Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day

Today is Women’s Day. Why does one celebrate Women’s Day? One day? They should be celebrated every day. ;o). But, on the serious note, I do get it. Why it’s needed and what’s the significance. Did you know that women perform two-thirds of the world’s work and produce half the world’s food, but earn just 10% of the income and own 1% of the property?

Just y’day I read in times of India about a woman, who is a social worker now, was buried alive when she was mere 16 days old by her father. Lucky for her, her grandfather rescued her and educated her. We hear so many cases like this day in and out. There is so much female fetus killing all over the world that it’s just unbelievable. I wish all the parents can be educated to open their eyes to this new era. Where women hold the highest posts and do impossible tasks, that there is no difference between man and woman. Many want boys so they carry the family name forward. Why can’t they see that if they get into bad things they will be spoiling the family name too? 

Today, I want to celebrate the women I grew up with. My mom was one of 6 girls and I am one of 4 girls. Our father’s played a great role in our lives and so as our mothers. My mom would talk about how my grandfather was struggling to meet ends and still wanted everyone to study and earn degrees. They lived in a remote village which didn’t had school or college. My mom was the only one to go beyond school and finish her degree in Arts. She got married 2 weeks before the finals, but gave her exam to earn her degree. My grandma as I knew her always had been very caring and no demanding kind of woman. Whenever we would go visit them, she would make this yummy food. She would keep fruits in attic especially for all her grand kids. I don’t remember much of my grandpa, but I have heard mom always say that he was a kind man.

Growing up when I would hear someone talk about how we are all girls and how difficult it would be for my parents with no boys, I would really get mad. But my parents never looked at us any different. They made sure we are well educated and well groomed. Always encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. Now that we are all married off, we still share close bond with our parents. My parents have told us numerous times that if they had boys, there might not have been such a close relationship between us siblings.

My mom was a home maker. It is the toughest job in the world I think. I have tried, but I think it’s way too difficult. She would get up early to make breakfast, lunch boxes for us. Once we all leave, she would clean and prepare stuff for snacks. Our home used to be revolving door to many visitors too. So she had to always keep cooking for them. And then when one of us would be sick or something, she and dad would sit by us at nights. Even now, she has helped each one of us through our pregnancies. She just took over and all I had to do was just feed the baby.

Then, there are my sisters. My eldest sister Vittai is our confider, our mentor, beautician (She even did a course, but before that she would try stuff on us. ;o). She still reminds me how I would hate trying something different on my hair and once she is finished, I would like it and would NOT change till she would force me to. Yeah, I am painfully stubborn. LOL ), teacher (always ready to help us with our homework’s!), great singer, sister and above all a great mother (not only to her kids but us too). She is a teacher now. She found her way to that field, but I always knew she would make a great teacher.

My second sister, Sandhya has a heart of a child. Many times she is in her own world we would think, but she has always been there for us. She is very caring and I just admire how she has built her lovely family. We both have been more of friends than sisters (well, twin you could say, coz there were many people who couldn’t tell us apart!) I love her grace and simplicity. I wish I could be so simple and down to earth. ;o). What can I say about my little sister! She has been the baby of our home; we still treat her like one. Love her chirpiness, charisma, spontaneous-ness and care-free attitude. I always tried to boss her around, but she would always get away. She is the only MBA of our house and I am so proud of her.

Oh, how I miss seeing them all. But the distance between us has only made our hearts grow fonder for each other. They are just a call away and everything seems right when I am talking with them. Times when we get together pass on so quickly that I wish I could pause them and enjoy to the fullest.
Happy Women’s day to all of you and remember if there is no woman, there won’t be any man! Cheers to all those beautiful souls out there!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Experiments with nature..

The other day I bought some chicken-less strips from Trader Joe’s. I was wondering how they made it. They had wheat as one of the main ingredient and when I tasted I could distinguish it. It instantly took me back to my childhood though. What is the connection? Back in those days, my mom would never buy packaged flour. She mostly cleaned the whole grains, dried and then gave it to mill to powder them. Strain it and then use the fine powder. Whew!!! I don’t think I can EVER do that! Even till date, some of the things she still does the same way.

Ok, coming back to the grains, when she would put them to dry out in the sun, we would usually grab the fresh grains and eat them raw. She would scold us saying that it will give us tummy ache. But we wouldn’t listen. Once my sisters taught me how we can make chewing gum out of whole wheat. It was so cool. I can still smell those sun dried wheat grains and chewing on them carefully to make it like a chewing gum.

