Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The world is their toilet.

In a recent post, when I expressed my ire about a man urinating in public, I was flummoxed to find at least two people commenting on the lines of, "Poor guy, there are no public toilets, what else can he do?"

Poor guy, no restroom. Sooooo sad. What do you think we females do when we are in that situation? We also have bladders, you know, that sometimes get uncomfortably full. Have you seen females do what males so blatantly do? No, you haven't! Why? Are there special restrooms only for women, that are invisible to male eyes? Or do the contents of our bladders just evaporate by magic?

For heavens' sake, we face the same problem! And so what do we do?

Let me tell you what I do.

* When I know that I am going somewhere where there will be no easy access to toilets, I avoid drinking fluids for about an hour before I leave.

* The last thing I do before I leave is use the toilet.

* In spite of these precautions, if my bladder gets full, I control. Until I reach a toilet.

* If I am in a state where I just HAVE to go, then I look around for a restaurant. Most restaurants oblige if you say you have to use their restroom. At one restaurant, I was politely told, "Only for customers, ma'am", and so I went in, ordered and paid for a cup of tea that I did not drink, used the toilet and came out vastly relieved.

But of course, why would males go through so much trouble? Just find a wall and pull down your zipper and you are done. Busy road? No problem? In full view of everybody, females and children alike? No problem. The stench resulting from your action? No problem. Health hazards because of your urinating everywhere? Nooooo problem.

Please. When you know that there aren't going to be restrooms when you need it, don't you have to prepare accordingly?

And don't give me BS about how there are no public toilets, what is the government doing and what not. Dozens of public toilets (like "Nirmala") have sprung up in Bangalore. And what do I see? Men standing NEXT to these clean, inexpensive toilets and relieving themselves. Men toting mobiles, who can afford to pay the rupee or two to use these toilets. The world is their toilet, after all!

Yes, it is a fact that we do need more public toilets, but more than that we need a whole shift in the attitudes of the people.

A channel (MTV? Or is it Channel V?) had gone on a drive, taping these obnoxious people indulging in public urination, and broadcasting it - I thought at that time that it was a great idea. But I wonder, if these fellows are so shameless as to pee in public, will they feel any kind of shame if they appear on TV performing a private act? Most likely, they will just be thrilled that they are on TV.

Is there any solution at all?


[My mom had written on the same issue, and related problems, in "Sudha" of June 7th, 2007 [Page 30]. [In Kannada] If you cannot find a copy, you can read it online at http://sudhaezine.com.]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bond Forever

Bond... the one with the license to write. Ruskin Bond. Here is an example of why I adore the writer! - Way We Are in today's Sunday Herald (Sunday supplement of Deccan Herald).

Unfortunately, our stage manager had forgotten to put any tea in the pot, and poor Guttoo looked terribly put out as he went from cup to cup, pouring invisible tea. “Damn. What happened to the tea?” muttered Guttoo, a line which was not in the script. “Never mind,” said Gita, playing opposite him and keeping her cool. “I prefer my milk without tea,” and proceeded to pour herself a cup milk.

After this, everyone began to fluff their lines and our prompter had a busy time. Unfortunately he’d helped himself to a couple of rums at the bar, so that, whenever one of the actors faltered, he’d call out the correct words in a stentorian voice which could be heard all over the hall. Soon there was more prompting than acting, and the audience began joining in with dialogue of their own.


Do read it for a good laugh!

An old post on the day I met Ruskin Bond

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Regression

I was up on the terrace for a breath of fresh air and happened to spot a couple of bright green parakeets on the telephone wires. As I broke into an automatic smile and gazed at them, along came a boy of about 12 years, looked at the birds, picked up a stone and threw it at them. The birds flew away, and the boy hardly even stopped to see what happened, he skipped along and went on his way. What kind of a perverse mind in such a young boy would make him do such a heartless and meaningless thing?

No sooner did this boy leave than a well-dressed middle-aged man came by. He stopped at the corner right opposite our house, pulled his zipper down and proceeded to relieve himself. In broad daylight, in full view of five-six homes, definitely in full view of me. Then he zipped up nonchalantly and went his way. I wish I had a catapult.

Then along came a woman who spat noisily right in the middle of the road, and behind her came hooting and spitting males, sitting atop a huge truck spewing noxious fumes. So much for my breath of fresh hair.

