Growing up a gender-neutral generation.

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Last week, we conducted a birthday party for our 4 year old daughter. I’m due to pop the second human out by the end of the year, so this was to be her big birthday bash before blossoming into a ‘matured, caring older sister’. We sent out super-hero themed party invites, gave her an Avengers themed birthday cake and stuck Iron-man stickers on all thank-you cards. Did she like it that way? She absolutely did. It is a few revelations that we experienced while planning the party, that has prompted me to write this post.

My daughter loved her Elsa, she loved her Ballerina and she loved her Beauty. But she also loved her Spiderman, Ironman and Wonder-woman. Did that happen naturally? No. Elsa and other Princesses found their way to my daughter, thanks to her friends and family. My mother was the first one to gift her a Barbie doll when she was two. Her friends introduced her to a new princess every week. All these princesses had glittering hair, shiny dresses and a Prince to marry. She was irritatingly fond of pink color and all her playtime storylines had the annoying need to be rescued by this otherwise jobless prince.

That’s when by chance she joined us in watching Avengers one night. She clapped and she whooped. We were excited enough to let her watch Spiderman and Ironman further. She was smitten with Wonder-Woman and relentlessly practiced to crouch like her. From a Princess in pink, waiting to be rescued, my daughter wanted to jump high and fight bad guys. I couldn’t be more proud of her!

During the many calls I made for cake enquiries, I was asked in surprise as to why I’m getting super heroes on my daughter’s birthday cake. The many party shops and party websites I visited all showcased Spiderman suits for Boys and Princesses dresses for Girls. Pictures of the party made couple of my friends ask if my daughter really liked the cake, because, let’s face it – girls of her age like dolls and fairies. And you won’t believe the number of dressing tables, cooking sets and Frozen branded make-up kits she was gifted with. While I’m sure they were all gifted with love and the best intentions, I can’t help but wonder if we are feeding into the minds of the children ideas on what they are “supposed to like” instead of letting their likes evolve.

The cooking set she received pictured a little girl in Chefs hat and apron. The dressing table showed a little Diva applying lipstick. Mindless generalization? Subtle sexism? Why couldn’t it have been a little boy wearing the apron? Why make the little girl feel as if she is expected to wear makeup and be pretty? It made me think about all the toys I have gifted so far and it surely will make me think a moment longer while picking up the next gift.

Once we got home after the party, we laid out all the gifts and asked her to choose one gift to open for that day. She looked around, went straight to the Spiderman (one of the few “unisex” gifts received) and hugged him. Enough said.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, maybe we should stop assuming that since the child is a girl, she needs to be a princess. That just because he is a boy, he needs to prefer cars over cooking pots. It’s a conception fed to us since forever, and it’s so inherent that it’s almost invisible in our behavior. With a market that is constantly trying to feed us with a set pattern of gender-based colors and characters, it becomes increasingly difficult a task to help our kids grow up with neutrality. But perhaps we should all put in that extra effort to expose our little ones to everything from cars to cookwares and princesses to powerpuffs. Because if my second baby turns out to be a boy, I’d like him to wear pink without being mistaken for a girl, while my daughter somersaults to the tune of “friendly neighborhood Spiderman…”.

Because really, there is nothing weird about either of those things and our kids should not grow up believing otherwise.

(Note – We are extremely grateful to everyone who showered our girl with gifts and blessings on her special day. This post is in no way to offend anyone’s gesture – but a self realization on a judgement practice we all succumb to often.)

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Reliable Rascals

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Friends are the ones who keep you away from your awesome destiny. They mess with your laptop and post “I’m gay” status messages on your facebook profile. They fondle with your smartphones and leave cracks and gooey stuff on your screen. Sometimes, they send you pictures of Chicken Momos or Chocolate brownies when you are starving. At other times, they proudly become pain-in-the-youknowwhere by revealing your forbidden sins and forsaken truths to your parents. My point is, friends more often than not, are just bitches who enjoy laying roadblocks and speed-breakers on your highway to an easy life.

