Monday, September 21, 2015

10 Prejudices Mothers Face Based On Their Employment Status

The question of whether to work or not to work is a nagging question that keeps bothering us since the day we decide to become mothers. The perk of becoming a mother and enjoying motherhood is over-shadowed by this interminable question.
When my daughter was born I did not pay heed to the prejudices that society threw at me. If I am the protagonist in my life’s story then all the decisions, whether right or wrong, will be mine. I refuse to be judged by the prying eyes of the society and be intimidated if they do, because my employment status is my choice and not of others.
But societal prejudices are aplenty and often, if not always, the role is determined by these assumptions.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why Do Children Lie? And How To Teach Them Honesty.

Why do children lie? It’s something that begins at home. Here’s how to teach them honesty.

Five-year-old Surbhi was a great storyteller. Her parents, Nitya and Devesh were proud of their daughter’s story-telling skill. They would often tell their friends and family about her talent, sometimes adding little bits and pieces here and there. A bit of harmless bragging won’t harm, will it; they thought, rather it carves out a much better picture of their daughter and her talent.

Want to know about how her benign habit landed Surbhi in trouble? 

Read More to Know More

Monday, July 6, 2015

Trip to Kvie Sø

When we decided to hang our boots, go a step down and sit back and enjoy the Danish country side this summer, little did we know that we will stumble across some amazing picturesque locations near our place of stay, Billund. Kvie Sø is one such place; the kind of place where one would like to go with the family, spread the sheet, lie down, enjoy the barbecue, take a cool dip in the water, engage in some bunkum and then end the trip with a delightful pancake meal.
Set amongst the trees, hiding away from the regular rabble, in an offbeat concourse, Kvie Sø is a perfect weekend gate away from the city's hustle and bustle.
We started a bit late, just waiting for the blazing sun to sober a bit. And since the days are longer now and the place is open till 10 P.M, we did not mind starting late. It is about 30 min drive from the Billund city center. Whether you decide to carry your own dinner to catch a relaxing bite with the peacocks poking around or catch a bite in the 'Pancakes' restaurant, Kvie Sø offers plenty of quality family time in a serene atmosphere, just what is needed after a week's hard work.
The impeccable silence among the trees, the occasional barking of a pet in the vicinity, the fading sounds of civilization as you take a walk around the serene looking lake, the serendipity of the setting sun, the glistening of the water due to the gentle ripples, and the water impersonating the colours of the sky above is an experience that can only be felt and soaked in.
I am a gatherer of impressions, travelling through places and people in search of moments; startling moments that scream, and mundane moments that whisper. The trip to Kvie Sø was a conglomeration of the moments that came together to give this nomad another experience to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Mid-Summer Bonfire

I suppose I am always in look out for a story; especially, when I am travelling. Its always the local stories that go behind the local traditions and the local food that fascinates me. I think in order to assimilate with the local culture and understand people in an adopted country, knowing their culture and the history behind that culture and tradition is very important. The stories that give rise to decades old tradition are not mere stories. In fact I think they are a lot more than a string of words strung together to form a, more or less, linear, dramatic arc. These stories matter so much and are the ones that have been held on to and kept the longest, because they are the stories that are build, organically, with no boundaries set in theme or time; these are the stories of who we are; each one of us. What our lives mean. Who we love and count among our tribe, our family. What be believe, truly in our hearts. Why we strive. These are stories, and the people and places we choose to include as characters and settings, enter in and leave us. Some stay. Most move on. Some are like snowflakes that arrive gently and some are like hail that batter us hard. But they’re all pieces of this puzzle we call life.
As we begin the second year in Denmark, learning more about the local culture and the stories that have given rise to this culture is up on my agenda. And to further this agenda, I begin with the first tradition that is celebrated across the country to mark the summer solstice and the eve of St John the Baptist alleged birthday, the Sankt Hans or the Midsummer Bonfire.
In Denmark this day is celebrated on the 23rd of June, the eve of the summer solstice. It is something similar to celebrating Christmas eve more than Christmas. To mark the occasion, gathering and celebrations are organised where people bring in their picnic dinner to share, huge bonfires are lit, music is both sung and played, and speeches are made.
Sankt Hans is the Danish name of St. John the Baptist who was allegedly born on 24th June. Huge bonfires are lit to ward away any evil that were presumed to be roaming freely when the sun was slowly turning towards the south side again. They are lit in order to protect people from the evil eyes of the witches who were believed to become powerful during this astronomical transitional phase as they often met more powerful beings to increase their dark powers.
In ancient times, during the period of 1540 to 1693, many women who were considered witches by the church were burnt alive in these bonfires in Denmark. However, from the 1920's an effigy of a witch made out of straw and cloth was burnt traditionally in the bonfire as a remembrance to the past brutality that were inflicted upon many innocents. In the modern era, the witches are now made out wood. People gather around the bonfire and sing midsummer hymns as the effigy burns. It is believed that the burning of the 'symbolic witch' would send the witch to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where it is believed that the great witch gathering was held on this day.
We celebrated this tradition as a couple this year as our little one had fallen asleep in her stroller. It is said the occasion is best celebrated near the water. As we do not have any water body in Billund, we celebrated it in a nearby park with a huge crowd gathering with live music, dance and grilled and roasted bread and of course drinks. A gospel choir entertained hundreds of spectators with a short concert and at 9 pm the bonfire was set ablaze. We stood there watching the fire, pulling our jackets close, as it was a windy day, and clapped merrily with the crowd. 20150623_214946

