Thursday, January 17, 2013

Subservience is a No-No!!

Why did I become irritated, mad even? Why can’t people understand that I will speak up?  I will not allow a man to think its OK for him to force his way to the top, simply because it’s become customary in this country.  I'm certainly not going to roll out the red carpet to avoid a scene, because I not only have to educate my daughter verbally, but through example that subservience is not acceptable on any level.

Sure. Everyone thinks I’m tough on people, and I should let things just ‘go’, that I should also take things a little lighter.  And that may be so. But taking things a little light has become a cancerous host behind the pandemic of a certain male mentality, which has become a contagious addiction in these festival-filled streets, crowded with religious establishments on every corner.  And I truly believe silence is the same as letting (certain) men escape any penalization, leading with the smallest gestures, ending with mayhem that has inundated this country like a Tsunami.  It’s the reason why today women are in the fight of their life, literally.

My friend and I had been waiting for nearly 25 minutes for our “juice guy”— and yes, I consider him ‘our’ juice guy—to serve us.  I’ve been getting my freshly squeezed juice for over a year now at the same stand, and it has become a regular fixture in my routine, after my morning workout.  I needed to be home in 30 minutes to relieve my part time maid/nanny (and the by the way, having a maid in India is not luxurious, is a very common addition to any household, and is quite inexpensive—about $20 a month. And in my case is a necessity when raising a child on my own). The juice guy was having trouble with the flow of current that’s needed to squeeze our juice, so we were being patient—I was being patient.  I was running late, and I checked my cell phone time a dozen times, as if that would magically help solve the electricity problem. 

Two men, who were dressed decently, probably around the age of 50 or so, waved their hands at the juice guy as the sun reflected against their gold bracelet and rings.  They spoke in Hindi, the native language, but I understood every third word.  While having conversations on two cell phones simultaneously, they demanded the juice guy to serve them first and pointed out that I could wait, because they were in a rush and had more important work to attend to.  The juice guy did rebut on my behalf, explaining that I’d been waiting for a long time, and that I was first in line, but that didn’t sit well with either of the men.  Apparently, the men didn’t think I’d make their gesture a bigger deal, and assumed thanking me to be served first before I even accepted or could oppose would somehow compensate. 

Of course I was peeved. I mean, how dare he think that I would be okay with his excuse— that he was a very busy man, a lawyer, had to attend a previous engagement, was running late, and that my time was less valuable.  He mentioned that it wasn't a big deal for me to wait the extra 5-10 minutes  for another batch. 

I don’t care if he was the Dali Lama, or the Pope! People are people, and they all deserve respect, regardless of their status in society, race, creed, or gender.  And he definitely didn’t ask or even pleasantly request, nor did he wait for a reply.  When he saw me, a woman, he knew he was going to   get his way, one way or another, and there was going to be no ifs ands or buts about it.  He forced the juice guy to serve him first by yelling at him. He got his way, and before he stepped into his car, he turned to me, and thanked me.  Why thank me? I didn’t give him my approval to go ahead and cut in line; he simply took what he wanted, got his way, and no one stopped him. And he knew no one would.  Because that is the custom here.  This would never fly in the states.

Most people, women included, would have no problem allowing anyone who pleads their case and kindly requests a favor from a stranger to cut in line.  But it’s so off putting and totally unacceptable for anyone, especially a male to bulldoze their way in front of a women, overpowering them, because they know they can, simply because they’re male.  What I understand about men like this is that they truly believe that being male means respect is automatically given, not earned.

I’m not really angry about being a half hour late to relieve my nanny/maid from her duties, so she can go and pick up her daughter from school, but I’m completely irritated with this mentality, that being a women, a girl, female, is somehow equivalent to being subservient.

This mindset, which is inbred from birth, demonstrated and learned as acceptable culture, has spread like a plague and is truly wiping out every chance for women to live their life, and is unfairly categorizing all men, even those who are broadminded.  This is what is exactly wrong with this country.  It’s the reason why some men think they can steal whatever they aim from women, including their innocence.  Every rule, procedure, conduct is taken lightly here in India, and thus far has been altered to suit up a man perfectly.  Men like this know they can get away with anything, great or trivial. Today it was the need to be served a glass of juice first, even though by right, someone else was waiting in line—a woman.  Tomorrow, with his mindset, and others who permit him, he will get away with something far more appalling.  

How am I supposed to educate my daughter to be resilient, vociferous and confident to march forward and take her place in society as a leader, not a follower, or at least an equal?  At this point in time, I recognize India is not a promising environment for my daughter to feel safe or equal.  Yes, academic standards are a plus here in this country, but living here could actually impose great threats on her social behavior and development.  Think about it.  If I’m living in an environment where it’s not safe for a female to walk the streets alone past 6 pm, or needs to be accompanied by a male in largely crowded areas or late at night to get my necessities, or have to be supervised for safety reasons at the park during the day, then how can she learn to be independent and self-sufficient when I can’t be? 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sleepless in Parentland

Sleep.  Paramount for any human being to function cogently, but most essential and desired, yet indisputably unattainable by every new parent. Am I right?