Having said that, I’ve always had pretty decent friends myself. The kind that repeats the same lie as you do, by some inexplicable telepathy. The kind you can confidently leave your adult joke or soft porn collection with, without the fear of its getting circulated around the campus. The kind you can rely on to watch that crappy movie with on the eve of the university exams. Even the kind that knows what your cough denotes and what your smirk intones.

Again my point is, these are friends who you can count on, to walk with you to hell and back. Like on a daily basis. These are those people you can count on to pull you out of a shit pile, make you watch Boeing-Boeing (a ridiculously funny Malayalam movie from the ‘80s) and then throw you back, just to make sure you get a good laugh before getting your ass kicked. If you have a bunch of these people around you, who you can rely on for all the wrong reasons, you may consider yourself to be one lucky bugger.

I’ve been plenty lucky, in that regard. I’ve had a friend sneaking Chocolate Cake to me while I was pregnant and under sugar-arrest by my over anxious parents. I’ve had friends risking their life and more to smuggle fried chicken and vodka bottles to the girls hostel to celebrate my birthday. And I’ve had a friend to yap about my inane marital fights, offering me his services in case I’m looking for an extra marital affair to relieve my agitated mind.  (It’s the helping mentality that I’m pointing out!)

Anyhow, life was certainly more dramatic and free falling with friends like these around. So let me take this opportunity to thank all you reliable rascals. You have been a cut above the rest and you still make my heart bleed for yesteryears.

Since friends come in 50 shades of weirdness, I wasn’t surprised to meet my younger brother’s friends lot- a group of youngsters who for some reason, thought it their duty to give a very pregnant lady a grand baby shower and a very new mother a kickass birthday bash. It somehow did not hamper their spirits that they hardly knew me. Seeing how they coo and cuddle my baby now at every possible chance, I think the secret agenda behind all the love, is flicking my kid.  Anyhow again, for all the gifts, free baby-sitting, photography and for simply making my little girl smile, here’s a hearty thank you from a very happy momma!

A lot of lovin'!Made to feel special! :)

Hey, here’s a realization. What started out as a blog on friends in general, has turned out to be a stupid thank you note in specific! If you feel I don’t have a sense of direction in my writing, feel free to talk to my hormones.

 

Guest Blogpost by Safal- “Meeting the menacing face of aging!”

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Introducing Safal Kamaruddin, a brand new guest blogger at Wordsnwisdom! 🙂

Meeting the menacing face of aging.

The title does make me sound like a guy entering his dull and unexciting mid-forties. Well, though I strongly believe that I am nowhere near that phase, sometimes, certain episodes ring that horrifying alarm of realization that you are OLD AND OUT OF COLLEGE.

While living through my recent days of waking up  only a few hours away from sunset, when the only thing I’m bothered of is the rescue of Lincoln Burrows in Prison Break and the only time I actually perform those much planned abs exercises is to pick up the TV remote that I dropped while dozing, I seem to be out of college AND out of purpose!

This is that CHILL break I claimed cardinal to overcome the hangover of spending four years trying to be an engineer. College at Rajagiri gave me the feeling of a school kid- with the college uniform assuring the feel. I spent the major share of my  life at Rajagiri accusing the institution of its excessive strictness level. Our constant mourning filled its atmosphere. Friends, hangouts, fests, travels, dances, competitions and events contributed to the better side of my four years. The only element which was meagre than our finances was “Time”. Be it a dull boring session for Young Entrepreneurs or a marathon in the city for a cause I had no idea about, my presence was inevitable (at least that’s what I strongly believed!). Avoiding sitting idle meant being part of a bunch of kids dancing in a mall under the name and belief of a flash mob, with the audience not thinking twice to tag us as “Retards”. Efforts that were spared for our academics ensured that each  combine study session ended up productive in identifying new food joints or chilling at the nearest beach.