India is full of people like these, and we expect to be called the next superpower?

And to crown it all, we now have a President who talks to dead people.

India Shining? Bah! India rotting and regressing is more like it.

Yes, it is one of those days.

The record

I probably hold the record for taking the longest to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but at least I finished it!

I had actually not even bothered to pre-book the book coz I was sure I wouldn't be able to read it what with the Little One and all. But S surprised me with a copy on the very day it was released. Oh the joy! Pretty brave of him, though. Didn't he even once think about what would happen to his daughter if I had my nose buried in the book all the time?

Anyway the week went by without any major disasters. But seriously, thanks are due to my mom for understanding my need to finish the book and tolerating my virtual absence. Probably she was just thankful that I hadn't forgotten that I have a baby now!

Like my uncle said, looking at me holding the book with an "I-can't-wait-to-devour-it" look - "And to think that this girl has a baby. Wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it myself".

Now I can return peacefully to Muggle life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Snippets - 2

.... from the Little One's second month. [I can't believe how time flies when a baby is around. Both the hours in a day and the days in a month.]

* I finally relented and cut her hair. It was getting into her eyes and ears too much for comfort. I went snip-snip when she was asleep, but she woke up when I was cutting the hair on the base of her neck. So the hairline out there looks like India's coastline, but that's ok. She now looks fresh, clean, and much happier.

* People have started looking at her and saying, "Ahhh, NOW she looks beautiful". And I go, "Huh, excuse me? What do you mean "NOW"?" [Excuse a mother her indulgence. This mother thought that her child looked good even in the ultrasound images].

* She smiles and squeals and gurgles and talks non-stop. And she holds her head steady and turns it this way and that looking at anything and everything with big, wondering eyes. Curious kid, this.

* She recognizes me instantly - such a heady feeling :)

* She beats her limbs non-stop. I sometimes awaken at night not by her crying but because the bed is shaking from the force of her limb-flailing.

* S has suddenly graduated from she-is-too-small-i-am-afraid-to-carry-her to is-she-crying-give-her-to-me. When he carries her, she goes about with a everybody-tortures-me-look-how-happy-and-secure-i-am-in-papa's-arms look.

* She now has different signals for different needs. If she is hungry, she rams her fist down her throat. If she is sleepy, she rubs her ears and cheeks with the back of her hand. I am still learning to recognize the "I am wet" expression.

* Her boredom cries are so funny - it like she is pretending to cry, but she is not really crying!

* She now has a new cry - the protest cry.

* Take out a camera and she stops smiling. N, my little sis PeeVee's shutterbug friend came over with her fantastic camera and proceeded to click away at this kid as if she is a celebrity, and all she did was cry and be grumpy. The moment N left for the airport, she became her usual cheerful smiling self. Nevertheless, N got us some fab snaps. Thank you, N!

* She loves her bath and the massage preceding it. She ruins it all by screaming her lungs out when we wrap her up in the towel to bring her out of the bathroom.

* Let's face it - she likes men. She fixes her stare and talks excitedly to men - what does she see different in them? Can't be facial hair... none of the men who interact with her regularly have facial hair.... strange.

* My parents (I am staying with them now for a while) are besotted with her. They drop all their work and sit by her and watch and play with her for hours. Then they suddenly look at the clock and say, "Is THAT the time? Is the clock right? Are you sure?" Then they look at her and say, "You time waster!" She replies by smiling and batting her eyelashes at them, and that is enough - they settle down again to play with her - work be damned :)

Each day, there is something new, something to smile about, and something to look forward to! There are innumerable trying times too, but which path in life is smooth?

Oh man, there she is, she has woken up and is looking at objects on the wall and smiling at them, and waving her arms around and playing by herself. Ta-da for now!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Eight Random Facts..

... about me. And who would care to know these facts? Bit Hawk does, apparently!

Here they are:

  • I started wearing specs at age seven. I use contact lenses now.
  • I was into athletics as a kid.
  • Kids used to irritate me till I was well into my teens. I changed overnight, I don't know how.
  • I am a right hander but I wear my watch on the right hand.
  • I love wearing sarees.
  • I can spend hours looking at photo albums.
  • I never cared much about how I looked, as long as I was neat and presentable. I particularly never made any major effort to make myself look good, until S' cousin's mother-in-law told me to change. It was the way she said it that did it.
  • I was a spoilsport as a kid. When it was my turn to be the seeker (In Hide and Seek, not Quidditch), I would wait until everybody hid, and then go home. My friends would wait and wait and then come out from their hiding places, then come looking for me to my place, to find me lost in a book.

