A slaute to the Domestic Goddess..

‘My dad is a retired engineer, and my mother doesn’t work, she is just a house wife’ said the candidate sitting in front me of while telling me about his family. This was not so long ago.

This statement had disturbed me for I guess, forever now. My mother is a Homemaker, and I know how much effort she has put in to bring three girls up; cooking, cleaning for us, and to entertain as well. Apart from looking after us ( which was the toughest job in the planet, we were a handful :P) she indulged in a variety of other things. She is the most talented women I have come across, and I say this because its true, and not just because she is my mother. She is an excellent cook, an avid reader, gifted painter, has amazing skills of stitching, knitting and crochet and a trained beautician. She used to conduct hobby classes for cooking, baking, and art & craft. Most of my primary school days are filled with memories of different cakes and cookies (slurp slurp!).

She has always been proud of the fact that she is a housewife. And handled everything with grace and elan. Maybe that is one reason for my different outlook on the whole thing. Today all of us are working and handling our homes too. All thanks to her, we are doing a pretty good job so far (I would say so). We also manage to delve into out hobbies, be it cooking, painting, writing or any other. She has taught me till my high school, I never took any tuition till then. I never took tuition. Period. I have always thought of her as not only the best mother, but now I know she is all that a homemaker can be, and then some. Now if someone says that a housewife does not work, my reaction would be..

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Those who think that way are just ignorant or too full of themselves to notice the work a mere housewife puts in a her normal day.

Now, before I get carried away let me mention a couple of recent incidents.

A teenage daughter was reluctant to introduce her mother to her friend’s parents, as her mother is a stay-at-home-mother and her friend’s parents have full time jobs. Now this lady, not only works at home but also is a counselor. She wakes up early in the morning with her daughter to give her warm milk while she studies, then drives her to her tuition class. Brings her home, makes her breakfast, drops her to school, gets busy with her own work all the while entertaining plethora of phone calls and random guests. She also drives her daughter for another class in evening and brings her back too. All the while she maintains a fine home, makes arrangements for any and every thing her daughter might need, and takes care of her house guests too.

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Tell me now how can you say she doesn’t work?

Another incident happened with a friend. She chose to stay home to take care of her daughter, while her husband worked. Now this sounds normal, right? Well, it did till someone’s comment made me think other wise. She can do anything she wants, but she ‘chose’ to stay home and look after her family. Which again is not a small job. Her husband understands the choice and also the effort that goes in it (applause for him!). But when someone, unintentionally, commented on how she can sit idle and watch TV all she wants just because she is a housewife, it got me thinking, on how we still have that outdated idea about a housewife. She is qualified and a very talented individual, she cook, reads, paints and what not. The choice was something that she made from all of her options, not something she was forced into. And its something she is enjoying. So how does someone who has never been in her shoes get to comment on her situation?

Well I for one person do not get that at all. One is entitled for one’s own opinion, but one doesn’t  have the right to pass judgement on anyone.

I do not understand the dogma linked to the term ‘housewife’. We have grown up as a society, we have embraced numerous new phenomenon viz. inter caste and inter religion marriages, live in relationships, adoptions instead of giving birth, gay marriages, etc. You name it and we have it. We have understood their meaning and given them enough space.

We really should change this little fraction of old school impression we have about the term housewife. This whole impression is created as a result of TV serials, movies etc. As they mostly portray old school version on the housewives.  I rather agree to this

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Gone are those days, my friend. Its time to wake up and smell the coffee.

 

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Born in 1980s : The real PLAY time

In my first post of this series I shared a few memories that are close to my heart, majorly about the growth of television culture; an era where Doordarshan reigned the television kingdom.

But that is just one part of it. There are a lot more things which only people born in 1980s could relate to. My first memory as a child is of the huge courtyard in front of our house where we could play running behind squirrels, of throwing tiny stones in attempt to get some almonds from the tree, of  us drawing shapes in the dust on the ground with a stick. Oh! I can just keep rolling down that memory lane.

