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Yesterday was a pretty snowy day in Chicago. The snowfall started in the morning and lasted the whole day. We had around 6 inches of snow in our area 😐 !! After dinner, I decided to go for a walk around our block. The BF volunteered to mind the kids while I took a leisurely stroll around πŸ™‚ . He did warn me to be careful though (and even kept calling me to check).

Packing myself into jacket and gloves and boots, I ventured out.

At 8pm in the night, it was a pretty lonely stroll 😦 . There was hardly anyone around. Only a few cars zipped by. I guess the snow had stopped a lot of people from going out. I did get a few strange looks from a couple of doormen outside the apartment blocks. I mean, people here either rush out to get from one place to another, or they are serious runners/joggers who dress up and jog at an even place. No one really strolls along, if you know what I mean!

Anyway, I walked along, admiring the white snow everywhere. It was difficult to walk because the snow had covered all the walk-ways and if you didn’t want to slip and fall and make an ass of yourself, it was best to walk slow and keep one foot forward firmly before raising the next. By the way, did you know that fresh snow is just like flour dust. You can dust it off your clothes and hands without it melting and making you wet . Cool, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

As I walked along, I relived the old-time memories of Kashmir, of days when we were snowed in and the only way to get out of the house would be when the Orderly bhaiya would come in the morning and shovel the snow blocking half our door πŸ™‚ . Mom would heat water in the large fire place which would then be used to unclog the drains in the bathroom and toilet 😐 . There was a central heating system called Bukhara which was nothing but a large metal drum with wood burning inside kept in the middle of the bedroom πŸ˜€ . There was no TV or entertainment of any kind. But there were loads of apple trees which we would climb and eat apples from! And ohh….this was when I got into the habit of eating snow 😐 . There was plenty of fresh, clean snow to gobble up πŸ˜€ .

Lovely memories, those πŸ™‚ . *Sigh*

Unfortunately, the snow here isn’t as clean. Or maybe its because we are in downtown. Am sure the snow in the suburbs would be pristine white πŸ™‚ . Within half an hour of its fall here, you can see a thin film of grey covering the snow. It is the smoke from vehicles around. The snow on tree and rooftops looks better. I saw a lot of people using snow-blowers to clear the driveways and the footpaths. Almost got a load of snow on me from one, luckily, the fellow saw me at the last minute and waved his hand in apology πŸ™‚ . He didn’t have to. I’d LOVE to be drowned in snow! Coming from warm Pune, who wouldn’t πŸ˜›

The roads were full of slush, with snow melting because of the vehicles. Sure wouldn’t want to step out there! I just wondered how much more slushy it would get when the snow really started melting! Luckily, the drainage system here is pretty good so hopefully, our shoes wouldn’t be ruined completely πŸ™‚

Here’s a pic of the benches outside our apartment. As you can see, there’s no place to sit! Thats how high the snow has piled up πŸ™‚

Snow on the benches

Snow on the benches

I picked a little of the clean snow and made a snowball. When I came back home, the kids were tickled to see it. Both gladly posed with it too πŸ™‚

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Lui with the snowball

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Shobby posing with it. He’s VERY happy

The snowball has been kept in the freezer, to preserve it till the time the kids go to Pune πŸ™„ . Thats some preserving I have to do  😦

Thats all about the nightly stroll. More on the trip to Devon (or as it is called, the “Desi Place”) in the next post πŸ™‚

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A few days back, after the twins were done with dinner, me, the MIL and BIL sat down for ours. As we were eating and chatting, I noticed that the twins had strewn their stuff around the drawing room. I called out to Lui who pretended not to hear me and carried on with her drawing. I called Shobby and he immediately came to attention. I told him to pick up the stuff and he dutifully obeyed.
The MIL got a little riled when she saw this. “Hey”, she said,”This is not fair. You hardly make Lui do anything whereas you always make Shobby run around”.
“Its not so”, I denied.
“It is”, she said, turning towards the BIL,”sometimes I feel , her hatred for men shows in the way she treats Shobby”.
All this was said in jest and good humour.
But it got me thinking.
Was I really a man-hater?
Kind of surprising for her to think so isn’t it, considering I ended up marrying her son πŸ˜€ .
But jokes apart, I took a long time that night thinking of why she came to the conclusion which she did. With a whole lot of introspection, I realized that I did make Shobby run around a lot more than I did Lui. But, so does the BF. Does it then mean that he is a man-hater too?
Of course not!
His reason is that Lui will one day get married and leave him and he wants to treat his little girl like a princess till then.
(The man hasn’t used these words exactly, but I can make out by the way he fulfills her every wish and command πŸ™„ )
My only reason for making Shobby run errands is that I don’t want to bring him up believing he has special privileges in life just because he is a boy. Many households still consider making boys do house-work as taboo. I encourage my son in whatever he likes to do and also involve him in stuff he doesn’t like doing (nothing to complain here as he actually LOVES housework).
I have no qualms about my son’s interest in cooking and Lui’s complete lack of the same. One day, when I told Shobby that will make a good chef if he practices well, the MIL got annoyed and said that Shobby will not cook when he grows up. It wasn’t what she said that surprised me. It was the sheer vehemence with which she said it that shocked me. Almost as if it was a fate worse than death if her darling grandchild served his wife breakfast in bed πŸ˜€ πŸ˜›

