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The Women “these” days. Uff!

30 Aug

 

One of my friends asked me recently how I managed to write blogs, while being a “full time” working mother. I said people irritate me enough, that I am always inspired to write. Yay!  That is one source of inspiration you are never going to run out of.

 

I went to meet my lactation consultant last week, to discuss with her plans to safely move my EBFed baby into solid foods , since I am physically joining work back in October. So after telling me what solids to give my baby and how to “only” feed my baby with a spoon. And blah blah blah. She said these lines, “Nowadays (I hate that word), people have such a tough time breast feeding. Earlier (another word I dislike) people fed very easily”. My counter and valid question “ But EBF is a very recent phenomenon, I for one, was never BFed and none of my siblings or cousins were EBFed” Her answer: “Maybe not in cities but the “village” set up beautifully breastfed”.

Only If that wasn’t a hospital, and if she wasn’t older than my grandmother.. Only if..

 

The “village” set up.

 

First of all a look at the facts: India is a developing country, where more than 60% live in “villages”. And why is the Indian government hell bent on making EBF a practice in new mothers? Is it to stop the urban woman from returning to work? Is it to make life for the urban woman who is reading up, studying , attending classes and doing her very best to become a good mother, feel inadequate? Is it because urban mothers are bad and jump to formula?

 

NO.

It is because in these said villages, there are multiple wrong practices, which includes feeding honey, sugar water , unclean water which are fed to babies, who then die of complications relating to these practices. And it is among these people, that infant mortality rates are high. But why is that so, if they “beautifully” breast feed?

Generally the most common cause worldwide has been dehydration from diarrhea, a preventable disease; however, a variety of programs combating this problem have decreased the rate of children dying from dehydration. Many factors contribute to infant mortality such as the mother’s level of education, environmental conditions.

and though it is very easy to misunderstand this sentence as maybe because the mother is “too educated” that she doesn’t “have time” to feed her baby. It is not. A mother who doesn’t know a thing, about hygiene, will essentially feed her baby whatever is available.

So which “village” set up, are people speaking about here?

Squatting and Sweeping

Now while I was pregnant, there was a VERY STRONG notion of how physically active women gave birth “Easily”. Ok . I bought it. I was constantly made to feel guilty for my “desk job”, and how I actually “sat and worked” and how that is going to interfere with my natural delivery. Most phone calls which intended to ask for my wellbeing, always started and ended with, do you walk? And please walk more.

I was the sedentary woman, because I had a job. (Which also took care of all my medical expenses post-delivery and ensures that my child get the best of health facilities, and that I get to see the best doctors, and get the best supplements and that I have access to the latest information on pregnancy health care and babies, but that isn’t vital. A well-meaning husband could also pay for these, while I squat). I have always wondered, if the fact that I was in a mentally stimulated environment, using my mind, solving problems, having creative conversations, studying , improving my work , interacting with like-minded individuals, laughing, having a good and happy time etc would have no positive effect on my fetus. And if the only thing that is going to help my baby is sitting on the floor, sweeping and of course “walking”. So if I am squatting and watching a mindless Hindi saas bahu serial, my baby will be healthier than if I am sitting on my chair doing something very creative?

So then I hear about the “village” set up again, the comparison to cows, (They aren’t surrounded by doctors while giving birth then why are we? (GAWD NO!)), and the worst comparison, the comparison to our grandmothers who gave birth to 16 children. Suddenly we who have improved in every other aspect of life, who use mixers and grinders and washing machines and top of the notch cars, tablets. Phones, slim TVs and what not, wants to follow our grandmother and give birth the way she did, if she can why can’t you? Oh, because “these” days women have “desk jobs”. Better at least start “Walking”.

Secondly, our grandmothers did it with little help, why do you need so many doctor visits and calcium tablets and medical care?

First things first, walking is an overrated exercise and I know that now. More on that later. So yes if you don’t exercise you won’t be healthy even if you are not pregnant and getting some form of exercise is good for everyone. But if you decide to magically turn into your grandmother or feel like you aren’t a woman because you cannot give birth like your grandmother is foolishness. So who knows if your grandmother “Easily” gave birth, what if she had issues, which you didn’t know about. How many of her deliveries resulted in healthy off spring? Do you know if she had still births in between?  Maybe she prayed for an epidural and God decided to make it available for her granddaughter. Most importantly do you intend to have 16 kids? Of course no, you probably intend to have one or maybe 2. So do not go down the cow road, because even if a cow has a malnourished off spring, it will not affect anyone including the cow. But if each and every off spring of yours need to be healthy, you need to have your doctor visits and your supplements and maybe have six doctors around you at the time of delivery and maybe even a c section (ooops!) . And yes even if you squat there are chances that you will have a c section.

