Everyone needs a grandparent!

There’s no questioning it. Everyone needs a bit of pampering. A little love, much adoration :-) and even some unquestioned ‘authority’ that leads them to believe ‘they are the boss’. Who better for this role, than a grandparent?

We live miles (and miles!) away from home, but do head back once or twice a year. The bond between child and grandparent is simply beautiful. It does not matter that they have a 60-year-gap between them. It also doesn’t matter that they don’t always understand each other’s accent! Neither does it makes a difference whether they are communicating with each other or simply sitting in amiable silence, watching some crappy TV program.

Kids who receive absolute adoration from the grandparents are ‘blessed’ if you ask me! I think the admiration builds much confidence in them, and it lasts a lifetime. I remember reading these lines somewhere, sometime (but even Google isn’t able to retrieve it for me!): ‘if you have a heard a river in your childhood, it is likely that you will hear it all your life’. That’s the way it is when one is blessed with loving grandparents. I have had the fortune of having one adoring grandmum :-) Just thinking of her makes warms the cockles of my heart. Senility will catch up one day,and perhaps turn her into a nit-picking and grumpy lady :-) (I’m nearly there myself ;-)) but nevertheless, my love for her is just as unconditional as hers for me :-)

Why is it that kids are relatively de-stressed with the grandparents around, as compared to the parents? Do we push them too much? Do we want them to be ‘perfect’ (despite not managing it ourselves?!) Or do we use their behaviour as a benchmark of our success as a parent?! Whatever be the reason, in general grandparents seem to share a better rapport with kids than do the parents. Their relationship is quite stress-free, with not much expectation or conditions from either side!

Let me also confess that I am a little envious of people who can leave the kids at the grandparents’ every now and then! Bringing up a child is quite a challenge. I would go so far as to say managing a career is easier than bringing up a child. Yes, every job is difficult, but the task of looking after a child beats them hands down! So if we have grandparents to sneak in and take the pressure off, that, is sheer heaven :-)

Now that’s another fact that grandparents don’t always want to ‘look after’ the kids as their previous generations did! They enjoy doing this ‘part time’ ;-) but not as a full-time job, and I think they are right! Afterall, they have lived their entire life working really hard to bring us up and provide everything we needed! It ain’t quite fair to expect them to become full-time baby-sitters at this age. I wish more people realised it!! Having grandparents is a luxury that not many can afford!! So the ones that do, add this to your blessings :-) :-)

So here’s to all grandparents. No matter how loving/bitchy they are, or how generous/stingy they choose to be. And certainly, irrespective of whether they ‘look after’ our kids or ‘not’. Just ‘being there’ and ‘supporting our children’ is a blessing :-) whether we accept it or not.

Rant Warning:

On a related note, I find it annoying when people say going to India once or twice a year ‘is very lucky’.

Honestly, it is a choice! One chooses to either save money, buy property/jewellery/gadgets/etc and go on exotic holidays around the globe! Or one chooses to save every penny and travel 5000 miles to indulge one’s self in the familiar sights, sounds (read, cacophony!) and smells (er, anyone heard of Onyx?) of the home town. Now that calls for another post altogether!!

So all those lovely folks who say this to me again .. er.. please, please don’t!! Danke :-)

Pull ‘em apart!!

And finally!!! After drooling long enough over posts by Mon of ‘Sin-A-Mon’ fame and by lots of other blog buddies (Deeps, Smitha to name a few), I have finally managed to shake the laziness off, and put up these pictures.

The famous garlic-pull-apart-buns :-)

ImageOkay, so I didn’t have coriander, therefore decided to turn them into ‘Sun-dried-tomato and garlic pull-apart buns’. Warning: The pack of sun-dried tomatoes I had were on the salty side :-( so next time I’ll have to be more cautious!

(And this is my Little Prince having fun with the dough)ImageAnd these are ready to go into the oven….

