Yes (ad) minister!

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There’s nothing that’s taken India by storm in the last couple of years as much as Whatsapp. Everyone’s on it – right from the harried mom coordinating with the dabbawala, to the maid who sends chutti notices on WhatsApp, to the super mom who juggles her job, and instructs the tutor of the kiddo, and orders groceries from the corner dukan, to corporate biggies sending out emergency messages. The self employed being on it is a no brainer – most of the business happens on WhatsApp didn’t you know? 80% of my biz happens on WhatsApp, to resellers and buyers, from docs doling out medicine lists, to nurses, school principals to millennials, and centenarians, septanarians and even 7 year olds!! Every message has to be read instantly and reacted to. There’s a video to share, petitions to sign, recipes to circulate, products to be sold, lame husband wife jokes, those envy creating pics to be shared, FIFA matches to be discussed and lately child kidnapers to be warned about!!! Gosh – just about everything is happening on WhatsApp.

And so there are millions of groups around – a yoga class group, a tuitions group, a resellers group, an old trekkers group (that’s still active), and finally the most important one – the parent teacher association group, that brings together all the parents of each grade of my child’s school. It’s this group that is the subject of dissection today. I’m sure if you’ve been on such an important group, you’ve all had your share of MIQs (most imp questions) that you ignore at your peril – where parents discuss the portion of an exam to be held the next morning at 11pm, to the bus conductor having a cold, to a teacher’s incorrect correction, to a happy bday message, a good morning and good day message, an exhibition message, and of course to the most important ‘ who’s so and so’s mom’ questions ūüėČ

The discussions are stimulating to say the least, everyone has something to say, even if it is ‘I agree’, or ‘yes’, or “I not agree”.¬† Fights and disputes are common, and we’ve all learned to accept these messages/queries/arguments with a pinch of salt.¬†So I was a tad surprised when a mom in a group of the school WhatsApp got upset when another parent requested that bday messages to her child be sent personally and that the group need not be the medium for the same. She went ballistic and unbared her fangs/ unleased her writing prowess – she reminded everyone especially that particular parent that she was the one who had created the group as admin; indirectly reminding us all of her power. She then accused the parent of being jealous of her child, that her child was more popular than his.¬† She then proposed an election where the other members had to vote whether she was right or the other parent was. The irony was that the voting actually took place and she LOST! Can you believe that? She then quietly went into exile, meaning exited the group – I say credit to her. To be able to do that quietly, after all the fanfare?! On the whole I found the situation hilarious, but it reminded me of the power the group admins wield or think they wield!

More recently, a new PTEM (parent teacher executive member), who is the one point contact between the school and the parents, was appointed for the new academic session. The Whatsapp group members enthusiastically welcomed her (about 400 of them) and I’m certain she would have read each congratulatory message, and to be honest a little worried that I didn’t do the same (I’m certain there had been an emergency that day) and possibly she may have made note of which parent still hadn’t wished her – ouch! That would certainly hurt my prospects of making it to her good books. Well, I’m just as certain that she’s a wonderful lady, forgiving and mature. But wait, she’s not the heroine of this piece – the old PTEM seems to be having difficulty in adjusting to new scenario and I feel for her. Everything that the new PTEM puts down, the old PTEM has taken upon herself to rephrase and provide an explanation for. After all, weren’t the parents used to her style of communication for the past year? With every such message she sends out a disclaimer that she’s the erstwhile PTA and her name should not be used anywhere. The new PTEM thankfully seems relaxed & cool and takes this quietly without getting into power struggles. I really could feel the pain of the erstwhile PTEM until, one day the old PTEM suggested that we have sub PTEMs for each division, who would then convey parental concerns to the head PTEM – parents could write to the sub PTEM who would take matters further; and no surprises she self appointed herself as the sub PTEM of her child’s division. With much reluctance, I put an end to the suggestion the minute I read it stating clearly that I would communicate directly without any further layers. What was this? The making an organization of PTEMs? I guess its not surprising that people find it difficult to let go of power or to not misuse it. Controlling information is a huge responsibility and gets you in a power position for sure. And its heady – it will go to your head, if you allow it to.¬†

She backed off, a little hurt obviously, with her standard disclaimer that it was a suggestion and she was doing it to help the current PTEM since messages could go up to 400 a day. I said , thank you but no thank you. Thankfully, I got more ‘I agrees’ to hers.


