Kindness begins with your househelp

At the new year eve party at our relative’s house yesterday, the happiest moment was when we came to know that he had ordered pizzas for all the security guards of the building where he lives. On a day when everyone is only thinking about themselves- “where am i going to party tonight?”, “what should I wear?” and so on, it was indeed a touching gesture that he thought of the security guards who are mostly far far away from their homes doing a thankless job, even if they sometimes fall asleep on their chairs. A piece of hot pizza and a sip of a cold drink, something that is so commonplace in our lives, is a special moment in the day of a security guard, isn’t it? For most of us, surprising security guards is a little far fetched. How about starting with people who work in our house, making our lives easier? 

Here are some of the ways you can make your house-help smile

  • Get her little everyday gifts. I often like to surprise my house-help (who is my best friend and confidante) with a little something from the supermarket - either a bag of fresh seasonal vegetables or hot samosas from the best local chaat place on a saturday afternoon and send her home a couple of hours early so she can enjoy a special teatime with her family.
  • Give her an unexpected holiday. Plan this a few days in advance so that she can combine a weekend holiday and make plans for her surprise day off to visit relatives or go to a temple or any such outing. 
  • Find out her birth date and/or her kids’ birthdays and either buy or bake her a cake or a box of sweets. I know a lot of home-baker friends who bake special cakes for their helpers’ kids’ birthdays with much love. She will never forget this little gesture.
  • When you go out of town, pick a little souvenir for her or her kids. Whenever I go to Bombay, whether I shop for anything for myself, I make sure I buy several of the colourful Surat sarees that my househelps love wearing for their ease of use and lasting nature. Also little trinkets like nail paints, artificial jewelry for her daughters. Show her that you keep her in mind.
  • Make something specially for her family. We often pass on leftovers to our househelp, which they do gladly accept in these days of crazy food prices. After all, the food is refrigerated, unspoiled and still tastes good and we ourselves don’t mind eating any leftovers the following day, right? But sometimes, making an extra portion of a seasonal dish so that she can take some home for her family is a gesture of sharing and showing her that you genuinely care about her. 
  • Give her a raise without her asking for it. We all know how the prices of essentials keep spiraling out of control and it is even more difficult for families with lower incomes and more mouths to feed, more kids to send to school. Otherwise, you can even buy her a bag of rice, sugar and basic vegetables every month, ensuring that the family gets to eat reasonably good food. When the onion prices were sky rocketing, I would buy my lady a kilo of onions every few days. Be a little generous.
  • Ensure that her kids are going to school and find out if any help is required with their uniforms or books or stationary. It will hardly cause a dent in our pocket to buy a few school books but the difference you make to a child’s future is huge. Be supportive.
  • My lady is such a dedicated person that she will come to work even if she’s not feeling too well. At the slightest sniffle or puffy face, I make it a point to ask her if she’s not well and if that is the case, give her / buy her medicines and ask her to take it easy and go off home and rest. Sometimes we draw such a thick line between our lives and theirs that we don’t even want to enquire if all is well with them. This is indeed sad, especially if this is the attitude to a person who spends time in your house everyday and makes your life easier and spares your time from mundane chores. Show empathy.
  • Anything you want her to do, ask her politely and most likely she’ll do anything extra with a smile. But order her around and she will hate you for it and do it in a huff. She’s being paid to do your work alright, but that doesn’t make her your slave. Be humane.

Call her a maid, a house-help, a servant or a housekeeper - it doesn’t matter. But what does matter is how you make her life a little happier, show her a little caring, treat her more humanely. What’s your favourite little gesture to make your house-help happy?

What prompted this post after a huge gap on this blog? This story on Tehelka - I’d rather die than clean your house.

"'i love myself.'
the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever."

ism, nayyirah waheed (via nayyirahwaheed)

dictionaryofobscuresorrows:

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate…

"If they respect you, respect them. If they disrespect you, still respect them. Do not allow the actions of others to decrease your good manners, because you represent yourself, not others."

