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Well, it has been more than 2 years since my last post here. Thanks to my ever busy daughter , I did not have a single second to myself, let alone blogging. She is in the happiest, exciting and wonderful phase of her life ( she is just 3 yrs old!) and seeing her grow up has given me and my husband so much happiness! So no regrets for the long absence here.
A surprise meeting of a good friend – a strong, independent woman triggered some of my happy memories. And I just had to blog about it!
This blog has many posts about my life at Ooty. And those who have read them will surely remember the beautiful little house where I lived . It was a chance meeting between the owner and my husband that led to us live in that house. The owner had her own construction business and she had been living in Ooty, for quite some years, with her teen daughter and a faithful dog, Steffy.
She took up residence on the first floor and we had the ground floor. Owing to her daughter’s studies in Coimbatore, she used to visit Ooty during the weekends. She was a strong-willed, independent and a bold woman. She was such a help to us in many ways and her advice helped us a lot during our stay in Ooty. There were some flaws in her too but then I always saw the better side of a person.
Before she could rent a place in Coimbatore that allowed dogs , she had no other choice but to leave Steffy with us. What happiness it was having that beautiful girl at home! Steffy was an ideal dog. I had my own dog at that time – Shaggy – a wild fella. Steffy and Shaggy got along well but as Steffy was the senior, Shaggy had to be disciplined most of the times. Steffy was a senior ( almost 12 yrs) and Shaggy was a totally unruly kid ( 6 months). Steffy moved silently and gently through the house while Shaggy was like a runaway wheel.Despite the age gap, the two cuddled up together, shared their food and got along well. I had always dreamed of having dogs running in my house and that dream had become real. However, my landlady got a house in Coimbatore and soon Steffy moved down with her.
I missed ‘Steffy-girl’, her welcome home licks. But there was Shaggy to make up for all that. He drowned me with his love. Life was going good when fate intervened. The husband had to move to Coimbatore for a job transfer. We had to move out of ‘ my dear little home’! A good friend agreed to take in Shaggy as we could not bring him down to Coimbatore. That was the end of one happy phase of my life.
We moved down to Coimbatore in May 2012 and soon got busy with each other’s work. Home – office -home- office – that was the monotonous routine. But then we had another wonderful celebration to look forward to, yes I was expecting! Our little princess came to us on July 2013 and from then on life became been super-duper interesting.
Coming to the present – September 2016 :
I was taking my daughter to the play area in our apartment for her regular evening playtime and guess who I met there? My Landlady of the pretty little house! Whatte a surprise!
Although we got along well with her during our stay in Ooty, the relationship became strained over time. ( I have no idea why this happened!) The last day in that house was bitter and the last conversation hurt. That was the last time I saw or spoke to her.
I was totally at a loss of words when I saw her and her daughter after all these years. I was not even sure if she would recognise and talk to me. But I made the first move and spoke to her. It was a very formal talk and it lasted not more than 5 minutes. In that small conversation, I managed to find out that Steffy girl was doing well! But I was flooded with memroies of the ‘ beautiful house’. I am always thankful, grateful to my landlady – the strong, bold woman for being the reason for those happy memories. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and this sudden surprise meet after so many years may not be just to trigger my memories.Who knows?
Women – From Homemakers to Changemakers
Present generation Indian women are brought up with ‘Study-work-marry-family’ mindset. Right from their childhood, they learn about the important role that they play in a family, from their mothers and women of their family. They are taught to manage their career –family lifestyle; but are never taught as to their important role in shaping the society.
Sarojini Naidu once said that every woman has a duty to perform, apart from her family & job, which is that of serving the society. It need not necessarily be an action that will make the headlines; it can even be a small deed – educating people, creating awareness about social evils, planting trees, caring for the abandoned etc, which will make an impact on the lives of the others in the society. This was said many decades ago, but sadly, even today we do not see many women working for social causes. Movies do come up with women- centric theme that showcases the heroine fighting all odds to stand up for the injustice in her society. But when it comes to reality there are only a very few women social activists in India. When it comes to politics, the number of women can be easily counted. Why is this trend in our country? Are our women incapable?
