Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Strangers Speak

I travel frequently with my family and almost always by train. Last week we made a very short trip to Pune to see my mother who will soon move to Kolkata with my brother and his wife. We generally travel by the AC Class, but with last minute booking of tickets, we decided to travel by the Sleeper Class for availability of seats.

On our return journey, we had three senior citizens for company. A Bengali couple who kept to themselves and a Maharashtrian gentleman who exchanged pleasantries. As the train left Pune with the hustle and bustle due to a lot of local travellers who get in at Pune to get off at nearby stations; my attention went to the seats at the side where a elderly muslim gentleman was sitting. He must be about 70 years . A middle aged lady approached him regarding the seat occupancy and she sat across and the conversation (in Hindi) began as follows :

Lady: Are you travelling alone?

Man: Yes amma. Gives a charming toothless smile

Lady: Is this your seat?

Man: Yes, How about you?

Lady: I am also travelling alone. I have a confirmed seat. My husband ensured that I have a confirmed seat.

Man: To Hyderabad ?

Lady: Yes, How about you?

Man: To Hyderabad. Where are you from?

Lady: From Hyderabad, My daughter stays here, she is married.

Man: How many children do you have?

Lady: I have three, eldest is a son, followed by two daughters. The youngest is yet to get married.

Man: What does your son do?

Lady: My son is in the army. We are not in touch with him. He left us to marry a girl of his choice. That girl very neatly trapped him. Last I heard they had a baby.

Man: Ooh!

Lady: What to do ? Not once has he tried to meet us. It is o.k. This is our destiny. How about your family?

Man: I have two sons and a daughter. Both the sons are married. I have good daughters-in-law. They take good care of me and my wife.

Lady: Oh that is nice. Were you visiting relatives in Pune?

Man: Smiles and blushes. No I have a wife in Pune.

Lady: What? Looks shocked and amused at the same time.

Man: Yes, I have two wifes. One in Hyderabad and one in Pune. Grins

Lady: Children?

Man: I have two sons and a daughter by my Pune wife too. Both sides BARABAR ( equal). These two sons are also married and here too my daughters-in-law are good.

Lady: But then how do you manage two families? Where do you stay?

Man: I stay most of the time in Hyderabad. I visit Pune every two or three months.

Lady: How about your wifes?

Man: Oh both cannot stand each other. But my children are very understanding. They take good care of their respective mothers. I had to visit Pune now because my wife here is unwell. She has been diagnosed with bone cancer and is bedridden. So I went to see her and took her to hospital.

Lady: But then you are returning back so quickly.

Man: No problem, my sons will take good care of their mother. I have faith in them. I will visit her again in a month or two...

Meanwhile Dhaund station arrived. This station is famous for the tasty Wada Pav ( Potato patties with bun), a desi veg burger. It is tea time. So everybody is hankering to get the Wada Pavs and Chai before the train leaves. We too did the same. And I got engrossed in relishing my Wada Pav and Chai. When I told my husband who was sitting next to me, the tales of the gentleman and his two wives and the lady's forsaken son, he looked surprised, he had not heard a word and he thought I was reading my FEMINA. I know he did not hear a word because on the opposite upper berth were two love birds (short distance travellers) cuddling and saying sweet nothings. My husband was annoyed and worried that our daughter who was sleeping on the adjacent upper berth would get up and see the romance and then ask us umpteen questions. Thankfully, they got off the train in the next station.

But what sounded interesting and amazed me was how two perfect strangers share the events of their personal lives and their inmost feelings and emotions without any inhibitions. They need not ask each other their names or addresses of their destinations, but will develop a temporary special bond, close enough to reveal each other their personal lives and events.

Well, the reason could be that there are no obligations, no judgments, no ridicule, no commitments in this relationship and you find a good listener and an empathiser who will prove not to be a threat is whatsoever way. We tend to feel safe because we may not bump into the same person again. Therefore we unburden our emotional baggages temporarily and it does give us momentary relief .

Friday, July 20, 2007

Eat Out

A new restaurant " MOKSH" opened for public on 07/07/07 in Hyderabad. It is located on the Ministers road, overlooking the Tank Bund and the Necklace road. Hyderabadis, especially the vegetarians will know the restaurant " NEST" which doesn't exist anymore. And Moksh is located on the same premises. It is the "UTSAV" ( A leading pure Veg restaurant located adjacent to LAMBA Theater, Secunderabad) owners new initiative.

Moksh is a three storeyed buliding with the first floor for 'Fine Dining" - serving Indian, Chinese and Italian
Veg and Non-veg delicacies ; cocktails and mocktails. The second floor has a 400 seater banquet hall and the third floor has a roof garden which is still under construction. The interiors are done by the well known interior designer Mr. Yeshwant Ramamurthy. The reddish brown interiors gives a earthy feel, with partitions and walls decorated with grinding stones , glass pieces and wood. The menu looks elaborate and exotic. The rates are slightly expensive than UTSAV's.