— Mohammad Zeyara (via darwink)

(Source: quranicquotes, via mentalexotica)

Good mornings

I like it when I wake up well before he does and sit next to him curled up in deep slumber. My fingertips feel the softness of his (not so) baby face. I admire his long, thick lashes framing his closed eyes, my own breathing relaxing in sync with his slow breaths. I take his small hand in mine, a little shocked at how fast his fingers have grown. I feel his rough palm and feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for his eczema. I want to click a picture of his sleeping self because I want to remember this peace, at a time he turns the house upside down. I want to remember this moment when I’m feeling less grateful in life, for giving me this chance to have a trusting little human being lying next to me on the bed. I want to remember this moment of quiet when he drives me up the wall calling me “Mummy Mummy” at least a dozen times per second, when he wants to show me the new level he has ‘cracked’ on some iPad game. This sleeping innocent face also stabs my heart with the blunt knife of guilt as I recall the times I’ve been impatient and upset with him.

I know he’ll wake up any moment- going from zero to hundred in a matter of seconds- first asking what day of the week it is- so he can plan his schedule accordingly! I can’t help but smile as I type this. And then he’ll protest, “no bath” and then the day will tumble into endless disagreements, negotiations and arbitrations because that’s how a four year old is. Once baby boys grow into boisterous kids, they don’t stay still and they have their own ideas as to how everything in the world must be done. You cannot hold them in your arms for more than a few seconds. Life is exploration on the fast lane and there’s no time to give mummy a long hug - so all mummy can do is to put all her work aside, and enjoy these quiet minutes with her little boy while he dreams about monsters, Mia and mummy with wings.

This is easily the most precious part of my day.

Review of VistaD90 Diesel

image

Tata Motors in collaboration with Blogadda had this innovative initiative of giving this yet to be released in the market car to select bloggers to test drive it over 3 days and share our experiences. The vehicle is yet to be officially launched. Some of the stand out features that this comes with are:

  •  90 PS Quadrajet Diesel Engine
  • Touchscreen Multimedia Navigation System
  • Fully Automatic Temperature Control
  • Driver Information System
  • Follow-me home Headlamps
  • Electric ORVM

 Here’s what we found-


image

Looks
On external appearances, it is a stylishly designed car. Sleek lines and a contrasting roof, we got the red car with a black roof that is quite an eye catcher. Inside, the display panel is well designed and it’s easy to read at a glance. In addition to this, there is another electronic display that shows the average milage, a mileage sensor (gives the mileage your current fuel tank can give), outside temperature and time. Again, this display unit has an uncluttered, easy on the eyes design. We liked the adjustable driver’s seat height and steering height which is useful feature. 
Features
The one thing that superbly impressive is the cooling. It hardly takes a minute for the entire car to get to the desired temperature, and the blast is extremely good even when fan speed is at medium. The leg room is quite good in the front as certified by the husband who is a tall guy and we took our cousins for a drive and they were happy with the leg room at the back. The lighting system comprises of a bright white light at the center of the car roof.
Boot space, in my opinion is slightly compromised due to the generous leg room provided, but for in city driving, i’d say leg room is of more use than boot space.
Connectivity and entertainment
VistaD90 helps with all the multitasking we folks have to do while driving, by providing connectivity with 5 phones. Better to have this useful feature than risk talking on the handset while driving. The dashboard for the media is again of a clean design - we only tested the FM which came across as a scratchy sound via the speakers at times. 
Driving experience
Although we had the car for almost three days, we used it on two long drives and one short drive inside our locality. On the short drive, I found that the car felt a little heavy to handle.  The suspension system was tested on some bad roads and passed quite well. The braking system was also extremely good. 
On the long drives, we felt that the gear wasn’t smooth enough and there was quite some vibration and rattle from the gear box when the car was cruising at high speed. Furthermore, the gear shift in the middle section i.e. from 2 to 3 or 3 to  2 was also quite strenuous on the wrist. It came across as a front heavy car. Further the car rattles a bit at speeds above 65-70kmph.
VFM
I think pricing wise it’s in the same range as Swift and i20 - it needs to be seen how the top end version with ABS and airbags compares with similar versions of the above cars. We got an average mileage of around 11.5 kmpl - which we were told would have improved had we gone on much longer drive. 
If the gear gets smoothened out (which I’m told was in need of service after being tried out by multiple bloggers in the city), it is a good car for in city driving. It would certainly be a competitive choice for a family of four looking to buy a new car or upgrade from a smaller car with lesser number of features. 
This review is a part of the Product Reviews Program at Blogadda 

Aural pleasure, visual torture : A song whose video you shouldn’t watch

I’m talking about this utterly sensuous song from the movie Rocky - Kya Yahi Pyar Hai, sung by Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar. 

First of all, it is filmed on Sanjay Dutt in his baby (baba) avatar who is paired with the uber-sexy Tina Munim. Why didn’t anyone tell the director that it’s like the Beauty and the Buffoon revisited?

