The quaint Indian bazaars are huge treasure troves for many a bargain hunters. You have these wholesale markets in every city that sell everything under the earth. So we have big sabzi mandis, markets for computer parts, hardware, garden equipment, furniture, home improvement, cloth markets and what have you! I have heard people reminisce about shopping in these spaces. But I have never understood the romance of shopping though I can understand the practical element of saving and choice.
And so yesterday, my husband and I spent the entire day doing some shopping in one of these bazaars in Bangalore. Also to do with the fact that one of our modems was malfunctioning, and we need to get to the customer care center (if you can call the hole in the wall that) located there. Even when you are standing right underneath it, you could not locate the place. The shops are a myriad array – row after tiny row of shops selling the same ware. Parking is a hassle but one can find spaces. And then walk the streets for miles on foot. The footpaths were quite okay and wide but there is the problem of garbage and a huge number of flies everywhere. While I waiting and watching, I saw that everyone spits – the people who spit from the bus, the traffic cop, the shopkeepers, the drivers, people from their cars. Gosh, what is it with Indians and spitting?
And most of these places are male domains – the shopkeepers and shoppers mostly male. It sort of makes a female uncomfortable and exposed even though clad in a churidar kurta. People make eyes at you, stare at you mercilessly, gesture and just make you feel very nervous inside. And the husband held my hand to make sure that I kept with his pace and also to ensure that people did not run into me . Everyone is just running around in a hustle bustle. There is so much filth all around – garbage on the road, overflowing drains with excreta that people are avoiding and walking, and an overwhelming smell of urine.
And in all this, there was this huge urge to pee. How in the heaven were we going to find a clean restroom in this place? And all that walking was making our stomach growl as well. A quick ask and we were pointed to a Kamat just a little distance away. All this walking reminded me of my Bombay days where walking is simply the norm. People just walk! Kamat’s is a typical eatery that serves thalis at meal time; it was my best friend. And then I went with open apprehension to the toilet praying that it be clean. It did not have a latch so I held it shut with both hands but it was a clean Indian toilet. I gratefully blessed many generations of Kamat owners. The food was passable, but hunger can do miracles to your appetite. And we finished everything on our plates. Having taken care of two of our most pressing needs, we were on the streets again finding other stuff that we were looking for. Oh yes, our modem was working again too. And then get into the car and struggle with crazy traffic.
It was tiring both physically and mentally. The traffic, the noise, the sea of people all drain you physically and mentally. And I was so glad to come back home. I shudder with the memory of the trip I made to the vegetable and fruit market of Bangalore – KR Market. I have since then decided never to venture there. So, for me folks, I just have never understood this romance in shopping in badly laid out wholesale markets.
Do you enjoy shopping in India’s large wholesale spaces?
Pic courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rualthan/with/3735285973/
It had been a tiring day on Friday and I was looking forward to catching up on my reading in the night over the weekend. Oh, how I look forward to weekends! Done with my dinner, I switched on my smartphone’s Wifi. After browsing through the emails and social media, I was about to log out and wind up for the day when suddenly there was a beep and popup on my WeChat messenger. It was my friend, Avni. She lived in another city, and we had been out of touch for almost a decade now. I just knew that she worked with a bank there. We began with our greetings and general exchange of news in each other’s life. Soon, we were joined by other women friends – Harsha, who was a homemaker and lived close to my home; Sanskriti, who was a mom with a toddler and had quit her job after having her baby girl; Laksmi, my maid (she chatted sometimes with me on her son’s smartphone); and Manorama, who was an older aunty now retired and lived in the neighborhood.
Avni: “Hi, Good to chat with you. How old are you kids? Are you working?”
Me: “Hi! Same here. They are 11 and 6. Yes, both inside the house and professionally.”
Avni: “Okay! What do you do professionally?”
Me: “I am a content writer and a blogger.”
Avni: “How come? You are an MBA? What happened, did your break get too long, and you did not get a good job later? You should have never taken a break with kids?”
Me (Irritated but patient): “No, I love this work. I actually prefer to work from home and flexibly. I can be hands on in raising my kids. Yes, I am an MBA but I do enjoy writing a lot.”
Avni: “You know I am the GM now. And my kids are doing good too. I found a nice nanny to take care of them while I could continue with my work. It is very satisfying. I feel elated that I got where I always wanted to get.”
Me: “That’s nice to know. I am very happy for you. And, it might be tough for you to imagine but I love my work and my life as well“. I am quite happy too .
The others join the conversation now.
Harsha: “I quite admire how Rachna balances her time, work and home. I for one can never seem to find time to do anything.”
