Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010



The MIL to Junior ( now eight months), "Come, Lets take you out to the balcony and I'll show you the birds and the bees."

Hmm. I REALLY thought potty training came before sex education.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Please excuse folks, serious hibernitis is happening. I havent spoken to anyone online or offline ( not even my daily dose of mo, and poor austro has been bearing the online equivalent of hanging up half a dozen times at least).

Any suggestions, medications, inspirations - welome.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gee, Strung!

The location - a hotel lobby somewhere in India
The characters - a Mother in law, Daughter in law

DiL walks into the lobby and suddenly sees her MiL gesticulating urgently at her, indicating that she would like a word in private.
DiL obligingly walks into a poky corner, where the MIL whispers emphatically "ADJUST YOUR G-STRING, it's showing"
DiL, decorously attired in a modest salwar kameez goes "Huh? Whaa?"
MiL,"The g-string, the g-string - you can see it" points to the offending erm..garment

The garment happens to be the end of the salwar string (nada) which can be seen under the edge of the kurta.

Fact, is funnier than fiction.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Random Thought in the middle of the night- Digest 5: Versectonomy

IrrItAblE vOwEl syndrOmE : The urge to randomly toggle between upper and lower case letters in any given statement.

Irritable Novel Syndrome: The pain of the never being able to write beyond chapter five

Irritable Towel Syndrome: Ranbir Kapoor in Sawariya

P.S. Irritable Owl Syndrome: Chronic insomnia which results in tripe like this

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ganpati Bappa

Wish you a very happy Ganesh Chaturti.

P.S. No, I haven't disappeared to have another kid, thank you very much. Just that I am SOOOOOOOOOO Blogcked right now its not even funny. Zillion thoughts which somehow just don't get translated into posts. I have noticed that every time there is a major life change my posts seem to dry up. Hmmm.

I need a ghost writer. Or preferably, a ghost thinker.

P.P.S Please don't stop reading me? Pretty please? ( Don't make me lisp. Hmpf). You could look at Archives. Six years worth! (*Gasps*. Has it been that long?)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Random thought in the middle of the night: Digest 4 - Weigh your words

Aren't Gubernatorial and Ombudsman very FAT words? No, I dont mean long but fat. Every time I hear these two,they sound positively corpulent.

Wonder why.

Are there any others? Or skinny words for that matter?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

White Noise from the Cynic Kitchen or Aubergine and Tangerine

A few times a year, usually when the MIL is out of town, I seem to be taken over by this Mad (Cooking) Scientist.

Maybe my palate revolts against the Maharashtrian food ( And cabbage. I dont know why,the but there seems to be a cabbage sitting in my fridge every fricking day. I don't like cabbage. The hero doesn't like cabbage. I don't even remember buying so much of it. But somehow, there it is smugly sitting in the fridge gloating at me every morning. Hmm). Or maybe there is a domestic goddess (Perspherone?) who comes out only seasonally. So the last few days, we have been eating very interesting food.

I have realized that my cooking is what can charitably be described as whimsical (Others might call it chaotic). I usually start with the most minuscule but exotic sounding ingredient and then chuck in whatever I happen to find in the fridge to accompany it. The current flavor of the season ( pun unintended) is Cayenne Pepper. How can one not like the sound of that? So have been adding it liberally to whatever gets cooked in the house. And giving the resultant output vaguely West Indianish names. Calypso Paneer, Jamaican Curry, Kingston Prawn...ahem, no, got carried away with the last one. Half the fun of cooking new things is naming them.

I go to this rather interesting shop in the area which has all these fascinating sauces - nam pla, tamari sauce ( I used to think that was a hip version of tamarind) to just gawk at them. (No I don't buy them. This fellow only stocks these huge half-litre vats and they are bloody expensive.) Also I don't have a clue about what to do with them.

