Tuesday 24 January 2012

A full bladder and bed bugs

I AM FED UP. After a long process of thought and discussion, my husband and I decided to travel by the government bus to Chennai. We have had a history of bad experience with using the government transportation for commutation. I guess we made a grave mistake. This experience made me wonder why government services are always so very unreliable in every aspect (read hospital, public transport, toilets and the list goes on).

To our dismay, we found that the seats we had occupied has other inmates as well - Bed Bugs! Phew! I still have skin rashes that itch every now and then. When I googled 'bed bugs,' I was shocked to read the effects of the bite. I quote Wikipedia: skin rashes,  psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. I started imagining about every single detail that I had heard of bed bugs:  

They are very hard to get rid off.

I thought that they were long gone from India

 They multiply in hundreds . . . 

I thought, "Wikipedia is right. I am having psychological effects after the bite."

Now, bed bugs were the first problem. The second one is the unavailability of clean toilets or toilets itself. This is one place where I think, "If I was a man . . ." Why? A man can pee anywhere in this big country called India but a woman cannot do so. Hence, even when the bus stopped at two or three places, I could not empty my bladder. With the itching on one hand and a full bladder on the other, one can imagine how the travel would have been.

Now, this brings vital questions: Why does the government does not choose to take care of the resources it has? We hear of the crores of money being sanctioned for the welfare of the general public but in spite of that any government run service is appalling. I have asked questions as these many many times but I just wonder what can be done to solve this and many other issues. It is for this reason that when I imagine travelling, I always imagine travelling in Europe and other places but not India. Travelling in India would be quite a beautiful experience for the foreigner or the wealthy traveller who chooses exotic hotels and state-of-the-art transport. But for a backpack traveller like me, travelling in India is a nightmare, when I think of the toilets.

The experience has led me to swear to myself that I will never ever take a government bus when I have the option of taking any other transportation provided by private vendors.

Even as my mind cringes at the thought of that journey, my hand itches the rash given by the bed bugs. Let me itch, while at the same time, I ask you for your thoughts and suggestions on this topic.

If interested, you can read this article by Kalpana Sharma,which links lack of sanitation and school drop outs, which appeared in The Hindu on 22 Jan, 2012.

Image: Internet

Saturday 21 January 2012

Quotable quotes that make our life easy

Inspite of me being a big sucker for quotes that fill my insides with warmth, rejuvenation and smiles, I often wonder about the context of the quotes that fascinate me. Many a times, I reckon that the quotes that we liberally use in times of need, were used in a specific context and time. While it seems quite easy for us to extract two lines from what a Mark Twain or a Gandhi quoted, we often don't see the larger picture.

On the other hand, quotes by great people always seem to uplift us and it appears that they have uttered those quotes just for us. And today, these quotes by great men/women are doing in the rounds quite often. Instead of posting what I had for dinner and tea, I always like putting up inspiring and wacky posts as my status messages. Why do I do so? Whenever I open my page, I see those wise two liners and instantly I warm to the truth in those lines. For a minute or two those lines assure me that in spite of the many failings of the human race, there is hope, love, joy and peace. Sometime I wonder whether I am using these quotes as a pill that instantly energizes perhaps, like Ginseng or a Viagra. Perhaps, yes.

On days when time is slow paced, I wonder about the context of those quotes which I greedily lap up. Why did Maya Angelou or Michelangelo say something? Did they know that years after they have uttered the words, it would be quoted and re-quoted by eager people who gain strength and energy by simply reading those quotes. Do great people such as Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Coco Channel and others also have quotes that gave them inspiration? What makes people great? Power? Do you and me have quotable quotes within our selves? Whose quotes are clarified to become quotable quotes?

I did not hear my dad quoting extensively except from the Bible and few leaders. Neither did my grandfather. Maybe, today's exposure to the plethora of materials available gives us access to the speeches and letters of men and women who were great in their own fields. And, a line here and a line there from their interviews, speeches and other sources, might have been extracted and re-quoted in life-improvement  websites, which in turn are used by people like me. Well, whatever said and done, these quotes are indeed grabbed greedily by me.

Maybe, someday, someone will quote something from what I have written and I will be completely oblivious about it AND maybe someone will blog about quotable quotes.

What's your take on this, dear reader.

Image: Internet

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Romanticising the term 'single mom'

After a lovely break from the routine humdrum of my usual life, I am back to blogging and reading blogs. Among the many things that surfaced from the break, one was the fruitful discussions I had with my girlfriend V. I was telling her how the tag 'single mom' is almost used like an occupation/job. One of the contestants in a popular reality show is a single mom and while every other contestant is introduced as SK, 37, Entrepreneur; RK, 26, Lawyer and so on, one contestant was introduced as WE, 29, Single mom. Now I was baffled. Why was WE introduced as a single mom and not by her profession. Is being a single mom another profession or is the media romanticing the term, single mom.

Viewing many programmes in the telly, I observe that there are many single moms who are often introduced with the term single mom. While there are single dads as well, they are never referred to as single dad. Are we as a society raising single moms to a pedestal and while we are secretly happy that we are better off, are we trying to pseudo-sympathise with the moms who are single. Why should the term even be used? Agreed that single moms are doing everything single-handedly but why choose that tag?

