Category Archives: women

Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy

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I’m just in time for the Womensweb contest. I usually refrain from doling out all that pregnancy wisdom to unsuspecting mothers-to-be, but then, if someone invites me to air my 2 paisa and also throw a prize in the bargain I’m bound to be tempted. So, here I go:

1. Find a doc you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. The most recommended and celebrated doc in town may not necessarily be the best for you. Your doc is a very important person in this journey.

2. Be happy – do things that make you happy. If going on a roller coaster ride is on the list, well, umm, you might want to reconsider that. I was craving to watch a horror movie but I was strictly denied the wish 😦  . I enjoyed working and worked till the last day. If that’s not working for you, just take it easy. Be around people who make you feel good and positive. My friend had this colleague who used to tell her about pregnancy mishaps in all gory detail, one every week!

3. Eat well, eat healthy and don’t count the calories. Well, not just yet.

4. Exercise. Unless you have been advised rest. Even something as simple as walking is good enough. If you can’t go for the classes, do simple chores like sweeping, swabbing etc that exercises your hips. And do only as much as you can.

5. Involve your husband in the journey. Wake him up in the middle of the night to feel the baby’s kick. Make him understand how you feel. Make him rub your back, adjust your pillows, get you midnight snacks…just indulge you. You are worth it and so is your baby.

6. Talk to your baby. Really! I used to tell Pattu a lot of things. I even confessed that I’m a bit mad but mostly look quite sensible and all that.

7. Go easy on the gyan – internet or otherwise. Not all sources have authentic information. Just subscribe to one or two reliable sources.

8. Don’t be afraid/ embarrassed to ask. If you have any concern, ask your doc. It might be the silliest of concerns, but it is better to err on the side of caution.

9. Prepare for the baby. Some traditions believe in not buying things before the baby is born. You can visit shops and tell your husband a list of things to buy. Have as much organised as possible since you won’t have the time or the energy to do those later.

10. Find a pediatrician you can trust. I’ve found that the extremely famous ones in town have a long waiting time and not enough facilities for mothers with infants.

 

 

Mommy Guilty?

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The other day I went shopping and picked up a few (which turned out to be quite a lot actually) clothes for self and Pattu. I did some quick mental math (which involves me spreading out my fingers and toes and at times asking my company to do the same)… anyway, the point is, I realised that it would make an obscene bill. At this point, I commanded the objective, fair judge (in me) to take over and be merciless in throwing out irrational items from the shopping cart. And the objective, fair judge (in me) threw out 2 of the 3 items that I had picked up for Pattu while all my 3 items made it to the billing counter.

My friend gave me a shocked look to suggest, ‘a nice, selfless mom, aren’t you?’. I actually felt a bit shame shame and all that but I put up a brave face and didn’t show it.

There are a few more instances as well: If Pattu and I are both hungry, I gobble down a few mouthfuls (I can gobble down a full meal in a few mouthfuls, especially when I am hungry) before I even think of getting Pattu’s food ready (but then I am usually very quick to download my few mouthfuls). A hungry me is not a very pleasant sight. But of course if there’s only one plate of food between us, I’ll give it to Pattu (expecting Pattu to feel blessed).

That made me wonder, I can’t think of one instance where my mom has put herself before her children. And that brings me to the question, am I the only shame shame mom around or have we (as moms) changed? 


Inviting all you moms out there to pour your guilt here. However, considering the popularity of my blog (the lack of it), I think it is a better idea to tag a few of you than leave it so open ended. So, the tag goes to Art, utbt and Vidya (because I think you all are very unlikely candidates to have done something like this). You have to:

1. Write about 2 instances where you have put yourself before your child/ children… been a wee bit selfish.
2. How did you feel? Did you feel a pang of guilt or were you comfortable?
3. Tag 2 more moms (I want to know I have company, you see **EVIL GRIN**)

My Fragile 30-Plus Body – Tag

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Apu has tagged me to write about my fragile 30-plus body. I moved to this category long back and have been at the receiving end of a string of threats and advice.

