Social distancing or emotional disconnect ?

Last weekend I visited my home town, Meerut. It is a small town that takes pride in being close to Delhi, part of the NCR. Despite being so close myself, I haven’t been able to visit for a while now, owing to the lockdowns being imposed after the surge in cases during the second wave.  

As the cases abated and the curfews were eased, we finally set out. There is something special about going home. The journey home was filled with nostalgia. The roads that lead home are mired with sweet and sour memories reflecting parts of your life. I can’t forget being hoarded at the traffic signals by desperate hawkers, the ones trying to sell those colorful chip packets. Passing a once crooked street with potholes which during rains always ruined your polished shoes. A long stretch of lush green paddy field that now supports big buildings which are somebody’s dream Ashiana. These stories and transitions are perhaps what guide you home.

The sky is pink here

As I stepped out of the car, opened the doors of the house that had been uninhabited for about two months, I felt like it had been ages since I last visited. A friendly neighbor passing by stopped and greeted us with the same toothy pan smeared smile. While his smile was cordial, despair from the impact of corona on life and times was evident from his tenor.

An hour later my brother went out to pay condolence to another neighbor who had lost a dear one, a month ago. My brother asked him to come in and join us for tea. Attribute it to kindness towards the bereaved or the minimal human interaction we have had in the metros where we have built our permanent homes, we were more than elated to serve a guest.

Corona has wreaked havoc for one and all. It has impacted us both physically and mentally. And yet with liabilities on our head and heart, we continue to move on in our lives. A newspaper headline I read the other day said, this pandemic will take us ten years back. I admit the development of a nation takes years and these unprecedented times have slowed the rate of growth. However a silver lining to the dark cloud is our ability to adapt to technologically improving oneself to either learn or/and earn!

My concern is how easily we have emotionally distanced ourselves with friends and foes alike!

In the cities where we live and earn our livelihoods, the friendly quotient was anyway never very high. The awkwardness about meeting new people is evident when people in high rising buildings avoid interaction. Even people residing on the same floors hardly communicate. This is not to say that most of us are on our own or helpless. Phone Applications/Apps ease day to day challenges, reducing further, the need for human interaction. A messaging app keeps all numbers handy; cook, maid, driver, pest control, grocery shop, ac repair, fridge repair… you name it and they are all available at your service.

Before the corona era, those from small towns accused metro living population of being lonely and selfish. The defense has always been an unavoidable busy life to fend for the higher standard of living. In the current scenario we all stand at the same pedestal, how much interaction is too much interaction?

The same guy who was sipping tea with us back home described how only 20 people attended the funeral of his kin, while it would have been at least 200 on a regular day. The subsequent prayer meets also had limited attendance, all owing to the fear of infection. I could only sympathize with his feelings. The picture is even more dismal in the big cities where when the inmates of a society heard about a corona death next door, they decided to lock their doors to avoid giving any help lest they get exposed to the virus.

Even though I agree this isn’t the best time to judge anyone. I understand that we all are praying and trying to save our loved ones. Yet, this helplessness leading to inhumaneness saddens me.

The point is, can we not ensure human interaction while practicing social distancing. Prayer meets with social distancing is possible. A poster in Meerut in my vicinity read about a prayer meet hosted by two different families. The idea was to pay homage to the deceased by limiting the attendance of people from two separate days to one.

Image taken from momsguide.com

Create your own orbit of communication; keep in touch with your neighbors. Offer emotional support by hearing them out. Talk to each other through doors or balconies if you don’t want to go inside the house. Video calling is a boon in these times provided both the sides are comfortable. Mask up and go for that jog or walk. If nothing then at least you can wave at acquaints you meet midway. 

Let us not make corona an excuse for missing out on engaging with people. When we broaden our social sphere by welcoming the world around us in a meaningful way, we can have purpose and build perspective.

 I will end by citing a famous quote by an Australian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived The Holocaust and went on to create Logo therapy. Victor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”

Fathers and Maths

Every 90’s kid will have dreadful memories associated with mathematics and their fathers. I must have been in grade 5 when I realized my father’s keenness in my mathematical aptitude. If I had to plot a graph of my dad’s expectation vs. my actual mathematical skillset then it would be an extreme high and low.

My relation with the subject was never love at first sight. This was especially bleak considering my deep rooted bonding with my dad. My father obviously hailed from the times when education defined your social status. He and his brothers till date gloat about their mathematical panache and how they never resorted to calculators for calculations.

My earliest memories of Math with papa will also feature piles of plain papers or those typical grey colored recycled paper registers, all for practicing  those umpteen sums.

My father and I

I will also mention those ‘unwelcome days’ when UPSC  results were out and the toppers made it to the headlines. Needless to say, papa twisted this towards the mathematical gully. He made us believe,  kids who scored well in the subject went on to do exceptionally well in life. We had elite examples of kids on the block who went on to don the hat of coveted civil servants. 

