Archive for April, 2008
Wow! Looks like the magic word is “Parenting”. No sooner than I put up my previous post, my ignored blog suddenly transfomed into quite a social thing! I got people looking for all kinds of search string like “Parenting kids” and other variations on the same theme(Further proof for my theory that parents take their “parenting” way too seriously and are constantly looking for an instruction manual for their DIY project). I think I will make “Parenting” my dhristi bottu ( black mark for removing evil eye ) and mention it in all my posts, much like the student who writes “Om” on every answer sheet hoping for some divine intervention in exams. What an effective way to con people into reading all the muddle going on in your head!
And now, the topic of discussion for today: Men , household work and beyond
Now, the K is pretty helpful around the house. He puts in his share of work, and sometimes, may I dare say it, it exceeds my quota. And he does this without me nagging him about it because he realises that it is his home too. But for some reason, I am not able to advertise this aspect of K with joy and abandon to everyone I know because:
1. They will never believe men can do their share of domestic work willingly
2. I will become the evil controlling bossy wife
3. There is a possibility of a snigger here and there
Heck, even my mom keeps saying “Don’t make him do too much ok?”. I thought she was on my side!
In everyone’s head, K is supposed to hate his share of domestic work ( except probably when it comes to some fixing around the house ) because he is a man. Just like I am supposed to prevent him from watching sports and make him watch chick flicks ( OK…I sometimes do that…but we have a balance…I now even know some names of NBA teams…like Golden State Warriors..see? ) and he is supposed to better enjoy manly time with grotesque people over spending time with his wife. One recent visitor we had mentioned all of the above and kept asking K questions like “She makes you do house work aaaa?? ” and “She allows you to watch games aaaaa? “. He was even more surprised to learn that K can cook and actually does not mind doing it now and then. He even challenged him to make a dosa! Thankfully the visitor left before I lost it and smacked him silly with my dosa pan. All this while, the visitor’s wife alternated between periods of silence and asking me where I got my dosa pan.
Who says gender stereotying is gone? It is right there, covered by a thin layer of supposed modern civility. It is there everytime I have to avoid telling some people that K helps around the house. It is there when people take it for granted that I cannot possibly be interested in sports, and it is certainly going to stay for some time if K has to actually prove that he can cook to our guests.
Kid misbehaves in school
Old Parenting: Whack! *kid learns lesson and behaves*
New Parenting: The kid is psycologically evaluated, counselled and then diagnosed with ADD or any other acronymed disorder. They give the kid “special” status. * Kid still misbehaves and gets away with it*
Kid does not want to eat what is put out on the table
Old Parenting: Kid is asked to skip the meal if it is not to their tastes. After the stomach grumbles for a couple of hours and all the ego is deflated, kid sneaks into kitchen and eats the food. *kid grows up and develops a healthy appetite for all kinds of food*
New Parenting: Parent ensures that only what the kid likes is put on the tables and goes a step further to make sure their kid friendly menu is available when they are invited to other people’s houses *kid becomes room mate’s worst nightmare in college*
Kid is bored
Old Parenting: Kid is asked to go out and make friends to play, or play by themseles *kid has wonderful memories later of idilyc summer vacations*
New Parenting: Kid is enrolled in 30 different talent classes and constantly shuttled from one to another * Kid ends up with no real talent. Only memories are of the minivan in which so much time was spent shuttling*
Kid wants to learn how to ride a bicycle
Old Parenting: Dad gave the kid and the bicycle a couple of shoves, and after a few falls and scrapes, the art is mastered
New Parenting: Parents buy helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, reflective clothing, trainer wheels,blah blah…so that their bundle of joy can learn how to cycle on a grass lawn in their backyard. Between frantic screams from the parents whenever the kid so much as to pushes a pedal and the general fear of something new that the kid has ( which is over amplified with parental screams), the cycle shall remain used in the garage for a looooong time
Kid has to start school
Old Parenting: Kid is taken to the nearest decent school and enrolled. Kid spends time coloring apples within the lines and looking out of the window
New Parenting: Wall street journal articles are consulted for school rankings. Peer pressure for costly private school starts mounting. After putting a 3 year old through ridiculous assessment tests, the kid is parcelled off to a school that will consume all of the parents’ savings and the kid’s college fund. The kid starts school and spends days coloring apples within the lines and looking out of the window.
I am tired of seeing the above mentioned scenarios repeat again and again. I think we are a generation of over thinkers. Since we are pretty much jobless and do not have any thing else to occupy our minds and save us from our mundane existance, our kids become our hobby and later our obsession. Right from reading all the correct books during pregnancy to taking your infant to sign language classes ( so that the infant can learn to communicate better….seriously…I know someone who did this ), we start looking at our kids like some DIY projects. And then we point at all the sane parents who are not paranoid about their kids and make them feel inadequate. Recently an acquaintance was deciding over which school to send his kid to and then came across a wall street journal article that said that school XYZ gives the kids better prospects at getting into Harvard. And thats what convinced him to decide on the school. What if his kid does not want to go to Harvard? Then what? Another said that they will send their kid to the costly private school every desi in the bay area is sending their kids to…afterall the herd cant be wrong….right?
