Missing Parenthood in India

Recently, most of us came across the news whereby a 74-YO lady in India set a world record by delivering healthy twins via C-section, having attained pregnancy through IVF procedure. A few people have appreciated the couple’s grit at this ripe age and also, lauded the entire medical team’s sincere and well co-ordinated efforts. But most of our society has badly criticized their decision, particularly centering its questions on the upbringing of the twins and the medical ethics of the team that ultimately helped them.

My two fundamental questions to the people criticizing this event:

  1. If this medical team could do the entire procedure in a safe manner (after weighing other health vitals and doing psychological counselling) on the 74-YO lady, who has been yearning and trying for conception for 57 years, then why did other medical institutions/doctors fail at such a or similar performance earlier? Or were they just indifferent to the couple’s agony as is the case in many instances?
  2. Those who are so concerned about the twins, why don’t they come forward and adopt them later, let alone celebrating the old lady’s joy of conception and motherhood?

And I have no words for people so thankfully relating population control and childless couples!!!!!

It is easy to criticize, blame, ridicule, taunt, tease on these issues in our society. Women who fail to conceive, whatsoever be the reason, are still labelled “barren” in different jargon across India. Nothing changes it yet. For in India, motherhood still largely means through biological conception!!! Whether in cities or villages, how many people are sensible towards the women/couples somehow deprived of it? How many come forward to defend their helpless and even utterly depressive situations? In any social function, the childless women feel (made to feel actually!) a certain degree of isolation and incomplete status in their lives. They are mercilessly compared to women with children or multiple pregnancies, and rigorously questioned. It does not matter what or how much they do for themselves, their families and the society. If such childless couples divert their time and energy for philanthropic works, even then most of them are teased – “what else will you do?” Many people merely preach on adoption. But how many will go for it if it were their case? And they also later ask – “won’t you have your own genes.. own baby, at least one?” As if parenthood lies in DNA only!! Then there are couples who emotionally need their biological legacy to continue; that could be for various reasons. Likewise, there are several other issues.

It is this increasing magnitude of brunt over the years that compels many such affected women to forget every pain..every criticism, and take high risk of pregnancy irrespective of their age and even other health conditions. The attempts itself could be very traumatic. Then the mental, psychological and emotional well-being becomes all, especially as certain hormones also drastically change with increasing age. All these unleash a great amount of toll on their husbands and immediate families as well. Only a strong couple can fight the situation and sail together – whatever solution they finally choose, with or without medical assistance.

The other hugely concerning chapter for childless couples is the changed bill/laws on surrogacy in India. Well, it is good that the option is no longer commercial; so it cannot be misused. But due to ill-regulations, the genuinely infertile/intending couples are much losing it out!! Some of the current conditions of altruistic surrogacy in our country is worth a larger debate and re-consideration. For example – the surrogate mother has to be a ‘close relative’. Even if ‘close relative’ gets defined, can every such genuinely intending couple find a ‘close relative’ to be a surrogate mother? The search of fulfilling this criterion further erodes the couples’ biological clocks, and deters authorized/good fertility centers and hospitals from taking up the cases in ethical ways. And how many surrogate mothers shall come forward for an altruistic one? The ‘close relative’ provision will definitely also have emotional and psychological implications on the associated members at some point of time!! The new bill/laws also do not consider an intending biological mother’s incidental health factors like diabetes, hypertension, etc. risking a normal full-term pregnancy to make her a fit case to opt for surrogacy. Is this right? Isn’t the new bill/law rather adding to the trauma, woes and desperation of such already helpless couples? Parenthood is ridden with biological, emotional and psychological aspects. It is much beyond conception and delivery of a baby; and therefore, neither couples should be callously made to wait for indefinite time, nor they can wait beyond a certain age!

Similarly, CARA (Central Adoption Research Authority) provisions need to be modified for faster process of adoption in India.

Could all the stakeholders concerned in our country care to think on these social issues, and quickly pave real solutions for the childless couples by generating awareness, streamlining medical choices, acting within a reasonable time-frame and bettering lives? The solution should also include sensitization of the society towards empathetic behaviors with childless couples and adoption, and cheerful inclusion of adoptive parents and adopted kids in our diverse system.

 

 

Azadi – is my right or responsibility?

I completely condemn the anti-national sloganeering at JNU campus ! Particularly, it being an iconic university and the way political parties such as Congress, Leftists and AAP supported it. Ultimately it turned out to be another political agenda of non-BJP parties / supporters just like the ‘awardwapsi‘ !!