You know in “villages” and “olden” times, women used to squat on the floor and cook. So they had easy deliveries. So then every baby born in a village should be 100% healthy and all the women should be having a great time and no delivery related deaths, no malnutrition problems. No nothing. They cook while squatting, so then problem solved. Then why can’t the answer of pregnancies be : 1) Sweep 2) Squat. And there, you will have healthy babies and an uncomplicated delivery. Squat is a great exercise for giving birth and it’s great to have strong muscles in your legs. But please don’t compare the village and olden times.

 

Nowadays

Then my lactation consultant continued: In olden days, people used to work to live. Now people live to work. è means you are a bad person because you have a passion in your life, because you are blessed to not be about thinking how to make money for your next meal, so you are just a bad “today’s” person. Oh and it is assumed that we don’t bf.

In the “village” set up, women I am pretty positive didn’t have the time to sit and feed the baby every 1 hour. They had to go to the fields to earn a living, because they worked to live, again no idea what utopian “village” “beautiful” set up is being spoken about. Also ask your mother. Grandmother, anyone and they will cringe when you mention exclusive and say that you should supplement way sooner than six months. So olden days are so out of the picture.

The infant mortality rates and death of mothers during childbirth are much more in these said villages, and the Indian Government is taking lot of effort to decrease these. By Educating the woman (yes that very bad thing), and by increasing access to hospitals etc. So denigrating any of these acts as why women need doctors to give birth, its au so naturale, and your grandmother did it, why can’t you? Are not valid points of discussion and please stop with the village comparison. Instead maybe work for the empowerment of those women in the villages. And if you really like to squat by all means do, but don’t make squatting and sweeping and “Walking” and the village life, the beginning and end of childcare. Btw Women who breastfeed tend to be wealthier and better educated than women who don’t. Proven fact.

 

Oh and in the village set up there will be one job that will definitely be laughed at and guffawed: that of the “Lactation Consultant”

 

P.S: This article doesn’t intend to question women who chose to give birth naturally. I totally respect that and know the effort and dedication that goes into it. This however does question everyone who thinks urban woman are “useless” and know nothing. 

 

Every year, 2 million children under five die in India – the largest number of child deaths in any country in the world. – See more at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/health/healthcare-and-lobbying-for-change#sthash.CN3A774X.dpuf

 

 

 

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3 Books That Changed My Life

23 Aug

 

When I love a book , I LOVE a book, I get totally addicted to its ideas and my friends have a really tough time having to deal with my admiration for it.

I have decided to “vent” my intense love for 3 BOOKS that changed my life here on my blog. I also truly believe that : A book always finds its reader. In fact any creative work of art always finds its art lover. It could be a painting,a book, a movie, a documentary, a software (yes even a software is a form of art).

So here goes: the 3 LIFE ALTERING books I have read.

 

The books !

The Secret

Author: Rhonda Bryne

Yes, the multi million copy best seller phenomenon, which I believe is now also dealing with a lot of controversy.

 How did the book find me?

I heard about it by chance from my Reiki Master Ashwita’s husband, while I was at their home for my first level Reiki attunement.

How did it change me?

For a good part of my student life, I didn’t know how to deal with an exam. As in, should I expect the best? Should I prepare for the worst? We Indians, are just preprogrammed to expect the worst. I don’t remember “dreaming” about a good outcome or believing in the best ever in my life. It could be that some people are just born with a particular temperament. Or we as a culture or nation or human beings in general are just not positive. We generally lack in gratitude. We just can’t see or enjoy what we have, we automatically and easily see what we DO NOT HAVE.I remember before one of my lab exams, wondering what to think or believe in. Worrying seemed the right thing to do. I believed that if I didn’t worry, I wasn’t giving the exam the due importance. So I decided to worry full on. Being confident about an exam, because I was well prepared,was something unheard of. You HAD to worry and crib about not having learnt enough. It was just the cool thing to do. And then I didn’t pass that particular exam. I was so confused. What did I do wrong? I worried about it enough. I cribbed about not knowing ANYTHING all the time and then why didn’t I pass?

