Sunday, February 28, 2010

And The Naughtier He Gets

This week if anything, is defined by the BB's naughtiness, and his sudden upswing in mischief and pranks. I now suddenly have a store full of tales to tell about all the mischief he does.

On Monday, my little brat, yes that is exactly what he has become now, managed to burn his hand. Yes he did. He put on the iron, and touched the hot front plate. No the burn was not severe, but it happened. At 3+, I thought I can start keeping things the way they are meant to be, in my home, but apparently I am very very mistaken, and the iron has been stowed away, only to be taken out when needed. Each time I saw the blisters on his hand(because I kept his hand dipped in iced water for better part of that day), my heart broke. Because, at the end of the day its my responsibility and I slipped. Also hoping he has learnt his lesson. The poor boy, could not enjoy much at the park for a couple of days, because he could not grip things tightly, and I just could not help kicking myself about it.

Tuesday, I am working in the kitchen, and I suddenly hear distressed cries. I run upstairs at top speed, and I think I reach there just in time. The BB had pulled out all the drawers from the chest that holds his clothes, and it had tilted over towards him due to the shift in the balance of the weight. I cannot tell you, how fortunate I feel that the thing did not topple over on him. Thinking of the sight is causing me to break into a cold sweat this very minute. Little kids are so difficult to manage, and keep safe indeed.

I am on my toes more than ever before now. And have averted any great mis-adventure for the rest of the week. But I do see a general and sudden rise in his physical prowess and a knack to get into trouble. To prove my point, I am leaving you with photo from my living room, just after lunch .......

..... unfortunately, I did not get the best shot, since he was actually standing hands-free. Tell me what is a mother of a super active pre-schooler to do???

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Parents Club Privileges

I think motherhood/parenthood, with all its added responsibilities and toughness, brings with it some perks, that can be had no other way. Here are some of the benefits I thoroughly enjoy.

Getting the spouse to stop doing something, I have always wanted to, but never could. Now the BB is my excuse, to make him not do it, like road rage induced swearing.

I have an excuse to get out of any engagement I don't wish to commit to, or not make it to, without hurting the feelings of the others involved. And its always a better way than the fake headache excuse.

I can sit on the kiddy swing in the park, without looking like a loony. I am with my son after all.

Guilt-free shopping. Oh! The joy of it. Buying things for the child is always free of guilt, no matter how luxuriant or expensive the object. After all its the simple parenting emotion that retailers exploit to the best of their abilities, marking up prices for anything baby-related, nothing but the best for my baby.

Motherhood is a super duper excuse for all the excess flab around the waist, no matter how many years into motherhood I am, and of course it does not matter, that I have had it long long before I even contemplated motherhood. I love that men/ fathers don't get this one.

Perfect excuse to blackmail the parents and in-laws. One mention of the precious little grandchild, and they are ready to forgive bloody murder.

Perfect reason to avoid people, I never liked, but had no official reason to keep away from. Now, its a simple bad influence for my baby logic, that is stronger than any other reason.

Aah! And if anyone catches you in bed late in the morning, always play the 'he was up till so late last night' card, and no one can have a negative opinion.

On a more serious note though, it is a great catalyst to trying to become a better person, when you know someone is using you as a complete role model for everything. And one had better start minding their language, when they realise the first vocal expression the child has picked up, is, 'Oh! Shit.'

All the other parents out there, tell me, what do you think are the great perks of being parents, you enjoy. And those who aren't parents, tell me, do you envy any of these benefits or do you hate the parents using these?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boundaries, Of The Non-Cricketing Kinds.

'How much is too much', is something I have always wondered about in relation to my blogging. How much can I write, what can I write, are there any boundaries, are there things that should be kept away? These questions keep popping up in my mind time and again. I read all kinds of blogs, once that talk about everything personal, and some that speak about almost nothing personal, and then some, which seem to play hide and seek about the personal bits. Of all the blogs I have read, I don't think any chronicles, every move or thought of the blogger. And yet some blogs talk a bit more than other

So what are the taboo topics? I don't really know. I know what I write, I write with honesty, but what I don't feel comfortable about, I just keep it away. The blog has its therapeutic value to me, and yet, more often than not I don't spill, when I really need to get something off my chest. I did it once recently, but I think I made the post too cryptic for anyone to get the real picture, from that post. That was possibly my way of drawing the line.

There are some blogs which talk in depth about the life of bloggers, so much in fact that when I read them, I know for sure I could never be so open on my own blog. Not because I don't want to write about it, but because I fear that I would be read by someone, I don't really want should know so much about me. Somethings that come straight from the heart, can be shared with people who have no practical/real-life connections with me, but the ones who do, they may just use it in ways, that will hurt the exact place from where the post came. And hence I always try to keep my real life separate from the blogging one, not absolutely and completely possible, but I don't go around advertising my blog to people I know either. In fact besides the GP, I have not really mentioned to anyone in particular that I blog.

While there can be no absolute rights or wrongs about what one says in their blog, nor are there any rules about what is permissible or not in blogging, everyone ends up setting their own boundaries I guess. While one bloggers may openly talk about certain aspects of their lives, others may never touch upon it, and yet both may claim to have personal blogs. So what is it that stops us from writing about somethings? Have you ever had the urge to write about something, but then refrained yourself from doing it? I know I have, not once or twice, but many times. I have sat down to write something and then have not. Infact recently I have written a whole post, not just a draft, but an entire post, even spell checked it and everything, put in the links, but am not publishing it, because I don't feel comfortable doing it. The reasons for not writing or publishing posts have varied, sometimes, it just a rant, which felt stupid to let out once I had actually written the post, at others, something too personal, and at yet other times, I have felt constricted, just because I never know who may come across and read the post, which I maybe comfortable sharing with friends, but not everyone else.

Some people say its best not to wash dirty linen in public, or that somethings should remain personal and stuff, which is very prudent and sensible. And possibly the way to go. Just as an example, I keep wondering, how come none of the married Indian women I read, never say a negative word about their in-laws. I have seen loads of bitching happening on chats, but nothing ever spills onto the blogs. I would like to believe, no one would like to publicly berate something that is dear to their spouse, and additionally I admire the resolve not to get petty, and keep their blog a space free of rants. And this is just one example of how we draw our boundaries, there are a million other things.

Each blogger has a different set of rules set for them. And thus while many may seem very very open, there are certain aspects of their personal lives which simply never, ever get portrayed on the blog. And in many ways the boundaries that we set on our blog, defines a bit about who we are as people too. As a blogger, I am sure you have yours too, so what are your boundaries? Have you ever written posts that were never published, or do you know just what you will never put on your blog, and so never bother to write that stuff? Where do you draw the line?

On a separate, but blog related note, I want express my admiration for two mommy-bloggers, who have recently blogged about issues they are having with their children. Instances of impolite/rowdy behaviour, very typical and to be expected at their kids' age. Ladies, you know its you, and though I have not said it on your blog, let me say it here, I really appreciate you for writing that and putting it up on your blog. Firstly because its not easy to say one bad word about your own child, and openly to the whole world at that, additionally to express points in your mothering graph where you accept defeat or helplessness. And most importantly, the reason I completely admire those posts is, that for every other mother, who will definitely be in a similair spot some day or the other, those posts will give hope, and let them know they are not alone. Those are tough spots, and open acknowledgment is rare, I just want to say, its really wonderful of you to have put those posts up.

