Sunday, December 13, 2015

Adhoori Hasratein

Kuch hasratein reh jaati hai khali khali
Kayin khwab reh jaatein hai gumsum
Zindagi guzar jaati hai inhein paane mein
Aur yunhi aas lagaye jiye jaatein hain hum

Kabhi agar tahar ke socha hota
Toh joh paya hai usse sambhala hota
Sameta hota un adbhoot lamhon ko
Aur dafnaya hota na kaam sapno ko

Lekin insan ki fidrat mein theraav kahan?
Hasil karne ka junoon rehta hai sada
Rukja Rukja oh bhataktein musafir
Tu jo khoj raah hai woh milega nahin wahan

Woh toh hai tere andar, chupa hua, sahma hua,
Intezaar mein ke tu kab bichayega apni nazarein
Woh khushi hai jo rehti hai hum sab mein
Aur hum dhunde rehtein hai usse ek doosrein mein

Aaj hua hai yeh ahsaas, ki yeh kitna fisool hai
Kaash kal bhi yeh salaah yaad rahein...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bikini Body (A Poem)

A bikini body? Well not quite
More like a body in a bikini
With curves and folds
Sometimes more folds than curves
Folding soccer jerseys
While driving a teeny bit fast on curvy bends
Timing is everything
After all little league matches don't happen everyday
Neither do ballet performances
Daily happenings are morning bus rush
Evening homework hell
And weekend extra curriculars
So what is that one additional curve?
Or those innocuously looking folds?
Sometimes accompanied with a stretch mark or two
Or that ominous C-section scar
That voice that says "yes baby I will be with you in a minute"
But the tone that whispers "just another few minutes of peace please"
The hand that grasps the little fingers
The hug that is always a little tighter than expected
The fold in the laugh lines
The curve in the tired smile
Every fold has a story
Every curve a history
But few would care to listen
After all it's only a body in a bikini
Not a bikini body

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Mums vs. Maids won't lead to behavior change #mumsvsmaid #igiveadayoff

In Singapore we are rather spoilt. We have full time live-in help. They help us with household work, grocery shopping, cooking, special tasks like returning overdue library books (may be thats only me) and yes...looking after our children. Even though legally they should get a day off a week, many employers don't allow this basic right for their maids. Here is what was created as a solution to solve this issue.

If you have not yet seen it.

And here are my reasons on why this won't work

1) Total lack of understanding of the issue: Maids, like everyone of us, need to get their day off. It's their legal right. And it's inhumane for employers to deny them this basic right. If it's so obvious, why is it not practiced? If the intention is to solve the problem, this question needs to be answered.

So why is the question not asked, let alone answered? Because it's not sexy enough. Who wants to deal with real issues when you can simply create a 'provocative' video which will 'generate buzz'? Does it matter that the buzz is for all the wrong reasons? Nah. Who cares about right reasons?

2) The insight that is not insightful: Idea was to reposition the maid's day off as an opportunity to enhance family bonding- but if the maid has a day off on the working mum's day off, isn't the mum busy with regular household chores to actually spend quality time with her child? So it's a counter intuitive message. 

Maids deserve their day off for legal, moral and basic humane reasons. Not because mums need quality time with their kids. Mums get more of that when the maid is at home- cooking, cleaning, washing, grocery shopping and the whole long list of other household must-dos.

3) Blame and Shame does not work: Especially not when it comes to working mums. You believe the mum likes to be in office till 8 pm while the maid gives the child dinner? You think a mother enjoys missing soccer practice in lieu of training workshop so the maid can cheer when her son scores a goal? You think a mum relishes the opportunity to go on business trips leaving her child to be tucked in at night by the helper? Most of us simply don't have a choice in the matter.

Working mums have it the toughest. The guilt never wanes. The work seldom stops. We becomes master jugglers. Practicing our skills daily, relentlessly. Praying the balls don't drop. We do not need condescending, patronizing voices to make us feel we are failing our children. Because anyone who has not done this juggling, please shut the f$&) up! 

