Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Charity begins at home

As of now, I'm pretty glad Sonny boy doesn't have any siblings!!!

The in-laws are a-visiting, and K, the SIL's son, is an active little 5 year old. Who worships the ground his cousin walks on. But who ineveitably, wilfully gets on Sony boy's wrong side, in an attempt to get noticed. Needless to say, every minute of the day, one can expect melt-downs of the gigantic kind.
The love-hate relationship, you could say, is thriving.

Sonny boy: - I ate two pieces of cake.
K : Did not!
Sonny boy: I did!
K: Did not!
Sonny boy: DID!!!!!
K: DID NOT!!!!!!

Phew! Its amazing how with his minimal vocabulary K effortlessly manages to raise Sonny boy's ire to alarming extents. This child is going to suffer from BP if he goes on in this fashion.

So tonight, there were some small crystals of sugar (prasad) that Sonny boy found in my bag. While about a dozen went into his mouth, he went around distributing some two crystals to all of us others (since it was prasad)

K : I want.
Sonny boy: No.
Sonny boy: NOOOOO!

K, Appealing to me, "Ammayi, tell Sonny boy to give me also..."

K's Ammayi knew that a straightforward appeal was not going to work, for the two had just had another verbal duel. Matters had to be resolved the roundabout way-

Amma (winningly): Sonny boy, give K some more sugar, please.... God will give you back if you give to others.
Sonny boy: (Looking at his diminished packet of sugar crystals) No, God won't!
Amma: Of course he will....
Sonny boy: But he won't- the sugar is getting less...
Amma: He won't give you sugar itself. If you give K what he wants, God will give you something YOU want, later... That is how He works..

Sonny boy up-ends the entire packet in his hands.
Half of it he give to a delighted K.
And then he calls- Trinityyyyyy! (that's our eternally hungry lab) Here's some sugar, for you...

Now Amma and Acha need to be careful on their next trip to a mall. And be wary of a little boy waiting for God to fill his bag with goodies, via Acha and Amma of course!

Ramesh Menon and his Mahabharat.

I am currently reading Ramesh Menon's Mahabharat. The Mahabharat is one of my all time favourites and Ramesh Menon doesn't disappoint.

It makes me smile to think how many extra marital relationships are there in it...starting with a Satyavati and Sage Parashara whose brief moments together result in Vyasa the great poet sage.

Vichitraveerya's death leaving Hastinapur heirless and her stepson Bheeshma's refusal to sire any children motivates Satyavati to brings in Vyasa to father sons for Ambika and Ambalika...

A petrified Ambika who refused to open her eyes in bed with Vyasa, despite not disliking the experience, led to Dhritharashtra being born blind...

An Ambalika who learnt a lesson from Amba's experience kept eyes wide open, but still paled away in fear.... which led to albino skinned Pandu.

Satyavati pleads with her son for one last chance,and Vyasa agrees....that night is a perfect night and results in a brilliant son- Vidur.. but unfortunately, Hastinapur is destined to have a flawed King- Ambika had sent in her maid in her place that fateful night.

Pandu's wife Kunti's pre-marital experiments with Durvasa's boon leave her with the Sun God's progeny- Karna.

Later, when due to a curse Pandu is unable to indulge in the act of procreation, Kunti uses the same boon to indulge in brief relationships with gods whom Pandu chooses(!!!) and out pop Yudhishtir, Bheem and Arjun, sons of Yama, Vayu and Indra respectively.

Kunti invokes the mantra for Madri who gets her children Nakul and Sahadev sired by the Ashvini twins.

In more innocent days, I used to think that being referred to as sons of Gods meant that the Pandavas were born as a result of Kunti and Madri praying to the respective gods for children who were subsequently blessed with godly qualities. Even in Rahi Masoom Raza's TV series on the Mahabharat, obviously the physicalities of such conceptions were not dwelt on.

Am glad that Ramesh Menon's women in the Mahabharat are free to desire and enjoy their men. Be it their husbands or Rishis or Gods. Be it through compulsions or innocent experimentation...

When exactly, I wonder, did sex become taboo in the land of the Kamasutra?

Friday, April 22, 2011

the birds and bees come a knocking...

The other day while giving Sonny boy a bath, I was telling him that he had,had, HAD to apply moisturiser after his bath as he had dry skin..

Amma, why is my skin so dry?
Because your Acha has dry skin...

But you don't- and I am YOUR son, na?
*that now familiar sensation of Sonny boyisms creeping over me* No, you are both Amma's and Acha's son...

But Amma, Acha didn't have me in HIS stomach. YOU had me in your stomach, no? So I am YOUR son!

It was quite the perfect opening for me to enlighten him that his was no immaculate conception. He he. But I think I'll wait some more before formally introducing Sonny boy to the birds and the bees...

