Thursday, 25 May 2017

Hindi Medium- A must watch movie

In a country where knowing English language defines your class, this movie certainly strikes a chord. Our obsession with English is so much that a country where we have 22 official languages, more than 500 local dialects, with rich literature still we feel the domination of English, a foreign language. I am a native Maharashtrian, and my love for my mother tongue knows no bounds. For me Marathi is not just a language it is like my mother. This is the reason I taught my son to call me 'Aai' and not 'Mamma'(no offence for those who call Mamma). If I had the liberty to choose my medium at school, I would have definitely opted for a vernacular medium, Although, I do enjoy the perks of studying in English Medium, but some where deep down my heart, I feel that no matter which language is in trend, you can always express yourself better in your own language. I used to place so much importance on my mother tongue and unlike many Indians who take pride if they mess up their vernacular grammar, I feel ashamed of myself if I am not able to converse in Marathi correctly. I used to see Hindi and English languages as outsider languages and kept propagating the importance of my mother tongue.

Then one day I landed up in Chennai and I had friends who spoke Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Assamese. I was literally stumped. Even tough I take pride in my Marathi culture I was always and will always be an Indian first. This was my first cosmopolitan acquaintance and I did not know how to react, I had to shed my internal inhibitions and accept the fact that though Marathi is my mother tongue, if I have to communicate with my fellow countrymen, I have to leave behind which language is better than which one and accept any language which will help us to communicate with each other and that is what is expected in national integration. So as time passed by language for me was merely a means of communication and I became flexible in choosing the language based on which language was required for communication. So now in the argument that which medium a child should be enrolled, I do support English medium, looking at a global perspective, but I do not deny learning your native language. You have to learn them both and be better at them.

Now coming back to the film, the film highlighted the real plight of current Nursery admission system. The competition to get in the good school is insane. Parents are really ready to go to any level for school admissions. I still don't get some of the clauses of this elite schools where parents should know English, parents should be highly educated. What are these schools trying to say that kids of the parents who are uneducated are not entitled to learn in elite schools? If a child has a spark, he can shine anywhere. I still feel that instead of hunting for the best school in the city, parents must try to enrol in a school which is near to home. They should stop spending on donations on these private schools and opt for school which has good staff and not good infrastructure. With the global acceptance of English, studying in English Medium school might be inevitable, but that does not mean that someone studying in vernacular medium should be considered as inferior. I would definitely recommend all the parents to watch this movie.....

Happy Parenting!!!!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Summer Vacations !!!

May is synonymous to summer vacations for children. I remember spending my vacations in my grandmother's place in our native. Since my mom was also a working mom, me and my brother went to my grandmother's place and we stayed at our grandparents house without my parents. The legacy continues with my son. He is always excited for summer vacations. When my mom arrives to take him at her place, he seldom feels the pain of separation from us instead he is so excited that he happily waves us a good bye and assures us that he will behave like a good child wherever he goes. I am amazed by his sense of maturity when it comes to such incidents. He does gives me a hard time at many instances but there are some circumstances where he shows impeccable understanding. 

He loves staying with his grandparents at Alibag. Everyday starts with playing on beach and ends with playing on beach. When he is not playing on beach, he is visiting some sightseeing, gardens. And lastly he is visiting all our family friends houses, climbing trees and enjoying his life to fullest. These are some experiences which we do not get in cities, but these are very important in a kid's childhood. Same is the case when he is visiting his paternal native near Kolhapur. He is an extrovert and loves to meet new people. He always needs someone with him and really hates being alone. So either ways he is very happy and lucky to have such grandparents. If I were a stay at home mom, I could have accompanied him at these places. But I am not and so it means that we have to face the pain of separation for a month.

The first few days it is very calm and quiet and I start making a list of house hold chores that he won't let me to do, like arranging all his closets, washing cushions which are filled with his stains. However loneliness starts gripping after few days. Coming home to a vacant house is bit depressing. When I come home from work, my son gives me a celebrity red carpet arrival welcome and then he won't leave me until he sleeps. So when he is not around I try to pursue some hobbies which I really don't get time, like reading books, watching movies....but instead I open my laptop and start seeing his videos right from when he was one day old to his last birthday party videos. We all moms are so similar. We keep nagging when our kids don't let us do anything and the moment we get some free time, we start missing them.