Somethings On My Mind

1. Time is flying have to get the breakfast ready, and wake up the BB.

2. Its getting really cold here, how will I manage when the real winters hit? Its nearly 9 and the temperature is just 11 degress. Brrrrrr...

3. I want to go shopping, with someone else's credit card.

4. Why am I not finding the sideboard I want ??

5.Have a lot of cooking to do today.

6. The BB starts off with his art factory sessions today. Should be fun.

7. I have to do three more posts, if I want to go without a break this month. Give me ideas please!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Infidelity Or Just Upsetting?

A recent post by Bones, talk about pedophiles, the ones who have the urge to engage in sexual encounters with minors, but do not act upon it. The post talks about,what are the ways of dealing with such people, and what action the society/authorities should take towards it. After reading the post, my mind went on a tangent, and thought of partners who are mentally infidel.

How would I react, if I knew my partner is fantasising about someone else? I am not even talking about a non-sexual affair here, but just pure mental desires or fantasies. Is it acceptable? Is it right? Is it wrong? What if I dreamed of another man in a very physically intimate way, am I cheating on my partner then? I remember a time, when the Internet was new to the world, there was a lot of controversy about whether sexual relationships over the Internet, could infact be construed as cheating on a spouse. So what about fantasising?

I remember reading a long long time ago, in an agony aunt column about a man, who said he thought of his favourite movie star while making love to his wife, and was confused about whether it was the right thing to do, and whether he could in fact tell his wife. How would anyone react to being told, that they are being pictured as someone else, by their partner? Not nicely, I am guessing, but I don't really know. But can that be labelled as infidelity, is it being infidel, just to think about someone else, or even privately fantasise about them? And then is it OK to fantasise about a celebrity, but maybe not about an ex-partner or crush? This just gets so confusing.

While I am sure pretty much no one would be amused to know their partner is mentally fantasising about someone else, unless they themselves are doing the same or worse, and knowing about their partner will just make them feel a little less guilty, but would they count it as infidelity? I have been thinking about it a while, and I know I would be mighty unhappy about it, but not sure if I would count on it as cheating. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kill-Joy Birds.

OK, so I don't have a green thumb, and I know it. That is the reason I had handed over the watering-the-plants responsibility to the GP in Dubai, where I was really attempting to grow some potted plants. I was amazed at how well they had grown with him watering them for 10-15 days while I was visiting India. The difference in the way the plants had reacted was obvious to me, and the responsibility was promptly handed over to the one, the plants loved more. After a while of that, we are now in a new land, and here I have a garden, a reasonably decently sized backyard, and lots of time at hand.

The garden has all kinds of plants in place, quite messed up, and I am a bit hesitant to actually walk in and clean it all up, esp, with the random spiders and insects I have seen. I have so far restricted my duty to the bi-weekly watering with the hose up front. In the backyard though, I have a lot of empty pots, and the desires for a kitchen garden have been on the rise, since some ingredients very essential to my cooking, are just so expensive here. And hence I decided to test my skills with coriander/cilantro. Mailed up friends, took tips, and set to work, if you can call it that. Just layered one of the pots with some manure, dropped some seeds into it, and watered it daily. After about 10 days, the seeds sprouted and I could see tiny green leaves making their way up. The brain was filled with thoughts of green chicken, and more within the next fortnight. What was I to know, what is to come.

A few days back, the old house on the plot adjoining my backyard was demolished. Followed, by completely uprooting about 6 huge trees which had resided there. Now there lies a flat piece of open land. The birds which had been living in those trees were suddenly finding themselves homeless, and I see them at all hours of the day, sitting on that land and pecking. I know not what, though. Yesterday I went to water my new saplings-of-joy, after coming back from the BB's playgroup, and what do I see? There are none. I am sure there were atleast 8-10 of them, and now there were none. This is just so not fair. My first attempt ever at growing something edible, and this is what happens. Maybe its a sign from God telling me not to interfere in the cycle of nature, with my bound to be doomed attempts. I was hoping to click photos, and put then up on the blog when they are a little bigger, and none of that is going to happen now.

So for now, I am quite dejected. All plans related to any gardening like activities have been shelved. This is so not done, why did those dastardly birds have to peck away my very first attempts. I am so so so never going to forgive them. I hate you, you bad bad birds. And all kinds of sympathies, hugs, and affection from everyone is most welcome at this point in time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tips For Better Health

Weight is something the entire world today is obsessed about, every woman wants to be a stick thin insect, and every man wants to have a body rippling with muscles. People pick their own ways to get there, and some don't pick a way at all, just keep wanting it, but don't do anything to proactively achieve that. I belonged to the latter category pretty much all my life. I belong to a family, which completely lives to eat, and when I say eat, I am referring to food that has our mouth watering, but the body would be a lot better off, starving instead. Food also was my comfort zone all my life, it was the one thing that made me happy, or feel comforted, or just generally at ease. Pretty much everything in my life was forever related to food, be it celebrations or anxiety, or distress, my answer to everything in life was, and to a certain extent, still is, food. I ate, when I had nothing to do, and I ate junk.

I love physical activity, but the lifestyle did not always permit exclusive time for that. Setting aside time exclusively for exercising is not so much my thing, as is playing or running or cycling, things which have me outdoors, and breathing in fresh air. Last year when I began my quest for a fitter, healthier me, and also one, that could fit into clothes available in the market, a lot of things had to change, most importantly my attitude and mindset. I realise that, now, having come through almost a year since I started. I know a lot of people out there are working hard and desperately wanting a body to die for, mostly inspired by all that we see around us defined as beauty. Since coming to Melbourne, I am amazed to see new moms, flaunting modeling worthy waif like figures, and these are regular women I am talking about. In fact the other day, while walking down, I saw this gorgeous woman walking towards me on the side walk. She was a looker alright, with a really nice figure. After a while she turned to get into her car, and it was then that I saw her profile, and realised she was heavily pregnant. I was amazed at how these women manage to have pregnancies like Angelina Jolie, basically meaning, that there is only a baby bump and not a single ounce of weight added anywhere else on their body. Maybe its the genes, maybe its the lifestyle. But not everyone is that lucky, and a lot, or rather most Indian women do put on weight during pregnancy, and many don't have it just melting off their bodies, like the books say it would. For me nothing but sheer hard work worked.

Having reached halfway to where I need to be, I thought of sharing some tips, which have worked for me, and which I hope can aid, someone out there who needs to find a start.

