The kids are not all right

the kids are not all right
Hovering parents

A few weeks ago, I had attended a birthday party of my daughter’s friend. There they played a game, the age old ‘Passing the parcel’, however what was different was the way it was played. The child who was caught with the parcel when the music stopped was asked to leave the circle but with that parcel as the gift, and then a new parcel was introduced. The game continued till every child got a gift. I asked the mother what was wrong with the earlier version, the version we had all grown up with.

She said – “I do not like kids to be disappointed. See, here every child is happy as he or she gets to take a gift home.”

In another instance, I was in the park with my daughter. She was playing lock and key with her friends. Now, one of her friends fell down. Her mother who was on the other side of the park ran to his son, all confused and upset. She scooped her son in her lap and started inquiring – “Are you hurt? Let me see! Do no cry! Shush, mama is here.”

The child, had a scraped knee, who was perfectly OK till then, started crying earnestly.

I was at a friend’s home for lunch. Her 5-year old daughter refused to eat what was cooked for lunch. My friends felt so guilty that her daughter would go hungry, that she cooked up her favourite pasta immediately. According to her, it was not the first time this had happened.

At the School Sports Day, there are no races, no competition. No first, second or runner ups. Because, everyone is equal, there should be no competition between the kids.

Kids today have a room full of toys and games. Some they ask, some they do not. But, they still get them. Everything in excess is the new mantra of life.

Our parents taught us self-reliance, while we hover around our children and want to protect them at all costs. We like to hold our babies closer to the protection of the nest. We go out of our way and rustle up something when they don’t eat what’s cooked at home for everyone else, because we don’t them to sleep hungry. Instead of letting them play outside, we organize activities for them. We do their homework and their assignments. We even resolve their conflicts for them.

It makes me wonder, what will happen to these kids when they grow up?

Will they get a gift everytime they fail? Will they be able to handle disappointment? A child who has never been denied anything, how will he cope with rejections? There are a growing number of cases when kids run away from home or commit suicide because they are not able to deal with low marks in examinations or when they fail to secure an admission in an institution of their choice.

Will their parents keep them hidden in their bosom all their life? Our mothers never ran after us, a scraped knee was just that. She would ask us to wash it with some water and then forget about it. But, there was no drama that followed. Falling and hurting was a part of daily life for us. We cycled, climbed up trees and jumped from the stairs. Today, kids travel in elevators and escalators (because they might fall down the stairs and get themselves hurt). Earlier, kids walked and cycled. I hardly see kids walking nowadays, unless it’s for a kids’ marathon and they are required to pose for selfies with their cool mommies. I never see kids climbing up the monkey bars, do you?

Will they shy away from competition or be able to survive it? OK, so we can accompany our kids till the college gate and and sit in the waiting area while they appear for a job interview. In one-child China, parents have been known to put up tents outside their college kids’ dorms. This is an invisible umbilical cord we are just not ready to cut. And, what happens after that? A child who is never used to losing – how will he survive in the big bad world?

We are raising our kids to be adult babies.

So what should we do?

  • Stop telling our children that they are special all the time. They are not, at least not always. So reserve the praises for the times when they actually deserve.
  • Stop going out of the way to create happiness in their life. The life is a mix of joys and sorrows, and it is for a reason. We have no right to interfere with the nature. So let’s stop pretending that everything is allright when it’s not. Let the kids have their fair share of disappointments at an early age. It’s better to fall at 10, than at 40.
  • Stop giving them things when they don’t require it. We had fewer toys, did we ever complain? Were we unhappy because of that? No, right. So why are we teaching our kids to be materialistic? Why should they find happiness in toys and games, and not people? We give them iPads, iPhones…we are teaching them it’s all right to speak to the technology, rather than people. Today’s kids have more virtual friends than actual friends.
  • Stop hovering around them. Let them take actions and be responsible for their actions. If they have done a wrong deed, they should take the punishment or the consequences for it. Do not protect them unnecessarily.
  • Let them fall. And, do not cushion their fall. Also, let them get up on their own. Only when they fall, will they get up. Let them learn things on their own.
  • Stop feeling guilty. For things we can’t provide them. We are the parents, not superhumans or Gods. Make our kids understand our limitations.

It’s not the kids who are at fault, but us, the parents. Let’s sit with our parents and understand how they raised us – independent and fearless. We can take a leaf or two from  their parenting book. It wouldn’t do us any harm, but might save our kids!

