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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 😀 .
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 🙄 )
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 😀 😛

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).  In fact, I think I don’t make Lui run errands because of this same reason!

Truly speaking, 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 🙂 . 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).  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 🙂

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Warning :

a)  Long post ahead.

b)  Post talks about periods.

c)  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 😀 ) 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 🙂 )

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 🙂

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), so  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.  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).  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 a  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 a  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 🙂

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 🙂

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 😀 .

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 🙂

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 cup  cannot handle your PMS and your cramps 🙂

( 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 🙂  )

Hopefully, you’ll become a convert like me 🙂

Have a happy period, people 🙂

Love,

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The Bloody Truth….

 

…..is that I’m anemic.

(It feels horrible to confess it up front like that !)

This brilliant deduction came to haunt me ever since I read this post on blood donation by R’s Mom (office firewall doesnt let me attach the link . But you can read the post at : http://readingthroughrsmind.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/of-blood-donations-and-such/ ). Unlike me, she was blessed to perform this noble deed. Try as I might, blood donation is an activity which abhors me (and not the other way round).

Sample this –

There’s a blood donation drive at work I’m all pepped up about it and reach office at 8 AM !! All my friends gather and we collectively go down to the area where the blood donations were taking place. I was the only girl in the group. In fact, like R’s Mom mentioned in her post, even I was surprised to see that there were hardly a couple or more girls compared to the 50-60 guys waiting in queue at that time.

Just as I jauntily walked into the hall, a voice calls me from behind.

“Excuse me miss, you have to do this test”.

I turn back and stare at a pimply-faced youth, barely out of medical college holding out a contraption which roughly looked like the stand on which you put Kachhua Chhap agarbatti.

“Huh?”.  To the point I was, as always.

“Blood test. We need to check your hemoglobin levels”.

“I’ve got a pretty good count”, I defended myself, more so because everyone in the hall and outside it was watching this little exchange with rapt attention. I guess most of them were still dozing on their feet since IT people rarely get out of bed before 10 Am. Still, I felt those looks.

“Please madam. It will take only one second”.

So I reluctantly held out one finger. The pimply-medico jabbed my finger with the agarbatti stand and even without looking at the sad and disappointed look on his face I could make out that the orange-thingy that oozed out of that finger wasn’t worth donating. I kept mum though 😐

The guy dunked that orangey-droplet in a jar full of viscous blue fluid and since the droplet insisted on floating right over the surface of the blue-fluid, I was clinically termed incapable of blood donation.

Oh!! The enormity of that declaration!!! The sheer embarrassment of being rejected when setting out for a noble cause!! It was almost as though I set out to donate clothes to the poor, destitute people living under one of the city’s bridges, only for them to grab the bag and sell it in the chor-market next day. So much for philanthropy. Or social consciousness (This incident did occur….when I used to volunteer for Goonj).

 The guys in my gang guffawed. Some insisted I ask for blood transfusion to liven up those RBCs. Aaarrggh!! Men and their stupid jokes 👿

 I walked back to my cubicle and was the butt of jokes throughout the day. The worst part is that few of the women who never came forward to donate, joined in the chiding 😐

*Women!!*

Anyhow, fast-forward to a couple of more years.  Good friend SK asked a much-married mother of two (me, henceforth called MOT!)  if she was interested in donating blood. There was a blood donation camp in her office which was in the tower next to our current location. As usual, the MOT was fired up and tagged along.

And right at the entrance to the cafeteria (where the camp was being held), she met her old enemy – the agarbatti stand!!

She shivered involuntarily, but then reminded herself that the blood that zipped in her veins belonged to a brave officer(decorated, at that!)  and not to a sissy. So up went the chin and her finger attacked the metal even before the girl at the other end decided to prick her.