That's the conflict which I have with Aubergine as well. Any vegetable as blah as brinjal should not be allowed to have such an interesting alter ego. I see Aubergine recipes, and I get sorely tempted to try it too. But then I go to the greengrocers and what do i see? Brinjal. Its very demoralizing. Hmpf. I think Ill just write a song called Aubergine and Tangerine (Sounds like Ebony and Ivory no?)

And, just for the record, and before young manu asks, there have been no disasters so far.Hmpf.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


What does one do when one has a very painful skin infection (which has resurfaced in a month) and the allopathic remedy for that is a very strong antibiotic?
What does one do if those antibiotics cause severe drowsiness and dizziness?
What does one do if drowsiness and dizziness is NOT a good idea when one is managing a three month old baby and is home alone?

One wades through the Internet and tries all sorts of home remedies.

So far, one has applied the following to one's skin

Potato in their jackets
Crushed Garlic
Cut Onion
Crushed Pepper Corns

Now we just need a dash of mayo and a pinch of salt, and voila Cynic-Potato Salad is ready for consumption

Tomorrows recipe : Cynful Aloo Methi with Jeera

P.S. I wonder whether I should put myself up on bhajifried.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The labour of waiting.

Continued from here

So a few months ago, the hero and I went to see the hospital rooms and facilities at the behest (such a nice, euphemistic term for nagging no?) of the mothers.

So we see some of the rooms, not the really scary ones and eventually wind up in the waiting room where a few expectant fathers are lounging around.

The hero, then comes up with the following

"Hey, you know what? I should get one of those air-mattresses C ( his Brother in law ) has for this room. So I can lie down and rest on it while you are in labour. These plastic chairs look most uncomfortable"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meluha Bound

I am on a fairly random reading spree these days – and just finished reading the Immortals of Meluha by one Amish Tripathi. I am still not quite sure what to make of that book.

Conceptually it’s interesting. It goes to the heart of Indian mythology and plucks out Lord Shiva and weaves a story around him, in a manner calculated to appeal to contemporary tastes.

The tale follows the life of Lord Shiva – with the underlying premise that he was NOT a God, but a mortal, a tribal chieftain who did extraordinary deeds and consequently legend made him into a God. It starts with his entry as an ‘immigrant’ into Meluha – an almost ideal country, and is turned into “Neelkanth” there and traces his life – whether its his romance with the emperor’s daughter Sati or his war on evil. (This is the first of the trilogy, so we need to see how the story progresses)

It was, well, like reading a hybridized version of Dan Brown and Chetan Bhagat.

The concept might have been inspired by the former - viz. take up divinity and holy cowisque subjects ( pun unintended) and attempt to build a racy ( and hopefully controversial) pulp fictional tale out of it. (As an aside, I kept on thinking of Ilium by Dan Simmons as well – the whole myth angle juxtaposed with modern concepts perhaps.. Ilium was bizarre though - the way it kept on jumping between eras gave me jet lag).

And the atrociously pedestrian language is certainly of the latter.(Chetan Bhagat has done a grave disservice to Indian literature. I know that Indian writing was laboured and pedantic BC*. But AD seems to be characterized by utterly casual lowest-common-denominator fiction.) This book has these so called italicized thoughtblurbs of Lord Shiva, which make one cringe (the English equivalent of “Kutte kameene mein tera khoon pi jaoonga”).

Let me take the comparison further - Dan Brown, while he lacks the erudition of say, Umberto Eco, did manage to throw some historical and cultural nuggets at one in Da Vinci/Angels and Demons. Amish on the other hand, littered his books with names and references, but there was no depth whatsoever. So one would have the book crowded with Brahaspatis, Veerbhadra and Daksha without etching them out at all ( not to mention the rather cutesy references – Nandi as an extremely overweight captain with the chosen tribe of Bull.).

The other big difference between Brown and Tripathi was that there was a consistent tenor through the novels in Browns book. Tripathi on the other hand started out with Lord Shiv as a human but then backtracked by introducing a number of Devas and Asuras and immortality which confused things.

