Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Effe: Happy Birthday!
E: So, you turned 28 too. (Her birthday was in July.)
U: Yes! I don't want to!
E: We're growing older!
About the student: He is visually impaired, and has just got admitted to ILS Law College. He scored 80% marks in Class 12. Friends of Children has been sponsoring him since Class 11. I have met him, and he is a cheerful, gregarious young man.Friends of Children sponsors his course fees, which the college has subsidised for him, and helps him with books. But Friends of Children's policies don't allow for paying students' hostel or mess fees, and he has mess fees of Rs 1,300 per month to pay. His parents are farm labourers, and he has no relatives supporting him. We are looking for people who are willing to donate his mess fees (or a part of it).He's in the first year of a five-year course, and assuming two months of vacation a year, that comes out to Rs 13,000 per year over the next five years (Rs 65,000 in all).
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
A friend lent me A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I am grateful, for otherwise I would have missed this truly wonderful (and Pulitzer-winning) book.
It is a family saga, universal and relatable like all great stories should be. I loved the book and finished it in one day. I didn’t even realise until I read the notes at the end that it was actually a retelling of King Lear, and that left me even more impressed.
I had never been wholly satisfied by King Lear, and this version of the story is definitely much more satisfying. Yet it is great even if you have never read a line of Shakespeare: it is at the most basic a woman’s struggle to find herself. She does, though she loses everything she had along the way.
The book touched me because I could relate it to some of my own experiences. It is also to an extent a political book: it touches on how the system promotes suffering and oppression, including themes such as pollution and child abuse within its span. Through the story of one family – or, in fact, one person, as the entire book is through the point of view of one woman – it hints at deep evils that exist throughout the world.
Yet that farm of a thousand acres is the center of evil for Ginny, and it is only by escaping it that she can at last find herself.
In a way, the book reminded me of The Color Purple, though it is a meandering river where The Color Purple is an intense mountain waterfall.
I don’t want to give away any more of the story: read it.
Sorry for the irregular blogging lately. My laptop is fixed and working faster than ever, so I'll be posting more frequently now, I promise!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Our bus dropped us outside town on Thursday evening and we took an autorickshaw all the way across town to the Guy’s parents’ house. For some time, I felt like things were unfamiliar. Then the rickshaw bumped over an uneven road, I saw women nonchalantly walking on busy market streets dressed in nightgowns, horns beeped loudly, cattle sat splat in the middle of the road, and the smell of cow dung was pervasive. “Now it feels like Rajkot,” I observed to the Guy.
On Saturday evening , we took a ride on the sister-in-law’s scooter: the Guy, his niece, and me at the back holding on to both. I used to think Pune traffic was unruly... Ahem. My back didn’t exactly thank the bumpy roads either. The Guy though, seemed to remember what it was like to drive on those streets, for we successfully completed our long ride without touching any other person or vehicle. Which, if I were a praying person, is a miracle I would be thanking someone invisible for. (As I’m not, I can just thank someone visible who actually drove the scooter.)
We also took a bus ride once – it’s been ages since I got onto a rickety city bus. I love how the height gives you a better view of the streets.
My laptop is still refusing to cooperate, so I haven’t been able to upload the pictures I took on my phone. (Which is also the reason for the long blog hiatus.) Will post them later, I hope!
Also, pictures/videos I wish I had: of a line of policemen sitting casually on a low wall by a flyover in Ahmedabad, our auto weaving its way through large imposing-looking large-horned cattle to get to the lane the Guy’s parents live in, a herd of cattle (you’d call about fifteen a herd, right?) reposing in the middle of a busy street.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Based on the responses to this post, I decided to write a follow-up that addresses wives. What should you do if you’re an Indian wife and is likely to be expected to behave in a certain way (or rather, many different kinds of ways) by your in-laws? Here’s what.
First, be respectful but not deferential. Treat them as you might treat a senior colleague, for instance, or maybe a professor. That is, you don’t have to agree with them all the time, but you should be polite as far as you can.
Second – and most important: be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone else hoping they’ll like you better. When they’re around, try to behave much like you normally do. You might want to give them special attention, spend time with them, show them around. That’s all great. But don’t try to be the perfect bahu you think they want. Believe that they’ve got a great bahu in you – and act like you do.
Third, talk to your partner. Don’t antagonise him by bluntly criticising his parents, but do let him know what you think of them. Talk about them and find out what he thinks about them. Just because they’re his parents doesn’t mean he thinks they’re paragons. Let him know if there’s any specific behaviour of theirs that hurts you. “I know Mamma means well, but when she asks me how often I make halwa and then looks at you like she’s sorry for you...” Also, let him know if there’s anything specific he can do to help. “Could you tell Mamma that we’re not trying for children right now? She keeps dropping these hints and it’s embarrassing...”
Fourth, always make it clear that you and your partner are a unit. By that I don’t mean you’re one person, but that you stand together and you make the decisions in your life. They’re welcome to offer advice, but that’s it. It helps if they see the two of you happy together, so try to confine the fights and even the sarcastic comments to when you are alone with him. If you look strongly welded together, it’ll be that much harder to drive a wedge in. Notice I say ‘look’. Appearances are important here.
What are your in-laws like? How do you deal with them when they’re pesky or interfering?
We’re going to visit my in-laws tomorrow, so why don’t you talk among yourselves till I’m back? See ya all next week!