And I tag... let me see.... the first eight people who comment on this post, who WANT to do the tag. ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Ano the Thoughtraker, Pooh of Pooh's Den, and Poppins of Babies Anonymous have bestowed upon me the Thinking Blogger Award, and said such sweet words about me too... *wipes tear from eye*... Thanks a ton :). I really am glad that I make you think - unintentionally though ;)

Now I have to take the tag forward and name five bloggers who make me think. But every blog that I read makes me think. A serious thought or a funny thought, something in every blog leads to different thoughts, and a totally unconnected topic can set off a chain reaction leading to an entirely new world - that is how my frenzied brain works.

So if I have to name just five bloggers, it would be terribly unfair to all the other blogs that I read. Besides, some don't update too often, some have already been tagged many times over, and some have already tagged me ;)

So, I slip out of the back door.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The test of tolerance

Remember the Karna-Parashurama story in the Mahabharata? Karna goes to Parashurama to learn the secrets of warfare from him. But since Parashurama has decided to take only Brahmins as his disciples (or because he hates Kshatriyas?), Karna presents himself as a Brahmin boy. Parashurama instructs him in all the techniques of warfare.

One day, Parashurama lies down under a tree to rest. Karna offers his lap as a pillow. As Parashurama sleeps, an insect bites Karna's leg. Karna doesn't move as he doesn't want to disturb his Guru. He tolerates the pain. But blood flows from the wound and wakes Parashurama. Parashurama takes in the scene, and tells Karna that a Brahmin couldn't have tolerated so much pain, and so Karna must be a Kshatriya. When Karna confesses that it is indeed so, an angry Parashurama curses him, saying that he would forget whatever he has learnt at a time when he needs it the most.

Now why am I quoting from the Mahabharata? Coz I often find myself in Karna's situation nowadays.

Sometimes, it takes a major effort to make the Little One go to sleep. After a long long time, I find her eyelids finally getting heavy, and at that time, I am usually holding her in a position that involves both my hands. At this stage, I am terrified to make the slightest movement, in case she wakes up.

And then, just then, my nose HAS to itch. My hands are full, there is no convenient surface within reach against which I can rub my nose, and I cannot call out loudly to someone to come and please scratch my nose for me. I just sit there like a statue, nose quivering, wondering which will be first - the Little One falling asleep, or me giving up, dropping her, and scratching my nose.

Sigh.

I wonder how many more tests of tolerance this kid is going to put me through!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Horsing Around

One Sunday morning, many many years ago, my father drew my attention to that section of the paper which reported news of the Bangalore Derby. He pointed out to me the names of the racing horses and said that I might enjoy them. I went through one column, and he was right, I was immediately hooked.

The names were delightful, a treat to my crazy imagination. No boring Chetaks and Ranjhas for you. The names ranged from pretty(Morning Dew, Soft Sunshine) to macho(Fierce Warrior, Daredevil) to exotic(Bravissimo, Chiquitita) to optimistic (Speed of Light, Assured Victory) to plain nonsensical (Daring Daschund, Adorable Aristotle).

I would pick a random favourite and follow its fortunes every morning, reporting delightedly to my father, "Papa, Crowning Glory won again!" or "Oh no, Ginger Garlic lost this time". My mother must have started suspecting that the father-daughter duo was placing bets on races behind her back.

Anyway, like all fads, this one passed too, until yesterday, when I chanced upon the results of the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby. Along with the results of the races, were the mugshots of all the winning horses.

Now, pardon my ignorance, but all horses look the same to me. It looked like they had taken a picture of one horse and printed it twelve times. On taking a closer look, I saw that they were slightly different shades of brown, much like the browns section of an Asian Paints colours catalogue.

I was thinking of the plight of the reporter and the photographer, if they are as ignorant about horses as I am. The photographer takes a pic, and the reporter laboriously writes down the name of the horse. And what if they mess up and put a different name on the pic of the horse? I can well imagine the irate owner ringing up the office and shouting at them, demanding a correction. What will the resulting apology look like?