Then, there were summer days! We would look forward to going to native place every summer. All the cousins would meet up in my grandma’s house. There were countless games that we would make up and play. One of them was building up a house. I vaguely remember one of the summer. At my maternal grandparents house we had built a solid house. It was made up of all the heavy lumber that we could find. It had walls and roof made up of coconut tree branches. We all knew how to weave it to make it usable. If you have never seen or done this before this video gives a good training. :o)

They use these sheets to make temporary roofs. Every summer my grandma would call people to build the temporary roof in the summer, so that we kids can play outside and not feel the heat. Elders would let us try many times, so most of us knew how to do it.

Coming back to our games, then we had all these “pretend” utensils, which were made out of coconut shell, banana tree trunks etc. I remember there was a technique my cousins and sisters would use to make idli’s out of one type of leaves. We used to call it Ek paan (I think that’s what they used, if my sisters remember I will have to ask them) I tried finding the information online, but no luck. To make those idli’s they would churn those leaves and take the juice out. Put them in coconut half shell and leave it (prbaly overnight – again not sure). But what I do remember is the wonder of looking at that green thing (looking very very similar to Jello) and thinking WOW! That is soooo cool!

We then didn’t have any PS3’s or Wii’s. And I guess that’s the whole reason we used to try and think out of the box and come up with stuff. I miss that summer, sizzling hot days, when our experiments with nature would go on forever. I am sure my friends from more remote places would share similar experiences like this. Living in city you are mostly limited to what is available indoors and probably play games outside. But the village life exposes you to whole different kind of experience.

I love it even now when we get to go back (once in 2 or 3 years!). I can see the joy in my kids when they are there. Little one got to go only once. But she was in awe when she was watching all the animals around her. I re-live my childhood looking at them. Every time that we have been to native place with Ayush, he has hardly fallen sick (other than getting attacked by mosquitoes). His favorite thing is to hang around with his cousins and play with cow, buffalo, dogs, cats, chicken and look for monkeys. He has this naughty smile on his face all the time that tells me he is up to something. I don’t care what he is up to, coz I know that’s how he is going to explore and learn. Ahhh, I miss my childhood!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My mother tongue

Today I was at lunch and Yogi called. Listening to me talk my colleagues were commenting that they won’t be able to spy on what I talk, since they can’t understand it. I said, even if you would know my mother tongue, still they wouldn’t be able to decode since most of the time I tend to mix 3 languages when I am talking. But mostly we talk in our mother tongue Konkani. Then they asked me if I would do that while writing. I said we don’t have a script, it’s only spoken language. Most of them were surprised to hear that. They literally thought I was nuts. :o)

There are more than few hundreds of languages in India I think and many don’t have a script at all. Only the official languages get printed on the Indian currency rupees. I had to google to see how many are actually official. It currently stands on mere 18. Though only 15 languages are used to write the amount on the note. And I am delighted to say Konkani is Official language and it's used on the currency. Other languages used are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu

You would ask, so how did they print it on currency? Konkani does not have its own script, so Devanagari is supposed to be the “Official” script. But most of us use the scripts of other languages native to where we grew up. Example, I would use Kannada as primary script to write while growing up. Yogi learnt, Marathi or Hindi which is native to Maharashtra.

This is what I picked up again on Wikipedia. Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages spoken in the Konkan coast of India. It has approximately 3.6 million speakers. Whoa!! I didn’t know that! Well, not wholly. Growing up I thought Konkani evolved from Dravidian language like most of the south Indian languages. But my dad used to tell me that it’s evolved from Aryans from north east part of the country. I used to wonder, how can a language belonging mostly in west southern part of India can evolve from north East part.

Konkani is an official language of state of Goa. It's language to many who reside on coastal Karnataka too. But each community speaks in their own dialects. We all have been there; where you get to know that the other person talks Konkani too and when you try to communicate in that language you realize, eh, let’s stick to Hindi or English. :o). Even there is a difference in a way I speak and Yogi uses the language. There are times when each one of us would say that what we were saying was right and not the way the other one was talking. Now we have given up and have accepted the way talk to each other. Though Yogi might not agree to this, coz time and again I tend to stop and correct him (to my way. LOL) The way you speak Konkani also depends upon where you grew up or where your parents are from.

Growing up I used to wonder how these spoken languages have survived all these years. I try and talk to my kids in Konkani, but being here, they tend to prefer English. Hope all the spoken languages survive the test of time. :o)
Each language is special in its own way. I think so of mine too. :o)