Sunday, June 30, 2013

Temperatures Rising & Letting Go...

It is so hot here today it reminds me of India ... But at least in Madras, we had the it feels like slow roasting...

I refused to go fishing with the boys today (they caught 8 trouts which my brother cleaned and cooked)...squeamish about seeing a whole fish vs. a fillet. The day was hot, so I lazed around for a while catching up with my courses on Coursera and Bhagvad Gita. My head was heavy I could attribute it to the 5 double shots of tequila I saw N adding to the Margherita...of which I had about a glass and a half  or it could be that I won't be seeing her for a while (she leaves for India tomorrow). I left her place last night (loaded with goodies from her fridge/freezer...homemade masala, coconut chutney, cream cheese, Coriander/Mint Chutneys...) and went to a session at Iskcon and the session was on "Letting Go". The session was not relaxing and truth be told my headache was so violent I was in an extremely judgemental and contrary mode...
Ironically my session on Bhagavad Gita today covered the same topic "Letting Go"...there was a concept called "Ladder of Fall" which I found extremely intriguing and here are my cliff notes on it :

There is a beautiful analogy of a ball rolling down the stairs and gathering momentum, it might possibly be easier to catch the ball when the momentum is lesser but as it reaches the bottom of the stair to catch it is harder…similarly man can fall down and to fall is not wrong, but it is wrong to remain fallen. I have added my thoughts on how you can remain mindful  (at the least you can have a good laugh, at the most it could be food for thought)
(a)  It is important to understand that brooding causes attachment. It is easy to think of what we want and get attached to it. I am attached to the idea of a clean house, so for me I feel that a good vacuum cleaner is my answer to a clean house. For the past 2 months I have been fixated on a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (supposed to be the best!).
(b)  Attachment gives rise to desire - This thinking about the vacuum  has made me attached to the idea of owning it.. The repetitive thoughts about a cleaner house have strengthened my desire to possess the vacuum cleaner at any cost (it is $500 which is five times a normal vacuum cleaner).
(c)  This desire causes me agitation and anger – my common sense prevents me from buying the vacuum Eureka gets the job done.
(d)  Anger causes delusion – An angered mind is not a haven for peaceful or controlled thoughts and intellect is bypassed and I feel like irrationality prevails
(e)  Delusion makes us forget our past knowledge : We are a sum of our values and past learnings but delusion makes our mind computer hang and  our past knowledge and acquired wisdom is unavailable to us
(f)   When past knowledge is forgotten, the intellect is destroyed  - when the intellect does not have access to past knowledge and wisdom it shuts down and does not prevail
(g)  A destroyed intellect destroys the individual – what differentiates a human from an animal is intellect and without intellect we are no different from an animal

We can prevent ourselves from going down this slippery slope by staying firm in the knowledge that happiness is not in objects but within ourselves (and if you are interested, I haven't yet got the Dyson :) )

I did go to the Farmer's Market today and brought : Half a flat of strawberries, raspberries, red bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, Organic Eggs, Sukhi's Samosas and 2 Kale Salads. I also cooked some (Brinjal Gotsu and Usal). Incidentally, I made both the curries with the masala  I got from N's house and pictures are below. I look forward to restarting ordering food from House of Lakshmi  and leaving the cooking to her on these hot hot summer days...

How has summer been treating you? Have the temperatures been rising or have you been letting go?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yet another Birthday...

What matters most in life is often what we neglect till it's too late and we focus on things, events and people that are irrelevant and unimportant...isn't that why we end up writing blog posts like "The 7 regrets on my death bed". Passion takes a backseat to "making do", wellness to working and balance to true is the saying "Life is not a dress rehearsal" and yet we put off things that are truly important and focus on minutia...Bapa was a workaholic and work gave him a lot of satisfaction...he put off the European Vacation, the trip down to Napa valley for "after retirement" and what we realized was that there is no time for later...
My birthday resolution : stop focusing on a number (whether it is a year or a lb more...) and think instead of life as it exists this present moment...and decide what would make the next few days, weeks,months, years...and lifetime spectacular and focus instead on making those moments happen....maybe it is having one mojito too many, maybe it is a belly laugh with a story of scorpions and trousers (I bet I got you curious!) or something as basic as following your instinct and passion to do what you really want to a little (Egypt, Turkey and Thailand), splurge on The French Laundry...get over my fear of water and swim...hug K1 and my baby (K2)...he doesn't fit in my arms anymore...when did he become so tall...

What I have realized is that  with every birthday it is a chance to reflect and a chance to start new...and I will grab every chance I get...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tentative Parenting : How to talk to little boys?

K2 : Ma, please tell me you haven't been reading?
Working Mom : Of course, I have...every night in fact. My kindle has 322 books on it
K2 : Maybe you need to buy me a kindle and I start reading...
Working Mom : Don't make excuses. I won't stamp your reading log and then you won't make the summer reading club and guess what I am half way thro' all ready (and it's just the first week).

