Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chasing Happiness #20

Dear children,

Today is Mother’s day, and I congratulate myself for saving my sanity surrounded by insanity.

I prepare to bask and revel in the glory of motherhood, congratulate the Indian mother in me for the tender loving care I shower on you, the Tiger mother in me for cracking the whip and taming you cubs to make sure you didn’t lie, you didn’t cheat, and you didn’t break my trust, the American mother in me who talks about feelings, who understands how you feel, and who promises to be there with you, no matter where life takes you.

I loved the first gift of the morning, solitude. Children all over the country are burning pancakes and waffles, but you were kind enough to sleep through my breakfast ritual. I woke up early, made me an egg omelet, and brewed a cup of coffee. I actually ate it while it was still warm, and drank my coffee while it was steaming hot. No one disturbed me. No one needed an omelet right after mine, and no one threw a tantrum that they wanted something else.  It was so peaceful. Thank you, for letting me treat myself to a good breakfast.

It took a fraction of a minute to pick you up, swaddled in the soft pink blanket and fall in love, to write poetry about the dream I have for you, to write pages about the relation we will enjoy. But it takes sleepless nights to convince myself that no matter how tall you are, you are still little. No matter how fast you run, you will still need my guidance. No matter how loud that door slammed shut, I need to go right after and remove that door if need be. It is a confusing age, it is a confusing phase. Thank you for letting me keep the copy of “Love you Forever” so that I remind myself, “as long as I am living, my baby you will be”.

“Be the wind beneath their wings, not their airplane.” Your father thinks it’s easy to let the precious children lose in the sky and watch them from the ground. I went through a lot of pain to bring you into this world. I won’t let go of you so easily. I am not guilty of being your airplane as long as I am transporting you to a destination of your choice, not mine. You don’t have to make your own mistakes, you can always learn from the mistakes others make. Mother Superior tells me that you will touch the fire to check how hot it is, even though you understand that fire burns. I don’t smother you, I only try to mother, with care. You can play with fire. I will be on the side, with a bucket of ice cold water, antiseptic cream and a blanket, just in case. Thank you, for letting me be your chosen mode of transportation.

I have an unexplainable pain in my back from the epidural. My stomach has battle scars. My body has changed after I gave birth. I lost me when I gained you. My new identity wasn’t my own, I was your mother. The Bohemian in me was bound to conventions by your arms wrapped around my neck. It was an irreversible change, physically, emotionally and socially. It was hard, to wear the hats, to assume different personalities to let you and me grow together. But thank you, for working with me, for letting me grow up with you, and for shaping your identities that I am proud to be associated with.

This morning Mother Superior called me. “Happy Mother’s Day”, she said, “Thank you for being a wonderful daughter that I am proud of”. I tried reminding her that she is not happy or proud. I am twenty pounds more than her ideal weight of me, the career path I chose doesn’t exactly satisfy the feminist agenda she had for me, and the writings that are self centered aren’t her vision of creativity. “It doesn’t matter”, she said, ”My dream for you will always be different from the dream you have for yourself, or the expectations your husband and your children have from you. You have a dream and you kept it intact, that’s all that matters”.

She continued, “When you were young, you would hold my hand and walk to the market with me. I would tell you to pick any dress and gladly pay for it. When you visited us for your father’s sixtieth birthday, you took me to the same shopping center, and told me to pick whatever I wanted to, and you would pay for it. That was the proud moment. Your career enabled your ability to the pay your mother’s bill, your good relationship with your husband gave you the power to make independent decisions. You bought the same sari for your mother-in-law and that told me, I raised you well. As a human being you have excelled, and I am proud of you. Be like that always.”

I may seem perfect and all powerful to you, but without my own mother’s seal of approval, I am miserable. I complain, I whine, and I tease her for being on my case always, but I am happy she does. I am happy I haven’t disappointed her to the extent of giving up on me. I am actually thankful that she sees me slightly imperfect always, and wants me to fix me. Thank you, Mother Superior, for maintaining the title of superiority, so that I have an example to follow, so that I have someone to lead me.

I will ramble on, there is so much to share, but there will be times, there will be moments for that. Right now is the time to shower and sparkle in the happiest place on earth with you. It will be only so many days before you will enjoy the company of your friends more than your mother’s. It will only be so many days before you will dress in all black, even opting for weird colors to stain your lips and nails. But today you like pink, you like the sparkles, and you still love them princesses without mothers. Let me make the most of it… Let me make memories with you.

Love always,
Mother in the Middle

Blast from the past:

Chasing Happiness #16

Last evening was one of those rare calm and quiet evenings. The kids went to bed after dinner, I was done with my work, and dear husband wouldn’t come home until midnight. I have very low attention span to watch a movie alone and drift into sleep, and if no one is bothering me, even reading doesn’t give the usual pleasure. I started opening all emails with links to blogs others wrote, or videos they took. One of them was very interesting. Around thirty seconds long, but I didn’t understand the motive for the first fifteen seconds, and I didn’t understand the motivation for the last fifteen seconds.