4) Your helper leaves her kids to look after yours: Yes she is earning a salary and making a living. But you can't shy away from the fact that many of our helpers have their own children back home. They don't see them for years at a stretch. They save every dollar they can to send home for a better life for their kids. For their schooling. For their clothes. For their food. For their shelter. Everything we take for granted here. 

For simply that reason she not only deserves a day off, but much more. She deserves our recognition, our empathy, our respect. Mother to Mother. Human to Human. 

5) So where's the dad in the equation? When the mum is busy working with no apparent time for her child, and the maid is bonding with the kid and knows that she wants want to be princess and not a teacher, what is the father doing?

Parenting is a responsibility of a father and a mother. Not the mother and the maid. So what about a campaign asking fathers to bear equal responsibility with the kids and giving the working mum a much needed afternoon nap and the maid her day off? 

Yes the video has succeeded in 'generating talkability', 'creating engagement', 'connecting the community' and whatever is the latest social media buzz word. What it won't do is resolve the issue. Because that needs people to be less selfish. To have empathy for the maid. To care for her like they do for your own family. To have basic respect. No ad campaign or video can teach anyone that.

We need to empower the maids to bring any injustice to attention of the authorities and create a safe environment for them so they can speak up. Wonder why no one bothered talking to the maids to really understand their issues? Oh yeah, who wants to see the ugly side of things? You don't win awards for that. And it sounds like way too much hard work.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The girl with a book (A Poem)

She dashes just in time for the final boarding call
Because airport book shops should never be missed
She adores browsing second-hand book stores
They smell of memories... like a long-forgotten kiss

Bookmarks are more than mere page pointers
They are used to pause a story; and start a dream
Dog ears are a strict no-no, never-ever
They bother her like dark coulds blocking a sun beam

Old friends are lost, new strangers don't even count
As she has her nose in her book, all profound
Hopelessly lost in the world of another's making
Immune to glances, unperturbed by sounds

The back of rickshaw, or on a sunny deck chair
Steps of a chaotic road corner, or a cafe by the beach
Sneaking through pages before meetings, between dinners
A book (or two) is always within her reach

When a story is over, a part of her dies a little death
When she opens the first crisp pages of a new one
She enlivens and brightens once again
For her mind to skip, to sing, to dance, to run

Characters are embraced like friends anew
Heroines idolized, villians admonished
Heroes captured in the mind's eye for years to come
Each one leaves his mark (but a few Darcy's are forever cherished) 

Don't stare, don't mind. She's not ignoring you on purpose
She simply doesn't desire that second look
She enthralled, she's captivated
Coz she will always be the girl with a book

Friday, April 17, 2015

Alvida eh farishta (Goodbye oh Angel)- A poem

Ek nadi hai, ek bahar hai
Ek roshini ki pukar hai
Ek hai chavi sharmayi si
Ek hai saya sahema sa

Ek hai kahani ansooni
Ek hai nagma soona soona
Ek hai hasi khilkhilati hui
Ek hai umeed dabdabati hui

Ek hai rimjhim ka salona sawan
Ek hai kadakti dhoop ka alaam
Ek hai sooraj cham chamata
Aur kayin hai tarein jhilmilatein

Unhi taaron men kya ek ho tum?
Yaan raat ki tanhayi me kaid ho tum?

Bus itni ki khabar hain humein
Ki ab dekh na paayenge hum tumhein
Nahin kar payeinge woh chulbuli baatein
Nahin baant payeinge gum bhari saugatein

Kaash humare paas hotein chan aur pal
Kaash humne guzarein hotein kuch aur lamhein
Ab in moothibhari yaadon ko kitna sametein?
Tumhare saath inhe dafna bhi nahin saktein

Yeh rahengi humare zehn mein sada
Bus ab hum sirf keh saktein hain alvida
Alvida eh farista, alvida

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is it Selfishness in the garb of Feminism? #mychoice

At the onset, let me get this out of the way. I know we women have had it tough. We still do. Female infanticide is still being practiced. Men rape women for pure lust, revenge or simply because they can. Women are paid less for the same job. And expected to leave their flourishing careers to raise babies. Yes gender discrimination exists. In some countries and cultures more than others.

