Category Archives: 2 Minute Thoughts

What you do does not ask who you are

The thought that the car I drive does not care if I am a woman, or if I am over 40 or if I am a Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Sikh struck me the other day and gave me enough courage to hit the road after a rather embarrassing episode the previous day.

The post you hold whether you are heading a classroom, school, a nation or a company again does not ask you who you are, except that you do justice to the role that has been allotted to you.

Where you come from, what language you speak, what food you eat , what you wear or who you sleep with does not have anything to do with the kind of friend you make, the brother or sister you become or the citizen that you are.

The best in art, dance and craft or literature or music or films can be produced by any one irrespective of where you come from, what your parents do, whether you belong to a nuclear family or a joint family or whether your father is working or has stopped caring for you.

I hear my students apologetically taking the name of the small town or village they belong to and say in a rather mild, dull voice, “I come from a very small village in such and such a state.”

And I always ask them where did Dr.Abdul Kalam come from? Where did MS Dhoni come from?

Did that make any difference to what they became?

If it didn’t, it should not make any difference to you too, nor to the infinite possibilities that you hold.

It does not matter whether you are dark, fair as a fairy or tall or short or fat or thin as long as long as you trust yourself and your abilities and put in the effort that you need to, to reach your goal.

What you do does not ask who you are.

What you did should instead raise questions about who you are. Let that be your game plan.

Let those who do not know you ask about you on the basis of the work you have done.

And don’t we have enough examples of how we have often wanted to know about a person on the basis of his/her work? Yes, we do.

Let’s just remember them and focus on what we can do and move mountains small or big!

 

Beauties in 40’s

Come, sit down, she said, her beautifully eloquent eyes kohled neatly. She looked short and young in her dress, with her hair open. I had called up this 40 something woman,a bubbling enthusiastic friend of mine, out of the blue, while passing by her home. She insisted that I drop by and I did.

As we talked I saw my friend who is ambitious and driven enough to do her bachelors and then masters in psychology in her late 30’s expressed her fears about her children’s future. She also attends swimming classes and works regularly on her vocabulary and public speaking while continuously trying to maintain the inner equilibrium with rigorous yoga and meditation.Will my children make it? The world around is difficult, highly competitive,are my kids too laid back to make the cut?

I couldn’t answer that, instead we focused on her new venture of story telling. As an animated and expressive person, she is indeed best suited for story telling. I am sure her sessions like her own self are lively and interesting.

What is it about these 40+ women,( including myself), that is making them restless, is it a sense of time lost, is it a fear of not making it, is it the desire for self-fulfillment, is it about self-worth or the need for validation?

One common cribbing we share is ‘hello, I was busy taking care of the child/children and lo! the time just flew by and I am 40 and useless now!’

As if to make good for the lost time, we, each one of us have our own bucket list. A friend of mine, though momentarily down and feeling low due to dengue, we call each other ‘dengis!’, an imaginary sisterhood of all women affected by dengue, is aspiring to go to Harvard.

A good lady friend of mine with her children graduating is aiming to do her doctoral studies.

Another friend of mine is inspired by her dream of the grand world tour and a trip to Seychelles where she will sashay in bikini, I am told!

Some body wants to just quit work and play with the doggie at home.

Yet another friend of mine is dreaming of a companion of her kind.

The ladies in 40’s now are the sandwiched generation, you see, they saw their moms toeing the papa’s line as if it was the supreme command, sacrificing self for the sake of the family. Then they see their younger siblings living all the care to the world, having more fun while growing up and their kids who give two pennies worth to their ‘so-called wisdom.’

I guess then it is this feeling of ‘wish I had known this, I would have done it differently’, I am talking of living! sort of thing that makes us, women in 40s a restless lot.

You will often find us, the women in forties, talking yearningly about missed opportunities due to self-inflicted wisdom or the lack of it, compounded by the ‘I told you so’ of the older generation.

So it goes, the vagaries of human, read, womanly fantasies, dreams or desires. But it is so true and so beautiful. With new awareness about ageism and sexism, it does not look difficult to achieve what you want even in your 40s.

I am reminded of how in an earlier time 40+ was the beginning of ‘vanvas’ and clearly it is not so now. Thank the universe for that!

Did some one say, 40 is the new 20. Perhaps it is! What say!

Old not grown up, not yet!

‘My father had told me not to do this’,  said the old woman in a rather harsh tone to her young daughter-in-law, ‘that I should never lift my grand children. So, sorry I can’t hold that child while you are cooking for us!’

The young girl looked at the old woman in rising disgust. Was this an excuse or is this being cooked up fresh? There is no way for her to know.

Every time the young girl sought help to hold something, to get something, to pay for something, the other woman made it categorically clear that she was not supposed to do it as her long dead father who was a former collector had clearly advised her not to do.

While the older woman had no restrictions what so ever on receiving any thing, she was very clear on what not to do for others, be it her own daughters-in-law or her sons or her grand children.

In fact, the old lady would never ever call up her children on her own. ‘It is their duty to call and inquire after me, why should I call them,spending my money?’

