Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Goodbye,Awards and the No Criminals Campaign

I am off on my annual India vacation on Friday, so wanted to say a quick 'goodbye for now'. I am on holiday for 7 long weeks - Yippeeee!!! Can't tell you how wonderful that sounds to me! The only downside is that I am going to miss all of you - my blogging friends - a lot! I am definitely going to have blog withdrawal symptoms!

I have had such a wonderful time ever since last December - when I actually started interacting with other bloggers. Until then, I used to just post- not even bothering to see if anybody commented! It was only after I started reading other blogs and getting comments to my posts, that I discovered the true joy of blogging. Most of the time, I find the comments far, far more interesting than my posts. And now I am going to miss it all for the next 7 weeks :(

So just before leaving, I thought of passing on the awards as goodbye prezzies - doing an Akshay Kumar as Solilo calls it :)

First of all a huge THANK YOU to Indyeah for bestowing on me so many awards -can't tell you how delighted I am! Have been walking on air ever since - 'Aaj kal paaon zameen par nahin padte mere..' - the same feeling when I got my very first award from IHM :) Indyeah - I just do not know how to thank you .Indyeah passed me the Proximity, the Versatile blogger, Lovely blog and the I love your blog awards! Still can't believe it!

I am sure, most of you , would have received it many times -but please do accept it as a token of my appreciation and love.

The Proximity Award

These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I pass this award on to

IHM - IHM is probably the closest, one can find to a 'mentor', in the blogosphere. Most of us, newcomers, will testify that IHM was the first person to comment on our blogs! I find her warmth and the energy amazing. For someone who has such a high traffic on her blogs - not only does she moderate and respond to every comment, she also takes the time out to visit so many blogs -which is so so encouraging. And all this while churning out amazing posts on every possible topic! IHM, I am sure that you must have got these a zillion times - but one more time from me :)

Solilo - My new blogging friend. For some reason, I feel a real connection with her.. I love your posts and your enthusiam! I especially loved your Letters from a father.. post.

Ajit - The so-called ordinary guy - who comes up with these wonderful posts with lots of deeper meaning! All packaged with a wonderful package of humour! I wish I could write like that!

Vinod Sharma - I am always impressed by your posts and always encouraged by your comments, even if we do not always agree :)

Happy Kitten - Another new blogging friend - really value your comments and have found some of your posts, very profound and thoughtful!

Manju - Your posts are so thought provoking and relevant. I always wait for your comments to my posts!

And of course Indyeah - I have to give it back to you! Your blog is wonderful. Some of your posts , make me feel as if you have taken my memories and written about them! You have such a flair with words and have a real knack of making people feel special. I have especially loved your ode to your father.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to pass this award on to

Goofy Mumma - I find it amazing how she manages to churn out equally quality posts on both her blogs! If that is not enough - she is now spearheading the 'Say 'NO' to criminals in politics' campaign!

Mavin - Your range of topics is very impressive. You write just as lucidly on current affairs as you do in financial matters!

Sahaja - She is extremely versatile, her posts ranging from photo posts , to wonderful ads and whats more she also has a foodie blog!

Kanagu - For his posts which are as diverse as movie reviews, politics and wonderful, touching short stories!

Vimmuuu - Here's a versatile blogger who not only sings 'bisexual songs' , he also directs scary movies:)

Nimmy - She blogs, she cooks, she gardens - and from the look of it - she's good at all of it!

Hitchwriter - I missed you out, when I first posted it. I love your blog! Especially those moving posts about your family!



These 2 awards , the Lovely Blogger Award and I love your Blog awards, I would like to give to

Indyeah - yes - everything comes back to you!, Solilo IHM ,Ajit ,Vinod Sharma ,Goofy Mumma ,IHM, Kanagu ,Sagarone, Manju, Trailblazer, Sahaja ,Mavin,Nimmy, Vimmuuu ,Hitchwriter and Bones.