It is not enough that being a woman itself invites many troubles (not everywhere but atleast in India where harrassment/teasing/stereotyping/discrimination is quite rampant), the added burden of being a single mom and also romanticing it is a bit unwarranted for. But it should be noted that the single mom tag is mostly used in cases where the woman is divorced. What about women who are widowed? Even they are single moms, raising kids without a man and also bearing the brunt of bringing up children in a society which can be quite taxing on various aspects of life. And, there are men who are divorced who sometimes get the custody of children but do not carrying the tag/label of single dads. Why?

It's strange that on one hand we love to hate stereotypes but on the other, we also tend to glorify a certain gender for doing something which is not as great as it is made out to be.

I certainly wish that the term single mom is not used as a professional tag for in the world that adores equality (atleast it professes to be), the term seems quite inappropriate.

And, it would be wonderful to hear your thoughts on this.

Image: Internet

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Contemplations on Flatulence aka fart

Human beings have different interesting dimensions to them. One of them is the way an individual responds/reacts to sounds. One such sound is that of the fart. It is a natural process in which a person releases intestinal gas. Well, a process as harmless as a fart is something that evokes different responses from people. I have always been interested in these expressions that always remain unnoticed and unspoken.

Kids, especially, are quite thrilled when they hear the sound of a fart. They don't see any strings attached to the sound and the smell. Things like etiquette, politeness and formality does not matter to them but they do realise that the one who releases gas is an object of fun. One has to be careful for the kids harmlessly rattle away the statistics of the sound giving importance to the after-effects of the same.

I have seen (and heard) older people who don't restrict themselves when they have the need to release gas. They do so effortlessly without any reaction. As kids, we tried hard to supress our laughter when we heard a fart. But why does a simple act of releasing gas evoke so much laughter and fun. Is it the sound or the smell or the fact that the sound is released from a very unlikely place. Why is it that a burp and a hiccup is not seen as funny as a fart or a snore? On that note, farts and snores are the most laughed at sounds made by the human.

And how did a fart get into the notes for etiquette. Why is it not proper to fart in public? If one can sneeze and cough, why not fart? Especially with women, farting is a vice with a capital V. A fart by a woman is worthy enough to be the fodder for gossip. Why? I don't understand this fascination with farting. Just ignore and carry on. Why does one need to supress sniggers, look away and pretend to keep a straight face.

And to add to the facts and figures, we have farts that are common to a specific community and as all tall tales begin, this one begines like this: You know people from x community are always farting, no matter where and when. Who thought culture would intervene here. Maybe, it's the food habits of a specific community.

I don't know what more to think and say. You tell me.

Image: Internet

Thursday 5 January 2012

Gender appeal and blogging

I have often wondered whether the gender matters while one chooses to follow/read a blog. For me, it has not been so but sometimes I do think that seeing a pretty/handsome face in the wee About me space makes the blog content more appealing. I certainly think that for some individuals, gender appeal certainly exists while blog-surfing. I can even say that following a particular girl's/guy's blog is the new form of virtual flirting.

Now what makes me think so, you wonder. I have seen many of my cousins' blogs where the content is not something which I can write home about but the followers . . . uhmmm. I could see all the guys who were flirting with her follow her blog. And my cousin is in her early 20s. Well, I thought it was only young people who were so but I have also seen many young men/women who flock to the blogs where there are cute profile pictures. Whether the pictures are fake or not, I don't know.

Blogs also pave way for getting to know a prospective partner, maybe. By becoming a follower, one can assess the content of the blog and hence the personality of the writer. One should know that these people who follow blogs using the gender appeal mode seldom read the entire posts; they are quite happy reading the titles and hence assuming what the content would be and also the writer.

For those who thought blogging was something for the closet writer to find a page, well, you have to look around. Blogging and following has many strings attached. I hope one does not get tangled.

On that note, if you have a funny bone, check out the website genderanalyzer.com to find out if a blog is written by a man or a woman.

Gender appeal, anyone?

Image: Internet

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Expecting changes

I have just returned from a class. The students seemed to be in a hazy state of mind and looked at me blankly when I posed a question to them. The question was: What are you expecting from this year? Save one student, all the others stared at me as if I had committed a great earth-shaking blunder. Well, I was completely amazed. One student even told me: I expect nothing. Well, here I am trying to be as normal as possible after coming back from a two-week break and putting on my best smile and trying to initiate a conversation.

Sometimes it so happens that every day passes off as something similar. A new year is not seen as something to look forward to and it passes off as boringly as the other days. I guess it's very easy to be cynical and try acting as if nothing matters. It does take an effort to expect something with the breaking of another new year. Afterall, we are getting another chance to repair the past where things weren't as favourable. Maybe everything was perfect in the bygone year and hence one does not feel the need to expect anything.

There were years when I was a cynical being. Trying to be a killjoy when someone announced a birthday or a new year wish. I completely wiped the joy that was vibrating from the individual. He/she was subject to my theories of nonsense and only after I released my dose of vitriol, would I let that person go. Now, when I look back, I regret those moments and times when cynicism took hold of me. That is precisely what happens when one reads too much of newspaper. Then one day, I stopped being cynical. I started seeing the joy that these moments bring. A new year is a gift. It is definitely an opportunity to start afresh. It is a time to again pick up those bits of us which have been neglected, overlooked and abused.

Coming back to my class. I didn't want to bore my students on the morning of my first class with them, by giving them a lecture on how to expect something from the year and making it happen. Well, they will know when they have to know. Time is a great teacher, isn't it?

So, what do you think?

Image: Internet


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