Can’t blame her though. Its the social conditioning of ages, of being married into a household where catering to men’s needs was the sole purpose of a woman. Even the FIL confesses that when he was a child, he was strictly forbidden from entering the kitchen or even making his own bed. It was how things were done in those days. To some extent, the BF and the BIL too shared a similar thought process, that there were demarcated things that a woman should do and other things that a man should do. The MIL, even though a full-time teacher, slogged terribly at home. She woke up earlier than everyone else, did the dishes, washed clothes, swept and mopped up the house, cooked food, packed the lunch boxes and then went to her school. After coming back home, she would have to first enter the kitchen and cook dinner for the whole family before even thinking of putting her feet up and resting with a cup of tea.
She did all that she did because she was conditioned into believing that her job was secondary to her primary reason of existence, to serve and look after a household.
After I got married, the BF realized how terribly careless he had been towards his working mother, not realizing the amount of effort she had to put in. It is not something he is proud of, but he is willing to accept that he was wrong in expecting royal treatment as his due. That he could shun housework because he was a male. Today, he does everything to help out at home, be it me or his mother for he realizes that we work just as hard as men and in fact, even more.
Better than late than never, isn’t it?!
I want Shobby to involve himself with household chores just as he would with chores outside the house. It would be the same for Lui too, only difference being that with her, people have already started outlining what she should be doing. When guests come and we ask Lui to serve anything or just pass the dishes, people comment on how it is a good thing that she is learning “her duties” early. Ticks me off each time someone says that in front of Lui! I don’t want my daughter growing up believing that she has to do housework as is the wont of her lot (girls). Β In fact, I think I don’t make Lui run errands because of this same reason!

Truly speaking,Β I don’t think my actions or ideas are feminist per se. They are reasonable and logical on humanitarian grounds. Shobby and Lui are two sides of the same coin for me. There is no way I can treat one any different from the other. I believe in equality and I will treat my children just the way me and my brother-sisters were brought up – as equals. There is no house-hold chore that my brother isn’t adept at. Heck, he even knows how to embroider, because along with us, mom made him also stitch table-cloths πŸ™‚ . Dad taught us to swim and to play badminton just the way he taught Bro. Except for him getting a separate room and us sisters having to share ours (so unfair!), there wasn’t anything we could complain against the way our parents treated us all.

When I express such sentiments at home or even at work, I’m dubbed a feminist, a member (and sometimes leader) of the “Mahila Mukti Morcha” ! I don’t mind the titles as much as I mind the belief that I am going against a norm or fighting for a lost cause. I don’t laugh when a male colleague makes fun of the work his wife does/doesn’t do. I don’t find it funny when they crack jokes on women’s intellect. I don’t approve of beauty pageants, for women married or otherwise and I’m dead against pageants for children ! (I can never understand how a woman’s practiced pirouette in high heels and a bikini will help the world become a better place). Β Call me a grumpy old hag if you may, but by demanding a right to being treated as an equal, I’m just making an attempt to make tomorrow better for my daughter. For all our daughters.

Isn’t that a cause worth championing? And wouldn’t it be great if we teach the men of tomorrow to treat women the same way they would expect to be treated?

If this classifies me as a feminist, so be it. I’m proud to be called as one πŸ™‚

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You Know………

…that you will always be needed, when,

your loudmouth, all-knowing, sassy daughter finds comfort in your arms during a bout of illness in the night. All the years seem to melt into that one moment when you held her as a baby, rocking her gently as she sleeps. She may usurp my role most of the time, but for the rest, I’m still needed πŸ™‚

….that you will always be a gloating mother when,

your children speak with impeccable courtesy in front of guests/other people and they start gushing about how well-mannered they are πŸ™‚

….that you are in a different generation zone when,

you discuss about the benefits of drinking water with a young colleague, casually mention that Milind Soman suggests drinking a sip of water every 15-minutes and she gently cocks her head, raises an eyebrow and asks, “Umm….Who’s Milind Soman?”

Milind Soman“, you insist, “The Super model!”

She looks blank.

“Tuff shoes??”

No luck!

“Made in India??”

*Silence*

*STAB STAB STAB*

You look up in horror, not at her ignorance, but at the realization that today’s generation has no clue about the hottest man of our times. That indeed, our time was so far back!!

…that you are still a young girl at heart when,

Your husband sends lovey-dovey messages in the middle of the night and even from the deepest slumber, you hear the slight ping of the message, check it out and giggle with exuberance of a 15-year old πŸ™‚

…that you are deeply loved when,

you little boy puts his tiny arms around your neck, nuzzles up to you and mutters that he will ALWAYS be there for me and take care of me, all this when I’m deeply engrossed in thoughts about the BF!

…that you have crossed an invisible age-line when,

songs from the popular FM band don’t register in your head. You know some music is playing, but you realize that an entire program went by and you cant recollect even a single number from it! Also, you quickly switch over to 101FM and delve into the pleasure of decades old Rafi/Kishore songs.

…that you have gained a few more inches in the middle when,

that shalwar of your starts climbing up your ankles. HATE  the ankle-climb 😐

fat-cartoon

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Warning :

a)Β  Long post ahead.

b)Β  Post talks about periods.

c)Β  I can get pretty graphic at times.

I’ve been wondering whether to write this post or not for a pretty long time now. There were considerations for the menfolk who drop by my blog occasionally. Didn’t want to gross them out. But then, most of the guys I know are either married or have girlfriends. So finally, I decided that it wouldn’t harm them to know what I’m going to say here. They can even forward my opinions to their wives or girlfriends (Notice how I’ve cleverly replaced the ‘and’ here πŸ˜€ ) if they wish to.

For people who get nauseous at the very first mention of ‘periods’ or ‘menstruation’, you may close the browser now. OR, you may head to my post on baby poop, pee and puke. Less revolting. In fact, I didn’t get graphic about the poop and puke at all!! Maybe it was in this post? Umm no, thats too decent too. Damn!! Why can’t I find a gross post when I’m looking for it?!

(Nah. Just kidding. Close the damn browser right now πŸ™‚ )

mfln3290l

Coming back to the topic. I’ve hated periods all my life. They ruined most of my carefree nature, landed me in embarrassing situations more than once, took away much of my freedom, cramped my lifestyle (literally) and in all, appeared to be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Or to any woman for that matter! Then I had the twins. Everything seemed worthwhile , even the rashes and the PMS. At least for a while. I still don’t have a benevolent attitude towards periods. If I didn’t fear early setting in of osteoporosis, I’d have gladly gone in for a hysterectomy right after the twins were born! No seriously, am not kidding.