And now , coming on to more important things - the 'Say No to Criminals in Politics' Campaign that is being spearheaded by Goofy Mumma . It now has a logo. Anybody who feels strongly about this, please pick it up and display it on your blogs, use it in your posts.. And for any questions, suggestions.. please get in touch with

Well, its 1:00 am , and I am no night owl, my sleep addled brain can hardly comprehend what my fingers are typing.. So please please ignore any horrible typos or grammatical errors - I am too tired to proof read :(. I am not sure if I will be able to log on tomorrow - or during my vacation.. so incase I do not - see you all, past the Ides of March! Bye for now.

Let's say NO to criminals in politics!

Barack Obama is now the 44th President of the United States of America. I know, I know, you are all probably bored of Barack Obama posts - but I just had to say this....

For the past few months, we had been looking for Barack Obama in India and we have analysed all our current crop of politicians to try and find an Obama amongst us! What I feel is, instead of trying to find an Obama amongst us - we need to first get rid of criminals contesting our elections. Goofy Mumma is trying to start a campaign where in we try and ensure the likes of Sanjay Dutt and other convicted criminals are never be allowed to contest elections in India. If you believe in this, please join in, please read her article here. We can all make a difference, in our own little ways.

Leaving you with this to think about.. While, we do not have an Obama, let's, at the very least, try and get the criminals out of our political system.
- Do we want to be lead by an ex-drug addict who also happens convicted criminal?
- Do we want to be lead by people who's party MLA's kill people for party funds?
- Do we want to be lead by people who are accused of not taking action (and even supporting) in riots - be it 2002, 1984 or any other riots?
- Do we want to be lead by criminals?

While we do not have an Obama yet - who knows, if politcs stops being a 'dirty word', if politcs stops being a place for making easy money, if polititicians are made accountable - may be, just may be - we might get our own Obama.

Hope, is what Obama signifies , for me, and hope is what I have - when I say 'NO' to criminals in politics!

When it comes to holding political office - lets adopt the policy of 'Guilty until proven innocent'!

Edited to add : I am adding the link to Lok Satta - from Sagarone's comment -

Manju sent me this link -
'In a blow to persons with criminal antecedents, the Election Commission has directed the Bihar Government to delete from the Electoral Rolls the names of persons against whom non-bailable arrest warrants have remained unexecuted for more than six months. About ten thousand people will lose the right to vote and the consequent right to stand for election as a result. The immediate impact of the Election Commission decision will be seen in the coming Bihar Assembly elections as many people with criminal records will not be able to take part in the polls.'

Monday, 19 January 2009

What's in a name?

Sanjay Dutt's , by now infamous, interview, got me started on this post. He had a message 'to all girls who hang on to their parents’ surname'. I find it, very difficult to understand how people can give such statements - even more so when they are planning to stand for public office. Or may be it is all to show how deeply he and his 'homemaker' wife is steeped in 'Bharatiya Sanskriti'!

Anyways, this reminded me of one of my close friend's 6 year old daughter who came home from school one day and told her, 'Mamma, you are not part of my family!'. On further questioning, it came out, that she was taught, in school, that everybody in a family, shares a common surname! And since her mother had a different surname - she must not be part of the family :) I was a little surprised at that point in time, that in a London school, this was told to the kids and that no parent objected!

Either way, I feel this expectation of a woman having to change her surname to her husband's very unfair. Isn't is sad that a woman has to change her identity and assume a different one once she gets married? Then again, if the woman is working, there are so many documents involved, passports, email ids - why go through all that hassle? But again, there are communities, where even a girl's first name is changed after marriage! So a surname is probably still a better option.

Again, it is a global phenomenon, isn't it? Wasn't Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair given grief , because they held on to their maiden names?

I really do not know what to make of this whole issue - apart from one thing - I find it very objectionable when people condemn women for not changing their surnames or commend them for doing so. To me, it is a personal choice, and it should be a woman's decision whether or not to take up her husband's name. Beyond that - it's nobody's business!