The pressure to master one’s mathematical skills was built from as early as primary schools. I once visited a cousins’ place during the summer vacations. It was a  dreamy world because I was away from home (and copious mathematical formulae) . No mind boggling calculations  of fractional multiplications and divisions. The books of mathematics in younger years are often disguised with colorful illustrations. I used the word disguise because they were aimed to generate curiosity and interest but not so successful always. So yes one of my uncles much to my dismay came over and could not contain his enthusiasm when he saw four budding learners. He picked a mathematical workbook and asked us to solve the questions. The one to finish it first would be awarded ten rupees. Did I make it ever? No!

Image taken from imgflip. Com

 This is not to say that all the efforts my father put in were in vain, as I turn back the pages of life I reminisce how my father eased those long nights where we kids burnt the midnight oil. He most lovingly prepared warm milk and offered to us in steel glasses. Badaam, akhrot and seasonal fruits to keep our brains running were placed next to a R D Sharma while we finished tons of calculations from R S Agarwal. 

As a parent I often bribe my daughter with candies to get her to complete  her meals .This technique is not new. I remember my dad gave us alluring offers of buying us a new watch or a new bicycle if we scored over a certain mark in Maths. Strategic Upbringings. Phew!

Good old days

Life has come a long way since then. Math and my result still make their way into our family banters, though in a light hearted way.  Some days when I want to relive those childhood days, I sit with my school report cards and almost hear my father in his typical tone, “base mazboot hona chahie, concept samjhlo

Happy Father’s-day

Nursing/Breastfeeding

The Indian cinema duels of the last century were replete with references to breastfeeding. Don’t we all remember the angry Indian “hero” go – “Agar apni ma k dudh pia hai toh saamne aa”. A power statement that had a deeper meaning, the strength and might of a breast fed individual is any day more than that of one who hasn’t.

As a first time mother my journey from conception to the day I gave birth was fortunately smooth. I have already written about my experiences through those months in my initial blogs . However, due to the caesarian surgery and slow lactation process my daughter had to wait a while before I could feed her.

Yours truly with the LO

If I had to describe my complete journey, which by the way was longer than I expected, then I will remember the harried look of my mom on the third day when I formula fed my baby and tried to sleep. She rushed to my side and used medical reasoning to convince a new millennial mom in me about breast feeding. “Get up, try to latch beta, it is a demand and supply process”, she added.

Cut to the day when my daughter was 18 months and I was cribbing to my Mom, with the cellphone on one ear and a milk suckling monster on my lap who had successfully thwarted all my attempts to wean her off.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and the mom

The first thing a doctor advices you to do when you take your little one in your hand is to give your body touch. The biology of it says, it kicks the lactating hormones to activate and ease the process of milk production in the mom. The aesthetical aspect is, the warmth of a mother and her smell calms the baby who has a new world to learn to live in after floating away gaily in the womb.

Breast milk has proven to give a newborn nutrients essential for growth. High proteins and low sugar milk develops the digestive track of a tiny being with care.

As a new mom I was worried when I was down with fever and my daughter was exclusively dependent on me for feeds. Fortunately, my doctor revealed how my body will produce antibodies to fight this fever and I will pass them to my little one, making her immune system stronger. Did I feel I had super powers? Well who wouldn’t!

Image taken from cake maternity.com

Since that day I used this power to keep myself sane. I discovered over time that breast feeding was the fastest way to make my little girl sleep without me having to get up in the middle of the night and prepare milk. Of course there were some nights which were longer, all thanks to phases of regression and milestone development. I have calmed her in days and nights when she was cranky beyond control; and in outings and get-togethers to give myself some extra time with friends and family.

Blog research tick, catching up with long lost friends on calls tick, completing my book writing tick, Netflix with headphones tick and tick, all thanks to giving into my daughter and her demands. After all for her, it was but a place for comfort amidst loveable cuddles.

Feeding in public

Before I became a mom, I had been a low maintenance person. Impromptu plans and wearing the first thing that I manage to pull out, was my idea of travelling. This personality trait had to be modified when I decided to step out with a breast feeding baby.

Image taken from Pinterest

I have fed my kid almost everywhere; in a moving car covering long distances, a wedding party with men and women walking around, in a busy restaurant while having meals, and I kid you not, literally in front of the Taj Mahal.

I will be honest , majority of the time my long dupatta/stole has been a saving grace and at other times I have rushed to convenient feeding cubicles at the airport, in the malls and the ones at the clinics while visiting the pediatrician.

What was common everywhere was the comforting smiles of the fellow women who sat beside and the awkward expressions of the men who mostly turned away to be polite. I hope we normalize public feeding and no child is deprived.

Extended breast feeding:

During the initial days of nursing, I would always look forward to end this process. My mom supported me throughout and eased my anxiety by saying, “It gets easier”. Twenty months and still going strong, I had become used to people around commenting, “Will she continue to feed until college?”, as with every other aspect of parenting, even extending breastfeeding your own baby beyond the standard timeline gets you judged. As for me and my daughter we never rushed. With constant talking and explaining she eventually weaned.

Image taken theleakyboob.com

They say hindsight is the best sight. I look back and miss those cozy moments with my tiny human tucked closest to my heart. As a mother I admit that I feared separation anxiety post weaning and perhaps continued to feed her until she was two.