However I find today's 'modern' women are increasingly hiding under the veil of feminism.

If a women decides to quit her job to look after children, it's considered normal, noble even. Catch a man do that, and eye brows are raised and quick assumptions are reached "He probably lost his job. Poor guy has no choice. Why else would he swap diapers for dollars?"

A woman coming home at midnight after an office party is exercising her choice. A man doing so is being a prick for ignoring his family.

After a long stressful day a work when a woman has to wash the dishes post dinner, we pity her. But then what about the housewife's or stay at home mums who insist that their husbands have to participate, equally if I may add, to all the household and children chores, despite being the breadwinners who put in 12 hour days at work? 

When a man painstakingly cooks dinner for his wife (even if it's Maggi 2-minute noodles) it's considered romantic. But when a women does the same she is judged as being a doormat.

Ladies kitty parties and 'tai tai' high teas are an acceptable lifestyle. And a man needs to cajole his wife and buy her presents to get a boys night out pass. 

Where is the equality in any of this? Feminism is not about putting men down. It's about being equal. So same rules apply. What's wrong for the gander is wrong for the goose too. 

If we women want the privilege of having a choice to do as we please, we have to bear the responsibility of those choices. 

I opted for a three day work week when my son was born. I was passed over for promotion. Twice. This is NOT discrimination. It's fair. Fair on the man who got the promotion as he was working his ass off, while I organized play dates. Yes it was my choice, but it came at a price that I am to some extent still paying for. My choice. My price. 

Wearing shorts  and singlets is as much my right as wearing a sari. Strangely in world we live in today I will be ridiculed for the latter and applauded for the former. 

A mother plays the baby card and is exempted from working weekend, while men pick up the slack. 

Women who choose to not have a baby are judged more by other women than by men. A 'career women' is berated for her choice. As is a stay at home mum. By women. Us women judge. One way or the other.

Stop. Take a breath. Menfolk are not against you. You are fighting you own inner battle. You want to make your choices emphatically, but don't want the burden of the consequences. 

I find many women conflicted nowadays. Simply because we have way too many choices. Ask yourself "What do I want?". And then make a plan to make it happen. Accept the good and the bad of the choice. Stand up and take responsibility for that choice. And remember your choices affect the ones around you. Making choices unequivocally is not asserting your feminism. It's purely being selfish. 

I would like to clarify that women referred to here are the educated, high social economic class, urban women. Women who have a tons of choices. The biggest one is being true to who they are inside. So if you want to quit your job to pursue your passion, talk to your husband, plan your finances and do it! And if you want to put your child in day care to focus on your career, don't play martyr-mum. And if you are lucky to be footloose and fancy free and capable of paying your own bills, then go ahead and do whatever the hell you wish. Because when you decide to share your life with someone, they become a part of your choices. Trick is finding someone who will stand by your choices. As you will stand by his (or hers).

Monday, March 23, 2015

An outsider looking in- An Expat’s tribute for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Growing up in India in the 80s, Singapore to me was a shopping paradise. My cousin used to visit often and came back with the loveliest clothes, the prettiest accessories and an occasional TV. I constantly heard about the fabulous Orchard Road and the electronic haven that was High Street. I set foot in Singapore very many years later in 1998. My first time away from family and I was homesick. And how!