Alas….though a tad more red than before, the blood was nonetheless rather thin in consistency. The MOT didn’t bother to look at the jar of blue-fluid which no doubt, carried her blood like a ruby tiara. SK went ahead and donated while MOT sat there, twiddling her thumbs 😦 . Half an hour later, they were back at their office, with SK carrying the cutest little plant in an even more cute pot. MOT burned in envy all the way back to her desk. It didn’t help.  Her blood didn’t thicken 😦

Another year later,  I decided to join the crowd donating blood at the client office. I dragged in a few friends with me, compelling them to come forward and do their bit for mankind. This time, at the entrance, a doctor asked me if I had any ailments.

“Not really…I mean, I’m not ill or anything”.

“Are you taking any medications”.

“I’m supposed to…but I don’t”.

The doctor, who had a long day ahead of him, contemplated on rejecting me outright.

“Sorry, you cannot donate”.

“But -“

“Sorry, anyone on medications is not advised to donate”.

“But I’m taking supplements”.

“Which ones?”

“Iron”.

“For low Hemoglobin count?”

“Err yes”.

*frown*

“That disqualifies you, you know”.

*DRAT*

Should have seen that coming 😐

Anyhow, crux of the matter is that I didn’t meet my nemesis (you got it, the KCAS) that day. It was a very forlorn and despondent MomOfRS who walked back to her cube.

“How did it go??” sniggered a couple of colleagues.

I swear I felt like drawing blood.

And NOT for donation!!

 —————

The crux of my lament is that there are not enough women out there who can donate blood. I’m one of the statistics of women who have a low Hb count. Its nothing earth-shattering, but alarming enough in its capacity to deprive me of simple pleasures in life. Like playing with the kids for an hour without huffing and puffing after the first 15 minutes. Or like walking/exercising for more than 10 minutes without collapsing over the exercycle!

Eating iron-rich food is a good starting point to overcome this deficiency. Spinach (palak) and dates are the most commonly suggested goods. But what is lesser known is that the presence and level of Vitamin C decides how much iron is actually absorbed by the body. There is loads of data on the internet about it so I’ll not bother hunting for links. Surprisingly, I’ve been an avid consumer of vitamin C rich food which includes guavas (highest content), sweet limes, oranges , amla and all things sour! Green leafy veggies are my favorite. Yet, for some unknown reason, the blood refuses to rise up to the point 12 mark 😦 . Nothing has helped me increase my hemoglobin levels in all these years.  During pregnancy, I took iron supplements twice a day for the entire 8-month duration. I consumed buckets-full of fruits and vegetables. Yet, at the time of delivery, I had reached my highest personal score of 11.6 only  😦 .

Has anyone else experienced this problem? Are there any more anemic women out there who’ve found a cure?? Are the women with healthy Hb levels eating anything that I’m not 😐 ?!! Any suggestions, home remedies that I could try out??

By the way, there was a blood donation camp in my office recently. I didn’t go 😦

B-U-T!!

I have started on another course of iron supplements. This is just a precautionary step, I’m not expecting it to do wonders. will update you all if I observe any positive changes.

Till then,  be generous you all. Go and donate whenever you can. I believe its a wonderful experience 🙂

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This could well be my car and someone’s house one of these days 😦

So I started with these driving classes, opting for a well-used WagonR. My first session was yesterday, which lasted around 15 minutes. The second session was today , which took around the same time, but a longer route.

Aaand. What do I have after a total of 30 minutes in the driver’s seat –

1) An excellent driving instructor who just dropped by from HELL!!

2) Two cranky kids who refused to cooperate and get up early for their momma.

3) One cranky BF who has to get up early to mind the kids in my absence.

4) Sweat-soaked office-wear after trembling in the driver’s seat. I swear I was this close to ramming into dividers!

5) Loss of hair and appetite from the above tension.

Overall, I think its a good start 🙂

And oh, for the record, on my very first drive, I made a ‘U’ turn (YAAAY!!) . And today, when my foot was on the accelerator , the car didn’t move like the camel 😀

Some improvement that. What say?!