I am not a parent. But I know in the future I shall be. So hopefully, when I am going bonkers, I will come back and read this and become a little saner.
Four months from now, I am going to be in Bengalooru savoring masal doses from Vidyarthi Bhavan. And already, my mom has started “reminding” me to wear my mangal sutra when I am there. Now, my mom does not attach any specific significance to me not wearing this hideous holy sign of matrimony, and neither does my FIL. But that is in the US of A, in India a new rule called “What will others say” needs to be followed (while it is perfectly plausible that the “others” might be thinking of the same thing instead of searching for the missing link on my neck). And ofcourse, being an NRI means that every time I land in the country, I have to prove to everyone that I am still “Indian” and not under the influence of the evil Western culture before I can be served some heserbele paysa.
Honestly, I think this whole mangalsutra thing was a joke that got out of hand. Otherwise, why would everyone WANT to wear a piece of jewelry that resembles parts of the female mammary anatomy right down to the “headlights”?I can imagine how it started years ago…
Once upon a time, there was a naaghty naaghty jewelry maker. When he was supposed to be making jewels for the bride that symbolized marriage, he was indulging in some antics with the neighborhood friendly Shakeela. And in a state of drunken frenzy, he vowed to make her a set of jewels exclusively crafted in her honor (and guess whose gold was lying around?). And there you had it. In the morning, when he stared at his “creation”, he knew he was in deep s**t. And he rushed to his friend, the priest to consult on the best course of action. The priest told him the only option was to pass it off as a holy sign of something, but was not sure if it will work with the “things” hanging together so blatantly. So they devised a plan where they would give one part to the bride’s family and the other to the groom’s family. It was told to symbolize union of souls or any other senti thing that would immediately send the bride’s family bawling with overflowing emotions. And so it happened. The deed was done, the “things” were worshipped and attained next to godly status that would be further strengthened with various movies like “mangalyada shakthi” and “taaliya sowbhagya”. I think the poor brides had a sneaking suspision, but they were just too confused and scared to share their views with anyone, especially when the afforementioned jewelry was assigned godly status.
And now, while I have to lug this monstrocity on my neck, The K gets to roam around scot free, without his janwara or the sacred thread ( which is very conviniently excused, and my mom always has a spare in case he has to go topless at some temple). This is so not fair!
What I choose as a symbol of my marriage is a personal choice. And it may or may not be on display for everyone to see. It may not even be a thing that I wear or something material. I can choose to celebrate my marriage in so many other ways. And if America has changed me, it is only because I let it.
The other day, me and K were sitting around jobless and decided to cruise the communities on orkut that linked to our schools and colleges. And then, we hit pay dirt! Another jobless person had started a discussion thread on all the funny things our teachers said, and that was enough to start us off. Here are a few gems we remembers and laughed our ass off.
K’s teacher talking about another teacher in the school
“He is mentally backward, dentally forward and physically awkward…” ( yeah one of those smart ass kinds )
My chemistry prof during our lab time ( titrations to be specific. Background: After we found the initial volume of pink liquid to be poured, we cheated and stopped just before we hit the mark the second time, and then dispensed smaller amounts. Time saving tactic)
“Dont ppppoooooouuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrr! Pour, pour, pour, pour….”
The same chemistry prof, warning us to be quiet
“Shhhh……everybody be quiet..principal is REVOLVING in the corridor” ( still give me images of planetary motions with our dear principal tied to an orbit and being unwillingly dragged on )
Again, the same chemistry professor ( yeah…u can guess her competence in English by now)
“You….come to the blackboard and remove everything!” ( apparently, she wanted someone to clean the black board )
Our Data structures prof at college
“There will be no class for my class on friday class for this class tomorrow” ( Read: I will not be taking the class tomorrow.. Phew! )
Data structures prof again
“Cluelesschick! first be woman, then man! ” ( OK, I dont get what this meant to this day…but I was definitely sitting with a bunch of guys in the last bench. Any interpretations? )
Once again, our Data structures Prof
“Clueless, get out of my class ( yeah I was a very “outstanding” student 😉 )….no wait, that is not punishment for you….stay in my class..that is punishment! ” ( Well, what can I say, I completely agree! )
Yet another Prof..
” This is VIRGINAL….you know…VIRGINAL solution…” ( I think he meant to say “Original” )
Yet another Prof
“Everybody stand up and give standing OVIATION” (You want all of us to chum?? Even the guys??)
Most famous quote
“Open the windows, let the airforce come in!”
You have by now noticed that K had only one substantial quote to contribute. That is because he was really the most “outstanding” student ever! I mean, you have to atleast be inside a class to actually hear to what is Professor is saying to right? And for me, I am actually quite suprised that I can type in English without having to many red and green squigglies..considering what I have been subjected to.