P.S: WhatsApp has now however decided to empower its administrators some more – there’s a new feature that’s being rolled out to enable only the admin to post messages one way. God save us lesser mortals or should I say – God save the admin!

Would love to hear your WhatsApp stories as well.




A few of my favourite things


Came across the song ‚ÄúRaindrops on Roses & whiskers on kittens‚Äô from The Sound Of Music a few days back while attempting¬†to play some songs for my kids on Saavn.¬†And then they asked, “Mama ‚Äď what are your favourite things?” I paused for a very long time, enough for them to feel that I hadn’t heard them. I had to beg for time and get back to them post consciously thinking about it.

It’s funny how as adults we lose touch with ourselves in the daily rigmarole of life. The Kids had their answers ready.¬†My daughter said she loves the orange cycle handed down by her brother, chocolates & then one of her stuffed toys.¬†My son the constant thinker, also surprisingly came out with his answers – Books (that pleased me very much :)), Trains and his Tablet.

¬†So here‚Äôs the same question to you. What are your favourite things? Have you thought about them? Have you experienced them in a while? And¬†I mean inanimate objects so no favourite persons please. Of course, there are many of us who love shopping especially the women, who would know exactly what they like and want! ūüėČ

Here‚Äôs my list ‚Äď

  • ¬†My constant companions my books
  • Sufi Music
  • ¬†¬† Dark chocolates
  • Old Photographs
  • ¬† Flowers¬†
  • Paintings & Art

Yours could be ‚Äď perfumes, diamonds, dolls, cupcakes, cheese, jam biscuits, shoes, bags, scented creams.¬†An easier way to come up with your list could be to think of your collections ‚Äď shoes? Stamps? Coins? Gift wrapping paper ūüėȬ†

Think think and do post your comments. I’ll be waiting for you.¬†


My Favorite Corner


via Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

This is a repost from my blog written in April 2016¬†‘My favourite corner’ ¬†¬†

My comfort zone in the literal sense of the word, is my little corner beside my bed.¬†It has all the things I love right there – my favorite books (or rather the current one being read), a table clock, a lamp to keep the room cozy and warm and a family pic. Not to forget my little stool to sit on. And why is it my favorite? Well, like I said it has my favorite things, it’s where I escape to when I want some solitude and its where I chat with my little girl early morning as I wake her up for school. I have my tea there as she nibbles on her daily dose of 2 Oreo biscuits, half asleep half awake talking nonsense ūüôā

So do tell me about your favorite corner and why you love it so much. And a couple of pictures will be just great for all of us to relate to your special corner too. 

Look forward to some interesting reading. 



Feel free to walk on the edge

Photo prompt

“Fall of the cliff if you will, but leave the mountain alone,

The times we are in today, no longer trusted anywhere near nature!‚ÄĚ

I grimaced at this signboard as we reached this point and muttered the above complaint to my husband.

He gently said, ‚ÄúYou’ve got it wrong, this is a landslide prone zone.‚ÄĚ

55 words, Written in response to PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

Written for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a story in 100 words or less in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.


Happy Women’s Day – really?

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This is a picture (shot by yours truly) of the great Maria Theresa – the Queen of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia – one of the most successful rulers of the Hapsburg dynasty

Well this happened a few days back but has stayed in mind since and hence I’m making a mention of it here. My daughter came up to me and said, ” Mama, so & so’s mother has told him not to play with me”. Before I could ask her why, she said, “because I’m a girl”!

I was not shocked about the not playing together bit, but more about the reason given. This boy and she were good friends but fought often. I thought the reason would be because the two fight constantly, but the gender word here, made things complicated. I knew what her next question would be – why? And it came invariably.