From the days when every minute lost in a traffic signal resulted in a half day attendance loss, I have ended up in a state of ignoring the clock for hours as if there is no real purpose in measuring time. “What next?” happens to be what follows “Hello” in any conversation I have with any random person. My 6 year old neighbor who is usually  oblivious to  anything other than Hannah Montana, contributed to my stress attack with that missile of a question “Chetta, No office going?”.  Even the cuckoo clock that newly found its place in my living room makes me feel as if my family is trying to notify me of the time I’m losing.

My sister, never in the habit of reading newspaper, had to pick the very same day to break her routine, as I did to wake up early for a change, to drop the ultimate bomb. As she read, she stopped to show me a picture and asked me, “So how come you guys didn’t participate in this flash mob?”

I knew I would regret asking it, but at times curiosity takes over and you blurt out things like  “Huh, which flash mob? I didn’t know there was one being organized!”

She simply smirked and said, ” Oh, I forgot. You are OUT OF COLLEGE”.

Well and here I’m, still handling the emotional havoc she wrecked in me!

A phase of change & cheer.

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So its been a while since I sat down to type anything other than a careless facebook comment or a lame twitter update. I have been so caught up in my own unproductive ways of spending time, that the art of bringing together words to form a sentence, paragraphs and even award-winning blogposts seemed like a lost cause. Why write, or think for that matter, when time can be killed using other means of lesser effort like the television soaps or a fiction or two?

Hence, eight months of lethargy took its toll. I’m so aware of the duration as it’s been 8 months I have been carrying a tiny person inside my expanding tummy. Even as I’m typing now, the little person is fighting for my attention with frequent bulges and kicks. It makes me smile. The last person who had tried so much for my attention is perhaps, my Operations Research teacher in my MBA class. Though that neither quite made me smile nor end pretty.

After focusing my energies for the first 6 months on Grey’s Anatomy, 50 Shades Of Grey and other entertainments specked with too little grey-matter, my Husband packed me off to the better care-wielding hands of my parents. Once in India, I have been asked by a group of people to walk, work and keep myself active, while another group strictly advised me to eat, rest and relax. Quite understandably, the latter were my favorite bunch. Visits to 3 different hospitals told me that I could be walking just about 15 minutes a day, or running a marathon, both of which could equally harm or help my delivery. I could be doing squats, or not. I could be “chronically diabetic” or looking at a very normal delivery. According to our house maid, I should be showering twice a day (regardless of the fact that it is severe monsoons and I’m totally at home all the time), first with coconut oil on the head, and second with medicated oil on the body.

People also tell me that I should not get out of the house after 6 pm. As that is when a particular bird flies about in the sky, and this bird does much harm to the mother and the baby if it gets to fly over my head. So, unless it is extremely urgent (and even so, with ample protection to my head with a shawl of some sort), I’m not to walk about in front of my house after 6pm. Period.

So amidst all the do’s and don’ts, I have been constantly lost, wondering about the mystery bird and the squats I have been simultaneously asked to do as well as refrain from. And while I get back a smug shrug from the Mister as I moan and whine about the not-so-comfortable part of pregnancy, I get to find sweet satisfaction in the frustrated grunts and helpless sighs I get as I rant about our baby’s movements, kicks and thrills. Life, as I used to know it, has definitely changed. Nagging back pains, crazy hormones, sleepless nights and wretched anxiety apart, by God’s grace, I have a feeling it’s going to be totally worth it! ☺

Matter Of Pride

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Pride is a dangerous thing. It can blur your vision, make you see things bloated up twice the size of what they actually are, and make you feel good about yourself in a very odd way, which perhaps only you can ever understand. Pride may make you sit on your rear, overly content with your achievements (if any) and occasionally makes you wait for the next person to praise you for something you did…even if it is as trivial as writing a blog.

