Mothers of the Other World!

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I am in absolute awe of these ‘mothers’ of the ‘other’ world. By other world, I mean the Ad world. One thing common about these mothers shown in the Ad world is, — they all are great, simply great!

I truly envy the tooth-paste ad mom, who worries about the cavities caused by chocolates. No, nothing wrong in worrying about cavities. The ‘wonderful’ thing is the way she can afford to just sit pretty with a box of chocolates next to her, waiting for the stars of her life to come home with stars on their report-cards. How a mother of two kids can coolly sit with not a single crease on her face or on her clothes – with absolutely nothing to do, but only wait with a box of chocolates! At least, I have never come across any such mum in real life. (Here I’m talking about the commonly found common mothers and not the rare specimens adorning the rarefied atmosphere!)

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Then there is another tooth-paste mom with a long list of ‘Ayurvedic’ ingredients in her tooth paste. Her entire family clamors around her appreciatively, as if she has concocted ‘THE’ recipe of the year. But then, it probably is a ‘complete meal’ recipe. Because, with soooooo many ingredients (and that too, all healthy ones), even if you eat just that tooth-paste, it would be more than a filling meal. (And if you like some fruit after your meal, just gulp a spoonful or two of any available shampoo – nowadays they all are so full of fruits! But that’s beside the point)

There is no dearth of Super-mums in this world – the extra-protein mom, the-I’ll-also-fall-with-you mom, jam-n-ketch up tiffin moms, clean-shiny clothes moms, shoo-the-small-hunger-mom, the list is endless—-

Another set of ‘wonder’ mums are the ‘antiseptic soap’ mothers! Here the key word is ‘confidence’. After playing in the rain, mud-pools etc., the kids gleefully announce their dripping, drenched arrival – fully confident that their mother would not shout at them, not even get a little cross at their antics. And they are right! The mother so happily plays ‘catch the soap’ with the kids – because, she is completely confident that the antiseptic soap would prevent any and all the ailments caused by the ‘water sports’. All? Really? A soap stops all the diseases! Then what the doctors and pharma companies are for? Please pardon my lack of faith. Probably the buried and hidden microbiologist in me is responsible for this scepticism.

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Another mom advocating the same product has a grown-up son and just because the mother says ‘Yo’ she is certified (in sunny boy’s eyes) as ‘cool’ and then the otherwise lazy, supposed to be dirty son immediately obeys his mom. Has to! Well, is it that easy to get the-we-have-a-mind-of-our-own teenagers to obey just by the virtue of a soap?

All in all, I thank my stars that no such ads were there on the horizon (rather, television) back during my child-rearing years (or else I would have had to answer some tough questions about me and my actions viz a viz these ads). Thank God, my parenting years were over before the advent of these super ad-moms!

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The Deluge (II)

Hello once again! So, we were talking about the ‘Whatsapp forwards’ (I am not sure about you all, but at least I was). The variety available here is simply mind-boggling, to say the least! And the speed with which they proliferate! If you read one message or a video in one group, within a few minutes the same thing pops out of multiple other groups! Continue reading

The Deluge (I)

You start your day and the first thing you do in the morning is to check your phone. (Who says I am addicted to social media or the phone? No please, …..it is only to check my mails, you see). And what do you find in your phone? Many many colourful flowers (or babies or puppies or kittens or….some such cutie cutie things) popping out of each ‘group’ to wish you a happy day.  Continue reading

Poor, Poor Monday Tuesday

After the weekend, generally people are neither in a mood nor in any hurry to start the new week’s work. So, in my experience, new work assignments are not initiated before Tuesdays; earliest could be the second half of Monday.

Having nothing much to do, is a rare thing and most of the female brigade would agree with me here. Didn’t require much time to finish reading newspaper — and then I realised, the copy of the daily newspaper was so very thin. Hardly any material to read.  Continue reading

imMobile (part I)

Lot many people must have already written about this and I am sure, by now there are tomes and tomes describing this great quality of the new technology. However, I can’t resist this urge to scribble whatever I see around me.

Looking at these happenings, I get pretty convinced that this thing called Mobile phone has some magical powers that mesmerise the users and make them forget the world. Continue reading

Teach them not to hate, Please!

Quote: The greatness of a nation and its morale progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. — Mahatma Gandhi.