ImageYou know, there is a good reason why the ‘after’ pictures aren’t too good. There wasn’t enough time to take pics before these got gobbled up!!!! This is the only one I could manage!!

ImageSo there!! Finally finally. The much-yearned-for garlic pull apart buns. I’m going to try this next time with Mon’s original recipe containing coriander.

Thanks folks!!!! Go try this out. If I could do it, there’s no reason why you can’t!

Spidermen at work – WW

Satyameva Jayate or SMS Jayate?

Picture this scene – A picture-perfect dutiful daughter-in-law decked in all her finery, casting pensive looks, while trying to outwit her wicked mother-in-law and bhabi-sa’s plots to entangle her in controversy. Add to it a jilted lover, a current husband (usually categorically abusive or passive and lovey-dovey!) and a motley collection of uncles/aunties, not to forget the endless fights and tears – Voila! You have an Indian television soap that is bound to rake in TRPs and some moolah for the next couple of years.

Now what hits Indian television with a breath of fresh air, nay, a powerful gust of wind is Aamir Khan‘s new programme ‘Satyameva Jayate‘ (meaning ‘Truth alone triumphs’). I don’t remember being ‘hooked onto’ television in a really long time. The last programme I watched religiously was ‘Hum Paanch‘! So one can imagine what a huge TV-serial-fan I am.

However, after hearing rave reviews on Facebook about ‘Satyameva Jayate’ and reading this particularly intriguing post by Raamesh, curiosity got the better of me, and I tuned into good ol’ Youtube to catch the first episode, that talked about female foeticide.

First of all, let’s give credit where it is due. Aamir and team have done a great job of

* Researching the topic on hand, gathering verified statistics about the gravity of the problem, and highlighting facts that hit you in the gut! For example, the fact that in some parts of India where female foeticide/infanticide has resulted in a very low sex ratio, women are being ‘bought’ to be wives and are being ‘shared’ and treated like a commodity by the men in the family!

* Getting real-life witnesses on board to come and share their experiences. Like Harish Iyer for example (who also featured in the very impactful and gut-wrenching CSA Campaign last year) who shared his painful past about child-abuse.

* And quite literally, doing a pious job of ‘trying’ to spread awareness about topics that are rarely discussed and often swept under the carpet. Yes, we are all quite aware of these issues (like female foeticide and child sexual abuse), but it is not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither do we take any aggressive action against it!

Edited to add: Take a look at this article that talks about the national child helpline being flooded with calls seeking help against abuse!

Kudos to the Satyameva Jayate team! I would any day have this on my TV, as compared to the barage of nonsense in the form of ‘family soaps’!

But what I found rather unsatisfactory about the programme was the ‘action items’.

The first two episodes have followed identical patterns. Aamir writes a petition to the government, Invites people to send SMSes to support the cause (proceeds go to charity), he solicits charitable contributions (again, this is matched by a big corporate, who ultimately get more publicity through the show!) And ofcourse, leaves us with an impactful dialogue about ‘change has to begin with YOU this MOMENT!’ 

I think this is a great start. But having said that, doesn’t this seem too lame and Bollywood-ish?

For instance, will the written petitions TRULY impact government policy? If yes, then Aamir and team, please – take a bow!

But if not, then it becomes a farcical piling on people’s collective emotions (more of guilt than of anything else!) and meagre monetary contribution that could easily be achieved from alternate means! For example, the Rs.3 crore that Aamir is rumoured to be charging per episode! Or perhaps a portion of the money that Reliance has pumped into IPL!!

The show makes it very easy for people to ‘contribute’ by sending an SMS. ‘Female foeticide’ / ‘child abuse’ –  no problem! One little SMS saying ‘YES’, and we have done our bit! We are also rid of guilt! Guilt of what crime??! Nobody knows. :roll: Simply send that SMS and get back to party-ing!

