Category Archives: Family & Parenting

The Noteworthy Bridegroom

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Photo Credits : Namish Gulati

I must clarify before you read on, this is not a post on demonetisation even though the title  may be a trifle misleading in the present times where the note is more worthy.

At a much younger cousin’s wedding recently a thought struck that has stayed in my mind, growing bigger by the day. This thought has nagged and niggled away at my peace. I must enunciate this now or I shall lose more sleep over as thoughts the fiends that they are, only strike me when I’m comfortably ensconced in my warm blanket half way here and the other half in la-la-land.

It struck at the ‘sehra bandi’ ceremony, the cousin as you would have guessed by now was the bridegroom. Dressed in a golden shervani and safa, the dear fellow was radiant (now that’s generally a commendation reserved for the bride from whom I’m borrowing it for just this occasion, and as I know her to be a rather sporting sort I’m confident she will not mind.) So while participating with all seriousness in the ceremony where the sisters of the bridegroom tie the sehra on his safa (now it’s a known fact that the sisters of the bridegroom don’t really get too much footage at a wedding, so we take our relatively small roles quite seriously.) In our community, the sehra is composed of two parts a silver mukut and a veil made of flowers that is tied over the mukut. This particular mukut that was tied by the sisters has a unique history which will need another post to do it proper justice.

So now back to the thought that crept into my mind as I helped tie his  sehra was how much we hear, read, talk about the bride’s shringaar. We go into raptures describing to the bride her stunning clothes and accessories. From the bindi gracing her forehead to the ring sparkling on her toe, from the gajras perfuming her hair to the chunnari framing her beauty. From the lehngas twinkle to her payals tinkle, poetry has been written, songs have been sung, paintings have replicated the gorgeousness of the bride and the loveliness of her emotions. We cannot stop complimenting her on her happy glow. And we continue to congratulate her as she embarks on her journey towards love, towards a new life.

But, as for the poor bridegroom, he is rarely given the same consideration. Ribald jokes, loss of freedom, being tied to the yoke, a noose scarfing his neck are the only things the poor fellow is thrown in the way of attention. As he laughs letting slide the jokes and expendable dissuasion, the chappie camouflages his gladness effectively. Why does this happen, I question? The two are beginning a journey together, are they not? I wonder at this discrimination!

Discrimination! One would question that word. Women are discriminated against, not men some would say. Yet, I stand by discrimination. I really do feel sorry for the poor sod, who’s the bridegroom for he must hide behind his manliness and is not allowed to emote. Is he fearful of ridicule? Or is it because it’s the done thing? Whatever the reason that’s a quandary for me, that goes unanswered. The woman on the threshold of her wedding day is encouraged to be starry eyed, to express her hopes for a happy days full of love, whereas the man is made anxious with thoughts heavy pressing down on him. We allow the woman soft feelings to nurture on the other hand we don’t permit the man any display of  his.

They do, you know, have those soft feelings but hide them under brashness and bravado. You can see through the screens that they shadow behind, you just need to watch out for the signs. So, the next time you see the young boy who to the despair of his mother has never woken before the evening after a night of reveling with his friends, is up and ready for an early morning wedding puja. Or you witness the eagerness of the young man, who has never been on time for anything in his life, the first to turn up for his sehra bandi don’t be slack-jawed in surprise.

And while we are doing that let us also when telling the bride that she looks beautiful and ethereal praise the bridegroom letting him know that he looks handsome and regal.  We women will continue to hog the limelight with our embellished lehngas or sarees or suits and gorgeous jewelry, let’s pause to consider that the man does so only once, on this day, his wedding day. So, just let us take our eyes off the young lady for one brief moment and look upon this dazzling young man, donned in his magnificent brocade sherwani, hosting a symbolic pearl mala around his neck. Let’s gaze in admiration at the elegant kamarbandh encircling his waist where a sword within a bejeweled scabbard is jauntily fixed. Stop for a bit to appreciate his elegant dupatta and his stately jutis. Stare a little while with wonder at the embellished safa he proudly wears on his head onto which the mukut is affixed by loving sisters, proclaiming to all that he is the bridegroom and it is the happiest day of his life. And let us bless with hearts kind, as he sits astride the ceremonial horse with the confidence of a king, back straight in all his splendor while his sehra hides his joyful glow from any evil eye. Get together and applaud as he travels the last mile to bring love, companionship and happiness home. Allow him this day to express his pleasure just like my cousin did as he danced on the carriage that carried him to his equally and now I shall share the word with her ‘radiant’ bride as their long-held dream was on the threshold of coming true.