A lot of ‘tamasha‘ and ‘dramabaazi‘ – inside and outside the Parliament, in the court rooms, in the news studios, in the main stream media as well as in social media. Just wastage of our time, money and intellectual discourse. Media houses are divided completely based on their political inclinations, not on facts. People on the social media are too divided mostly as a result of their frustrations, political inclinations and common sense.

Surprisingly after 67 years of Independence we are debating over ‘Azadi‘. Like ‘garibi hatao‘ sloganeering this will only become another slogan; only to fool people for votes. ‘Dissent’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ are being misused only to achieve political goals. It is not being applied where it should be or can be.

Recent acts of certain media houses certainly opens the debate whether the media houses act for the country or against the country !!! Do they only see these events as opportunities to score their political or business mileage in the name of’Free Speech’ and ‘Azadi’ ? Many like me certainly cast serious doubt on this.

Disgusting editorials, opinions and front-page news items only reflect that the self-proclaiming ‘intellectuals’ are ‘intolerant’ and jealous of the development India is witnessing these days. The spirit and language of the so-called elite /educated /intellectual mass has sometimes made me think that I  would perhaps prefer to be uneducated, but dedicated towards the uplift of the society, and preserving the pride and dignity of my country.

However, I am also concerned with the Central Government’s response on this JNU row.

It is not yet a matter of being right or wrong; soft or harsh. But why was this hotchpotch approach and seemingly ‘no-control’ over even basic law and order ?!? Who were these ‘lawyers’ and why did their action repeat even after the SC order ?? Initially why was there no quick and solid directive? Why was a delay in taking action?  Why was then no specific /consistent statements from the Police (under Union Home Ministry) and the Ministry ?  There should have been quick and proper investigations and actions.

All these so contrary… so disappointing, especially when the supporters of the present Central Government are expecting a constitutionally justified, strict and non-sympathetic response… and additionally, some strong provision which will deter such nuisances in the future !

These nuisances and ‘dramabaazi‘ erupting often nowadays, only prove that though this country has a glorious history and unmatched legacy of brave hearts, kind hearts and geniuses, it has got miserably infected with the ignorant mass, the ‘chamchagiri‘ public, the utter selfish, the ‘satta‘ hungry and the traitors !!!!

What worries millions like me is the unwanted, disrespectful dragging of our Armed Force. Media houses, political shouting in the streets of JNU and other so called liberal universities are only pointing their frustration towards our Armed Forces. By calling them rapists, and comparing them with Maoists, these people not only show their low mentality, immature brain, selfish agenda against the nation, but also bring chaos in the society and spread hatred in many sections of it. How can they dare to insult the heroes of our Armed Forces? Is this called ‘Free Speech’ or ‘Azadi’? Are we all stupid to allow such kind of nuisance in the society?

Surprisingly, the same India where the Parliament used to get united against any external complications or aggression as well as internal turmoils, is now getting divided over silly political reasons and selfish attitude of some ‘netas‘ and their supporters. While RaGa has shown his true color after losing election, AK has shown his after winning election.

I am afraid that the BJP may again lose the next state elections – bad for the states, bad for the country – just as desired by its useless opponents, and the new breed of ‘anti-nationals’ who have been otherwise happily sleeping for the last decade over crores of corruption, appeasement, goonda-raj, and non-development chapters !!!

The ‘Make in India’ week lost the lustre on media columns. A rocky Budget Session has already started struggling in order to pass major bills and laws so awfully needed.

Again repeating what I said some months ago : absolutely high time for the Central Government to refocus, reorganize and act differently !

Aamjunta – it is your time to judge the right and wrong. Your action is needed ; not the golden silence.

Jai Hind.

Kuch Khattee, Kuch Mithee

Huh… done with today’s purposeful outing at a mall !

A little over a decade ago, malls were so exciting; particularly, when our generation became salaried 🙂 . It was then when the ‘mall culture’ began across Indian cities and big towns. Almost every weekend or at least the alternate ones used to typically start at some fashionable mall, pace through a royal lunch, then had us fly high in car or bike rides or hooked up at a hi-fi cinema hall, and finally rolled into discotheques or pubs or late-night chit-chats on the open terraces. For some ‘poor guys’, the daytime meant office-over-the-weekend and at nightfall, they would join rest of their folks- again at some mall or pub. Only a few among us earnestly managed their weekend time and energy to learn an art or render services at charitable institutions.