I’m intrigued by this new wave of ‘SMS-Charity’ culture. To be fair, it is ‘some’ contribution to society in place of ‘nothing’. Not too bad, actually. But Imho, a barrage of SMSes may not successfully bring about social change! I think we need more solid action!

Also, it will be very interesting to find out if the money raised after each show is MEASURABLE?

On another note, I have no clue why Sri Devi gets a ‘standing ovation’ from the audience???!!! She is an actress, for God’s sake! Not a humanitarian!!! If anybody deserves a standing ovation, it is the ‘victims’ who dare to come out in the open and speak about their very painful experiences!!!

Ok, I am in technically no position to criticise the show. I haven’t sent that SMS saying ‘YES’ yet. And neither have I donated any money online.

But tell you what? These are my 2 cents on how one could make this show more impactful.

1) Get those Criminals!

Don’t interview only the victims. Get hold of the perpetrators of the crime! Instead of asking the victim to describe the abuse/his emotions, focus on the abuser instead. If he refuses to appear on the show, try to catch him in a separate sting operation. And no discreet black masks for the abusers, please! Question and shame him in front of the country, so that neither he nor abusers like him continue this horrendous crime of child abuse! Talk to convicted criminals and show what sort of punishment is meted out for such crimes. Instil Fear (in the minds of potential criminals) and Hope (in the minds of victims/their families). And if the punishment isn’t sufficient, then interview the Judge who issued the ruling and find out WHY he/she did not think such gross crimes deserved more severe punishment. In short, SHAME the criminals, NOT the victims.

I have written about this in my earlier post on Aruna Shanbaug. We (media and masses) insist on shaming the victims and making their life hell, instead of grabbing the criminals and ensuring they don’t repeat their crime!

Some really strong action like this would take the show from a lame-Bollywood-entertainer to serious investigative journalism and an agent of social change!

2) Bollywood-crazy country!

We are a cricket and Bollywood-crazy nation, and we have no qualms about it! I’m sure Sri Devi increases TRPs of the show, and the organizers must need it, so the show makes complete business sense (in addition to social sense!) But for heaven’s sake, rope in some useful people on the show – police, politicians, judiciary .. invite a top Judge for example. Someone who is in a position to actually influence change in the country! Or if inviting a Bollywood celebrity, atleast get him/her to contribute say, a portion of the crores of rupees from his/her next film, to the same charity that the show is patronising!

3) Charity begins at Home!

Sending one little SMS and raising money for charity is quite creative. But honestly, charity begins at home. I would rather have Aamir try to influence the minds of the immediate audience, so they commit to something small but local, for example, sponsoring private education of their maid’s child! Or perhaps, teaching their servant-maid to read/write English. You see, these are the little things that will help our country grow.

4) Replace lifeless writ petitions with real-life commitments!

Instead of merely writing a petition to the Government, invite senior politicians to the show and hand over the petition in front of the country. In short, try to get any form of commitment in front of the public eye! It may or may not manifest in public policy change. But hey! Its worth a shot!

So people, enough of my criticism and rant. I honestly feel that the show is a great initiative, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would any day have this show on my TV.

But having said that, please feel free to share – what YOU would do, if YOU were producing ‘Satyameva Jayate’?

A bagful of peanuts

Every now and then, something beautiful comes my way to show me that Life is the greatest humbler! 

For instance, all of you (my regular readers) know I have been in India during the Easter break. I usually carry bundles of old clothes (in great condition) to give away to maids/helpers back home. This time again, I took a box of clothes and my mum distributed it among some regular helpers. One particular shirt was slightly over-sized and hardly used, and we decided to give it to our fruit-seller for one of his three sons. He accepted it with his usual quiet demeanour and left without saying a word. I wondered if he even appreciated that it was still a good shirt and would use it for his child, or quickly sell if off for a few rupees on the footpath the next day!!

Let me quickly clarify that I was NOT looking for ‘gratitude’ as people sometimes do. My belief is that people who receive things from me are actually doing me a favour by helping de-clutter my house and in turn, my life! So there was no question of gratitude. Only, a subconscious wish for some sign of ‘acknowledgement’.