So for outsiders it looks like now you are free for a month sleep whenever you want, getup whenever you want but the thing is I miss him all the time and just can't wait to see him on weekends. Now I feel how strong our mothers are when they left us to pursue our education at hostels. For Aarush, there is still lot of time for these things....but the way he is growing up that day won't be that far. However, I do feel that letting kids stay away from you for these vacations will make them independent. They will get to be on their own and start interacting with other people. Meanwhile you can also, try to catch up with friends, your spouse in this time. If possible take unpaid leave during your kids vacation time to stay together. You can also plan a short trip to some historical place so that your kid will be engaged in history. Try to make most of your kid's vacation time and in case you have to leave your child away from you be strong its just a matter of few weeks.....

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tips while planning a Sabbatical

One fine day my friend called me after a long time. It had been long time when she rejoined from maternity leave. When we were discussing about how we manage our day to day activities and other related stuff, she told me she was taking a break to concentrate on her kid. Suddenly I realised how my sabbatical plan was flopped. What were my assumptions and how it actually went.  There comes a phase when you rejoin your office when you feel that you are a bad mom and a bad employee. You feel the current scenario is not working for you and think of taking a break from the routine. Most of these breaks are triggered by the thought that you need more time with your kid, you need more time for yourself and you feel that staying at home you will not have deadline for doing your daily chores and you will have whole day with your kid. You do realise that since you were always working full time this can mean being dependent on your husband's salary. The last time you asked someone for money was probably your father and when you were in college or struggling to find a job. So you are aware that you are going to loose your financial independence. So with all this initial analysis you still take the plunge to quit your full time job and see how life goes on.

The first day you feel so relaxed, to be able to see how your house looks like on a weekday. How your kid gets ready once he wakes up. And the dream that you will have no hurry to enjoy your cup of coffee, have enough time with you kid shatters when you realise that being a stay at home mom doesn't mean you have enough time to relax and enjoy it actually means you are stuck in an endless cycle of cooking food, doing laundry and cleaning the house. The support that you get when you are a working mom fades away once you become a stay at home mom. And everyone sorts of takes it for granted that now that you are not working you cannot give any excuse for anything. This also means that when your bank balance starts decreasing, you have take money from your husband, but since you are not used to the fact that some one else will pay my bills, it doesn't bring a good feeling. This means end of all meaningless shopping, feeling like your education is wasted. If you had thought of doing something on your own like searching a new flexible job, or doing a small scale business, you realise that with the current situation the fact that you took a bath when you and your kid were alone is the biggest accomplishment that you can ever think of.

These were my experiences about taking a break and hence I thought of sharing some pointers so that it will help other new working moms on what to expect when going on a sabbatical.

1)Have a clear idea: Before taking the plunge of quitting your full time job, note down the points on why do you need a break.

2)Bank Balance: If you are used to paying your own bills, keep certain amount of savings with you so that your bank account doesn't go nil sooner.

3)Keep you Plan B ready: So your plan A is to quit your job and chill out with kids but if that doesn't work out you should always have something to bounce back upon. You should have a Plan B ready like if you will rejoin the company if this break thing fails, or get a part time job.

4)Planning Career change: If you are planning for a shift in career, you should do a thorough research in the field in which you want to switch. Also, analyse if that is going to work in long term if you plan to pursue it for the rest of your life. Be prepared to get paid less than what you were earning when you quit your full time job.

5)Seek help from family: When you take a break, sit with your family and discuss what your plans are. If you want to try something new for a living, tell them you need their continuous support even though you will be on break.

6)Expect the unexpected: Be prepared to expect the unexpected. You might have thought of spending quality time with your kids, but you will realise that you will get even less time with your kid as you will be busy doing household chores. And all the best if you have to do your daily chores when you and your kid will be alone because trust me if you have a kid like my son, you will not be able to even have your lunch well.

These are some tips based on my experiences, if you are a working mom and reading my blog don't forget to share your experiences as well.

Happy Parenting!!!

Friday, 31 March 2017

An open letter to all working mothers

As the clock ticks on my desktop, I remind myself that I should not miss my bus, trying to complete a task for which I got warning to do by myself and not delegate, I realised I missed my bus. One last look at mail, few seconds waiting for any replies and still the heart feels, you might get the bus, try harder, you have to reach home on time so the baby sitter can leave. I called my friend to ask if the bus has left and she(also a working mom) asks me to chase the bus as it was stuck in traffic. I was running helplessly on the streets of Hinjewadi, took lift from unknown strangers, and chased the bus before two signals down the block. Only so that I can be home on time just to spend few extra hours with my son, who was sleeping when I left for the office today morning. 