The writer of this certainly scores over Bhagat on two counts - he has taken an interesting subject ( I am obsessed with mythology after all) and there might be certain homework which has gone into the creation of this book - so it doesn’t read like a horny collegians delusional ramblings. Though one wished he would have just raised the whole thing by a couple of notches. (The feeling I had while reading it was akin to when goes for a head massage and the masseuse while working in the generally right area consistently misses the spots which could make the whole experience divine ( pun unintended again)!)

I will probably read the sequels too. Ah well.

*BC= Before Chetan: Sorry, couldnt help myself.
** AD= After Dumbkoff (Sorry, couldnt resist that either)
P.S. Finished reading “Two states” sometime back, might explain the vitriol
P.P.S Extremely random post - what to do? house arrest and sleep deprivation continues...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random question..

Would Google be male or female? Why do you say so?

Friday, May 7, 2010

The belated sixth blogversary post is as good time as any... introduce a new member into the fishbowl. Please to welcome Hero Junior, or MiniCyn who arrived a mite earlier that anticipated, on the 23rd of March. Which might explain why I have been under the radar these days with no posts/comments eh?

I probably will be a bit slow with the posts for a while more. Sleep deprivation is a part of it, and I also seem to be suffering from a self image schism or schizophrenia or sch-something which I am desperately trying to resolve. My self-perception is that of an advertising professional in Bombay, but the evidence (and dirty diapers) seems to suggest otherwise. Hmmm.

And to get used to (Okay, the momster bloggers might crucify me for this)the fact that the kid is er... around ( I forget sometimes ,when he is asleep. I also occasionally forget that I am married and get a “ Woah, when did that happen” moment) AND related to me. I can go up to “This is my..” and then my brain synapses short-circuit and shut down if I try to complete that equation. (Chronic ostrich syndrome, huh?)

Also, since I have been under house arrest for the last few weeks, nothing much to report, unless my dear readers want to hear tales of gore and grit (That is the threat I have been using on hero senior for the last month. Damn effective it is too!). Maybe not. But I WILL write a post on the labour of the waiting room (S’s – not mine) and the hooker who moonlights (Sunlights?) as a nurse (yes, I am a weird person magnet.)

So happy belated blogversary ( six years I have finished aiyo!) and belated birthday to the hero as well

P.S. Why haven’t I got a flood of questions and concern wondering where I am eh? I am very offended.

P.P.S. Suggestions for an appellation for the babe? Minicyn sounds like a cough medicine. Also a name – since we are still struggling to find one.

P.P.P.S Also pliss to go easy with the M-word. Panic happens.I know, I know, my mother has already scathingly asked me "What do you want him to call you? Didi?". I did mention my change phobia..?

P.P.P.P.S I need therapy.

P.P.P.P.P.S. He is pretty interesting though, I was told that when he first saw S, he looked him over and then poked out his tongue. Sterling common sense I say.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Fourth Estate

Yesterday, I happened to catch a little bit of Fareed Zakaria interviewing James Baker on CNN. I don't know much about US politics (hell I don’t know too much about Indian politics) and to be honest, I am not hugely interested in it either (Yes, sometimes I do live up to the femme stereotype of not being turned on by politics or high finance.).

Anyways I digress, in-spite of this general lukewarm interest and all that, I still paid more attention to this show, then I have ever been tempted to pay to any of our local media friends - whether it’s the Banshee Murkha or Demented Dazedeep or obstreperous Earnumb (*any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental) .

Mr. Zakaria is certainly an Indian albeit has probably been bred in foreign media climes. As are the BDE and their ilk – so why is there such a stark, almost cultural difference in reporting?

The former is almost statesman-like in his dignity, yet incisive and intelligent in the way he handles his programme, and his guests. He talks yes, but more than that he allows his guests to state their view. If he disagrees, he does so politely, and precisely. He does not try and outshout them to get the point across. He certainly does not try and force feed his opinions and gets the guest to change his/her stance. The latter, well the less said about them the better, loud hysteria, aggressive confrontational tactics, music, melodrama.