A very pretty woman and a handsome man are sitting in the living room of a well furnished house. She looks bored, and he looks distracted. She pushes brown coffee to him, and he doesn’t look too pleased. At this point, I thought the advertisement would be about coffee. Wake up sleepy heads, and go for a drive, have fun romancing under a tree. Go caffeine high with the new Nescafe. But she went to shower. I thought it would be about a vacation getaway in the tropics. Sun and sand, you and me. No, they started talking about fairness and freshness. Not on the face, not under arms, not on the body, but vaginal fairness. Yes, a fair vagina to please her man who doesn’t like brown obviously.

Honey, you just leave that man if he is not into you, and love you for who you are. We are not even talking about pleasing a white man here. He is as brown as you are, and I am sure he didn’t use a wash, moisturizer and deodorant to shine his light saber. I can already imagine that advertisement.

A very pretty woman walks into her office, and her coworker offers her a banana with brown spots. She makes a face that doesn’t look too pleased. Her coworker, who I am guessing will be SRK considering he endorses other lightening and whitening products for me, will tell her that he knows the problem. She will smile a very dry smile. The husband is given a new wash/moisturize/deodorize kit and he takes it to the shower. When he returns.. Oh, imagine already! Let’s just say they lived happily ever after, and she enjoyed yellow spotless firm bananas. Just for the kicks, what if Rajnikanth endorses the product? The screen will be filled with a bright and white light, blurring the whole world! Watch out for the fine print that says results not typical..

Suddenly feeling out of place, and out of touch from the India I grew up in, I wonder where was I all this while? Stuck in a different time and era probably. I grew up in a time when the Indian women of the eighties were independent, they had careers, some better than their husbands, but still all of them lacked in confidence collectively and used a sunscreen to save their skin from tanning, and a fairness cream to achieve a better shade of brown. Fair, fairer, fairest- all within the fifty shades of brown. At the ripe age of twenty three it dawned to me that sunscreens are used as a defense against UV rays from the sun that can cause skin cancer. Saving the skin from tanning was not their primary purpose.

Age must be catching up too. Because my concept of making love is getting wet and dirty, not dry and clean. When we were young, we were told to remove hair from our bodies, whiten and lighten our face, and get long-luxurious hair. Our men were pleased by that. Even that sounded like too much work then. Feminists were leaving the hair untouched. I felt bad for my cousins who were swept away with the size zero wave. But this, this is the limit. To be a perfect Indian woman whose man loves her and adores her, you have to be a size zero with at least C-cup size and butt bulging enough to balance Tequila shots (yeah, got it from Tim Ferris), fair skinned, have long and shiny hair AND have a vagina like Edelweiss- clean and bright.

I don’t know what kind of demographic studies they conduct before releasing such products to the public. Probably one hundred men were asked what kind of vagina they liked. They all replied whiter than white, brighter than bright, fresh as flowers. A genius came up with the idea of making vaginal bleach. Another genius added powders and creams too, just in case people didn’t like the wash only concept. A lubricant company probably funded this dry product, because now they can start selling their products to keep things wet.

I hear the ads were withdrawn after Indian women protested. I wonder if the product was advertised during prime time. I wonder what parents told their children. Dear daughter, when you are of age to be active,  I will give you a tube of fairness cream so that you can attract a suitable boy, and I will also give you a tube to keep your feminine self clean and dry, and very fair so that he doesn’t run away looking at the darker shade of brown. Dear son, you are lucky. Your mother only had a bleached face, but your woman will be white everywhere.

ARGH! Am I glad to be a mother of girls in America where I have to worry about Tanorexia only, and only Anorexia for us browns who already look tanned enough without stepping into a tanning salon?

I have a brilliant idea. Let’s attack this problem at the roots rather than trying to fix it on the surface. All Indian women who are self conscious about their shade of brown should be matched with a tall, handsome white donor who is also good academically so that she can only have white children. It will be a onetime investment, and it will also save the headache of buying tube after tube, tub after tub, and still having to deal with the brown coffee sometimes..

Here is to all aspiring light-wheatish-brown ladies: (I am assuming it’s a spoof)



Chasing Happiness #15

The last Kannada movie I watched in theaters was Amrutha Varshini. Growing up in North Karnataka, we rarely watched Kannada movies. The good movies didn’t survive long in the theaters, and the ones that survived weren’t good enough. Hooligan heroes dressed in garish outfits mouthing obscene dialogues celebrated hundred days in the hall, garnering whistles on every double entendres. The novel based contemporary and urban movies depicting classy literature didn’t get a chance. They couldn’t reach the intended audience because they didn’t get enough time in the theater to survive the mass entertainers.