Yes we are the working moms of metro cities who spend 3 hours in travel depending on traffic, 9 hours in office and the remaining hours in home that too doing work not leisure time. Yes, we leave our kids with strangers(baby sitters). Yes, we delegate our work at both places, in homes to our maids and in office to our co-workers and yes both places we hear that we are not putting our best.We give fake promises to our managers yes I will complete work on time, we give fake promises to our kids yes we will come home on time. We are the moms who don't make puran polis on Gudi Padwa because, we don't have holiday. The sari that you plan to wear on your niece's birthday and parlour visit don't just happen, we end up reaching the venue directly in our office avatar if it falls on weekday. We are the moms who cry in our office corners when our kids call us and tell us that they miss us. We don't change our jobs after having kids so that we may loose our comfort zone, we don't accept good offers from other companies fearing that we may get more work priorities. Yes, our kids have picked up our baby sitter's vernacular accent because they are the ones with whom they speak the whole day. 

Yes we carry guilt everywhere. In homes we feel guilty that we are not able to give enough time. In office we are made to feel guilty as we are not able to give more time. The HR of our new company spoke a lot about flexibility and work life balance on the Women's day. Apparently the same HR's forced us to take second shifts promising flexibility for us alone. Whom are we kidding trying to juggle all these tasks. What is the end result that we get even after putting so much efforts? We get bad appraisals just because our maternity leave. Sometimes all these efforts just don't seem worth it. A bad day sometimes makes you introspect about the harsh realities of our life. Sometimes, we just need a break from all these activities sit back and relax. A small dance with our kids, his laughter does make us forget the bad day... but leaves a question lingering behind is it worth all this pain?

----A truly frustrated working mom.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Illegal female foeticide racket a day before Women's day

While I was planning on writing a Women's day special today, I was utterly disturbed by the news going around. In Sangli district, 19 female foetus were recovered from sewer. Yes tomorrow our nation will be celebrating women's day and look what is the reality of our nation. Last weekend I visited my maternal aunt in her village. My mom along with three sisters has no brother. And even though they don't have brother, their parents are well looked after by all the sisters, even better than the parents of many sons in their village. Even after all this they were made to believe that there is some stigma that they don't have a son in their family.

The fact that I have a son, is something of such a pride that every single visitor who visited me in that house was told that yes she has a son. What disturbs me is that this fact is not limited to my mom's generation. Even in my generation many believe that having a brother or son is something very important and if you don't have a son, you are missing something very important in life. Sometimes I doubt how come I became a feminist even after being surrounded by so much negativity around me regarding female progeny. 

When I was surfing channels, I saw a serial called "Nakushi" meaning unwanted in Marathi. The serial was based on a girl child who was not welcomed in her family and hence they named her Nakushi. There are many such Nakushi's in our villages. People in village are at least blunt that they accept this fact. However, people in cities, talk about saving girl child but secretly wish for male. Innumerable prayers and fasts have been conveyed to our God for the want of a male child. When are we going to stop it?

What is it that a woman can't do in this era? Why is such a strong desire for having an offspring of a better gender? Who decides what is the better gender? How can parents be so cruel to something that they have created? Why aren't they afraid of their karma? Or do they bribe their Gods for this ill deeds? The questions never end, and this remains the hot topics for generations to come. The number of unborn girls in India is increasing because they are killed before they even see this world by those who created them in first place. The day India will truly celebrate Women's day is not on the day it falls, but the day every single parent will think of a female child no less than a male one and truly celebrate her birth...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Age criteria in Nursery Admissions 2017-18

As much as I am happy that my little boy is turning older day by day, there are days when I get freaked out about his education. There are many things that I am anxious about. The age criteria(he is born in Oct), how am I going to manage him dropping to school and picking up from school, how am I going to indulge in his study or daily activities when I have so less time with him. I grew up in a sleepy town of Alibag with a school that was within company campus and once I went to nursery, I came out directly after completing my 12th std. Everything was at stones throw away and most of the people knew each other. In spite of my mom being a working mom, things were bit easier than what metro city parents face today. 