As I mentioned in my first post we lived in a locality where all neighbors interacted openly and it was as if we were one big family. Kids of all ages would be playing out in the playground in evenings. We used to play all kinds of games mostly outside, there were no barriers, not of age, not class, not of gender either. It was just a big group of ‘us’. We used to gather together and all play together. Every kid had a play time, and parents made sure the kids are out playing not at home in front of TV or computers like now. In fact in our case, play time was till dusk after school, so we used to rush after school, change clothes (at times 😛 ), grab a bite to eat and rush to play. We only had one rule, it has to be FUN. We would settle for a game the majority wants to play. An then started the whole process of finding the first ‘catcher’ or the ‘seeker’.  We would generally gather around in a circle and then pick a catcher. And picking the catcher it self was so much fun! We would use certain rhymes and the person touched at the end of the rhyme would be ‘it’. Some rhymes I remember are

‘ Inky pinky ponkey, father had a donkey, donkey died father cried, inky pinky ponkey’. -‘Akkad bakkad bambe bo, assi nabbe poore sau, sau me laga dhaga chor nikal ke bhaga’.- ‘Eenie meenie miney moe, catch a tiger by his toe, if he hollers let him go, eenie meenie miney moe’

I just cant recall what were the others. We did use rock paper scissors, straw picking and hand flipping etc. It was so much fun. There was always an initial tension among all and then as the game progressed the initial tension or strain just vanished into fun and frolic.

Oh how can I forget the hand clapping games. I do not leave any opportunity to play them even now. One of our favorites were Miss Mary, A B C D E F G, etc.

Now looking back I realize the values we have learned from those times. The games were played by using the things readily and mostly freely available in the fields, hence were cost effect and economical. Kids from any and every background would come and play as one team, hence taught equality and secularism. These games were very  simple and ubiquitous, they created a strong bond among siblings and peers, which is not seen nowadays. We were aware of the strength  and weaknesses of all our friends, and were in a positive competition knowing who excelled in which game. These traits are now becoming scarce if at all present. Every memory associated with a particular game has a person too, one who excelled in the game, one who was a good contender, one who always cheated and got into petty fights and so on.

Some games that we have enjoyed the most are:

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Hopscotch (Kith-Kith or Kittha)

Hopscotch (Kith-Kith or Kittha),

Generally starts with drawing boxes on the and the players then toss small objects like stone of broken piece of pottery into one of the box and the hopping back and forth all other boxes, retrieve the object placed in the first box and then jump out.  As the games progresses there are many complex rules that come in, like placing the stone ones palm or on forehead while hopping, skipping boxes etc.

 

 

 

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Seven stones (Satolia or Pittu or Pittul)

Seven stones (Satolia or Pittu or Pittul)

A game played between two teams. Teams takes turns to throw a rubber or tennis ball at seven stones stacked in the middle of the field. The fielding team members have to prevent the hitting team members from form the stack of stones again by throwing the ball at their team members. There are variations of the game in almost every region.  One of my favorite games growing up.

 

 

 

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Five stones / Knucklebone (Gitta or Gippa)

Five stones / Knucklebone (Gitta or Gippa)

Generally played between two players, the games consists of five to eight steps and the player to complete the steps in minimal tries wins. We used to play this with small stones of similar sizes. And not to brag, but I aced it!! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Hide-n-seek (Chhupa Chhupi)

Hide-n-seek (Chhupa Chhupi)

This was an all time hit. Every time we had a big heterogeneous group of kids playing, we would mostly settle for Chhupa Chhupi. We used to hide in such unusual places, that at times we would even lose track of time. We have even carried teh game forward at times to the next day, when the seeker couldn’t get find anyone. Me and my sisters have very fond memories of this game.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more games which were very common, and after many attempts I still managed to not learn these properly. Clumsy me! Anyways, some of the games that fascinated me were

Tip-Cat ( Gilli Danda)

Gilli-dundaI could never understand how they used the bigger stick ‘danda’ to tip the smaller stick ‘gilli’. But I enjoyed watching it equally..