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We had our business counterparts visiting us a couple of weeks back . They were two lovely women who were responsible for gathering the customer requirements and feedback and guiding us on what the market needs are. But I wont get into their professional expertise here. What I want to share are the inputs of the personal kind that I gathered from them.

But first, a little background. Lets call one of them L and the other M. They are both senior members in the team and with the client company for the last 11 years. Needless to say, they have an excellent professional record and an enviable standing in the company. Also, L must be nearing 50 and M must be between 35-40 years of age (I didn’t ask, for obvious reasons). B-U-T! They are both gorgeous !!

During their stay here, we had the opportunity to take them out for shopping and spending some time with them. These two women sure know how to keep their professional life separate from their personal. So, away from office, they can talk nineteen to a dozen about their kids and personal life, but once back in, they shed the casualness and become professional once again. It was amazing to see the transformation, because frankly, it was so effortless, I doubt they realized the change themselves! Lesson One learnt here.

For all the meetings scheduled with the two, it was embarrassing to note that they were always before time 😦 . I mean, we did try to make an effort to reach on time, but they beat us to it each time!! They didn’t mind letting us know that before coming here, they were coached on the IST and our interpretation of it. I felt a tad humiliated on that, but they were cheerful and didn’t mean it in spite, so I’ll just accept the fact that try as we might, tardiness is in our blood. So next time we have a meeting, it is best to leave a few minutes before time than to rush in at the last minute. Lesson Two learnt here.

L was recently married, a few months before she came to India. Even as we wondered at the decision of marrying so late (by Indian standards), we were humbled by her comments that she married the right man at the right time and in a manner that she always wanted to. That she could conduct the wedding on her own expenditure (it was extravagant, I tell you, them pictures don’t lie 😐 ) . We, the ones who chip in (marginally) as our parents first struggle to earn and then spend it all on our weddings , felt rotten. Somewhere along the line, I feel we are way too pampered. Why do our parents have to spend on our wedding? Why cant we do it ourselves??  Maybe then we can ask Dad to cross off that obnoxious relative from the guest list 😀 . Lesson Three learnt here.

L and M don’t have children of their own. L has opened up her arms for her husband’s children (from his first marriage). We wouldn’t have guessed they weren’t her’s, going by the way she gushed about the kids and the way her face glowed with pride when narrating their achievements 🙂 . M adopted two kids from far-off Russia, a pair of siblings, both boys. And the way she gushed about them was heart-warming too. I mean, it takes a large heart to be so encompassing, to learn to accept and love. And both these women love the children in their lives, we could see that 🙂 . Lesson Four learnt here.

These two women stayed here but a week, but their sheer exuberance and enthusiasm was infectious. They weren’t prissy and uptight and even agreed to eat everything we piled on their plates. It was a far-cry from some other visitors I’ve seen who wouldn’t touch our food or water unless it was pizza or coke! L, the elder of the two was so energetic, she would put a 20-year-old to shame ! They were frank, open, welcoming and I guess this was the reason we extended our hospitality far beyond what we do for other clients. And, the best part, they never commented negatively about our roads or the markets or the crowd 🙂 . I think they accepted India as they saw it whereas we still struggle to come to terms with what we see. Lesson Five learnt here.

We felt really bad that these two had to leave so soon…..I think I’ve learned a lot from them . And maybe, just maybe, they had some more lessons up their sleeves 🙂

So here’s hoping L and M come back for a visit soon (at least L said she would 😀 ).



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Not lovely, but I do have Chubby Cheeks. At least when I grin. Or smile!

Anyhow, this incident happened this Monday – I walked into the VLCC centre closest to my place, I had an appointment for 11 AM, but I was a tad early and walked in by 10:40 AM. The only person around to greet me was the cleaning maid. I waited for a while and then asked for something to read. The maid reluctantly handed me the previous day’s paper. She looked grumpy, so I didn’t pester her for the current copy. I read the paper from start to end. Then started on the crossword. then did a few Mensa puzzles (successfully, if I might add 😀 ) and then finally proceeded to do Sudoku. By now, it was 11:20 AM, yet there was barely any activity inside the parlour/fitness-centre.

