Monday, 28 May 2012

Love whom you wed

Come…Fall in Love. I was 17 when I watched Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. I was completely smitten by the characters of Raj and Simran, brilliantly portrayed by Shahrukh Khan and Kajol respectively. I fell head over heels in love with the concept of falling in love. My heart searched for my Raj everywhere I looked around.

17 years later now, I laugh at my naivety of believing that real life is a replica of reel life. I did find my Raj. My husband.  I did fall in love with him. But after marriage. To be precise, arranged marriage.

I was no different from the most of my counterparts whose parents found a "right" match for their daughters. The parents believe that their experience and instincts about a certain guy is far above their children's wish to marry a person of own choice.

Isn’t it hilarious that the same parents who are apprehensive about love before marriage now give a license to love uninhibitedly to the engaged couple?  I can imagine the couple standing in front of the family, their heads bowed down and parents ordering to them  "Go, fall in love". As if it is so easy. So convenient. No big deal.

I would not irk you with the pros and cons of arranged marriage vs love marriage. Personally, it is of the least concern to me. However the bittersweet journey of falling in love with your spouse in an arranged marriage is undoubtedly interesting.

A friend of mine recently got engaged, it has been hardly a fortnight. And she is already discussing about honeymoon plans with her fiancĂ©. I mean, this person whom she is going to marry was a complete stranger to her a few days back and she already claims to be deeply in love with him. Just like that, only in 15 days!!! Could it be possible, she left me pondering.  I agree that there are instances of love at the first sight. But then is it the case in every arranged marriage? At least, I did not fall in love with my husband on the spot. It took me few months to ascertain my feelings for him. There was a sweet progression from getting to know him to loving him. The only hitch being that it would have been difficult to back out, if my feelings would have turned otherwise.

Love after marriage is risky but you want to explore.  You are unsure but you are already committed. Love is in the air but you hesitate to welcome it so soon. You are afraid but you want to trust. You may dislike something but you want to give a second chance. You want to make it work. You are ready to compromise. In short, you agree to be in love and be happy with whom you wed.

Falling in love. Getting married. Living happily ever after. Sounds terrific but elusive. Marriage is a different game altogether.  A couple discovers and rediscovers different aspects of their relationship throughout their marriage. They can grow out of love and they can fall in love all over again with their spouse.

Eventually it is the journey of love and trust which is important in a man woman relationship, how does it matter how and when they fell in love – before or after marriage?

Friday, 25 May 2012

O thou art fairer….

Fairer underarms, Nivea Whitening Deo.  I switched off the TV. I could somehow bear the fairness cream advertisement few minutes earlier. But this was simply too much, beyond my tolerance.

There are a plethora of fairness products available in the market these days. You just name it and you will get plenty to choose from: cream, moisturizer, face wash, deo, talc, body lotion and so on. Pardon me, if I have forgotten to mention any other. I have lost the count actually.

Our country is obsessed with fairer whiter skin and the cosmetic companies have just hit the nail on the head. We are no more slaves to British but they left behind something disgusting.  WHITE IS BETTER THAN BLACK. We still look up to the goras and treat them as the superior species in the name of athithi devo bhava. Do you get a special treatment when you visit their country?

Look at the matrimonial advertisements in the newspapers "wanted slim fair educated bride". The matrimonial sites too are not far behind. The profile information seeks a field called "complexion". Take our daily TV soaps. Few of them are based on a girl with dark complexion; how the society treats her and how her skin colour takes an upper hand over her qualities. What do I say about the beauty pageants? Beauty with a purpose. Why are the most of the contestants usually tall, slim, attractive, good looking and fair? I can hardly think of any Bollywood actress who has a dark complexion, yet commercially successful and popular. It has been always the likes of Aishwarya, Kareena, Katrina, Priyanka etc who take away the applause.

We can’t really blame these cosmetic companies if they are milking profits out of the mindset of the people. Their advertisements more than often have a common theme: "Use our product and you will get an elusive groom, job or success". They are encashing on the most vulnerable emotions of the human nature.

As if this was not enough, we now have fairness products for men as well. I would not be surprised if these companies next bring out the fairness cream, soap, oil or body lotion for the babies!!!

A cousin of mine once argued that these fairness products give hope to a person. I countered argued that they raise a hope for a problem which people never knew existed in the first place. Plus this false hope brings harmful side effects with it.

If people are falling for such illusions, it is a drawback with their thinking. Shilpa Shetty cried "racial discrimination" in Celebrity Big Brother show. A little soul searching will make you realize that we all are racists somewhere in a small corner of our heart. Why don’t we respect an individual for a person s/he is rather than what skin colour s/he is? 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hospital Bag for Child Birth

You are close to your delivery due date. You are nervous, scared, anxious, happy and excited. You have lots to take care of before the baby arrives, especially if it is your first baby. You want to be thoroughly prepared for the D day and hence checking off things on your "Things to do" checklist one by one.