  • Diet and exercise and the corner-stones of health and fitness, anything else is a sham, and is likely to cause more harm to your body than help it.
  • The goal should be to get fitter, healthier NOT just to lose weight or have specific measurements. THINK HEALTH, not weight, and you will get more than what you want.
  • Only dieting or just exercising will not get you the that a combination of both would, and both are equally important when looking at health improvements. A strenuous workout followed by a bucket full of KFC will not end up giving you anything.
  • Start small. Don't try a 2 hour workout routine on the first day, start by a simple 20-30 mins walk daily. Keep the walk focused on exercising your body, try and make it brisk, don't stroll. If you have not been actively exercising your body, warm it up, to get into a state where it can handle strenuous workouts, if you jump into something big, the chances of hurting stiff muscles or burning out is very high.
  • Eat well, no need to starve, just eat healthy food, don't need a complete diet revamp, but think healthier. We all know the basic rules, like less fat, more vegetables, more raw foods. Keep that in mind while cooking or eating each meal. Pick the brown/wholegrain bread, reduce the oil you use to cook, mix up your grains, don't eat late at night, add fresh juices n salads to your meals. Its not easy to completely change your food-habits overnight, instead gradually introduce the healthier foods, and balance the quantity intake, of whats not quite that healthy and the only healthy way to eat is to balance. A certain amount fat is as needed by the body as are fresh fruits.
  • Drink atleast 2-3 litres of water each day to get rid of all the toxins in your body.
  • When eating, always think of the nutrition the food is giving your body. Even if it is chocolate, think of the cocoa in it, and how great it is for your body.
  • Avoid processed food, no matter how low in fat it claims to be. Its not just about counting calories, its about eating things that make your body healthier and better, and enables it to be better at burning off calories. A low-fat pack of wafers is doing the body no good.
  • Sleep is very very important. Especially once you start working out, which means your body is getting stressed and strained, going through wear and tear. It needs some extra hours of rest to recoup itself. 8 hours is what is called a good night's sleep, for a reason, let your body get that. If it does not get enough rest, the body gets fatigued and tiered, and that just reverses all the effects of your efforts.
  • If you occasionally binge, or eat something, that makes you feel bad, don't let the feeling stay, walk it off. Just go for a walk, so that you burn off the calories, and get off the guilt. And if it is something that is unhealthy, balance it with a glass of fresh juice or a fruit or salad.
  • There is loads of information on the Internet, read up, it helps you understand things and make better choices. Just saying, avoid sugar is no good, unless you know why. So read up and find out what you need to do, and why. That will also help you find alternatives for what you do, and keep you more flexible and the entire change easier to adapt to.
  • Make exercising fun, not a chore, that will help you keep at it consistently. Pick up a sport, if gyms bore you, go to the gym for a change of pace sometimes, and also to find people to motivate you. Do what you have fun doing, not something that you need to do. And that is the only way you will see it making a long term difference.
  • Whatever else you do, don't overwork or starve yourself, because it will hurt you more than help, develop your routine gradually, and by testing your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can make it a lifestyle change, rather than a short-term activity to attain a certain dimension or weight.
Every body, and every person is different, and so no one can help you, better than yourself. And there can be no generalisations. Find out what works for you, keeping the basic rules in mind, and then keep at it. Natural news is a site I have personally found very useful in helping me understand dietary requirements of the body and how to work on it. Hop over for a read if you like.

Personally I need to get back on top of my routine. Since I left Sharjah, I have been piling on the pounds, due to lack of exercise, and being nowhere close to the routine I had established. The diet has gone haywire too, with a lot of sweet chocolaty things making their way into my mouth. The stay in India could not have been without roadside Chinese, samosas and more. I think I ate up, upto 4 samosas at one go at times. Oh! I so crave those deep friend pieces of pure sin. And hence I am now paying the price of it all. I desperately need to get back into a healthy lifestyle again, and am working towards it, slipping off every other day, but trying alright. Hope these tips help you. And may I say I am no health/fitness/medical expert, and every bit in this post is based on my personal experience.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taking On Our Genes

The BB is tiered of seeing just the GP and me handling the cameras in this household. And he obviously sees up having fun with ours. The one time he laid his hands on a camera, it was made very clear to him, that he is not supposed to do that. So he has is own camera now, which he uses, when he sees either of us clicking photos, he always wants to be clicking, instead of being the one who poses. He of course is quite professional in his work, and replicates the exact sounds, of the lens focusing. Here are a couple of shots of the budding photographer in the family.

The sitting position, is because, I sit down to get to his eye level while clicking his portraits.

On another note, the BB recently had a haircut, a professional one that is, after the home-made disaster. since I have not even mentioned that one, the BB tried out cutting his own hair, at home. Unfortunately I caught him with the scissors, after a snip or two, by which time the damage was done. The scissors had been kept at a level unreachable to him, but he is a growing boy, and pretty much each day, attaining new heights, and hence he managed to find the scissors. Fortunately they were the tiny plastic ones. Coming back to the haircut, seeing what he had done, I tried to balance out the uneven-ness to the best oh my abilities. The GP came home, and did some more with his trimmer. And then we decided to let it grow a bit and get him a professional hair cut. So this time, we went to the GPs barber and got the BB a haircut from there. He sat patiently and quietly, got his hair cut and trimmed. And that was followed by the barber, spiking up his hair with gel. The BB looked smashing with the spikes in place. The GP did not allow the hair to be washed, or the spikes to be straightened out, all of that day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do You Lie?

A stupid question really, because technically, pretty much all of us do. Or do you claim to be the most honest person on the face of earth. Some of you may, because lack of a clear self image in people is just so common today, that it has stopped to even surprise me. Now the only thing it does, is fill me with a fear, that I may soon start over estimating myself.

No it is not humility I am talking about here, but plain and simple lack of plain sight. I see the most dishonest people, openly claim themselves to be extremely honest, adulterous men calling themselves virtuous, people who are perpetually bitching about others, claiming to never say a bad word about anybody, and not only are these statements the casually make, but things that they truly believe about themselves. And that scares me. How false a self image can people nurture. I see it in so many people these days, that I don't know whether that is the normal way to be.

One may argue that such people were not taught to distinguish between right and wrong, maybe no one taught them when they were children, but I just cannot believe that. These things are part of our conscience, don't we just know what is right and what is wrong. Not being taught? maybe not formally, but we all learn what is right and what is wrong as we grow up don't we? Maybe not. But the fact remains, how are people so blissfully unaware of their faults or wrongdoings?

There is no scope for change or improvement, if someone is completely blind to the fact that they do have some faults, what will you improve in the perfect? And that I believe is the reason, most people never care to change or get better. Forget about accepting a mistake, they are blind to their personality traits, like being a habitual liar or manipulator or even a fanatic for that matter. I remember interacting with a blogger long back, who claimed to be very mild tempered, but one look at the blog and you know it is just the exact opposite that is in fact reality. How, and I really wonder how do these people create such illusions about their own selves? How can one lie to the soul?

I am very aware of my drawbacks, my weaknesses, my wrongdoings. If I lie, I know I have done it, and it is not right, anger remains to be my biggest enemy, when I am upset with someone, I am super critical of them, and I am aware of these things. How can I not be, I do it, how can I not know it? I am neither special, nor great, not even close to nice, because I have way too many faults that need to be worked on, and if someone as average(or maybe below average) like me can know it, I just don't get how others don't. What could be the possible reasons I wondered. They may not know right from wrong (is that even possible??), they have the I am always correct syndrome(no hope for a change then), pretending to themselves, hoping that if they do it long enough, they will believe in it themselves (wow! what a wrong attitude towards change), and I cannot think of any other. Whatever the reason, I don't find any of the excuses plausible or even acceptable as a reason. It is a really sad person, who is not honest to himself. And I definitely hope I never take the turn to get to such a point. If nothing, being aware of my flaws, gives me some hope of improving on them.

What about you, are you aware of your flaws, or do you not believe you have any?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tales Of the Play-Group Kind

The BB is my first baby, and infact my first long and hands on experience with a baby and its care. I am an only child, so I never saw siblings being brought up, nor did an elder sibling have kids before me, for me to know how things go. My cousins live worlds apart, some I have not even seen in ages, so well, I basically have not seen children being brought up, never been closely associated with their care, till a few of my friends popped up children. So pretty much everything I did for or with the BB was a first timer for me.