Making Pooh!

Before you guys get any funny ideas in your head - this is what I mean :)
This is what I am supposed to do - ' Amma, help me make Pooh!!' Now you know why I don't have any time to get any work done :)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Madness leading upto vacation - Part II

Well, finally most of the shopping done, last weekend before flying home and not a bit of packing done yet! Loads of laundry left , loads of ironing left.

And what is it that I am doing - baking a cake. I am sure a lot of you must be wondering - why on earth is she doing, baking a cake, when she is so short on time? Well, I misjudged quantities, and have loads of butter and eggs leftover.. In London, I had friends close by, so all leftover, perishable provisions would go to them. Here, unfortunately, I do not have any close friends nearby, so have to use it all up :(

So anybody fancying a slice of pineapple upside down cake - please head this way :)

Edited to add - Here's whats left of the cake...not a pretty sight.. e-sending it to all of you :)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Madness leading upto vacation!

I have just under a week before heading off on our annual India vacation - and as usual - nothing is done! There is something about me and last minute madness! Why, why do I leave everything to the last minute!!!

There is so much to do - that I can't think straight ! I actually miss those days, before my daughter was born , when packing was so incredibly simple! Just throw in everything into the suitcase! Its all changed now. Now, just as I was heaving a sigh of relief that my daughter is now completely toilet trained - I don't have to worry about diapers - a friend of mine reminded me that they could get a tummy upset - so back to square one!

And husband and I , being very smart , for some weird reason, did not shop for chocolates, during the Christmas season - when there was a whole load of variety - now when I scan the supermarket shelves - I get hardly anything.. All I get to see is Cadbury's of which we get better variety in India - unless I pick up Easter eggs- which by the way, are already on the shelves!

One of the biggest problems. I face is trying to figure out gifts.. I hardly find anything that we don't get in India these days... Clothes - check, toys - check, cosmetics - check.... Do you think, it would make better sense to just buy gifts in India - instead of carting along stuff from here?

This time, thankfully, daughter is over 2 yrs old - so she gets her own seat - I am so glad of that I plan to sleep my way through the flight.. I remember those days, before she was born, when I always carried books to read on the flight- these days - all the reading that I will be doing is 'goldibocks'(Goldilocks - to the rest of us).

In addition to all the packing,shopping - I have to somehow, get my daughter to forget the word 'Chicken'.. This has become her favourite food - though we don't cook it at home, she's had it just a couple of times, when we've been out.. BUT that's what she wants the whole time! So I have to trick her with soya chunks to get her to eat her food. Now, all that would have been fine - had it not been for the fact that my in-laws are very strict about not eating non-veg.. And madam, even if I ask her, what she wants for breakfast - pat comes the answer - 'Chicken' ! Someone please tell me , how, how do I get that word out of her head!!!

The only thing that keeps me going is the thought.. 'This time next week I'll be..., This time next to next week, I'll be.... ':) And by the way, I am having long, long vacation too - 7 weeks :) These are the good parts of not working and a child not yet in school :)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Bihar teachers get salary less than peons

According to DNA, Bihar teachers get salary less than peons!

Is it any surprise that Bihar continues to be one of the most under-developed states, when the people who mould young impressionable minds are treated with such indifference..

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I had first come across Autism, a long time back, when I had read an article in Reader's Digest about an Autistic girl, who had, with a lot of effort on her mother's part, had managed to overcome it to a great extent and live as much as a normal life as possible.

Since then, I remember reading a lot about it, but never really thought too much about it, until a colleague, told me that his 4 yr old son was diagnosed as Autistic and that he had come abroad simply because he was not able to get his son the necessary treatment in India. I had been pregnant at that time and to be honest, I had nightmares about it. Until then, I had just read about it, it was only after talking to him, that I realised how difficult it is to deal with it - for both the child and the parents. I have ever since, been reading quite a bit about autism.

