Tag Archives: connection

To let: a healthy womb

Two recent cases on surrogate adoptions have had me thinking the last couple of days.

I’ve learned from the experiences of two very close friends that motherhood is almost like a rebirth for a woman.

It’s more than just a physical rollercoaster ride – it’s an emotional voyage that springs new life.

For the better part of a year, a woman nurtures a new being within her womb – thinking about, speaking to, and bonding with this unseen fusion of sperm and egg … her child. Her flesh and blood. Her own creation.

For nine months, she waits in anticipation for that one moment when she will be able to see her baby, feel the infant’s breath, touch those little fingers – make that connection come alive in a very real sense. That one precious moment that surpasses everything else she has experienced thus far.

And then she has to give it away. To immediately render all that she’s experienced for three-quarters of a year, a memory. To give “her” child to someone else.

Of course, it’s an arrangement she entered knowing full well the implications of the transaction. But did she really know? For a first-time mom, could she have anticipated the emotions she would go through? Could she have guessed what it would really mean to separate herself from her newborn?

I have no maternal inclinations except for the general fact that I like kids — the kind who go back to their parents after two hours of play time. Despite that objective stance, I cannot entertain the thought of giving away “my” child to somebody else.

Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe the emotional toll something like this would take.

Yet some people would rather take this route than consider adoption. As much as it commodifies children.

Most people deep down would rather pass on their genes than adopt as they simply don’t know the background of children they adopt. Plus there are so many tests you have to go through, to prove you are a decent parent, it is enough to put anyone off adoption or fostering. Going for surrogacy suddenly appears appealing in comparison…..

Naomi Canton, Expat on the Edge

To me, it just seems a lot to ask for — just for the sake of passing down your genes. Or for the sake of “convenience.”

Whether she does it for money or as a gesture of love for a relative or friend, I don’t think any woman can be ever thanked adequately for first nurturing a life and then disowning it.





Filed under Personal, Relationships

Facebook: your personal recommendation engine

Facebook is more popular than Google. At least it was in the week ending March 13.

Even though it was a miniscule 0.4 percent increase over visits to the Internet search giant, it got a lot of tongues wagging.

From being a platform where people raise virtual animals and open up their lives, Facebook is fast becoming a forum to get personal recommendations.

A handful of my friends have connected their TripAdvisor and Yelp profiles to Facebook making their hotel stays and restaurant reviews available to their network. But most people I know are using their status updates to publish queries, especially when making travel plans.

Going to the Grand Canyon area — any recommendations on where to stay?

Visiting Idaho — what are some cool things to do besides visiting boh-ring lava fields ?

Is in Honolulu — where to get the best mai tais?

Instead of “googling” this information and relying on the collective wisdom of random strangers, these folks are tapping into their network — which, if it consists of friends and family with shared interests, would make it an unbeatable resource.

A goldmine of viable ideas.

The real value lies in getting suggestions from people you know. More important: these are people who know you and your interests.

You could be off to the theater district, eating the best local fare, and hanging out with surfer dudes if you ask the right folks. But be careful before you announce your plans on any social media network — if you really don’t want to reconnect with your former high school sweetheart in person (even though you “friended” her on Facebook because it was oh-so-harmless), make sure she isn’t on the list of people with access to your status updates.

Always follow the mantra: think before you post.

And create lists with variable access.

You could have one called “Close friends” who have access to everything — photos, notes, status updates, your wall. Another one called “Acquaintances” for people who can’t see your bikini shots but can read your status updates. A third called “Colleagues,” who have access to your wall but nothing else. And so on.

There are ways to tap into the potential of social networking while still maintaining your privacy. Use it wisely.

How do you use Facebook? Do you see it becoming your personal recommendation engine?



Filed under Personal

True love

Love to some is like a cloud

To some as strong as steel

For some a way of living

For some a way to feel

Some say love is holding on

And some say let it go

While some say love is everything

Some say they don’t know…

Love — the one emotion that all of us experience at some point in our lives. An emotion which defies definition. An overwhelming all-encompassing joy that comes saddled with its share of sadness.

I remember having countless crushes while in school. Our neighbour’s son, my best friend’s brother, a cousin’s friend, our judo teacher … I fancied them for the colour of their eyes, their swagger, or just the way they combed their hair. Harmless “puppy loves” as ephemeral as soap bubbles.

I’d always heard that you won’t even know what hit you when you find the love of your life — the one person you want to spend time with day after day after day. And it was true.