Mega-million books written by psychologists and doctors alike, magazines, websites, forums and chat rooms, dedicated to recommending proven and effective tips and remedies for grabbing shut-eye.  Proven? The remedies must work then, right?  So, why do I find a gazillion sleepless parents perusing the same sites, night after night, posting the same status update, that they’re at  wits end, as I am at five am in the morning? 

For the last seven days, we’d both experienced the same agonizing episode. My helpless little girl—her lips curled downward into a deep frown, hot tears rolling down her cheeks like a broken dam, biting down on her fingers that she’d jabbed into her mouth, probably from a tooth coming in.  And each time she wears a desperate look for me to relieve her pain, and all I can feel is anger followed by guilt. Anger, because the thought that brings me to tears each time, as I look around the bedroom when I’m slammed with fatigue and in need of dire help, is that I’m always managing it on my own, and I never envisioned that I would be.

By this morning, I’d exceeded my threshold.  I knew I had to break the maddening, unhealthy, anticlimactic cycle, or risk going—if I wasn’t already—insane and delirious from sleep deprivation.  And I needed to make a massive improvement immediately, because I could sense shadows of resentment towards my innocent, precious daughter, when frustration was the true culprit.

You see, she been sleeping with me, after she outgrew her swinging bassinet at seven months. I read somewhere that I was setting her up for failure by letting her cuddle with me and fall asleep, but it worked, and I was able to write on my laptop from my bed. What could be more productive? It was multi-tasking at its best. 

She was sleeping with me until it became a little dangerous, since she began crawling the second week of her nine month.  After she fell off the bed (yes, she was fine), as a temporary solution I made her a make shift/play-pen/fort-like bed, by connecting two sofa chairs.  It was safe, fun, playful and she seemed to love it.  It was so comfortable that she preferred to stay in the make-shift area, (of course, I was on the prowl searching for crib/bed), instead of going off and exploring in her walker, which she absolutely loved to do before.  And she spent more time, playing in a non-mobile, seated or sleeping position, which made it easier for her to snooze most of the day, at her leisure.  And I have to admit I liked the idea that I didn’t have to be after her constantly as I was when she was fleeing the scene of a crime in her walker.   I needed to get some writing and housework done, and it seemed easier, until the nights came around.  Her crib was delivered two days ago, and she really enjoys her space.  I can tell.  But her sleep pattern hadn’t changed a bit, just her area did.

I’m only ten months into parenting, a novice, but it has been a very intuitive ten months. I know every parent believes that reading up on every possible scenario is the best method to bypass all the dreadful aspects that follow along with the joy of parenting. BUT, there’s a very simple fact that is being disregarded; every child and situation is unique, and all the advice in the world from distinguished educators and fellow restless parents is not to be trusted with the same faith as the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu sacred teachings).  You can check off and use your child as a guinea pig, as I and just about every sleep deprived parent has, but in the end, trust this—there is always going to be a ‘but’.  Every episode will appear similar as one you’ve read online or in those self-help magazines and it might work temporarily, but in due time, there’s always an ‘oh-oh, well that didn’t work’ that comes up. 

It’s one thing to be ignorant of textbook practices, but relying solely on them facilitates the chance to overlook your gut instincts, causes failure to recognize all approaches may not be what your child accepts or needs, and most importantly, breeds hasty conclusions that there is something seriously wrong with your child, you or your parenting skills.  Mothers, parents, guardians of all types have quick reflexes and usually attack on natural instinct to protect a child.  And that is what most sites, magazines and self-help books forget to impress upon.  The truth is, everyone is created differently, so yes, the basic check-offs are needed to guide new parents, but the rest has to come from common sense, listening to your heart and doing what you feel is right for your child, so long as its harmless (and legal).   I’m no psychologist, but I don’t see anything wrong in creating unorthodox routines or test-run ‘go-as-you-learn’ practices that aren’t noted anywhere, but that work perfectly for you and your child

I’ve often felt a bit self-conscious when applying my methods in public, or while leaving my door open for the short time that it is. (Here, in India, a common customary is to literally keep your front door open from the time dawn rises till it falls).  I don’t practice my methods in private out of fear, but mostly to eliminate opportunities for comments and avoidance of awkward confrontations.  The adults in this culture don’t feel shy in the least imposing their must-do practices, and they most definitely make a spectacle when they see me, or anyone, apply an unconventional one.  
After last night’s restless escapade, I knew keeping her awake during the day was the only sensible approach, so she would naturally become exhausted and sleep for most of the night.  And after we awoke mid-day, I placed my temperamental darling in her walker, and I didn’t take her out of it for four hours. Now, I know that seems cruel, and even the nosy neighbor, who peeked through while I ran downstairs to do my laundry, told me so.  But I’m her mother, and I’m the one who has to suffer along with her, so I think that grants me the right to be a little mean, especially when I’m sure it will enable both of us to have healthier sleep behaviors. 