Recently he joined a playgroup. Honestly, I did not even know what exactly that is, and what to expect.I have grown up in India, very middle class upbringing. I remember my first brush formal education was a pre-nursery thing, which lasted for about 2 days, and on the third, I just ran away from it and walked back home, at the ripe old age of two and half or three. End of story, then fast forward to four plus, and I joined a proper school. So all the pre-nursery, playschool kind of thing is quite alien to me. Things being different here, no unstructured playing, or hanging around with kids of the neighbourhood happening, I needed to find something for the BB to do, to start socialising. Especially since he has never done that, with us having being moving around all this time. So the playschool option came up, and I jumped on it, not knowing too well what to expect.

On enquiring, I was told, I just need to carry some drinks and snacks for the BB for the two hour session if I want to. So all happy and excited, off I went with a few biscuits and some water to conquer the world of playgroup with the BB. What do you think it was, exactly, what the name says, a PLAY GROUP. Mothers, come in with their children, there are toys and activity stuff around, and the children basically play around and have their fun. Wow! Was I surprised? You bet. I have lived all my life in India people, the place where such things happen in the society compound, or gali (lane), or for the fortunate few a park or ground. The tools available, are some stones, to play pitthu, or a chalk to draw the table for stapu(hopskotch), and occasionally some dilligently collected balls, bats and raquets for playing. This completly formal set up was new to me to say the least. (For all those who are thinking this, I am putting it out aloud, in writing here, I am a un-enlightened gawaar(villager).) I still find it hard to believe that parents need to sit around, and watch children play, just regular play. There is no teacher teaching, or instructor or carer, but just a bunch of mommies, with their bachha party, there for a couple of hours of playing in a week. And the mothers actually drive down with packed lunches, and drinks for their lil ones for this 'activity'. I am impressed by their dedication, and yet nonplussed by the concept. Isn't it simpler to just let the kids join hands at the local park each evening and play, run and have fun? But from what I hear, its more about organised, formal activities than simple play and run around here.

Is it fun? Oh yes! The kids painted, atleast the ones who felt like it. Some ran around with wheel barrows, or cars, and for most of the time, most of them sat in the sand pit, and played with beach toys, atleast that is what the BB did most of the time. The kids all did their own thing, I did not see any group playing, and I did not say anything either, because it was my first time, and I was getting a hang of the playgroup, as much as of things around the place. The mothers seemed to be having a gala time chatting up, and swapping tales. I enjoyed it quite a bit myself. Also my first time interacting at a personal level with the locals, and it sure helped me learn. They are a friendly inclusive bunch of people there, and asked me a few things, about where I come from, what I do, how many kids I have, and how many more I plan on. I was the only one with just one child there, the minimum limit seemed to be two and quite a few had three or more. I was literally at the bottom rung. So many had closely spaced babies, with age gaps of a year or even less, and I cannot help being amazed at how well they are managing, with activities and more, no househelp/cook/chauffer/nanny to aid either. It was fun to just talk to them, and hear them chatting. Everyone was eager to help out with finding activities for the BB to do, since I am new here. And its so good to see, that academics are not the only option, nor the only focus.

Two pieces of conversation have stayed on with me, and I am representing them here, just to record them for posterity. The first one, was my big blunder, when referring to, what I have now learned should be called as caucasians, if I wish to be politically correct. A lady asked me about life in Dubai, and what kind of people are there, and while trying to explain, I used the word whites/white skinned people, and I knew that very moment that I had made a blunder, but for the life of me, could not recollect or think of the right term to use. Came home and realised, I infact did not know what is the politically correct term to be used to refer to the white skinned people, I know about Afrian- Americans or Asians, but the whites, what does one call them? Twitter to rescue please, tweeted, and specially asked Soli for advice, since she seems to be quite the wise one, and 'caucasian', came the reply. The second one, did not register with me , at the time it occured, but resonated in my super slow mind, after I came home. One of the ladies, asked me where I was from, and when I said, "India", she exclaimed surprise that I could speak English well. Somehow in the din and fun of being around the sand pit, and ofcourse my pea sized brain, the comment did not register at that point. And I think it was good it did not, because I may have reacted unfavourably, which would not have been a nice way to go on the very first day. And then as the GP pointed out, it maybe surprise, because India is not an English speaking country as such, just as people would be surprised by a Spanish man speaking fluently in English. Trust him to always come up with positive ideas, and do away with any negative thoughts that may build up. I found the explanation plausible enough, and decided to let to rest me easily provoked mind, and give the lady the benefit of doubt, also I don't remember exactly which one of them it was! Also wondering why hostile thoughts occur to me, before nice, positive ones like the GP, I so envy him that.

Those were the highlights of our first day in the playgroup. The BB behaved himself, and did not trouble any child, nor was he troubled by any. He played on his own, just as did all the others. Hoping that associations and friendships will form over time. The BB actually went and patted, and laid down, beside a little girl who was sleeping for most of the session. I found that really sweet, but then I am his smitten-for-life mother remember! The only problem is, that the BB goes and grabs the arm of pretty much any child he sees, though fortunately he did not do that the entire session on Monday. While for kids his size or older, I have no fear, besides the parents not liking their child being grabbed by someone unknown, I am very worried when he does to younger kids, since he may hurt them, unknowingly. I keep repeating to him, not to touch other children each time, we go out, but I really don't know how to get him off the habit of grabbing the arm of other children completely. He likes kids, and approaches them as soon as he spots them, and for the life of me I cannot make him nonchalant about them, and in someways, I am not sure I want him to be that way either. For now, I am hung up on the arm-grabbing thing, and I need to find a way to get the BB to get over that.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Resisting Temptation

Completely inspired by Sraikh, I have been scouring the trading sites here, for some of the more fancy, non necessary things I need around the house. And on Saturday picked up three pretty bamboo, wicker baskets from a girl who sold them. Came home, got the baskets out, and found a pretty silver chain in it. I am not the lucky kinds, who finds such things, like money on the roads, so this was definitely a first. I mailed, the girl, and called her up too. She said, she could not recollect any such chain. I even sent her a photo to be sure, but she said it was not hers, and she did not want it. I did not want to keep it, since its not mine. And so off it went into the red cross bin. Mighty proud of myself, so this is just to show off, and get some pats on the back. Look at my temptation below.

Ok, I agree its a simple plain chain, but I am sure I could have worn it. And I took special effort, paid for the tram, went all the way to the store, to drop this chain, and I did not even buy anything from there. I can so, see a halo around my head right now, its shining and glowing you know!

The question however is, would I do the same if this were a diamond or even a gold necklace? Would I be able to be this moral? Not sure, not sure at all, and I specially thought of it after a chat with Sraikh, on Saturday right after I found the chain, she had a similair line of thought, and wrote about it, in her usual cool style of writing, hop over for a read.

PS - This post was ready on Saturday, but the chain had not been dropped at red cross. So I waited, till I did that, before posting. Yesterday afternoon, I visited the store, dropped the chain in, and hence am happily and honestly posting this today, as early as I can!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Valentine's Day Loot

Valentine's this year was the biggest and brightest for the youngest member of the goofy family. It was the BB's day all through the 14th. He was showered with an amazing number fo gifts and toys, and I am still with an ear to ear grin about it. Not only the gifts, but he got something he adores, a bike. His own bike, with his very own helmet. He was not prepared to leave the display piece in the shop alone, and was pretty much ready to bring it back home with him. It took all the combined convincing powers of the GP and me, to have him believe that, the box in our shopping cart was infact the very same thing.