Mumbai Meri Jaan

Being an Amdawadi, I had been brought up on its laid back attitude towards life. So after my wedding when I moved to one of the biggest metropolis in India, it was definitely an eye opener. I could see people running all the time, be it at 5 in the morning or 11 in the night. I was shocked to see ladies running in their navari sari to catch a local train and riding in a BEST bus standing elegantly even at midnight. And the condition of traffic in Mumbai is not unknown to the rest of India. I was overwhelmed to see the immense sea of human population everywhere; on stations, local trains, BEST buses. And if this was not enough, we had the all famous Mumbai rains to contend with. I remember once I was walking on the pavement outside Andheri station in pouring rain and maddening traffic. It was so overcrowded that I couldn’t even open up my umbrella, there was just not enough space. I came home all drenched and tearful.

In a just few years, this city of extremes has got under my skin. The crowds haven’t disappeared but now I am dissolved in them. I see the safety that Mumbai women enjoy commuting in late hours and I also see the quest for survival in people that keeps them up and running all the time. Now I have learnt to walk in Mumbai rains on overcrowded streets without getting soaked to the skin by walking under already open umbrellas. If the ever-rising skyscrapers and sprawling slums make me claustrophobic, I have learnt to look at the never ending expanse of the Arabian sea. I have learnt to smile in pain. Yes, I am one of them. So this blog is an ode to the quintessential spirit of Mumbai, meri jaan.

#TellTaleThursday – 23rd May 2019

Prompt for this week –

A magical mirror to peek into another realm/ world

Fairy Tales

Word count – 245 Words

Fiction story for #TellTaleThursday
Picture credit:

Her mother didn’t allow her to read fairy tales.

“Fairy tales are for silly girls. You have to grow into a sensible woman,” she said.

On her 8th Birthday, her father asked, “What do you want for your birthday gift?”

“Fairy tale books.”

Her father shook her head. That night after her birthday party, she opened her gifts. She got yet another set of encyclopedia, dictionary, and learning books, but not a single fairy tale. Then she saw one package in the corner. She opened it up. It was a small mirror. She was so upset that she started crying, with the mirror still in her hand.

At first, she saw her reflection, with her teary-eyed face in the mirror. In a few seconds, the image changed.

She saw a young girl wearing a scarlet red cape and carrying a basket full of apples walking in the wood.

What’s happening?

The image changed and she saw a small boy and a girl outside a tempting gingerbread house.

Is it what I think it is?

She couldn’t believe her eyes. She had finally got what she wanted. Moments later, there was a loud knock at the door. She quickly hid the mirror. It was her father.

“All well, doll?” He asked. She nodded.

“Good. Hope you don’t stay awake till late. Fantasies can sometimes do that to you,” he winked at her.

“It was you, dad!” She cried aloud and stood up to hug her father.

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Lake Irai : #WordlessWednesday


May 15th 2014 – Lake Irai, Tadoba, Nagpur

We reached Tadoba, it was scorching hot in the month of May. I was continuously wondering the wisdom behind our decision to visit this place with a toddler in tow.

But, as soon as this serene patch of blue presented itself into my vision, I forgot all my angst and my worries. It instantly cooled me down even when the sun hadn’t lost any of its fervour.

I am participating in #WordlessWednesday hosted by Natasha and Esha.

Mumbai taxis and ME! My topsy turvy rides!

taxi ride

Surprisingly, this post is not about me as a parent or I talking about my child. This is me as a Mumbaikar enjoying a slice of my adopted city every day.

For the last 2 months, I have been traveling a lot in app-based taxis. They are expensive, but frankly speaking, being splashed on with mucky water is not my idea of monsoon fun. Anyway, to cut down the cost, I have been opting for “share” and “pool”. Believe me, it’s an eye-opening experience every time I take one.

I have had some memorable moments – some enjoyable, some humorous and some, errr…crazy ones.

The social media addicts

Once when I booked a shared cab, a brand new brown Wagon R stopped in front of me. I saw a couple sitting at the back. So I opened the front passenger door, but what do I see, a huge 4-wheel suitcase on the seat. So, obviously, I sat beside the couple in the back. The couple was newly married, I could see a shiny chuda (wedding bangles) on the girl’s hands. The guy was sitting between his wife and me, and was mighty uncomfortable, as most “sharrif” (decent) North Indian men are. Anyways, a chatterbox, I started talking to them. Oh, by the way, the boot was full too with huge suitcases. On talking with the couple I came to know that they were visiting Mumbai on a fun trip. I gave them a few ideas on what to see, where to eat and shop. On the way, I asked the cab driver (who was a polite guy) to show them Bachchan’s bungalow, given that it is a huge draw for tourists. They were first excited, but when they actually saw it, I could see their faces falling down.