I doodled for some time, when finally a lady walked up to me and gave me a form to fill (since it was my first time there). I filled up eagerly and went to hand it over to her. The lady watches me approach her and as she accepts my form, coughs discreetly and says, ” *Ahem* Would you be interested in our special figure-correction package?”.

What?!

I mean, I know I’m kinda healthy…but figure correction? I mean, do you actually massage yourself to cut away the flab in order to get a better silhouette or what?!

She took in my flabbergasted expression and took it for a yes. I’m still not sure if she realized I was offended big time 😦 . Anyhow, so this other woman with gorgeous long hair leads me inside and makes me stand on this machine which my feet placed over some metals pads and hands holding on to some bars while the machine does a complete body scan. The device had a tiny display and suffice to say, the readings were not pretty. I now realize why the figure-correcting lady thought I needed to chop up the fat!

In a short summary, this is what the dratted machine had to say –

1) Height : 155 cms

2) Weight 69.1 kgs

(normal range 43.9 – 59.4)

3) Muscle mass 19.4 kgs

(normal range 19.5 -23.8)

4) Body Fat Mass 32.6 kgs

(normal range 10.3 – 16.5)

There!! See that?! My body fat turns out to be twice that of the max amount of the normal range. I , for one, am NOT normal 😐

The report also had detailed sectional reports on where the fat deposit is more and where it is normal. Apparently, each leg weighs 5 kgs more than required, the tummy region is *hold your breath* 15 kgs over the normal and shoulders are each 2.5 kgs over.

While I was recovering from the shock, the dear counselor went on a long spiel about how VLCC could come to the rescue and with a minimal amount of 25K, guarantee loss of 5 kgs and a couple of inches.

I almost told the lady that I’d rather starve myself to death. Lose weight and save money in one go. All that two-birds and one stone theory churned in my mind. But I stayed mum. “We’ll see”, was all that I could croak. I mean, frankly speaking, my fatness is not their fault. So what if they offer the services for ‘reasonable’ amounts which appear gargantuan to me ?! It would have been much better if I’d seen the gargantuan-ness of my fat before I stepped through their door, hadn’t it?!

Anyhow, I asked them to wrap up with what I’d come there for (A facial,manicure,hair-wash, conditioning,haircut, blow-dry,threading and skin and hair analysis). Again, for the record, these are not activities I normally indulge in. Good friend from work, SK had found a package deal online which gave us these services from VLCC for 600/- when the actual cost of the same was 4000/-.Obviously, we grabbed at it with both hands.

Talking of hands, the attendant who took charge of my manicure wasn’t impressed with my hands. “Too rough”, “Too much cuticle”, “too much tan”. A lot of head-shaking and marketing spiel later (well, they ALL tried to sell me VLCC products. I can give them marks for trying 🙂 ) work began on making my hands look presentable. Post the session, I rued the fact that it never clicked me to get a before and after snap 😦 . *Sigh* I always miss such moments I tell you 😐 . The fingers did look better, but a tad sore, since my cuticles were more or less ripped off my nails. Alas, the effect stayed but just a day. I scraped my nails with the knife while chopping veggies the next day. Made me realize that pampering the hands works for only those people who don’t have to rough it out in the kitchen. If you are the regular food provider , chances are, you’ll always have trimmed nails and at least a couple of remnant oil burn marks on your hands/wrists 🙂

I digress again. Apologies.

The main attraction of the session was the hair wash (pleasant), the conditioning (yummm) and the blow-dry/ setting which was an awesome job because my normally fly-away zig-zag hair looked like those of our North-Eastern counterparts. Silky, straight and oh so shiny!!  I mean, I could actually leave my hair open without a thousand clips or bands in place 🙂 . SK had the same package and we were both flaunting our hair in office the next day, much to the amusement and envy of our colleagues ! Unfortunately, SK washed her hair today and its back to normal. I haven’t washed mine yet…I don’t want my hair to get back to their normal messy state 😦

I came back home that evening and showed the print-out of my body analysis report to the BF

BF :  (feigning shock) Goodness?!! Whatever gave them the idea that you are *gasp* fat?!!