  • I used to live in an HDB. And I hated it! I hated common corridors, the unfathomable concept of elevators not stopping on every floor and the large kitchen-small bathroom layout. This was till I realized that Singapore had the least number of homeless people in the world. Almost every Singaporean had a roof over his head thanks to this public housing system
  • At that time I traveled from Yishun to CBD in the efficient and comfortable MRT and yet I lamented about the length of the commute. I thought Singapore should have ‘fast’ trains like the Mumbai local which helped cut down travel time by half compared to the normal train. Later someone explained to me that Singapore was an egalitarian society. Thus no area should receive priority over the other and hence the same train graces every station
  • I used to sorely missed my idli-dosa and was amazed that Little India housed some fantastic options
  • I was there when the beautiful red brick National Library building was torn down to make way for SMU. It was a place where I spent my early years in Singapore lost in my world of literature and books. I cried when it no longer existed. Until I related to Singapore’s vision of developing into an education hub
  • In my first work place, there were 15 people, with 12 different nationalities. Very few nations can boast of such a cosmopolitan culture
  • My first friends were Singaporeans- Chinese, Malay and a Eurasian. Plus a Brit expat. Perfect reflection of the Singaporean population :) They are still my dearest friends more than a decade later.

Over the years I have moved from a HDB to a condo. From heartland to expat playground and I have seen Singapore prosper and grow. Taking me along with it. I saw Marina Bay Sands being built in front of my eyes in a record time of less than five years. I attended an international soccer match at the Sports Hub last Oct when a few years ago it was merely rubble. I witnessed the construction of both these marvels from my balcony and the speed of development never ceased to amaze me.

My son adores Bombay, but only considers Singapore home. As a single mum, I appreciate the conveniences, safety and security that Singapore offers even more than most people.

Over the last 16 years I have seen the Singapore skyline evolve. I am now connected to even more places thanks to the Circle Line and am awaiting the completion of the Downtown line eagerly. I observed the birth of Terminal 3 and kept track of the accolades that Changi airport received year after year. It is undoubtedly world's best! I have seen changes, growth and progress at a pace that would make one’s head spin. 

I watched myself flourish professionally thanks to the opportunities this island state offered.  And advance financially due to its sound policies. Where I am today and what I have achieved, I owe a great deal to Singapore and hence to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I have you to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew for having the vision and building a country like none other. I owe you my independence Sir. My gratitude is beyond words. I wish from your resting place you see Singapore continue to thrive and succeed. The way I have seen it for last 16 years.

RIP. Your job here is done and now it’s up to mere mortals like us to keep up your good work and your unfailing spirit. 

Thank you Sir.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A to Z of Happiness

Accept. Not Amass.

Beauty. Not Botox.

Clever. Not Cunning.

Dream. Not Desire.

Equilibrium. Not Excitement.

Fabulous. Not Filmy.

Glib. Not Glum.

Home. Not House.

Intuition. Not Imitation.

Joyful. Not Jealous. 

Knowledge. Not Know-it-all.

Love. Not Label.

Mother. Not Monitor. 

Now. Not Nay.

Original. Not Off-the-shelf.

People. Not Projects.

Quest. Not Quit.

Rest. Not Rust.

Sweet. Not Sappy.

Traveler. Not Tourist.

Understand. Not Usurp. 

Vivacity. Not Vanity.

Will. Not Whim.

XOXO. Not Xanax.

Young. Not Youth.

Zen. Not Zzzzzzz.

Written while stuck in traffic jam from Colaba to Lower Parel. Inspiration can truly strike anywhere :)

8 Jan 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Wishing for less this New Year

Humans are inherently greedy. We constantly desire for more. Bigger house, better job, more money, expansive hand bags, more elaborate parties, fancier vacations and the list just goes on.

2014 has been a year full of turmoil. Planes have mysteriously disappeared, terrorists have brutally killed innocent children, religious wars have been rampant with unfortunately no end in sight. Personally I have witnessed many shocking and sad occurrences. There has been plenty of good too, which makes you remember to always count your blessings.

So for 2015 I pray for less

Less desires. More acceptance

Less stress. More letting go.

Less acquaintances. More friendships.

Less annoyances. More understanding.

Less asking. More giving.

Less calories. More nutrition.

Less highs. More equanimity.

Less cravings. More peace.

Less parties. More conversations. 

Less acquisition. More enjoyment.

Less chasing. More stability.

Less attachment. More love. 

Less me. More you.

I hope in 2015 I can declutter my mind and heart and be content with less. Here's wishing
.you the same. Because when it comes to being happy, less is more