 

 

 

 

Kite Flying (patang bazi)

kitesinindiaI have always been attracted to the kites flying high in the sky. And during summer vacations you can always see atleast a few kites. Our colony even had kite flying competitions ‘patang bazi’. This is again a sport where age, caste, gender, class doesn’t matter at all. I wish I could learn to fly a kite properly sometime.

 

 

 

 

I can keep going on, enumerating things I miss from my childhood. But the thing is miss the most actually is the sense of belonging, the kinship, the strong bond we had among peers. I just hope the present generation gets a chance to experience what we had sometime. These things may seem like stone-age-games to some, but you don’t know what they mean unless you have played them.

Good Bye

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Yesterday was a sad day for us, my cousin lost her battle against cancer and breathed her last. She was 34 years old, a daughter to a very loving and affectionate mother, a sister, a dedicated wife, an amazing mother to two handsome and very smart boys.  She was a dancer, a ward councilor and had a very active social life. Entire neighborhood poured over to pay their homage to her. It was something everyone dreaded but none was prepared for. It was just a shock to all of us. To see her beautiful body transform in to just skin and bones, to see her her voluptuous long black locks gone was distressing. Yes, she is free from all the pain and suffering of the treatment. But the void caused by her absence will never be filled in. Every one said they have to move on, and as hard as it looks now eventually they will move on. Time does that for you, it doesn’t heal the wound but it does attenuate the prick of the wound. Everyone loved her dearly and will always miss her. Her place is such which will not be substituted by anyone. I just hope her soul rests in peace and that she find her happy place sooner.

Going the Distance

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder! I am most certain that every one has heard this quote more or less and it attracts derision (aptly so) from all who have had to stay apart from their loved ones. I have been thinking about this for sometime now, but only recently have I realized what it feels like.

My husband’s job required him to travel a lot. This meant many days apart for us, not at a stretch, but still. After initial adjusting, we not only got used to this but also started seeing our relation in a better light. In our time apart we have communicated better. Go figure! We had to resort to text messages, mails and phone calls, but we knew how the other is feeling and it also was the best time to resolve any conflict of opinions. After his return our time together used to be, well, ‘our’ time.

Now, its been more than 10 days that he left for a foreign land for better career opportunity. Every one thought this was a risky move. But then again, whats not risky? He’s doing this for ‘us’ and I support him. This perhaps is the best time for a move like that, its only the two of us right now. We haven’t started a family yet and hence do not have that many shackles. The only issue we face on the relationship front is the uncertainty. We do not know when we will meet again, or when we will be together again. It may be weeks or months or a year.

The day he left was the worst. I suddenly felt alone. The house seemed bigger. The hours seemed longer and the night, well it was like the night resolved not be over. It wasn’t the first time I was alone in this house, but this was the first time in knew he wont be back on the weekend, the first time I wasn’t certain of his tour. I suddenly longed for him, for his touch, for his presence. The feeling was overwhelming. But I had to get a hold of myself. Just a couple of days and I was back to my normal self.

Yes I miss him terribly but its for his own good, for our good. And I think I can live with that, for now. Like everything else even this is not permanent, and shall pass. I do and will support him in every decision, as I know him to be one of the most considerate person. And I love him so.

I thought we should think of this time as our post-marriage-courting period. Oh we had so much fun while we dating even though we hardly met each other. The anticipation, excitement and the intensity of emotions was at its peak. And its the same even now. I think of us as the lucky ones, to get to experience that again.  The best part is I can say all kind of cheesy stuff. Like this (its something I found online but it fits the bill :p)

I miss you when something good happens, because you are the only one I wanna share it with. I miss you when something is troubling me, because you are the only one who understands me so well. I miss you when I laugh and cry, because you are the only one who makes my laugh grow and my tears disappear. I miss you all the time, but I miss you the most when i lie awake in the night and think of all the wonderful times we had together.

See.. 😀

He isn’t into any typical romantic stuff. So right now, I can watch as many chick flicks, as many mushy mushy romantic movies I want and cry my heart out. I can watch sit-coms which he never enjoyed without making him bored. I can make loads of paneer. I can cook beetroot again. I can fall asleep watching movies on my laptop in our bed. I can eat on our dining table for a change :P. I can sleep on his side of the bed! There are a lot of things I have fun doing alone, but the list of things we had fun doing together is much longer.