Friday, April 8, 2011

2011 South Asian Challenge

I have enough on my plate, but this sounded too interesting to pass by. This new blogger I came across has a 2011 South Asian Challenge- where the idea is to read as many books by South Asian authors/about South Asia as possible.

So I have till 31st Dec 2011, to qualify for any of these..

South Asian Encounter - 1 book

South Asian Wanderer - 3 books

South Asian Explorer - 5 books

South Asian Adventurer - 7 books

South Asian Hero/Heroine - 10 books

South Asian Guru - Over 10 books (you can set your own goal)

On a modest target of 1 book a month, I should at least end up an adventurer. Tho' you never know, I might even become a heroine! ;-)
Happy Exploring to me!

This will also give me more fodder for the blog, as ideally speaking, I'd like to post a review on at least some of the books I read for this..

S Krishna has already got a looong list of books she's reviewed, so I can either pick my books from that, or choose my own ones.

Saffron Dreams – Shaila Abdullah
Haunting Bombay – Shilpa Agarwal
Madras on Rainy Days - Samina Ali
The Last Brother - Nathacha Appanah
Haunting Jasmine - Anjali Banerjee
The Forbidden Daughter - Shobhan Bantwal
The Sari Shop Widow – Shobhan Bantwal
The Unexpected Son – Shobhan Bantwal
Modern Spice – Monica Bhide
Shadow Play – Rajorshi Chakraborti
Salaam, Paris – Kavita Daswani
Fasting, Feasting - Anita Desai
The Music Room – Namita Devidayal
Bijou Roy - Ronica Dhar
One Amazing Thing – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Pleasure Seekers – Tishani Doshi
Corner Shop - Roopa Farooki
Half Life – Roopa Farooki
A Disobedient Girl – Ru Freeman
Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
Suits: A Woman on Wall Street - Nina Godiwalla
Secret Daughter – Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Writing on My Forehead – Nafisa Haji
Leaving India – Minal Hajratwala
Born Confused - Tanuja Desai Hidier
Lucky Everyday – Bapsy Jain
Atlas of Unknowns – Tania James
Almost Single – Advaita Kala
Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
Gifted – Nikita Lalwani
Where the Dog Star Never Glows - Tara Masih
The House of Subadar – Vijay Medtia
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders - Daniyal Mueenuddin
The Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie
Fury – Salman Rushdie
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay - Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie
Girl Most Likely To – Poonam Sharma
The Girl from Foreign – Sadia Shepard
Goddess for Hire - Sonia Singh
In the Convent of Little Flowers – Indu Sundaresan
Shadow Princess – Indu Sundaresan
Six Suspects - Vikas Swarup
Bombay Time – Thrity Umrigar
First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood – Thrity Umrigar
The Space Between Us – Thrity Umrigar
The Weight of Heaven – Thrity Umrigar
Climbing the Stairs – Padma Venkatraman
Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People – Farahad Zama

Books by South Asian authors, but not about South Asia(ns):

In the Kitchen – Monica Ali
Schooled - Anisha Lakhani
The Sound of Language - Amulya Malladi
The Emperor of All Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Exit the Actress - Priya Parmar
The Storyteller of Marrakesh - Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salman Rushdie
Luka and the Fire of Life - Salman Rushdie
Watermark – Vanitha Sankaran
Because All Is Not Lost - Sweta Vikram

Books set in or about South Asia(ns), but not by South Asian authors:

In the Land of No Right Angles - Daphne Beal
The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 – William Dalrymple
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi – Geoff Dyer
East of the Sun – Julia Gregson
The Case of the Missing Servant – Tarquin Hall
The Blue Notebook – James Levine
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity - Sam Miller
The Hundred-Foot Journey - Richard C. Morais
Radio Shangri-La - Lisa Napoli
Dark Road to Darjeeling – Deanna Raybourn
Dreaming in Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich
Shiva’s Arms – Cheryl Snell
To a Mountain in Tibet - Colin Thubron

Phew. PHEW.
Reading this list makes me feel so humbled.

My Before List of familiar authors would go like this

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Vikas Swarup
Anita Desai(She's tons, I mean TONS better than her daughter!)
Jhumpa Lahiri
Amitav Ghosh (have been meaning to read him for some time now)
Salman Rushdie( I am yet to read a book by this man. Somehow he puts me off.. :-()
William Dalrymple.

In Jan 2012, am going to come back with my After List.
Lets see what that's going to look like...:-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CSAAM- Good touch, bad touch and sexually abusive touch

As a mom of a 7 yr old, a part of parenting I’ve not given much thought to is child sexual abuse. I guess because I think of it as something that could NEVER happen in MY home. I certainly know that I pray for it to NEVER happen in MY home. But its something that’s been on my mind for sure. Especially since I leave my son at home with the maid for at least 2 hours (used to be more earlier) totally unchaperoned.
All I’ve told him is that he shouldn’t walk around naked in front of her, that she needn’t wash his bum after potty and that she doesn’t need to touch him , and if he doesn’t want it, he should tell her NO.