Anyway, a few days passed, and the incident had completely vanished from memory.

Late one hot summer evening, the door bell rang. Mum answered it, and was surprised to see none other than the fruit-seller. He simply stood there, quiet as he always was, looking looking tired in a crumpled brownish-yellow shirt that was once probably white.

Mum was surprised, because it wasn’t the time to buy/sell fruits! She opened the door anyway, not knowing what to expect! Usually, helpers who visit late in the evening, are looking for some help, usually in the form of money. We waited to see what he would say/ask for.

To our surprise, the fruit-seller just passed his hand around the half-open iron-grill-gate and handed over a bag overflowing with fresh peanuts (monkeynuts). And walked away without a word.

We stared at each other – dumbstruck, tears brimming our eyes. A big bag of nuts. It would have probably made an excellent snack for three hungry children that were waiting for him back home. Yet, he chose to give it to us. In his own quiet, humble way, he had shown us that to give something, one only needs a big heart!!

The magnanimity of the poor fruit-seller left us utterly humbled!!

I don’t think I have words enough to explain the lesson in humility that I learnt that day. It was certainly one of the most beautiful incidents ever.

I wish we had more of such people around. They certainly make the world a better place!

This post is a participation in the Blogsplash (24th April 2012) in celebration of FionaRobyn‘s book ‘The Most Beautiful thing”.

Ragi Ragini – a work of art!

I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Anjali Purohit (writer/artist) thanks to her online presence at a writing forum. I am not exaggerating when I say that Anjali is one of THE most talented people I’ve known. Her creations (both her writing and her paintings) are of a very high standard. (Quite unlike the amount of trash that get published under the genre of amateur Indian chick-lit these days!)

It should come as no wonder then, that Anjali’s book ‘Ragi Ragini’ is not a run-of-the-mill novel/recipe book, but a true gem! (Ok, I have to admit that at first, I thought Ragi Ragini was a recipe book!) Reading the book gave me a start. It was like holding a work of art in my hands.

‘Ragi Ragini’ is a beautiful tapestry of Ragini’s story, the virtues of Ragi, and the timeless poetry of Bahinabai (again, I confess I had not heard of her until I read the book).

I loved the way the three facets of the book have been interwoven to make complete sense. I, for one, am highly impressed by the nutritional value of ragi, and cannot wait to try out all the recipes in the book. The ovis again, speak of simple yet profound truths of life.

I think the book touches life, both at a physical and a philosophical level.

Altogether, this book is a keepsake!! I have just ordered another copy as a gift for someone very dear to me.

If you are even remotely interested, please hop over right away to Flipkart and order it online.

Band Baajaa And Imperfect Brides

I am yet to forgive my two best friends for what they did to me at my wedding. Now, don’t go getting any ideas. My buddies dragged me to a certain beauty parlour and got me a mini-makeover. I still cringe when I look at my wedding album. I don’t recognise myself, with all that face-paint on

This is exactly why I feel bad for the brides who participate in the new makeover show ‘Band Baajaa Bride’. I am a complete sucker for makeover shows, and I was excited to catch an episode of this show, where the famous designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee creates a grand outfit for the chosen bride-to-be.

On the face of it, the show seems like an amazing opportunity. Having a stunning dress designed by a top designer, looking like an Indian queen on your wedding day, adorned in all the finery, and getting all this for free ) – a dream come true for any bride.

So what is it that I am cribbing about?

Just this – the show takes the natural charm out of a girl and replaces it with stupid and needless glamour! Almost as if saying, your natural perfection IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You NEED to be an artificially enhanced doll. Or a live advertisement for designer wear!

The episode I watched featured an extremely pretty bride-to-be, with lovely long tresses and an innocence that radiated. She wanted a ‘lehenga-choli’ that was not ‘red’ in colour. And she wanted to ‘look REAL’ – just the way she was.