 

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Well, the plus points with well-designed and well-located malls still are “relative” degrees of safety, dust-free environment, clean washrooms, one-stop junction for varieties of food, etc., saving of horizontal space (including parking facilities), streamlining distribution and management of infrastructural resources, increasing levels of employment, ground of opportunities for the ‘modern people’ to practice and teach mannerisms to their kids 🙂 and… good malls may sometimes, plainly map all its sparkle onto empty souls !! The last point acquires great significance when the youth venturing into career options, whether studying or working, in far-flung cities stay away from their families and confront various types of struggle or face loneliness during such trying phases of life; then they are usually prompted to visit a dazzling mall (alone or with friends) and ‘just chill’. That’s definitely a wiser thing to do than idling away in gloominess !

Moreover, malls are also excellent ‘match-fixing’ (matrimonial match-making) spots 🙂 … In many cases, not only the prospective couple but both the prospective families also meet without any hassle or raising their envious neighbour’s eyebrows. The same convenience is explored even for ordinary get-togethers among friends and their families because then the host just has to co-ordinate and make the payments only; he /she does not have to bother about the nitty-gritty in this minutes-starved world. This has therefore become quite an acceptable lifestyle in India.

 

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Hence even if one doesn’t wish to really shop, malls are somewhat good spots to catch friends up all on the quick gossip or catch rays of hope…

But over the last few years, I find malls and cinema halls terribly suffocating. This, even when I need to make serious business. In fact, nowadays I don’t visit malls alone because often I sweat profusely and feel dizzy at times… I don’t know if its the ever-increasing crowd or the insatiable cravings of many people over sales /discounts /offers on various items (branded or not) or their superfluous definitions of modernity or the crazy video-games counters or the jam-packed food-courts or the concrete roof or the artificial lights or the over-lapping loud noise or the pungent perfumes or vague constraints of space and time or an almost total absence of interpersonal warmth, or… a mix up of everything !!! And of course, it deeply concerns us to see many children and youth left unguided for taking appreciable interest in story books, classical music or other forms of art, physical activities or integrated development programmes; rather they too, knowingly or unknowingly, seem to be caught in perturbing rat-races and gibberish talks !!

Neither I enjoy the various online shopping options, particularly clothes because we cannot feel the texture, let alone checking proper fittings. And one usually finds all those famous wholesale or factory outlets stretched along ‘old city’ areas; reaching those spots means manoeuvring huge tasks through the motionless or erratic traffic, dust, noise and stench from nalas (drains) or chemical and leather processing units !

Wish we could still retain the old-fashioned simple layout of shops in lanes and by-lanes of approved market areas in a few places; primarily, to facilitate bad shoppers like me 🙂 and secondly, may be to cherish memories of by-gone days… In any case, at least employment and business would be guaranteed.

I so much miss my hometown shops: the open vertical space around the by-lanes which let us breathe well even in a crowd, see the starry or blue sky and experience the drizzles.. the bindaas thele-waleys (carefree vendors of portable stalls) making hot, mouth-watering snacks and serving tea in little earthen pots.. the fruit-sellers and the florists from the beautiful countryside selling fresh produces.. the fragrance of the incense sticks and neatly stacked items in shops were always so attractive.. the greetings of the shop-owner and his staff (mostly well-acquainted faces) were so warm.. and the music- whether a bhajan (devotional song) sung by a beggar or the flute played by him or a pop number reverberating from a tape-recorder, always stirred up the dullest of spirits. In general, life’s vivid hues graced the senses wherever they turned to. And often, they taught us something wonderful.

I am sure every Indian city or big town has its own charmful notes in this context. Shopping, for any occasion… for any number of friends or relatives or for oneself, was so enjoyable then………..

Desi Thelewale Bhaiyya, Zindabaad !

Today morning, I came across an article detailing certain analysis of Indian food by a well-known Australian culinary historian, Charmaine O’Brien. While reading it, I was prompted within to reflect on my own thoughts related to it.

Last week, we had fresh hot thelewale Samosas (an Indian snack from portable stalls) presented to us by our Help.

I was a bit hesitant since I have just recovered from Viral fever. But ultimately I couldn’t resist the utter temptation – toh “Jay Jagannath” bolke khaa liya (so I had it trusting Almighty) 🙂 … It was indeed so mouth-watering !