My earliest memory of suffering was when I hit puberty. That was the age when I’d just begun excelling at sports. Badminton and swimming were my personal favorites. I had a large group of friends with whom I used to go to the pool regularly. If the pool schedule wasn’t too hectic, we’d have a round of badminton before heading back home. Or sometimes, we played badminton after reaching home. Blissful days those were πŸ™‚

Then one fine day, when the gang came to collect me, I just shrugged and said I couldn’t come with them. No explaining done because in those days, we didn’t talk about it openly in front of guys 😐 . A couple of girls in the gang understood, a silent communication that happened without my saying a single word. Later on, I’d realize just how close women can get sharing this one secret! The next day, when the gang dropped by, I refused once again. After day 3, they stopped dropping by my place. It felt terrible. Not just because I was missing out on some great activities and fun but also because I was sitting in my house, sitting through a terrible napkin rash that had broken out on my thighs. It hurt like hell but I had to let it heal so that I could attend school the next day.

The rashes. Its not something that assailed all girls but for me, maybe because my skin was sensitive, I’d have the worst case ever. Getting through a school day would be an ordeal. We didn’t get exempted from physical training or sports (in a co-ed school), soΒ  I had no option but to grit my teeth, grunt through the pain and just get on with life. The only thought while going back home was to sink myself into a tub of ice-cold water! And stay there forever. But a tubful of ice-cold water was not readily available those days, so one got by with generous doses of neosporin powder or sometimes, just plain talcum. The skin was allowed to heal in the privacy of home before facing the next day’s challenge!

With age, the intensity diminished, but with every month, the rashes dutifully came back. I have tried every single napkin that has come out in the market. I even bought napkins from international brands. Nothing helped. The rashes came back just as stars come out each night 😐

14

A couple of years back, after much contemplation, I switched to tampons. We get only one brand in India (OB, by J&J), the one that doesn’t come with an applicator. Needless to say, the initial trials were utter failures, not to mention painful! Gradually, with time, I learned to use it successfully. Tampons helped with the rashes immensely. I no longer feared the periods. For a good 18 months, I was happy that I’d made the switch.Β  The only drawback was that the tampons cause severe dehydration of the vaginal walls towards the end of the periods. Sometimes, it is dry enough to cause severe pain or cramps.

Then one day, while going through IHM’s blog, I came across a post on Menstrual Cups.

This was interesting. I had never heard of such a thing before and before I knew it, I was hunting all over the web for it. I asked plenty of people, posted queries on forums, but like me, most Indian women were waiting for reviews on it. None that I knew had ever heard of it, let alone used it. After much contemplation, I took the chance and decided to use it myself rather than wait for someone else’s feedback. But good intentions don’t necessarily come with prompt actions. It took me a good year before I finally decided to make the switch.

The BF, bless his soul, had bought me a box of Diva Cup (purchased through Amazon). The Amazon offer included one Diva Cup with two bottles of Diva wash, a pH neutral wash to clean the diva cup. It was a pretty good deal, really. After using the cup for a few months, all I can say is, I’m never going to back to the conventional methods again!

The Diva cup is steeply priced. But it pays for itself after a year of use. In India, we can purchase the SheCup which is currently available only online (visit www.shecup.com for more information).Β  A rough calculation is as follows :-

Suppose you spend an average of 30/- per month on sanitary napkins, then you would spend 30×12= 720/- for a year’s supply. The SheCup comes for approx. 675/- . A single menstrual cup can last for up to 10 years if used as directed.

Imagine! One purchase and for a good enough decade, you don’t need to spend on any other sanitary product! A drop of any pH neutral hand/face/body wash is good enough to clean the cup. Once in aΒ  while, it would be a good practice to sterilize it by boiling it. Now I’m sure some women would be averse to using kitchen utensils (or even gas-stove for that matter) to sterilize a menstrual product. They can go the normal soak-in-dettol-solution-for-ten-minutes route. It works too. Also, if you wash the cup regularly with the prescribed liquid cleaner you needn’t sterilize it every cycle. But then, the level of hygiene you want to maintain depends on you.

Coming to hygiene, the menstrual cup is by the cleanest method I have come across so far. Since the cup sits inside your body, collecting the fluid, there is no exposure to air and hence, no oxidization and mercifully, no odour. Yup! You heard that right! Menstrual cups have ZERO odour. So even at the peak of your periods, you wouldn’t smell a thing! At all!

Also, because it sits inside, there is no leakage. One can go up to 12 hours at a stretch without the need to change. In case of heavy periods, the cup may get full earlier, so aΒ  quick trip to the washroom is all you need to dump the contents, wash with water or wipe with a tissue and re-insert. Thats it. you are done!

I’m going a little haphazard in my glowing review of the cup, so I’ll just quickly summarize the key features that make it click. Hopefully, you will be convinced enough to make the change πŸ™‚

So, here goes :-

1) A menstrual cup lasts much longer. It is made of medical grade silicon and is allergy free.

2) A menstrual cup is environment friendly. Very environment friendly. Sanitary napkins are made with chlorine bleached wood pulp and polyacrylate gel and polyethylene film as the cover. Though this makes the napkin super absorbent what it also does is to make it virtually non-biodegradable (it takes nearly a hundred years to decompose a used sanitary napkin). With the number of napkins you use in a month, multiplied by 12 and then multiplied by the number of years you’ve been using it, imagine the extent of toxic waste created by you! It is never to late to switch to a more environment friendly version of sanitation!