What do you think Team Band Baaja did? They took her to a cosmetic surgeon to make her lips look fuller (that by the way, looked perfectly fine to me), chopped off her ‘boring’ tresses to make her look younger (apparently her fiancé also said ‘she was pretty but not glamorous’), and created a very regal wedding outfit – in red.

The bride looked gorgeous. The outfit, the styling, the accessories were all perfect.

But somewhere down the line, that pretty girl who had walked into the show wanting to look ‘REAL’ had been lost. She now looked like a perfect Hindi-serial actress.

And in place of a naturally charming young girl, we had someone who represented the designer dreams of Bollywood. Instead of simple, realistic, and attainable charm, we now had glitz, sparkle and heavy work that is simply not attainable to most of population.

It is this stereotyped concept of ‘perfection’ that immensely bothers me. A show like this makes a bride believe she NEEDS a grand makeover, failing which she would not look ‘good enough’ on her special day.

Yes, you can say this is a case of sour grapes. There was no such makeover show when I was a bride ;-) ;-)

But on a serious note, isn’t this the problem with us? We seek perfection in everything that is superficial. A lame child, a dark girl, an obese boy – instant ridicule. Every matrimonial advert reads ‘Wanted: Slim, Fair, Good-looking bride for boy’.

How about people who do not fit the bill – are they not worthy enough of consideration?

Interestingly, we do not make any attempt in perfection ourselves, in terms of skill, education, vocational training, etc. We don’t aim to stand up for anything worthwhile. Instead, we watch makeover shows, dreaming of looking perfect, but not bothering to be perfect in the things that do matter.

Coming back to the show itself, not all is wrong with it. Yes, it does a huge deal of advertising for designer-outfits and designer-jewellery. But despite that, the anchor Team comes across as friendly and enthusiastic.

I loved what Sabyasachi himself said on the show – ‘a beautiful bride does not need Sabyasachi’ – That was incredibly humble and delightfully charming. I loved watching brides weave their dreams.

But I don’t like the fact that there is a huge chance, that it makes people believe they are imperfect ‘just the way they are’. That, is dangerous.

So what do you think?

Please vote! Virgin Unite contest

Folks, please help!

Please click this link and click ‘LIKE’ using the FB icon or twitter. This is a worthwhile cause, and your ‘likes’ will help get the project noticed on the Virgin Unite contest.

http://bit.ly/GGAPHj

This is a community radio venture, started by a friend Ms.Saritha Thomas who earlier worked with the BBC. Her NGO works towards building community radio stations in India. I can give you personal guarantee that this lady is worth every single vote :-) So please, take just one minute and vote by clicking either Facebook or Twitter icon at the bottom of the video.

Many many thanks..

-Pallavi

Hot Pants – Hot or Not??

The battle of the Bulge is something most of us are always fighting – and more often than not, losing! When I first read about the Zaggora Hotpants on a couple of blogs, I was sure this was a mere marketing gimmick. I discussed this with my favourite virtual ‘fitness pals’ and the general consensus was that nothing works but working out! Fair enough.

However, I still had that nagging doubt.. What If? What if the claims made by Zaggora were true? (Click here or on the Image to your left, to head over to their website). What if the ‘hot pants’ really worked?

I decided to give it a shot. I got in touch with the wonderful people at Zaggora, who immediately sent a pair of ‘Capri flares’, along with a personalised hand-written note from Ms.Lucy about how/when I could use the hotpants (which was practically any time!)

The very first time I worked out (treadmill) while wearing the Hotpants/Capri flares, I sweated so much that I needed to open out the windows on a cold January morning, to help me cool down. As I wore them more often, they got more comfortable. Two weeks down the line, I clearly felt some of the weight had fallen away. Unfortunately I hadn’t taken any measurements, so I couldn’t be specific.