The entire set of gifts.

The bike assembled, and off it goes!

No time for shoes, but the helmet made its way.

The BB awaited with bated breath for the cycle to be opened up, hovered around the GP while he put it together, and ran off almost as soon as it was done. Yes, he does love it. And no, my darling of a husband did not forget me. I have a pair of white-gold loops to show off now!

PS - I am trying to do a month-long no break blogging thing this month, and hence removed this post after it was mistakenly published yesterday, since I had done one for the day, and my shrunk brain has about as much ideas to post everyday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Poll This For Me

This is a short, to the point post, and I am doing this, to get some peace of mind. When we shifted here, I had some of my things packed and sent here through air-cargo. I looked up online, and found a service, which handled international relocations, called India Relocation. There were no big things, like furniture or white goods, but stuff like curios, toys, some bedding, clothes, which I needed to ship, because they went way beyond my airline baggage limit. The things arrived here in shambles. Lots of things were missing, and of the rest, many were broken and terribly damaged. The services for transport were provided by TNT, and so you know very well what I have to say about them.

I called up TNT, and lodged a complaint on the 24th of Dec 2009. Nothing has happened so far. They say they will forward claim forms to the person who booked it from India, namely a Mr. Sandeep Sharma from India Relocation. When I follow it up with Mr. Sharma, he says he is working towards getting the forms, though I doubt that, since he has pretty much no concrete thing to show. he says he will forward me his communication ie the chain of mails, with TNT/DTDC, but has not forwarded a single thing to me so far. Also I cannot be sure where the things went missing, since so so many people were involved, did India relocation keep some of it for themselves or is it TNT to blame. But each time I think of all the wonderful things that I have lost, I feel so enraged. And yet I wonder if pestering or following up, really matters, because I cannot be sure it is being followed up from the other end. I think, now, I want to forget about the whole episode and give up the whole thing, because I don't think I can get any concrete results here. Its been a big loss, because I have paid for transportation of things, which were never actually sent, paid for packing, which was not done, things had just been randomly dumped in the boxes which were finally shipped, while they were packed really well under my supervision back in India, and hence finally have reached here broken and damaged. But I don't see a point in being upset about it, and just making my own blood boil. The worst is they have damaged and taken away things that were brand new, besides this gorgeous wall hanging my grandmother had made for me. My heart cannot stop bleeding for it.

Does anyone here think, there is a point in pursuing it, because if the things have been removed before being handed over to TNT, what is left for me to find. And anyone looking to relocate and transport their good, STAY AWAY FROM INDIA RELOCATION and TNT. Absolutely worthless service and reliability. Just a total waste of money. I am really counting on you guys to help me out here, to decide about whether to do anything about this or not. I am just swaying between two extremes right now, not sure about what to do. If you are reading this, please, do leave a comment with atleast a 'yes' - follow it up, or a 'no' here to help me decide. And for all those who say fight for this, please show me a way!!!

PS - Based on the first few comments. I have followed it up, lodged a complaint, followed it up with the India Relocation guys, called up TNT here a no. of times. But as such I cannot do anything hands on. So do you think the follow up will bear results? I have done the start up/follow up. Tell me if you think there is else I can concretely do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Mothering Challenge, Conquered.

It has been a while since I posted exclusively about the BB, or anything about being a mother. It has been a long tough while. For starters, I have not had a cushioned mothering experience. From the day the BB came into being, its been him and me, and my instincts. There has been no family or battery of helping hands to do things for me. While it may look like a severe disadvantage to many, I liked having it that way, because I wanted to do things my way with my baby. Every time, I faced a problem, I devoured the baby-care books, scanned everything I could find online, ask around me few friends who had had babies, and whom I could trust and go on about doing things. It was not simple, but it was my way. A nanny or help was never an option for me, so it has been a non-stop constant mommy-time for me since the day BB was born.

Initially I was all enamoured and engrossed with the work at hand, and was too happy to care otherwise, but as time passed, even without me consciously realising it, a kind of complacence and mental fatigue started to set in. From being a tiny bundle, who did not understand much, the BB was growing up into a thinking, observant person, but I did not understand the transition well. I had become highly self absorbed, is the way I see it now. Having moved to a new place, with no friends or acquaintances around, I was just too depressed to be able to do anything proactively. Somewhere during that period of adjusting to the new place, missing my old life, and just wanting to get out of the house, I stopped being a mentally alert mother. And from there on, it was just going through the motions.

I realised at one point that I was not doing anything proactively. I was busy with running the house, blogging, reading. There was no special time of the day allocated to do BB stuff, except for his meals. And with each passing day, it seemed more and more improbable, that I would find time exclusively for him. Whatever free time I could manage, I jumped onto the laptop and devoured the Internet. The BB has for whatever reasons, turned out to be quite a self sufficient boy, he can keep himself busy through the day, he does not need people to be happy and most importantly, he is not too clingy. Served my selfish pursuits just perfectly, and life went on. I think pretty much every point in time I actively, meaningfully spoke to him, it was to tell him not to do XYZ, or leave ABC alone and stuff. I would take him out for walks to the park, and though it was an activity, it was hollow, because I was not mentally active about it. I was at home, but not with him. It had been over three years since I had stopped working, and I started missing that life, and knew the only reason I was not going out there, was, the BB. A certain amount of frustration started creeping in, and it showed in ever aspect of my life, especially my mothering. I was not liking the way things were heading. This was not the kind of mother I wanted to be, nor the kind of relationship I had ever envisioned having with my child. And I had reached a stage, where I just did not know what to do.

My mind was overwhelmed, with guilt and a huge amount of anger directed at myself, I felt lost and completely worthless. Many people, may disagree with me, because I am at the end of the day physically with the BB all 24 hours of the day, I still feed him, dress him up, and do the small little things mothers do, but I will be dishonest to myself, if I claimed that was enough. And strangely enough, the only person I shared my emotions with, is a friend, who is not even a mother yet. She is someone who invites confidence. Her maturity beyond her years, was the reason, I was sure of not being judged or misunderstood. I poured my heart out, and she heard me, and soothed me with her kind words. I cannot express in words here, what it meant to just be able to share it with someone, without the fear of reproach. And then it was she who said, something which was just so simple, and so basic, and yet needed to be said to me, for me to realise the importance of it. 'Include him.' Yes, just include him in what I do, instead of waiting to get over with doing my stuff, before being with him. Include him in my daily activities, get him to join me, and do things alongside.

If I may say it, it has been a life altering advice in my life as a mother. It was just such a simple thing to do, and what a fool I had been to have not done it before. I haven't and I cannot thank you enough with words Tara, really I can't. You have no idea, what those simple, powerful words you said, meant to me. I could feel the change in dynamics, as soon as I started. I felt so happy and content myself, and the BB was so so excited to be a part of everything I am doing. On the apparent, its possibly no change, but from within I know what is a very small change on the outside is a huge one from within. And if for nothing else, the effects have been miraculous for my peace of mind.