Does your checklist include packing a hospital bag for you, your baby and your partner? If no, then don’t panic. If yes, then have you made sure you haven’t missed anything?

The ideal time to pack your hospital bag is around 36 weeks. However if there is a complication in your pregnancy such as risk of premature birth of the baby or if there is a scheduled C section, you may want to pack the bag accordingly.

A small bag pack which is easy and convenient to carry should be enough.  However you can prepare more than one bag according to your convenience and needs:
·         Before and After Birth
·         For you, baby and your partner

It is advisable to check with your hospital if they provide any of the items you plan to pack. This way you can save extra space for other items. The hospital may also give you a do's and don’ts list for packing, which may help you avoid packing unnecessary items.
You may stay in the hospital for about 2 to 5 days. Here is a detailed list of items you can refer to pack in your hospital bag.

·         Hospital pre registration and admission papers
·         Medical reports and birth plan
·         Hospital and other emergency contact details
·         Health insurance cards
·         Cheque book
·         Map to reach hospital
·         Personal journal, if any (optional if there is extra space in your bag)

·         2 to 3 comfortable nightgowns, depending if you want to use hospital gown
·         2 to 3 loose fitting garments
·         Bathrobe
·         Slippers
·         1 to 2 pairs of normal socks
·         1 to 2 pairs of warm socks
·         Maternity items such as nipple cream, nursing bras and nursing pads
·         Regular underwear or C section panties
·         Sanitary pads or maxi pads for post partum bleeding
·         Personal care items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, shower gel, hand sanitizer, body soap, lip balm, massage oil, deodorant, comb/hair brush and hair bands
·         Medical prescription and medicines
·         Eyeglasses or contact lens/solution whatever you use
·         Towels
·         Focal point object such as a picture of your children, your favourite music CD, movie DVD, stuffed toy or anything that offers comfort to you.
·         1 comfortable going home outfit along with a comfortable pair of flat shoes
·         Favourite snacks
·         Books/Magazines
·         Cell phone and charger

·         At least 2 pairs of comfortable clothes
·         Basic toiletries
·         Address book
·         Snacks
·         Reading material
·         Cell phone and charger
·         Video Camera/ CD Player/ Laptop
·         Extra Batteries (make sure they are fully charged)
·         Cash

·         1 going home outfit
·         Blanket
·         Cap
·         Socks
·         Mittens
·         Woollen clothes /jacket for the cold weather
·         Pacifier
·         Nursing pillow
·         Bottle feeding items like formula milk, bottles and extra nipples
·         Nappy bag comprising of diapers, wet wipes, nappy disposal bags, diaper rash cream, hand sanitiser, changing pad and an extra pair of clothes
·         Infant car seat

This list will take off burden from your shoulders and will keep you focused for the birth.

Grow up, Indian TV viewers!!!

12th March 2012 was a milestone date in Indian Television industry. The consummation episode of Bade Acche  Lagte Hai (BALH ) was telecasted on Sony TV at 10:30 pm that day.  As far as I know, the 17 minute long love making scene in the episode was first of its kind in any Indian TV soap. The icing to the cake was a lip lock between the lead pair Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar.

The episode stirred a huge controversy overnight even though the indicative promos were shown well in advance. Was such a hot consummation scene really required in the first place? Definitely yes for Ekta Kapoor to increase the TRPs. But what about the public reaction? Various newspapers and news channels portrayed it as an embarrassment and humiliation to viewers. Some of whom said that they were mortified to watch the episode with their families.

Now my question to such viewers is who asked you to watch this particular episode with your elders, other relatives or kids around? Didn’t you take a clue from the promos?  The promo itself was so bold. Plus BALH is aired after 10 pm with a specific audience in mind.

And I really can’t digest all those blah blah on spoiling the kids, shame to Indian culture and stuff. If so, then what about all those skimpily clad girls in Bollywood movies or items songs like Jalebi bai, Sheela ki jawani, Munni badnam or Channo?  What about sexually suggestive advertisements these days?  What about Sunny Leon's history and semi named photos appearing in the news? What about all those soaps with extra marital affairs and premarital pregnancies?

If the episode has caused such a big mental discomfit, why BALH love making scenes were being replayed on major news channels in the name of controversy? Why did the newspapers publish articles about BALH with a picture of lip lock between the lead actors?

What about Khajuraho temples? What about Kamasutra - India's gift to the world? What about inevitable exposure to social networking sites and internet?

At least the channel was sensitive enough to telecast the episode as a late night show.  Whether people agree to it or not, romance and sex sell. Everyone wants to see both but no one has guts to admit it.

Indian TV is maturing. So should the audience. It is up to them to decide whether they want to perceive BALH consummation episode merely as sex or celebration of love between two people.                         

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My Domestic Goddess, My Maid

"Leave aside everything else. You should first search for a maid. You would not be able to survive even a single day of your life without them."  A dear friend advised me when I rented an apartment in Pune after my return from Denmark.

