Monday, October 8, 2012

The shifting paradigm of working relationships

Well in one of my earlier blogs under the title 'Role Reversal' I had written about the very unique reproductive act in Sea horses, and guess what, the homosapiens are trying to emulate this!! Yes! The article which I read says that there seems to be a massive change on gender relations wherein men today want babies and commitment, while women are more likely to want independence in their relationships.

This study was conducted with over 5,000 American adults and some of the key features were; more than half of single men wanted to have children compared to just 46 percent of women. While 24 % of men who were single without children wanted to have kids compared to 15% of women. While 49% women believed that women need not be the primary caregiver for children, 38% men agreed on that count.

Looks like there is a sea change doesn't it? I am sure that the scenario in urban India has changed a lot over a period of time. Post industrialisation which empowered women, giving them economic independence has broken the gender stereotype. Women seem to be going the whole nine yards and savouring the independence that they have finally managed to wrestle after a very long period of struggle. They seem to have come a full circle and the above study indicates there is no looking back now.

However many questions arose in my mind. Would this mindset lead to dismantling of  the very framework of 'Family' in our society? With women giving first preference to their career, and many of them opting to raise a family at a much later stage when age and other factors become a stumbling block, will we still  be able to  raise healthy and normal children? Will the very fabric of our society which has so far found the 'Family Structure' to be a strong working model and which has so far been able to keep our society stable, disintegrate over a period of time if this trend becomes more and more widespread?

Suddenly another scenario popped into my mind. Probably over a period of time the man might take over the whole gamut of household chores like cooking, cleaning and raising children all on his own, a bastion held so far by women while his counterpart is busy battling wars in the boardroom. And who knows the day might not be far off when with advances in science, the men would go with the whole of nine months experience of carrying a baby and giving birth to it a la Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie - Junior, while women are busy earning for the family. What do you have to say?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Have they become a burden on us?

'The old and neglected people were once healthy and caring, serving society. It is now our responsibility to serve them'. This was the message I saw on my airtel AX- Goodmorning. I felt this was very apt as just the previous day I was reading this  article which said that "Loneliness is a hidden killer". The article says that loneliness could affect all age groups but can particularly be harmful to the elderly and can be a ' hidden killer'. Depression, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits seem to become their companions.

Well it was not only this article, but on the same day I also read this article which said that a son had burnt his parents alive because they refused to give in to his demand of lending money though they had helped him every time during times of dire needs! In another case the children had dumped their aging mother in the dustbin on the road! In yet another instance an old woman had appealed to the court for Euthanasia saying that her children had abandoned her and since she did not have any means of survival, this she thought would put an end to her miseries. Isn't it shocking? What a sad state of affairs.

During their hey days all parents have worked hard enough to provide a comfortable life for their children, many a time depending on the circumstances. Many parents have gone through extreme hardships to ensure that atleast their children have better opportunities which they had to forego due to various reasons during their times. They have held the hands of the children through all the ups and downs of life. They have  shared all their joys and sorrows and have felt it to a greater degree  than the children themselves.

In the current scenario the elderly are physically fit, thanks largely to advances in medical sciences. Life expectancy has  gone up substantially. But the thing is, are they getting that  psychological elixir of life that can come only through loving words and  by means of simple heartfelt actions and gestures from us which show that 'We Care' for them?

Don't you think that during their twilight years, they need not be considered a burden by the younger generation? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On stage and under the arc lights

Shakespeare in his play 'As you like it' wrote the famous lines "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players". Though this has a deeper meaning to it, but for a short time literally this became a reality when my kids had their annual day last month. The theme being 'Sanskriti', they showcased the rich panorama of Indian culture through various dances which are unique to each region. The practice started as early as September and the final show that all the children put up was outstanding. My children were part of the Bhangra and Dandiya group. The costumes, the lighting effects, the grace with which all the children performed was fabulous. As I was watching the beautiful performances, my mind went on a flashback mode.

Though I used to take part during every annual day in school, three instances stand etched in my memory. The first was when I was in  the fifth grade. Our school had an invitation to put up a dance drama along with many other schools in Bal Bhavan which is located in the then favourite place of all children the - Cubbon Park. If participating in plays was the cake, getting to practice for it in Cubbon Park was the icing on the cake. It was a double whammy!! The play was directed by someone from the Bal Bhavan committee.

I remember the story was that of the 'Toys and the toy maker'. It was a story of how the toys in this toy makers shop were very fond of him and when the toy maker had to sell off his shop due to financial difficulties, the toys help him out. Dressing up as different toys with different costumes was a thrilling experience. I was a doll and I still remember my costume- a lovely frilly dress with laces.

The practice was quite rigorous and we were taken almost every day  to Cubbon Park by the Bal Bhavan bus. It was a thrilling experience for us kids. The best part that I used to enjoy apart from the practice was when other school children were practicing, we could use the mobile library which was a new concept and had started just then. I would get lost in the wonderful world of the story surrounded all around by my favorite books, ensconced in the cosy interiors of the bus.What more could one want from life?

