Tag Archives: woman

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.

Thoughts?

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Filed under Personal, Relationships

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.

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Slaves to sensationalism

News? It’s such a joke these days.

There was a time when broadcast media reported on, analyzed, and facilitated critical thinking. There was a time when reporters were serious journalists covering social, political, economic, religious, world issues of significance.

There was a time when one wore the journalist badge proudly.

With the pressure of rolling something — anything — out every minute in our 24/7 news cycle, not only has the quality of news reports declined, but the idea of what constitutes news has changed as well.

I recently watched Rann, a Hindi movie exploring the difference (?) between news and sensationalism. What they portrayed wasn’t any different from what we’re bombarded with in the guise of news every morning, afternoon, and night.

This morning I received an e-mail from Ragan News Stand with the blurb:

Have you heard about Donna Simpson? She’s a 600-pound New Jersey woman who’s all over cable news today. Why? She’s trying to gain 400 pounds! And she’s funding this diet with donations from her Web site. That’s right; people are paying to watch her eat. Cable news, says the Web site Mediaite, loves this story, because these networks are lazy. “Here’s a story with a light reporting load, but lots of eyeball-grabbing images and talking head fodder,” Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher wrote. Consider the Donna Simpson story — light reporting, lots of eyeball-grabbing images and talking head fodder — the next time you draft a pitch … to cable news, at least.

Is that what we’re reducing “news” to? Striking visuals, zero investigative reporting, and superficial, irrelevant stories — almost like mini-soap operas to entertain, not educate, us?

When I interned at a local TV station a couple of years ago and questioned why we chose to do a story on “tight stockings and its effects on women’s health” instead of one on “breakthrough cancer research,” I was told that’s what the viewers want to see!

Really?

Is this the kind of fluff we’re willing to accept in lieu of real problems that need to be addressed? Have we resigned to the media moguls telling us what news should be? If not, why don’t we, the viewers, voice our disgust?

Or, are we ok being entertained by television news, because our assumption is that the “real” stuff will be covered by print outlets anyway?

The media is supposed to be a reflection of who we are as a society — is this what we have become? Slaves to sensationalism?

Now, don’t go about tweeting this. It might just show up on CNN’s ego-surfing coverage on your telly!

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Gift for your baby girl: a breastfeeding doll

Yesterday, a friend forwarded a Huffington Post slideshow of the seven most inappropriate toys for children.

I was appalled, needless to say, but one that had me going “No way!” at the top of my lungs was this particular product: The Bebé Glotón breastfeeding doll.

Who in their right minds would buy a four-year-old girl a toy that teaches her to breastfeed??????? It’s absolutely atrocious!

And wait till you hear the tagline: “Because you shouldn’t have to wait until you have breasts before you start breastfeeding your baby!”

Really?

And just as soon as you develop those mammary glands, go ahead — have a baby. So what if you’re a teenager? You already know how to breastfeed if nothing else!

Is that what we want to teach our little girls? Have babies, breastfeed them and fulfill your mission on earth!!!??!!

I don’t understand how or why the manufacturers can get away with something like this.

Growing up, I never played with utensils or Barbie dolls — instead I got board games and Lego building blocks, but I saw the gender stereotyping where other girls my age would play a nurse or housewife and the boys would play doctors or engineers.

But this takes it to whole new level of ridiculous!

I don’t know if it’s advertised to be an “educational” toy but even if it is, isn’t four years a bit too young to be focusing on having kids and what your yet-to-be-developed breasts can biologically do? And it assumes that the little girl will grow up and want kids! And then breastfeed them!

What kind of education is that?

According to the comments in this San Francisco Chronicle report, these dolls were a huge success with sales hitting the roof and the supplies going out-of-stock within a month.

I really don’t see how this is appropriate, especially for this target age group. Do you?

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Outrage?

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Confessions of the “non-feminine” kind

“But every woman loves going to the mall!!”