Thank God! I’m not mad ——- or at least there are others like me on this earth.
Last Month I came across an article in the newspaper (10th March 2016, DNA, From Editor’s Desk) – and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. So after all, whatever people might say, I am not the only one.

The article stated how the writer (Editor of that daily, Ms. Sarita Tanvar) jumped out of a vehicle and yelled at a man who was strangulating a stray dog. This saved the life of the mutt. Bravo! We need more such people around on this planet, more people who realise and believe that we solely do not own this planet, it also belongs to other living beings and they too have full right to live here — as much as we do.

Many a times I suspect that around the place where I live, I’m known as ‘Mad Aunty’ (Of course, behind my back). Reason? I can not stand cruelty to helpless stray animals and I never hesitate in yelling, shouting, fighting if I ever see any human torturing a dumb animal.

I try to visualise this through the eyes of the hapless animals. The various large groups of kids-n-moms waiting for their respective school buses, are a major source of nuisance. Just to catch up with their daily dose of gossip, the ladies drag their  children hours before the bus time. For some unknown reason, the entrance of our housing society is the unofficial, unwritten stop for buses of all the schools of neighbouring two suburbs.

So as soon as the females get their heads together, they conveniently forget all about their wards. Once the kids are inside the gate and society garden, mothers are assured that they are safe and no need to keep a watch over them.
Then, if the gang of kids notices(which is quite often) any stray dog, cat, kittens or puppies, suddenly the spirits of our warrior ancestors take over them and the whole unruly bunch of 8 – 10 children gives out loud war-cry and runs after the tiny kittens or puppies. Scared , if the kittens/puppies hide beneath a parked car, the kids bend down and throw stones, sticks, any handy ‘weapon’ at them.

Imagine! Tiny, one month old kittens, just learning to bounce on their fours — and chased  or assaulted by human forms that are physically fifty to hundred times larger than them — all shouting at the top of their voices,  wielding sticks as swords and throwing stones.

Tiny, sleepy, stray kittens

Often I try to make the kids understand, (that is, if I ever meet them face to face and if they are in a receptive mood), imagine yourself in their place, imagine some demons hundred times bigger than you are running after you with big swords in their hand. How would you feel?
No use! Futile exercise! I know they must be laughing behind my back. The attacks continue. If I see this (which is almost daily), I can’t contain my anguish any more and then I shout from my balcony. Nowadays the kids are smart, they know that I cannot actually do anything — not from third floor. So they just ignore me and continue ambushing the ‘enemy’ (Ohh, poor, poor kittens)
That leaves me no other option but to call out to their mothers, so engrossed in their exchange, break into their precious gossip session and ask them to pay some attention to their children and control them.
They coolly turn around and tell their kids to stop, or else ‘Aunty would scold’. They don’t tell them to stop because what they are doing is wrong. That is the sad part.
The culture of a nation is defined by how it treats its animals. (And all that our parents do is, teach their children to throw stones at a stray, even if the dog is quietly sleeping on one side). Why do the adults pass on this legacy of hatred to the next generation, when the children are basically fearless, very receptive and open to whatever they are taught.
Recently Google posted this picture of a baby elephant in Thailand.
Isn’t it simply adorable? All animal babies are cute, no doubt. What is more important here is the way human babies are affectionate towards that baby elephant. Those children are taught to love animals and not to hate them.
In the newspaper article that I mentioned above, Editor Ms. Tanvar quotes the study reports that state that cruelty to animals in childhood can indicate criminal murderous tendencies of adulthood. I completely agree with it.
While working in Tokyo, my son once noticed a group of young, school-going children gathered around someone or something on the footpath. Fearing that some child might have got hurt, he walked over there. The apple-cheeked Japanese kids looked up, grinned and pointed to a chubby cat on the pavement, basking in all the petting and affection of the kids.
The animal cafe is a well-known concept there — people pay to love the four legged ones. Wow! The small children visiting the famous deer park of Nara are not afraid of the deer and they actually run after the deer to hold them. The kids call the deer ‘san’ (Japanese word for deer + san). While addressing someone with respect, the Japanese use ‘San’. For example, Fuji Yama means Mount Fuji, but they call it ‘Fuji San’. For the children the deer also are ‘san’.
This speaks a lot about the nation’s culture.
It is not easy to suddenly change the mindset and start loving animals. But the least the parents can do is, to teach their children not to hate or harm helpless animals. So, here is hoping for a better, safer future for animals, where the ‘warriors’ are not taking out their battle-fury on someone who cannot speak or defend themselves.
Image courtesy: Google +
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A Road Trip To South Maharashtra

A Road Trip To South Maharashtra

My husband had some assignment at the southern end of Maharashtra and he decided to travel by road. Should I join? Hmmm? Well, why not? On work front, there wasn’t anything much exciting nor any pressing task. So I decided to take this opportunity. A minuscule break, but with no agenda (at least for me) whatsoever.

