Thursday, July 27, 2017

One life to live...

Every birth is a cause of joy and celebration, but actually that is not the case in my state, Punjab. It’s all an eyewash when they say, things have changed, advertisements, tall posters stating the statistics that the boy to girl ratio have improved and every health minister takes credit as if they only gave birth to increase the rate.
We had two case scenarios, both of them wanted sons, and this was their third try. One of the employees was a gursikh, adhered to all the tenets of Sikhism; his father was a priest in Amritsar. He had sent his wife back to her parents place, as they had not told them that she had a defect, she was giving birth to girls only and the girls being born had a hole in the heart.  After a lot of persuasion and the blessings of a local Babaji she was going to have a son.
The second one wanted a son too, they had two daughters, his brother had two daughters and he wanted a son. He needed a day off as his wife had some infection and he needed to look after her, take her to a doctor. I told him, why doesn’t he visit my gynecologist, who does a lot of cases for free and would gladly help out and he would save a lot of money. He just kept on dilly-dallying and would not reply back clearly. After much persuasion, he mumbled and said he wasn’t going to register her. I still couldn’t comprehend what he meant. On further clarification, he was going to take her to this shoddy, shabby, run of the mill clinic on the main highway that did a scan and he would come to know the gender of the baby.
One baby was born, and Babaji won and superstition had a victory over science and roots became deeper. The other baby lost her life to science and the greed and the manic obsession to have a son continues.
Where , what and when does it end? Calling up the authorities , cancelling the license doesn’t mean it is the end to this madness. It continues , in every village , every town , city and you , me , or them arehelpless. I wonder ,w hen will they consider girls to be equal.
When will she be allowed to live? What does she need to have to have that we let her live? It is a collective shame , we cant be oblivious and say oh we are not to be blamed. It’s a collective failure , none of us can be oblivious and shrug off that we are not a part of this disease that kills the child in the womb juts because one is a girl.
For all our tall claims of development , demonetization , ushering in the digital age, and going to Mars and back , we are sadly regressing in to an evil , wicked era where if we let her live , we rape , kill, mutilate , throw acid and treat her like chattel.
Let her live, let her grow , give her wings, nurture her and let her shine like the priceless diamond she is ! Don’t bargain your conscience in the desire to have a son , who would forever be tainted by the sister he lost .

This has been haunting me for a week , imagine the mother who loses her child at the mercy of science and family pressures , treated no better than a breeding animanl.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mommy rules

Dear Child of Mine,

I love you, let me state this, there is no quantification, no value that can be placed nor can I ever prove how much but I just do. I gave birth to you, expanded till the end of the universe and I had you, in fact your father and I were of the generation where we didn’t take picture of him caressing my belly or holding me and mooning over me or even buying dal (we had no amazon pantry) and we had a joint family system that worked together as one and co-existed. We all compromised, adjusted, and we all got along fine and birthing and rearing up children was and is a joint responsibility where everyone pitches in with their role to mentor, guide, advice and nurture the child.
We had no snap chat, chat, filter, or no filter in fact the only filter I knew was for water so essential for life. Nothing was coated, or colored or changed to look good, better or have swag! These days I am told to chill, relax, you wont understand the pressure, you don’t know, how can you be so backward, what about other children how come they have so much freedom or as one mother told me, her daughter hates the restrictions on her clothing choices. What, where, when did times change so much that one’s acceptability is by the clothes one wears, I am not saying that one has to wear a sack! But sometimes what is fashion is so bizarre that I wonder do the designers really just want to play a mind game and see who would buy. Weirder the garment, the more lucrative it gets and everything gets ripped, torn and scruffy sometimes to look smart.
Please believe in yourself, its not the likes you get now, it’s not the amount of parties you attend or the happening places you are seen or checking in at, it is cooler to read the books that have been around far longer than I have been.
Read the classics, imbibe them; it’s always fun to read the books and to be a geek or a nerd. There is a world in the books that I get lost too , be it magic, fiction or the far far away countries. Books have been my windows to the world , transporting me to a realm in the past, present and the future and to locales unknown.
And, remember you are more important, precious than the love that suddenly blossoms and you go crazy with the emoji’s, yes we all had our school crushes but do not let her /his let down be a blow on your self-esteem. Be comfortable in your skin, your persona, personality will grow and develop and be honed! You’re a work of art in progress.  And the final product would be amazing.
Some days, I think the media hype and the extreme analysis of teenager hormones and the teen troubling years is creating more drama.
I’m sorry for all you go through, the extreme pressure to be successful, to ace the exams, the high percentages that children get and the rat race and the competitive exams. I wonder what are they aiming at. No one i.e. us remembers how much we scored in out tenth, whether we passed or failed Hindi, and trust me as your hyper mother who keeps on saying study well, study one more hour, it’s ok to take it easy. Life has its plans marked for you; everything unravels at the right time, not a minute before and not a minute late.
One does have to struggle a bit, and then legends are born. No one is going to hand you life on a platter. Yes, I am contradictory; it goes with being a mother you see. And, we are the only ones who are going to tell you that. And, we will yell, embarrass, ask for photos or selfies that I can’t take, I’m the shortest in my family of giants!
And before the list gets more embarrassing, I will always worry about meals, gym plans, and the most important being your messaging me back any time of the day or night. This is my right so , just deal with it and its quicker to reply back! Ad, the pathetic excuse of being busy just doesn’t cut it with me , you gives live with an extension life in the virtual world.
Your Muggle Mom .