Yesterday, I came across an article which was talking about the ethics of screening unborn babies for 'Autism'. Apparently according to the latest research, Autism is the result of an extremely 'male brain'. Autism is defined as a condition which brain development disorder ,characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. There was believed to be a link between immunization shots and Autism, which was later discredited, due to lack of information. Apparently, it was around the time of the MMR immunization, that children started exhibiting signs of autism, leading to the belief.

Children with autism often have extreme difficulty developing normal relationships with others. They tend not to share in the interests their peers have. In many cases these children are not able to interpret non-verbal cues of communication like facial expressions. Most people with autism have some impairment in language and many never speak at all. Children, with autism also tend to find change, very difficult to cope with. Autism is not a rare disorder, being the third most common developmental disorder, more common than Down’s Syndrome.

In India, I found this organisation - Action for Autism, which seems to be active in this field. Their website talks about how, until the 1980's there were hardly any children diagnosed with Autism in India.. Apparently, majority of children with autism routinely received a diagnosis of mental retardation. Their website also gives a lot of useful information for anybody with more questions on Autism.

Some of factors which complicate research and treatment of Autism in India is the lack of awareness. Social attitudes, political will and environment all contribute to lower early detection rates, which actually proves crucial in diagnosing and treating Autism.

The positive thing is , 'Autistic children can make significant progress if the intervention is appropriate and consistent. Depending on the child's individual skill profile and the appropriateness and intensity of intervention he or she receives, children with Autism can lead relatively independent lives.'

The more I read about autism, the more my heart goes out to every person who gets diagnosed with Autism and their brave parents who have to see their children through it all. I remember reading a mother's account, where she says, the only time it would really hurt, was when her daughter made no spontaneous gestures - like 'giving her mother a hug or a kiss or any such gestures of affection'! It just makes me thank god that we have been blessed with a healthy child! I just hope, that with the increased awareness and medical advancements, every child, gets to lead a happy and independent life

Other articles with information on Autism

I also came across an online petition requesting the PM to take up measures to address the issues raised by families with autistic individuals..

Edited to add : Just came across something else on the net today

Friday, 9 January 2009

Of Labels and Branding..

Started to write a comment on IHM's latest post, when it turned into this post I just love to rant about the labels that get assigned to all of us - not just women. Our society has so many of those 'labels' and expectations that IHM talks about in her post.

When I was young, I used to be under a lot of pressure from my mother to behave like a 'lady'. Thankfully, my dad was wonderful - he just let me be. So I never learnt to cook(there is a big question mark on that even now) until much, much later, but that never really mattered. The only thing that my dad demanded of me was excellance in whatever I did and this is what I would want for my daughter as well. However, all around me, I used to see instances of girls being taught to cook, sew and knit - so that they do not face problems later - when they were married! Of course, even if you are a top performer at school, you need to learn how to be a 'good girl' too. And the rules were all different for boys - they 'need' to concentrate on studies - why should they be distracted by any household activity? After all, they would finally get a ready made maid in the form of a 'bride'??????

Even today, it absolutely gets my goat, when I hear women ask men to eat 'garam garam rotis', and what about us women? Well we will just eat after they have - so that they get to eat it hot!!! At our place, we always try to eat together - but I come across this all the time. One time, we had a get together with my husband's colleagues, all of whose wives were stay-at-home mums and I used to be working at that time. The women decided that the men should eat first because ' they must be tired after all their hard work'!!! Hello??? I am working too - and I was pregnant too at that time! Nobody even bothered - because as a women - I probably don't count! While, I am not saying that I wanted special treatment - why do we women try to treat men as extra-special!!!
And most importantly 'Why do they deride their own work, their own contribution? Isn't what they do hard work????'
All through that dinner, my poor husband did not know what to do - he knew that I was close to blowing up :) And these were all educated, well aware women, who did not think twice before re-inforcing such traditions. What will their daughters and sons learn? More and more as I see all this, I am convinced that women are women's worst enemies!

