Saturday, February 25, 2012

Burning Out

It's been a scant two months since the year began, but somehow I seem to be burning out already. Not just me, but my friends at work and elsewhere as well. It seems kind of contagious, this insidiously lousy feeling, a kind of lethargy that creeps into your being and deadens your soul. The weather hasn't helped at all. Winter seems to be the season when depression among people is at its height, and Vancouver's wild, wacky weather has contributed a great deal to this feeling of inertia - grey, overcast skies, snow showers, rain, hail, sporadic and weak sunshine, and the like. Just when we thought that Spring was already here, temperatures have plummeted again, and there seems to be just no putting away those winter coats.

The only reprieve for now is looking forward to our Spring Break, just what the doctor ordered for all that sluggishness and torpor! Sleep deprived that I have been, I'm just basically planning to sleep in each morning, and take things easy. There's nothing exciting looming ahead in terms of travel or anything of that sort, particularly because the kid has just one week of break, and the husband has no break at all, so it's just chilling out at home for me. I plan to catch up on my reading, as always, and cook some fabulous food for my son. He always comes to a locked house in the evenings, so it will be a welcome change for him to smell Mom's cooking from a distance, as he nears home, and have me open the door for him. Oh for the simple pleasures of life! Once the break is over, I'm sure I'll be energized and back on track, until I burn out all over again before the summer break!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It is my fervent belief that daughters are more loving, more caring, more responsible, more attached to their parents and take better care of them in their old age than the sons. While this may seem to be like a generalization, my opinion has been formed purely out of experience, having seen very many examples of it in real life. Somehow, there's that invisible umbilical cord that remains till the very end, not just between the daughters and their mothers, but between their fathers as well. The daughter may grow up, get married, and eventually move out of the house, but the bond she shares with her parents, and also siblings, is too strong to be broken. I'm afraid I can't say the same of the sons who grow up and eventually go behind their wives. Of course, they do care for the parents in many cases, and there's no denying that, but it's more out of a sense of duty, so to speak.

Most Asian cultures think that boys are special, and in my own country of birth, the birth of a baby boy is more reason to celebrate than the birth of a baby girl. Statistically speaking, the number of female infanticides in rural India is staggering, and even among the educated elite, the boys-are-better mentality seems to be more common. Mercifully, however, the trend seems to be changing ever so slightly these days, but then again, while raising the children, the boys tend to get more privileges, special treatment and freedom than the girls. Girls grow up with several disadvantages compared to boys, but despite all that, they still tend to love their parents more. Parents realize only later on in life what a blessing daughters are! Daughters are to be held, loved, and cherished forever ... blessed are those who have daughters!!! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reflections on Valentine's Day

Growing up in India, I had no clue what Valentine's Day was. The India of my childhood was a place of repressed and straitjacketed sexuality - no boyfriends or girlfriends, no dating, no kissing, no premarital sex, no living together, not even holding hands in public (even with married folks), very few love marriages, and so on. The very idea of celebrating a day for sweethearts and lovers was preposterous then, so when I returned to India for a visit after many years, I was quite shocked and surprised to see how attitudes and ways of life had changed radically. Valentine's Day is a huge commercial affair now, with card/gift shops at every corner, and young and old alike exchanging cards, gifts, flowers, chocolates, balloons, and so on.

When I moved to America fifteen years ago and witnessed the hullabaloo over Valentine's Day, I wondered what the hoopla was all about. Now I know better, that it's just a commercial enterprise, with businesses hawking their wares from brilliant diamonds to sexy lingerie and what not. Love seems to be a commodity-ridden affair after all, and breakups are just a part of life that people seem to treat casually. It's quite easy to move on and have a different sweetheart or spouse the next Valentine's Day. People go over the top in "showing" their love for their partners, and are quite matter-of-fact about breaking up with them as well. A case in point would be Brad Pitt who had filled his then-wife Jennifer Aniston's green room with thousands of red roses, and had spelled on the wall with rose petals , " I LOVE MY WIFE " - a gesture that was considered extravagantly sweet and had women swooning all over. Not long after, he cheated on her and subsequently divorced her. So much for Valentine's Day proclamations!