“It’s so small!” They exclaimed.

“It’s big by Mumbai standards”, I replied.

“Hamare Chandigarh mein to har kisi ki itni badi kothi hoti hai, yeh kya khaas hui!” – In Chandigarh, every other bungalow is huge, I don’t see anything exciting.

“But, it’s quite expensive!” I felt I needed to defend my adopted city.

“Ya, but we have expensive houses too in Chandigarh!” came pat the reply. I didn’t feel like replying to it.

It’s Bachchan’s house. The USP is – it is Bachchan’s house. Period.

We dropped them at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. I just could not contain my curiosity and ended up asking them, “How come you took a shared cab!” People who could afford one of the most expensive hotel stays seriously don’t need to share a small Wagon R with strangers.

“Oh, it was a genuine mistake. It was our first booking on Ola, and we thought ‘share’ option was that it would share our status on Facebook!”

My mouth opened up involuntarily and my eyes kept on staring them incredulously! Later on, of course, I had a good laugh over it with my friends.

Seriously! The social media-addicted youth of India! God only save us!

People who don’t care for others’ time

On a Monday morning, I booked my cab at 7 am. I needed to reach my destination at 8 am. I thought I had ample time and I would reach on time. The driver came bang on time and greeted me ‘good morning’. I thought it was a good morning too. The next second sounded the buzzer to inform there was a second passenger. We took him in. And, then there was a third. His address wasn’t easy to understand. So the cabbie called him up. The person says, “When you reach this particular chemist, take a u-turn and then take a left from the pan-patti.”

We got to the chemist and took a u-turn, but couldn’t for the life of us find this pan-patti. It was 7:25. Which pan shop opens up at this hour.

So we kept on moving in circles. The person was not reachable as he was in the elevator or some godforsaken place out of reach of the call network. So after 15 minutes, we could finally get through him and got a proper address out of him. It was 7:40. And, so it was 8:20 by the time I finally reached my destination (thankfully, mine was the first drop).

The interesting conversations with cabbies

Apart from interesting co-passengers, you get to talk to the cab drivers too. Their was once this driver who ran a small time agency that provided junior artistes in Bollywood movies. But his once thriving business was hit hard by the demonetization, and he opted to be a taxi driver to survive.

Then there was a cabbie who humbly claimed that his track record was so good that Ola gave him maximum rides with women passengers. God bless him!

Then there are ones who are either exalting Modi government or cursing it.

And then, there are times you get some weird ones too! Like one time, there was this young lad who took me on the wrong route. When I pointed out to him, he didn’t reply. Just the day before I had read a disturbing post on someone’s Facebook wall about how a driver had misbehaved with her. I was about to raise an alarm when the taxi stopped and the driver looked back at me. My heart was in my mouth! And then he said apologetically, “Madam, it seems I am lost. Do you by any chance know the correct way!” Oh, and then I let out a sigh of relief!

There was this cabbie who throughout the journey was badmouthing Ola and Uber, and how they were sucking poor cabbies. According to him, all these app-based taxis would shut shop in a few months, as they were doing very badly. This was on the day when the news of Ola raising fresh funds were splashing all over the news.

Well, whatever said and done, I am enjoying these everyday taxi rides and wouldn’t have it any other way! What about you? Do you have some interesting taxi ride stories to share??

Finding ExtraOrdinary In the Ordinary

A peep into the past on Children’s Day…

The world of packets and bottles, has not only endangered the environment, but has also robbed our children of an important slice of undiluted life. Many of you might not agree with me. May be you haven’t experienced that life then. May be you were not born in the eighties then.

railway platform.JPG

As a small child, summer vacations and Diwali holidays were packed with so many beautiful experiences that their memories warm me still today, after 20-25 years. Going to meet the family in the holidays was a super-exciting event. But, it was not just the final meeting that made it so eventful, but the whole journey. Earlier, there were no packaged water bottles available at the train stations or provision stores at every nook and corner. Mummy would fill up giant water coolers with a plastic cup (there were no disposable plastic cups either) attachment and added some ice to it. And, travelling in AC train coaches was considered aspirational. It wasn’t as if there was inadequacy, but it was definitely not what the middle class did. Decades after, even the definition of the humble middle class has gone for a metamorphic change. But, let’s not go into that.