The new-casters are no longer just vessels that convey news – blandly as in the
Komal G.B. Singh era. They have become dramatis personae in their own right, a one actor play and the newsroom is the stage. That’s the only way one can explain the fact that in one half an hour segment with six panellists, the host newscaster monopolizes, nay, outshouts and corners the stage for at least 20 minutes. And they also seem to have acquired the eccentricities and temperamental tantrums of the prima donnas in the bargain. (The knee jerk and far from sophisticated response to criticism which we have witnessed in the last couple of years – is a testament to that fact).

The interesting question is what has caused this transition.

I refuse to believe that THIS is something which is desired by the audience – almost everyone I know off cringes at the sledge hammer tactics adopted by them. Almost everyone I know has scant respect for their opinions, their reportage or their interviewing and news casting skills.

Is it the curse of the 24/7 reporting which louder volumes are equated with more eyeballs – again, a difficult hypothesis to swallow – BBC/CNN and others have had continuous coverage for years – and no, I still haven’t seen any of them prancing around hysterically yet.

I had written a post some time back on the overall dumbing down of television because of a shift in the audience profile – but somehow that argument is difficult in the context of the news. Yes, the internet is a big part of it, but for most of us, the television is still remains a very important medium for news.

The only thing which perhaps hints of an explanation is that it is symptomatic of the nouveau Indian attempting to shake off years of under-dog-hood by loud belligerence – where aggression is mistaken for assertiveness, and cacophony for confidence.

It’s a pity that the so called intelligentsia of the fourth estate have to also resort to that stereotype.

Edit Note: There is some hajaar chaos happening in life right now, which is why I have been and will probably continue to be so irregular ( blogging/commenting). please to excuse ( archives, archives!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cootchie Coo(k)

Conversations with a cook prospect, transliterated for the audience. Picture a very scary, grumpy looking woman.

Me: "Oh, so what is your name"
She: "It is actually Kaveri, but sometimes it is Kavita."
Me: "Eh? Which one should I call you then?"
She: " Whichever you like."
Me: (Incurably nosy) "But why these two names? Which one do you answer to?"
She: "My actual name is Kaveri, but my husband lovingly calls me Kavita when he wants loving " (Er..?)
Me: "Well, in that case, since I am not yet in love with you, lets stick to Kaveri shall we?" ( No I didnt say that, was sorely tempted to though. Remember the Maid mafia?)

The one who supposedly joins tomorrow goes by the rather unlikely moniker of "Dimple". Unlikely why? Because she has an a rather bovine cast of countenance - nothing could be further than the Ms.Kapadia.

Watch this space for more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My name is Kha ha ha ha ha.

(Warning, spoilers ahead)

Dear Mr. K. Jo

First, let me begin by congratulating you on getting the movie released despite all the off-the-reel histrionics by one Mr. T and his posse of goons -you and your team should deserve a round of applause for that.

Having said that, I must admit that I was mystified by a number of things – not least of which, was, why DID you want to release one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I have seen in the recent past? So I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you a few questions..

1.This might sound like a “who-was-Ram” type of question, but what was the story again? Was it

a.About autism?
b.About Muslims not being terrorists?
c.About a Forrest-Gumpish love story?
d.About triumph of good over evil?
e.About a mother’s fight for justice?
f.About hurricane relief?
g.About 9/11?
h.About ordinary citizens trying to meet the president
i.About a US darshan?

