When is late, too late?

This post is going to be brief… and more by way of questions rather than answers.

When is it too late… to do something one has always wanted to do. Too late to make up? Too late to reach out?  Too late to find someone? Too late to say sorry?

Most of us let pride and ego dictate our actions and decisions…

Children fight or are dismissive of their parents – often refusing to admit that they are in the wrong. They know that it’s the parents who will forgive and forget because parents, by virtue of being parents, will always be more vulnerable to the vagaries of their children rather than vice-versa. That’s the way it is… till the kid becomes a parent!

Having said that, parents also fight with their kids… but, unless the parents are completely fossilized and bull headed and trapped in a time warp, most parents are the first to make up. Because they are parents! The only exceptions would be the parents who belong in the khap panchayats or believe in honour killings… in my lexicon, they are not parents.

Then there are married couples who fight and don’t make-up – till death or divorce courts do them part. Or siblings? Or good friends?

There are situations when we know we need to reach out, find a long-lost father, mother, sister, brother or friend – and we don’t. Let the other person take the first step, we say all high and mighty.  Time passes and people pass away. Irrevocably.  Because life is full of the unexpected. And finalities. And we are left with regrets that hurt forever and are lifelong.

There are times we need to act – change our careers, move from one city to another, learn something new, decide we need to do something we really care about – but we don’t. The daily hassles of living take over. Then one day we wake up, actually give shape to what we want to do, and discover a whole new meaning to life… But we need to do it before it’s too late!

So when is late too late? For those who never live to see another day and those left behind as a result of accidents like air crashes, building collapses, fatal illnesses and general trauma, too late is just that. Forever late. Do we have situations in our lives that need correcting? I think tragedies that happen to others should give us all pause… it should make us think and decide not to let pride, ego and hubris get in the way of showing we care, that reaching out to those we care about is not a sign of weakness, that our actions should be dictated by love and compassion and not by the false Gods of selfishness, arrogance and conceit. And the ability to accept that, yes, we can be wrong… and we are not scared to admit it.

 

One day every year we celebrate International Woman’s Day. Why?

Every year, on this day we all talk and write and declaim and pontificate about how celebrating International Womens’ Day is a way of empowering women, putting them on the path to health, wealth, happiness and success.

Most of the writing has been by, from and about women who have made it (to a greater or lesser extent). But is it really going to change the lives of zillions (the majority) of women who are at the bottom of the pile and whose lives are one, unending litany of subjection, subjugation, poverty, misery and eternal grind? Are we really talking about and talking to these women who can’t read and write, who are chained to hard-scrabble existences and whose only objective is to survive?  Barely.

Is it about my part time maid whose alcoholic husband committed suicide two months before her second daughter was born leaving her to support two little girls (she even marked the bastard’s first death anniversary), an alcohol soaked father who takes money from her to get his daily fix, a developmentally challenged sister and a worthless no-good brother who doesn’t give her one penny to support the family?

Is it about the bai I had in Bombay who looked 60 at the age of 35, whose daughter supported a drunk, wife beater of a husband and three children?

Is it about women who can’t get a ration card, ID card, a passport, a loan or any other document without giving the name of her husband or her father – because she is deemed not to be a valid individual without some kind of man in her life?

Is it about women who endure years of mental, physical and emotional abuse from men who do all that because they can do it… and get away with? Like the young, 24-year-old girl who was hanged from a fan, 20 days after giving birth to a son, by her husband and in-laws who tried to pass it off as a suicide. This happened in front of my eyes. When I got all hot and bothered about it, I was told by someone in the NGO business that these things happened on a daily basis and calling the cops would have zero effect. The cops came, saw, arrested the perpetrators and let them out on bail the next morning. End of story. Zero effect.

Ok. You could well ask that if I was so concerned about this why was I not doing something about it? Good question.

Because I am trying to keep body and soul together in a man’s world. Have been for over 34 years.