Me : Ha ha. Not funny mister.

BF :  No really. I mean, I swear their machine must be faulty. Go back and ask them for a refund.

Me : You wish!!

BF : No. No. YOU wish 😀

At which point I aimed a good kick towards the punster, which was easily sidestepped because frankly, I can raise my leg just about a foot off the ground 😦

The BF continued snorting with laughter as he exited the room, probably because he didn’t want to be beaten to a pulp. The leg couldn’t be raised high, I agree, but it carries weight, all 5.1 kgs more than the normal range 😐 !!

To round up the tale, my fitness level is at an all time low of 56 when it is supposed to be a minimum of 74. To correct the anomalies, I have made a slight change in my diet. Breakfast is Muesli and a cup of tea. Lunch is a fruit and large jar of Herbalife shake. Dinner is one chapati, a little sabzi and a little rice. I have stopped taking sugar in tea and eating sweets. The trip to the gym is pending. Hoping to correct that as soon as possible.

I don’t mind losing the chubby cheeks, I guess…..if it means being healthier and fitter to run around with the twins 🙂



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I was having a conversation with some friends here in office at coffee. We are all a bunch of married women and sometimes, we do jump into talks of how marriage has changed our lives, sometimes for the better, at times, for the worst. I doubt there’s any one of us who doesn’t feel that they could have achieved more if they weren’t married.

Honestly speaking, I am one of them 🙂

But then, when compared to what we have (jobs, steady income) and what we have (husbands, families, children), the what-we-may-have-had seems a tad insignificant.

Seeing the larger picture puts things in perspective. But the problem is, we may not always be in a position to see the larger picture. We are in the picture ourselves. And from that perspective, it doesn’t help that we feel rather small 😦

Anyway, coming back to the discussion I had, we were discussing about what all criteria is considered for a guy to make a decision regarding on-site opportunities. It’s an open fact that all people in IT crave at least one visit abroad. Even if it means going for a week. So the guy gets an offer from office. He jumps with joy. Comes back home, shares the news with his family. His parents are super happy, his wife (if he has one) will be happy initially and then a bit sad that he wouldn’t be around for some time. The kids may/may not express joy/hurt whatever, it doesn’t matter. The guy packs his stuff (or in most cases, the wife OR mother packs his stuff) and off he goes.

Now supposing, a married woman gets the offer, the scene changes entirely. She comes back home, shares it with her family. There is initial joy, which is quickly replaced with hard reality. Who will look after the house? What about the kids? Who will cook the meals? Will the husband be able to manage on his own? If the children are school-going, who will take care of their studies?

If the woman has been married for a couple of years, it brings out another set of questions. How long will she be away? What about starting a family? What about priorities? And worse, she has to take permission. Right from husband, to in-laws to parents and every other person of relevance. At times, the girl’s parents jump to her rescue, agreeing to look after her family in her absence. This situation may or may not find favour with the in-laws, specially if they live with their son and daughter-in-law.

Even if the woman does get a chance to go, she is burdened with the constant worries of home and hearth, not because it is an in-built mechanism (as some would like to point out. Woman’s nature and all such crap) but mostly because she is constantly reminded of what she has left behind. On one hand, when a guy from on-site calls back home, everyone tells him to enjoy his stay, concentrate on work and not worry about home. But when a woman calls up, she is asked how much longer will she be away, she is updated about the smallest instance of ill-health of her child or husband and also the major issues plaguing the household.