There are many things I loathe about the metro city admissions. Some schools interview parents. They want parents who are well educated. I have read on some of their sites that they interview the kid as well, for 1st Std and the icing on the cake is the fee structure. I still don't get fact that how come playgroup fees compete with my engineering fees???What do they teach at a playgroup level that cost us so much? Distance is the second concern, finding a good school close to your home is important else your tiny tot has to travel through the city traffic. Ahh!!! I know I am sounding negative but I am also excited that he is finally going to spread his wings. Currently it feels only I am a part of his world but slowly he is going to have his own routine.

Age norms for nursery admission continue to change every year. This year when nursery admissions were almost completed by major schools, the cut off date to minimum age(3yrs) was raised to Sep 30. These parents were already denied admission as earlier the cut off date was July 31 now the same parents have to revisit all schools. When we contacted major schools in my vicinity, we came to know that admissions were already completed and these kids now either have to search for schools which have nursery seats available or wait till next year. Schools require sufficient time to plan and implement the new age-limit, I wonder why the education department takes arbitrary decision without consulting parents or school institutions.

Now a days, the minimum age criteria for 1 std is 6 years, however some preschool chains still enroll kids for nursery even if they don't complete 3 years of age criteria for nursery. Parents are made to believe that you can take admission to nursery even if your child is not 3 years old, may be by the time he reaches Senior KG the criteria might change. Once the child completes Senior KG the preschool is not liable for 1st Std admission. Many parents by complying to this, need to repeat their child so that he can fulfill the 6 years completion criteria for std 1. My advice would be to wait till your child completes 3 years and in order to avoid 1 std admission hassles go for nursery admission for schools which have 1 std so that your child will get automatically promoted to 1 std from Senior KG.

So to sum up the current situation, keep abreast of the nursery guidelines which are released by government. Don't rush into admissions if your child does not fulfill age criteria and get him enrolled into a play group so that you child can start adjusting the school routine by the time he reaches nursery.

Happy Parenting!!!

Friday, 27 January 2017

The age old saga of domestic help

Who do you think the working wives wait desperately for everyday? Its none other than our maid. The simple thought of a maid not coming on her regular time can give a mini heart attack to wives like me. And the moment I see her I feel so relaxed yes today my domestic chores will be taken care of. But is it a cake-walk? No, it is hell lot of task to hire her, retain her and make her do her work. I had so many experiences about maid, some good many bad but still I don't change her and my eyes keep looking for her daily.

Why is it so difficult to work without a maid? We have so much of dependency on maids that we simply don't device other methods to take care of our domestic tasks. And most of this domestic workers work because of their own financial problems, they don't work because they are passionate about house hold work. Same is with baby sitters, these women have the worst kind of backgrounds, husband not earning, husband is drunkard and they have so may kids to support, hence they work.

I have had a babysitter who after interviewing so many times we found that she was least interested in looking after my child. She had some affairs and the dreadful part was she used to take my son with her in her working hours while doing all these things. I had a cook who didn't know how to put tadka for daal/sabji. What am I suppose to do while hiring her ask her to cook one meal and then tell her if she is selected? And washing clothes/utensils/floor these maids do all these task in a blink of an eye. In spite of all this I always hire a maid, because it is just not possible for me to do all the chores daily.

I once had a maid who always asked for salary advance. She will start with her financial problems and slowly reach her point. I would feel bad for her and give her as much money I can afford to give. The moment I gave her advance money, she will go on a week vacation. In this way, she already had taken about 6 months advance and even after giving advance money half of the month, we had to do domestic chores ourselves.

These days there is so much demand and so less supply that every one keeps trying to woo this maids and goes to any extent to retain them. My current maid is no better. Once I politely told her to come on time, clean properly etc. There was no change so the next day I repeated the same with some anger, the third day she came to me and said please find another one, I can't work with you. So those who say that we don't treat our maids better that's not the case. Since our lives are run by these women, we have to give up sometimes and let them win. Because we need them more than they need us.

Tips while hiring a maid:

1) Do a complete background check before hiring a maid
2) Not all maids are perfect, so don't keep changing maids frequently
3) Do not keep any valuables/money in home, and if you do have to keep in home keep in safe lock
4) These days maids are not used to hear constant nagging, so even if she commits any mistake try to      talk politely
5) Once you tell her all tasks, let her do by herself, don't keep micro monitoring her work
6) Ask her to plan leave in advance, and occasionally let her take a day off (she needs a break too)

All I wish is that may you get a honest, truthful and hardworking maid.