Stigma around not breast feeding

During the initial days when the milk production was not steady, I often ended up looking for assurances on online parenting pages. One of my neighbors shared her happy experience of raising a formula fed baby. Unfortunately that was the only encouraging source. The internet on the other hand made me feel guilty for thinking about replacing breast feeds with formula milk. The majority of the articles expressed how a formula fed baby missed on the most vital elements for growth and it was a compensation for an inadequacy in the biology of a new mother.

Last year, I met an acquaintance who is settled in Paris and we went about discussing the obsession in our land for breast feeding. She told me that very few mothers in her hometown believed in breast feeding, on an average they fed the newborn for seven weeks. Do French men or women physically or mentally appear any lesser than us? She asked.

Image taken from Pinterest

When I look back to my nursing days, which are not very far behind, I feel it was a journey worth taking on. We did feel the initial bumps but perhaps that was how we both embraced this novel mother-child bond . After all, I did not get a chance to learn any another way of showing my love and care towards her.

Probably like in a climax sequence of a cinematic flick my daughter will also redeem my “dudh ka karz” .

Roza Musings – Values of customs and passing them on

My earliest memory of Ramzan is of my father, sitting across the dining table with all the seasonal fruits washed and placed neatly in a basket as he would diligently cut perfectly sized cubes of each fruit one by one. The fruit chaat has always been a quintessential part of the dastarkhwaan which has lip smacking assortments like palak, aloo and pyaaz ke pakode. My mother especially added her special to this fritter variety which was not so common in the other households back then, the ande ke pakodi.

Ramazan is a serious month in a Muslim household. It is the pious month to pray and ask for forgiveness. The thirty days of fasting signifies abstinence. I have vivid memories of our rigid routine during this period. My mother would wind up all house chores by mid-day and sit down to recite the holy Quran in her designated corner of the house. Around 4 p.m. she would set about preparing for iftaar which was a carefully planned meal laid out for the next thirty days. My father would return from office around five and don the most comfortable yet his classic set of starched kurta pajama and get down to his share of iftaari preparations.

The nutritious variety on the platter

As a kid our parents never had to make conscious efforts to teach us the value of our rich culture. However, as a first time parent residing in metro cities away from our parents, my partner and I see this as a challenge. We are more successful professionally, our lifestyle is better than our growing up years. We have helps and maids for majority of our house work, easing our life so that we concentrate on professional progress. We sit and swipe our fingers and order the favorite biryani weighed by kilos not realizing our kids are being deprived of the basics.

I remember when I was in grade five, one of my Muslim classmates used to fast almost all days. Her parents told her that it was the duty of a good Muslim to observe fasts during ramazan. As a young kid I was embarrassed of eating before her. My parents were however not so rigid and asked me to wait it out for another year until they hosted a rozakushai function for my first roza and I could then begin fasting. However that year, that month; I did not take lunch to school and ate only once I returned home. My mother taught us ehteram, an Urdu term which meant respect. As a mother I often wonder how these inherent qualities can be passed on to our kids.

Last year on Dussehra I bumped into my neighbor in the lift. Her young daughter was nicely dressed in a fancy little frock while she donned a silk saree with a neat puja thali in one hand. After the initial pleasantries, I expressed to her how I missed home and celebrating festivals with friends and families. She responded even though she lived by herself, she made sure that slight changes like adorning new dresses and doing puja at specific time of the day taught her daughter about their culture.

My father 🙂

There is something special about every festival that we celebrate. To our little ones we want to impart the same meaningful experiences. The stories behind each of these festivals connect us to our roots. It is important to know about them. Our customs and age old traditions help us identify ourselves in the society. Just like every individual has a personality, our society, the people we live with hold values and beliefs and that give them an identity.

Today the world is changing at a very rapid pace. Technology is facilitating our lifestyles. It is easy to get carried away by the wave of modernization which works primarily by tagging our traditions obsolete. It is only if we give time to our young ones and teach them why we follow a certain tradition, will they then understand the significance of these auspicious days. 

The idea is simple – to generate curiosity and liking for our culture just as our parents did for us.

My little one enjoying iftaar

The festivals are time for celebration across all households. There is a warmth in the house when you are with your loved ones, the aromas of home cooked delicacies fills the air, exchanging these food items with neighbors gives joy, laying out new clothes to wear the next morning is a different kind of excitement . To the kids these simple activities leave an ever lasting impression and this is precisely how we teach them to value their culture.

I continue to prepare the fruit chaat in my own house after marriage just like the way my father taught me. My daughter rushes to me with a khajoor (date) clasped in her tiny palms and says, “Mamma ye roza mai khalu”. I smile at her innocence and get back to making sure the apples are perfectly sliced.

How to talk to get heard

Effective communication-How to talk with strangers

Conversations are the most effective tools to build on any kind of relationships. In the personal space, talking leads to strengthening bonds, remember the first time you met your special someone and made sure you said the right things to create a good impression.

Our professional life is just as important. As a newbie in my first job, I was often amazed how colleagues would get target clients and the deals their way only by the gift of the gab. Needless to say, networking and socializing play important part in our workplace progressions.