And then along came Kiran and Monica with their idea of doing something for/against Child Sexual Abuse. And that was when I really put my mind to what to tell my son. About sexual abuse. And when I started researching .....

This site on Good Touch/Bad Touch has loads and loads of sensible stuff on their website, starting with educating the child/adults on CSA, to helping him/her and parents/caregivers deal with it and take steps to lessen the trauma it delivers to the child's psyche. I found what they had to say on educating the child on good, bad and sexually abusive touch really informative, to me as well.

The first step to helping a child fight sexual abuse is making the child aware of it, and helping him/her to identify it. And that means talking to the child about good touch and bad touch. And sexually abusive touch. So the child knows what to tell his parent/guardian about, if God forbid, abuse happens.
Tulir uses the words safe and unsafe touch as well, so that the words good/bad don't lead to confusion or leave a stigma even unknowingly.

Good/Safe touch -
-Most touches- parents, siblings, relatives, known adults etc- would fall under this head. They make the child feel happy, loved, safe… warm inside and smiley outside. Kids are comfortable and feel reassured with these touches. And incidentally, it is very important for the child to have as many of these good touches so that he/she can differentiate between the good and the other touches. So if you needed an excuse to hug your child, do it NOW. And lots of times.

Bad/Unsafe touch-
- is when the child is physically hurt, and goes Ouch! Bad touches are mostly sudden , and not sly...and are not to be confused with sexually abusive touch. Fighting, bullying etc could lead to bad touch. Examples would be biting, kicking, hitting etc. Bad touch can happen with kids as well, it needn’t necessarily be an adult. Bad touches hurt and certainly do not feel good. Normally, the child reacts to this touch without any confusion- he/she moves away/stays away from this kind of touch automatically.

Sexually abusive/Confusing touch-
- is when the child is forced /tricked into touching private body parts-
key words here being force and trickery.
Force comes into play when the abuser makes the child do something he does not want. Or understand.
Trickery enters the scene when someone asks the child to touch their private body parts, or to allow them to touch the child’s private parts, pretending that it’s a game.. or fools the child into it, or lies to the child for access to private parts.

Sexually abusive touch might make the child feel good, so its important to let the young child who knows nothing bout sex yet, that the touch might not be hurtful, might even feel good, but that if it makes them feel uncomfortable or if they dislike it in any way, then, that touch is not right. Any kind of touch that makes the child feel confused about whether it is good or bad touch needs to be reported to a trusted person.

The child needs to feel secure in the knowledge that his body is his own and no one has the right to touch him if he does not like it. Not even known and liked persons. Not even relatives. Tell the child that it is ok to SAY NO to behaviour and touch they are not comfortable with, especially with relatives. No one- not even parents- needs to take pictures of him/her without underwear.

Tell your child that it needn’t necessarily be strangers… sexual abuse can be encountered from someone they know, like, love and even live with. (in a majority of cases, the offender is someone the child knows...)

Encourage your child to trust his feelings and to talk about it, if he feels confused or uncomfortable with a known adult’s behaviour or talk. They do not need to put up with something that makes them feel bad inside, just because the offender is publicly known to be a ‘good’ person..Sexual abusers are typically wolves in sheep's clothing.

If he and someone are on the computer and a ‘yucky' picture comes up on screen, make sure he knows to get off at once, and tell an adult about it.
Also, if old enough to be allowed to chat on the net, tell them to say NO if someone whom they only know on the net asks them for even normal photographs. Or to meet at a certain place. The matter needs to be discussed with parents/guardians.

Tell your child that it is very important that they TELL A TRUSTED ADULT if someone sexually abuses or hurts them in any way.. It is necessary to, early on, identify these trusted persons the child can confide in, in the event of any such abuse. Tell the child that if one person does not believe them, to go ahead and be brave and tell a second person, or a third... The more people know about it, the less likely it is to get hidden under the carpet.

Tell him/her that while speaking about sexual abuse is very difficult, it will only stop if brought into the open. And tell him/her that it is NEVER TOO LATE to tell someone about the sexual abuse.

Above all, make him believe that the abuse is NOT THE CHILD'S FAULT. It is the abuser’s fault. Make him believe that he/she is still a good kid. The best, in fact. That you still do and will ALWAYS LOVE HIM/HER. No matter what. Forever.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poonam non-pandemonium

Today's Bangalore Times had the much touted Poonam Pandey doing a semi strip tease... Me being one of the rare few who mustn't have googled her in the last week or so, I was looking forward to seeing her, till I saw her.

That was what was supposed to motivate our Men in Blue? Them guys who had the pick of the country's beeyooteefool women?

I have heard of "if you have it, flaunt it"
But this is clearly a case of not having it and flaunting it. Sigh.