So I threw a few things together and hopped in the car. We weaved through the office-hour Mumbai traffic, crossed Navi Mumbai (New Bombay) and left the city behind. I put on ear-phones, shuffled my favourite numbers and sat back.

But a few miles later we noticed something odd – the cars in front were taking a U turn and were going back. At first we didn’t bother, but then our car came to a stand still — just like the rows and rows of cars in front of us — and soon, even behind us.

The sun was moving towards its noon-time zenith and it wasn’t exactly comfortable sitting in a motionless car. From the rows ahead and behind, people were stepping out of their cars and were discussing ….. discussing what? Isn’t it strange that whenever such public situation arises, total strangers (especially drivers) immediately bond like long lost friends or Kumbh ke mele mein bicchade brothers?

Rows of cars stuck on the winding roads of Western Ghats

Then on the scene arrived an angel on a bike, carrying news from the opposite direction. Naturally every soul in that never-ending car queue was all ears for some news …. any news arriving from the direction where it all had started.
“Patthar gire hain — there is a land-slide. Nothing can move till four or five o’clock in the evening.”

There was a mad rush to turn around, before the U turn or the express-way in the opposite direction also could get blocked….. we were not exception. Herd mentality — yes, we too were guilty! Nobody tried to verify what that biker said. How blind (& also deaf  n dumb) can we get.

So we went back a few kilo-meters and took the now-rapidly-filling up old Mumbai-Pune road, abandoned since the easier, faster option of express-way was opened.

So the old,scenic route started winding up the ghats, unfurling old memories of childhood travels. But loosing oneself in the sweet past wasn’t possible, as the reality wasn’t all that rosy. The ‘curvaceous’ ghats and their steep, winding roads were causing naak mein dum for all the cars.

People usually generalise that city females find it difficult to put up with hardships. (being a female from city, I of course do not subscribe to this opinion – Absolutely Not). Applying the same (wrong) logic, the new age city cars were fast buckling under this sudden challenge.

There was a quickly spreading epidemic amongst the cars — with rapid succession they were falling victim to the ‘smokey’ phenomenon. Looking at the scenario, we were getting more and more worried about our ‘old faithful’. Whenever we detected even a whiff of smoke, we immediately stopped and checked whether our ‘grand dame’ has got a whim of having a smoke.

One after other, the cars were being pulled on the side for a breather, bonnets were opened to let out the clouds of smoke. The cars on the roads were anyway moving at a snails’s pace, so I tried to have a look at the open bonnets  of a car or two. But in return I received dirty glares.

Well, well, how well the human brains perceive what exactly is in the mind of opposite person — especially if it has some dishonourable thought like taking a picture of the gaping bonnet full of smoke. So a dirty glare was a natural reaction, I guess. Suppose if we were in their place, with our poor baby having tough time? No, no ….. it was not charitable on my part even to entertain such thought. So mentally wishing ‘get well soon’ and ‘speedy recovery’ etc. to those coughing, spluttering cars, we inched our way, keeping our fingers crossed.

There the next problem stood in the form of a traffic police — No going further on the old road, take the old-new connect and resume the journey on the express-way. Everywhere, on all the levels, the roads in the ghats were completely jammed. I wondered how the drivers could differentiate between old and new roads?

So we were back to the point from where we had taken a U turn. The same slow motion process continued till the ghats ended. There we saw the  real reason – an oil/petrol tanker had overturned, causing oil-spill. By then the area was made safe by spreading sand and gravel over the spill, so as to avoid any skidding. So much for the ‘Land slide’ of the biker messenger!

So the first half part of the journey we covered by car and the second part we completed by flight. Yes, we flew the rest of the way. You see, these professional drivers simply loath any kind of delay, they hate it when they get late ….. let the reason be anything.

