I’m tagged, I am

I’ve been tagged to write about all the things I do that go against my gender, by Dipali, Monika and Sandhya.

I’ve also been tagged by Chinkurli to make three resolutions on going green.

I’ll begin with the gender one. As Dipali mentions in her post, there are a lot of things that I did simply because they were natural to me. It is only over the years that I realised that they were considered manly.

1. I was quite a tomboy, climbing trees, cycling and playing with the boys. Now I can’t because of my bum knee, but at 14 I was wearing a saree and climbing trees.

2. I grew up in a town where girls listened to Richard Marx and boys listened to Metallica. No guesses what was on my playlist. I’d still not be caught with Enrique on my iPod.

3. I hate cooking. Most girls were taught to cook – I’d rather die of starvation than enter the kitchen. Unless it is to have a glass of milk, a sandwich or a bowl of instant noodles.

4. I have a strong sense of pride in my family and name. So while men tend to want to carry on the family name, I not only kept my own, but gave it to my kids as a hyphenated name. I also don’t believe in doing anything that the husband doesn’t equally do so we both only wear wedding bands. I am also very clear that in their old age, my parents will be taken care of by me, just as his will expect to be. In that sense, I take my duty towards my parents as seriously as any son traditionally might have.

5. I used to be rather wiry and strong and used to beat some boys and also a boyfriend at arm wrestling. I can still lift heavier weights than most women but avoid it for the pressure it puts on my knees. The OA says the boyfriend was too besotted (and busy staring at my face and holding my hand) to really put any effort in to winning. I think the OA is an ass. I can still push a car along if there is a flat and also change a tire. Atleast I could a while ago, now I need a refresher.

6. I am prickly about money. I must pay my share and I hate having anyone spend on a meal for me or buy me something unless its family. I have great trouble taking money from the OA  – even now I only take for the essentials. Frills are my own.

7. I don’t know if this counts but inspite of being a teetotaller and a non-smoker I could pour a good drink and roll a neat joint. Something the boys swore was a very male trait – the ability to support while not partaking. There’s also the weird compliment I got from many men – that I sit pillion like a man. Which basically meant I got on to the bike without them having to take my weight, would sit a decent couple of inches away from them and no matter how hard they jammed brakes – never fly into them and hit them smack in the back with my boobs. Might have something to do with the fact that I even learnt to drive a bike but gave it up because it mussed up my hair. And err, stopped playing the guitar because it broke my nails and my fingertips were calloused.

8. Okay, damnit. I don’t seem to have too many gender sins. I’m actually a very girly girl. I like to wear sarees, wear my make up, do my nails, be driven to places, have doors opened for me and do up my house to look good. I don’t watch sports, I can’t whistle, I can embroider circles around you and I can shop for hours. I have always loved babies and I am thrilled and overwhelmed by motherhood. Hell – I AM the stereotypical woman.

There is however one trait that drags me out of the pink and I think that is my attitude. Even though my voice isn’t loud, I am very determined. Steel claws in velvet paws, my grandmother used to call it. Most people don’t give this much credit, but I am the tough nut in the family. The OA is firm on certain issues but mostly a gentle soul who is often mistaken for a pushover. I on the other hand, strike terror in the heart of all the odd job men, the landlord or anyone else who has to deal with us. If I had to think of a word, I’d say I’m fearless. If someone messes with me, I’ll find a way to do without them, but I’ll be damned if I put up with their nonsense. So the OA is left to do the wifely task of calming me down and soothing ruffled feathers. For some reason – most people forget all the rest once they see me in action and find it very masculine. Me, I simply get back to painting my nails and ignore them.

The going-green tag is easier. I am the original earth mother. Sometimes I border on cheap, maybe!