Image taken from freedigitalphotos.net

However, being a talker is one thing but holding on your listener’s attention is another. More often than not, the inability to bring value to a conversation leads to banal encounters. I agree the personality of an individual definitely drives the pace of the conversation. An introvert might not feel very enthusiastic about talking as much as it would make anyone who connects through communicating.

This article is all about those socially awkward lads who have the right intentions but trail down due to their inability to keep the conversation going. Fortunately, there are some right tricks which can help anyone in such situations.

Whether you are jumping onto a conversation with a stranger or with someone who you have known for years, you can use these tricks to avoid the awkwardness:

Step 1: The ice breaker

One of the most common problems with a bunch of people who wish to contribute to a discussion is the inability to break the ice. One can blame it on the hesitation or the time consuming process of looking for just the right way to introduce oneself, the clueless speakers decide to take a step back.

Fortunately or unfortunately there is no formula to fit in a group discussion. There are however easy tips to pave in your voice smoothly.

  1. Look for even the slightest pause and jump in with your idea.
  2. Pick on a common point with an example that can be relatable to the lot.
  3. Introduce yourself through your job profile or educational background.
  4. Oppose a point of view if you disagree and put forth your idea effectively.
  5. If you are good with words, try quoting a famous personality or share an Urdu couplet to draw attention.

Step 2: Open ended questions

When we are conversing with new people, our aim is always to take it further. However when in the middle of the conversation, the novelty of the camaraderie can lead to putting out questions which need no deep analysis. A simple yes and no is suffice to answer them. These questions are called open ended questions.

It is always better to ask questions which can further the conversation. For example, rather than asking, do you love fruits? Why don’t you pose a question as :

Are you a fruit eating person or a juice person?

Then maybe the answer can take the discussion into the benefits of the choice or why one choice is easier than another. So on and so forth the discussion can take its course.

Step 3: Listen to hear rather than to respond

It is a human tendency to jump onto conclusions merely on the basis of incomplete information. When we want to participate in a group discussion, we should focus on hearing the other’s point of view with sincerity. More often than not, many speakers put out their idea and the listeners at the receiving end, form an opinion about the speaker. The speaker loses out on the audience because he is categorized as aggressive and impatient.

Solution is simple, be all ears and hear out everyone with sincerity. Wait for your turn. After all there is a reason why it is termed as a discussion and not a debate.

The nation wants to know!

Well! not always.

Step 4: Observe and deduce areas of interests

I was once in a gathering where I was around many new faces. Except for the host, I hardly knew anyone well. With a wine glass in one hand and cellphone in another I had nothing to contribute after the initial pleasantries. Just then I overhead a group of guests in one corner talking about cars. That was my cue, I threw Tesla into the discussion and spoke about the future of driverless car. One thing led to another and I never realized I had been talking and listening to the group for over an hour.

Moral of the story is, keep both your ears and eyes open.

Step 5: Be natural

I am sure this is the most common mistake that many of us commit. In lieu of being accepted in a group we present opinions and ideas that might not conform to our beliefs. This at no level means, one should put across controversial or emotionally hurtful statements. All I intend to say is, when you wish to be welcomed in a new group, you should focus on being natural. The more natural you are, more will be your ability to steer the conversations in areas where you can talk confidently.

Therefore before you zone out into your corner at that party remember the gift of gab is not that difficult to attain.

WFH with a kid and how?

Is it the best of both the worlds?

A few months back the pandemic it seemed was fizzing out of our life finally! Things were gradually being planned to restore normalcy just as they were before Corona existed. One of the steps in this direction forward was making many of those work from home jobs hybrid in nature. This meant making offices, schools and courts open on some days of the week and other days continuing to be available virtually at work. To some it seemed just perfect but I came across the parent perspective.

A lawyer friend of mine who had a nine month old baby did not agree to the idea of daycares unless the pandemic completely left its traces. They filed a petition in the court with a request to continue WFH.

Image take from felxjobs.com

We all know the present state of affairs, owing to the new strain of the virus which as they say is even more virulent; has pushed us back to where we started. Be home be safe!

Work from home is but a silver lining!

This week I decided to look deeper into this work arrangement and how it has affected the childcare (at home)?

Fatherhood redefined

A typical day in our life before the Covid era meant sharing pictures of the little one with my husband who was busy at work. His job profile demanded running from one meeting to another and coordinating work. He still managed to bring home a happy face and spent an hour of playing with our new born.

The work from home culture gave us more time. Time to be around our loved ones. Unlike past years where only weekends meant more of seeing each other, this new setup meant more face to face conversations.

My husband feels he is more aware of how the kid is growing. He is a part of her routine. He might not be able to actively participate but he derives joy from the little things. He appreciates the idea of sitting down for meals together. To him it is a fulfilling experience which our society often deprives the men of.

Image taken from Pinterest

I spoke to a couple friend and the guy told me, cuddling your baby as soon as he gets up or hugging these small humans when they rush to you with a new dress on are few of the things that did not happen on a Tuesday.

 Another validation for the positives of this arrangement was evident to me when I came across a heart touching picture on the social media where a guy was wearing his baby and attending a zoom call. A friend of mine described to me how her husband realized that it is the women who keep the kid and the house sane.

