Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mentor Her

Mentorship is critical. As a small town girl, I have always craved for mentors. I seek guidance from my teachers, friends and their parents. Their advice and encouragement played an important part in choosing my majors and shaping my career.

Once I landed in Engineering college, I felt lost. Looking back I realize, the college was predominately filled with boys with less than 10% girls. While, boys socialized and received the appropriate guidance from their seniors. It was not available to girls unless you have support from boys. I remember joking to my friends that how having a boy friend actually helps you so much in getting through the assignments and exams.

In my first job, many design and career discussions happened over breaks. I told my boss that soon I may start smoking to participate in those discussions. Over the years, things have not changed much. Men still strategize more over the drinks or social gatherings. I secretly wish to be part of those informative discussions. But men feel uncomfortable and hesitant to invite the female counterparts.

In today's time of #Metoo moment, it is feared that hesitation will increase further. But we need men to involve women, guide them and encourage them. So don't exclude her, but mentor her. Mentor your friends, daughters, wives or yours colleagues. #MentorHer, #LeanIn 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Raise a gentleman

The other day, my four year old came from school and said, "We should not hit girls. We should protect them.". His words started a train of thoughts in my mind, while I was contemplating my response. On one side, it was an opportunity for me to teach him the valuable lesson to respect women. An opportunity to teach him that he is right, we should never hit a girl with words or actions. We should be gentle and polite to women and stand by them. On the other hand, I did not want to send the message that girls are weaker and boys are superior and girls need to be protected. While I was fighting with these thoughts, I just murmured, "Yes, that's right." and ended the conversation.

My thoughts did not end there. After thinking more I feel, yes, in the perfect world, we will not need to appoint guards to support girls. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world. Be it the air conditioned offices at corporate America or streets filled with uneducated people at New Delhi ( plus little Indian towns), girls need support and encouragement. In corporate offices, women are judged on different parameters than men. Studies have shown that women are interrupted in meetings more than men. Men do not hesitate to take credit for women's ideas or their work.  Same idea presented by a man takes everyone in awe while a woman's idea goes unheard. We need more men and women in office to build a culture where woman gets heard and gets her due credit.

Back at home (India) and in many other societies, women (Be it teen aged girls or middle to old aged ladies) need to be accompanied by so called protective men to protect the ladies from other not so protective men on streets. Street are filled with men and women alike who judge the women from hemline of skirts or 'anchal of their dupatta' (scarf to cover the breasts). We need other gentlemen who can stand up with women against these guardians of society.

While struggling with these thoughts, I believe, it is right to teach my boys that we don't hit women. We need to teach them that woman is there to be heard, to be encouraged and to be given freedom of choice just like boys. Only when we have such men, who know how to respect a woman and treat her with dignity, we will have no need to protect her.

As a mother, I take that responsibility to raise my two little boys as gentle men who know how to respect, listen and protect a woman.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mothers Day

This is my fourth mother's day as a mom. It has been amazing, exciting, fun but crazy time.
Here are my favorites of motherhood:
Gone are the days when 'Times' and 'Business Today' used to be the first choice of magazine. Favorite magazine now is 'Parents' magazine.

Only book I have read other than the kids story books is book about 'picky eaters'. Have read 'Good Night Moon' and 'Runway bunny' at least 1000 times by now.

I am now an expert in taking shower in three minutes. I feel lucky if I get those three minutes during the day. Usual shower time has shifted to 9 p.m just before putting kids to sleep.

Every night, I hope that kids will sleep and I will be able to get 'me' time. But then call it laziness or whatever you want to, I am unable to put that kiddo sleeping on my chest; down on his bed. Hence My bed time has shifted to 10 p.m as well with one kid sleeping on top of me and other on my extended arm.

I have memorized all nursery rhymes by heart. I don't really notice listening those in car even when kids are not around. My youtube page is filled with TV shows like curious George, Mickey mouse and Disney movies.

No stress is bigger than kids not eating properly, which has been a constant struggle. Only thing which is terrible than that is when they throw up after an hour long stressful eating session.
Nothing hurts more than kids feeling sick.

Any shopping is incomplete without atleast one kids' item in the list.