2.There was a slight doubt in my mind about the time frame – your snappy dates on the side of the screen indicated that the events occurred in this decade viz 2000-2009. But I could have sworn that Funny Hair Joel WAS Michael Jackson in 1972 and if I had to hazard a guess about his mother, Mama Jenny (Seriously?) and neighbours, I would have pegged them in a 1950’s commercial. (Uhm, just a small suggestion, do Google and take a look at one Beyonce)

3. Where did you find the President clone? I spent the entire movie waiting with bated breath for the full frontal ( you had been coy for most of the movie showing only the cropped hair)

4.Did Mr Khan (from the epiglottis) tolerate or not tolerate touchy-feely stuff? He seemed to cringe for half the movie, but after the intermission, he was going around hugging everyone in sight. Similarly in half the movie he seems to shuffle horizontally and sometimes he walks straight. Sometimes he used to movie camera; sometimes he cheerily looked at the landscape. Quite confusing.

5.Why did you waste Ms. Dutt for ONE minor scene? I would think she has HUGE potential in movies such as you are famous for – with lots of drama, action, song and dance and noise. Please do use her more.

6.Does SRK really have such a huge nose? Since he spent most of the movie not eyeing the camera directly, we really had lots of opportunity to view his profile

Your feedback will be much appreciated.
Thanks and regards

P.S. Was not a completely voluntary choice - uncle/aunt in law were staying over for a few days and they wanted to take us out to see the movie. It WOULD have been rather churlish to refuse, so off we went.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bloggers and Books.

The other day I just finished a book by this rather famous blogger-who-become-an-author.

I don’t really know what I was expecting – since I am not a big follower of this particular person’s blog. I had a nebulous idea perhaps – of a plot which spoke the same language, or situations, places and events which I had experienced, maybe some controversy, maybe some humour – something topical which I could relate to.

What I didn’t expect, was to be bored out of my skull.

Harsh? Well yes, rather.

But the truth was what would have been tolerable-interesting as someone's private blog just did not translate into a readable or engrossing or even passable novel. I found the plot loose, the writing mediocre, the humour contrived, the characters one-dimensional, and the predominant reaction at the end of the book, was relief that it was over.

Strangely enough, these are criticisms which one could level at dozens of blogs, mine included – but that has never stopped me from reading those blogs (or writing mine for that matter), and I don’t think I have consciously passed harsh judgement on the content, the writing or anything of the sort. I enjoy reading those blogs – even when the sentence construction is faulty, even if the odd post is not very interesting, but the sum total of the parts ends up being an enriching experience.

But when the same thing happens in a novel, it is different altogether.

So that brings me to a very interesting point, – are we as readers more willing to forgive mediocrity in blogging but not so in books (even if it is from the same author?). Do we have vastly different expectations and levels of what constitutes an acceptable blog versus an acceptable book? I would say, yes.

The question is, why?

The most obvious and no-brainer answer to that of course, is that authors get paid money and bloggers don’t. So perhaps, if someone is writing for a fee, is a professional writer, one expects a much higher degree of competence.

The authors I read, MUST be at an intellectual, linguistic, entertainment plane which is much higher than what I am capable of doing. Then, and only then, can I enjoy, appreciate and can revel in the books. It doesn’t mean it has to be an intellectual opus – a lot of light reading isn’t, but then there is this indefinable and intangible ‘quality’ in it which sets it apart from amateurs, which one respects. It could be the turn of phrase, the etching of the characters, the quirky humour which subtly tells the reader, that there is much more to this writing gig, then well, just writing.

Maybe it’s a sense of fellowship – a blogger is a fellow, someone you can interact with, mail, comment, and chat with. An author is supposed to be a celebrity – inaccessible, aloof, and with a halo which is larger than life. So I might not be willing to extend the same benefit of doubt as I would to a blogger-mate.

The other reason could be the fact that in blogging, one is exposed to minute quantities of the persons thought processes at any given point of time – thousand to two thousand words, one incident. In a novel, one is exposed to maybe forty times that quantity. Much vaster canvas to be critical off isn’t it?

And I think very personally, bloggers who turn bad authors, bring out the biggest conflict in me -a person who has always harboured hopes of getting a book published some day.