Motherhood

For women, motherhood is always more demanding. The family needs are easily prioritized owing to our conditioning or the maternal instincts. The dismal stories of mothers burning out faster during the lockdown are known to all. My idea however is to focus on the positives.

As a new mom, I had my roadmap prepared for going back to work. I will admit not being around with my in-laws or my own parents who I could trust more with my child, gave me anxiety. Thankfully, working from home has opened new doors of opportunities for me. I feel relieved about being around my little one while making submissions and doing my own work.

Image taken from mompresso page instagram

The challenges of joining a full time work are a plenty. I speak to many mothers in our daily park trips and I realize there is a growth in the number of freelancers and entrepreneur roles they have taken up. All because digital world offers so much to offer.

As a mom to a toddler, it is difficult to balance both the personal and professional lives with an overlap of both in the current situation.

However, I list below some points that help me and my partner get through:

  1. Nap times are the best times: It is best to schedule important calls and submissions when the baby is sleeping. A toddler hands down demands constant attention and it is a trick that every parent learns that nap times are best utilized by finishing high priority work.
  2. Independent play: A few days back I observed my daughter reading a book to her teddy. It was such a happy sight. So much so that I wanted to barge in and be a part of her story, but I let her be. I gave her the freedom to enjoy her own company and went about doing my thing.
  3. Be a morning person: I have often been told by my mom about how she got up early when we were kids and tried finishing maximum house work. She loved the mornings to herself. I may not be a morning person myself but so many times I regulate my lifestyle according to my toddler. Am I proof reading this article at 1am? Well why not, a little peaceful indulgence my way.
  4. Community friends and swapping: One of my friends lives close and we often decide to visit each other with the kids. Her nanny is great with the kids and it gives us time to talk without having to monitor the kids constantly.
  5. Hire a nanny: If both the mother and the father have a hectic work schedule then it is always a good idea to hire help. Nannies are great with kids and can be trained to take care of your kid while you are committed to your profession.
Our WFH

The pandemic is far from over. Work from home is here to stay. The biggest challenge for the working parents especially where both are working from home full time, is to create healthy boundaries. As a couple, co-parenting will demand time (apart from office deadlines) from both sides. The fathers need to step up a little more and the mothers need to ease out their know-it-all attitude. The bright side to this pandemic then probably would be standing up for each other and supporting each other professionally. As for the babies, it is a win-win situation either with their wide toothless grin or a loud cry in the middle of a meeting if that works.

Smart Vocabulary-English Phrases and Idioms

English language is abundant with phrases and expressions. The phrases which might appear easy when you hear them for the first time may not have the literal same meaning as the words used in them. Such expressions are called idioms and using them in your conversation makes a good impression on the listener.

The idioms that I have listed below are all related to one part of the human body to another. Each has its own interesting interpretation. Let get started:

  • Head in the cloud

Meaning:

  • Dreamer
  • To be unaware of the present situation
  • Lack of presence in the current scene
  • Illogical or delusional

Usage:

He has been planning for setting up a big business without any idea of how he will manage the huge expenses that will be needed. His head is always in the cloud.

  • Let your hair down

Meaning:

  • To relax
  • To be do something freely
  • Unrestricted and carefree

Usage:

I had an extremely busy week, hence I have decided this weekend I will let my hair down and party all night.

  • Be all ears

Meaning:

  • Attentive
  • Listen keenly

Usage:

It was the bonus month, we were all ears awaiting the big announcement by the boss.

  • Lip service

Meaning:

  • To agree on something without showing any real support

Usage:

He agreed to my new business plan but it was more like a lip service, he did not contribute anything when it came to materializing the plan.

  • Keep one’s chin up

Meaning:

  • Be courageous in tough times
  • Show a brave front in adverse situation
  • To uphold a pleasant appearance in turbulent circumstances

Usage:

I have seen Ms. Smith go through the worst. She lost her wealth and property in the Tsunami yet she kept her chin up and built everything from scratch. Today everyone vouches for her stalwart personality.

  • Pain the neck/pain in the butt

Meaning:

  • Annoying
  • Irritating

Usage:

My worst child hood memories have been writing my Maths exams in school. Even though I prepared well but I could never score well, that subject was literally a pain in my neck.

  • Give someone a cold shoulder

Meaning:

  • Treat someone with contempt
  • To show an obvious displeasure towards somebody

Usage:

He continuously gave me a cold shoulder at work because he believed I had complained to the higher management about his last incomplete assignment.

  • To have your back against the wall

Meaning:

  • Limited options in tough times

Usage:

I hope the company has a good backup plan because if this deal also fails then their back is against the wall.

  • Be on someone’s back

Meaning:

  • Disapproving
  • Constantly annoying
  • Criticize

Usage:

My new boss is always on my back ever since I failed to deliver the proposed targets last time.

  • Get something off your chest

Meaning:

  • To disclose something that was causing stress
  • To feel unburdened by letting out a pent up emotions

Usage:

I have not slept so peacefully in years, I finally confessed to him about taking away more than my share in that deal. I feel something is off my chest.