There’s Sanjay Dutt trying out his smoldering sexy look at Tina (check opening of song) and all I can say is *CRINGE*!

Then, there’s Sanjay Dutt in dungarees. As though his face and his juvenile expressions weren’t enough to make it obvious that he’s an overgrown baby with arrested (mental) development.

Clearly, only Tina’s stylist was paid. It’s 1981 and her clothes are anything but the crazy ‘clowny’ stuff Bollywood actresses of those days wore. She’s looking drop dead gorgeous. I’m willing to pardon her non-sexy expressions. She was facing the buffoon after all. 

And then the scene at 1:50 where Sanju Baba is behaving like a kid throwing a tantrum in a supermarket, just that this is worse, on the edge of the river / stream. 

Oh and the stoned simian dance steps at 3:44, sorry to call them dance steps though, he gives serious competition to this one .

I’m sorry if you saw the video because of this post. I’m willing to gather some negative karma on that one, because seeing the video totally ruined it for me. Now I’m back to listening to it purely on audio. 

You don’t always need flowers to beautify a home. Pluck leaves in different shapes, sizes and shades of green. Get some used liquor bottles, vases, teapots and kitchen utensils and tuck them into different corners of your home and watch it come alive in 50 shades of green, and more!

Grope

I am 11 years old traveling by myself from Wadala to Matunga, barely a 15-minute bus ride in a BEST bus. My grandparents think I am independent and capable enough to undertake this short journey by myself, which I am. I get up from my seat and wait in the corner of the gangway of this double decker bus, a couple of stops in advance, so I don’t miss my stop. Just as my stop is about to come, I move towards the edge, and I get this intensely uncomfortable feeling that something is just not right. The bus conductor is holding me back while displaying mock good intentions of not allowing a ‘kid’ to alight from a running bus (which I wasn’t) and holding me back by squeezing my nearly non-existent breast from behind me. The grope lasted for all of a few seconds, but the effect of it has clearly not been forgotten even though nearly 25 years have passed by.

I remember getting down from the bus with my heart beating right outside my chest, feeling horribly disgusted, wishing I had stomped the conductor’s foot badly before getting down from the bus. I remember walking from the stop to my great-grandmom’s house with the quickest possible steps I could manage, staying along the extreme sidelines of the footpath. It took me a long while to gather courage to get out in a bus on my own.

At home, it was the unsaid rule (and sometimes said aloud) that girls had to dress extremely conservatively. I think I wore my first pair of pants, after childhood, straight in my early twenties. All through adolescence, it was only loose tent-like salwar kurtas, which could easily accommodate two of me, and a dupatta of course. This dress code was only slightly short of an abaaya. I do remember having some knee length skirts, which I wore once in a while. It would always confuse me why knee length skirts were okay while full-length jeans were not. I still don’t understand the rationale behind this.

 Regarding dress code, this one incident sticks in my head more than any other. It was the class picnic from the class ten coaching classes, to a beach in the outskirts of Bombay, boys and girls combined. My group of girl friends had decided to wear denim. I meekly nodded my head, too embarrassed to admit that my family didn’t let me wear jeans so I didn’t have a pair. That one denim skirt I had, would be my saviour, I thought. The evening before the picnic, I wouldn’t let the non-availability of an agreed-upon dress code dampen my enthusiasm. I was ironing my denim skirt when my grandfather walked in on me and asked why I was ironing it. I told him it was for the picnic the following day. I was bluntly told that either I was wearing a salwar kurta or I wasn’t going to the picnic. Although I had my share of rebellious streaks, I was too afraid to ask him ‘Why?’ and lose out on the chance of enjoying the one day I had been looking forward to, since weeks. I was so angry with them then. Now, I realise they did what they thought was best. They wanted me to be safe. Just that they didn’t realise, whether I wore a mini skirt, or an all-covering salwar kurta, daughters will be groped, just for the simple reason that she is a girl. So I finally went to the beach picnic wearing a salwar kurta, and I remember having a lot of fun and also the heartbreak that my best friend spent more time with another girl than me.

 I am 16 and in college. My best friend is my bus-friend. She lives close to my house and we study in the same class. We meet daily, midway to the bus-stop, walk to the stop together and get into the bus from the starting point and sit next to each other. This routine is sacred to me. It is a short ride, not more than 20 minutes followed a 15-minute walk to the college. But all it takes is a few seconds to be groped and be scarred for life.