The play went off very well .The first day we performed for children from different schools and the second day it was open to the general public. We all got standing ovation each time we put up the show. We performed  about eight shows over a period of two days! And too very soon it was all over.

The next was when I got a chance to write a script for a play when I was in my tenth standard. The story was a light entertainer of how a thief was taught a lesson when he would steal valuables under the pretext of  sleep walking. It was well liked by the audience and it was a dream come true to have something which you conceptualised become a reality and appreciated.

The third was a play that we put up in college. The play was' Amrapali' and how this beautiful danseuse became an ardent devotee of Lord Buddha. It was again an amazing experience to put this play for our fellow college mates and the lecturers. The play received a lot of praise from everyone in college.

So performances like these and many others that our kids have been / will be a part of over the years will form part of a rich mosaic in their life and will be treasured and cherished by them for years to come. 

Such moments are what makes each one of our student days memorable, don't you think?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The good old piggy bank

Our ancestors believed and lived by the dictum 'Save for a rainy day' or as Benjamin Franklin said 'A penny saved is a penny earned'. When we were children, to inculcate the habit of savings I remember my father getting two piggy banks from our Bank - one for my sister and one for me. Yes! the banks at that time used to give cute piggy banks to the customers with the intention of encouraging children to save money. However these days they are busy disbursing loans and credit cards, which has proved to be a bane and has encouraged people to spend beyond their means!

Coming back to the two piggy banks that we got, one was of course in the shape of a piggy, the other was a cat. So I wondered why it was not called catty bank? I read that one of the reasons as to why it was called Piggy Bank was that in Germany a pig was considered to be a symbol of good luck and prosperity and hence keeping money in a piggy bank meant bringing in good fortune.

Anyways both my sister and me were very thrilled to have a piggy bank each. Every day religiously we would put one coin each in it. Sometimes the need to see it fill up faster was too much for us, and  we would ask not only dad but my mom my gran and anybody whom we were close to, for a coin to put in our piggy bank. Now and then we would shake it vigorously and listen to the jingling of the coins. Oh!! what a thrilling experience it was. Then came that time which we had been eagerly waiting for- Yes! the piggy bank was finally full!! We just could not wait for it to be opened. When my dad opened the piggy bank out tumbled all those coins which we had painstakingly collected over a period of time. Dad exchanged all the coins for notes and we were two proud children when we were taken to the bank and the money in our piggy bank was deposited in our very own names. The process then began all over. Even now our piggy bank stands proudly as a souvenir in my parents home in our toy show case.

Without us realising dad had taught us kids an important lesson in life - Savings. We learnt how much time and patience is required to save money. As parents we tried this with our kids too. They diligently did it for some time, but fast pace being their mantra, they found patience was not one of their stronger virtues when it came to waiting for their piggy bank to fill up. Hence the piggy bank lay half empty and forgotten. I guess the present generation has to relearn this timeless wisdom all over again.    

Friday, January 13, 2012

Special gift from Santa

Christmas is a time when children eagerly look forward to their gifts. Every year on Christmas Day for the past fifteen years Santa has been visiting our children and has filled up the stockings with lots of gifts. We would also get a small Christmas tree ( the artificial ones that you get in the stores) and would decorate it and keep it in our living room. A week before Christmas my children would keep giving me lists of gifts that they  hoped Santa would leave besides their bed. On twenty fourth night their excitement used to reach a feverish pitch. Every now and then they would come to me wondering if Santa would remember to get their gifts. Early twenty fifth morning we would hear whoops of joy from their rooms as they would shout with glee seeing the gifts besides their bed.

Sometimes when the gifts that they wanted were some expensive gadgets and they would instead find books, or pens or other things they would groan and complain to me saying that Santa had not given them what they had asked for. I would then tell them that Santa has to give millions of gifts, and he cannot give everyone what they ask for. Even Santa goes through recession times right?

Now they might be grown up, but who can resist the allure of  getting a gift? So now when we are around they throw loud hints hoping we would hear what gift they want from Santa. But this Christmas Santa had a special gift for my elder son. When he opened his gift, out tumbled a shaving kit!! I suddenly realised that my little baby had grown up! How did Santa know?? My mind was swirling with mixed emotions. Here stood before me, a tall gangly teenager who was just the other day crawling and was being carried by me. Somehow I  never realised how much and how fast time had flown!

As we stood there, I could not bear to see my little baby, whose skin had been nurtured by application of olive oil and milk cream when he was a small baby, now applying a blade! My husband was one proud man. He now had to initiate his son into the intricacies of shaving! What more, my younger son made the grand announcement about this to his grandparents. As the training session started my younger son and me were the interested audience watching every move with rapt attention. Since it was a memorable day we captured it on the video ( Wanted to save it  for posterity when he can show his children the day he first shaved!). At the first stroke of the razor I could not help but wince. As the finer nuances of the strokes and motions were taught, I stood and watched. Finally the whole act of clean shaven look was achieved.

I felt a twinge of pain as I looked up at this teenager who had grown a foot and a half taller than me and somewhere in the corner of my heart I knew that  I would always miss my little baby.