My students had left a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a cuddly teddy bear, and a box of sinful chocolates on my desk this year, but that again is a different kind of love. My colleagues never to fail to ask me what my husband gave me for Valentine's Day. When I respond that he gave me a hug and a kiss, just like every other day, they go, "What? No gifts?" Though both my men took me out for dinner that evening, I must admit that it's no big deal with us at home. I'm just grateful for all the love, support, happiness, and laughter we share, and do not need an expensive gift from my husband to prove his love for me. I'd rather we grew older together, sharing all the warmth and companionship of our relationship till the very end.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On The Path To Fitness

The path to fitness has always been a rocky one for a fickle-minded individual like yours truly. Well-meaning friends keep telling me that it is 80% of what one eats, and 20% of working out that keeps a person physically fit. Good to know that, but quite difficult to put into practice most of the time, I have to confess! And so it happened that my fitness went on a downward spiral due to lack of will power and sheer laziness. Unmindful of the havoc I was wreaking on my body, I let the foodie in me take control, indulging in all those delectable foods that are divine on the tongue but hell on the waistline. And when the foodie wasn't in play, the lazy slob took over, justifying unashamedly about using the treadmill as a clothes-horse. All this until the day I ended up at the doctor's office with an inexplicable shoulder injury!

Well, needless to say, the doctor's words brought on an epiphany of sorts - I had to get my act together in terms of food and exercise, and rehabilitate my shoulder, or else risk the chance of being stuck with a frozen shoulder for the rest of my life. The men at home had an agenda of their own as well, weight loss for the kid, and working out to keep that blood sugar under control for the husband, and now that we were on the road to redemption, all we had to do was to look for a trainer to sustain our interest and prevent us from backtracking into our sinful ways. Consequently, the treadmill has returned to its purpose of why it was invented in the first place, the refrigerator has more of healthy foods in it, and in general, it has been a radical change in lifestyle for the three of us.

It's been a glorious two plus months now, and we haven't looked back at all. I have regained a great deal of movement in my shoulders, can run up the stairs without huffing and puffing, can feel the various muscles in my body, and best of all, am just 4 pounds shy of the weight I used to be 15 years ago, as was stated on my first California Driver's Licence! YAAAYYY!!! We certainly are on the path to fitness, and have no plans of abandoning it anytime now or in the near future!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Teenage Behavior

Teenagers are a mine of complexities ... the deeper you dig, the more cf those complexities you unearth. As parents, or sometimes even as objective observers, we ask ourselves why these kids behave this way (read 'recklessly'), or what on earth is wrong with them. Adolescent behavior has always been a problem, and who better than Shakespeare in his The Winter's Tale to have summed it thus! : "There were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting." Times might have changed, but not the maddening behavior of teenagers down the ages!

I read a very interesting article on the teenage brain that helped me understand why teenage is the most tumultuous period of one's life. As our brain grows and develops normally, we learn through trial and error how to balance our impulses, desires, goals, and what not in a sensible manner, but in our teenage years, the brain works in a clumsy manner and has difficulty processing rules and ethics, and is governed more by self-interest ... in other words, a teenager is still going through a phase of "neural gawkiness" and since he or she hasn't yet learned how to use the brain's ever-growing, newer networks, they end up doing stupid things during that period of their brain's development. Throw in with that parental and peer pressures, and the stress of school life, and the physical awkwardness of their maturing bodies, and we have a very unique category of humans who are walking inconsistencies, and who vex their parents no end!

Sensation seeking or love of the thrill is particularly high in one's teenage years, and sadly enough, cause or lead to death in many cases. Ecstasy use, dope and other drug addictions, drunk driving, racing on the highways, teenage pregnancies, and a whole host of risky behaviors are outcomes of this dysfunctional trait of recklessness in teens. The only redeeming factor is that they tend to outgrow all these eventually, and adapt very quickly to the mature, adult world around them. It is the parents' responsibility then to understand their teenage children and help them realize that all their advice stems from the parents' own struggles as teenagers, and not at all to exert their authority by any means. Once the realization dawns about the potential pitfalls in the cruel world of reality, one's turbulent teen years are over at last, and mercifully so!