For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. But after a minute I said, “because he can’t handle you. Because you are too smart for him”. And I truly believed it then and now. Mother’s no matter how educated tell their boys not to play with girls when the girl is too much to handle or when they do not want their boys to get influenced by supposedly girly games. In this case, it wasn’t the later, because my daughter plays football, badminton, running races and climbs like a monkey, and if anything would come out tops in any race/game they played. Plus the fact that every time they fought, she gave it back squarely to him.¬†Anyway, the point is this – mother’s (and supposedly educated women) are even in today’s world/time dishing out such crap to their children/sons – being women themselves! How then can this gender bias end?

Another incident took place a few months back – my daughter’s chess teacher casually mentioned to me that one of the boys in her group, wanted to change the group because he wanted to practice with only boys. We’re talking of 7 year olds here. So in a chess class, parents feel that boys play better and should practice with boys only & that too in a game like chess! Wow! I had no words to express my disbelief.

Further, another mother celebrated her son’s birthday – inviting only the boys of the group despite the fact that her son played with girls too!¬†And here we celebrate women power/bonding and understanding on women’s day? We talk of ending stereotypes & biases, when we ourselves plant these seeds or accept them?¬† How hypocritical can we get. Women – if you can’t respect your own gender, don’t expect others to.





Why loving my mom-in-law comes easy to me

Hand picThis is a slightly long read and has a bit of my life story in it, so¬†if you’re interested in knowing a bit about home politics¬†in India – read on & I hope you enjoy¬†reading it.

So here goes,¬†a lot of people find it a little difficult to digest the fact that I have been¬†living happily with my in-laws for the past 15 years – that’s pretty much the time I have been married. No we (neither my maternal family nor in-laws) don’t come from a¬†traditional mind set, which requires joint living; but it just happened on its own. My FIL (father-in-law)¬†decided he wanted to live with his son one year into our marriage (he didn’t explain his reasons & we never asked) and since then they’ve been with us. To make his decision irreversible and binding equally on himself (and his wife ūüôā – who may not have shared his enthusiasm), he sold of his¬†house and decided that he would co-invest in another property with us jointly. That was it. Luckily, I was a new bride, young, innocent and willing to have the guidance/protection of parents nearby and I readily agreed. In fact I recall that it never struck me as a problem or something that required any thought – if anything it seemed natural and welcome. I say luckily because as we age, talk to friends/relatives (the so called well-meaning ones), we start doubting whether staying together really is a good idea. We think of all the possible problems that can arise by living together & then¬†convince ourselves that much can go wrong than the good that might come from it. ¬†As we age, we believe we have attained a different kind of maturity – and tend to probably scrutinise decisions more critically.

I can say it’s been a good decision even after so many years &¬†it’s because they have been around for me as much as I have for them. They’ve helped to the best possible extent and loved me enough for me to not complain. My mother in law specially has been around my difficult times, my career years, my pregnancies and has taught me so many things about managing the household, cooking, and most importantly – patience. I’m forever grateful to her. I give more credit to her for¬†the smooth sailing of our relationship than to myself. She has been genuine, truthful and loving towards me – caring of me and a wonderful influence on my kids.

Power struggle? – When they joined us, I was happy to have my MIL take charge of the kitchen – so much so I never bothered about the day’s menu and vegetables to be bought. Initially my MIL would be nice and ask for my preferences but as I gave her total control to decide – she became more confident and was happy to take ownership. This way there was no power struggle. Of course we have our tiffs once in a while, but which relationship doesn’t. I’ve seen women who want to control running their homes, even when they are absent or travelling or have other commitments.