Typical Indian Girl
When a girl child is born, the entire family begins to plan her future. They dress her up in pretty frocks, get her stylish accessories in gold, diamond and whatnot, get elegant dolls and kitchen sets. Right from day one the baby girl is exposed to every ‘typical-girl- things’. She learns music, art, dance, cooking, baking,oregami and all that is classified as ‘soft’ and ‘just for a girl’ activities. There are parents who train their girls in sports, martial arts but then they are just a minority. Rest of the girls are condemned to school books and soft activities. Once the girl enters her teenage, her world changes – it is all about fashion, dressing up, music, partying and Facebook. Our society has defined and restricted a girl’s life to just these elements and the girls are just fine with it.
Current generation girls are highly talented, can multi-task and can be revolutionary if the situation arises. They no longer want to be ensnared in a cage. They want to explore every field and excel men in almost every sphere. However, this is a changing trend only in the higher strata of our society. . And this minimal change will in no way help to improve the lives of other women in India. They need to think beyond New Year parties, birthday parties, kitty parties. They have so much of talent, ability and power that could be put to much better use. They need to shift their focus from being just beautiful damsels who spend a majority of their time in dressing up, shopping, TV and Facebook .
Change in the grassroots level
Women, especially, homemakers are well capable of coming up with solutions for the most common, day-to-day problems, in a quicker way. This is because they are the ones who come face-to-face with them. This does not mean that they have to become civil servants or contest the elections. Women need to get-together to handle the social issues that are happening at their doorstep.
Here are some ways by which every woman can contribute to the society, right from their homes. This is how I am trying to bring about a change in my society.
- The women-folk of a colony can come together and organise waste management, increase the green cover and ambience of their colony. All they need to invest is a bit of their time for all other resources are available at their homes – water for trees, waste bins for waste management etc.
- The educated women can teach the less-privileged children and illiterate women in their locality for free – Education is the basic solution for almost every social issue. Apart from spending time learning to weave, sew, bake etc , home makers can spend their leisure hours after their daily chores in learning about the laws of their country, the rights that they are entitled to as citizens . This will help them stand up against any injustice meted out to them.
- They can do this at the comfort of their homes without compromising their family, children. They can take turns to represent their colony’s demands to the local corporation and get facilities for their colony.
If every street, colony has this kind of a contribution from its women-folk, it will be very easy for the Government bodies to function. For all that they have to do is co-ordinate with the women team of every colony to effectively implement the government policies. We have a lot of self-help groups that have helped women to become financially independent. But here again, it is through their culinary and craft skills that they make money. They need to think beyond that.
Women as change makers
Women in the middle and lower strata of the society are bound by superstitions and traditional customs. Their family and their children are top priority and they devote their entire life towards the family’s happiness. That is what their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers have done, so they are doing the same. There is absolutely no wrong in this mindset but then they need to think a little bit about their society, their country too.
Home makers need to come out of this shell and turn as change-makers of their own society. They need to understand their vital role in bringing about a change. This needs a lot of support from the men-folk of the family also. Just as Sridevi’s husband jokes -“ Sashi was born to make ladoos”- in the movie English Vinglish, majority of men opine that women are born only to cook and keep family. This mindset is a major deterrent to those women who struggle to juggle their lives between family and society.
Mothers are the best example for children – A hard-working mother who stands up for her own family and the society will serve as an inspiration for the child. Here is how a mother can go about it.
- Set an example to your kid. Let them see you being actively involved in transforming the society for betterment. Practice and then preach.
- Talk to your children – both girl and boy about politics, history of our country and the great leaders who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Tell them stories about our freedom struggle and of our brave kings and queens, inculcate a strong sense of patriotism right from their childhood. This is what my parents did to me and my sister and I am sure we will carry it on to our successive generations. When we are facing brain drain with most of our talented youth benefitting other countries, it is the mother who can put an end to this trend.