So, yes, in the train journey, we would eat puris and pickle that mummy prepared specially for the train journey. And, in between, more to satisfy our tongue, than our tummy, we gorged on the chana chaat, sev puri, puri-aloo, kulladwali chai and cut fruits that the various vendors on the train and the station platforms sold. After all, in India, a train journey was all about eating. Those were the times when ‘THE’ Lays’ and other chips packets weren’t sold so flagrantly at the platforms as they are done today. When the enormous water cooler emptied, we waited for the next station to come and requested papa to take us along with him. It was fun to get off the train and stand at the public tap to fill the cooler. We watched and observed people with interest; their dressing, their language and their behaviour. All of it unconsciously. Those beautiful train journeys are etched into my minds for FOREVER.

One of the other beautiful memories that I carry with me is of sleeping on the terrace on cotton mattresses and charpoys. There were no air conditioners, and we never missed one. If it were the summers, sleeping on the terrace, under the stars was the norm, and something we looked forward to the entire year. And waking up to the soft early sun and dew-moist blankets felt so good and refreshing. Then going with nani, a milk can, in the hand, to the nearby tabela (cow shed) where the milkman milked the cows before us. The part of the charm was that none of it was staged, planned. It was a part of everyday life, mundane, may be for some, but for me, it was what made my holidays. No one planned for us, kids or thought what new experiences they could give to us everyday. They went about doing their chores and we tagged along and still learnt and experienced a variety of things. They were simple joys of growing up, and yet so precious.

Today’s world is a disappointing contrast to the yester years. Today, journeys are planned and planned in such detail, they lose their spontaneity. And then the journey itself seems so hurried, that there is no opportunity to lose ourselves in the moment. No wonder, we get back home more exhausted from the holiday, than we were when we set out on it. There are no long train journeys now, cheap flights have taken care of that to some extent. And a plane journey, seriously, can hardly be called a pleasant journey with bland flight food or no food, obnoxiously crammed seats and tight smiles and suspicious eyes of the air stewardesses. No, I wouldn’t call it a journey, of any kind. As for the less frequent train journeys, they are just a watered down version of their earlier times. The water cooler and the puri-pickle is conspicuous in its absence. Why carry so much from home when everything is at our disposal, whenever and wherever we want. So we buy packaged water and juices, boxed food and snacks in plastic bags. We like to let the world pass by through the solidly packed windows of the AC compartments. And no vendor dares enter the prohibited confines of the airconditioned coaches, where their humble wares are considered lowly and thus frowned upon.

Summers come and go, and no one even sets foot on the terrace. Charpoys are long gone, and so are the kids who clamour to climb on them. Summer holidays are not the same anymore, because houses have shrunk and families don’t visit. There are no gangs of cousins who go to the nearby market in the evenings for an ice lolly or a colourful gola. And as for the milk and the milkman, there are no cows and buffaloes, only packets of milk delivered at the doorstep every morning.

Yes, it’s a world of packets and bottles…started in a very innocent fashion…but has taken over our lives sinisterly, COMPLETELY.

Once upon a TIME…..

My daughter is quite fond of books. I am sure I have mentioned this before. This is the reason I enrolled her in a library where we get 4 new books to read every week. I need to read at least 2 story books to her before she goes to bed each evening. Now yesterday I asked her to narrate me a story. I ask her quite often, but she is only interested in listening. But yesterday, surprise of all surprises, she obliged me. And thus started her story.

Once upon a time - Mowgli

Once upon a time (that’s her favourite opening line), there was a big jungle (she loves jungle stories). In the jungle, stayed little Mowgli (she has recently heard about the Jungle Book and Mowgli).

Now one day, mama elephant and daddy elephant came to Mowgli’s house. The mama elephant started eating Mowgli. (Oh my, is that even possible?!)

Then the daddy elephant started eating Mowgli. Mowgli started crying. Then a rabbit passed by.

The rabbit asked Mowgli “What happened Mowgli? Why are you crying?”

Mowgli said, “Mama elephant and daddy elephant are eating me.”

So rabbit picked up a stick and started hitting the mama elephant and daddy elephant. (I would love to see one in action)

He said, “Don’t eat Mowgli.”

And mama elephant and daddy elephant ran away.