We’ve had our share of¬†rough weather as well. Right after my first child was born we ran into our first serious phase of disagreements. My MIL had specific views about child rearing and I was a new mother – having devoured lots of parenting books . When it comes to rearing your own¬†child, giving up any kind of¬†responsibility is not as easy. We found common ground somewhere after a few months – but until then those were stressful times. I had overnight turned into a mother, and was unwilling to take the back seat anymore.¬†My days of pregnancy with her fawning over me and¬†I listening to her indulgently were over. During my pregnancy she took extremely good care of me – I can say much more than my own mother. I was happy to be the pampered child. But overnight after the child was born, I changed into the assertive mother and we had numerous disagreements. She must’ve found those times hard – to accept such a change in me; but it was inevitable. She learnt that this was an area she would have to allow me to lead in. She made peace – slightly grudgingly but thankfully things fell into place. My son grew up and is extremely fond of her and she of him; and I’m grateful for the warm and emotional relationship they share.

I give my mother in law the credit of being able to detach herself – first from her own son when he married me and then her grandson. She allowed us to take decisions as a young couple and then later me as a mother.

Finance – Another important thing here is that a lot of young people look at their own parents/ inlaws as more mouths to feed. They are, but then they fed you when you were financially dependent – so make no mistake – it’s your turn now. Whether you feel like doing so out of love or duty; it is your turn to give back. If you do not want to – then you have to own up that you are selfish & ungrateful – there can be no other excuse/reason. Finances will be stretched but naturally. If both partners are working, then ideally the financial responsibility should be ours primarily. If not, then they can be shared to a larger extent depending on the potential of old parents. But the primary responsibility remains yours.

Culture – When two families meet, there will be an amalgamation of cultures. Best to accept both and allow all to practice their own¬†freely. Anything restrictive is never conducive. Sometimes young parents do not want their parents/in-laws to teach their young kids about religion, rituals – that’s a tricky area – children should not be pushed¬†in one direction rather encouraged to know more about religion/practices etc by reading more – then the choice of practicing a particular religion/ritual can be theirs. Of course a lot of rituals today are irrelevant and those one has to strictly ensure are not practiced at home. I do not believe in Karva-chauth, Prathamastami or any other ritual that celebrates one gender or one child (first born etc) and hence even during Raksha-bandhan both my children tie each other rakhis. It is explained in our home as protecting & loving one another. Anyway, back to the main topic.

Well begun is half done – On the part of in-laws it’s important to make the new bride feel welcome and wanted. In India, women leave the home of their parents where they’ve lived their lives hitherto and step into another world – another family with a different value system, culture and history. I know of many families where my young friends felt alienated by their in-laws, unwelcomed and were constantly asked to prove their worth and earn their place (so as to say) in the household. The young bride is put on test – can she cook, is she homely as well as well read, can she manage expenses, can she care for the young and the old? A big deal is made of small mistakes or misunderstandings – in such an environment of mistrust and competition – where & how¬†can the young girl – (now removed from her earlier support system- and struggling to find her own identity) blossom into a confident home-maker/wife of daughter-in-law. Mother-in-laws have to give their DILs a free hand to experiment, make mistakes and learn. They have to be forgiving – its not easy for women, I know ūüėČ

The freedom to wear clothes that we always wore, do the things we always did – like watching movies, going out with friends or having them over, save our own money etc is important for the new bride to feel at home. But mind you, here I stress that the new bride has to speak up for herself – make her feelings known. If she doesn’t she is to blame. Maybe the culture in the In-laws family is a little orthodox – you have to work towards change – if you want it. No point playing the blame game later.

I understand when people are amazed to see our long relationship; because as a person, I’m assertive, unapologetically blunt and confrontational. But I’m also for the same reason genuine in my behavior. So a person like me is likely to get into arguments easily and not back down. Not a very healthy attribute for healthy relationships.¬†But I’ve discovered the secret. When the new bride is confident and not insecure of her mother in law, happy and satisfied with her own life,¬†has her hands full with her career or hobbies, she has much more to do than pick fights with MIL. She’s happy to relinquish responsibilities of running the house, so she can focus on her career. Mornings and evenings do not have to become a tug of war – about proving and stamping ones authority. For both women involved – Define roles and responsibilities, do not pseudo-delegate – do it completely. Accept the transition period and allow for mistakes. If you love handling the kitchen, then let her take responsibility of something else. Shared responsibilities and the feeling of¬†ownership is what cements relationships.