I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve had the same surprised … nay …. jaw-dropping reaction to my disinterest in going to a 50,000 square-foot zoo of clothes, shoes, knickknacks, and fast food. I just find it a terrible waste of time.

It’s crowded. There’s always the temptation to buy junk food. You browse and browse and browse and after some time it all starts looking the same.

When I can buy almost everything stocked in a mall online, why would I go through the hassle of driving to a shopping center teeming with people, spend an average of 15 minutes looking for a parking spot, and tire my soles walking from one end to the other because the two stores I need stuff from are at opposite ends of the mall?

And why would I lug those bags when I can get the same items delivered (for free most of the time) to my doorstep?

Even on those rare occasions that I do end up going to the mall (and believe me, before taking that extreme step I try everything in my power to avoid it!) I’m in and out in half an hour.

I know exactly what I want, which shop I’m headed to, and how much I’m willing to pay. If I don’t find what I’m looking for in that one store, I head out in 10 minutes. If I do, I try it on … if it fits, I pay for it and am on my way. I can’t look at one thing in one store, then head to another to compare the style, the price, the what-have-you … I just don’t have the patience.

Same applies to manis, pedis, facials — too much time investment. When all you really need is a daily cleaning-moisturizing regimen. The only time I’ve experienced these extravagances is right before my wedding. To make mom happy.

Makeup? My “kit” includes a foundation, a mini eyeshadow box (a gift), and lip balm.

Jewelry? I’m not into diamonds, let’s just say that. Or gold. Or silver. I go for the $2 earrings, have worn the same modest ring for the last nine years without any urge to “upgrade” and even though I got my nose pierced last week, I know the stud’s only going to be replaced (if at all) with other $2 equivalents. The more expensive the jewelry, the more a waste of money it seems. $800 for a tiny piece of rock that catches the sun? That could be my trip to Kauai!

Handbags? Most days you’ll see me with a cloth sling bag just big enough to hold my wallet, phone, and keys. It’s practical.

It’s not just women who think I’m weird when I express my disinterest in these supposedly “feminine” things. It’s also men.

“You’d rather stay back and play Monopoly with us instead of going to the mall with our wives? Are you sure?” ask my male friends.

When we visit our friend in San Francisco, he always insists we go to the Bloomingdale’s across his house.

I always ask for other options.

“You’d rather hike when you’re sitting in the middle of this shopping mecca?” he asks eyes widened, mouth open, voice shrill.

I think heels are impractical, pantyhose is useless, and perfumes are for those who smell bad enough for others to notice. And don’t even get me started on lacy lingerie — such a scam!

It’s not that I’m not “girly” — whatever that’s supposed to mean — but these are just some things other women enjoy and I don’t. It’s just that simple.

Some female friends have commented that I enjoy defying stereotypes, but I really don’t have an agenda.

All I ask is why restrict yourself with labels? Why not do something you truly enjoy doing instead of being stuck with society’s notion of what you should and shouldn’t do? There’s a whole world of opportunities out there for me to discover — why shouldn’t I experiment?

Men like this, women like that — oh  baloney!

Unearth the joys of discovering yourself. And go do what you like!

Side note: try doing a Google image search with the keyword “shopping.” No surprises 🙂

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I am my own woman

We were newlyweds at the Lucknow airport checking in for our flight to New Delhi, onwards to San Francisco — we had been assigned seats a couple of rows away from each other, so we requested to be seated together. The agent refused. “You don’t have the same last names,” he said.

Wait. What?

I was still wearing the traditional new bride jewelry (the red and white bangles being the most distinct give-away) and despite repeated attempts at clarifying we were husband and wife and I had opted to retain my maiden name, he wouldn’t budge. Finally he called his supervisor. I, in turn, called my dad, who had come to see us off, to vouch for our matrimonial status.

After half an hour of back and forth, we finally got adjoining seats.

It was bizarre.