3) Like I mentioned before, there is zero odour. I know many women get grossed out changing their own napkins. Much has to do with the menstrual fluid which gets exposed to oxygen and oxidises to release odour. With a menstrual cup, the duration of exposure to air is so minimal (while you are dumping the contents) that there is no time for oxidization to occur and hence, no chance to generate odour. No smell means feeling wonderful and radiant even during the peak of my periods πŸ™‚

4) A menstrual cup, when worn properly, does not leak. Not even a drop! Unless you are lazy and cross the 12-hour barrier. Even then, there is very minimal leakage. There are no embarrassing episodes! You can sleep through the night without an ounce of worry of staining your clothes or the bed-sheets. You needn’t opt for mile-long sanitary napkins just to get a sound night’s sleep πŸ˜€ .

5) It is pocket friendly. One purchase and you are set for many years! At the max, you may need to carry a few panty-liners in your purse, for the days close to the actual period days.

6) You no longer need to let anyone know that you are having your periods! No more carrying your purse to the office washroom for every change! No more hunting for old newspapers to carry to the bathroom at home.

7) Extreme comfort! Menstrual cups do not harm the insides of your vaginal passage and are allergy free. There is a bit of learning curve associated with using it. People who have used a tampon would find it much easier to use a cup. For first timers, instructions are available in plenty on the net. You can start by going through this video first. I did experience initial discomfort , which I later found out, was because of the stem of the Diva Cup. I trimmed it a bit and now it sits like a dream. I don’t even remember that its in there πŸ™‚

There are plenty more benefits, I’m sure. I’m still new to the cup but the experience has been more than awesome. I wonder why such products are not advertised here, why menstrual cups are not manufactured and sold in bulk?! One reason, of course , would be the direct hit that the sanitary napkin industry would have to bear! But since we still haven’t figured out a good way to dispose off those napkins, I think we should resist from using them.

In case any one of you is interested, you may find more information on menstrual cups here. It has a nice list of all available types and sizes, the usage, the squish factor and much more.

One word of warning though. The menstrual cupΒ  cannot handle your PMS and your cramps πŸ™‚

( As the millions of tissues in your uterus contract and expand to discard its lining, sending shooting pain signals starting from the tips of your toes to the back of your head, the only thing you can do is grin and bear it as you’ve been doing all these years. Sorry, but that is the sad truth. And if you feel like killing someone while going through it, please feel free and do it. Millions of women around the world will back your right to do so πŸ™‚Β  )

Hopefully, you’ll become a convert like me πŸ™‚

Have a happy period, people πŸ™‚

Love,

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I was digging through my laptop yesterday and came across a few snaps taken from last year. We had gone on a short weekend trip to a resort near Pune ( I really have no idea how I missed out on doing a post on that 😦 ).

Anyhow, so as I was sifting, I came across a couple of snaps that captured the twin’s personalities so vividly.

These were taken when we were at the check-out counter at the time of leaving. The BF was busy paying the bills, we were waiting for him to wrap up. This being a remote resort among the hills, there was a large bunch of Langurs which were causing some trouble. The workers at the resort used fireworks to disperse the monkey-crowd. They were mostly successful.

This snap was taken as the kids observed the workers at work –

P1070836

Lui was all attention, at the edge of her seat. Shobby, meanwhile, was laid-back and just looked on at the proceedings.

There was one particular langur who took a violent turn and chased one of the workers around the resort. The man ran screaming with the monkey behind him and the rest of the workers running behind the monkey. It was total chaos 😐 . Everyone was rooted to the spot because the reception area of the resort had an open plan with only a roof covering our head. Anytime, the langur could turn and come at us.

I turned to look at the kids and was transfixed by this image –

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Lui : ZOMG!!!!!
Shobby : Do I look as if I give a damn!

I’m really tickled as I see this snap πŸ™‚ . Here, Lui is at her best expressive self. She is scared, worried, shocked, terrified, all at the same time.Β  Her face and her body language speak volumes on whats going on in her mind. Shobby, on the other hand, couldn’t care less 😦 or even if he does, he’s doing a good job of suppressing his feelings. I really cannot make out what he thinks about the whole men-chasing-langur-chasing-man scene!

As seen above, Lui is impulsive, quick to draw conclusions (something like me, I’m afraid 😐 ) . Shobby is thoughtful and doesn’t give in to emotions unless he’s convinced of what he has seen. It doesn’t mean that he is cold…he’s a rather warm-hearted,sensitive kid. But he doesn’t go about openly disclosing his feelings…much like his father πŸ™‚

Just goes to show how very different two kids can be…even those born under the same sign and the same time!!

Amazing, isn’t it?? πŸ™‚

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Note : This is not a paid plug for LifeCell πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

I just remembered it today when I saw the folder containing the receipts of my payment for banking the umbilical stem cells for the twins.

It was my Bhabhi who first opted for it in our family. Bro didnt have much of a clue, but Bhabhi being a doctor, decided on it. When I was pregnant, I never thought about this, but then, one day I saw an advertisement in a magazine and was bowled over. I mean, here was a sureshot way to ensure treatment in case your child ever encountered any major illness after birth. We checked the site. We called the representatives to our house for a demo. We checked out the videos, spoke to Bhabhi and a few doctors, browsed for all available information on the net and finally made a decision. A couple of years later, Bags made the same decision.
A little background on stem cells, from their website –
“Stem cells are the body’s “master” cells that regenerate and turn into the cells that form all of the tissues, organs, and systems in the human body. Given the right environment, stem cells can give rise to a number of tissues that constitute the different organs.  Also serving as a kind of repair system for the body, stem cells can divide repeatedly and then differentiate and replenish cells within the body. These unique characteristics are the reason why stem cells are considered a breakthrough in regenerative medicine. They have the potential for providing cells and tissues to treat various debilitating, life-threatening diseases.”
Check out the list of diseases that are curable through stem cells here :- http://www.lifecellinternational.com/treatable-diseases.aspx