I won’t “oops” here. I gave away that clue on purpose. You see, I’m talking about myself. This month, I’m a proud woman. A proud writer. And a proud wife. At the risk of sounding hollow, let me tell you why. My new blog FoodKissed, crossed a 1000 hits within the first 17 days of its start. At the risk of sounding too naïve, let me tell you why it’s a big deal for me. For a girl who is crazy about food (just the unhealthy, fattening kinds), and loves to write but mostly for herself, it was the coming together of two of her greatest passions. It called for perseverance (an alien feeling) and dedication (an unheard trait). It needed putting down the tastes, flavors and addictions into words, which is never an easy job when you stuff your mouth with everything in the dishes around you, in no prescribed order. Most of all, it demanded WAITING for the food snapshots to be taken, before you can dig into it. Yes, it called for Self-control, which, as far as I was concerned, was a non-existent characteristic.

So when besides all these lacks and demands, I got successful in posting a couple of restaurant reviews and some recipes, that by itself, was an achievement in my private gallery. Further on, when more than a 1000 odd people clicked in to see what I had to say, when a dozen wanted to comment and appreciate and another dozen to “Like” my posts, I must admit it was a brilliantly over whelming feeling. Over whelming enough to want to boast about it here.

Ok, I’ll cut it out. But not before mentioning that I have just been added to Fooderati Arabia- a group for Food Bloggers in the Middle East. That again, makes me quite proud of myself. Soon you will see my posts coming up on their swanky website www.fooderatiarabia.com. That makes me a proud writer. And my pride will guide me to writing good reviews, finding easy recipes and flirting some fine romances with the love of my life- Food.

While I’m at it, let me stop kidding myself, get back to my self and thank my heart out to each of you who encouraged, appreciated, read through and shared my abnormal craze for all grubs under the sun!! 🙂

A new dimension for a strong passion

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People who know me, would agree I’m passionate about certain particular things in life. I had got cursed by my cousins for ordering Double Cheese burst pizzas for everyone during dinners. I have made children cry for not giving a piece from my chocolate bar. I have received threatening calls from friends as a result of the God-help-you tempting food pictures I put up on my fb profile. I have convinced my veg-preferring husband to let go off any hope that he could ever get to order vegetarian dishes while dining outside with me. And once during a house visit, while a friend asked me “Why aren’t you eating Neenu? Are you on a diet?”, all my family around the table started laughing like it’s the funniest thing they heard. So yes, those who know me would know that I’m indeed passionate about Food.

It is this passion for food of all kinds, though specifically Cheese, Chicken and Chocolate, that has brought me to my new project. “Wordsnwisdom” was started about a year ago when I wanted to pen down trivial and other matters so as to keep my words flowing. And now, before I turn 26 in a few days time, I want to publish to you my new blogsite. To keep my passion flowing.

foodkissed.wordpress.com

Reviews, Recipes and Romances with Food.

Foodkissed is not about recipes. I wouldn’t want to fool myself, let alone, you that way. When I cook (have to, that is), quite bluntly, my kitchen becomes a comedy of errors. An idiot in the kitchen who fumbles with the recipe instructions in the book. A confused soul figuring out cups to grams conversions with the help of a laptop perched on top of the counter table.

So, I have no self made recipes to give you. I DO have some rather easy ones which I have tried from various cookery sites and blogs around the world. Those kinds that are easy as hell for us idiots in the kitchen. Those, I will be sharing with you, so that you can compare your final output to the ones in my pictures and feel good saying “Hey! Mine looks so much better than hers!!”

Something else you will find more prominently in FoodKissed, will be Restaurant Reviews. I won’t bother telling you how many restaurants there are in Dubai. But I will be telling you something about the ones I go to and like or dislike. A little something about restaurants, from someone who takes her food seriously.

There is another section in my blog called Romances with Food. I wish I knew what will go in there. If you do, let me know. 🙂

As my existing readers (whose patience to read through my long sentences, I much appreciate and thank), I’d love it if you can take a look at the above blog and pass me your comments and criticisms on the name, theme, content, pictures and everything else.