The best place in the mall is kids play area. Many times this had been our motivation to go to mall on muggy days.

Extending your hand when kid is about to throw up has become like reflex action. It sounds gross while writing about it, but at that moment I don't even think of it.

I feel surprised when I find a neat pair of clothes without any food marks on it. Sometimes I have found stains while sitting in meetings at office. Now I just try to scratch those off without a hint of frown.

It takes six sittings to finish a movie. Infact movies have turned into series of episodes.

Laundry keeps piling up after several attempts to fold it on time. Sometimes these attempts get wasted when kids start jumping over the folded clothes. This list goes on.

These are just few fun things of being mom. All this is worth when the reward is invaluable hugs and kisses. I am sure all you moms can relate to this. So wishing all you super moms a very Happy Mothers Day. Special Thanks to my mom for doing all this for me and my siblings, while working relentlessly at home.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This side of the planet

I promised  myself to make a decision by end of 2014 to move back to India. With approaching deadline, I think about all the great things I will miss. Here is my list:

911: First and foremost, I will miss 911. The feeling that help is just a phone call away is great reassurance. It gives me the peace of mind. I feel secure and confident.

Public Library: It was hard to believe that membership at public library was free. Even though, I was never an ardent reader, I made good use of it. Read many books and now we borrow books for kids. Its a nice way to get  a variety of books for them. Although, there has never been a time when we did not pay fine for a book but that is another story.

Roads, Infrastructure and Driving: There is no need to say, I am going to miss the wide roads, fast cars and ability to drive myself. Less traffic jams and easy commute is a great way to explore places. You can rely on google maps  for time and directions while planning for a trip. No need to worry about unforeseen conditions ahead.

No Litter: One of the thing which disgusted me always at home was people's attitude about public roads. Roads are just considered as trash bins and are used to dump house hold trash. People do not think twice to litter on roads. On other hand, people here are expected to clean after dogs. I just love it.

Nature: I was surprised to see the green trees beneath when I first landed at Boston.  It was quite contrary to the typical concrete jungle image I had, from KJ's movies. I have fallen in love with this. I could never imagine the visit from deers at office. Whereas spotting deer or moose is a common and refreshing sight.

Air at home is highly polluted. All thanks to ongoing construction and running factories and vehicles. Side effect of pollution is sky becomes dull. I was shocked to see starless sky on my recent visit to Delhi. But here, I can gaze at beautiful sky full of stars for long. One of my favorite activity with my son.

Weather: Never thought, I would say it. I just hate the SNOW. We get lot of snow here at New Hampshire. But, I am surely going to miss the experience of changing weather. All four weathers have their own charm. Spring brings the life back. I love the chirping  birds and blooming trees. Summer provides a great opportunity to go out and have fun at beaches or outdoors. Fall is very special and brings beautiful colors. And then comes the white snow colored winter and beautiful Christmas. Definitely going to miss it.

People: One of the reason to go back is to be with my own people. I crave to talk to my own people in my language. But at the same time, I know people there are nowhere as polite as here. Its such a delight to even talk to a stranger here. In general people are polite and helpful. You don't need to risk your life to cross the road. Cars will stop for you. You don't have to  fear being crushed  while boarding a local train or bus. Not only I can be fearless while getting out, I can also have faith that if I loose something, I will get it back. I can never forget how I got back my new lost camera or my gold ring (both lost at mall). I even got my lost external storage disk after three years. Thank you all for being so nice.

Online Shopping: Even though, e-commerce is catching up at India but its still in nascent stage. Being a lazy bum myself, I love the convenience of getting stuff delivered at home. It saves a lot of time and energy. I am hopeful that I will be able to make use of local shops at home as its replacement.

Food: I absolutely love Indian food. Being a vegetarian I have limited options in other cuisines. But, I am still going to miss the variety of cuisines I saw here. There is no shortage of my favorite  Italian or Mexican or Thai places or  my less favorite Japanese, Sushi places (pun intended). It provides a great variety for your taste buds.