When I started working things were pretty much the same. Yes I got a job, but becoming good at my job, or performing well, wasn’t anywhere near my agenda or anywhere in my goals. (Did I even have a goal?). What about dreaming big? Seriously I hadn’t even understood what that term meant. Dream big how? And then I read Secret.

It revolutionized my life. And everything that I had ever thought about. From believing that being sad and expecting the worst  worrying and cribbing was the normal way to be, it taught me expect much more from life. It taught me to be calm and composed under most circumstances. Most importantly it taught me that worrying wasn’t a natural state. That there is something called attracting the best and there was no limit to dreams. Wow! What a relief that was.

 This must be the book that I have gifted to people the most. Other than very few, most people have profusely thanked me for it.

 Most Vital Point:

Out of all the “blind faith” stuff that Secret is criticized about, the most important teaching that everyone miss out on is gratitude. Gratitude for what we already have. Because it’s too easy to forget to count our blessings. And even more easy to remember what we lack. So though we have been hearing a lot about counting our blessings and seeing the glass as half full. Secret teaches us to be grateful, with step by step techniques. Its one thing to say “Be Grateful” it’s another to give us daily exercises to teach us what gratitude is. And that is where this book succeeds.

So the question would be, did I achieve all my dreams using Secret? Or using the “techniques” they have mentioned? I would like to believe that I am definitely more peaceful and calmer and my unnecessary worry drastically reduced after reading the book. Did every single thing work out the way I “attracted” it, is a matter of a different discussion and I don’t think that’s what the Secret even intends to convey. But dreaming big is definitely a pre requisite to a better life. And the secret teaches us just how to do that

 Negatives, if any?

If as a result of reading this book, anyone end up blaming their thought process for a previous tragedy in their life, would do the opposite effect of what it aims to attain.

 How to use the book?

Read it frequently. Since its learned behavior, we can easily slip back into old patterns of cribbing and ingratitude in no time. Buy a hardbound copy, it’s awesome to touch. And of course it’s worth the cost, it’s worth every penny, so if you can afford it, get an original one from a bookshop.

 

The Feminine Mistake: Are we giving up too much

Author: Leslie Bennets (Editor, Vanity Fair)

Yes that dirty word. Feminism, essentially isn’t all bad as it’s made out to be. It’s just wanting women to have individual lives and dreams like men. Period. And this book has it all.

 
How the book found me:

Long story. I follow Demi Moore on twitter. And she tweeted about an Interview series she was producing, called The Conversation which was conducted by Amanda De Cadenet. (Brilliant! To say the least). In an episode of this program they interview Vanity Fair editor, Leslie Bennetts, who is the Author of The Feminine Mistake. And I heard her speak about it, and I got the book, thanks to Flipkart.

 
How did it change me?

Most of the ideas mentioned in the book, were vaguely present in my mind. But this book gave them structure and defined that most of my thoughts and ideas could be backed up by research. It has been criticized by housewives and people who have chosen to give up their career for their family. While I am not here to debate the topic, this book is a must read for women who are in that frail position of their lives, where they are contemplating leaving their jobs to care for their families and are confused about which way to choose.

 
Most vital point to look out for:

Most women decide to quit their jobs, when they feel paying for childcare will leave them with nothing left of their salaries. This point is discussed in detail backed by some solid data and research saying, how carrying on with the low paying job and paying for child care will in the long run benefit everyone. It also discusses people’s worry about baby sitters/ nannies and child care.

 

Negatives, if any?

Not a very easy read. It is written based on research solely done in the USA, so though most of her ideas are universal, her research isn’t. Also it’s a heavily researched book, for all the right reasons, because no one would believe these, if it wasn’t researched, but that also means we need to see a lot of numbers and % which u can just skip.

How to use the book?

[This is just a review of a book, and again, I am not here to debate which path to choose. But if you are CONFUSED, then read it. If you are sure of your choice, there’s nothing to read or discuss about, is there? If before spending the 1000 Rs you need to get a small idea of what she is talking about, its here.