On the one hand it gives this perverse sense of hope – that if someone who is not-very-good can get published; I might have a fighting chance too. On the other, it gives rise to a lot of self-loathing and criticism for NOT having done anything about it yet – especially when I knows in my heart-of-hearts that I might not have the perseverance, or the talent to actually write a decent book.

And there is always the other conflict – that even assuming average authors get published, does one actually want to go down in the annals of history as being one of those average authors or is it better not to attempt the task at all? Is it better to be mediocre and famous, or know one’s limitations and rein in one’s ambition to what one is passably good at?

I just shared this post with Mo, and she had a very interesting point. Viz. that bloggers are commentators and they comment on the current state of being – they are not story tellers. Which is a hugely valid point in retrospect – because one of the problems I DID have with the book, was that it was like a collage of events – not woven together, but just jostling each other for space.

So in other words this static, still photograph technique of writing can be acceptable in blogs, or to use an analogy – in a home video, might seem very amateurish when you go to a multiplex to watch a movie where you want action, dynamism and movement.

What do you think?

(No, not Sidin, I have not read Dork (Though I plan to). I do not want the post to be misconstrued just because he happens to be the latest from the bloggers-turned-authors genre).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ab Buzz Bhi Karo

I think I am technologically harassed.

It starts innocuously enough – Google or twitter or something comes up with this one-worder-thingummy. Then because everyone on twitter is punning, funning and moaning about it I go and try and figure out what the heck this is. Mostly, I just get a vague sense of it's use. Then I go back to twitter, or facebook and do the online version of nodding knowledgeably and hope no one will really ask me too many uncomfortable details.

Then, depending on how interesting it seems and how professionally relevant and important it is likely to be, I go back and laboriously wade through sites and manuals to actually understand it.

And when I just about get the hang of it, something new turns up.

Now, I am thinking of going on strike. Because of the following reasons.

1)Six degrees of connection.
All these sites encourage one to be connected to people. The problem is I am already connected to those people – in five different ways. Most of them I don’t even want to be connected to in ONE way.

2)The never ending echoes.
The corollary to point 1. Since I am connected to the same person in six different ways, I am also privileged to hear that person’s opinions/post/comment/remark six different times in six different places. It’s like a iterative, looped vortex of the same thing again, and again, and again ...

3)Technological debris.
One of the recurring complaints I have heard from our generation is about the amount of clutter our parents managed to collect–from those ubiquitous plastic fruits in the showcase to absolutely useless curios falling over every flat surface in the house. We resolve to have minimalistic houses with no material junk. Then why the heck should I litter my mind with all this technological jumble (isn’t that just what we are doing?) Frankly it’s getting hard to disentangle the useful stuff from the bric-a-brac.

4)The pressure of the unfunny.
People write things, post updates, post pictures, flood with emoticons share each and every dreary minutiae of their life as if it is the world’s wittiest write up or sexiest photograph. And expect you to participate and react to it. And get offended if you don’t.

5)The Attendance Marker.
The corollary to point no.4, there are some people who feel obliged to comment, remark, generally mark their attendance on YOUR posts. Usually with something utterly inane and irrelevant just to show that they are present. Most of my posts are completely arbitrary vents or white noise which I jot down. I have no idea how to react when someone says “Nice” or “: p” to them.

6)The Personality Full Monty.
In offline interactions once can chose just what level of personality exposure one chooses to do – one can go all the way with some people, or just take out a sock or two to others. Social media does not allow one the luxury of that. Its either the whole hog or nothing.

7)The Truman Show.
The corollary (I think) to point to 6. Some people apparently WANT to live their life in the public eye. Therefore unsuspecting audiences are subjected to nauseating public displays of affection, love, and lust by couples and other related people. How many times have you seen a flood of comments on a photograph written by a spouse saying “my prince charming” or something else in that vein? Get a room, already.

8)The #tag.
One of the most annoying inventions of all time MUST be the #tag – some people apparently cannot construct a single sentence without flooding the sentence with these useful attention-grabbing things. Soon we will have conversations that go
“Oh you know my auto broke down on the road #fail #traffic #roads #municipality #bandra #bombayauto“

So now in protest I am going on a connectivity sanyas. Hmpf.