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bowels, gene and the nose

It was all in the nose .In fact, we all proudly say it’s quite a regal Roman one and that’s our distinctive stamp. At a family get together, all of us, the next generation of cousins who were all-young once but are in the new 40’s. As always, the conversation started with Modi, and the mounting tensions on the border and the ever-favorite Trump antics and the latest episode with the French first lady. And, then it meandered to what ailed us. I think at this point of our lives, we all have so many problems, just those kind which we used to hear from our parents and our grand parents and we used to shrug them off saying oh my god! This is all you talk about.
In fact, now it’s like a throw back to what all we have.
One thing we all concurred was that it all came from our grandparents! I think I have the strongest nose, the knobby knees, and we all have the same feet, with one of the finger taking a turn and acting independent of the rest! It just will not behave and fit in properly in our shoes!
We all have the same reaction to stress, the countless runs (pun intended) to the bathroom and the weak stomach and then the love for masala chai that we decided was the answer to everything.
It’s the answer to heart breaks, to exam tension, to getting a job, to not getting a job, for digestion or just sitting at home and gossiping and then when things got serious, for our rishtas! My cousins and I secretly finance Chai and coffee sold in this country, I think all of us collectively drink like a fish in water. Growing up, my grandmother told me that drinking too much coffee would make me wheatish in color, that was a myth, nothing happened, I however think it bleached the color of my hair though!
It is the most stubborn of all and color or mehendi just doesn’t stay! So all we have our wisdom highlights, platinum streaks and a receding hairline that thank god spared the girls but the men bear the brunt of it!  One set wears turbans, so they escape it but one set is just plain ol’ bald. These all-little attributes we give to our grandparents.
We all have the same knee problems, but we have a doctor in our midst that saves us all the time. I think jointly we bombard him with the maximum whatsapp traffic asking advice from the simple, mundane, and silly to the most serious of problems! His patience is what is not in all of us. We are one of the most hot tempered, semi- impatient, always in a hurry with a slight OCD problem, creative, junk eating /craving, globe trotting with a bit of wanderlust in all of us! It’s like life is a full circle, we were all talking about the benefits of isabgol,lassi and how one needed to cut down on the masala to have a calmer stomach.
And, the bane of all of us was that we just love food, thanks to the chatpaatta gene in us, and then the mittha we craved. None of us took any spirits, the strongest we took was coffee, thus I think the sugar converted into alcohol and gave us a high!
The most distinctive trait was the eyebrows, definite and always one of them up in a question. You know the secret is that I would not trade any little quirk, characteristic we have. I confess, we all are blind too, and a cousin and I constantly keep on making plans that our combined number is so that we could qualify for a special discount (the fictitious ghostly third person). It is still being debated upon and by the time we decide we would be ready for glaucoma corrections. Call it the family gene that is tamped in us with the love for jeans , white shirts and the color blue , we all have the same set of problems .

In the end, the circle is always small, friends and family are that count and make a life rich. And, walking down the memory lane remembering the simple pleasures and them is what makes us complete and connect .  In this hullabaloo of life , doing a lazy lunch with no deadlines, no rushes , no appointments one connects in the real meaning even if its discussing good old bowel movements. I guess that’s what it boils down to !