Monday, June 29, 2015

Boys Don't Cry

A year back, I was travelling with my 4 year old daughter to Denmark. My panicky husband teamed me up with two other better halves, husbands of whom had already made their way to Denmark before them. Three different families united with a single goal, 'follow their husbands to their place of work.'

As I reached the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, I saw no one waiting in the airport as told to me by my husband. So I make a quick call to my husband and he provides me with the respective numbers of the fellow accompanying ladies. I make a quick check with the ladies only to be told that they will be arriving a little late because of a bad storm that had hit the city in the late evening and had left the city vandalised. So I decide to go ahead with the check in formalities and wait in the lounge for the ladies to join me later.

I see a woman with a bright blue pants walking towards me and asks me, "Hi, are you Jyoti?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Hi I am Shweta."

Okay so you are one of the fellow ladies who have been hooked up by our husbands. I thought. We exchange the pleasantries and I went ahead and asked her about the whereabouts of the other damsel in distress.

As the damsels in distress came together, I quickly noticed that there were two 4 year olds travelling along with us; one mine and the other was a boy of the third lady. Soon I notice the two kiddos getting along and starting to play with each other. As the kids got comfortable, the ladies started with their chit chat.

My daughter had a favourite doll that would accompany her everywhere. So when there is one toy and two kids in the same room, the bickering for the sole toy isn't too far away. So the boy soon starts to squabble my daughter to share her toy with him. But "favourite toys are not meant to share", said my girl. And the little boy starts to cry and hanker her further.

At this moment the mother of the boy says something that I never expected an educated mother like her to say. She says, "Boys don't play with dolls. And why are you crying? Boys don't cry either."

Wow! This is how we demarcate the boundaries for our kids; this is how we isolate our boys from our girls. I was astonished to see how a simple toy and an act of showing your emotions have now been shown in the light of being weak and how roles have been ascertained. Boys do not cry because boys are meant to be strong. Why? Well because we have grown up seeing our fathers being the head of the family and playing a dominant role in the day to day activities; whereas our mothers have played the coy role in taking care of the family, going through the daily hardships of raising kids, doing the household chores and sustaining a dominating husband. So if you are the boy you are the future head of the family; you are the leader and leaders have to be strong; leaders do not cry because crying is the sign of weakness; and leaders cannot be weak. Dolls replicate babies and taking care of babies is the woman's role so boys cannot play with dolls because they are meant to go out and work and earn money to sustain the family whereas women are to stay at home and raise kids; so the dolls suit the girls better for their future roles.

I sometimes think how our actions and the things we say impersonates our sexist mentality lying dormant within us; given a chance it sticks its head up. In the Indian Society patriarchal values are so skin deep that we cannot think unconventionally; whether knowingly or unknowingly. We have grown up seeing people around us playing androcentric roles doled out to them through generations. Although we try changing our ways of thinking and acting, unburdening of the obvious is often very difficult. I really hope and wish that we are able to shed away these gender-centric roles and archaic beliefs and raise a generation which embraces open-mindedness; open-mindedness towards treating and accepting women in equal platform; open-mindedness in understanding that raising and sustaining a family needs collaboration and co-operation from both the man and the wife; because they are the pillars of strength and support for the entire family and one cannot do away with the other if we aim to achieve a balance in our family. Hope people get educated along with getting literate and along with getting a degree. And hope we do not raise our daughters who raise their sons telling them that 'boys don't cry'!!