Sanskriti: “Avni, I know what you are saying. I really hate quitting my job. This stupid society – everyone wanted me to have a baby. Look where I have landed – from a high-profile career woman to an unpaid maid servant.”
Lakshmi: “Did someone talk about me? Madam, don’t forget I earn my living working in your houses and have managed to put my son in college. Please do not make fun of my profession.”
Me: “No Lakshmi! We dare not make fun of you. Our houses will not run a day without you. I hope their views will not colour your opinions about me .
Me: “Thank you Harsha.” Sanskriti: Been there done that, including the frustration part. If you are so unhappy try looking for jobs now that your daughter is older. Were you forced to quit your job?”
Avni: “Come on yaar. You were so bright in college. Who would have thought that you would be just sitting at home minding kids? I am sure your parents must be disappointed.”
Me: “Oh, they are not! Everyone is very happy for me. I think you should be happy for me instead of being cynical. It is my life, and I have chosen to lead it my way.”
Harsha: “I always wanted to be housewife. I know people find it strange but I did. I don’t seek value in earning money but earning love. I like being around for my children. Besides I do try to spend time in pursuing my hobbies. You know I even took up Bharatnatyam learning after my second child.”
Me: “Wow, that is amazing Harsha! I love seeing content people. Everyone cribs — those with jobs and those without them.”
Avni: You guys amuse me. Where is the value in sitting at home and taking money from your husband?
Sanskriti: “You are right, Avni! I hate it that I have to ask my husband for money. He never says no, but I am an independent woman. What the heck!”
Me: “Avni, you amuse me with your thinking. My husband and I are raising a family together. And I am certainly not competing in the ‘Who earns more’ game. I don’t see it as taking. I see it as sharing all our resources that includes love and companionship.”
Me: Sanskriti: Independent women don’t have relationships? Do they not rely on others? Did you have the same qualms accepting money from your parents for your education? Oh no, father is superior to husband?
Lakshmi: “In my house, I earn more than my husband. He has no problems in taking what I earn.”
Avni: “Rachna, You are clearly domesticated. No point in arguing with you. Sanskriti: Let’s keep in touch. And get back to me when you want to look for a job again. I will try to help you. I am signing off now.”
Sanskriti: “Sure. I will.”
Me: “Avni there is nothing to argue about. You are happy with your choices and I am happy with mine. Why can’t we be happy in this knowledge without going judgmental on each other?”
Avni: “Whatever…” (Avni leaves)
Me: “Lakshmi, you work very hard for your family. And look your son is in college now despite an alcoholic husband.”
Me: “Hi Aunty”
Manorama: “I just finished cooking dinner. My daughter-in-law will be back a little late from work.”
Me: “So nice of you to handle the duties at home.”
Manorama: “I have been a working woman too. I know how much this support matters to our peace of mind.”
Me: “Exactly. A kind word, a helping touch is what women need.”
Sanskriti: “I live in a nuclear family. And my baby sitter keeps taking so many offs. I hate my life.”
Harsha: “I know maids keep taking off without informing. That really upsets our schedule.”
Lakshmi: “Madam, we are made to work 7 days a week. Yet, we do it without complain. One day’s leave and people start complaining and abusing. We have families to run too.”
Manorama: “We give our maid a weekly off and two weeks paid leave every year. We find that she takes very few unscheduled leaves. That helps us plan better and fret lesser.”
All of us: “Kudos to you.”
Lakshmi: “On the topic of intimated leaves, I have to tell you that I need to take an off tomorrow. Have some guests over for lunch. And let me know whether you prefer Saturday or Sunday as the weekly off. With a huge she signs off.”
Me: That’s just great!
Suddenly imminent issues are more important than posturing, and the weekend does not look the same anymore!
I sign off.
I yearn to be appreciated here and now.
I yearn to be remembered today and not paid tributes to after I am gone.
I yearn to not be used, misused and abused.
I yearn to be not told what I did not do but to be helped if I missed something.
I yearn for some unconditional love not because I cook, clean and earn but because I am important to you.
I yearn to be treated as a human being with real feelings and not as furniture.
I yearn for the day when the word homemaker will not be tossed at me as an abuse or an insult. I have feelings, am intelligent and smart. Just because I don’t work for money, it does not mean that my work is any less important.
I yearn for acceptance and respect both from men and women!
I yearn for silence.
I yearn for a real holiday without obligations, work or responsibility.
I yearn to rediscover the real me!
A piece of fiction inspired by the angst of housewives or homemakers in our society who are ill treated and judged!
Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net
She looked at her beautiful paintings adorning the wall, and sat down in her favorite chair to pen her letter. That done, she took a deep breath and went ahead with her plan.