Absolutely incoherent rant this is- started out against buzz and I have no idea where it ended. Hmmm.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I am so blogcked right now, its almost pitiful. Cant seem to write anything, or read anything whether its blog or comments ( mine or others). Some strange state of suspended animation. So am recycling something from June 2007 from blog no.1. Please, please don't stop reading me!!!!I shall be back. To write AND to read

The other day I saw this Marathi movie – Uttarayan. A sensitively depicted film about love in the twilight years- between a widower with a grown up son (engaged to be married and subsequently married during the course of the movie) and his first love (the victim of a destructive, broken marriage). Been done quite a lot in Hindi movies (whether it’s ‘Pyaar mein twist’ or ‘Baghban’ I know, but this, thank heavens was without the hindi film histrionics).

It was thought provoking, especially since, one of my friend’s fathers DID actually do that. Well, not fall in love – but he got married for the second time in his sixties (albeit an arranged marriage) very recently. My friend has been married for five years, his elder sister for more than that. His mother passed away very suddenly about a year and a half ago. And Uncle used to shuttle between the two kids and his home – and was extremely lost and adrift without his wife. Few months ago, the daughter’s in-laws suggested that he marry again in order to gain a semblance of stability and he did so.

At one level one feels that it is probably a good thing to do – the movie as well as the real life. Rationally, any sensitive, thinking individual will feel that people at any age deserve to have companionship and love – and who deserves this happiness more than ones’ parent?

But I think there is always this illogical, emotional, straight-from-the-gut reaction – where the remarriage is the ultimate act of betrayal by one parent to the other. No matter how good or bad the marriage was, no matter how purposeless and lonely the surviving parent is. The very fact that a parent, after thirty or forty years of sharing a life with someone CAN proceed to create a new home with someone else WILL hurt like hell.

I suppose children, however old they are never view their parents as individuals. It is always consciously or unconsciously in relation to oneself. An extremely egoistic worldview, which one is born to and never quite shakes off. One would like to think that one ceases to have expectations from ones’ parent as one grows up. Material expectations perhaps one does – but to shake off the expectation of unvarying loyalty – that doesn’t happen. And a remarriage shakes the very foundation of that loyalty.

Also the fact remains that, almost ALL other relationships the parent has, the child inherits them (the parents sister is linked by ties of blood to the child and so on). A new marriage on the other hand, the parent is forging a relationship, which is unique to the parent alone. So while it easier to share the parent with someone you are tied to, to do so to a person outside that circle becomes difficult.

I honestly don’t know what my friend thought or felt about his father’s second marriage. There are some topics that are completely off limits and this is one of them. I know that he was devastated by his mother’s death. I can guess that it CANNOT be easy to see your father with another woman. But I also know that he and his wife have acted very gracefully about it – welcoming the new wife into their lives. And I really admire him for that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Things I dont understand: #287

Why on earth should Jessica Simpson uhm...passing wind, make it to the newspapers in India?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Life, for Rent

There is this Marathi soap that the MIL watches called Anubandh. I have occasionally caught snippets of the story and it seems to be tackling a fairly controversial and topical issue – that of surrogacy.

A very-very middle class single girl finds herself in some dire financial straits (don’t have the background on the hows and whys) and agrees to become a surrogate mother for a very rich couple who cannot have a child (for a whooping fee of course). She seems to be doing this unknown to her very conservative brother and his rather shrewish wife and her fiancĂ© who is away studying in the US. Right now, the girl has just got pregnant – and I assume the plot will try and address the various conflicts which arise from this decision of hers.

And I started thinking about this surrogacy thing. It’s an interesting dilemma – on the one hand, you have the anguish of a woman who is desperate to have a child by any means and cannot do so, (Lets not even get into the societal aspect of barrenness and infertility in India) .On the other hand, you have another woman who is forced to lease out and almost give up her rights (for those nine months) on the absolutely most personal possession she has – her body.

