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Showing posts from December, 2011

Two Roads

Read this article about two paths to marital happiness - either have no kids at all or have a whole bunch of them. Doing something in between apparently does not bode well for a couple's happiness. This is how the plight of folks such as myself is described : Attempting to balance being an autonomous individual and a social animal produces a kind of incoherence that leads to misery. You're constantly confused and being pushed in different directions.  You can't even explain to people who you are. I find that to be a harsh indictment. In the modern world where a village is often lacking to help with the raising of our children, bringing up four or more of them is no walk in the park. One has to assume that one or both parents have to go to work to put food on the table -in either case, the time and energy required to raise the children is seriously diminished. I am not sure how a perpetually over-worked, at-capacity couple can have a great marriage - where would they find …

A Little Knowledge

The other day DB and I were talking about people of a certain age coming to feel inexplicable emptiness in their lives. When everything is functioning on autopilot and there are no big problems (money, health, substance abuse etc) to worry about, instead of feeling at peace they feel lost and miserable. Often a true spiritual guru may be able to answer what ails them and lead them out of it but it is certainly not easy to find one. Is the guru not supposed to seek out the disciple when they are ready ? The stories of charlatans and false prophets are widely known as are the accounts of the damage they wreck upon the lives of their gullible followers. The conversation got me thinking about another kind of misguidance that parents and other adults may provide a child. In many Hindu families of my acquaintance I have seen adults take a parable or quote from a religious text, translated, diluted and distorted in the final rendition to make a point to a child.  While they have the best inten…

Short and Sweet

When J is in trouble, she launches into a defense that is as improbable as it is convoluted. She is deliberately slow and aims to exhaust. By the time she is done, I might have even forgotten what I was mad at her for and snap at her for rambling endlessly. But there are times when she can be succinct. 

When she reads a new book, I encourage her to talk about it, better still write up a short review. Needless to say, she views these things as  chores she'd rather not do. It is so much easier to get away with "It was really cool !" - a phrase that I hate with passion. This morning, I asked her about The Man Who Counted (a book she has just read) and she had this to say "It is  Birbal meets The Number Devil "

Maybe I can challenge her to summarize books in six non-adjective words. Knowing J, I would be shocked if she does not find a way to wriggle out of that assignment as well.

Mildly Complicit

Recently J told me about a profitable little business enterprise that a kid in her class has been running. He makes paper guns and sells them at a quarter a pop. The paper bullets are sold for ten cents a piece. By her accounting, he has sold at least ten guns.A couple of issues were bothering her - is this kind of activity allowed in school and is it fair for the boy to sell these things for real money. She does not want to be the tattle tale and report him to the teacher because both the gun and bullet are harmless. Apparently, all the kids know about it but no has taken it upon themselves to inform the teacher. I am guessing like J, they must have mentioned this to their parents, and like me, those parents have not recommended that their child talk to the teacher about this. I find this whole situation intriguing at many different levels. The kids are in the least considering this a little outside the ordinary and  likely talking about this at home. They are not convinced that it i…

Comfort Zone

J can be the life of the party at home but will turn into a little mouse in school. This has been her way for the last couple of years or maybe we have noticed it more since that time - DB and I would love to see some of that fun, vibrant and somewhat theatrical personality she displays at home to make its way to the classroom as well. But that has yet to happen. We recently signed her up for drama class and she is having the best time of her life there.  Even with that, the mouse at school is yet to transform into something bigger and bolder. I spoke with her guidance counselor this morning and she said something that helped recalibrate my expectations about J.  Ms K said that no matter how hard you push and how hard you try as a parent, there is little you can do to change  what is innately the child's personality. J may never be able to be her most natural self outside the comfort zone of home. She will benefit from us encouraging her to be more assertive, being front and center …

Delhi Belly

I have not watched a Bollywood flick for over a year now and decided it was time to get caught up. I chose Delhi Belly and was very glad I did. It is a funny, risque and smart little movie  - not your garden variety Bollywood caper. Each character does their part really well in making this movie come together rather nicely. The dude with the Delhi Belly is not the protagonist but his condition directly contributes to many twists and turns in the plot. The fact that I laughed as many times as I did watching this movie, made me realize that the desi in me is alive and well ; not having been back to India in over eight years has not taken that away from me. DB would have enjoyed it too - but his desi-ness is much too worn out for him to get what I did out of it. What is specially neat about the movie is how well it captures the essence of the Indian experience - we are a people and country that can span centuries and millinea within a day of our lives. There is this dilapidated house wit…

Musical Wilderness

I am just about ten years late to the party but better late than never. For all that time I lived in musical wilderness without an idea of where to find new sounds that may appeal to me. In a time when nostalgia should have been indulged in sparingly if at all, I wallowed in it. I drew comfort from familiar music in times of trouble and while the music recreated it's magic, it brought in its wake memories that I was anxious not to return to. From being one of the biggest joys and escapes of my life music became an unfamiliar, uncomfortable relationship. 