The first thing that I heard as soon as I hit 30 was, “Time is running out, have a child quick”. To hear that time is running out at the ripe young age of 30 is scary to say the least. I was told that it is difficult to conceive after 30 and all the more difficult to produce a healthy child and to have a normal delivery. Well, I delivered Pattu when I was 32 and I had a normal delivery.
I’m sure all these were well meant, but again, I think we are focusing on the wrong parameter – it is fitness that counts and not really ‘age’.
The next thing I heard was, “Eat less – after 30, it is easy to gain (weight) but difficult to lose”. Given my ‘un-feminine’ appetite I still find this difficult to follow. Again, I think it is more about ‘eating carefully’ than about eating less/ more and also working out regularly. I know a few women in their late 40-s who are not necessarily slim but have the stamina to last a tough day and still wake up cheerfully the next day. Most of us would probably want a week off after that kind of physical exertion.
However, most of the ads I see harp on losing ‘inches’ but not gaining ‘fitness’.

Like Apu mentioned, there’s the skin and hair trouble that one can never be rid of. You take care of your tan and you have black spots, pigmentation, dryness, dull skin, dandruff, damaged hair and what not.
One thing that I have noticed is that my mom’s generation had a routine. They had a simple routine but then they were more disciplined than us. For instance, they oiled their hair everyday and had oil massage and a shikakai bath once a week. Most of us do this only once in a while at a parlour, whenever we have the time.

On the other hand, I am quite happy about this 30+ awakening when it comes to the focus on routine gynaecological check ups post 30 yrs. A lot of women discover ovarian cancer and the likes quite late. With the increase in breast cancer, it is better to overemphasise than play things down. Many women are aware of osteoporosis and take precautions.
Those days, after childbirth the women were just expected to be plump,selfless and they seldom had life outside ‘family’. It was not even a career for many women, it was just a job. I’ve seldom seen my mom’s generation ‘hang-out’ with their friends for instance. Thankfully, these have undergone a change.

How Would You React? II

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I’ve been off the web for a while – apologies. Since I asked for your opinions, I should have responded earlier. Thank you all for sharing here; Apu – thanks for the prod – much needed 🙂 and thanks IHM for tweeting this 🙂
And, here I go, without more ado:


1. At an interview to a single woman: When are you getting married? To a married woman: Are you planning a family in the near future?
No matter what, these are personal questions and has nothing to do with ones capability. This is as good as saying married women and pregnant women are not ’employable’! Every employee is bound to serve a notice period giving the organisation enough time to replace the loss. I don’t see how this situation is any different.
D, to your comment – What if a male employee moves on to a better job? Attrition is something that any organisation, small or large, will have to cope with. The trend analysis will tell you to expect a certain percentage of attrition every year and the organisation should have plans to tackle it. Moreover, this question assumes that it is always the woman who moves/ quits after marriage – Not so anymore. I see a lot of men moving places/ jobs as they see fit.


2. Two male colleagues discussing the absence of another male colleague:
C1: “He left early (which was well past official timing anyway)… he had to take care of his kid”
C2: Looking surprised, “What does his wife do? Already henpecked is it!” sniggers

and 
4. Male colleague sharing lunch that he had cooked. Another MC – “That’s the plight of being married to a working woman”
A lot of men still think that it is sissy to change diapers, feed the toddlers, cook and run errands. So, it is more important to seem ‘macho’ than to be responsible and useful around your own home. It is as good as saying, “God, forget the brain but don’t make me bald”!
PS: I have a feeling many men will resonate with that as well!!

Pooh – the best retort award for No-4 goes to you 😀

3. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, a young woman is approached by a male colleague
MC: Making it sound like it is some great honor “We need a young woman like you to greet the chief guest ..”(hold a tray and offer the scissors)
The irked young woman refuses and the man turns to another not so young woman in desperation. There are atleast 30 men – young and not so young at the ceremony!

KP, this one is for you.
In absolute terms, no, there’s nothing wrong with holding the tray. However, this is not as simple as it seems. Have you ever seen a man holding the tray?
My peeve here is that women are perceived to be ornamental additions to such ceremonies where men hold serious offices. There were so many men at the ceremony – why weren’t any of them approached? And how is it honorable for women if the same job is shameful for men?