  • I ensure that taps are shut well, lights turned off if the room is empty, geysers switched off and ACs not put on uselessly.
  • I use the back of every sheet for the kids to scribble on, carry bottles of water when we’re out some place and carry cloth bags. We used to get Bisleri but I insisted on shifting to an RO machine so that spares us the expense.
  • I cloth diapered my kids, breast fed them and have never given them tinned food. Other than tissue when they were runny nosed I’ve never used any paper products on them, wet wipes etc were bought and kept for emergencies. I still have some bought when the Bean was a baby. I washed their bums with water, I potty trained early and used a rubber sheet.
  • All masalas and food are prepared  fresh, no canned, frozen stuff unless its absolutely necessary. Saving on carbon footprint too, by not having tuna flown in from half way across the world.
  • Uneaten food at a restaurant is packed and taken home or fed to street dogs. We only serve what we will eat and take seconds if we must. Food is not reheated a million times. Its kept in a hotcase.
  • I recycle, recycle, recycle. Clothes that dont fit the brat go to the bean. Clothes she outgrows are given to other kids. Shabby sheets are used as dusters or to line drawers. Old bottles used as planters. Which is not to say I am a hoarder, but I am close.
  • I like what Chinkurli said about the problem simply being the way we think. We don’t mind wasting because hey, we paid for it. My landlord is down from the US and the landlady was cribbing about the lack of storage space there, saying that with the culture of things being disposable, there is no storage space. My new house however has two store rooms and a pantry and endless cupboards. I put aside utensils that are broken and get them repaired, stuff we buy but end up not using is dutifully carried to the orphanage and so on.
  • I walk. As much as I can. Partly driven by the fact that I don’t drive! But I enjoy it. Its my exercise as well as my way of reducing the carbon footprint. You know that short run that most people make to the market for groceries? I walk it.
  • I only use the washing machine if it is full and stuff that doesnt need a full wash just gets a bucket rinse.

There might be more but I am going to shift to the point of the tag which is to make resolutions.

1. I am going to remember to switch off the mains that remain on standby for the radio etc. Its something that slips my mind so I resolve to work harder at that.

2. I am going to stick to buying fresh veggies from the local mandi even after shifting to Gurgaon where you tend to shop at your local department store for veggies with stickers and in packets. Support your local vendors and local produce, people.

3. I am going to stick to these two resolutions. I’m probably having a bad day if I can’t even come up with enough points on a tag, but I must remind you guys of my New Years resolve  – no wastage. Well, I’ve been faring pretty well. I haven’t dropped off the bandwagan and am currently struggling to finish a tube of shampoo, resisting the urge to just chuck the remainder in the wastebin and fall on that lovely bottle of Charles Worthington that a friend brought me.

Dinaben and the Lions of Gir

I’d like to present our very own stars, bloggy pals and now published authors, Praba Ram and Meera Sriram  – and their book, Dinaben and the Lions of Gir. Did I tell you guys how insanely proud of you two I am? And incase you don’t know, Praba is the force behind Saffron Tree, the children’s book review blog I contribute to.

Published by Tulika, the book talks about the Maldhari tribe, whose main occupation is dairy farming, and also the Asiatic Lion. Read this to know more about the story behind the story. And read this to get to know more about our two authors.

We’ve all been going on about saving the remaining 1141 tigers – but did you know there are only 350 Asiatic Lions remaining? Are you as horrified as I am? Go on and read the review and then go out and buy the book for your babies. And oh – can we start a Save the Lion campaign too?

I started it in my own small way. The Brat loves lions and when I told him that soon all the Asiatic lions will be dead and he’ll only be able to look at them in picture books, like his beloved dinosaurs, he was most upset.

He had this school fancy dress competition a few days ago and when I asked him what he wanted to be, he said he wanted to be an Asiatic lion!! So that is what we went with. I got him a pair of brown trousers, and hunted in vain for a plain brown shirt or teeshirt. Finally on our Mussoorie holiday I found a very cute yellow sweater with a lion made on the tummy. On our return I began work on a mane. I picked up a brown woollen cap, and brown wool and began to pull long strands through it. But the wool wouldn’t fluff out like a mane and he just looked like a very weird little girl in a wig. Of course that upset him because even he, at 4 and a half could see that he didn’t look like a lion! We finally got (read: tailored!) a brown body suit and got a mane and taught him his lines, – which included the last cheeky line – “There are only 350 lions like me left. Please save me before you save the tiger.”

The OA and I roared with laughter each time he said it and the Bean went as a little fairy because that is her current craze. When we reached school on the big day, there were the usual round of social messages – donate blood, save the earth etc with some very well made costumes. One parent whose kid is learning classical Indian dance sent her in her dance costume and her tape and she first spent a good three monotonous moments telling us what she would do… and then another 4 -5 minutes dancing. She was only 4.5 and undoubtedly learning, but it wasn’t meant to be a dance recital, it was meant to be a fancy dress – so coming and performing something that you have been learning for a year isn’t the deal. My personal favourite was a little drop of water who said her lines beautifully. The one that really got my goat was someone who copied last year’s winner – a Thank You card to the school. Gah – apple polishers. Did I mention there were a whole bunch of tigers asking to be saved too!