We had the privilege to experience good food before the inaugural as we were invited by one of the owners who is a family friend. I relished the sweet corn soup, paneer seekh kebab, aloo paratha , Saunf Dum Aloo, Kesari Kofta curry , Veg Dum Biriyani and topped it with Kubani Ka Meetha , a typical hyderabadi dessert made of apricots. I also had a Mocktail to drink, which was sweet and a combination of strawberry syrup, fanta and something else; I don't remember the name either as it sounded new to me.

So all of you there, we now have MOKSH for a good gastronomic experience!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Child - A Master or Mistress of all Trades

This write-up was exclusively written for the BLOG " Rambling with Bellur". The article appeared in two parts and is titled " Kids are a Powerful Force" .

At the moment, I share my views about children, based on my experience and observations as a mother, aunt , sister ( to many little cousins) , friend ( a few of my daughter's friends are mine too), and lastly as a psychologist and a counsellor. My life has not been the same since September 7, 2000, the day my daughter came into this world. She will soon be seven and believe me, it has been a journey of non-stop activity and entertainment.

I was always fascinated to see new born babies making different facial expressions and crying in different tones and sounds, to convey some need and also something they probably enjoy hearing. The magical moment is when the baby sucks the mother's breast which is a natural reflex on the part of the baby.

So this behaviour or actions demonstrated by a normal and healthy baby is innate or inborn and not taught.

Then begins the growing up process where the child reaches each cherished milestones and starts school. It is also the beginning of a learning process, and developing new behaviour patterns, by watching, sensing and feeling from the proximity of the environment and people present in it.

The focus is now on learned behaviour which is absorbed or learned by training and it marks the beginning of the on-going live project for parents, especially once the child starts school. Every day there is a new twist to the tale, new problems and newer challenges, and parents have to pull up their socks and be a few steps ahead, equipped with mind blowing strategies and solutions. I am sure many parents who are working will agree that this exercise will facilitate them in their boardroom meetings and also when dealing with a difficult boss.

Picture this. My daughter's first day in school after summer vacation, she loses her new pencil box and the losing one thing or the other becomes a common phenomenon. The term exams begin and she has generously given her classwork book to a classmate. Today her class teacher is the sweetest human being, tomorrow the same teacher is the most dreaded and hated creature in the world. But she does not like to hear any undesirable comment about her teacher from us. Wow! these kids bring in a volley of emotions in us. I find my Blood Pressure raising at one moment and in the same breath I can roll over with laughter. The psychologist in me goes for a toss and I remain a parent only. So now you know, these kids are the powerful force who keep your life packed with surprises.

A child can twist you around his or her little finger(Magician), can amaze you with spontaneous gestures and response (Talented Actor), can come up with mind blowing argument to drive a point home (Lawyer), can instigate fights with your spouse and in-laws unknowingly and also bring peace (Diplomat) and much more. But all this is underlined with innocence which is the essence of childhood. William Wordsworth's quote " A child is the father of the man" sounds apt here. On a lighter vein you do not have to worry about their career options in the future, as they are already displaying relevant traits.

Now how do some specific traits or behaviour patterns come into place? Our behaviour is influenced by the social, cultural and economic dynamics and so will be our kids. The first and foremost is by observing us, their parents, older siblings and if you live in a joint family, then the other family members. The most basic behaviour pattern they pick up is related to demonstrating anger, usage of spoken language, tone, mannerisms and conduct. Therefore the onus lies on the "primary role models", us the parents and other family members to demonstrate favourable behaviour defined as social norms by the society we live in.

Then comes adapting behaviour patterns from interacting with other children or adults outside home and also within home. It can be positive and constructive behaviour patterns like learning to share, help, love, show affection, concern etc. This leads to good self confidence, self esteem, communication, interpersonal and social skills.

The so called negative and destructive behaviour patterns adapted by children can be lying, stealing, manipulative behaviour, physical violence, etc. The reasons for this range from lack of love, security, fear of someone and many other factors. It can lead to some behavioural disorders like stammering, bed wetting, playing truant, thumb sucking, nail biting, excessive shyness and temper tantrums. It causes anxiety and concern in parents. But they could be common problems with no symptomatic behavioural disorders; nonetheless it is important for parents to take guard of the situation. In persistent cases, it is advisable too seek professional help.

It is vital for parents to keep track of the company the children keep, the kind of stuff they watch on TV, the games they play on computers, attend parent-teacher meetings at school and interact with their teachers. Most important, keep communication open with them. Our children need constant positive strokes, attention and love which fosters a feeling of security and trust in them. They should be encouraged to share their day to day experiences without inhibitions and fear of being judged or criticized. Whenever required they also need to be disciplined, to make them realise the difference between favourable and unfavourable actions and behaviour.

So acknowledge your children's strengths and weaknesses and help them develop a positive attitude towards learning and living in this world. I would like to share these excerpts from the book " Children Learn What They Live" by Dorothy Law Nolte.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Courtesy: Baby snaps of my new born nephew "Raghav" taken a few hours after he was born on June 8th, 2007
Other snaps: My daughter, her friend, my nieces. (Budding models, dancers and singers... for the time being)