 

Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha:

Author: Rujuta Diwekar (Bollywood Celerbity Dietician)

 The term weightloss in the subject will definitely attract readers. However, this is not a weight loss book. This must be the first women’s empowerment book ever written by anyone remotely connected to Bollywood. And that is what makes this book not just stand out, but pop out!

 
How the book found me:

Got it as an ebook from Flipkart Ebooks during their promotional offer, and what a promotional offer it was!

 Must read for EVERY Indian woman, it discusses the varying stages of an Indian women’s life, teenage, marry-able age, post marriage, post menopause etc, and how women deal with it. Most importantly how women or girls deal with it in all the wrong ways, and how we always put ourselves last and then our bodies bear the brunt of it, and why that affects weight loss. It unabashedly discusses most of the negative “Indian” mindsets towards women and how those should change, my favorite being how every man wants the “thin, tall, fair” bride and how every girl wants to be her. Girls are made to feel inadequate about their weight and looks from a very young age and how to counter that with healthy eating and not fad diets.

 How did it change me?

I look forward to stop self-deprecating my looks for once. Or my weight.

 Most vital point to look out for:

is that weight loss, which EVERYONE craves for, comes with having self-respect. How many dieticians have told you that?

 
Negatives, if any?

Karisma Kapoor’s 24 kilo weight loss added in the backside of the cover. Was a downer. We aren’t discussing weight loss tips/tricks. So don’t expect a pill to lose 24 kilos (which would have never made the book this unique). Kareena Kapoor’s foreword however, is endearing. The mention of the Kapoor sister’s names all over the book might have been responsible for the 1 lakh copies that it sold, but if you ask me for such a phenomenal book, it was unnecessary. There is also a little bit of hindi thrown in here and there, which I personally loved, but if you don’t know hindi well, you could miss the humour but not her idea.

 How to use the book:

If it is her diet plans that you are looking for buy her before and after books, Don’t lose your mind , lose your weight and Don’t lose out , work out. If it’s your self-esteem issues that you need to work on, read this book.

 
So there!

The Working Woman Myth

17 Sep

My cousin recently told me that her neighbor’s house was stinking of dirty laundry, adding that, they are a working couple. Meaning :The wife works.  

 I belong to the second generation of working women, in my country, and strata in society. In spite of having a generation before me, the “working woman” myth still continues well into the 21st century. Most families would rather not prefer a working daughter-in-law. Most people (still) assume that an educated woman does more evil than good and has no respect for the elderly. Most of the working women are automatically assumed to be bad homemakers and bad cooks. Not to mention the biggest myth of all, that working women make  bad mothers, as we are dependant on others to raise our children.

Being a working woman myself, it’s only natural that I heavily dislike the prejudice. I personally have felt that having a job, has helped me, and probably many others, become better homemakers, daughter-in-laws, and even better people.

Below are why I believe working women are  (supposed to be) make better homemakers

Team Work:  From the day go, most jobs, include working closely with people, from varying cultural backgrounds, languages and  religion. We break all the seeming barriers, to make things work every single day. We are trained to work seamlessly with a team. Not to mention how we  cover for a colleague, when he/she is off sick or has an emergency. We understand the various merits of  cooperation, and we “get” team work.

How can that positively translate into a household?  Most often than not, managing a home, is a teamwork, which involves experienced stalwarts(read mothers, grandmothers, mother in-laws), and working with them seamlessly is all it takes.

Ability to adapt to change: One of the biggest challenges,  faced by women in India, post marriage, is to live among people alien to them.  To live in cooperation with people who though may belong to our own cultural/religious background, still manage their homes/kitchens completely differently from how our mothers did.

 “We don’t do it this way in my home” is an attitude that has led to various dysfunctional households.  This is where ,the working women , should have a clear advantage. We have promotions, we keep changing managers, offices, and sometimes even companies. We face varying and completely new scenarios, on a day-to-day basis. So if you are good at your job, change is probably very acceptable to you. So unlearning a recipe, or accepting that adding a new ingredient will not making it non authentic, will immensely help us in a new home. The fact that they don’t do things as they did in your home, might seem, pretty passé , for someone who faces change frequently. The last thing we are, are thick-set.