The most regressive family dramas on Indian Television has been the brain child of a woman - Ekta Kapoor!

One of our maids, did not feed her daughter for the first 2 weeks after her birth - because she wanted a boy!

Don't women play and equal and powerful role in dowry deaths and female foeticides?

And have you been to parties where the men, sit in one room, and the women in another? Why? Why can't we all socialise?

There used to be a senior of mine at school. Her family were also friends of mine. Now, this girl was brilliant, she was great at studies, she topped nearly every exam she took, but her father made her marry a guy who was far less educated, didnot even have a job that could take care of a family, not her equal in any way - just because he was worried that if she gets too old, it would be difficult to get her 'married'. Last I heard, she stays with her in-laws, and he works somewhere else. They can't live together , because he does not have a good enough job, to be able to support her and their child! Is this worth it? Could she, not have had, a chance of a better, more fulfilling life, if it had not been for her father's narrowminded views? And how, could a girl like her go along with it?

The other day, I read somewhere that women who love their husbands do the 'Karva Chauth Puja'! And this was a woman's words, mind you! I do not do fasts, of any kind! - does that mean that I love my husband any less? Here, again, I think, we have Ekta Kapoor to blame, who has glamourised every single regressive tradition!

And the labelling is not just limited to women. I know of parents who get upset if their little boy shows more interest in dolls than in cars. I had always believed that the toys we give the children make the difference to what the child takes to. Unfortunately, my daughter made me eat my words. I had always tried to give her a balanced mix of toys, until she got a little toy baby for her first birthday. The label said it was for children aged 3+ , so I was putting it away for later, when my daughter grabbed it and has never given it up since. She takes better care of her 'baby' than I suspect, I do of her :) Guess, that's her personality, and if that's what she is like, then that's what she should be ! I will not make her change one way or the other - she should be allowed to be 'her' - whatever that may be!

I've been ranting, but this is something that always got me going.. Also, on a last note - I just read that Russell Crowe knits!!! Now thats what we need :) As somebody said, 'When a men do something its an art and when women do the same, it gets relegated to a craft'

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Teaching or Child Abuse?

I was shocked to see this new here about a teacher who pricked a child in her eye with a pin for failing to answer a question! This child, has been blinded, thanks to a person, who should have been responsible for her intellectual growth!

I don't have words to express what I feel! Just the other day, NDTV reported of how a child was forced to drink urine because he passed urine in class! The more, I hear of these stories, I wonder about our education system in India! While, I am sure that these kinds of horrible instances of child abuse is not widespread, general apathy amongst teachers is definitely there.

Who are the teachers who are shaping young lives today? When I was in school , I remember we had dedicated teachers, who loved their subjects and some of the things that they have taught me - I remember and value, even today! I somehow, doubt if that holds true, today. With the huge salaries that MNCs pay and IT and ITES booming, why would anybody want to be doomed to a lifetime of teaching? While, there are some very dedicated teachers out there, who still make a difference to so many young people, I somehow get the feeling, that the vocation, that was teaching, is no longer that! Has teaching become the last option for a career?

Or maybe, while we were at school, we did not have such a strong media to report all such incidents? What do you think?

Baby beaten to death after mother objects to caste abuse

I just came across this article. 'A dalit woman's three-month-old infant was beaten to death allegedly by some members of another community who objected to her wearing slippers while fetching water from a handpump in Pohari area here.'

It is difficult to believe that, we still have this kind of brutal, ruthless killing in the name of 'caste'!

Who gave them the right? Will these killers ever be brought to justice? Will any of us remember this after a couple of days?

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Thank God for our Supreme Court!

In the midst of all the charges of corruption that are levelled against our government machinery - our Supreme Court always seems to hold its ground..