I brushed aside her comment mentally since I had stayed in Denmark for 3 years without any domestic help. I certainly used to feel the need of a maid there at times but had gotten used to the Danish way of living. So I was in no hurry to find a maid, albeit I did plan to pamper myself with the luxury of having one.

"Didi, are you new in the neighbourhood? Are you looking for a maid? I am ready to do it."

I couldn’t believe my luck. No knocking at neighbours' door, no request to security at gate, no spreading around the word for a maid. Ha, there she was at my doorstep, just like that.

But my luck didn’t last long. She was gone within few days without any prior notice. Apparently she kept asking for money almost daily and I had refused to meet her frequent demands. Little did I know that it was a lesson for me.

I felt my energy drained out on the very first day of maid's absence. I was hardly able to cope up with cooking, dusting, laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping AND my 2 year old daughter who needs my undivided attention. You see, there are these little additional chores in India which take away lots of your time. While I was in Denmark, I never had to boil milk before using it, I never had to fill up the water bottles for the refrigerator, I never had to use filtered water for cooking, I never had to dust furniture daily and so many other things. We were yet to buy AC and Washing Machine. It meant that I had to do the laundry as well as tank up the air coolers with water daily. On the top of that, my sweet hubby comes home for lunch which he never did in Denmark.

Calm down, take it easy. You have done it in Denmark; you can do it here also. I assured myself. Second day. Third day. I somehow survived. Fourth day and I was physically shattered. I was desperate now. I panicked. I left messages and humble requests with my neighbours and security that I was in need of a maid. I practically ran after every maid I came across in the building.  Somehow all of them were busy and had no time to take up my work. Their demand was huge but supply was short.

Finally my neighbour's maid agreed to meet me and fixed up an appointment at 3 pm, the time when she was free from her day's work.  I waited for her in anticipation, twitching my fingers and pacing the floor restlessly. Will she or will she not?

And she came. I prepared myself for a tete-a-tete. But it turned out to be my interview. She interviewed about me, family, my earlier whereabouts and everything that did not matter. She listed down her conditions before she could accept me as her employer.

1.       She would take 2 leaves a month.
2.       She would take a long holiday of about 4 to 5 days in a year.
3.       She might be late to work at times in case she needs to go to teacher parents meeting at her children’s school.
4.       She would try her best to arrive on time but she may be 10 to 30 minutes late in case lift is busy or she is chatting with her friends.
5.       She would not prefer me to interfere with her work or follow her around in the house.
6.       She would need one month’s salary or equivalent bonus during Diwali.
7.       She would charge extra payment if I have guests at home for a longer duration.
8.       She would need a cup of tea while she is working.
9.       She would give me a missed call if she has something to inform me and I have to call her back immediately.

And there were some unspoken conditions too which we both knew and understood to be taken for granted.

1.       Meals once in a while
2.       Advance payments
3.       Tips from the guests
4.       Saree on special occasions or festivals

And so on….

Should it not have been the other way around? I mean, it is me who is hiring her. It is me who is going to pay her.  She asked me to take a decision by evening because she had offers from other households also. She had paid me visit just out of courtesy and respect to my neighbour where she worked.

No options left, I accepted her terms and conditions. Phew, she could have even made me sign an employment agreement and I would have gladly signed it at that point of time.

I was amazed at the number of English words she had used during our conversation. She was dressed up elegantly from tip to toe and there was not even a single outline of tiredness on her face. She looked as fresh as morning dew. How on the earth does she manage it? Anyways she promised to report to work from the next day onwards.

My happiness knew no limits when she appeared on my door the next morning, with a purse dangling in one hand and a Nokia touch screen mobile on another. As if some Goddess herself had decided to bless me in person.

Well, it has been few days since she is working now and I must admit she is not so bad at her job. Though it is a different story that she hardly takes half an hour to finish her work and rushes off to another house in a jiffy. She is a chatter box and there is no pause button on her tongue.

 Let me give you a glimpse into some interesting tits bits of our one sided conversation:

"This Nokia phone was given to me by a bachelor for whom I cooked. He liked my cooking. He also sold his computer to me at a cheap price for my kid." (Read: The same logic applies to you also. I expect gifts every now and then)

"Did you use the vessel scrub by any chance? It has some leftover food over it. I like my scrubs neat and spotless." (Read: Keep a separate scrub for me or clean the common one after every use)

"This pressure cooker is not well maintained. You should put lemon water in it and leave it overnight". (Read: If you do not maintain your vessels, it adds to my work. I have to put extra efforts to clean it)

"One of my madams had her in laws staying over a month. I agreed to work only because they were a couple. She did not pay me double salary that month. I left their work." (Read: You better remember this when you have such guests)

My husband has challenged me that if this maid lasts over a year, then he would take me out for a romantic vacation. The wait and watch game has started. Let us see who wins.