Having said that, I will say that I have kept body and soul together – more or less in moderate comfort. I did bring up two boys on one salary. I did keep my head up with some dignity and pride, I think! Men and women have often said how much they admire what I have done, achieved, etc., etc. But why? Why is what I did so remarkable? Would any of what I have done be considered remarkable if done by a man? Men, after all, do it on a regular and daily basis… And could I have done better, been more successful?  Perhaps.  But I will never know if it’s because I was discriminated against by the men around me or because I didn’t try hard enough…

And by the way, a man I knew quite well said at that time that I was not feminine enough for him to get emotionally involved with me. The conclusion here seemed to be that since I was hacking it in a man’s world I was not really much of a woman!

The day women can do what they need and want to do without there being special quotas, reservations, pity, charity and cooing noises of admiration and sympathy will be the day women will have really made it.

The day a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Indra Nooyi, Naina Lal Kidwai, Chanda Kochar or any other high profile woman, is lauded for doing what she has done as a person and not a woman…

Or without it being thought remarkable that Katherine Bigelow (a woman) gets the Oscar for best director for the first time in 66 years!

The day we can reach the top of any profession without there being a glass ceiling… because it won’t exist… When we achieve anything and everything we strive for without being admired for doing so because we are women… When we can bring up a family without ever having to wonder whether to choose between marriage and a career…

That will be the day we will have achieved true equality.

Not so today…When a hard working woman has to abide by society’s norms and grieve over the death of a shiftless husband, hand over her pay packet because her husband says so (yes, this happens with educated, liberated women who won’t spend a rupee of their  own salaries without the husband’s say so!), give in to the demands of her sons, brothers and other male relatives about what to wear, what to say, how to behave, who to make friends with… the constraints are endless, the chains unbreakable.

And, most important, be put to death before she can be born and heard…

Today I read what a well known author and socialite wrote about her mother:  how women of her Mother’s generation didn’t need a power job, she didn’t have to flash her myriad achievements and designer clothes to define her identity; how she radiated happiness, peace and well-being and that she didn’t give her children quality time but gave them ALL her time; she remained a graceful fulfilled woman till the very end and that women of that generation were in a better space than we are…

Well, do we ever think to ask the women of that generation – our mothers and grandmothers – what their dreams and ambitions and wishes were? Did they hanker after anything other than bringing up children who excelled scholastically and husbands who were happy to leave the “little woman” behind while they sallied forth to fly, climb mountains, save lives, build bridges, put up towers of wealth, privilege and set up old boys’ clubs behind barricades erected to keeping out the women in their lives?

I know that my mother brought up four children successfully and kept a shining and well ordered house and home – and realized NONE of her dreams. When at the age of 55 or so, she took up fabric painting and batik, my father looked at her work and said: my God, I didn’t know you are so creative! This after spending 30 years of married life with a superlative chef and home maker. My blood boils!

I look forward to the day (hopefully in my life time) when International Women’s Day will not need to be marked in any way as it will be taken for granted every day… the way men do because really they know that every day is, and has always been, their day! We shall live in hope…and keep trying harder to make this a Woman’s World as well…

 

 

 

Baking up a storm…

More delicious bread…

Anyone remotely interested in baking or cooking can look up recipes on the web and have a go at being a cordon bleu chef. So what am I offering that is going to be different from what anyone else can produce? Obviously I needed to come up with (hopefully) mouthwatering results that my friends, family and folks out there would be interested in trying out…

Which is exactly what I have been trying my hand at in the past week…

With some success, I am told. Fairly unbiased people, with a definite bent for speaking the blunt truth have been quite complimentary about my efforts so far.

Melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake

A quote about a rich chocolate cake: “Tasted the cake – it’s FANTABULOUS! Soooo yummmeeeeee!!” 

Then I tried my hand at cookies – both sweet and savoury. I have to admit, with what would seem like a total lack of modesty, that the tasters went just a wee bit over the top in their appreciation.

In fact, it’s is no exaggeration to say that one taster’s reaction was described as being “goggle-eyed” and it resulted in an order! You can see the cookies for yourself!

Sweet and savoury cookies

Though personally I would recommend tasting them…!