Ability to LEARN new skills (without letting ego get in the way):  Surviving at work, means continuous learning . Unlearning what you already know, and learning something new, is something we do everyday. We sometimes need to learn from people who may not have as much experience as we do, cause they might have a skill we don’t. Ego, though, might creep in, is always kept in check, because we need to learn to survive. As a newcomer, we are also, always given the time to learn the environment. We are not expected to be the greatest and best on day one.

How does this translate to a household?  The ability to give ourselves a chance to learn, without getting defensive. The ability to forgive ourselves, if we aren’t perfect on the first day. Most importantly, the courage to put ourselves out there, to learn, in an environment, which is completely alien to us and from people, who are not familiar to us.

Most importantly, we as humans, are creative beings, and having a place to unleash our creativity, and to be productive will make us happier, and better people. So then why the myth?

Lose the attitude

I once heard my colleague say  “I am a working woman, why should I work in office and at home”

OUCH! Not to mention that she wasn’t winning any ,Best Employee Awards, at work either. In fact, she played the woman card in office and the working woman card in her house. This attitude is what spells DOOM for the working woman cliché.  

Women’s education is still a cause of wide-spread concern. Even in the 21st century, girl children are pulled out of school earlier, that is, if they are ever sent to schools in the first place. Women’s education even in affluent families are sometimes restricted to “a woman needs enough education to help her kids through school. But not so much as to earn herself a living” All the various programs for self-sufficiency of a woman, the various reservation schemes in place for the fairer gender, none of it will make sense, unless the current working woman population, LOSE the attitude. We could blame the men for being chauvinistic, who oppress their women. We could blame the world for being partial to the male gender. But as we complain, we need to look at ourselves.

Though we always forget, as educated working women, we are the very limited blessed section of the society. We had parents who were willing to educate us and give us equal opportunities. We had employers who were willing to hire women, in spite of the seeming disadvantages. So as the blessed class of the society what are we doing for the rest of the not-so-blessed section of our society? Do we need to go deep down into social work, and rehabilitate widows/girls to help society? Not always. Society is by and large the people we meet on a day-to-day basis. Our biggest contribution to society is to be a good example.

Respect the housewives :I have seen a general disrespect towards the homemakers, from the working women. Forget about men, who don’t respect their housewives enough. Are we, who are the same gender, respect the housewives, just because their jobs don’t have monetary advantages? If they keep their house sparking clean, the answer is always, that’s cause they don’t work. They take care of their toddlers, while taking care of a full-fledged family, the reason is, that’s cause they don’t work. They are amazing cooks, that’s cause they don’t work.

We fail to notice that  it’s because they are exemplary in a job, that needs more respect than ours. Homemaking is probably the toughest job on earth, the one with no weekends, no vacations, and is 24X7, with no backup. So people who have chosen to be homemakers should be revered and respected, by the other lot of women, who chose to work outside their homes. Or I would say, who are blessed to have the opportunity to work outside their homes for a living.

LEARN :  Not everyone is great at culinary skills. Not everyone is a brilliant homemaker. But trying your best to help around, being empathetic and respectful if you do have other women in the home is an attitude all of us can build.  Having an education or a job, doesn’t make it OK for you to be pathetic in any of the departments you are expected to be good at. (Let’s face the gender inequality, for a minute here. Women are expected to know more of these than men are) .However, as mentioned above, having a job makes you equipped to be better at homemaking, than anyone else. So helping around, or learning a new skill, should actually be easier for you. Are we doing enough, or are we using having a job as an excuse  to being a lesser woman?

Most of us are unaware of the impact we have in the people we meet. We , the privileged lot of working women, will determine, how many fathers will decide to educate their girl children.  Our attitude in general would determine , how many men will let their wives work. Not all of us can save girl children, and not all of us can work in homes for women, to better their living conditions. But all of us, can influence our immediate surroundings. . The various facets of learning a job brings to a human being woman or man, is way much more than the money we earn, or the independence we enjoy. A job should not be a time draining exercise in futility which keeps us away from family, it’s a profession, that makes us a well-rounded individual. As a woman who has an opportunity to fulfill our dreams, we should become examples to everyone around us to pursue their dreams, without the fear of being bad at any of our primary duties as women

 

 

 

 A woman who has a lesser education or is unemployed, needn’t automatically be good at everything homely either. More about that later. !