A few plans I had, all for myself, did not quite work out, fell flat on their face to be precise and that left me a bit for upset. I had counted on a lot of things to happen in this new land, but they did not work out as I had planned. What looked like the perfect opportunity, turned out to be an impossible dream at a point when it was all almost finalised. It would be understating it to say, I was highly disappointed. But I have also realised that there is either the option of sitting and crying over spilled milk, or moving on and making the best of what life has to offer to me right now. I have to accept the cards I am dealt with and make the best of it. And hence I am all done and over with the sadness, the dejection and instead want to proactively find fun and exciting things to do, within my grasp at this very moment, I am sure the future will bring something wonderful in its wake.

Its been over four years now, since I was working for pay, been moving all over the world the past few years, my social interactions have been drastically reduced. The Internet has in fact become my primary source to interact with other adults, and that is not an easy life for someone like me, who loves being with and around people. I was ruing over the life I had left behind, and one that I can never have again. And then the chat with Tara happened, and I realised, what was the point in crying over something I cannot just change. I am not ready to leave the BB in full time day care and actively go out to study/work or anything at all at this point in time. There is no one besides me at home to take care of him, so basically that means, I cannot do my own thing this very minute. Lamenting over that was only making me waste what I had with me, instead of thinking of a way to put it to better use. And so I just decided to let that regret go, and do something constructive with the existing time instead.

It is surprising how the world works. Pretty much as soon I changed my mindset, and my way of working things, things started falling in place. Having just reached this place, I had missed out on the kindergarten forms for this session. The option I had in hand, was sending him instead to a private day care centre, a few days a week, as a kind of kinder. We visited the centre, brought home the forms, and were about to submit it, when Smitha suggested playgroup. I looked up, and there was one close by, unfortunately that had shut shop. Tried the next and there they were, with just the last seat available. It is just perfect, because it requires the parent to remain with the child through the session and interactively participate in activities with the whole group. I was getting paranoid about leaving my baby alone with people, he didn't know, just yet. This would be the perfect way to get him used to being with others, so that I can actually leave him in the care of others, in the future. It just couldn't have worked out better for me.

So here we are, the first playgroup session for the BB is today, and I am hoping it turns out to be a lot of fun, something the BB starts looking forward to. To my sweet little angel, who has suddenly become big enough to attend play group. I am so awed, and proud of you my child. Here is wishing you luck and joy in every new endeavor you take up in life. Who knows what wonders the future holds for you, my little prince.

PS - Cake baked, to celebrate the day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Valentine Date

Since it is Valentine's, and mushy posts are just not my thing, I thought of penning down what an ideal Valentine's date would be for me. The assumptions obviously include no BB, a day which does not require the GP to be at work, the presence of a hot and happening motorbike, and a very very nice cloudy day. You get the idea I think.

So if I can just wish, just blindly, for a perfect date this Valentine's, this is how it would go. I would get up in the morning, about 20 kgs lighter, and a pre-mommy body. Get dressed in a pair of jeans, and a gorgeous sexy top. A happening leather jacket, and yes, a pair of knee length boots.

The GP will pick me up, bunch of long stemmed white roses in hand, on his bike, and off we would be for the day. Riding along beautiful country roads, stopping near a quiet stream for some lunch and pics. Some cootchie cooing, romancing, and just generally enjoying. And then heading back off on the road. I just love the feel of the breeze on my face on a bike, holding on tightly to the GP, and chatting over the sound of the breeze. An evening on a beach, would be just perfect then. Some cutting of cake maybe, some really spicy Indian chaat(yes I miss it very very much) followed by a supremely romantic a hand-in-hand moonlight walk, the waves lashing at our feel , just a feeling of pure bliss.

Happy valentine's people, now tell me, how do you picture your ideal valentine date?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Way Is The Only Way

How often do we meet people, who cannot accept anything beyond what they think or live, and anyone doing anything differently is very simply judged as wrong. Very often, I would think. Why? I myself was one of them not too long ago, like a horse with blinkers. Every human being by nature would prefer people with similar mindsets or lifestyle. That is but natural, a little skepticism or disapproval of anything different also I believe is natural, but outright judging, that just is extreme. A certain amount of tolerance or acceptance, when absent, makes us narrow minded, and highly judgmental. I have had really funny interactions with such kinds, and it never fails to put a smile on my face when I think of it, at the level that I have experienced it. It just goes on to show such naivete on the part of the perpetrators. And yet when we take it in the broader perspective, how damaging can such a mindset be?

There was a colleague I had in my working days. A young man, settled in Central Bombay since generations. He was quite a few years senior to me in my field of work, and that he had his blinkers tightly ON, had been apparent to me on many many occasions. But the most hilarious was, when one day in office, he suddenly said,

He : Yeh kya nonsense hai? Dadar staion par hamesha announce karte hain, 'yeh Dadar station hai, this is Dadar station.'

Me : Kyon? Isme nonsensical kya hai?

He: Everyone knows Dadar, announce karne ka kya hai?

Me: How can everyone know? There are loads of people who don't know it.

He: (Looking at me incredulously, and with more emphasis) Everyone knows Dadar station.

Me :(Almost giving up, rolling my eyes) No, they don't, a lot of people come from out-of Bombay too.

He just gave me a you-are-a-fool look, and did not say anything. Basically he thought I am just being stupid, and strongly believed that everyone in the world knows Dadar station. Now how many of you reading this, actually know that such a place exists? I for one was unaware till I reached Bombay. But this man, supposedly well educated, and a man of the world, had such an attitude. He had even made a very confident prediction, that I would never leave the job I then had, and would comfortably continue there, till old age. Now we all know, how true that turned out to be, isn't it?

Another incident happened right after I shifted to Sharjah. I had just started blogging, and began reading a mommy blog. The blogger would go out for late night movies, and parties and more. I was amazed, and asked her how she managed with the kids. She replied that she had live-in maids, and I said, 'Oh! No wonder then, that it is so convenient for you. I had never done such things since the BB was born ' At this, she asked me where I live, and I told her. And she said, ' Aah! you live outside, that is why. Everyone in India has maids.' The conviction and confidence with which she said it, made me laugh. How can anyone make such a generalised statement. I myself had just shifted out of India at that point, and had never had a maid for the BB, and I know many many other women in India who don't have maids, even for housework, just as I know many who have a battery of house help working for them. Both kinds exist, and each maintains its own way of living. But the generalisation of the statement by this woman, left me amazed, at her ignorance and her confidence to boost it.

It must be stifling to lead a life, where anything or anyone who is different from me or lives a different lifestyle is unacceptable to me. I was one of those, and I know how hard I have worked to change that mindset, and now being on the other side, I just realise, how full of frustration and angst against the world, I was in my judgmental days. One of my school teachers, infact my favourite one, had told me, very affectionately, when I was leaving school, "GM, you are very judgmental about people, you will have a very tough time, if you don't change that attitude". Me, with the blinkers on, at that time, did not understand it at all then. At that point in time, all I felt was, I am right, and I disapprove of whatever is not. Little did I know then, that there are in fact very few, if any at all, absolute rights or wrongs in this world. But fortunately for me the GP came along and drilled some sense into my brain, and helped me overcome, what I believe was one of the biggest blocks in my self development.