Ananya was studying in the 12th Standard of a reputed school in Bangalore. She was attending coaching classes every day of the week and weekend as well. It was the all-important board exams of course. She was a very good student. She was among the toppers in her class. Her teachers loved her. Her coaching class teacher was banking on her to top the Board exams and showed her the “Wall of fame” where he was dreaming of putting her picture the next year. Her parents were egging her constantly to give her best. Even her Principal had called her with 4 other classmates to give them a special pep talk about how the school was looking at them to be toppers.
Something started going wrong for Ananya after the first 3 months. She was increasingly tired and worried. Her marks started falling. Her parents were worried sick that she would somehow lose the race. Her father started hitting out at her mother for not taking enough care of her. The mother who had quit her job to supervise Ananya’s studies felt wounded and resentful. Ananya was told not to waste time in silly activities like painting and badminton that she enjoyed. It was just the matter of one year. She can do the things she enjoyed after that year. After all just like her elder brother, she had to be a doctor too.
Walls were closing in on her. Her parents were increasingly fighting among themselves because of her. Her tuition teacher was worried that she was not concentrating well enough when in the last test, she only scored 92%. She had it in her to do better than that. Everyone was pushing her to work harder, to perform to get that elusive 95-96%. And she was crumbling under the weight of expectations. She feared that she would let everyone down. She hated to be the cause of everyone’s unhappiness. Her father who had worked so hard to send her to the best school and tuition classes. Her mother who quit her job so that she could actively help her handle her studies. Her brother who was her ideal. She loved them all and could not let them all down. Surely, such a life would not be worth it!
Those were the last thoughts in her mind as she popped the entire bottle of sleeping pills and drifted into sleep.
Sirens screeching, the ambulance took Ananya to hospital. But, she was already gone!
Yet another young life had been sacrificed on the pyre of expectation. Every warning sign that she was not able to cope, that she was losing her battle went unheeded. She had forgotten to smile. She looked confused and upset. Even her normal performance at school became erratic. She became increasingly withdrawn and even lost her appetite. But each such sign was unseen by those who had put blinkers on. They kept pushing her till she could take it no longer.
We give life to our children. We don’t own them. What could be more precious than their happiness and life?
This post is based on a true story that I read.
This is an entry for The Moral of the Story is…! Contest by Indiblogger and Colgate.
Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net
It has been exactly a year to the day when a very special forum for Indian women bloggers was founded. I was added by Purba Ray to the group and thought of it as one of the other multiple FB groups that I am a part of. Well, I was wrong, very wrong! The group, a brainchild of Vinita Bahl aka BlogwatiG ( I didn’t know her then seems so difficult to believe now after all the fun, laughter and faceoffs we’ve had ) has been one of the nicest and most vibrant groups that I have participated in. I have met a bunch of truly fantastic feisty ladies through this group all across the country and abroad. And guess what, we never promote our posts here. So the whole point of staying in the group is for the lively discussions, stimulating shares and opinions, and sisterhood at its best. We fight, we tick each other off, we banter, we jest around, but we are there to provide our shoulders when someone needs them. You are never short on advice and opinion here. And I have been touched by the concern shown by some of the ladies towards me as well as to others when we needed it. There have been times when the conversations can lift up sagging spirits and wipe a tear. Who says, women don’t stand for other women? Well we do!
And on this anniversary, not only did I want to acknowledge the enrichment that Indiblogeshwaris has brought for all of us but also outline that one thing that I’ve done in the past month that I have always wanted to do. Well, I just started a new blog on cooking. It is no secret that I enjoy cooking. It was on my mind for sometime to have a separate space for my foodie exploits. And so, I finally took the plunge. Here is the new blog. Do visit if you enjoy things food:
And the Facebook page of the blog is https://www.facebook.com/Rachnasblogs
I hope you enjoy visiting and do give me your feedback if any.
So here’s to sisterhood, to good times and bad, to camaraderie and to my dear Indiblogeshwaris!
Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net
As the summer holidays for kids draw to a close in a week’s time, something that I am awaiting with a bated breath, I can’t help but look back at how my own summer vacations transpired in my childhood years. Yes, bouts of nostalgia are hitting me frequently even though I am in my late thirties only. Looks like age is catching up .