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Photo Credit: Richa Pandey Wadhwa

 

 

 

Uniqueness

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Another open letter to my seventeen year old and my almost teenager.

Dear Kids,

Today, both of you are at life’s important threshold, one is almost ready to walk out into the world, leaving behind the safety of home and the other steps into a phase where innocence begins to fade. As your Mum, I try to always do my best, don’t roll your eyes, you know what’s coming next. Read carefully and think clearly, I’ll try today, to expound on Uniqueness.

Peer pressure, a word you experience often enough to know its meaning and its implications. This is a word that will chase you all your life, it is not one that begins in your teenage years and gets left behind here. It is how you learn to deal with this fact of life that will set you apart making you the leader or the led. Whenever you are in a dilemma on whom to listen to, the temptations without or the conscience within, the desires of the heart or the brain that cautions, remember that the creator put the brain on top and the heart below it.

Though easier to follow, the footsteps of others, the path they carved was for them alone. It suited their purpose, it might not fit yours. Chart your own course, it might seem daunting but believe me when I say, it will be a lot less taunting. Does that mean you not learn from the achievements of others? No certainly, not.

“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;”

(-H. W. Longfellow)

You must understand that there is a difference in your own path and following another’s. The satisfaction to be gained from endeavors that are based on our own convictions rather than on those that others have influenced are easier to live with than those followed blindly.

Each of you have in you a certain something that is yours to own, for there is no one else in the world truly like you in any way. The universe gives you your individuality and that is your strength. So recognize it, embrace it and revel in it. Your uniqueness is what defines you, what separates you from the rest.

Love, Mama

 

 

Mom Rights Anyone?

VIP movements resulting in the school declaring a holiday on Monday!! Yayy and other similar squeals of excitement erupted from the tween. I sent up a silent hallelujah thanking the heavens for granting me an extra forty winks on a cold winter morning. This was how we wound down the Sunday without Monday morning blues plaguing us.

As a Mom you know that happiness such as this is short lived and all good things come with a price. Egg-jactly!! For the next day was spent trying to first get her out of bed, which was achieved at noon (please those perfect mommy’s whose kids wake up at the crack of dawn out there kindly do not judge this only to human Mother!!) Then began the task of coaxing her into the bathroom to have her shower, Whhhhyyyy Mom!! It’s a holiday!! And it’s sooooo coolllldddd!! All the moaning to test the patience of a saint (which I’m not.) Then the struggle to get her off the various gizmos we indulgent and completely ignorant parents buy when the brat makes her puppy face with promises galore on how she will be more responsible.

“Aaah!” I thought as I settled down with me well earned cuppa of green tea and much needed yet weak vitamin D after lunch (the first meal of the day in the tweens case.)

She saunters into my sanctuary of peace. “Mom, listen!” she goes dramatically, “Here’s a load of research on why we should get a dog.”

As I rolled my eyes at this oft-repeated conversation she carried on unfazed.

“Spending just 15-20 minutes with your dog can help you with managing stress.”

“Who’s stressed?” I ask.

“Uff, listen Mom. Having a dog may help reduce cardiovascular diseases.”

To which a panicked me asks, “Who’s got cardiovascular diseases in the house? Pray tell me!”

All I get is a frown in return for speaking out of turn as always.

“They are a girl’s best friend!” she continues.

“What’s wrong with your human best friend?” I ask concerned, “Did the two of you fight?”

“Moooommmm! Please take this seriously!” she admonishes and reads out more, “Having a dog makes kids responsible!” she looks at me triumphantly, hearing her lack off in that arena almost all day from me.

To which I snort and choke on my tea most unladylike.