5. Perception that women who drink/ smoke have ‘loose morals’. On many occasions, I’ve heard comments such as, “She drinks and attends late night parties, so obviously…(men misbehave)”  And almost always it sounds like it is the woman’s fault and not the mans.

DesiGirlLOL!  **Hi-Fi** Best Comment award to you!
I can go on and on about this one but DesiGirl has just about put it in perspective. Quoting her comment here:

 Men drink and smoke DG hasn’t seen them being sexually assaulted by women though often by other men. With the given logic, if a woman makes as much money as a man and has same level of education then she should be sexually assaulting drunk men. 🙂

Only point where I disagree is – education or money has nothing to do with this. Just that the men have always drawn boundaries around women and if they step out of those boundaries, they are just ‘asking for it’. And where are the boundaries for the men??!!

Another observation from KP – sharing it here:


this idea is perpetuated and drilled into the social psyche by movies and TV series. I dont need to tell you the number of times any female villain has been portrayed as a drinking/smoking and partying girl and the minute she is “rectified” she is shown as wearing a saree and bindi and being coy!


How would you react?

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Some statements/ situations/ questions that have made me go aarrrgggghhh….

Now, I’m inviting you all to give me your best retorts/ responses to the following aarrrgggghh statements/ questions/ situations… and do share some that you might have come across..

1. At an interview to a single woman: When are you getting married? To a married woman: Are you planning a family in the near future?

2. Two male colleagues discussing the absence of another male colleague:
C1: “He left early (which was well past official timing anyway)… he had to take care of his kid”
C2: Looking surprised, “What does his wife do? Already henpecked is it!” sniggers

3. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, a young woman is approached by a male colleague
MC: Making it sound like it is some great honor “We need a young woman like you to greet the chief guest ..”(hold a tray and offer the scissors)
The irked young woman refuses and the man turns to another not so young woman in desperation. There are atleast 30 men – young and not so young at the ceremony!

4. Male colleague sharing lunch that he had cooked. Another MC – “That’s the plight of being married to a working woman”

5. Perception that women who drink/ smoke have ‘loose morals’. On many occasions, I’ve heard comments such as, “She drinks and attends late night parties, so obviously…(men misbehave)”  And almost always it sounds like it is the woman’s fault and not the man’s.

Now, kind readers, how would you react?

Feminspiration

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ETA: Asha pointed to Saalumarada Thimmakka whose selfless dedication to planting hundreds of trees and also tending to them is truly inspiring.

Here’s my entry for Feminspiration

These are couple of women I met during some of my social research trips. Their faces are etched in my memory and these are among a few women who have taught me a thing or two about life.

I met Ponni during my trip to rural Ooty. She lived alone with her son (an adolescent when I met her). She had a charming, friendly face and readily invited me for a chat. I didn’t quite understand the stares and disapproving looks that I got from people till I heard her story.
The usual story – she fell in love with a man, had a child out of wedlock and he left her for an arranged marriage. Ponni came from a poor, dysfunctional family and was turned out of the house since she has brought shame to her family. She was a whore, an outcast. She crumbled and suddenly she was alone in this world that was alien, unfriendly and dangerous. One fine day she just decided to gather herself and make an effort to make the best of the situation. She found a job on a farm that gave her food and shelter. She decided to educate her son for which she had to work harder and also offer some favours in exchange. She is happy that her son is progressing well at school. She has no secrets and she is not ashamed of her life. Her days of self pity are over. She is officially an outcast in the village, but women in their suffering come to her secretly to borrow money or to just cry on her shoulders. Her son is the center of her universe now but she seems to know that she will end up lonely. She does not expect her son to acknowledge her struggles or even understand her. A stray tear appears when she thinks that he might even turn against her and call her a whore. She is preparing to face the world as a lonely old woman. Her wisdom comes as a shock through her bubbly, youthful, girlish charm. She laughs liberally and it is infectious.
I hope, for Ponni’s sake that her son has grown up to be supportive and understanding.