Two years later we made our first trip back as a married couple. During the last leg of the flight, the attendant asked my husband what he wanted to drink. He said, “Coke” and the attendant moved on. I turned to my husband and asked, “What about me?” He gave me a blank look and shrugged. I shouted “excuse me” a couple of times, but apparently it didn’t register. A couple of minutes later, the attendant got my husband and me the same drink.

I don’t drink Coke. So, I said to him — “I didn’t ask for this. In fact, you never asked me what I wanted!” He immediately shot back, “He is your husband. I assumed you’d drink the same thing as him!”

(Needless to say, we’re never flying Air India again.)

And I was treated like this during our entire stay — we were in Rajasthan for a week and the auto-drivers wouldn’t negotiate with me … they would only talk to my husband. The locals we engaged with would see through me. Some even gave me the look that said loud and clear “Shut up!”

I felt suffocated. And offended. Here in my own country, I had no voice. And I realized that all these years, I had only been my father’s daughter. When he “gave me away” on my wedding day, I became my husband’s wife.

That was all there was. My identity as an individual was determined by whom I belonged to.

For 21 years, my parents had sheltered me from the sexist attitudes of the relatively small town we lived in. The two times I stepped out of the house (once to do a year-long computer course and the second time for my job), I lived in the metros — Delhi and Bombay seemed to treat independent, working women with a tad more respect. Or so I felt in my limited experiences.

But having been exposed to life in the States where I was known for my work, respected for my professionalism, and recognized as “bright young asset” to my team, gender aside, going back in that environment made me realize how good women have it here. Here I have my own identity, my own place, my own voice. Decisions aren’t made for me and people acknowledge me as an individual.

I am valued for who I am, not the family I come from or the guy I married.

And heck, why do I have to be the only one to “belong”? Just as my husband married me, I married him. So, he “owns” me as much me as I own him.

And my name is a big part of my identity, just as his is for him.

I don’t necessarily claim to be a feminist, but it feels demeaning to me to be discounted just because by accident of birth I happen to be a female. I, too, have a place in this world. My place. My status. My identity.

I take pride in being a spirited individual and want to be recognized such. So what if I am a woman?

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P.S. I thank my parents and my husband — the former for raising me to be a self-respecting person and the latter for bolstering my confidence.

Submitted as a non competitive entry for Indus Ladies International Women’s Day blog contest.


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The battle of the sexes

As I watched Modern Family last night (which, by the way, is the best new comedy on the airwaves these days) I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when one of the characters woke her daughter in the middle of the night and beseeched her teenager to teach her how to use the remote. The daughter sleepily, and irritatedly, asked, “Now? Why can’t daddy teach you?” and the mom ever so matter-of-factly responded, “Because we’re married.”

It was so succinctly put. Although I laughed, the veiled sadness of the situation wasn’t lost on me.

Marriage somehow tends to bring out all the stereotypes of both genders to the fore. Women and their emotional dramas. Men and their forgetfulness. The silent grouch. The overly-communicative diva. The one who won’t ask for directions. The one who loves the shopping channel. The mall-fashionista. The gadgety nerd. The nurturer. The provider. Unknowingly we find ourselves stuck in a socially-constructed maze of expectations. Almost unfailingly, we can “predict” what the general gender-specific reaction will be to something we say. We are so entangled in the politics of marriage, that we forget the reasons we entered this lifelong pact.

Besides the whole “love” part of it, wasn’t it about sharing a life together … accepting each others’ failures (and failings) … not being on the defense all the time … leaving our egos out the door … not judging … being a team instead of competing against each other?

And yet, we empathize with complete strangers of the same sex, but not with our spouse. How do we end up taking sides with those “against” our better half? How do we bond with colleagues( from different nationalities and different ethos) around spousal jokes? How are we able to label our significant other (who is so unique that we believe he/she was “made just for us”) into a general “this is what all men/women do” category? And we do it with so much reckless abandon all the time that it becomes second nature to the concept of marriage.

I guess it is just the way it is, given what a social construct marriage is to begin with. And since no one seems to mind it, who am I to question this age-old mechanism that continues to fuel the power struggle between men and women?

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