  • Give your right arm

Meaning:

  • Desperate to achieve something
  • Do anything to get what you want

Usage:

He bought this new car and it is class apart. I can give my right arm to get one like that.

  • Put my finger on it

Meaning:

  • To identify exactly
  • To visibly point out

Usage:

Everything was perfect on our first date. Yet I said no to a second meeting. I could not point my finger to anything in particular. Just that something was missing.

  • Pull someone’s leg

Meaning:

  • To tease
  • To joke about someone to embarrass them
  • To take somebody’s case

Usage:

Everyone was pulling his leg once he told them about his new crush in the class.

  • Break a leg

Meaning:

  • Good luck
  • Best wishes before a performance

Usage:

As my name was announced for the next in line performance at this standup gig, my friend cheered me and said go break a leg.

  • To get your foot in the door

Meaning:

  • Enter an organization at a low position but with high chance of making it big in the future

Usage:

I was told if I made good contacts then I can get my foot in the door and get my hands on profitable deals.

Weight it out

When we were kids we were taught, man is a social animal. I have always been the talker in my group and my friends will vouch for this attribute. So as a young mother, young because I am in the initial years of parenting and not otherwise, I meet many mothers, most in my residential campus. A fine woman who I had met a year ago ran up to me and broke the ice by complimenting me for my lost weight from what she had last seen of me.  Delighted we got chatting, after all who minds a free and unexpected compliment!

I am lucky that I could fit into most of my pre pregnancy clothes exactly two years after being a mother, but is it the case with all women? I doubt!

The fascination for good looks runs deep in females, not undermining the growing pressure on men as well to be a tall, dark and handsome. However with women expectations are a tad bit more. In this piece of writing, I decided to look into this grave issue of women going bonkers about returning to their pre pregnancy body immediately after the baby is born.

Yours truly, then and now

Societal expectation:

For somebody who has been on this boat of new motherhood, It was being hammered into my head, that the weight of your baby is directly proportional to your food choices especially when you are a nursing mom. I would like to add that there is no doubt that healthy eating is important to heal a mother’s body but it is no guarantee that the baby will be healthy and “chubby” only through a mother’s feed. The genes play an important role. If you or your partner were lean as a kid so will your kid be.

I attended a dear friend’s wedding with my five month old. I was all puffed up, thanks to the generous food intake back home. One of the guests who had seen me in our college pictures who I met for the first time said, “Are you the same girl who went rafting with Riya?” Much to her dismay, it was me. I sheepishly pointed to my daughter on my lap and said all thanks to her.

 I have always believed that I had a thick skin when it came to receiving unwelcoming comments or opinions. However when it comes to weight, just like any other individual I feel insecure.

This is the prime reason why girls start following special diets. The pressure to look slim mounts from the many mediums and influences us. Our social circles start mocking us for looking out of shape, sometimes these come in the form of generic frivolous comments as,“ wow motherhood suits you”.

The other influencing factor is the social media where celebrities endorse diets and generate unnecessary mental rush for regular moms.

Aishwarya Rai confidently carrying herself at Cannes after being a new mom

Cancel diet culture

The fad around having a personal “nutritionist” who plans your meals is picking up fast. I am not averse to the idea of fitness, however what bothers me is being coerced into loosing muscle weight only to fit into a blouse perhaps two size smaller.

Motherhood is a joy beyond words but postpartum body is a (sometimes harsh) reality that comes along. I had put on a total 15 kg in my pregnancy and there was no healthy diet on this planet which could make me lose that in a month or two, as much as I wished.

My initial days of night time nursing often led me to the Google by-lanes which were full of fascinating stories of women with perfect hour glass figures. Did I yearn for the same? Anyone would!

I read along, it takes nine months to be a mother, at least give your body another nine months. Though it did not work for me in that exact number but sooner or later it all added up or shed out . Perhaps then as my mom says, it is a good time to relax and not succumb to external pressures.

Staying fit after pregnancy is important

The right time to lose weight after pregnancy

This can vary from one mom to another, our bodies are different. When to hit the gym? Will yoga be a better alternative to the weight lifting tough routine? What kind of exercises should one do? What diet will help you best? All this can be best answered by your doctor who knows your medical history well.

Generally talking, it takes around two months for the milk production to normalize, therefore it is advisable to not follow any calorie cutting diet this early. Statistically saying 50% of the weight gained post-delivery is shed by many women in the very first six weeks. Keep the hope alive.

Following are some safe tips to undertake the process of losing the weight slow and steady:

  • Target a wholesome diet

I am not a fan of diets personally but I always believe it is so much better if we pick nutrition supplying foods from various food groups. One can include from the broad five categories: nuts, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein.

  • Breastfeeding

Studies say breast feeds help strengthen the immunity of the baby. The mothers who continue to nurse for more than one year have vouched for its manifold benefits. One of them is reducing post pregnancy weight.

A side note I would I like to add, while breast feeding is healthy, it is definitely a choice and not a compulsion, a mother knows best.

  • Hydration is important

When my little one was just four months I had to take a train journey of six hours. Since this was our first and longest ride together, my priority was my daughter and her comfort. I fed her every two hours but did not drink much water. When we finally reached the destination, I had a tough day with dizziness and a jarring headache. My mom in-law then explained to me why adequate hydration was important for my body as I was a nursing mom. Ever since then I have heeded her advice seriously.