Let me take the surrogate mothers bit in this post.

My first and gut reaction is that it is absolute, unforgivable violation. I would put almost on par with rape and/or prostitution. I know logically, rationally, mentally the two are nowhere similar – rape on the face of it is forced physical intimidation – which is violent and without the consent of the victim. Surrogacy is a consensual contract – the surrogate knows exactly what is it that she is getting into charges a compensation for that – there is no coercion, there is no physical violation and it is certainly done with her buy in.

But doesn’t the fact remain that in both cases, there is a superior strength (physical in some cases, financial in the other) which dictates the balance of power? In both cases, while the act and deed might be completely physical - the ramifications are as much emotional and mental and far outlive the duration of the act. (I am no expert, but I find it difficult to believe that any female can carry a child in the womb for nine months, go through labour and then part with the child without emotional cataclysm).

And let’s look at some of the other aspects- the physicality of it for one. In the normal course of things, a woman is pregnant with her own child – a part of herself, who is for those months sharing residence with her in her body – so yes, she needs to compromise and sacrifice and maybe do a number of things or cease to do a number of things because she is sharing premises – to give a loose analogy, similar to what she would be doing with a spouse or a family member. But would the same feelings, compromises, sacrifices be possible (with the same level of emotion) with say a paying guest (and an unknown one at that), who is sharing the room? Wont the value equations, (This much money, this is what I will do), or even worse, resentment start coming into the picture at SOME point of time?

One could argue that it is the woman’s body and she is free to do as she please with it – but by that logic what is stopping someone else from selling a kidney because of financial imperatives – it’s his or her body after all. You can carry the argument further and say that a kidney donation is life threatening and will seriously debilitate the donor – but isn’t the same true for multiple pregnancies as well? (Hell, my grandmother had 12 pregnancies and 13 kids from them and that left her physically exceedingly frail). There are always risks, of dying in childbirth, or physiological complications and infections. (And I think it is fair to assume that if someone is financially compelled to rent out the womb, chances are she might not have access to five star medical care and comfort during the tenure)

And there are so many other ethical and moral questions which this throws up.

What if the child is less than perfect(God forbid). Do the parents have a right to walk away asking for a refund? Whose responsibility IS it – the fault of the genes or is it some problem in the time the foetus was in the womb?

What if the parents who have initiated it (the non-surrogates) for whatever reason decide to part ways – can they lose the accountability for the kid just because they don’t have the physical experience of having the kid (I vaguely remember reading a case like this sometime back)

What is to stop family members from using women as breeding machines to get that money?

What is to stop potential leasers of wombs from evaluating the prospects for suitability for surrogacy – (much as one would evaluate cattle or slaves in olden times). Isn’t that the ultimate degradation and commoditization of the women?

Frankly I don’t buy the altruism argument. I do not think that the females who become surrogates for financial compensation do so because they want to allow someone to have the joy of parenthood. The reason they do it is because they have mouths to feed or kids to educate or some other pressing financial needs – and leasing their body out is the only way for them to do so ( doesn’t it sound again uncannily like prostitution? Only for a cause which is less sordid)

As I was writing this post, I came across an article in Marie Claire – about how Anand in gujurat has become a surrogacy shop – foreign and non-resident tourists come here to outsource the pregnancy. The doctor who was running the show gave one glib line about how this money gave the woman the “first taste of empowerment”. Those nine months could have been utilized in giving her some training, some skills which would be genuine empowerment and would last beyond those $5000 that she gets for renting her womb out isn’t it?

Having said that I have all the sympathy in the world for those people who unfortunately cannot bear children of their own. I can even understand the motivation behind wanting the child to carry their genes as opposed to adopting an unknown orphan. But somehow I wish there was a way to do it without exploitation of poor, uneducated women.

What do you think?