Maybe I was lucky that the initial few months we were on our own Рit helped me settle down on my own into marital life Рwithout any dependencies or guidance. Later when my in-laws came, they made some effort to settle into our life as well.

So then to all the daughter in laws – don’t complain about your MIL being controlling – check if you are as well. Give away control to gain love and peace of mind and it’s better – you make time for yourself. Be secure and confident of your relationship and standing at home/in your family. And as the saying goes – to gain something you first have to give it – Be it money, respect or love.

2017 wrap up


I find it therapeutic to take stock – of course the process of preparing for the stock taking exercise is a little stressful especially when it comes to expenses and accounting, but all the same, the end result justifies the effort. It’s always eye opening to know what went right/wrong and what one should do for correction.

So since the new year is here – I’ve taken stock of the past year (in terms of experiences & learnings) and I’m just quite pleased that it was a good year on all counts.¬†I turned 41 in Sep 2017 – of course that wasn’t the good part. The good part was that it was a year great for business/ new relationships/ growing as a person/ taking time out for friends & family.

I lost a dear aunt in Jan 17, and it made me think more about how fickle life is/how it still goes on for the rest of the world but stops for the ones who have suffered the loss. How despite our best intentions, our efforts don’t measure up. But we must and should find a way to help/contribute and make a difference – whether by being there/volunteering to help/or monetarily. Dear ones who leave us will never come back, regret is of no value – instead make time for them. Make it a priority.

In April 17,I completed the Gokyo-ri 5300 mts and EBC 5350 mts treks back to back – which was tough without doubt. I proved to myself that at 40, I had it in me to take up a challenge and complete it. At those altitudes and temperatures, water would freeze overnight, altitude headache and muscle fatigue happens but I kept on. One of the nights was particularly tough as I puked all through it. I was worried about the trek next morning but after a hearty breakfast I felt fine – and we walked on. I never thought of quitting surprisingly. I guess it’s more in the mind that the body.¬†My best friend took up the Everest mission and for me it was an anxious May. But he made me proud/ I learnt so much from him – his perseverance/ dedication. I learnt more about our friendship ūüôā

At work – it was all good except for a small blip. I established new relationships with artisans/vendors and clients – all so fulfilling that I had my cup full and thanked GOD. Every business requires trustworthy suppliers – I was lucky to find some. I found newer artisans to work with & above all I’m thankful that I have repeat customers who come back to Advaita Handicrafts for business (bulk and retail) and that I have been able to maintain that level of trust and quality at work. I’m grateful for the love & affection of my customers who are now so close to me that I call them friends :). I could introduce a new line of Jewellery that did extremely well last year – and I’m now more confident of taking measured risks & working on these challenges.

I completed my photography course earlier in the year and was happy to get a chance to try my hand at it during my travels to Europe/Goa/Odisha/ Jaipur/Nashik and Nagpur/Nepal. Yes it was a wonderful year of travel. I undertook my first solo overseas vacation and I’m super proud of myself.

I gave more emphasis on my health – signed up with a sports dietician though I have no medical conditions or weight/health issues; just to get my eating & exercise right. Its been a great experience with her as well. Planning my menu and eating healthy has me excited through the week, week on week. ūüôā

As I reflect on the year gone by, its been a blessed year with tikhat (chillis)/meet (salt)/sakhar (sugar) & Gud (jiggery) all in the right proportions resulting in a balanced fare. I’m grateful to God for all that I have.

I hope the coming year is still better – I hope to be a wiser person/more in control of my emotions/ I wish for more relationships & friendships in my life/ I wish for better health of my loved ones & myself/ I wish to start something a new – a step I have already taken – a new line of jewellery/ A new skill/ better productive business. And I wish you a great year ahead as well!

My Mantra for 2018 – Declutter/Donate more/ Buy less