- Teach them about our Constitution, the current political trends. Allow them to voice their views on politics. Encourage them to discuss and debate on social issues at home with other family members. Being able to interact with kids due to my role as a part-time teacher, I make sure that they learn some amount of interesting facts about our Country’s history and politics. Narrating anecdotes, short stories related to our freedom fighters helps them to develop interest in a subject that had been deemed to be otherwise boring.
- Discourage family members from discriminating between a girl and boy’s bringing up. If a girl is interested in world affairs and politics, encourage her. She has just the same rights, capabilities and talents as that of her brother.
No point in complaining or lamenting about the evils and injustices meted out to women. We need to be the change that they wish to see in this world. This change in the mindset of Indian women, right from the grassroots level will propel India to greater heights.
Thanks to my parents, books were part of my life from a very young age. For every birthday, every good performance in school exams and for every holidays, my parents gifted me books. This was how I began to read Enid Blyton. I was so thrilled to read about the hiking,cycling ,trekking that the famous five undertook often; longed for the picnic lunches and exciting adventures! My mother used to pack picnic lunches and join me and my friends in the garden. That was the only part of the famous five life that could be imitated!
I continued to dream of hiking along bubbling streams, camping out in tents and cuddling down in warm sleeping bags…Yes, the world of imagination was a fantasy land and I loved and lived (still love and live there! ) there very often. Dreams such as these never come true – that is what I thought!
We used to trek small hills and hillocks near Coimbatore with one of our mountaineer friend. These trips gave us an insight of how a real, proper trek would be. However, my dream was all set to become real when my mother planned to take us on a trek to the mighty Himalayas! Himalayas – the Abode of snow – I was always fascinated by this young yet towering fold mountain range. I would always attempt this question – Write about the ranges of Himalayas in my Geography exam. Now, I was actually going to trek up this mighty mountain! Yes, I was in the seventh heaven of delight as our team of trekkers packed and planned for the trip.
Day one :
September 28,2009 was the D-day! Our rucksacks were all packed and bulging with thick woollen clothes and my excitement level was soaring . Our team of trekkers included our mountaineer friend and 3 of his friends,my mother, sister and myself and 5 other children. We took an evening flight to Delhi and halted at the airport for the night, as we had to catch an early morning flight to Kulu. We made friends with a woman from Israel at the waiting lounge and the night was well spent by exchanging hordes of interesting facts about the cultures of both the countries.
The next day dawned bright and clear. We were all eagerly awaiting to fly to Kulu. The plane resembled a toy plane and it had only limited seats. The plane zoomed casually between the towering mountains and I could hear my heart skip a beat every time the plane came closer to a hill-side. Finally we landed at a tiny airstrip – Kulu Airport. Phew! From there we took a local bus to Manali; refreshed at our hotel . Now we were all set to start on our trek.
Want to read more about my trek to Beaskund ?? Watch out for my upcoming posts!
I always ponder. It gives me great pleasure, relief and great sorrow at times. All of a sudden I get the weird feeling that I am living a life that is totally not mine. Yet another time, I am surprised that I can feel quite contented and happy with the life. Why is there such a wavering of mind? I would not call this a wavering of mind. It is merely a sign of the pitiable state of my life. This is happening in almost everybody’s life, many are aware about this and do something to change it.Yet the majority of people fall into the ‘What-to-do-its-my-fate’ category!
I was always in the second group, yes, always felt helpless, when I could have changed the way my life was. But I am in the process of refining myself ( I will come to that in a another post). I am going to do anything that I can to live ‘My life’. And here comes in, my ‘travelmania’. I had always loved to explore, right since I was a little girl. I loved to go to the market with my father; to the temple with my grandparents; to the bookstore and zoo with my mother…..there is so much to add to this. Yes I always loved to be out-doors! I have visited so many places till now and they are the main reasons for adding spice to my life.
I am rejuvenated, refreshed and happy when I return from a trip. This helps me handle all the stress of balancing work and family. I try to make use of every single weekend or holiday to go out on trips. I can proudly say that I am living ‘ My Life!’ now. It makes more sense now!
Keep checking out the blog for my travel stories!