We went ahead with the stem cell banking at the time of delivery.
Surprisingly, my gynaec had no idea about LifeCell and its benefits. When I called up LifeCell’s branch in Pune, they immediately sent a representative to the doctor’s clinic to brief them about he procedure. My doctor was suitably impressed and even went ahead with suggesting it to her other clients.
We were given the boxes months in advance. I immediately kept the gel packs in the freezer and the boxes on the table. I warned everyone at home, that the minute I land up in the hospital, they’d have to rush there with the boxes and the gel packs. The nurse’s (from LifeCell) number was set on speed dial. My delivery was scheduled for 9am on 18th Nov (through C-Sec). But the lead surgeon was not available until 3pm. In that duration, there were many hoax instances when it appeared that the surgeon had come. I must have called up home a hundred times to say, “get the boxes” and “no no, don’t get them now. Keep them back”. The BIL must have rued bitterly about volunteering to fetch the lifecell kits and frozen gel packs to the hospital right before my surgery!
Finally, when I was called in for the prep, I made a final call home and begged the BIL to rush to the clinic ASAP.  The BF, poor soul, was stuck in a meeting with a visiting client and urged me to take it cool and not rush until he  came in. As if it was in my hands 😐
Post prep, I was led to the operation theater. I grinned my way in, totally kicked about getting the immense weight off my tummy πŸ™‚ . When I walked in, I didn’t find a nice and quiet, squeaky place stuffed with equipments. I mean, it was clean and squeaky and there were equipments. Its just that, with the circus in there, I could barely make out any :|!! I  mean, excluding me, there was a plethora of doctors and nurses assembled . Wasn’t it a routine C-sec?, I wanted to ask my gynaec. But they were all so busy chatting among themselves that no one paid even the slightest attention to the specimen lying on the table. Me 😐
In between, the BF barged into the operation theater, wild-eyed and frantic.
“Don’t worry”, he mumbled, too shocked on seeing an operation theater for the first time and also disconcerted at the crowd in there.
“I won’t”, I assured him as the nurses hustled him out. Frankly, I just wasn’t worried. I knew I was in safe hands and I didnt have a single negative thought at all πŸ™‚

For the record, there were 9 people in the op-theater, excluding me. There was my gynaec, the anesthesiologist, the lead surgeon, his assistant, the pediatrician, a back-from-Australia-doctor who wanted to observe a twin-delivery, two nurses of the clinic and the nurse from LifeCell.
Initially, the other doctors had no idea what the LifeCell nurse was there for. One of them asked her and she started explaining the concept. Eventually, the doctors lost all interest in me and started bombarding her with questions. In my limp state, I could not help but fret that the doctors were paying far too much attention to the nurse than the tummy they had just split open. I got a small glimpse of the surgeon as he rapidly sewed the tummy in place, all the while checking out the pros and cons of stem cell banking (i’m glad to say, its all Pro and no cons. Unless you consider good health a con. Its your choice, really :|) .  A tiny peek from under the eye-patches and I could see the surgeon deftly sewing up the gash. I surmised that the baby-pulling-out-slapping-bottom routine was completed. Twice πŸ™‚ . Surprisingly, though the kids yelled out loud and clear (as vouched by those outside the theater) I don’t have any recollection of the sound 😦
The umbilical cord blood was drained into blood packs and encased between the frozen gel packs, the boxes were couriered to Chennai, where the LifeCell facility is.We received news of the successful blood typing and stem cell extraction within a month of delivery (Lui is O+ like me and Shobby is A+ like his father. There, we distributed
evenly amongst us, didn’t we? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ )

The LifeCell stem cell storage facility is expensive. A little steep, if you consider that you may never actually need the extracted stem cells yourself. But if not you, any other member of the family can benefit from it ( you need to do the HLA matching first) if suffering from the list of ailments given above. A small excerpt on HLA typing from the website :-
“HLA antigens are proteins found in most cells in our body. Our immune system uses these proteins or markers to recognize which cells belong in our body and which do not. If the immune system determines a cell as not belonging to the body, the cell is attacked. Thus, HLA typing is done to reduce the risk of the transplanted stem cell being attacked by the immune system of the recipient. A close match between the patient’s HLA antigens and the donor’s can reduce the risk of the patient’s immune cells attacking the donor’s cells or vice versa. HLA typing is usually done for all allogeneic transplants, using a blood sample.
There are 6 HLA markers that are matched. For a successful transplant, at least 4 of these 6 markers must match. In some cases even a 3/6 match has been successful. However, it is best to have 4 or more markers that match as it reduces the risk of graft versus host disease”.

Lisa Ray, who suffered from Multiple Myeloma, was successfully treated using stem cell therapy. It just made me all the more glad that I had opted for it. More so, because it was the ONLY chance I had of securing a health insurance for my kids. Their stem cells will not generate again (except Lui, she still has a chance in future :-http://www.lifecellfemme.com/index.aspx). If the children or anyone else in the family never need it (InshaAllah), then I also have the chance to donate the stem cells to others who do need it. Or, I can allow LifeCell to use them for further research.
The reason I started typing this post was because I’ve seen so many of my friends going through pregnancies and deliveries, but no one seems to opt for this procedure 😐  (it isn’t altogether unaffordable). We suffer from far more lifestyle illnesses than ever before, with diabetes ruling the roost in India. I have friends from by office batch, who each suffers an ailment greater than the other. I’m at present , much better than them, but its just a matter of time before age catches up. By the time our kids grow up, I wonder what else we’ll have to encounter. Good health isn’t a given anymore.