I miss him when on Saturday morning when our iron-man (yes, we have our own Iron Man)  rings the door bell at 8AM.

I missed his gentle massage when I had terrible body ache due to fever.

I miss his yelling when I don’t drink hot water for my sore throat.

I miss him when I make a single cup of coffee in the morning.

I miss him when I forgot to take the towel to bathroom.

I miss him while watching Golmaal (Rohit Shetty’s) when Arshad Warsi says “Hum kya black black khel rahe hain”

I miss him every time I see a trailer or mention of the Malayalam movie Indian Rupee.

I miss him every time I see Baskin Robins. Its no fun when he’s not there to stop me.

I miss his amazed reaction when I lip sync dialogs from DON or Agneepath (both originals of course)

I miss his annoyed expression when I press him to translate some Tamil movie dialogs. (I tried watching something, it so ‘not’ fun)

We have to make the best of what we have and I know we will. So with all the love in my heart I wish he gets what he wants sooner, that he doesn’t let me distract him, that he doesn’t frown on the little cheesy lovey dovey messages I send him and that doesn’t change too much.. ❤

Everything worth having comes with a price. Lots of work, love and patience and perhaps a little bit of sacrifice will get us there. For you, am happy to go the distance 🙂

P.S.- This can be a good way to avoid the terrible twos too 😛

 

Tradition of ‘Seeing off’ and ‘Receiving’!!!

Yesterday me and my husband went to the airport to receive our aunt at 3 AM in the morning. I was taken aback by the number of people waiting for their loved ones at the wee hours of morning. As we waited there for her to come out at the international terminal, we were constantly pushed and shoved by the eager crowd who wanted to see their loved ones. But in their excitement they ignored the fact that their flights weren’t even announced yet.

There was a lady standing next to me with a child in her arms, mind you this was 3 AM in the morning, I thought she might be receiving her husband and hence she brought her child too. She was constantly trying to keep the kid awake, and the kid gave a good fight, did not budge with any of her tactics and after crying for a bit slept peacefully even in the crazy mayhem of the airport. Oh, I was so jealous of the kid at that time! Anyways, that lady turned out to be accompanied by around seven other people which included another lady with a kid. Soon they started waving to a young man coming our way. Well long story short, they, all eight of them and two kids were there to receive that young man. They thronged around him, there were hugs , kisses and what not. In their moment of reunion they almost blocked the way for the rest of the passengers for a good 5-10 minutes.

I was so engrossed by this whole scene that I almost didn’t see my aunt arrive. She is not-so-seasoned traveler, and it was an odd tome of night hence we both decided to go there to receive her. On our way back I was thinking about the family i saw there. And in fact several other groups where a bunch of people came to receive One person.  Was the young man too tied to travel the final lap of his journey, from airport to his home? Did he happen to forget the address of his own home? Was it necessary to bring such little kids to the airport in this cold night so that their distant uncle can see them? Wasn’t he going to see them at home anyways?

This another group waiting for a man there, comprised of a young lady who had a kid in her lap and another holding her hand, and two elderly women by her side. When the man finally arrived the little girl holding that young lady’s hand jumped in his lap. Perhaps, she was meeting her father after a long time. This was something acceptable to me, the man seemed to become really emotional holding the little kid and so was the young lady. What was baffling was the two elderly women and the three men waiting with them didn’t even bother to give a proper welcome to the man they were waiting for. Instead they were busy looking at the LED TV and  the other stuff he brought along with him. So you came to the airport to get the first-look at the goodies he brought? weren’t you gonna do the same at home? Was it worth the trouble of traveling from Kottayam to Cochin Airport (almost 2 – 2 1/2 hours journey)?