It came at a time when I was mature enough to take on the responsibilities of a relationship which demands a lot of give and not so much of take. Love was the edifice I built on the foundation of friendship. It took time to blossom. It took a lot of understanding, loads of communication, and plenty of patience to become what it is today. 

Most importantly, love to us meant a meeting of minds. Still does.

It was notches above infatuations and what my mom likes to call “the pleasures of the flesh.”

Our parents’ generation was fed lavishly with ideals. Theirs was an era of constraints, restraints, respect, admiration, and oodles of romance. An age where the distance between the sexes somehow managed to help preserve the sanctity of an amorous relationship.

Our generation, with its openness and fading lines of proximity, jumped on to the bandwagon of love with a little more haste and defiance of “traditions.”

The next generation, I fear, is going further downhill — not quite able to distinguish between physical attraction and mental compatibility. Love seems synonymous with both. Exclusively, even.

I am amazed when I hear stories of school kids bragging about the number of physical relationships they have had. I am horrified to learn that girls barely seventeen have already been in and out of five to six “hook ups.” What about the emotional baggage these kids will carry with them?

The mindset of our “always-plugged-in” generation is all too evident in their tweets and Facebook status updates — publicly handling their personal life.

I see more and more focus on physical beauty, less and less regard for intellect. Closeness gets more importance than intimacy. There is more of passion and less of emotion. More of frivolous comradeship, less of true companionship. There is more acquiring and less sharing.

More of me, less of us.

Maybe I’m old school, but to me it seems like the essence of relationships has been forgotten.

There’s much more to being someone’s beau than gifting them red roses and Hallmark cards. What about gifting our time, our company, our support, our friendship…? What about setting priorities where our loved one comes first?

What about giving ourselves, and the ones we love, time and space to build a strong foundation? What about working towards meaningful and lasting friendships?

What about honouring our commitments? What about channeling our energies and emotions towards building lifelong bonds rather than wasting them on seasonal relationships?

Love is so much more than a fleeting song and a glass of wine. It doesn’t always lie on satin sheets. It isn’t found in diamonds and perfumes and flowers.

It’s about respect, companionship, understanding, appreciation. It’s about being yourself and loving the other person for who they are. It’s about making it through thick and thin.

Relationships take work. Love makes it easy.

I believe that true love happens once in a lifetime.

Don’t let frivolous flings tire you out so much that when true love comes your way you aren’t able to receive it with open arms.



Filed under communication, Personal, Relationships

Not wired 24/7

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Stretch a little, drink a glass of water? Rub your eyes and will your body into leaving the warmth of the bed?

That used to be me, a couple of years ago. I’d lie curled under my Jaipuri quilt, gazing out the window — sunlight streaming through the oak leaves, the sound of finches going about their daily business.

And then something changed.

My head propped against two pillows, still not quite awake, I would reach for my laptop, slowly open my eyes and stare at thousands of updates from bloggers, friends, and journalists around the world.

While I waded through the tweets, plurks, tumblelogs, Flickrs, Jaiku activity streams, Facebook and Plaxo Pulse updates, I was also e-mailing colleagues and speeding through RSS feeds in my customized Google Reader. I would spend the first 20 minutes every morning scrambling through the noise of Web 2.0.

Thanks to my iPhone, I could also carry the “noise” with me. As I scanned through another 1,ooo+ unread news items, I munched on my mix of pumpkin seeds and flax granola mixed with rolled oats and Cheerios.

My Bluetooth device in place, I would step out to catch the shuttle that would ferry me over to the light rail station a mile away. During the 40-minute commute, I would access my social networking updates through FriendFeed, continue scanning news items and sharing the ones I liked with friends,  tweet about the crowd in the train, and review work e-mails.

I had become a cyborg.

Even though at heart, I’m more of a floppy-disk than a thumb-drive person, I had been swallowed by the “need” to keep up with the millennials. Just so, I could feel relevant.

I didn’t have a cell phone until my first job in India at age 23 and we got around just fine by using pay phones, writing letters (yes, that’s right – handwritten letters on paper that we mailed), and meeting people face-to-face.

I distinctly remember when we sat around as a family to watch the one public television channel that was broadcast from 5 to 10 p.m. on our black and white TV.

That was it.

There was no pay-per-view, or 300 channels to choose from and we couldn’t “log on” to watch YouTube videos.

We read books for entertainment, we had real-time conversations at the dinner table instead of texting our friends while chomping down a meal, we went out and played softball, cricket and badminton (not as a structured activity, but for fun!) and we waited while the phone rang and rang and rang until it got disconnected.

And then we called again.