I used to try and listen to the iPod shuffle lists of blogosphere luminaries. Sadly they did nothing for me - apparently our tastes were too far apart. J is itching to discover music just like me at her age - she is constantly looking for recommendations so she can find that magic range of sounds that resonate deepest with her. The music I have grown up with and love is too far away from her culturally, generationally or both - she…

Wrong Lane

I interviewed for a full time position after many years a month ago. This is one of the biggest companies in town and pays better than most other outfits. Post marriage and with J getting ready for middle school next year, I thought it would be best for me to slow down and settle into a regular job, have vacation time and generally better work-life balance. The interview process was like a decathlon - I jumped and cleared all the required hoops and had no less than four different hiring managers clamoring to bring me on board. Life was good until it was not. A couple of weeks after all these "great conversations" were had, the recruiter came back with an offer that was for a position one level below that what I had interviewed for and had these "terrific" discussions with the different hiring managers.Right after dissing me with respect to the position she threw me a bone - she promised to make up the pay difference by giving me the highest salary they could at the…

Lack of Resolution

As soon as I spotted T at the table by the window, I could tell she was bursting with news. It had taken us a week and a couple of reschedules to meet for lunch - it certainly helped for my calendar to be wide open everyday or this would have taken months. I was not wrong about the "news". Even before I had taken my coat off she announced "Do you remember M ?" I had a bad feeling about this one right away.  M was someone she had introduced me to several years ago in her overzealous effort to pair me up. The guy was nice enough but clearly not right for me. We met a couple of times and went our separate ways. That was the last time T played match-maker and I was in a sense grateful to M for this."Yes, I do" I replied. "Guess who he got married to last month ?" I had no idea. It turns out that his wife is T's boss at work.  I realized that piece of information in itself was not the "news" she was bursting to share. "Well, he has a…

Finder

I think I want one of these Finders to help me find my all too often misplaced stuff. I would actually go beyond the mundane business of key and phone (and everything in my bag that I cannot find) and use it to locate my spices in the kitchen stuffed two or three layers deep or just somewhere I would not readily know to look. Then there is all the paperwork put away ever so carefully never to be found again. My list of missing, misplaced or forgotten stuff is a very long one - mostly I am dealing in the territory of "unknown unknowns" and that can be rather scary sometimes.

DB's big complaint about my cooking is that there is way too much improvisation going on all the time and no consistency. If he likes how I cooked something for dinner one night the odds of that dish being reproduced ever again are close to none - he jokes that he eats every nice meal I cook like it were his last meal. While that is in part because I cannot curb my need to improvise in the kitchen, but…

Doris The Cauliflower

The blurb on Doris the Cauliflower in this article gave me pause. Were I to run into her in the local supermarket would I choose her over Anon ? Being a frugal shopper the only measure that would steer me Doris-wards would be price. Now, if they were priced exactly the same, I do think I would allow myself to succumb to the cute factor choose a named cauliflower.  If the trend caught on and every fruit and vegetable started to have a name, it would become unappealing and annoying even - at that point I would not care anymore. I wonder how kids may react to this and if they may be more inclined to try something they may not have otherwise cared for. As a test, I asked J and she said she'd be more interested in Doris than a plain old cauliflower (a vegetable she does not like too much) - it was more fun. She added that the blurb about Doris gave you an idea of how to cook the vegetable without being a recipe - that she thought was interesting idea too. 

Should this be appealing to kid…

Living Within Means

In her article Planet Singlehood, Amiee Ginsburg writes "Now I realise there was a price to be paid for being a couple that I could not pay, even though I had had my heart set on it. Now I’m living within my means." A long time inhabitant of Planet Singlehood, I can completely relate to her sentiments. It does take a lot of mental space and energy to come into and sustain a relationship. I had foolishly assumed the same amount of investment would not be necessary in marriage and I am learning I was wrong. While I was unable to extend myself as far as was required to just be in a relationship, I feel more ready, willing and able to do so in marriage simply because my spouse has gone the distance by making a lifetime commitment to me and J - as such, he deserves it. Yet, the effort that goes into the process does make me feel like I am "living beyond my (emotional) means". Of her single state and its impact on her kids, Ginsburg says "I was not able to show…

Uncoiled Spring

I am enjoying a little time off these days after many vacation-less years. One of the pitfalls of having a clockwork routine for a very long time is that you forget how to unwind, relax and do nothing. It took me several days to learn not to look at the clock and let time ebb as is must without being mindful of its passage. I learned to watched the squirrels and birds in the backyard, consider the beauty of the tree that has a creeper covering its trunk and moss encrusting its bare branches.  Once spring returns, I will not be able to see this unadorned beauty any more. When the day warms enough, I go out for a four mile walk. My route takes me past a high school and sometimes I see a bunch of kids in the schoolyard - if I happen to be there during their recess. Mostly, everyone is inside in the classrooms. The streets are empty, the traffic is light and I enjoy my solitude and music. My idyll was broken rudely one rainy morning, when I woke up feeling that my life was without purpose. …

Transformation

I saw the Cassandra Bankson video a few days ago and was amazed by her artistic talent. She was able to transform her canvas in the most extraordinary way - it was like watching artist create a master-price. Her message is straight from the heart - it takes a lot of courage and empathy for such a young person to be able to show a face so badly scarred for the world to see. Most women wear makeup - from a little to a lot of it. It is not unlike children using crayons to express themselves. What we make of our "crayons" can in the end be very different. Cassandra is able to use them as a powerful tool - it frees her from social awkwardness and self-consciousness that an acne ridden face can mean.

She uses makeup to liberate herself and that is a powerful transformation to watch. She is a beautiful person even without the makeup but with her skills she is able to achieve the level of airbrushed perfection that millions of others aspire to. I was left wondering about reality and…

Evergreen Toys

This list of the five best toys ever is the best list of toys I have ever seen. J used to love all of them except the last one - dirt. She is yet to outgrow String and Box. Very reassuring to have an expert (the author) share a lay person's (myself) perspective on toys for children.  J's dance teacher has a four year old boy who I play with when we are there for her class- it keeps him occupied and out of the way of the dancers.The kid has a designated toy room with at least five hundred toys and yet he inevitably wants to play his favorite game that involves none of them. It takes a piece of cardboard, two dice and two plastic sticks. He can spend a good hour creating  variations of games using just those things. I've asked him to show me how some of his toys in the toy room room work. He grudgingly agrees and wants us to go back to playing his game of board, dice and sticks. It is as if he wants to escape the excess of toys by going back to basics - he could not get more m…