Amina worked hard to make ends meet while her husband came home drunk and beat her up. She decided to educate her two girls so that they can have a liberated life. The girls started going to school and she face opposition from men and women folk alike. Her husband had more reasons to beat her up – she was training her girls to bring shame to the family. The girls were threatened and were on house arrest. Amina was not one to give up. She found help in the form of a volunteer who came home to teach the girls. The girls would give their exams when they are ready. Amina is not sure if the girls would be allowed to work, but she believes that the education will liberate them, make them independent in thought and they will be ready when an opportunity presents itself. If none of these happen, they would still understand the value of education and pass it on to the next generation – maybe her grand daughters would be the real independent women that she so wants to be. But Amina knows that she has sown the seeds and it will bear fruit some day and that day is not far.

I so want to meet these women now – it has been 10 years. I want to believe that they are still going strong and are proud of their achievements.

African Bush Tea

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.. was sipping African Bush Tea and thinking about Mma Ramotswe.

She is one of the characters that I’ve grown to like in recent years. I specifically remembered the part where Mma Makutsi one fine morning decides to brew the regular tea instead of the ususal bush tea. It is an awkward moment between the women where Mma Makutsi doesn’t want to hurt her benevolent boss and Mma Ramotswe is a bit embarrassed when she realises that she has never bothered to find out if everyone else was ok with bush tea.

Anyway, I really liked bush tea (at least if that would put me in the league of Mma Ramotswe). For those who would like to try – it is available in the Twinings brand. In Chennai you should find it in Nuts & Spices and Brown Tree chains.

While on the subject of inspiring women, have you participated in Feminspiration at Womensweb yet? Contest on till 16th March and some nice goodies too… check it out.

The Battle of Water-Loo

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Two years back, I met a mom who moved her son to a different school only because the previous school did not have decent toilet facilities. While there were enough toilets and in good condition, they ran out of water quite frequently. Now, we are not talking about some corporation school here. This is a fairly well known middle class+ school. The boy (who was only 5 yrs at that point of time) stopped drinking water so that he doesn’t have to go to the toilet.
I want him to be healthy first – studies can come later” was her opinion.

Recently I was talking to a bunch of older kids (10 yrs+) and they said something similar. They avoided drinking water so that they don’t have to go to a dirty toilet.

“Thank god PT is the last period. After playing we’ll feel so thirsty and we have to drink lots of water, since it is the last period, we can come back home..”
“It really stinks and during intervals it is so crowded”
 and apparently the teacher would, “say something in front of the whole class if we want to go during class, it will be embarrassing”

This again is a fairly sought after school. I can’t believe that schools that take so much money in the name of fees should have such poor facilities. Wonder why most parents don’t think this important enough to take up during PTA meets.

I’ve always wondered why women in particular consumed very little water during the day. Most women I know drink less than a litre per day which is abysmally low. Some of them atleast push themselves consciously to drink more but it takes a lot of effort.
I can’t help but attribute this to poor public toilet facilities in our country. I’ve noticed that even some shops do not have such facilities – when I asked the female staff what they do when they have to use the loo, she simply said that they ‘finish the business before leaving home’! Imagine the plight of these women when they have their periods! Or for that matter even a stomach upset.
And another shop which was in a shopping complex had the loo on the terrace and again the women never ventured up there since men were always hanging out there. Men obviously pee where they like so they are hardly affected.

I’m remeinded of a social research project that I did many years back. This was among the tea leaf pickers in rural Ooty. I was shocked to learn that it is a taboo for women to go too many times during the day. It apparently means, ‘lack of control/ discipline‘ on the woman’s part – they have to ‘finish the job before sunrise’. An older woman then told me that if they have to go while at work, they have to go into the forest (the thickets nearby) since there are no toilets and it is not safe for women to stray away from the group and wander off alone. I guess it was the women’s way of conditioning to save themselves from bigger dangers. This was almost 10 years back and I hope things have changed for good now… though I wonder…

On a lighter note, recently when I visited a public loo, I was really surprised to find it very clean only to realise later that the door doesn’t lock!