  • Skipping meals

The postpartum body needs a good amount of time for recovery. Many women believe skipping dinner helps in cutting the calories to the maximum. Well, it might in general but with a new and nursing mom it can cause imbalance in the already wobbling hormonal harmony. A better approach would be to be mindful of your food choices.

Avoid high processed food, packaged foods are high on sugar and further increase the cravings. They lead to bloating and increasing the weight without any significant nutritional contribution. Again once in a while it is fine but grabbing a packet of chips with a soft drink every evening to chill is a bad idea mommie.

Fun ways of recording my journey

While missing your pre pregnancy body is an unavoidable feeling, as a mother I would say let’s take it slow. After the birth of the baby the world around you changes in more ways than you had planned and prepared. The priorities shift. It is in those early months that we should enjoy those tender moments with our little ones which by the way they say are fleeting.

Until then be healthy and wise

Commonly mispronounced English words

English is a funny language. As a speaker from a country where it is the second most popular language I have embarrassed myself often because of incorrect pronunciations. More often than not these have been some basic words.

When it comes to pronouncing words which may not be so commonly used (or maybe) we often follow the rules of phonetics. As taught to young toddlers, beginning to explore the world of English spelling formation, words like car, can, cake begin with a ‘ka’ sound and therefore the closest way of spelling these words should be with c or sometimes k. The problem however arises when a word like check is pronounced with due consideration to ch as [] as in chalk, cheese, chair and much and not “keck”.

‘Image taken from cartoonsock

Let us look at some of the conventional words that we use in our daily English but with not so correct pronunciation:

I have sourced my research from the Merriam Webster dictionary.

1. Comment

How it is mistakenly pronounced: ka-ment

How it is actually pronounced: kau-ment

 A judgment expressed indirectly.

Related words are remark or note.

2.  Coupon

How it is mistakenly pronounced: koo-pan

How it is actually pronounced: koo-pawn

A small piece of paper that allows one to get service or the product

3. Climb

How it is mistakenly pronounced: kli-mb

 How it is actually pronounced: klim

 To go upwards or reach higher gradually

Image taken from digopaul.com

4. Epitome

How it is mistakenly pronounced: ae-pi-tome

How it is actually pronounced: ih-PIT-uh-mee

The typical or highest example of a stated quality, as shown by a particular person or thing.

5. Etc

How it is mistakenly pronounced: ex cet-er-a

How it is actually pronounced: et cet-er-a

It is often a phrase which is used to signal a haste to add or explain variety .Abbreviated as etc.

6.  Genre

How it is mistakenly pronounced:  jen-re

How it is actually pronounced: zhahn-ruh

It is the category of music or art. It is also used to denote a kind or sort of something.

7. Hierarchy

How it is mistakenly pronounced: hahy-archy

How it is actually pronounced: hahy-uh-rahr-kee

This word means a classification based on social, economic or genetics

8. Interesting

How it is mistakenly pronounced: in-ti-rest-ing

How it is actually pronounced: ɪn.trə.stɪŋ

Anything that holds attention.

9. Itinerary

How it is mistakenly pronounced:  ahy-tin-ary

How it is actually pronounced: ahy-tin-uh-rer-ee

 A route of a journey or travel. A travel guide.

Image taken from owlcation

10. Jewelry

How it is mistakenly pronounced: jwel-ree

How it is actually pronounced: jool-ree

Ornaments or piece of gem or gold or silver worn for adornment.

11. Lingerie

How it is mistakenly pronounced: Lin-guh-ree

How it is actually pronounced: Lawn-zhuh-ray

A women’s intimate apparel.

12. Niche

How it is mistakenly pronounced: Neech

How it is actually pronounced: Neesh

A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.

Also a recess in a building or statue.

13. Often

How it is mistakenly pronounced: off-ten

How it is actually pronounced: aw-fuh n

 Many times, frequently

14. Pizza

How it is mistakenly pronounced: pee-za

How it is actually pronounced: peet-zuh

A dish made typically of flattened bread dough spread with a savory mixture usually including tomatoes and cheese and often other toppings and baked.

15. Probably

How it is mistakenly pronounced: pro-blee

How it is actually pronounced: pro-buh-blee

Something that seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected, without much doubt

16. Pronunciation

How it is mistakenly pronounced: pruh-noun-see-ey-shuh n

How it is actually pronounced:  pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuh n

The method of saying a word or speaking it.

17. Receipt

How it is mistakenly pronounced: re-cept

How it is actually pronounced: re-ceet

A writing acknowledging the receiving of goods or money

Image taken from xplainxkcd.com

18. Sour

How it is mistakenly pronounced: saa-r

How it is actually pronounced: souuh-r

A sharp taste mostly like that of lemon.

19. Says

How it is mistakenly pronounced: sez

How it is actually pronounced: sei

To talk or speak

20. Subtle

How it is mistakenly pronounced: subt-l

How it is actually pronounced:  suht-l

That which is not so obvious.