These are real inputs from my female friends over the years. The trend hasn’t changed much, though the count of women flying overseas has. And each time, these woman have to fret over a zillion reactions from family members. There are a few lucky ones who have the support and encouragement of their families. But these lucky ones are a minority. For the chunk of the working woman populace, an on-site opportunity is a life-altering dilemma. To pursue one’s dreams/career or give it up for husband/children, albeit for a short duration?! I’m one of those who gave up on such opportunities more than once, but these decisions were taken before my marriage (at one time, I got the offer a month before my wedding, so I gave it a pass and opted for marriage 🙂 ). It doesn’t hurt as much because I know that the BF gave up the same opportunities to be by my side, once before our marriage (he was supposed to be in US and me in UK. So we both refused the offers and decided to get married instead 😀 ) and again, after the kids were born. He could have been promoted and earned bag-fuls if he hadn’t sacrificed then. But we have no regrets, because our ship is sailing pretty smooth right now 😀 .

The reason I thought of putting up this post today, is because, today at work, we had a session by Padmashree Mrs.Lila Poonawala.I must say, it was an awe-inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable session. Do check out her website. This is one lady with the right amount of guts and grit 🙂

The crux of Mrs.Poonawala’s talk was on women in the professional world. Of the perception of men about women and their performance. But more, on the women’s perception about themselves as career women. I’m guilty of some of the faults she listed, like thinking about home when at work and then about work at home. Worrying about what neighbours/relatives will say if I come back late from work or getting irritable at home because of some conflict at work. I’m sure many other women suffer the same fate.

But more important, the talk centered around how men should change their perceptions about women. About how a woman cannot achieve much if she doesn’t have the able support of her husband and family. About how a man should accept that his working wife is a professional too and if he gets late at work or has to go out of town for work, then she may have to do the same. If she trusts that he will not indulge in some hanky-panky while away from her, she deserves the same level of trust and acceptance .

And if, (this is a BIG if) she gets an offer to visit on-site, it’s the husband’s responsibility to provide her with the same level of support and push which he expects for himself. He should stand up to being responsible for the home and hearth in her absence. This not only allows women to become highly resourceful professionals but also makes their relationships stronger. Because in any relationship, if the man only knows how to take and not give, then that relationship is destined to doom, irrespective of whether the wife is a working woman or not.

Anyhow, the best part of the session were these four points that Mrs.Poonawala listed out, specifically for women :-

  • Look like a girl
  • At any time of the day or night, don’t forget that you are a woman first. You have to look good to feel good. A little grooming does no harm. Learn to spend some time for yourself. Make sure your nails are clean and your hair is combed. A dash of lipstick hurt no one. And no wrinkled clothes, even if they are just jeans.

  • Behave like a Lady
  • Just because you are working with men doesn’t mean that you start behaving like them. Be dainty, be nice. Speak softly , coherently. Don’t yell, don’t back-slap. Never forget that you are a woman. If a guy opens the door for you, be gracious enough to thank him. Don’t just shrug and say defiantly that you can open the door yourself. There are some liberties which come along with being a woman, learn to accept them.

  • Think like a man
  • Ultimately, we are working in the men’s realm. It is their domain we infringe upon. For centuries, men have worked together. Their level of understanding and acceptance with each other is much different than what it will be with women. To understand their terms of working, learn to think like them. Learn to predict their behavior so that you can stay one step ahead of them.

  • Work like a dog.
  • Because at the end of the day, we have families to look after. Because even if we touch the sky, we have to come down to our homes, our kids, our parents, our spouses. To look after them, to take care of them to nurture them. To be a woman first and a professional later. To balance work and home, we should put in 30 hours in a day. Or at least, learn to do so.

As I type all this, I realize that I’ve done more harm to myself as a professional than everyone else combined. I’ve taken wrong decisions at times, worried about the reaction of the other people concerned and then regretted it deeply. And as I type, I know the change that I need to bring about in myself. I don’t crave to be a super mom or a senior manager . I just want to be good at what I do.

No, that came out wrong.

I just want to be satisfied with what I do 🙂 .

Because at the end of the day, can’t keep anyone happy unless I’m happy, right?!

 



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