Then I pencilled in lots of structured work-outs like Zumba fitness, and realised that wearing the Hotpants very clearly made me sweat much more than I normally would. I didn’t want the weight loss to be a ‘water loss’ trick. So I made sure I drank lots of water post work-outs.

And guess what? The Hotpants actually worked!!! Over the last two months, I have lost just over 6 lbs, and have nearly dropped a dress size. I don’t hide behind baggy jeans anymore!

The Hotpants do tend to make your skin sweat a little even when you are simply wearing them on and not actually working out. Unlike some other people, I don’t actually wear the hotpants all day, as I don’t find it comfortable that way. I absolutely ensure that I use them during my workouts (be it treadmill/stepper/Zumba/aerobics).

The only drawback with the hotpants is that they need to be hand-washed and dried atleast overnight! So you really can’t afford to be lazy. Unless ofcourse you have two pairs, then you can alternate using them.

Now, I am not sure if there are any side-effects. I have not noticed any till date, and I hope there aren’t any in the future either.

Needless to say, there is no substitute for working out! But I find that the Hotpants maximise the impact of the workout!

So it definitely is a Thumbs-Up from me!! If you are considering investing in a pair of Hotpants, I’d say ‘Go for it’!!! It makes a considerable difference to your weight-loss and fitness program. These Hotpants are definitely Hot.

Thank you Zaggora!! Here’s to many more such Hot inventions!!

(PS: I received a pair of Capri Flares from Zaggora for the purpose of this trial, no other consideration was received for this review. The review is entirely personal and not influenced by Zaggora in any way).

A guilt-free life

Women’s Day went by quite some time ago. The lovely ladies at ‘Womens Web‘ have this contest till 15th March. And as always, here I am, typing away at the very last minute (GMT!). But here it is. A few random thoughts, about a Guilt-Free life.

The traditional Indian woman – Beautiful, capable, charming, intelligent, cultured.. and family-oriented. Reminds me of the ‘Tu Hi Tu’ Star Plus Anthem that created a little ruckus last year.

Me? I am far from that pedestal. Very, very far. And happily far. I am no Superwoman. I’m just your average woman, trying to juggle her own space with her near and dear ones.

And for all Superwomen aspirants, please may I just add these humble tips to help lead a Guilt Free life.

* Me-time:    I’ve seen women, even the young/hip ones, express guilt about spending a little time ‘away’ from the family. I think ‘me-time’ is rejuvenating. A little time off and you don’t just refresh yourself, you even give ‘them’ time to re-bond and chill out, rather than be under your watchful eyes. Take time off, meet up with the ‘girl gang’, read a book (Even M&B would do ;-)), watch a movie… do anything.. But just don’t feel guilty about it.

* Financial independence.   I don’t quite understand the concept of ‘joint account’. I mean, technically I do. I’ve even worked at a bank, remember? But having some financial independence is something I deem ‘necessary’ for every woman. Have a separate account, even if it has only a little money.

* Keep occupied.     An acquaintance asked me yesterday if I got ‘bored at home’. No, I don’t! I have multiple tasks and little projects on hand. And I love keeping myself occupied. Keep yourself busy, even  if it is only a self-created-task of re-organising your wardrobe. An Idle Mind is… you know better.

* Work-out!     During my growing years, it was very easy to identify a ‘mum’. A typical mum would be overweight, look a little unkempt and quite stressed. It isn’t like that any more. Join the gym, start attending aerobics/Zumba/ anything you like, really. I love what Zumba and swimming have done to my confidence levels. So do work-out.

* Love yourself.    And I don’t literally mean Sheela’s song ;-) Love who you are, the way you are. You may not be the most good-looking or the slimmest chick around. But WTH! You are still ‘You’. Love yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it. Loving yourself can only help strengthen your relationship with other people.

And lastly, Celebrate!!!! You don’t need someone else to wish you on Women’s Day. Wish yourself, wish your mum and your girl-friends. And go shopping Hee Haww :-)