So now, People who have opted for LifeCell, do let me know what you think about it.
People who had considered and then backed out, please let me know why you weren’t convinced enough.
People who are interested, do check out this site :- http://www.lifecellinternational.com.
And once more, I wasn’t paid to write this post. I have an uncle who has severe diabetes. The doctors say that his kidneys/liver aren’t up to the mark. There is a chance that his family contemplates stem cell therapy in the future. When that happens and they need a donor, they needn’t look far πŸ™‚



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I had a rather interesting conversation with my cubicle mate this morning.
We were talking about astrology and somehow the topic veered towards children.
He asked me if out of my twins, the girl was the elder one. I said yes, by two minutes.
So he grinned and told me that in all the cases of love marriages (that he knows about), the first-born is always a girl.
This statement stupefied me. I thought about it and then tried to recollect all my friend who had kids. Initially, I could only think of those who had arranged marriages and had a mix of boys and girls as first-born. But as the day progressed and I thought about more friends who did have love marriages, it came as a stunning revelation that ALL of them did indeed have daughters as first-born :|.
Its a funny coincidence, that.
Frankly, the odds might be in the favor of girls, but I just want to know….do you know of anyone (yourself included) who had a love marriage and had a son as their first-born?
I just want to see if this quirk of nature is true or that I really don’t know many married couples who had love marriages πŸ™‚
So help me out…chip in with some info if you have any πŸ™‚

 

Edited to Add : When I started out this survey, I had people chipping in with their agreements and inputs on how people they knew had girls. But after a horde of comments on this post and on FB, I’ve come to the conclusion that this observation isn’t really concrete (obviously), though the percentage of girls as first- born out of  love-marriages, in India, is slightly higher than the boys. Surprisingly, by nature, more boys are born compared to girls (as first-born or otherwise) because the male survival rate is low. So after a few months/years of being born, nature equalizes the ratio.

For the record, I’m still going to follow-up on this observation because the number of people I know with daughters (nearly 10-12) tips the scale against only ONE friend I know who has a boy πŸ™‚



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………………….on my way to work, I crossed a stretch of road which is the hub of the city’s central grains and vegetable depot.  Succinctly put, its called Market Yard. This is where every morning, trucks come in by the dozens and dump a zillion sacks of grains and vegetables. The market opens up at an insane hour, probably 4am in the morning. By 5am, there is a hoard of little red and blue tempos which crowd to Marketyard to buy their share of the goods. These tempos/handcarts then travel to the other parts of the city to sell those goods. This activity goes on till 12 in the noon. I guess after that the depot gates close down. At the time when I pass that way, the traffic outside the depot gates is at its peak. It is a tough task for all the bikes, cars and buses to outmaneuver the tempos/handcarts, which take up nearly the entire road.

Anyhow, so this morning, as I reached the large traffic signal (which unfortunately turned red just as I reached it), I saw that there was a slight commotion. Apparently, a tempo crossing the signal had dropped a sack of guavas right in the middle of the road. The driver of the tempo (tempo1) was oblivious of his loss till he reached the other side, where a couple of bystanders told him that they saw his sack falling off. Tempo1 driver was worried. He parked his vehicle and tried crossing the road, but the peak rush hour didn’t allow him the space. Meanwhile, as second tempo’s (tempo2) driver, standing at the signal, saw the plight of tempo1, he quickly hopped out, rushed to the sack and amidst great traffic, somehow managed to drag it back to his tempo. Tempo2 driver waved frantically at driver of tempo1, trying his best to signal that the sack was safe. Driver1 couldn’t see properly through the traffic. And tried once more to cross the road. Tempo2 driver then hauls the sack into his vehicle, drives across the road to tempo1 driver and hands over the sack. Tempo1 driver’s face is flush with relief. Tempo2 driver gets back into vehicle, makes a U-turn and drives off in another direction.

All this happened in the few minutes it took for my signal to turn green, but it was an inspiring lesson on good-ness. On being helpful and kind. Tempo2 driver went out of his way to make sure that tempo1 driver’s sack was unharmed and was handed over to him. Its not everyday we see selfless acts of kindness, specially in cities where everyone is too rushed to help out others. Reminded me of an instance long time back, Bro was driving me to a college for a written test. It started raining and I was clutching at my folder of certificates, trying my best to prevent them getting wet. Somehow, at one point, the folder slipped out of my hand and fell on the road. I yelled at Bro to stop the bike, which he did, but a few meters ahead. I frantically signaled people coming my way to not drive over the folder. Many drove around it. But one particular chap, who was far off and had seen me, drove right over my folder and was nasty enough to give a smug look while doing it. I stood there, too shocked for words, but Bro’s yelling brought me back to my senses. I picked up the now squelchy folder and walked back to Bro. The certificates were now muddy and wet. The only sensible thing to do was to dry them after going home. I just prayed the college did not require us to submit any docs that day. Luckily, they didn’t.

But the point is, the incident is imprinted in my mind. No one really stopped to help me that day. One person was rude enough to cause more trouble. it was enough to make me cynical for the rest of my life!

The incident today gave me a warm feeling πŸ™‚
Kindness is not dead yet. There are still plenty of people who do their share of good deeds a day.

And all is well with the world πŸ™‚



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//For some unknown reason, my images refuse to get displayed on this page. WordPress is acting Wonky but I cant really blame it because my office firewall is playing truant 😐 . Kindly adjust πŸ™‚ //

A funny thing happened a couple of days back.

I was at the chemists store, waiting to get a box of Pediasure for the twins (highly recommended by the pediatrician!). A man walked in and this is the conversation between him and the shop attendant(SA) –

Man : Do you have face cream?

SA : Yes sir. Which one do you want?

Man :Β  (looking around vaguely) Just anything….any plain face cream for men.

SA : (Dumping a few brands on the counter) Take this, Emami skin cream.

 

Man : (giving an embarrassed laugh) No no. I don’t want fairness cream. I just want any normal skin cream.

SA: Garnier sir?