What added to the girl’s discomfort was that her so-called husband was also a chip of the old block. Could you drop me at the office?,she asked one day. No, I cannot, he said clear with no room for ambiguity. Could you get the medicine for the child?, no I cannot, you please go and get it.

This was how their married life started and it continued. But things it a rough patch when the gentleman decided to quit work and stay at home and when the mother and son expected the ‘bahu’ to run the house, earn the income, pay the fees, pay the rent, buy the monthly ration, deal with the irritating maid, fetch the vegetables and what not!

The sense of complete entitlement was such that the woman, the ‘bahu’ would run helter skelter trying to meet the ends, appease the lords at home and maintain the equilibrium of ‘I come from a happy family’ to the onlookers, the relatives, the parents and everybody else.

Not one used to such machinations, such manipulations, she took time to figure out what was happening to her, coz she was doing her ‘duties’ in good will, ‘all for the family’ and then it froze her heart when she realized that she was being used as the maid, the breadwinner and the comforter and the care-taker all rolled into one!

Imagine the shock that she was in!

This hurt will perhaps never heal, she told herself, but life is not just these stupid, selfish manipulators, the world is a kind place and there are greater beauties in life,so she turned to them, in her effort to remain sane and happy, so she did find joy and content outside home at work, among friends and most importantly in herself.

The journey was worth it. Some lessons are learnt the hard way.

 

 

 

Go regional,overcome language barriers

A student from Telegana sought permission to sing a popular Kannada movie song during the introductory session with the class. What followed was a raputurous applause from the Kannadigas in the class. When asked, they explained, ‘mam, his mother tongue is Telugu,still he learnt a Kannada song and sang it in front of the class. We really appreciate this’.

In his address on the Hindi Diwas celebrations, President Ram Kovind encouraged Indians to learn each other’s mother tongue. An India where there are more common languages than just Hindi or English will any day be a better place to live in. More over, learning a new language is said to be one of the best ways to keep one’s memory power intact.

In a muti-lingual, multi-cultural city like Bangalore, the locals speak and interact with any one and everyone in which ever language they speak but to truly be a good citizen of the place you have chosen to live in, you should try to adapt and acclimatize to the local ways of living of which speaking the local language is of foremost importance. While the auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore comprehend every other language, they truly feel at ease when spoken to in Kannada, even in broken Kannada.

What stops the outsiders who have come to Bangalore and made it their home, like myself, from learning Kannada is the ease with which one can carry out daily chores with a little help from hindi-english-tamil-malayalam-or a mix of everything else here. The locals are helpful and manage to know more than a language or two.

It was when I saw the true love the youngsters have for their mother tongue that I decided to put my heart and soul into learning Kannada. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. Many of my students speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada as well as Hindi and English.

The other day Sulagna who hails from West Bengal shared her story of how she used to be mocked for her way of pronouncing words in Kannada. Not one to give in to such taunts, in 2 years time, Sulagna mastered the 4 South Indian languages along with Hindi, Bengali and English.

If you are a movie buff, then,you have all the more reason to put in some more effort to learn new languages. The quality of regional movies is on a steady rise.

Among the many movies I watch on the recommendation of my students or my daughter was one that I happened to watch today, the Kannada movie -U -Turn. Apart from a compelling story line and convincing characterization the movie is a must-see for its very relevant social message.

I remember how I had watched Rangitaranga, another highly watchable Kannada movie and was under its spell for quite some time.

Well, there are enough and more reasons to test your brain and try your hand at mastering a local language today, so go on, go regional!

 

 

 

Kappa & Kerala

What’s for evening, amma? The girls asked the mother who sat on the verandha, leaning on to the wall,caressing her silver locks. The teeth missing,the bright red bindi shining on her forehead,she reminded the girls of  her once famed beauty. But she said, go pluck tapioca..

So they went on to the fields armed suitably, heckling, cutting and pulling the tubers out. Muddy waters ran as a basket full of kappa was scrubbed clean.

With the expertise only experience can bring, the eldest of the girls, peeled and cut them into large chunks before throwing the pieces into boiling water.

A pinch of turmeric and some rock salt later, the tapioca was cooked and drained. It was time for seasoning. Into the cheenachatti  went 2 tsp of coconut oil, mustard seeds, sliced green chilly, small onions and some curry leaves.

The aroma brought the men of the house rushing to the kitchen for tea. The boys back from school and college lined up for a plateful of yummy kappa with spicy red chilly paste.

The youngest of the 11 siblings caught hold of a large piece of tapioca,rushed to the crackling wood fire and pushed it in. His fingers burnt a little,but he was ecstatic.

A little later the tapioca looked at him invitingly, revealing a white powdery stuff that made ships sail in his mouth, literally!

What happens to a true blue keralite at the sight of Kappa is indescribable .

A rush of memories, a host of aroma of the taste of spicy chutney and finely cooked kappa leaves him terribly homesick.

And the next thing you see is that he is on board travelling to  where Kappa Kalls!