K2 cried for 10 straight minutes before going to summer camp and I felt like a really mean person for taking such a firm stand with him yesterday. However, there is this article that I read on Huffington Post by Lisa Bloom and I can totally relate to it. My son will pick reading as the last possible activity on his list of things to do...he likes being read to but he will pick a video game, the iPad or even cycling to reading. It baffles me...I was the "proverbial book worm" give me an excuse to stay with a book and I would gladly take it then and now. I see the stereotype getting played out with school and even from K1 (he will dribble with him, or throw him a ball vs. read with him or take him to the library), the subliminal message he is getting is : Girls read, boys do not. 
Is it a surprise that the top 10% in a class is crowded with girls (in K2's  class it is Petra, Sophia and Katie) and the bottom 10% is crowded with boys. K2 was in the bottom in the first half year of school year, his reading and writing below the 2nd half of school year he improved leaps and bounds because we are trying really hard to get him to love books. Strangely enough, I followed  the strategies listed in the article even before reading it :
  1. Make favorite reading lists 
  2. Take him to the library, the bookstore, book festivals.
  3. Take him to summer reading events at the library or kids author events 
  4. Take him to Shakespeare Plays in the park (last year was Henry the Vth). 
  5. Read to him, read with him, read side-by-side nightly. 
I really do Push reading as if his life depends on it and at some levels I do believe it builds his knowledge and perspective but more importantly it helps him grow. No one said it better than Dr. Seuss...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tentative Parenting : What will get you the job in 2025?

Working Mom : So K2, how was school
K2 (rolls his eyes and in a barely audible voice) : OK
Working Mom : So what do you want to do now? Do you want to go to Whole Foods? You can meet Paul (the cheese guy), you can walk around a little bit and then you can get Pizza
K2 ( tears in his eyes) : I want to go home!

We go home and guess what K2 does...he gets on his ipad and starts playing games. A my brother the start-up dude lauds K2's behavior...calling him smart, brilliant...he has finished all levels on Plants vs. Zombie....woohoo!  I see kids sitting like mindless zombies in front of the idiot box...playing video games, texting on phones...and I worry. When I was 6 years old, my only exposure to electronics were the Black Dial Phone and my dad's old radio...we didn't have a TV till I turned 10 (and even then it was a b/w) we were out baking in the sun, catching silverfish in the ponds, playing with friends, climbing mango trees, saving injured birds and animals, fighting with friends, reading books,sharing secrets with friends. Our lives were filled with memories made with people not machines.I don't have an issue with technology per se...but I do have an issue with my son preferring the ipad to cycling outside with my neighbor's kid...

I see the next generation more socially inept and abrupt than us and unfortunately I attribute it to this technology glut...I see people prefer being cooped up in their nooks on calls vs. hanging out together in meetings, kids create virtual cities and playgrounds while the actual playgrounds, trails are all conspicuously empty, do LOLs online vs. have a hearty belly laugh with friends ...

So where am I getting to with this - The number one thing that is a pre-requisite for any job in a decade from now is  Face time (and no I don't mean the ipad one) and Getting Along.  

Wasn't it Einstein who said - I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots. Was he right?

How is your weekend turning out?

P.S : Why 2025, because that is the year K2 will be 18 and I believe an eligible candidate for the job market...wishful thinking? maybe!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Bitter Truth : Killing Daughters one Foetus at a time

I am the mother of a son ( and truth be told I had wanted a girl with an unholy the extent that I had  only picked out a girl's name). Much of this fervor came with my childhood experiences : the discrimination of  girls from boys...whether it was food, pocket money, opportunities...there was a difference - even in the so-called educated echelons of society. It wasn't a big surprise that my thesis for my first year of under-grad was on Female Foeticide, I got an A+ in that paper but was left with the distinct feeling that I had just scratched the tip of an iceberg...based on what I have seen in India ( and mind you a lot of this blog post is based on my formative experiences in India, so take it with a grain of salt) - sons feel entitled while daughters feel grateful for being given a chance. India has progressed yet I see that the problem  has aggravated : where now no longer is a woman just focused on the household chores, she also is expected to go out and earn a livelihood with her man. Example in Point: The three ladies who worked for my Ma in Pune, all contributed 40%+ of the household income but took care of 100% of all the domestic chores at home. The statistician in me kept asking them pointed questions and the answers I got pissed me off no end.

In a country that worships Ma Durga for ten days, it is ironical that we treat this issue with such blase disregard. Why this renewed interest in the topic, last night I was in the mood for a serious documentary and I watched an episode of "Satyameva Jayate" ( the truth always wins)  which was on Female Foeticide.

The episode is in Hindi, but the statistics from this episode are eye-popping and self-explanatory. If you are interested in watching the episode feel free to go here

(A) This problem started in urban areas and spread to rural areas...contrary to belief that it was practiced by the uneducated, it is propagated by the educated.
(B) This problem used to be prevalent only in 3 states (with Tamil Nadu leading the charter) when I did my research in 1992, in 2012 - this phenomenon has spread across India
(C) The Sex Ratio has been declining dramatically the past 20 years...

I had read somewhere - Women, who comprise half the world's population, do two thirds of the world's work, earn one tenth of the world's income and own one hundredth of the world's property

The Change lies within - it is about Society changing it's mindset, implementing checks and balances in the system, it is about these us women refusing to be victims and choosing to walk down the lesser-trodden road...

Incidentally it was Bapa who brainstormed with me almost two decades back and helped me pick the topic on Female has been exactly 3 months today since he passed away (March 11th,2013) and the emptiness and grief that hit me today  was unusually sharp...

So how is your week turning out? I had wonderful food delivered by House of Lakshmi - soul satisfying South Indian Food...I have two boys calling me downstairs to go for a walk down to the Bay Trails and I am  excited to be a part of TedXSanJose bonjour  tristesse thank you for being a constant companion the past three months...can I take a rain check for the next couple days!