Yep, summer vacations meant lugging bag and baggage and the entire family of 5 to my maternal grandparents’ home. We spent almost the entire vacation in that house with my grandfather, maternal uncle, aunt and my cousins. There were other relatives too who stayed in the vicinity. The times were so much fun in those days. Luscious mangoes in large drums soaking in water, musk melons and water melons awaited us every day. The hot gulab jumans from the halwai in a large earthern kullad — can’t seem to forget its rich, sweet and luscious taste even now. And so many other treats not to forget all the pickles that mom churned out. We would climb up shahtoot trees, pluck mogras and custard apples, admire the delectable varieties of roses, hang around with the maali and gorge on homemade gur. We kids would quarrel, make up and again quarrel and find time to play in all this. We were blessed to have huge lawns and also play area where we could yell and scream and yet not disturb the adults. As long as we kept to ourselves, the adults left us and our mischief alone. We were out of the house and their hair.
I distinctly remember the joy on those rare occasions when my dad and uncle would also join our cricket matches. Oh yes, girls and boys played together. My uncle also loved flying kites, and we fought over who would hold the charkhi. Even when we moved out of UP, we tried to keep up with this routine for as long as we could. Now with my grandparents gone and also my uncle and aunt, I haven’t visited my nanihal for more than 2 decades but the memories are as fresh as rose dew.
Compare that to the vacations of my kids. The sizes of houses have shrunk and so have the playgrounds and parks. Where are the trees to climb and pluck fruits from? Yet, I see many women I know taking off on month-long holidays to their hometowns with kids in tow. I guess, both the husband and the wife could do with some change . For women, it is a great opportunity to put up their feet and put behind the harsh routine of daily lives. The whole rigmarole of cooking, cleaning, planning, sending the kids and husband to school and office respectively,to get some good old-fashioned pampering from their parents and feel like kids themselves. This option is only open to women who don’t work professionally or like me can work from anywhere . Those with desk jobs can’t take so many offs. Yet, I cannot do this. For one my mom passed away, so that feeling of maayka is sorely missing. Dad is welcoming, but he works even after retirement. Since all us siblings work, the vacations are not the same anymore in any of our homes. Kids meet and have fun but feel a bit constrained in smaller spaces. Also our vacations have now shrunk to below a week. We are so comfortable in our own homes and settings that we begin to get antsy elsewhere. I for one, need my own system to work. I hate working on laptops that I have to do when I travel. I have become so intolerant to harsh weather having been spoiled by a decade of living in Bangalore, that is the only home I know now.
So yes, vacations for kids are more about summer camps than about reconnecting with their extended families now. This year, I decided not to put both of them in summer camps. Let them monkey around, sleep late, get up early, do what they wanted. It was a brave decision considering that both of us work from home. But it worked out! The elder one ganged up with other kids to play cricket or football. The sessions extended for hours together. The younger one either participated there or did his own thing. Either way, I got more time on hand to complete my work. It wasn’t easy but hopefully they had more fun! And now the annual routine is staring me back in the face. The same getting up early and rushed mornings. Sigh!
What are your summer vacations memories? And if you have kids, how do you keep them engaged?
Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net
Those shiny rows of lights that you most commonly used for Christmas decorations are actually extremely versatile. I have noticed that most of us just pack them and keep them stowed away after the festive season is over. But there are great innovative ways in which one can use rope lights. And if you have the LED ones, they not only are power efficient and in turn environmentally friendly but last you really long making them suitable for any kind of long-term use.
Let us see some of their innovative uses:
Children’s parties: Colorful strings of light arranged as a maze or as party lighting with a little creative thinking can make for a great party decoration. You may create loops and hang them from the ceilings for a great effect. Even putting rope lights in the corners can create a beautiful visual effect.
In kitchen cabinets or ceilings: Rope lights make for a great way to light up difficult to reach places. If hidden inside a high kitchen cabinet or in a false ceiling, it can provide a unique ambient lighting effect. The best part is that you can leave the lights there for a long time as these are normally durable and have a very long life. You won’t be contending with burnt out bulbs in the string of lights for sure.
In bedroom or other home décor: Have you tried using these lights around your photo frames to give a soft sparkle as they glitter away on your bed stand? For a funky effect, you can try concealing them behind the headboard. They work well on railings and around lamps too.
Outdoors: Strings of light bring a soft romantic appeal to your home’s exterior. Perch some up over the tree and sit and have a leisurely meal in the soft ambience. Watch your kids giggle in delight as their tree houses come to life. You can even use them on your balcony for a bright appeal.
Bathroom: Your bathroom can brighten up with a carefully concealed string of lights that provides great ambient lighting. Works well for your attic and those hard to reach places in your wardrobe or closet as well. Just put them in place and leave them on for long-lasting subtle lighting effect.
So bring them out of your packing boxes. They are so easy to put up. See these simple instructions for the same. Give wings to your imagination, and let rope lights be your friends in brightening up your home.
Pic courtesy: Amazon.com