Some people, I think, just get nasty with their judgmental nature, their lack of acceptance of others, and inability to look beyond their own petty existence, which not only hampers their own lives, but breeds a lot of cynicism and negativity around them. It also leads to arrogance, because nothing but themselves and their own views, seem right to them, and that just ends up making them more isolated. It is really tough to make such a person understand anything, but what they believe in,. It is so true, that a change can never be affected superficially, it has to come from within. What worries me further is this kind of a mindset is the breeding ground for the typical me versus them attitude, the place where discrimination begins, and that can be at any level. It can be a Bombay-ite versus a non bombay-ite, a working mother versus an SAHM, a fitness conscious person versus one who is not,people with love marriages versus those with arranged one and then it leads to the larger biases and discrimination that exist. Because at the root of any kind of discrimination, be it racist, casteist, communalist, it is the belief, that, my way is the right way. For example, a north Indian believes his language, way of living , culture is the 'right' way and hence the people from other parts of the country, who have a different set of characteristics are not right. There is a lack of acceptance, a lack of understanding that it is not that if something is not my way, it is not necessarily the wrong way. If educated, thinking people, have such closeted and adamant mindsets is it a surprise that the world today is so divided into a us versus them scenario? How do we then say that a Shiv Sainik or a Muthalik is obnoxious, when the tolerance and acceptance levels are so low even among us?

When I was in Bombay, and working, I had often heard the incredulous tones with which people asked the others, being one of them myself, who did not speak Marathi, "You don't know Marathi, really?". It used to irritate me a lot, because for one there is no rule which says everyone needs to know the language, secondly this was an MNC we were working for, not a vernacular publication, where knowing the language would have been a must, and knowing that particular language was not required in any way at all in our field of work ie computer programming. But it just spoke of their mindset. And then I heard this recently, a Punjaabi man here in Melbourne, could not believe it that a friend of mine, did not know Punjaabi. When my friend narrated the incident to me, I could not stop laughing. I don't know how anyone else would feel about it, but I just laughed, and found it incredulous, how out of touch with reality people can be. And yet, are we then still surprised at how divided the world today is, when people cannot accept anyone who is anything less than a clone of themselves.

The point is,we need to open up our minds, and more importantly our hearts. It is unfair to judge people cynically, just because they have a different set of values from us. It is common sense, and we know it, and yet so many of us just hold onto believing their way to be the only way, so strong , that it leads to so many great prejudices and hard feelings. It is indeed sad and scary to think where it is all leading upto.

Do share any such encounters you might have had with. I am sure we can all use a laugh.

[PS - Please do not take any of the examples/incidents given here personally. They are just examples to illustrate my point, and I am talking about experiences I have had. I am sure there are equal numbers of such people from every part of the world and each community. ]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Moving and Baking Don't Mix

OK, so this is final. I am never shifting without every little thing of my house coming right with me. Why, you ask? Simply because it means I cannot bake decent cakes for like an eternity after a shift. When I was in India, I could just go to the local grocer and tell him to pack me the ingredients in exactly the amount I needed. So it was pau kilo maida, pau kilo cheeni and so on.(*pau kilo - 250 gms). At home I never had to bother with the measuring or weighing, the ingredients were always in right proportions and life was good. Nearing Christmas, the local supermarkets even stocked up baking ingredients in smaller portions.

Then we shifted. In Sharjah, I could find nothing in packs of less than 1 kg. I never bought a kitchen weighing scale, because I just find it too pretentious. I tried to get the proportions right and messed up each time.I did not bake for a year. In fact just before the Christmas of 2008, I desperately tried, every option, the microwave, the pressure cooker, the oven I had brought from India, the gas oven in my kitchen there, and even bought a new electric oven to do it. Everything fell absolutely flat on its face. I got textures ranging from custard to halwa to rock hard, and everything else you can imagine. Then it took an epiphany, and a baker friend's recipe to guide me to try a measuring cup to get proper quantities, and what do you know, it worked like magic. Once again, I had a measuring cup at home, the one with came with my rice cooker. Don't think I would have bought one, because I just find it too 'fancy'. And I was back to baking well.

And then I shifted again. No measuring cup, no local grocer to weigh my stuff for me, and one gross cake is what I make. I hate it, absolutely hate it. This is simply unfair. Each time I move, my baking suffers, and just because I no longer have with me the things that make it work for me. And so I declared to the GP yesterday, that I am not moving anymore. However may I just add, the big ego boosting factor was that the BB did enjoy the cake, and asked for some more. But I for the life of me, don't know why.

And add to that the woes of new, unknown varieties of onions, potatoes and some more. The onions just don't make for the kinds I am used to in my salads, or sides. I like the Indian onions. Maybe they are not of great quality or breed, but that is what I am used to, and I miss them, I miss them so so bad. Atleast in Sharjah, they were available. Why do there have to be so so many types of onions for God's sake? And I miss veggies, you know the kinds that can be prepared as sabzi(curry). Bored with the same set of 4-5 veggies that can be prepared like curries being available, and I am in no plan to completely change to eating veggies only as salads, I like mine cooked, complete desi style, spicy tadka et all.

So well that is what it is out here with my food related woes. Otherwise, the place is treating me well, I am liking it quite a bit. All I need now, is to learn to drive, and if the GP pushes me hard enough, I may just go ahead and do it.

PS - Did I mention how I am managing without any parlour visits so far. The threading ritual every fortnight is not happening, so its all about my own efforts to keep myself presentable. Not a great success, but tagging along somehow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What You Write, Tells a Lot About You.

Of course you knew that didn't you? If I follow a blog for a while, I can get a good picture of the person behind the blog. Sometimes its a simple, down to earth lady, at home with a child or two or maybe more, content happily going on about life, finding happiness in the small pleasures of life, sometimes its a boy in the body of a man, looking forward to some fun and laughs, leading a life full of passion and enthusiasm, then there is that confused woman, who is still not sure of what she wants, or has not yet priorities-ed her life. Of course this works only for personal blogs, people who write about themselves, their lives, or if they write about ideas, or thoughts. The style of writing, the choice of topics, the frequency, the line of thought, it shows me so much about the person. I don't always consciously do it, but I often gain insight into the writers of the blogs I regularly follow. That may also be because I love observing people, understanding their thinking, looking into their lives and that just comes to me naturally.

It is so much fun unraveling the persona behind the writers. The first thing I usually percieve from the blog is whether the blogger is genuinely happy person or not. There can be many many states of being in between, being happy and sad of course and there are no generalisations, or putting into categories, because each person is so unique. I am sure I am not always 100% right, but most of the time I have hit bulls eye. Especially in cases, where the readership leads into familiarity with the blogger, a kind of bonding, I see that the person is exactly the image I had formed of them, based on their blog.

Having never done this consciously, it just led me down a line of thought yesterday, which made me wonder, how exactly do I form the image of the person beneath the blog. I put in some conscious thought into the process and I found somethings which I could piece concretely. Wondering if any of the readers might be interested in it, I thought of putting some general pointers to understanding the mind behind the posts you read.

Let me start with the blog of the reticent or the overwhelming. There are blogs which come up with amazingly powerful posts, rarely and occasionally. The posts may belong to a select group of topics or vary vastly in their theme, but there is no doubt about the fact that each post is a masterpiece. These people are generally perfectionists, and do not believe in giving anything but their best. They hoard appreciation, and perfection is a way of life for them. They will only post when they have something brilliant and exceptional to post, else they will not. Even if that means blog breaks of weeks at a stretch, there will not be any post unless it is brilliant. But in the same category, of rare blogging, there are also those who are shy and reserved by nature. The posts come few and far between, because though they enjoy the experience of blogging, they are not sure about how much of themselves they wish to share, and hence they come with posts only when they really really want to share something.