Mowgli was happy and he gave the rabbit a carrot to eat. (I loved the carrot part)

Now the story is finished.

By the time she finished her story, my stomach was hurting like crazy on account of controlling my laughter. But, in spite of the, ahem, evident technical errors in the stories, I was proud of my little munchkin. That’s a decent enough narrative from a 3-year old, what say?

This story of hers made me remember my childhood days. In the language exams, we were asked to write autobiographies. Usually of a pen, shoe, tree or car when we were 7-8 years old.

And I remember, in the end, I used to write, “And now I can feel the death creeping up on me. I am dying. I am dead now. Take care, my friends.”

It took the teachers quite some time to convince me and others like me that no one can write once they are DEAD! Ha ha, the little minds and their ignorance about LIFE’s realities.

Do they call you ‘Aunty’?

Image: pxhere

Let me take you to 1990s, those good old days when as a teenager, I flew high (that’s what teenagers do; they rarely touch the ground), believed in the goodness of the people (naive, I know!) and was happy in my blossoming youth. People younger to me were simply ‘these kiddos’  and people older to me, say anyone who looked above thirty or, with a kid, were uncles or aunties. It was a general rule of thumb to address people. Well, I liked to keep it simple. Life was anyway tough what with crushes (I realize now. Back then they were the ‘love’ of my life, my soulmate), and a bag full of insecurities (height, weight, looks – acne, the bane of teenage life) and so on.

Now let’s fast forward to 2014. I am in my thirties, married and a mother to a little daughter. Now read carefully, my daughter calls me ‘mama’ and her friends ‘aunty’. Well, that’s reasonable. There is an occasional child or two who prefer to call me by my first name. And to be truthful, I prefer that too. So for little kids, I am officially an ‘aunty’. I don’t have any problems with that.

The problem surfaces when those life-is-so-beautiful-and-we-are-so-happy twenty-somethings call me ‘aunty’ without blinking an eyelid. That one rankles. Come on, I an AUNTY! My body shakes in rage and my heart takes a painful plunge in shame. Inadvertently, I remember the famous sitcom of the ‘90s where the lady clad in purple lycra body suit bellowed ‘Mujhe aunty mat kaho na’ (Don’t call me aunty, please)! I found it funny then. Now, I can sympathize with her pain and her shame. Where did these 20 years disappear? How could I have, from a frilly polka dot frock-clad girl, joined the wrong side of the demographic? Well, as they say, what goes around comes around.

Aunty is not a derogatory word, I know. There are a lot of hot aunties out there. You only need to type certain five words on Google and you will come across an unbelievable stream of online videos with hot and sexy aunties who rock the world of pre-pubescent, adolescent and young men.

There is this woman in my building; thirty something, one daughter just coming out of her teens and the other in the middle of it. She must have got married when she was still in school. But now she is divorced and in a committed relationship with another man in our building. Though our building kids call her aunty, I am sure they must hesitate at least once before calling her that. She is hot, sexy and wears the oomphiest clothes I have ever seen on the other side of the fashion runway. Even a few men I know in our building secretly lust after her.

Talking of men, there is this neighbour. He lives with his wife and a teenage son. Apart from the son who is regularly seen playing a game of football with other kids in the parking lot, I have never seen the couple interacting much with the other residents of the building. In fact, there have been occasions when they have completely ignored me. If it would have been only me, I would have understood. But talking to other neighbours made me realize that they do the same with them too. But now here is the catch. The husband on the other hand never loses an opportunity to talk if he is alone. Weird, right? If it were only neighbourly talk, I’d understand. But no, he talks about random things, sometimes personal stuff and on one occasion he certainly chatted me up. When he learnt that I knew French language, he said, “I know a little French” and then immediately came up with, “Vous etes belle!” (You are beautiful.) LOL! How convenient! We, women, have extra sensitive radars when it comes to men flirting with us. But the next day, I saw him at the mall, and the man went past me as if he hadn’t seen me. Needless to say, his wife was with him. Poor guy.

This ‘aunty’ is a superpowerful community. We are (more often than not) married, with children, and comfortable (not necessarily happy) in our life. We have seen the world and experienced it at close quarters. We have enough but we want more. We know we are desirable and appealing, more so because we do not want to shake the somewhat cracked but still steady pillars of our marriage. No wonder then, there are many such neighbours who sit there and bide their time. Sooner or later, some hot aunty will definitely come their way.