So to make up the lost time, our charioteer just vroomed the rest of the way. There was so much to enjoy along the way — the totally black soil, the swaying sugar-cane fields, the fully white, slim bullocks with long, pointed horns …… thanks to our dear driver the rest of the journey was simply a blurrrrrrrrr.

Even after our repeated reminders that we were not in any life and death hurry, he refused to ease his foot off the accelerator. At a point, I almost pictured myself wearing a helmet inside the four-wheeler. And no, it wasn’t a funny picture.
And this wasn’t my imagination, I’m pretty sure it was there — just above the rear-view mirror there was a sign flashing ….. Fasten –er, no, not fasten — ‘Tighten your seat belts…..we are taking off to the space!’

When we finally reached our destination, I realised that all this while I had been holding my breath!
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Cosm(et)ic Invasion !

Cosm(et)ic Invasion !

(Please note that this article was written some years ago. I fully understand that it may sound atrocious in today’s time.)

The door bell rang on a windy winter afternoon. Still deeply engrossed in the book in my hand, I opened the door to a young girl of college-going age, apparently on a survey – cum – sales promotion.

“Good noon, Ma’am! Which facial cream do you use?” She fired her first query. No preamble, no introduction of herself or her company.
“None, I don’t use anything,” Still entangled in the plots of the novel, I blurted out the truth.
The vast array of fast fleeting expressions that my answer brought to the opposite face really shook me and jolted me out of my trance. Wonder, shocked surprise, disbelief and ultimately, incredulity; each replaced the other in a rapid succession. I am sure even a seasoned Thespian couldn’t have managed such fete in his best performance.
“Nothing??!! You mean absolutely nothing? Even in this winter season?” I was about to offer some support, in case she fainted of shock. But after all, she seemed to have been made of sterner stuff.
“No,” I replied, then added, “I don’t need any. You see, I have got an oily skin.” But it made me feel mad at myself. Why should I give any explanation? So what even if it happened to be the truth, where was the need for me to give justifications?

Not to be outdone so easily, she offered solution for my every objection.
“Oily skin? No problem, Ma’am. This cream won’t make you look oily at all.”
“But …. I don’t need anything.” I tried to stand my ground, “I’ve never used anything and I don’t want to start now—”
“If you try our product just once, Ma’am, you’ll never stop using it!” This said with an unshakable confidence any promise-giving, pre-election politician would envy.
“No, no….but….you see..” I groped around blindly for something — anything.
“Oh, take my word Ma’am, you can’t imagine how different  you’d feel once you use this regularly,” This could be my Granny telling me how her medicine would be good for me. “And within months you’ll see the transformation. Your husband won’t recognise you, so young you’ll look!”
Young? Of course! Wasn’t I the doddering ancient relic with countless wrinkles? (At that time I was around thirty)
But in the first place, if I belonged to such bygone era, then what was the need to resurrect me from my fossil form? And the bit about my husband not recognising me, well, wouldn’t that be the Prime Dangerous reason NOT to use such transforming magic potion? It took all my might to stick to my rejections.

Even then she tried her best with the tenacity of a true sales person, entire conversation conducted with an irritatingly patronising – or was that sarcastic? – smirk fixed on her face.
“It can be used as a fairness cream, too,” She persisted. I am sure this wasn’t said taking my skin-colour into consideration, at least I consoled myself so.

So many heavenly qualities packed in such a tiny jar! I peered at it with awestruck reverence. But expressing my total regret, I declined it as I was convinced that it wasn’t possibly meant for a mere mortal like me.
Ultimately, the ‘Angel of Beauty’ left me to dwell in my unbelievingly pathetic and primitive conditions.
That set me thinking. Really? Am I living in some bygone era? May be I wasn’t moving with the times, afterall. Probably applying various creams and lotions on your body, especially face, at different appropriate times of the day and season has become as mandatory and inevitable as, say, brushing your teeth first thing in the morning!
Of course, I do  am aware of these innumerable beauty products floating around in the market – you can’t possibly escape getting educated in these matters, even if you wish. The ‘N’ number of prolific commercials pushed down your throat via idiot box (and of course, many other media) wouldn’t let you remain illiterate about them. Well, the reason for my ignorance could be my (bad) habit of using these commercial breaks to rush to the kitchen to stir the curry on the gas-stove and save it from burning. How very unpardonable of me!!
Till this day I had not realised how backward I had retreated from the present-day woman. I sincerely hope that the sales – girl wasn’t too shocked to complete her daily rounds. Probably for all her next calls, she would first ask the lady of the house, “DO you use any sort of cream at all?”
Whether she asked it or not, I am planning to ask it as my first question in my own survey — A survey to find out rare specimen (like me) of the fast disappearing or almost extinct species!
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The Case Of An Angry Tooth Fairy!