Freedom and Safety: Love the freedom and respect given to women here. I have never felt so confident and safe being woman. I feel the confidence of achieving anything by being here. I feel safe while going out and do not feel anxious for my kids. This place has taught me that woman is not anyone's private property. She can have her own life, own views and believes. She does not need to always act  as daughter, wife or mother. She can be an individual with her own life and aspirations and should be respected for that.

And the list goes on. I certainly experienced great things here. I will always cherish the time spent. Thank God for giving me opportunity to experience this.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Happy Friendship Day.

My dear best friend,

I have been missing you very much lately. More than you, I am missing the time spent together. I have your number and have thought many times to give a call. But, then I feel making a call will dissolve the memories, I have treasured for long. What if you have changed and what if I don't feel the same warmth as before. I don't want to give away the only thing I am left with as a token of your friendship: memories of time spent together and all the silliness we have done together. After all we have not really talked in years like we used to. What if you have moved on and have left old relations and friendships way back. But, then I think, we have shared common things in past. So even if you are changed now, we should still have similarities. And that makes me believe that you will be missing me as well. With that note, I smile and wishes you a very Happy Friendship day.

If you read it and get the message that this is for you, then we still share the special bond. If not then, I will hold the memories in my heart to be cherished forever.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Home is Home

All desis who come to US either short term or long term, have one thing in common: One day, they want to go back to their country. We are no exception. Like rest of us, we came here thinking that we will be back in couple of years. And like most of us, we are here for more than five years now. But recently, we have been contemplating plans to move back. I have assigned a dead line to myself. Have decided that if we don't go back by next year end, then we are no more thinking about going back.

Relocating is always a big thing. When it comes to relocating to a different country miles away its even more difficult. But with my goal in mind, I asked one of my friends who recently went back about how do they feel. Since they have been in the same boat, their experience is quite relevant. She gave me the answer I was looking for. She said, you need to have a clear idea why are you coming back. Life is not easy as in States. Even if there is lot of progress being made but lot of challenges still remain, specially in day to day life. You can easily get frustrated by the system. It takes a lot of time and effort to get obvious things done. You can easily get frustrated and start regretting. But when that happens, you need to remember the actual reason why you moved back. That made me thinking, and here is this post to myself, elaborating why I want to go back:

1) First on the list is the Festivals: Even though, by no means we are a very enthusiastic family who celebrates festivals with a bang, but its the euphoria around you which touches you. When you see the chamak of Diwali lights everywhere, be it on roads, offices, TV soaps or neighbors, you automatically come into the mood of celebration. You can not remain untouched when you see your neighbors whitewashing their homes or making rangoli outside. Its the child hood memories of festivals which makes me celebrate those. I want to show my kids the same heritage.

I don't want to think about office on Diwali. Sheer joy of greeting one another or exchanging gifts and sweets with friends and family on common festivals is overwhelming. I miss going in a packed shop to buy beautiful bangles just before karwachauth or shop for the best rakhi for my dearest brother. I miss the Janamashtami night when all the temples in street are adorned and kids drees up like kanhiya ji or gopis. I miss the colors of Holi even though I never liked drenching up in water. I miss the moongfali and revrhi and 'Sunda Mundriye' of Lorhi. I miss the early morning going to rooftop for flying kites on Sankranti.

Yes, there are many festivals here, but I still have not learnt how to celebrate those. Basically, I am ignorant and don't really know what you do on those days (Thanks giving, Christmas). Yes we get holidays on those days, but that makes it even more tough. Holiday means nothing is available in market. You can not even go to mall or restaurants. I remember searching for at least one pizza joint on thanks giving with no luck. So you can not go out and since I have no family here I can not go to them as well to celebrate. Since, I don't know what to do on these days, I wonder how kids will learn. NO, its not the life I want for myself or for them.

2) Family: As its obvious from #1 that fun of celebrating any festival or a special day is when your loved ones are around. My family is miles and miles away. It not even possible to make a phone call when I truly miss them. I have to look at clock to decide if its appropriate to call. So, that leaves me with weekends to talk. Even when I make a call, its difficult to relate to the mindset of the other person. They are almost ready to hit the bed if I call in the morning. I am in my morning rush of preparing breakfast or taking shower or start the day. Its so difficult to relate to one another.