21 Suite

How it is mistakenly pronounced: soot

How it is actually pronounced: sweet

a set of rooms designated for one person’s or family’s use or for a particular purpose.

22. Turquoise

How it is mistakenly pronounced:  tur-quiz

 How it is actually pronounced: tur-kwoiz

Image taken from ESL.com

a greenish-blue color.

23. Women

How it is mistakenly pronounced: woo-men

How it is actually pronounced: wih-men

More than one female

24. Tomb

How it is mistakenly pronounced: tau-mb

How it is actually pronounced: toom

A large vault, typically an underground one, for burying the dead.

25. Vehicle

How it is mistakenly pronounced: Vee-Hikl

 How it is actually pronounced: Vee-ikl

A thing used for transporting people or goods, especially on land, such as a car, lorry, or cart.

Togetherness

if men want to work on balancing their emotional and social quotient than they got to bond like women and support like women….

This past Monday I woke up to a barrage of messages. Completely taken aback by the sheer amount of attention, I first checked if it was my birthday. It wasn’t. I opened the first text, which read loud and clear, “Be the woman who fixes other woman’s crown without telling the world that it was crooked”.

Happy women’s day

Graduating together

Maybe not the kind of special day that gives you an excuse to bake, dress up and step out, but still special enough and worth all the love coming my way.

Growing up, I was surrounded by women. Even schooling from an all girls’ wing. Girls have always been an integral part of my life. Therefore, it was not a surprise that I grew up to be someone who appreciated having women around especially when I needed to express myself fully. They were there to listen to my emotional rants, which also more often than not were about women.

For graduation and higher studies, I went to a co-ed institute and it was then that as a person I felt emotions for both girls and boys alike (not like that!). Whether it was a technical presentation where I had an argument with a boy in a question rebuttal or a pang of jealousy for a girl classmate who scored more than me in a particular subject. I believed I expressed fairly healthy competitive streak of emotions under the exposure of both the genders.

The support system far away from home

Years later when I entered the workplace, a small start-up, I noticed a different competitive ambience. I was told under a particular team of ten members, the ratio of female to male was 1:5. I innocuously attributed this skewed ratio to comparatively less women members in the company on the whole. However, with time I came to know that the ones at the higher position felt that too many women lead to negative competition. They believed women often pit against each other for reasons more personal than professional and it slows the progress of the project unnecessarily. That was odd and unsettling!

I feel the need to delve a little deeper by taking these points one at a time:

  • Female Rivalry

 For so long we have been made to believe that no two girls can be best friends. The media harps on the clichéd idea of the tiffs between girls. Whether it is a regular fights of the mother in-law and the daughter in-law or two teenage girls pining for the same guy in their chawl (society), it is believed it benefits the TRP game.

Beyond this typical portrayal, there is a side of female bonding that is less spoken of. It is the diligent effort of the females in the family that make the house livable and loveable. I was once told by a daadi from the village about a strict rule that females were supposed to eat only after serving the men. All in the name of not coming in front of the elders (surprisingly males only), this resulted in girls finding refuge in each other. The kitchen banters, similar cleaning woes, like-mindedness to deal with husband’s tantrums led to creating a strong bond between the girls.

  • Girls are competitive

Girls most of the time are taught to consider their female counterparts competitors. The reason for this could be the lack of options to prove our worth are not as much as there are for the boys.

Haven’t we all heard a stereotype that “Girl HRs are malicious while men in the same role are easier to get along with”.

Pitting against each other is a human trait. Women are fierce warriors and take on challenges at home and work equally well.

  • We support each other

A woman alone is power and together we are an impact. Shelley from ForbesWomen could not have said it any better. As a new mother some years ago, my mental health went for a toss, it was then that my set of close mom girlfriends guided and helped me sail through.

Women communities that work to uplift fellow women work on this very idea. My Instagram handle is filled with women entrepreneurs promoting each other right. It only shows our mental roadmaps are equally aligned.

The one from the hostel

From my writing experience when I decided to start my blog, I had my own doubts. Some ten blogs later I had created a strong fan base of women who agreed with my experiences and till date motivate me to keep going.

  • We are together in this

As women we are emphatic to each other’s journey. I remember back in school if a girl spotted a period stain on another girl’s skirt she silently came to her and helped her. She didn’t mock at her with her friends. We are this close.

I once had a wardrobe malfunction while trekking with a group of friends, I accidently got my skirt torn. A girl on the same trek offered me her shrug and saved me from the embarrassment.  

In another incident at our girls hostel, our warden summoned the girls and directed us to avoid wearing shorts in the mess as it was a culture shock to the cooks and the helps. One of us argued that those ten men cannot lower their gaze but we are expected to cover our self for our dignity. Needless to say there was a loud cheer from all the girls, vociferously expressing their disgust at the new rule.

As girls we stand up for each other.

The workplace bondings

In a world where we are taught if you want to succeed you got to walk like a man, talk like a man and dress like a man. I can only add if men want to work on balancing their emotional and social quotient than they got to bond like a woman and support like a woman.

As a woman I cannot emphasize more on the idea of togetherness.

After all,

“behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women who have her back”

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