The Case Of An Angry Tooth Fairy!

Someone please tell me a way to  appease the tooth fairy. Don’t know what I did in childhood to annoy her, but since then she has turned her back at me. Of course, that hasn’t stopped her from claiming my pearlies – one by one.
Now one would wonder, what has brought about this sudden outburst? What else? — one more has bitten the dust.
People generally get irritated if they find a kankar or a tiny stone in their food. In my case, when it goes ‘crrrruuuunch’, I know what it is. I rush to the mirror to check and find out which one was that! You see, my teeth have this bad habit of breaking off — without any pain, without any prior indication or warning. Just like that ! Strange indeed, but true ! The crown crumbles from the base, leaving behind the poor, (heart)broken root still firmly embedded in the gums.
So, that calls for yet another procedure. After having gone through so many of them, I shouldn’t actually get all worried by just a mention of a dental procedure. But each one of the past experiences has succeeded in putting me off for a life time. Even a whiff of a sound of that drilling instrument is enough to send me scurrying to the North Pole.
A close relative of mine always says that she has been through all the variations of pregnancy and child-birth – normal delivery, pre-mature delivery, bed rest,c-section delivery, the whole gamut. On the similar lines, I am eligible to say that I have seen all the permutations and combinations of the dreaded dental procedures – cavities and cavity filling, simple tooth extraction, complicated one with a curved root, root-canal treatment, cap fittings,cap removals, bridging the gap —– you name it and I have had it. All except implant — the thought itself makes me shudder …….but my experiences have taught me one thing, never say never, especially where my teeth are concerned.
It is said that when Lord Shrikrishna opened his mouth, Yashoda Ma experienced the greatest joy as she saw the entire Universe in the mouth of her little Krishna. I am proud to say that I have given that pleasure to innumerable dentists, who had the good fortune of cutting my teeth down to size.
One look at this ‘universe’ and I am sure, there is a quick call on the ‘Home’ number, “Honey, remember that jewellery set you were pinning for? Go ahead and purchase it, a gift to my precious wife!”  A number of Mrs. Dentists should be thankful to me (rather my teeth) for their jewellery and/or other pricey gifts.
Now, why did I say innumerable dentists? Visiting a number of dentists was never because of any arguments or disagreements etc. (It was merely due to circumstances) The dentists would not let me go so easily, because afterall I am a golden egg-laying hen for the professionals. And as for me, a dentist is as essential as the milkman, paper-boy, grocery shop-walla etc. etc. Actually I see these other guys less frequently than my ‘Saviour’.
I am sure, now you dear people are crinkling your noses, ‘Probably she can’t take good care of her teeth’, or some similar thing. Sorry to disappoint, but I have a dentist’s certificate regarding this matter.
A dentist couple, both husband and wife who are our good acquaintances outside ‘The Chair’ ( I mean the dentist’s chair obviously. Mind you, for me it is in no way less than the electric chair of the gallows!), once had a  ‘golden opportunity’ to treat my less-than-32. The husband called his wife, “Come here, have a look,” As if in there was the world’s Eighth Wonder waiting to be discovered, “See, her oral hygiene is so good.” The wife nodded and replied sombrely, “Yes, but the problem has already set in, so can’t do anything.”
Her words sounded the death-knoll for my poor teeth and the future was doomed.
So, if my oral hygiene is good, then —- why MY poor teeth, O Lord? My family shakes their heads in unison, ‘You have inherited it from Nani!’. Yes, my maternal grand mother had to start wearing dentures from the age of forty five. The funny thing was, no one suspected that anyone could be wearing it from that early age. So it was taken as her real teeth. When everyone complimented her on having a perfect set of teeth even after seventy years of age, Nani would just smile mischievously.
Oh well. So then what is the future of my precious ones, O Tooth Fairy?
Unlike me, you guys may not have been lucky to have had such ‘vast experience’ in this field. But most of you must have encountered this necessary evil of ‘the chair’ at some point or the other. Do share your experiences — at least that would give some solace 🙂