But things have changed – and drastically so. For today’s kids, being wireless is the norm, texting is the new e-mail, and voice messages have always existed. Even the two-year-olds throw a “regular” phone away in favor of swiping their index finger rapidly on an iPhone screen!

Now we have this ever-pressing need to be “connected” — not just online — but actually actively socializing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut, Buzz, Habbo, hi5, Foursquare, Xanga or a plethora of other services.

I have 378 friends on Facebook and 162 people in my Orkut network — 99.9 percent of them are people I have met and known at some point in my life.

I love the fact that I can look at their profile updates, go through their public photos and scroll through their Walls or Scrapbooks to see what’s going on in their lives. But not everyone has this policy of “friending” — most social network users open up their network to strangers — that’s the whole point, they say, of networking!

And don’t even get me started on Chatroulette — the latest fad that pairs random strangers for Webcam-based conversations. Eek!

For me, the internet has made it a lot easier to keep in touch with family and friends. But when it starts becoming more real than the reality of your life, it’s time to take a timeout.

And that’s what I have done.

I log on to Facebook thrice a day: once every morning to check on friends’ updates and ask my question of the day, then sometime in the afternoon to post an update of this blog, and then for half an hour at night to beat my opponents at Bejeweled Blitz.

I’ve stopped following Twitter as rampantly and phased out all the other services that hogged my time and attention, leaving me no time to think. Just consume. Reams and reams of unstoppable information.

I’ve whittled down my Google Reader subscriptions to the ones I will actually read, not keep saving to pore over “some day.”

Now, I take a minute, sometimes two, to appreciate being alive to see another morning before “plugging in.”

I watch the weather and traffic reports while eating breakfast and listen to the radio during my commute.

Sometimes I take a break from the distant chatter in the background and just hum.

I like being able to think critically, stretch my mental muscles, and analyze, not just observe, what is. I like being able to share something meaningful. And as much as I want to be in step with the times, I’m not going be so obsessed with documenting irrelevant updates that I lose touch with reality.

I don’t want to be one of those people for whom events become real only when they tweet about them.

Maybe I’m just getting “old.”


Also see:


Filed under communication, Personal

A record of our life, our times, our vanity

Spicy Saturday Pick

What does blogging do for you?

Is it a forum for tips?

A place where you reflect and have conversations with yourself?

A safe haven; an escape?

A commentary on social, political, economic issues of our times?

A minute-by-minute record of your personal life? A journal that was meant to be personal, but really isn’t?

Do you have one eye on the traffic stats and the other on the number of comments you received?

Isn’t your blog like a monologue that you stage for your audience? Craving recognition, applause, critique, and fame?

Watching  “Private Lives,” an episode in the long-running Fox series “House”  got me wondering about the purpose of blogging.

The show is based on an eccentric genius of a doctor with no interpersonal skills but plenty of diagnostic ones. This particular episode focused on a patient whose life revolved around blogging. Thinking about having kids? She’d blog about it. Had an argument over dinner with the boyfriend? It’s going on the blog. Seeking comfort? Yep, you got it! Read the blog.

Here’s a snippet from her life:

She: So-and-so said you’d react this way.

He: Who is this so-and-so?

She: It’s one of my followers.

He: You blogged about this?

She: Of course I did!

He: I don’t want you writing about me or us. You take it down right now.

She: No I’m not. You’re part of my life and that’s what I blog about. I blog about my life.

He: You like bringing strangers into our life? To weigh in on things they don’t even know about?

She: They give me perspective.

She was so obsessed with blogging that when the doctors asked her to choose between a pig’s heart valve or a plastic one, she turned to her boyfriend and said, “Can you please pass me the laptop?”

Here was a woman seeking advice from people halfway across the globe instead of taking a moment to think about this life-altering decision for herself or conferring with her significant other.

When she was being prepped for the operation, she asked her boyfriend if he’d still be there when she woke up. He kept quiet and she wistfully said, “I wish you’d blog. At least then I’d know what you were thinking.”

I know this was an extreme portrayal, but it brought to fore an important point. How far removed are we from the people we live with, work with, interact with? And how close are we getting to those physically a world away?

The internet is a great thing — it’s brought so many people together, but at the same time is it increasing the gulf between those who live under the same roof? Have we become slaves to technology? And so much so, that before we open our mouth to talk to someone standing next to us, we look for a keyboard?

For those of us who blog, does every real-life conversation become fodder for the next post? Are we always thinking about what would resonate with the readers? Is this an attempt on our parts to record our lives and our times, or is it just a reflection of our vanity? An endeavor to feed our ego? To rally the troops in favor of our ideas? To find like-minded people?