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gaddi Sabzi Tax

Gaddi Sabzi Tax
Today was chaos, our maid didn’t want to work, the cook wanted the evening off and on top of it we had the mother of all rains deluging the pind! It seemed as if with the change of the government and all what we were going through Mother Nature just decided to take control and replenish the water levels. I think the big lady upstairs just thought She had to take control and just step in, as the Punjabis were just not getting the plot on climate control.
So, apparently sugar is being sold cheaper at Mithapur. And, I just did not make up this name. There exists a true name and it’s the next village to us and with whatever Modiji was doing tomorrow, sugar was being sold cheaper. They all needed time off to go buy and stock, as the tax tomorrow would make everything expensive. Forget atta, dal, they needed cheeni to make life sweeter for them.
Bittu, had enough money he said to go buy sugar for the next couple of months and he said with the saving he would be able to afford the gas cylinder next month. He told me in such serious, clear terms that I had no heart to explain him what was actually happening. It wasn’t GST to him, it was gaddi, sabzi tax that was going to be implicated and was going to affect him and the poor, prices were going to go up and he just didn’t know what to do. Asha , my mata rani , phoolan devi rolled into one wanted to buy sugar because the nasha in the chai came with the cheeni ! And, I needed to make her happy .
On top of it the present government was going to take away the blue cards. It is sad, that a handful of politicians that use us against each other manipulating the basic needs of one that can all be taken care by generating employment, by creating a framework of education, technical skill that should have been set yesterday (or the last century).
They crippled us, and the current generation making us dependent on the sops and now the rug was being snatched.
GST, which is overdue since two decades shot down by the same government when Dr Manmohan Singh introduced it is being re packaged and being sold to sell an uniform tax but the phasing out is so confusing that the entire country is in panic mode.
There is pre GST sale, a post GST sale, Facebook is inundated with calculations, tax videos that I may like to watch; I think Zuckerberg is doing this after heavy revenues! The news channels, even the regional Punjabi ones to the local kirana shop and my favorite cloth merchant is telling me to buy clothes as everything is getting expensive.
I just know life is changing and things will take a time to settle down, but in the meanwhile we are hoarders of everything.
The best part of the entire tax-shaxx that this pind wali bibi understood and the only thing that leapt to me in the fine print is that coffee isn’t getting expensive.
Well, justice served finally.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chai and more chai !

Mornings in every household are crazy and chaotic and maddening and especially if it’s a Punjabi household and its only made bearable with endless cups of chai. Trust me, this is how it works for me, and I maintain the semblance of normalcy (this is debatable) only by gulping by the large cups of English tea and then the staple masala tea. I wonder how people can go to the gym, do surya namaskar, do neti and then eat oats. I am heading towards an early grave with my chai and addiction to paranthas with achar. However, before that I fend off doorbell chimes, and meeting people but all I wonder is whether work force of mine is landing up.
Every day I wait for my maids and cook just like a darshan off the Gods, my old bones cant take it anymore and the non stop rivulets of sweat (may this replenish the receding water tables) just don’t make it possible for me to work. The Congress refuses to give us electricity and the sweats collected may help in planting the rice nursery. I could actually be sitting on a gold mine, I could start a party called passena dal and well could save Punjab’s water crisis.
Why did they never think of this? And, now I am regressing from the topic, just be kind it’s an old age woman thinking and mumbling.
My maid came and instead of a cheery sat sri akal she just told me point blank that she is here for work but would not be bending and cleaning the floors. Her back got sprained last night, putting up a kundi connection and I immediately gathered my old bag of bones to help her, fussing and telling her beta eat a biscuit and have chai.
My, panacea for all cures.  Well, so much for watching the news and wondering whether the conservatives won or the Labor party was sweeping my former masters or whether Trump was sinking into another controversy. All this was swept under the rug and I quickly gave her a painkiller to fix her back but she refused saying that an old lady, Pyaaro in one of the mohallas had the wonder-woman power.
She just pressed her toe on the back and voila! It got all right. No one was supposed to eat any medicine after that.
Why did I ever send to my son to medical school, I wonder? Is it the rapid Modi shift, or is it just that we are a nation that is steeped in our tradition and its culture that is still old, ancient and is superstitious!
The day kept on getting more and more interesting and some mothers came complaining of a ‘bhuubhuu’, a mysterious affliction that attacks the throat and they swell up. I told them, it must be tonsils, lets send them to a pediatrician and they would all get relief. They, as usual laughed it off saying that George’s father had the best answer and he used to put salt underneath the milk pot overnight and next morning one just had to mix it with water and drink it and nothing else was needed.
So much for, tonsils or mumps or adenoids, or any of my suggestions. It just didn’t end there, the last straw was when one of them told me, to beat the heat I just needed to eat a kulfi and simultaneously drink chai.
Now, I was laughing to no end and felt happy that at least all my cures for stress, life’s worries just flew away with them. The chai, I could have, care for a dande wali kulfi(that’s the only kind which works).

Pindi wali Bibi 
Ravneet Sangha