 

Man : (Taking a look at the Garnier box ) I said I don’t want fairness creams. I don’t intend painting my face white!

SA : Sir , we have just these two and Vaseline.

Man : Give me Vaseline.

(The shop assistant hands over the tube of Vaseline face cream)

 

Man : Oh No!! Yeh bhi whitening?!!! Don’t you have any normal cream??

SA : Sorry sir….we have onlyΒ  these creams 😦

(A helpful lady, overhearing this conversation, pipped in)

HL : Why don’t you try Vicco?

Man : Vicco?? Isn’t that a toothpaste?

(Clearly, this man must have been an NRI!! Imagine, living in India and never hearing of Vicco Turmeric :O !!)

SA : (Placing a tube of Vicco turmeric on the counter) You can try this Sir…very herbal, good for skin.

 

By this time, even I was quite piqued by the array of face creams.

Me :Β  (to SA) Whats this “WSO” in this cream?

SA : Its for “Without Sandalwood Oil”.

Me : Oh!

Man : Oh!

HL : Oh!

Man : …And, how does that help?

SA : No idea sir. But regular use of this cream will make you fairer. The turmeric is for fairness.

Man : AAAARRRGGGHHHH!! Isn’t there just one simple cream that I can use?? How about Nivea??

SA : Sorry sir, we are out of stock.

Me : (taking serious pity on the guy’s plight) Why don’t you try Boroline?

SA : Yessir. Very nice fragrant cream.

(And he dumps the dark-green tube on the counter)

 

Man : I hope this isn’t a fairness cream 😐

SA : (laughing ) He he!! Why you need fairness cream sir?! You are already very fair.

Man : 😐

Me : 😐

HL : |

SA : Ohh sorry, you don’t want fairness cream!! But we get demand only for whitening creams sir…thats why we have to keep it. Everyone wants to become fair now! He heΒ  πŸ˜€ !!

Man : (paying for the tube of Boroline and turning to me) Thanks.

Me : You are welcome.

The man left the store, but I was left with many a questions in my mind.

Firstly, why indeed are Indians crazy about becoming ‘white’ ??

Why do movie stars, who are already fair, have to endorse fairness products? Do they really believe in the product? Are they aware of the psychological impact their actions have on millions??Β  Do they feel accountable for what they do?

Why do men have to look pretty ALL the time?? Is it a crime if they sweat at a game of tennis??

Why do women have to be white ALL OVER?? Earlier it used to be just about the face. Now they’ve gone into regions which are best not mentioned 😐 !!

A long time back, when we were looking for proposals for my sisters, I remember guffawing at the “wanted brides” section. “Tall, fair, convent educated….” , went the requirement list. Some people, who wanted to clarify that by fair they didn’t means the bride’s sense of justice, would word their requirements as ,”Tall, gori, convent educated….”.

“You know Dad, going by this list, I will never get married through the arranged marriage system 😦 ” , I once confessed to Pop.

“Hmmpphh”, was all he said, busy with his morning papers. Obviously, his daughter’s marital prospects were of least concern to him 😐

It wasn’t so funny when we had people coming over to our place and then rejecting my sisters because they didn’t find them fair enough! For the record, one of my sister is just short of being milky-white and the other was fairer than the term “wheatish”. In such demands of ‘white’, what hope did I have? Luckily, the BF (who is around 8 shades lighter than me) never bothered about the colour of my skin. Just as well πŸ™‚ …it isn’t even a topic of discussion between us…has never been!!

My sisters finally got married to men who saw beyond their skin colour. I’m glad to say, they have perfect spouses (touch wood). Conversely, my bhabhi (who is around 15 shades lighter than my brother) never bothered that Bro was three shades lighter than Rajnikant! All my siblings had arranged marriages. They all get along fabulously with their spouses. And I’m sure, none of them would ever, EVER suggest the other to use any kind of so-called skin whitening products.

Then who uses them??

The people whoΒ  use these creams are the impressionable youth.

It is used by youngsters fresh out of college or young men/women available on the marriage market. It is used by young men who are advised that girls are attracted to only the fairest amongst them. Young girls use it believing that the same expectations rise from the guys.

It is used by youngsters who are easily influenced into believing that to achieve ANY success in life, they have to look fair. That employers are more impressed with their glowing looks than their capabilities.

Every time such an advertisement played on the telly, I would have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My kids are not fair, but given the societal expectations, I’ll have a tough time helping them build their personalities without worrying about the color of their skin. I’m already mad at that unknown person who put it in Lui’s mind that she is not fair enough and if she wants to be, she needs to use a ‘fairness cream’. So every time those dumb ads come on screen, my daughter demands that I buy her that very cream because she needs to become fairer. Any amount of counseling on the lies perpetrated by those ads, falls on deaf ears.

“Woh aunty gorey-gorey ho gaye na. Mujhe bhi hona hai”, is her stubborn claim.

Keeping the telly switched off around the twins is the best option possible.

The only bright spark in this gloom of fairness is the latest WHO report on the use of Mercury for skin lightening (Read more here :-Β http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/ ). The article lists out the various harmful effects of mercury. Among the list of common culprits using mercury are (from the site)Β  :-

  • batteries
  • measuring devices, such as thermometers and barometers
  • electric switches and relays in equipment
  • lamps (including some types of light bulbs)
  • dental amalgam (for dental fillings)
  • skin-lightening products and other cosmetics
  • pharmaceuticals

“……….Inorganic mercury is added to some skin-lightening products in significant amounts. Many countries have banned mercury-containing skin-lightening products because they are hazardous to human health.”