I gave the Brat very few lines and he drove me nuts when I was teaching them to him. He’d change them everyday and say anything he pleased – “I am an Asiatic lion and I like chasing deer… ” or “I am an Asiatic lion and I am going to eat you up. Growwwwwl”. It would be funny if I weren’t trying to get him to stand still on stage and say his lines. After his recent setback and suspected learning problem, I didn’t want his school to have yet another reason to complain about him. Day after day the OA and I chased him around pretending to be lions, laughing, joking, having fun, practicing in front of the mirror with a comb held like a mike. But the Brat would not say his lines right. We shoud have realised he would say it eventually after  last year’s drama over the fancy dress but we didn’t want to regret not trying hard enough.

So as I sat there watching the other children shuffle on to stage and slowly and indistinctly mumble lines that no one understood I crossed my fingers and prayed really hard that my son wouldn’t get upset by the crowd and run away. I saw him standing in the wings and smiled at him. He glared at me and growled. I gave up hope and made my peace with the fact that it was after all, only a children’s contest.

And finally his turn came and I felt my stomach clench. And then Someone Up There smiled down on mother and son and the Brat bounded on to stage cheerfully where every other child had reluctantly shuffled on. He grinned confidently into the audience, bestowed his sweetest smile on me and said his lines beautifully after introducing himself. Loud and clear. His words distinct, his voice ringing crystal clear across the audience. I felt my eyes well up and I fumbled to take pictures of him. Perhaps I am biased and if I don’t write it down here where else will I – I think he was the best. My little lion cub rocked his few simple lines, bowed and said thank you, and walked off stage.

Maybe if this were a hindi movie like Taare Zameen Par, I’d be able to end this saying that he came first. But he didn’t so I can’t. The apple-polishing Thank you card came first (the grapes ARE sour !!;)). But it didn’t matter at all. I think he had wonderful stage presence and if he lost out at all it’s because we didn’t trust him with a more complicated message. And perhaps because his costume wasn’t the most creative either.

It’s also a lesson to me to not expect so little of my son. Other parents have high expectations and are disappointed when they aren’t met. I tentatively give my children lower benchmarks to meet and end up pleasantly surprised when they surpass them and also kick myself for not  helping them push that bar higher.

The Bean on the other hand spent a good fortnight preening in front of the mirror and saying her lines to any visitor. The OA was after me to give her a nice lengthy poem to go with it but I figured the point was to just participate. With no house help (again!), my job, a recalcitrant Brat who was refusing to learn his lines and the  Mussoorie holiday bang in the middle, I really didn’t want to rock that boat. She was just doing so damn well that I didn’t want to add to my work.

A good thing too because she woke up on the morning of the show and began to cry for just about everything. She didn’t want to eat, to dress, to brush her teeth.. anything, nothing.

We reached school and she howled while waiting her turn. A lot of the other 2-3 year olds were also crying and parents were encouraged to go on stage with them. I walked up to her, carrying a little handful of fairy dust that was to be thrown the moment she said her lines. She decided it was a good time to play Holi with me and by the time our turn came she had my face shining like the moon.

She wrenched herself away as we walked on to stage and I groaned inwardly. Kicking myself for thinking less of my son and too much of her. And then the moment she reached the mike, the little diva in her took over and she grabbed it, grinned confidently at the audience and said her lines. I threw her fairy dust over her and we walked off the stage to applause.

End of one headache for the year!!

Anyone want to predict the next?!

Let me end by thanking Praba and Meera for their lovely book and the idea, once again, and wishing them luck. Anyone else want to join hands and start a proper campaign for the Asiatic Lion?

Flowers and babies bloom…

My garden is in bloom and I can’t help but feel rather pleased with myself. But credit must go to all those who contributed …

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…and so I introduce you to my little gardeners. This one in haute couture – Led Zep tee, bloomers and her elder brother’s slippers…

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And this one who is a pro. No matter how late they get back from the garden or the park, they do the second set of watering for the day…

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And as a result they’ve learnt alot; even being introduced to an earthworm and learning to call it by the hindi word, kechua.

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We take green into our dining room…..right on to our dining table,

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…with dried and preserved leaves, pressed between sheets of handmade paper, made into table mats and sold at the Aurobindo Ashram..

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So – would you like to stop by for a visit and join us for a cuppa tea?!

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PS: I hope all of you are voting for me. Go here and VOTE. Please 😀