I would dread the days when she was unwell or was taking the day off, which meant that there was a 50% chance that a guy would sit next to me in the bus and a 25% chance that he would try to keep pushing himself closer to me even if I squeezed myself into the window to keep maximum distance between us. But having a bus-buddy was not the entire solution, there was always the chance that if you sat on the aisle seat, some standing passenger will try and rest his ugly posterior on your shoulder and it will stick to you even after the entire bus gets empty and there are empty seats for the taking. This standing passenger could also be the conductor, who in his donkey’s years of traveling by the bus, standing, needs to take the support of a young girl’s shoulder to stand in a slow-moving bus.

 Soon, I realised that public transport is something I cannot avoid in the city and I cannot live in this perpetual fear of being groped or pinched or nudged. I formulated the flowchart in my head.

a.     Always try and take the ladies’ seat

b.    Make sure a lady occupies the ladies’ seat next to me, because there are guys who would insist on sitting in the ladies’ seat and give you the excuse that there are women sitting on the general non-reserved seats.

c.     If a guy sits next to me, I’d give him a stern look as soon as he took the seat, to give him the signal that he’s dealing with a no-nonsense person.

d.    At the slightest indication of the guy trying to get close to me, I’d tell him in a stern yet polite voice to keep his distance from me.

e.     If he was the more shameless types, I’d tell in a loud and clear voice “Theek se nahi baith sakte kya?” so fellow passengers can hear this. This last resort tactic made quite a few people get off the bus in embarrassment, especially if they were the suited-booted ‘executive’ type people to start with.

 May be because it was Bombay, I’ve never had to do anything beyond this. Just voicing out my anger loudly was good enough to shake these cowards off my back.

The point I’m trying to make is that all this was in Bombay, good localities, broad daylight, fully covered me, non-crowded public transport. Not a shady lane with pubs post 10 pm or skimpily clad me. Because, no matter what you wear, how good the locality, how bright the morning is, there will be dirty minds waiting around any corner to pounce on you. The only reason being -you have two X chromosomes and the XY chromosome reads this as an open invitation to abuse.

 Much later in Bombay in my late 20s, I used to be chauffeured around in a car thanks to a much caring and indulgent husband. When we used to drive past certain areas, I’d feel the piercing stares of the men right through the raised windows. They can be trusted to make you feel naked and insecure even in a locked car. And then I would watch the girls walking on that street, scuttling away as fast as they could, dupattas completely wrapped around them knowing fully well that the lecherous stares of the loafers in the street can pierce through many layers of clothing. I’d feel slightly better at having this protected life and sad for the girls who had no option but to walk down those streets everyday, to be molested by the bystanders with their eyes and words on a daily basis and something with their hands.

Today, I feel thankful I didn’t grow up in a family with a chauffer driven car, or even a car for that matter. It was always buses and trains and only in the most indulgent of times, cabs or autos. It exposed me to the big bad world. It taught me that I must shout out loud at the first possible doubt that something is not right.  Now, I feel brave enough to take the public transport in any city. This exposure early on in life made me strong enough to protect my younger sister in a long-distance train, like a brother would. When walking / running on the street by myself, I plug in my noise-cancelling headphones with music on full volume so I don’t hear the blood-boiling remarks these guys sometimes mouth when they pass us by, for the sole reason that we are women walking on the street. I prefer to shut out these voices only to avoid myself from getting into street fights every time I walk alone on a street.

A few days ago, when I saw news pouring from all sides about the 17 year old girl molested in Guwahati, all the buried scars started to feel fresh and I wanted to write about them. There’s no comparison of course, hers is an awfully terrifying story. No, I didn’t see the video. I don’t have that kind of courage or crazy curiosity. You can shut down pubs entirely, prohibit liquor, block porn websites, make it compulsory for women to wear burkhas, but all it takes to be molested, raped, abused is to be a woman. No other conditions apply.

 If you ask me, the one sensible move our government should make is make 2 years of self defense training compulsory for every girl when she turns 10. And girls should make sure they use these skills liberally on anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable. Because men should realise that they cannot just grope anyone they please.

 

 Other related posts:

Wolf hall by @supriyan

On molestation and what you can do about it by @lavsmohan 

Guwahati and beyond  by @natashabadhwar

 

"Some maamis are always on the dot
Based on an idea from: @ravikiran_j"

Tambrahm Rage