Now here, I am talking about first family, but what about extended family. Its been so long since I spoke to my masis or bhuas. I don't get time and since they have to make International calls I can't blame them for not calling me. Making phone call itself is so difficult so its a no brainer that you can't think of meeting your family or extended family members. My son is 15 months now and no one except my mom has seen him yet. My grand mom passed away last year and I could not even meet her in more than five years. She could not see her first great grand son.

Weddings, two years ago I almost cancelled my trip to attend my own sister's wedding. Forget about cousins or friends. I have not seen any of my cousin's better halves or kids yet. I miss attending weddings and being part of all traditions. I miss getting crazy while shopping for wedding ahead. I miss getting together with cousins and their kids. I want to see my brothers and sisters more often. I want our kids to grow together.

From my child hood the sweetest and most cherished memories I have, are those when we went to naani k ghar on each summer vacation. Wonder where will my kids go or will they even understand naani or maamu ka ghar. Will they ever get the chance of being pampered by younger maamu or maasi.

Its not just about happy times. In this far away country, whom to call when you need someone when you are sick or at hospital. Yes, we have been fortunate to have some good friends around, but still its difficult. Same time, what to do when your family needs you. You cannot just buy a ticket and fly.

3) Language, Clothes : Yes, I can speak English and can understand it with accent now. But, that is not my language. I cannot express myself in this foreign language. I still can neither crack a joke nor can I understand one in English. I don't get their context and am sure they don't get mine either. I am unable to feel that personal touch with people I see daily. Though people here are more nice and polite than my own people, still I cannot relate to them. Their problems are different, their way of living life or work is different. As my visa status says, I feel like an alien.

Coming to clothes, its not like after moving back to India, I will start wearing saree to office. I will still wear the comfortable jeans. But, I love my desi dresses, the vibrant colors, the beautiful bangles, Heavy embroidery or soft silk.

4) Movies: Hollywood movies might be more logical and more practical and fun but I want to watch apni Bollywood movies. The larger than life stars, their promotions, tv shows, their masala news. That fills up a big part of your day. I still have not figured out a single tv serial here which I like and I wait for.

5) Food: Food is not at the bottom, but I am just not that hungry right now. Yes, there are more cuisines here. You can get Italian, Japnese or Thai or Mexican whatever you want to, but nothing can beat the swad of eating tikki chat or ragdha samosa or pani poori from roadside (I admit I might not be able to eat that anymore, even after going back. Call it NRI effect). What about mouth watering desi sweets, Jalebis or amertis or lassi makhan maar k.

6) Roads: Oh yes I miss roads. I know roads and infrastructure are terrible in India. But I want to get back my ability to walk on roads and streets. I don't want to drive a car for 10 mins walkable distance. I want to do window shoppping at paalika bazar and commercial street walking.

There are many more subtle things. Even though, I love the personal independence and opportunity I get in this country and the convenience and security it offers, but home is home. As I always say, you can go to a five start hotel for a vacation but soon you start missing home no matter how unorganized that is. I want to go HOME soon. Disclaimer: This is by no means a generic post. It is very subjective and personal. Different people can have different priorities and they make choices based on that. There is no wrong in either staying here or going back. Ultimately, its what makes you happy. This post is mainly for myself. Its a note to self, which, I can look upon whenever, I make my choice.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I envy home makers.

Till date I felt proud in calling myself an ambitious career oriented girl. But, I envy those women who have an option to sit back home and do the daily chores. Home makers, who don't feel guilty of not working. They get all the happiness by making delicious dishes for their husband and kids and extended family members and friends. They may get worried about increasing food prices but fluctuation in stock market does not bother them. Few words of appreciation for the food they prepared give them more happiness than an annual salary review. Their happiness quotient is far too higher than any average working woman. They get all the pleasure of life. They get the privilege of seeing their kids growing. Yes, they may have their days of stress and discomfort when they need to bear their mother in laws all day long. But then, that is better than jellofi (bear) your arrogant boss. They can take nap when they feel drowsy and go for shopping whenever they feel like. They don't need to sip cups and cups of kaffine to pretend that they are awake.

Wonder why the heck people call these home workers, soft and weak.They have actually got the covetous job which all the working people aspire for.