues. He has even wondered at his pitiful situation of 2 young just-started menstruating girls and one irritable woman with severe cramps who is troubled more by her PMS. But he survived the initial years mainly through silence and observing what makes us tick or what does not!

He understood more about the process of menstruation from our girls than from me. There has been times when he makes himself invisible, when he hears mood swing screams and banging doors.

But the good thing is he sustained.

Now, he is the one who is constantly looking for home-remedies to treat the menstrual pain and immediately mails the girls. He is the one who gives the “you are stronger than these pains make you feel” to the girls! And he waits patiently with a trolley / basket in hand, when the girls flock to the sanitary napkins aisle in the supermarket! When the daughter calls and says an abrupt “Give the phone to mama”, he patiently obeys her. When I feel irritated or keep snapping, he just knows to treat me with my food cravings. He just knows it!

And there has been moments, when he listens patiently, when I keep going blah blah on how sanitary napkins are not eco-friendly and what are the other methods available that I can try! I admire his patience in listening to these bloody talks! Me being me, I’ve also insisted on him being a ONLY  a listener and he has grudgingly agreed to!

I remember a cute couple in a supermarket, where the husband read through the sanitary napkin pack, all the different brands to help her choose the right one for her.  Some people might find that too much interference, but I found it as an act, where he involves with her menstruation.

There was this video on how a mother tries to educate her son on the menstrual cycle and that brought up this post.

And it all comes to one final point – communication. Its important to educate the girls and more important to educate the boys on this topic. Its not something to shy away, rather its something to embrace as it is the boon which will keep our human race alive!

Day 15 – Koffee with Funny Bones

I was a crazy addict to Koffee with Karan when that program started, way back with Season 1. But then slowly the addiction started to fade off with the regular people coming over every season…

And on Sunday, I watched the Season 5 episode just because Mrs. Funny Bones was coming. Yes, I try to read most of her columns in TOI and when I read that she’s coming on TV, I just knew it was Karan’s show.

Of all the things she said in the show, the last part just resonated with the mother in me !

“I talk to my son about everything – drugs, sex, movies – anything ! I just want to keep the whole list of topics open for him. If in his life he comes across such a thing, he knows that there’s this umbrella of mine that he can come to for support.”

Yes, that’s me – totally me ! A big Hi-5 to Twinkle on this one !