Then I remembered my hometown’s 50 paisa /1 rupee variety Chops (stuffed Pakoras) that were incredibly tasty, and just slightly bigger than old one rupee coins. Those from the thelewale used to be a perfect treat with Moodhee (puffed rice) and Masala Chaaye (herbal tea) on rainy evenings ! They are still there but with increasing awareness on hygiene and new options of snacks, now the portable stalls are mostly seen in properly monitored exhibitions and traditional melas (fairs).

samosa_kachori

hmmmmn… Kitna bhi badda restaurant ho le ya aap kaise bhi banalo (howsoever big may be a restaurant or one prepares it with all care), when it comes to Pakoras, Chaats, Jhaal Muri, Ghoogni, Pani Poori, Dahi Vada and these kinda stuff, you can’t beat that of our very own desi thelewale Bhaiyya (India’s street Hawkers) !

For a while, forget the hygiene: zindegi ki woh ‘zing thing’ kahaan se laogey (from whence would you attain that unique pungent flavour of life) 🙂 !!!

And the charchaa (gabfest) around fresh street food and the Hawkers’ portable stalls, under the thundering clouds and in the cool zephyr… usmein baat hii kuch khaas hai, hai na (there’s a special air about it, isn’t it)… ?

muddheemasla

 

Svalpa Adjust Maddee !!!

We are a highly populated country with intensely varied demographies and inadequate infrastructure. Perhaps due to such factors and somewhat due to our inherent liberalism, since childhood we come across these two terms on a routine confrontation “thodda adjust kar lo” (svalpa adjust maddee /please adjust a bit) and “chalta hai” (its okay).

And sometimes that “thodda” / “svalpa” / “a bit” is tremendous 🙂 !

It becomes our habit, then reflects in our behaviour and finally forms our attitude towards almost everything in life !

So much so that at one point, we either forget (do not realize) how to justly rebel or become simply lethargic in voicing our deepest concerns even against things we stood object right away !!! We quietly accept everything, whether subtly or openly- whatsoever unfair it is against us, our families, our societies or our nation.

From the vital healthcare industry to an ordinary kiraana shop (general stores), we keep hearing these two terms.

On my birthday last year, despite proper instructions, the confectioner in the by-lane in front of our apartment wrote my hubby’s name on the cake and that too was mis-spelt. Let alone offering a replacement, the confectioner advised us thus, “anyway, you are a couple na… svalpa adjust maddee” 🙂 !

Well, coming to a serious context… Down the line, when we join a profession involving thorough interactions with disciplined clients (may be desi or videsi), or we are posted abroad in a culture where there is no such ‘adjusting’ business, we find ourselves stuck somewhere. If not for all cases, still quite often, we are then unable to realize what the problem is and end up grumbling that the other person is “such a strict customer” or simply “such a rigid felaa” (friend /acquaintance /colleague /boss) 🙂 . This also happens when we over-commit on deliverables and on our failure to duly meet those targets, then fervently seek all sorts of adjustments and re-adjustments from the other person !!

Worst of all : since many things can be adjusted as “chalta hai” (even when they are not at all okay!), in the process, sometimes we don’t even learn some of our basic rights !! Politeness and generosity are fine but not at such a cost !

Hence, as sensible elders, I believe it is very important on our part to teach children a right BALANCE between tolerance /acceptance and rebel /objection, particularly in any Indian society.

Irrespective of our global status or rank, let’s together address this attitudinal issue and write a new chapter for us… Primarily, it shall serve us good within.

A Psychiatric Fallout !!

Under the new Budget in India, the price of aerated drinks (water with sugar content) has been hiked up by 5 percent, making soft drinks and sugary juices costlier.

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Health experts are hopeful that this financial step shall help reduce sugar consumption and thus check obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases and dental decay – a theory many countries have begun to acknowledge but brands still profusely dispute !

Interestingly, last year I had a terrible dream : after the last gluttonous sip of a soft drink, I “saw” myself discovering active maggots at the bottom of the glass – and that was the end of all sugary relishes 🙂 !!!

Next morning, as soon as I woke up, I threw the remaining bottles out of the refrigerator. We do not buy any soft drink or ice-creams unless a guest arrives and indicates a desire for it.

Now howsoever thirsty, we prefer plain water. And since then, if we really need to have a soft drink as an accompaniment, only fresh home-made sugarless nimbu paani zindabaad (hail lemonade) ; thus goes our newly chosen flavour with spicy Biryanis and Pizzas as well 🙂 !

For the same “visual pothers” of my dream 🙂 , we have ditched other sugar-containing items and drastically reduced quantities of sweets or amount of sugar in every possible ‘prepared’ item, howsoever attractive – jalebis, chocolates, pastries, ice-creams, tea, corn flakes, milk shakes, cookies, smoothies, cakes, pan cakes, porridges, etc.