A few days ago, my husband told me that his friend is producing a movie called “Parie”. I have always been intrigued by engineers getting in touch with their artistic side. Most of us brainiacs have grown up in a time and age where our choices in careers were limited to engineering, medicine or civil services. We didn’t have the courage to tell our parents to give our education fund as seed money to make a career of our dreams. We lived their dreams first. A respectful career, a family, a conventionally successful life as defined by them. But as mid-life knocks, we realize that it is time to live for ourselves, and nurture our creativity.

Parie is based on an award winning novel called “Bharadwaja” by Sampanna Mutalik. I haven’t read the novel, and I don’t think I will be able to watch the movie in theaters. Except for a few handpicked movies and novels that Mother Superior ships every summer, I don’t do any independent research on the literature and visual arts situation in Karnataka. We are arm-chair intellectuals, we love to lament about the lack of decent movies in Kannada. But when someone makes a movie that suits our taste, we don’t do our part by showing up at the theater with a bag of popcorn to support the movie that targeted us as the primary audience. We wait for the reviews, and we wait for the word of mouth to confirm the reviews. By that time it’s too late, and the movie is kicked out of the theaters.

But we don’t care. We would rather watch a French movie with subtitles to get exposed to various cultures in the world than commit to cultural immersion by watching a movie of our own. Last night, while I took a break from the so-called cultural exposure program on Netflix, I caught my husband searching something on YouTube. I peeked, by habit, and as decency suggests, still asked him what he was doing. Searching for “Parie”, he said. Now that was a low blow even by my standards to search your own friend’s movie on YouTube. But he explained. He was only monitoring the release of pirated versions so that his friend could take action.

Then we stumbled on a video related to the movie on “Public TV”.

The engineer producers were having a heated discussion with the very emotional engineer director Sudhir Attavar while the anchor kept interrupting in Kanglish (I think we should revise that word Kanglish and make it Englannada. He spoke more in English and less in Kannada). The issue was release date. What’s new you engineers ask? That’s always the issue with all the engineers. Their lives center on developing and releasing, and debugging. They handle all productions in a similar fashion.

Team when they develop, torn by the time they release.

Issue was, the producers wanted to release the movie on Friday, and the director didn’t want to. He wanted to wait for another movie called “Anna Bond” to release first. Oh no, don’t expect Anna Kournikova and Daniel Craig sizzling together for three hours! According to a review online, it’s a Kannada movie ‘inspired’ by City of Gods, Taken and Blue Diamond. Of course there will be all kind of emotions, replete with an item song keeping up with Nagesh Kukunoor’s definition of Indian Cinema.

The Director’s explanation was, since it’s a big movie, the small budget “Parie” will be pushed out of theaters. But then, the week after that, Katariveera releases in 2D and 3D. Some other movie called Godfather releases the week after. This being summer vacation for the Karnataka Schools, I am sure every production house has something lined up. I am with the producers on this one, and I commend their decision of going ahead with the release as planned. They have an uninterrupted week to put their product in front of the audience.

Oh wait! That was not the issue. The Director was whining because the production house behind Anna Bond decided to move their release date to May 1st, effectively giving “Parie” only four days to please the audience. A few Google searches tell me that the movie was released on May 1st, and the shows began as early as 7 am to accommodate the fan base. It is unusual to release a movie on a weekday, and to open the theaters so early, but if their fan base can support their moves, good for them! Next time, their creative minds can lift a scene or two from a Chinese movie and throw it in the blend to make it even diverse and interesting for the audience.

I remember, when I was young, Ramesh Arvind’s novel based movie was moved from the theaters a week after its release because the theaters had to accommodate some big star’s movie. But Ramesh was talented, and people were finally able to recognize the powerhouse that he was. He didn’t have to drop fruits on the heroine’s navel and zoom in her vitals while she sighed to glory to keep the audience engaged. I am sure if the Parie gang sticks together, and makes meaningful cinema, one day the audience will sit up and take notice, and actually get up from their couches to catch their next offering in the theaters. Nagesh Kukunoor wasn’t an industry insider, nor did he have a godfather to help him gain a foothold in the industry. But he was able to find his audience, his fan base.

I don’t guest blog, I don’t have guests on my blog. But I had to write about Parie. Not because I support a movie, but for the support of the motive behind the movie. To break free from the cubed lives, to find their true calling, and to embrace it..there will be hurdles, there will be power plays, but what industry doesn’t have it? Cults don’t form overnight. It takes time, it takes patience and it takes courage. I wish the Parie gang all the best, and hope that they continue to make decent movies based on award winning Kannada literature.

Parie gang should note that a weed grows faster than the plant, but the plant holds longer than the weed.