“Mom, you know what? The animal rights people should really give you a talking to!”

“And what about Mom rights?” I ask, “Why isn’t there someone talking about those, I wonder.”

“There’s no such thing as Mom Rights!” she informs me very pointedly.

“Then it’s high time we made some,” I say. “The first one is Moms should be allowed to have their tea in peace. Second, Children should obey Mothers without questioning the ways and wherefores in a minimum of three conversations a day. Thirdly, Moms should be allowed weekly offs where children do all the housework and Moms recline in bed.” I’m happily on a roll, ignoring her expression of disbelief.

Just then the teen ambles in, “Feeling hungry, Mom! Where’s my post lunch snack?” Mother’s of 12th grade boys will only understand this creature that studies all day and some strange hours of the night and eats a minimum of 8 meals a day.

I sigh and get moving, peace eluding me yet again. After feeding the teen his after lunch snack I sit down to write this to seek solidarity and a movement, ladies for “MOM RIGHTS!” Who all are with me?

Mr Right & Mrs Always Right Buy A Car

It was the summer of 2012 and a good eight months before my birthday when the man started to get worried about my ‘four-oh.’ Reason, I’d thrown him a big surprise bash for his, a few months back! Since organising parties had always been my forte and I do happen to throw some pretty good ones. He was understandably anxious I would be disappointed when the time came for mine.  So biting his nails thoughtfully while I read the Saturday morning paper with my cuppa in hand and brain still in the zzzzzs, he casually brings up the topic and asks what I wanted for my big day.

‘A new car,’ I said, to his utter astonishment. He was expecting a holiday to exotic locales, an obnoxiously expensive bauble or something equally outrageous that ‘women’ want. But, a car, not in his wildest dreams!  HE was the automobile aficionado, I had always driven whatever was handed down to me from my Dad, Dad-in-law, him, probably from my son too (if I’d waited till he had his own set of wheels.) But, if you’re a child of the 70’s you’d know the feeling of wearing hand-me-down clothes that passed from the older siblings, hell even cousins, if you were that unlucky. So yes! I’ve always wanted my own new car.

Not one to look the gift horse in the mouth, and before I changed my ‘fickle female mind,’ we set out to look for the perfect wheels for me. When I asked for a ‘small’ car, he was all smiles, what could be better, not only did I want an automobile, which was a thing he understood, I wasn’t going to burn too big a hole in his pocket! Perfecto! What fun we had for the next two months from Honda’s, Hyundai’s, Skoda’s, Ford’s, etc, we paid every dealership a visit. The kids had their own opinions and as Mom’s car is the one that zips them to their myriad classes and social activities, sure, they were entitled! We looked at the Hyundai i10 and I felt it was too small. My son wanting to dissuade me from the Honda Brio which I seemed to be leaning toward cooked up a cock and bull story of how he had seen one whose rear windshield flew off after a truck nudged it from behind. Really! Did he think I was born yesterday! Apparently he did! Hmmm…Coming sooner than I thought! The daughter decided she wanted the new version of the Zen as it was PINK! We shuddered and scooted out of that showroom as quick as a wink.

We finally narrowed down to the Skoda’s, Fabia. Why?  Because for me it just felt right when I drove it! To which my dearest better half rolled his eyes and promptly got into the horse power, engine capacity, mileage and endless list of stuff that goes on under the hood with the sales guy while I fell into a stupor induced by sheer boredom. The kids gave their sanction on the basis that it was ‘okay’ to be seen in by their peer group, certainly not the best but, not the worst either! We took my shining new beauty home, it was love at first sight for me and I couldn’t have been prouder. The Man and I constantly competed on whose car was better kept and a better drive, with him on certain generous occasions acceding that mine was a more convenient drive sometimes, ‘mind it’ only sometimes. While I always said his Volkswagen Vento was a bumbling giant on the roads over whose bonnet I could not see the road (my opinion only, please do not sue me Volkswagen people.)

We had some great times over the next two and a half years, the Fabia and I.  Some funny and one or two that had my kids dragging me off the roads back home as they thanked the almighty!!