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Luckily, my husband volunteered to “share” the psychiatric fallout of my dream 🙂 ! So that has now led us to limit our daily sugar consumption to even less than six teaspoons as recently set by the World Health Organization. Normally, I take only one teaspoon – in my morning cup of tea which I definitely require to stir up my day.

Well… my father (who is also a Doctor), tried for years to make me get rid of soft drinks; so he has been very thankful to God for blessing me with that thoroughly health-effective dream 🙂 !!… Now his other routine insistences are about regular exercises (particularly Yoga), a 20-minute exposure to the morning rays of the Sun and having maximally green diets along with natural anti-oxidants. My husband has sincerely met almost all these expectations, whether of his father-in-law or his Family Physician 🙂 , and of late, I am trying hard to partner him in it.

I suppose all health advices, increasing prices or taxes and making rules in these dietary matters aren’t going to help for long… So I wish that my folks who sincerely intend to get rid of aerated drinks and non-intrinsic forms of sugar, also “see” such a loathsome dream 😉 !!! Perhaps, there is no other way by which someone like me can be more motivated firstly, to quit all those unhealthy molecules feeding potential cancerous cells and secondly, to maintain sustainability at it 🙂 !

 

Memoirs of Indian Dhabas

Period: 1970s-1990s.

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Travelling in a car or jeep on Bhubaneshwar-Mayurbhanj-Kolkata NH during the rainy season, lunch or dinner at an original Dhaba was a wonderful treat then; especially, the home-bound journeys after completion of an enterprise.

Sitting on the blue /green /yellow wooden benches or charpoys under halogen or oil lamp lit thatched roofs, the whole family would chat and relish the mouth-watering, steaming-hot dishes on big steel thaalis or freshly cut, green banana leaves :

typical Dhaba meals, various Kebabs, Tandoori Roti, Daal Tadka, Paneer Tikka, Gobi Manchurian, Rajma Masala, Tandoori Murg, Egg Bhurji, Chingri Malaikari (Prawns-in-Coconut Milk gravy), Mutton Kasa, Murg Makhani, Lassi, etc.

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(Oh God, help me… I am so much drooling !!) 🙂

While watching the promising rains, the shrines of several Faiths beside meandering rivers, the green fields swaying in the drizzles, the farmers working in a row wearing their jute hats, the local vendors selling colourful wares, the movie posters glued onto poles, variegated art themes painted on the walls of the Dhabas, the twinkling mini-bulbs strung in pretty designs…

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And the decorative trucks that sometimes squeak-braked on slippery roads and had boldly labelled all over its robust frame, either wishful or funny or spiritual messages in different Indian languages- awaaz karo, burey nazar waale tera mnuh kaala, bye bye dost, abaar dekha hobe, jaldi baata chadda, ikkada nuvu, nenu miru chudaleru, surakhiata rahina, ram-allah ek hain, sai ram-sai shyam-sai bhagvaan, jai hanuman, hum tum bhai bhai, hum se duur raho, meri himmat teri kismat, badda bhai tej chalega naraz mat hona chhotu, etc. 🙂

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Amidst the cat and kittens mewing, and the puppy wagging its tail hard – all, for a bone ! 🙂

Grand-parents or uncles would sometimes lend their ears to an interesting tale or two of the then Chhotus (the young, resourceful and jolly Helps at the Dhabas) . Down the line, a re-narration of it to the children (us) meant so much of revelation of life’s unknown joys and sorrows…

Gradually, the meals would end with a flavoured Paan, that was always claimed to be the famous Banarasi brand :-). And then the remaining journey would begin against the background of quite a setting Sun, with the music of a Bollywood number as selected by the high-spirited Driver 🙂 of the unfailing white Ambassador or the bouncy red Gypsy (vehicle models).

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On some trips, neither the windscreen wipers stopped nor did the music until we halted at a roadside gumti (small stall), usually under a banyan or mango tree, for a “special Chaa /Chaaha” (Tea) or to buy farm-fresh vegetables.

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And if we happened to meet close friends travelling on the same route, it would transform to a great merry-making. At times, even seats in the vehicles also had to be exchanged since the heart-to-heart conversations never paused and the game of cards never wrapped up… 🙂

Once we reached the gates, the faithful Watchman would briskly unlock the doors and the House-Keeping staff at the bungalow would cordially greet us. Combined with a warm shower, all the tiredness of the journey seemed to fade away into the veil of the night and next morning, we would be freshened as the shiny drops of rain trickling down the velvety leaves.

Those were such utterly charmful days…

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