SC pulls up CBI for flip-flop in Mulayam case

Apparently, the SC has pulled up the CBI for ' its flip flop over its decision to change its stand in the disproportionate assets case against former Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Supreme Court' on Monday said it would not like the agency to become an instrument of the government.'

I really feel proud that our country - despite all the corrupt politicians and bureaucracy, still has a supreme court which is so strong.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Thank You, Thank You

A long overdue post - I had been a wee bit busy during the holiday season. Today, finally, its business as usual.

A BIG thanks to IHM for the shield.

Thank you Nita for the friendship band.

I would like to pass on the shield to

Bones - For coming up with the most 'interesting' tidbits' from all over the place!

Ajit - For being such an 'extraordinary blogger' for someone who claims to be just 'another ordinary guy'

Vinod Sharma - For his take on Indian Politics

Manju - For the most thought provoking posts

Vimmuuu - For some very creative posts!

Kislay - For his honest posts.

And finally IHM - Right back to you! You deserve all the awards you have got and more!

And I would like to pass on the friendship band to everyone on my blogroll! I can't tell you all how much I value your comments!

Credit crisis sparks surge of domestic violence in the home

I just read an article about how the credit crisis has caused a surge in domestic violence. Apparently the National Centre for Domestic Violence(UK) saw a 40% increase in victims seeking support last month.

The statistics sounds very scary. 40% is after all a huge amount. This sudden increase is attributed to the credit crunch, which is making a lot of people stay at home in an effort to save money. The stress of the credit crunch, along with is being the holiday season, must also be taking a huge toll, for the figures to jump so much. One in four women, apparently, will experience domestic violence in their lifetime - and this may be more as a lot of cases are not disclosed.

That set me thinking about the statistics in India. If it is so bad in Britain - it must be much worse in India. In the UK - there has been a lot of campaign in an effort to reduce domestic violence. When I was pregnant - I was surprised on being asked by the midwife if I am being subjected to domestic violence. It was a routine question as apparently a lot of women report increased domestic violence when they are pregnant, so the government tries to take pro-active steps to curtail it.

Surprisingly, I could not find much updated data about statistics in India. Some of the information I found was surveys done in 2003! According to the UN , around two thirds of married women in India are subjected to domestic violence. The only countries with higher percentages are Egypt and Zambia. The UN report indicates that ' women with tangible economic assets were less likely to be victims of domestic violence than those who lack them, the report cited Kerala as an example.
"In Kerala, a survey found that 49 per cent women without property reported domestic violence compared with only seven per cent who owned property," it said '. So it does look like financial freedom has helped in reducing domestic violence - according to this survey. However, I did read other reports, which indicate that violence has increased with women's education! Alternatively, it might just mean that women are more aware, so they tend to report abuse than just accept it as their fate.

I was reading the other day about how, many women actually think they are to blame for the violence they are subject to and in India, especially where the a lot of women live with their in-laws, this is further compounded. Furthermore, they hardly have the freedom, to step outside their houses, leave alone report the abuse. I have even heard of instances where the police has refused to 'interfere' as it is a 'domestic matter' between the spouses..

According to studies done on the effect of domestic violence on children indicate that the damaging influences could lead to adjustment problems as well as undermining the mother-child relations. I had once read a true-life account of a woman who had been abused, she used to see her mother abused , so she grew up thinking that it was 'normal' and 'to be expected'! Her expectations were based on what she saw and experienced as a child, making her a prime target for marital abuse. It took her a long time, before she came to realise that she was being abused and that she could stand up against it!

In this post, I have just touched upon physical domestic violence, mental domestic violence is also equally prevalent and equally damaging - but far more difficult to report and address, especially in nations like ours where men culturally have the upper hand.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Backseat Driving!

Today, while we waited in the car for traffic signal to turn green, my daughter said ' Daddy, push the car'! She is so used to travelling in her stroller where she is 'pushed' - she applied it directly to the car :)