I remember in my childhood, what a big deal it was to have a relative or a friend living or working abroad. It was a matter of immense pride to have someone to flaunt in front of your peers as my foreign cousin or my foreign uncle. Anyone bringing foreign chocolates in class would be the star attraction. My Appu (maternal Grandfather- Appupa) used to tell me stories about the ‘Petti Thorukkal’ – a suitcase opening ceremony. In older times whenever anyone came back from visit abroad, he/she was supposed to bring lots of goodies for everyone around. And hence, people would gather around when they opened their suitcases to see all the goodies.

Appu said it was a big deal back then, But if you think, its a big deal even now. We love all things foreign. Foreign chocolates, foreign vacations, foreign liquor and apparently foreign returns! I know a close relative, one aunt of ours who didn’t speak to my cousin brother who came back from Australia recently. The reason was that he didn’t bring her anything, not even chocolates! He had to buy some sweets from the duty free shops at airport for that aunt to make up for it.

Why is it such a big deal? Beats me. We get almost every thing ‘foreign’ here now. So why the fuss??

The guy slugs for a year to come back home on vacation to spend all his money saved on goodies for people. That’s not fair. If you are so interested in flaunting foreign brand, go get them. They are easily available in most shopping malls now. Don’t make the poor guys spend his money on goodies for you, which of course will never be up to your expectation.  He’s slugging in a foreign country to make a living, to give a better life ti his family. If you cant respect that or understand that, at least try not to make it even harder for him.

And stop crowding airports so much. if someone can travel across continents all alone, I am sure he can reach home by himself too. And if you really wanna go, please be practical and limit the number of people you take with you to receive your loved one. Even the person coming will be baffled by the crowd.

Good deeds are always rewarded!

(This post is dedicated to my maternal granduncle and his wife, Madhavan Ammama and Ammayi. These are the two people who always have been a beacon of light for us. Even my husband loves to just sit in their company and listen to their stories. No matter how sad or upset we are in our lives the moment we meet you guys, we get a new ray of hope, we see things in a different light, we get the confidence of ‘Yes we can!’. We hope to have your blessing always with us)

A couple of weeks back we went to my maternal family temple as it was our first anniversary and we wanted Devi’s blessing. (yes, we completed one year of marriage. Yay to us :).. Anyways, am not some orthodox devout, but there are certain things and certain places that bring that calm and peace of mind, that we often need in the rustle bustle of our lives. One such place is that temple. But its not only the divinity of the temple that helps us in times of distress, but the aura that emanates from the surroundings. Its the only place I know in Ernakulam, where you cant hear the traffic, or any other typical city noise, but instead, chirping birds, crickets, and all other  sounds of the nature that would take you a different place. A place where you feel connected to your self. A place where you feel connected to the nature. A place where you get a feeling that “everything is going to be fine” just by being there.

Just to give you a picture of it, this place is my mother’s ancestral home and is around 600 years old. My mothers ancestors used to own the entire neighborhood land, which is like a small island. They were highly religious people and the Devi temple there is believed to be very powerful. People still flock around there just to get her blessings. With a system of joint families that time, there were around 100 odd people staying in that house at a time. Everyday was a Sadhya there, as there would be someone’s birthday or remembrance day. The house was divided the three blocks all these were strewn across a vast area of land. There was the main block where the elders resided and where the kitchen was located. This block still remains, and is shut off, in order to protect it from further weathering. The Second block was a Naalukettu and the third block was a Ettukettu, all traditional Kerala Architecture. My mother’s maternal uncle and aunt still reside in that house, and they always have lots of stories to tell us. He recalls that during his childhood, everyday at 11AM, food was served for all who came at the door steps, all needy strangers were welcome there. Also there was a guesthouse which was open for anyone who was stuck in the locality for the night to stay over, they could use the bedding kept there and use the small pond near the guest house for their needs.

He has kept the tradition alive. He believes the land that he lives on is blessed and the blessing is to be shared with everyone around.  Apart from maintaining the temple and its related rituals, he has also built a new guest house for people to stay in. He believes that he needs only 30% of the produces from his land and the rest is for the neighboring families and the fauna.

He believes we are really blessed because for the nobility and kindness of our ancestors. And I second that. I dont boast of having a big aristocratic family (which, apparently they were) but I truly believe the good deeds done by them are the blessing we have even now.