I find baking very therapeutic. And quite creative – rather like writing but using my hands to turn out results in 3D and real time instead of using words to paint a visually appealing picture. And in many ways, a lot more challenging. In writing, I can always go back over sentences and delete/add to them as many times as I want.

Crisp and crunchy cashew and walnut cookies

Not so in cooking, especially baking. Once I make a mistake it can’t be undone. And the results are permanent. These results can range from the merely uninteresting and boring to the most disastrous and completely unpalatable. The only saving grace is I don’t have to worry about grammar or spelling mistakes! But I could do with some auto-correction or for a voice to whisper in my ear: Don’t do that! Don’t do that!!!

So here I am…instead of thinking campaigns and strategy, thinking shapes, sizes, ingredients, and how to bake cakes and cookies that people will want more off. I never liked doing daily cooking. Found it boring and repetitive. But cooking exotic, intricate dishes were a challenge and took my mind off desperate deadlines and impossible clients. Now I find I am completely involved in an activity that used to be relaxing but is now  a little less so! Maybe I should go back to painting word pictures…!

A jar full of cookies!

Some wise words about baking…

  • We may not be able to get certainty, but we can get probability, and half a loaf is better than no bread.
    –C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • Never fall out with your bread and butter.
    –English Proverb
  • If you are ever at a loss to support a flagging conversation, introduce the subject of eating. –Leigh Hunt
  • Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
    –Yiddish Proverb

Gourmet on the go!

We can live by bread alone!Just recently I started a new endeavour! Well, I am not sure whether “endeavour” is the correct term, but maybe I should call it a new activity!

Way to go...home made pizzas!

Way to go…home made pizzas!

I started cooking…for others. For a price! And those who took that leap of faith and decided to trust their stomachs and their culinary happiness to me…seemed to rather like what I produced.

So here goes…

My kind of sliced bread!

More delicious bread…

Focaccia like you get in NYC!

I plan to use my blog to tell the world at large (or at least my friends and relatives) the results of this activity. In pictures and

words!!! Maybe get some more people to put their trust in me! Start a discussion on matters of food and tastes, likes and dislikes, trends and developments on the food-front.

Sweets for the sweet…

Hope you guys get to read, enjoy and participate!

Variety is the bread of life!

Some facts are stranger than fiction…

  • Fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom. They were invented in early 1900 in San Francisco.
  • Cheese is the most stolen food in the world! (I can perfectly appreciate why!)
  • Honey is the only food that never rots! It can last 3000 years.
  • Carrots were originally purple! (Maybe my kids would have preferred that colour?)
  • Almost half of the world’s food is thrown away every year. (Why am I not surprised?)

Source: http://www.factslides.com/s-Food

i am a woman…

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i am a woman, a daughter, a wife, occasionally a mistress. i am a mother… and a father, quite often! i am gentle and cruel sometimes a meek and shrinking violet sometimes loud and violent! i can be arrogant, aggressive and in your face…demanding, desiring, determined, and dogmatic a groupy, a loner and a social butterfly! i can spend, i can horde, i can provide and i can take a great friend, a deadly enemy, a shoulder to cry on a hug you can count on!

i am a woman! fighting for my rights, sometimes giving in gracefully most often just hanging in there i am young. i am old. i am a teenager… or no age at all! i am emotional, and logical, argumentative or not! i can be sweet and charming and elegant a fashionista and a social worker a cheer leader, industry icon, a beauty queen or i can be the way nature intended me to be!

i am a woman. loving. hating. creating. destroying wanting. getting. losing. winning caring. despising. achieving. and reaching…committed. cool. rational up in the air. down in the dumpsi get what i want. sometimes i choose not to take. i willingly hand over my life to others sometimes repel all boarders.

i am a woman. steely willed and soft as silk, sometimes white, sometimes black and sometimes every shade of grey and other colours in between…i make up my mind. then change it…I can be committed or fickle frivolous. dead serious. cautious. rash studious. flighty. clever. empty headed depends on my state of mind and the mood of the day! i am a soldier, an artist, a home maker, a careerist a nun, a flirt, sometimes fickle, sometimes loyal beyond death. i can be all these things and more!

i am a woman!