"In yesterday's edition, we inadvertently mixed up the names of two horses. The one that is the colour of a roasted coffee bean is Sultry Seductress, and the one that is the colour of a lightly roasted coffee bean is Brave Bheem. The error is regretted. - Elegant Editor... err.. I mean, Editor."

This year's winner is Bourbon King. The name is not at all imaginative, as horses' names go. I was disappointed, but then, I saw that Quintessential Queen, Jumping Jackass, Shimmering Shennanigan and Rusty Rhombus weren't far behind, so I was satisfied. What about Assured Victory? He, I assure you, will gain a victory in the next derby.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Shots and Thoughts

We had been to the paediatrician a couple of days ago for the Little One's immunization shots. (DPT, Hep-B, Hib). The doc told us that there were two kinds of shots for this - a local one, costing Rs.850, and an imported one of Rs.2100. When asked what the difference was, he said that both served the same purpose, but the imported one was superior, and it resulted in less pain and fever.

Now, if it had been a material thing like a carry-cot or a pram, I could have inspected both and made an informed decison - that yes, the imported one is more comfortable and convenient, it is worth the extra money, or naaah, there is not too much difference between the two kinds, lets go in for the less expensive one.

But what could I do here but take the doc at his word? And after all, parents wants to give their child the best that is within their means, especially when it concerns health. So we opted for the imported, supposedly superior one.

I later asked an uncle of S, a well-known paediatrician (he stopped his practice a few years ago), and he said that yes, the imported vaccine truly has lesser side effects. If we had known earlier that we would be given a choice of vaccines, I would have discussed it with this uncle earlier, and we could have taken a confident, informed decision, rather than one based on sentiments. ;)

[And yes, the Little One hardly had any fever, and I doubt if she had much pain either. But she has been a little fussy since her shots, crying at the drop of a hat, but that's supposed to be normal.]

This episode set me thinking.

1) Forget the imported vaccine, but Rs.850 for the local one? Isn't that very expensive in itself? How many people in India can afford that? Does the government offer free immunization at government hospitals, or a subsidized version for the poorer section of the society? Does anybody know anything about this?

2) No wonder pharma companies have a gala time pricing their products exorbitantly. We the consumers have no idea about the products whatsoever, and when it comes to health, we are helpless, we just have to buy the products. Is there any hope for a transparent system where we know what we are buying, and how much it ought to cost? [Even as I write this, I say to myself, "Ha! High Hopes!"]

3) I realize that parents have this weakness - when it concerns the child, we tend to become blind, and spend any amount of money on the child. Manufacturers have identified this very weakness and have made excellent use of it. Have you seen how expensive baby stuff is? 800 rupees for a teeny tiny frock!! One I can make at home in less than 50 rupees?? One which the baby will outgrow in a month? What kind of madness is that? Even with all that knowledge, I look at the frock, imagine the Little One in it and think, "Ohhhh she'll look so cute in it!" We are getting fleeced.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Gift of Life

When I was expecting the Little One, there were some mornings when I would open the newspaper, only to see news of terror, intolerance, bureacracy, hypocrisy, perversion and pure stupidity. A sudden wave of fear would wash over me. What on earth am I doing, bringing a baby into this big, bad, polluted world? Why am I compelling another human being to live in this black hole?

A talk with my aunt revealed that she occasionally felt the same way when she had been expecting her son. In fact, I found that we were not alone in harbouring these thoughts. I even heard of a couple who decided not to have children because they didn't think that the world was good enough to bring a new person into.

But I am not that much of a pessimist. My optimism usually would return very quickly, and I would think - the earth is after all, a magnificent place. There are so many things to do, so many beautiful places to see, and so many wonderful things to.. err.. eat. Life is waiting to be Lived.

Yes,there have been moments of teenage frustration when I have shouted out loud, "I wish I had never been born!" But I must say that I am really thankful for the gift of life.

And it is this very same gift of life that we are giving another individual, someone I hope will make much better use of the gift than I have done so far.

I have nothing to fear. We just have to teach the Little One to enjoy the joys that Life has to offer, and at the same time, equip her to deal with the darker side.

We have work to do.
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