If you come to think of it, it seems true. Whatever goes around comes around.

We, me and my sisters, have a habit of helping people we meet in anyway we can, be it helping an elderly couple in train, or a woman with child in a market,  we try to do whatever we can to help them get on with their work easily. The whole idea behind it is something our parents have always taught us, all your good deeds will be rewarded, if not to us then to someone who means a lot to us. And its true, my mother usually travels alone, and although she’s in good health (touch wood!), she always happens to be in a company of very congenial people during her travel, who have helped her in the journey.

I guess in a way we are our own guardian angels. If you are surrounded with people who ooze with positivity and optimism, then life in all of its hardship would not seem so bad after all. Nobody has a perfect life, but with the right attitude nothing can break you down.

I truly believe in what my elders have taught us. They may have nurtured the said values based on their religious beliefs. But religious or not benevolence and humility is virtue everyone should develop.

(more details about the temple can be found on http://puthiyakavu.com/amma/index.html )

The Bridges of Madison County <3

Okay now, some may like it some may not, but I, I just love it!

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Yes some say its full of cliches, the silent dinner table, the caring but inexpressive husband, the teenage kids involved in their own lives, a middle aged women who still cherishes the dreams she had as a teenager, a stranger with engrossing looks and masculine but gentle personality. All this aside, I still love the movie.

Clint Eastwood ( I just love him <3) , as Robert Kincaid, a Nat-Geo photographer, a globetrotter, with oh so manly yet quiet persona. He is one of the most creative directors in Hollywood and by casting himself as Robert in this movie he had a huge task on his hands, as most people would always associate him with his cowboy and cop roles. This movie portrayed a different side of Clint for me. He was in his matter, the very manly, adventurous and free spirited, yet very gentle, and sensuous. He was sweet, smiling, gentle, and a man who knows how to treat a women. He’s the most gorgeous lead you can see at the age of 60!!

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Meryl Streep, another of my favorites, had portrayed Francesca better than any other would have. She played an Italian women who moved to America with her husband, When stranger asks for direction to a bridge she simply accompanies him there, not knowing that they would fall passionately in love with each other. She may not have the best of Italian accent but her expressions were immaculate. That’s what lifted the character so high. Oh! the scene when she drives away from Robert, I cry every single time

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Well, I may be biased, being a big fan of Clint Eastwood, but there is no denying that not only he acted really well he also directed the movie with elan.  He and his team has done an exceptional job with the lighting in the film. The scenes involving Robert (Clint) and Francesca (Meryl) have had beautiful play of light and shadow.

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What makes them stand out in my memory is not the big gestures, the kissing or the frolic, but it is the many subtle moments. How her kind of music is not enjoyed by others. How there is no conversation on the dinner table. How she almost smiles to herself, feeling happy, when Robert walks to his truck to grab beer. How his hand just brushes against her while washing, the first touch. Their, casual even banal conversation, full of desire. How she leaves her hand on his shoulder after adjusting his collar, while talking on the phone. How in the diner another women on the town is boycotted because she had an affair with a married man, showing the societal aspect of that era.

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Call me a romantic, but these little nuances are what makes this movie so memorable for me. No matter how much you scrutinize this movie at the end romance is the only thing that lingers in your memory.

My favorite part (apart from every other scene with Clint in it. Wait. That’s almost the entire movie 😛 ), would be the one, where Robert stands in rain with a devastated look on his face while Francesca drives away evidently shaken and in tears. That is the most passionate scene of the movie, knowing that both are meant for each other and yet choosing a life without each other. Its not like young love that is reckless, but its mature love that comes with self awareness.

I do not remember much about the part with her kids, maybe because it all seemed too artificial.

I have cried every single I’ve watched this movie, and can’t seem to forget the face of Clint Eastwood at the end. weep weep 😥

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I love the movie and every time I watch it, the nuances take me for a ride 🙂

I’ll quote another article here:

“The Bridges of Madison County” is about two people who find the promise of perfect personal happiness, and understand, with sadness and acceptance, that the most important things in life are not always about making yourself happy.