Many people blog to give vent to their thoughts or emotions which they cannot in real life, atleast not completely and openly. It may even be a case where, people prefer to express through writing than speaking. If you see someone regularly posting on one particular topic, posts which are like rants, or hints of rants, even if they don't have a personal touch to it, in all likelihood they have a personal experience of it, which is why the topic is close to their heart and often appears in their writing. It is like people choosing a cause. If one has lost a loved one to Cancer, they are likely to donate to Cancer research. No, this does not mean, if a person writes about the cause of human trafficking, they have been sold themselves, but if someone does write a lot about animal cruelty, they are likely to be great animal lovers themselves. As an example, if I keep talking about how the world is unfair to people who carry extra weight, or how the world is forever judgmental to the female body, it is likely that I have an issue with my own body image and the way it is perceived.

Some people hide, yes they try hard to hide what is truly them. I am not talking about bloggers who don't talk about their personal life on their blogs, or maintain blogs dedicated more to social issues/non-personal blogs. But those who work consciously towards keeping the personal posts impersonal. These bloggers, don't want to tell all, and keep their personal life, well, personal. The Internet is indeed not as nice as we would like to believe it to be, it has all kinds of lunatics lurking around, and these bloggers know that well and don't want to take any chances. They are likely to be cautious,level headed,confident and practical people in real life. Most of their posts are usually well thought, neatly formatted, well written, and unlikely to have any mistakes.

And then there are also the exact opposites. There are quite a few posts, not all mind you, which are ill-formatted, lose track of what it was all about somewhere along the way, often untidy and with a done-on-the-go feel, feelings are poured out as is, without editing or refrain. These bloggers to say the least are not practical or cautious. Most of the times their posts are quite personal and relate to them directly.Their posts give a feel of being in a conversation with the blogger than just reading a post. They don't write for the sake of writing, but more to have their say, express what they think and feel. Their posts usually pour out directly from their heart.

There are ofcourse the favourites of all, the charmers. These are bloggers, who are universally liked. Unless someone knows them personally, and has some issue with them(which will again be very rare), no one has a harsh or negative thought about them. They have views, which are clear and precise, their posts usually leave you with a smile or a happy thought. When they write about a cause, you can see that they genuinely feel for it, and are really keen on changing that in this big bad world, and this is not done to generate traffic or to gain publicity. Their personal posts, are usually happy and sweet, because that is their attitude towards life, and even if the post is about something that has bothered them or something gone wrong, reading it leaves you loving the blogger even more for their honesty, and attitude. If you write in to them or comment on their blog, they are likely to welcome you with open arms, and treat you as an equal, with no sign of snobbery. May I please add here, they are my absolute favourites, because, I believe these kinds are genuinely nice people, with a sense of humour about life, and a generally friendly and happy attitude.

Some bloggers, blog about just about whatever they feel like. They get loads of comments at times, and none at others. They go on to write about what pleases them. There are quite a few posts, which seem to mean nothing at all, and yet are fun enough for the writer to write about. These bloggers are usually chilled out people in really life, with a devil-may-care attitude. They usually do what they think is good/fun/right/appropriate, and do so without social approval. They do enjoy appreciation, and people liking what they do, but would not change their opinion/view/way of living, even if faced with censure.

There are ofcourse many other characteristics that can be seen, but jotting them all down would just make this post too to lengthy and then the other small nuances, which help form the whole picture, like a bloggers reply to comments, and their comments on other blogs, also gives us a peek into their mind, but that is just another long topic. And then there are some which I cannot really put into words, but can just understand through perception. So, when I join the dots, the posts, the comments, the replies, it forms such a clear whole picture of the person for me, that after a while, I just know what to expect from the blogger, and usually I get just that.

For each thing that I wrote in this post, I had one or more bloggers in mind, and as soon as I thought of a particular blog, I could easily formulate my words for this one. So do you also read the blog and the person beneath it? What do you see?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If You Like Animals.

Indoor photography is not my kind of thing. I don't do well with such compositions, and I don't enjoy clicking them either. A simple point-and-shoot or even a phone camera suffices for such photography for me. The GP on the other hand does great jobs with indoor photography.... I love seeing the results he achieves, he actually has made me look unbelievably good in so many of them. The fact that he goes all professional with his studio lights, light metres and everything, makes the pics amazingly glam, and I know I can never ever get to that level, simply because I lack the patience such set-ups require. For me, its more of seeing something gorgeous, and capturing it. And nothing captivates me like nature, and especially animals.

We visited the Melbourne Zoo this weekend. Equipped with my new camera, and my favourite subject to shoot, it would be an understatement to say, I was just waiting to start shooting. I do not, yet, use a tripod, so not all photos on full zoom, have turned out the way I would like it to, but here, I am sharing some of my best shots from the day. And may I please remind you, it is not quite as easy to get the shots you want, when you have a rather energetic child to mind too!

I have seen so many professional photos like this, that I absolutely loved the opportunity to click one of my own.

The eye of the pelican is what fascinates me here.

From the butterfly house!

Don't you love the bold colour contrast. This one was just roaming around all over the place.

Just perfect for the 'How Tall Are You?' measuring scale.

I love the silhouette in this one.

Bongo - The tough one!

Meerkat - Reminds me of an old man, with a pinched face.

What beautiful, yet sad eyes.

Be scared, be very scared, because, 'he' is looking.

And he is not alone!

This one is my favourite, the colour contrast is awesome, and I love the afro-style spike on the zebra.

The absolute best pic of the day though, was clicked by the GP, a butterfly/moth on a flower. You have see the photo to believe it! The flower looks luminous, its simply gorgeous. Am not putting it up here, because it is not by me. And I am so so pushing him to actually make some money off that photo, for it is just simply so beautiful.

Please tell me which one you like the best of my lot.

And since I have this entire post on animal photos, I cannot but link up to Parul's post, and the stark reality it is throwing into our face. Wake up, don't let the tigers die out. Make them live, help them survive. They are gorgeous beasts of the wild, we cannot let them go away. I am representing the following exactly from Parul's post. This post would be me spreading the word. I suggest you do too.
Spread the Word
Let everyone know that our tigers are on the brink of extinction and that they need us. Now. You can start by joining the Save Our Tigers movement on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and spreading the word wherever you go – online or offline.

A short message can go a long way to help save our tigers. Let all your friends know about the movement through SMS – just type in your message and ask them to visit to join the roar.

Write to Editors
Write a letter or an email to editors of popular newspapers and magazines, asking them to support the cause and highlight the urgency to save our tigers. The more people we can reach and inform, the louder our roar will be.

Organizations such as WWF and The Corbett Foundation work for tiger conservation and need our active support. If possible, you can chip in with funds, volunteer for work or donate clothes, etc. for the forest guards by tying up with such organizations.

Volunteer for Our Tigers
Your time is the most important contribution for our tigers. If you think you have the skills or the commitment to help the tigers on-site, do contact an NGO working for tiger conservation to volunteer for our tigers.

Preserve our Natural Resources
Loss of habitat is one of our tigers’ biggest problems. We can reduce pressure on forests by avoiding unnecessary use of forest-derived products, such as paper and timber.

Be a Responsible Tourist
Visit tiger sanctuaries and national parks and discover our country’s natural heritage. But please remember that the wilderness is to be experienced, not to be polluted by packets of chips, etc.

Wake up, and take action.