Obviously, India is NOT one of those countries. I doubt whether the Government itself would think of pulling down the shutters on a 2000 crore industry (and growing), if these reports are to be believed :-

Skin whitening trend driving male cosmetic market in India

“……Having amassed a dominant share in the Indian men’s cosmetics market, fairness creams are emerging as a key trend in the country according to a new market report.”

http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Market-Trends/Skin-whitening-trend-driving-male-cosmetic-market-in-India

 

Though this is a serious reason for concern, I don’t blame the men for wanting to look good. Women have been at the receiving end of being psyched out into believing that they are the ugliest, fattest, darkest damsels on the planet. Clever money-making manufacturers of fairness products have just shifted the focus on to the men now. The men have, unfortunately, bitten the bait 😦 .

If the above news reports on Indian male cosmetics market is true, then what can I say guys?!

Join the club 😐

(You know when I’ll be like, REALLY worried?? When they start making sanitary napkins for the men 😐 )

*EGAD!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *

Anyhow, to end this post, I would like to say that I personally know a couple of girls who used skin whitening creams right before their marriage (as insisted on by the in-laws/family members) and ended up with severe skin rashes. Believe me, their wedding snaps weren’t very pretty 😐 .

The only way to reduce the usage of these harmful products is to spread awareness. If you see people around you using them, ask them politely why they want to use a fairness cream. I tried it with the nanny. She was flustered for a minute, then sheepishly admitted that she thought she would look fairer. I asked her then if she has found any difference from before. As expected her reply was a simple ‘No’. I then told her to stop wasting her money on it and she hasn’t used it since. Believe me, she looks much better now πŸ™‚ .

I only pray that this fetish for ‘fairness’ dies a natural death one day, preferably before my kids hit puberty !

On that note, have a great week ahead you all πŸ™‚

Ciao!!

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On the twin’s last birthday, I stuck to the no-unnecessary-brouhaha rule and kept a simple birthday party at home, inviting only the neighborhood kids. Much of the day was spent in preparing the food and setting up the party. It was a working day and I had taken a leave to be with the twins. While they were at school in the morning, I rustled up the menu and kept stuff ready, to be warmed up in the evening before serving.
Once the kids got back, they had lunch and went off to sleep. I utilized this time to set up the drawing room with balloons and streamers. I was hanging up the last of the streamers when Shobby, groggy from sleep, walked into the hall. He took one long look at the colorful, shiny streamers and balloons. In a fraction of a second, his face split in two with the biggest grin ever πŸ™‚
“Mumma!! Yeh sab hamare liye?” he asked. I replied yes, it was.
My son, bless his little toes, ran to hug me and gushed over the balloons and lights. I was quite tired out by then, but my son’s reaction made me forget my aching arms and hollow lungs (from blowing all those balloons).
My point is, its not what I did that mattered. That I did it for him, made all the difference to my kid.
He reacted similarly last weekend when I bought the monthly groceries. The twins are always eager to dig into the bags to check what could be of use to them or what surprises their mother has in store for them. I’ll confess here that try as I might, I can barely resist getting something or the other for the kids when I’m out shopping. It could be as simple as hair-pins for Lui’s non-existent hair or colorful friendship bands for the two. It doesn’t matter πŸ™‚ .
Anyhow, so Shobby came across a refill packet of Bournvita. Once again, he came running to me, “Mumma…aapne hamare liye Bournvita laye!! Aap kitne achche ho!!”
And proceeded to give me a BIG hug and a kiss while his face glowed with happiness that cannot be described in words :).
The best part?? He doesn’t even like Bournvita!
My son was happy because his sister likes that stuff and I bought it for her!!
Its these simple gestures of gratitude that make all the difference. Much of how Shobby behaves reflects my Dad’s personality.
“Its the thought that counts”, says my father ALL the time.
Its a pity that not many people today value the thought behind a gift. Or the effort.
I have a cousin who is choosy and picky to a fault. Everything she owns has to fit into her aesthetics and sense of style. Needless to say, gifting her is a nightmare. After years of admonishing from her, I’ve learnt to take her along for her shopping. Let her buy what she likes, I’ll pay for it, is my mindset. But then, at the end of it, I do not have the satisfaction of gifting it. Can a gift be called one if the only contribution towards it is the cash?? Is is a necessary aspect to know a person’s likes/dislikes before gifting?? Is gifting money the right thing to do??
A long time back, I had mentioned in a post the kind of gifts that the BF had given me. The reason he still continues on that vein is that I’ve always welcomed his gifts with delight, only because he spent time thinking about me. There were times he was out with friends, yet he thought about me and bought me stuff. He didn’t have to, but he did. And that’s what matters!!
I see a lot of people around me, grumpy that their husbands didn’t gift them the jewelry of their choice, grumpy that their MILs bought them awful stuff, grumpy that their boy-friends have no taste. These views are expressed without the least concern for the time, effort and money someone else spent for them 😐
But shouldn’t an individual’s personal taste reflect in the stuff they buy vis-a-vis stuff that is gifted? How difficult is it really, to be gracious. Accept a gift for what it is. If its not your style, don’t use it. But rebuking the person gifting you isn’t really acceptable, is it? The most common reply to this gentle query is that, “If we don’t tell them now, they will end up buying similar stuff next time. Why let them waste their money??” This may sound true at a level, but why jump to the conclusion that the other person will be generous enough to gift you a second time after you have trashed his first gift?! What makes one think themselves deserving after passing rude comments??
*Sigh*
I have no idea why I’m ranting on this thought process, now.
The closest I can think of is that after hearing a few friends being a tad unthankful lately and then seeing Shobby’s unbridled joy at the simple pleasures he thinks his mom has brought him, made me realize that the innocence of childhood is wiped out as one grows older 😦
A pity 😦
This post will act as a reminder to me and the kids that gifting is not just about giving or accepting gifts. It is about connection, of feeling the need to do something for someone and not just out of duty. To learn to accept and be grateful. To learn to be gracious and thankful. To be thoughtful and considerate when giving something to others.
This is just one of life’s small lessons.
I’m glad my son taught me its true significance πŸ™‚



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