I see my blog as a medium to spur conversations — not necessarily with me, or with people in your lives, but with yourself.

I put my thoughts in words, so that my words can spark some thoughts in your mind.

So, yes, as much as I say I write for myself, I am inadvertently writing for an audience.

And while stats and comments don’t matter per se, it’s encouraging to have a readership to validate this undertaking.

But I tread these waters carefully. Not treating my partner or friends as characters in this “play.” Not getting swallowed into virtual existence. Not treating this space as a personal diary that will serve medical practitioners with valuable information some day.

This is not where I “live” my life.

What about you?



Filed under Personal

Here a buzz, there a buzz

Everywhere a buzz buzz!

Yes, I am talking about Google Buzz. Who isn’t? Hyped as the next big thing after Twitter, Buzz is supposed to seamlessly integrate all the interesting conversations you have with folks online with your Gmail interface. People in my network are trying it out in various ways: having real-time multi-user public conversations, something that GTalk didn’t allow for,  sharing photos, embedding videos, and providing feedback. Some are choosing to share their current location making it easy for stalkers to know exactly which Cold Stone Creamery they’re at enjoying that delicious Cookie Crumb Yum. Some like it because they now have the power to control who sees which updates, something they didn’t have a choice with when it came to tweeting. Some have gone to the extent of saying that they will stop using Facebook if there’s enough critical mass on Buzz.

There was a lot of hype when Google Wave was launched but the average user never really got a sense of how to use it optimally and I saw it die a slow but certain death (in my friend circle) a couple of weeks after its launch. I wonder if Buzz will share a similar fate. People jump on real fast, but does it have what it takes for sustained addiction?

Here is Jeff Jarvis’ take on Google’s latest offering:

A friend’s Facebook status update said this yesterday:

I did nothing worth tweeting today. Does that mean I have no life or no life worth talking about?

Now that we have another player in the mix, does it pressure us more to make our seemingly ordinary lives more interesting? Does it affect content in any way at all? Or the way we share it? Or is it just going to be a repeat of the kinds of inane posts we’ve seen thus far on Facebook and Twitter? How does Buzz change online social interactions for you?

Or does it even matter?

(Also see: Good analysis by ZDNet reviewer Dion Hinchcliffe.)



Filed under Personal

Think before you post

Yesterday the European Union celebrated Safer Internet Day with the theme Think B4 U Post. Although the message was aimed at teenagers, there’s a lot that adults can learn from it.

I see Facebook status updates from friends and acquaintances detailing the contents of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They talk about their daily routines — benchpressing, donut-eating, commuting, and grocery shopping. Every time there is a fad, they participate — sometimes telling the world at large the kind and color of underwear they’re sporting.

They post photos of their shoes, their hairdresser, their choice in toilet paper brand. They share what song they’re currently humming. They make available their phone number, their e-mail address, and date of birth. So consumed are they by the concept of communal sharing that they forget the dangers of such public “nudity.” Not many use privacy settings on Facebook to limit access to their personal information. Hardly any ego search.

When I had joined Facebook way back when, I was foolish enough to do most of the above. Until I realized, no one cares that I skipped breakfast, or had a taco salad for lunch. Social media is a powerful medium — it helps reconnect, but it can also be harnessed to engage people into something more constructive. Something relevant. So, I started asking questions — sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes mindless — and immediately saw a keen interest. People wanted to share. To relate. To connect.

I don’t post personal updates (except on the occasional weekend) but still share my deepest thoughts, albeit with a question mark at the end. And people journey with me.

When I started blogging, one of my biggest fears was putting myself out there. On Facebook, I can control access to my photos, my wall, my status updates, but in the blogosphere the door to my mind is wide open. Everyone can come in, partake, celebrate or reject, leave without a trace, or bring a gift to share. But therein lies the beauty of it, too. I can use the power of this glass house to gauge reader interest — to see if my words touch strangers’ lives. To assess if my writing has any meaning to those who don’t really know me, but know me.

It takes courage to knowingly share what you hold dear with the world. And I appreciate the encouragement I have received from groups like She Writes, IndiBlogger, and Writers Rising. But all the same I tread these waters cautiously. The Internet is a nasty thing — once you put something on here, it’s permanent. There is no scope for Oops! There is no taking it back.

So, before you post anything personal online, think; assess; reflect; rewrite; and only if it is really relevant, hit the update button. Also, Google yourself to see what the world knows about you.

Find anything interesting? 😉



Filed under Personal