Cheers!!

A blog (and an ode) to my Home..

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To love your home is one thing. To get so emotional as to give a parting speech to it, is quite something else. If you are wondering who would be lame enough to hold the home by the walls, lean against the favorite spots and whisper “you have been great, you will get someone who is as proud of you as us, we will miss you”, and to take creepy pictures of an empty deserted apartment, wonder no further. Yours truly is capable of much cheesier things!

 

Getting emotional while shifting from our apartment that has been a dear home to us for two years, was entirely expected. What we were unprepared for, was how much the people related to us, would miss the place! The reasons vary from the short distance to their homes, the prettiness of the flat (as we would like to believe), to the amazing restaurants that dot the street below our building. So while we had trouble convincing them why we need to shift from that 1bhk to a 2bhk that is much closer to work, we came to realize how much we had gotten used to finding delicious and cheap (cheap, being the keyword) Indian and Keralite food within walking distance from our doorsteps.  Despite the horrendous traffic we had to face everyday to and from work, the lack of time to do anything productive afterwards and the inconvenience of having the nearest metro station a whole 10 dhs cab drive away, I feel I owe our ex-home a blog. For the great times I had there ever since my marriage, for the immense privacy I got to enjoy while screaming my lungs out at difficult situations, for the cozy comfort of the guilty (calories), not-so-guilty (economical) food options I could rely on when I’m too tired or unbearably lazy, Al Qusais, Al Nahda 2, Rashid Bakhit B Block, 1107, I will miss you an incredible lot!

 

And while I’m at it, let me give you some heads up about what I miss the most now that I’m no longer there.

 

Having a Carrefour express right below your building is like having a Disneyland in one corner of your bedroom. The comparison maybe lame, but when it comes to sudden guests, unprepared dinner and bursts of cooking-moods, it’s a blessing in barcodes. Stick a Dunkin Donuts to a side of it, and you have your icing on your comfort cake!

 

If you enjoy masala fried chicken, plantain leaf wrapped mutton biriyani or mussels fried in the best spices on earth, all in unhealthy amounts of oil, then consider yourself immensely blessed if you have a “New Paris restaurant” near your apartment building. The battalion of my in-laws have FOOD as a priority and when we told them we are shifting homes, the first question shot to us in shock was “So what will we for the Pothi Biriyani now??”.  Apart from that, they quite genuinely care about us!

 

Having friends living near your home means, having uninvited ‘guests’ coming over in gangs or otherwise, at unearthly hours. That’s when “Future Star Cafeteria” comes to your rescue. With tried and tested item numbers like the Chicken Fried rice, Dry Chilli Chicken and Charcoal Chicken, you know you are never in a spot, even as the card games and drinks sessions go haywire and deeper into the night.

 

So with cheerful little spots like Panoor restaurant, Barbq Angaray, Saravana Bhavan, Ahl’al Mandi and Paratha King around your home, why would a sane person want to budge her bum from there? While you can pick between Zulekha hospital and NMC hospital to your right and left, where else can you be safer? And when you can walk down the road to Nail Blaze or a dozen other salons for a quick fix before an outing, what can make you better relaxed?

 

Don’t judge me. We have our reasons to leave something (or someone) even if it feels like the best choice in the world at that time, and even if it means waiting for the landlord to deduct chunks from our “refundable” security deposit for all the tileworks and wallpaper works we did. Now, while sitting in the comfort of my couch at my NEW home, I don’t want to sound like a cheating lover, so let me not compare. This blog is an ode to my pretty home for two years. The place I drove to with my husband after I landed in Dubai as a Mrs. The “threshold I got carried across” (literally) and the four walls that saw my joy, my pains, my strength and my weakness. For, my first home will always be that special place that taught me the first lessons of marriage, of responsibilities, of cooking, of baking, of hosting and everything else that matters to a woman like me.