When she slumped over, and rested her chin on the rim of the walker, I knew her legs were tired, so I picked her up and before she closed her eyes, I took her out for a walk to a nearby market.  It refreshed her for another hour, but there was another hour to kill, so I kept her standing up, holding onto the coffee table.  Of course, yes, she was damn tired.   I knew she wanted to plop her behind down on the floor badly, or sleep, but she was too afraid to let go, so she walked around the table for about half hour, crying and whimpering.  She stared at me the entire time, and I’m sure she wondered why I was torturing her. Of course, I felt like Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest”, but this tough love wasn’t harsh as making her clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. After I fed her, she became even fussier, rubbed her eyes and whimpered persistently, and it was the perfect time to give her a hot bath and an oil massage.  Finally, at 10pm, after I gave her a few drops of children’s ibuprofen to ease the teething pain, I let her rest her head on her pillow in her bed, and minutes after, before she finished even an ounce of milk, she was fast asleep.  She slept for five full hours.  I wish it was for longer, but I’m sure that will come in due time.  Maybe she’ll be able to sleep for a full 7-8 hours a night. That would feel like a day at spa for me!  Practice makes perfect, right?   She woke up twice, because she was hungry, but she went to back to sleep effortlessly.  So maybe my unconventional method is working?

What are your thoughts on overbearing neighbors that have a mouthful of advice to offer, using the excuse to drop in and say hello, but in truth are simply checking up on you? And how do you respond to them? Are you tactful or do you directly tell them to but out? What are some of your unconventional, unorthodox training methods? How do you sweep aside the burning factor that you would have been able to share the sleep deprivation with your partner/ baby’s father if he was still actively involved? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Destination to: Not Settling for Less

Lately, I've been feeling like getting on a plane and coming home.  But when I replay the scene in my head it always ends at the airport arrival gate, at the glass double doors, when I realize there’s no place to go ‘home’ anymore.  The beautiful, bachelor pad apartment with the great city life in Stamford, Connecticut, minutes away from Cove Beach and downtown trendy shops was already rented out, and all of our furniture had been dispersed among our friends.  And whatever we had to show for our life was crammed into an 8 x 10 storage unit. Just stuff.  Boxed up. That was the life we packed up, and days later we flew to India, to live at my husband’s (we’re estranged now, but still married) family’s home in the city of Hyderabad for the duration of the surrogacy.  (Yes, surrogacy—I will explain more in blogs to come!)

Deciding to stay in India from a financial standpoint was/is still by far the most beneficial and sensible move on my part, but I feel Ari is missing out on so many of the American traditional holiday "firsts".  And of course, it’s emphasized more when I see everyone’s holiday photographs on Facebook.  I feel I'm inhibiting her developing relationships with those that have been near and dear to me since I can remember. And I don’t think it’s crazy to wish she was fussed over more by those people.  As I see her progression in her 10th month, now that she actually knows how she wants to be entertained and by whom, I’m not convinced I’m allowing her to experience all the things a child her age should. And that’s difficult to do when you live in a place where being mobile is a huge obstacle and safety is persistently an issue—not to mention hanging above my head the constant reminder of having to do it on my own.

The old me would’ve acted emotionally, and flown home, without thinking ahead.  And temporary happiness would ensue by ‘running’ home and most likely insanity and inconvenience to others also, as my short visit home in August proved.  And that trip threaded together all the loose ends that ultimately became the deciding factor for me to continue living in India with Ari. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give Ariyana’s father a chance to meet and bond with his daughter, since he left for the states a month before she was born, and to introduce her to my immediate family—my father, my brother and his wife, who is also one of my best friends, and people I had grown up with. And it was tough to return home, as a visitor, living in hotel without having my own place, without a vehicle, having to depend on friends to get around. 

I know everyone "takes us in" as family, and that's what I love about people back home, but I so wanted to make my own family, (and I think everyone has this desire, and they are kidding themselves if they say they don't!) since my biological one was, well, not exactly a Rockefeller family portrait.  And I think that's what the root of anger/pain comes from, because before going into this—the surrogacy—on the airplane, the day we left for India to expand our 2-family/3-pet household, I voiced, more than wanting a better life (big house/more money) and a better relationship with my husband, to make sure we three (or four) were a "real" family that spent time together (and wanted to) and were involved actively in each other's lives, most importantly were a TEAM, a united front, as ONE in the child's life.  So, you can just imagine the devastation when I realized I was going to be alone for the long haul.

Why hadn’t I forced myself to dissect the relationship I had with my husband before plunging head first to have this baby? Seemed to be the question of the hour. To be honest, I was convinced we were past all the insecurities, and finally after 11 years were settling into each other as spouses and wanted to be devoted to building a strong family.  For whatever its worth, maybe we were both plain scared, but I was/am the one who eventually opened the door, timidly I agree, and shook fear’s hand when I decided that I would raise this baby, even if I had to do it alone.

It struck me like a wrecking ball. The similarities were significant. I didn’t want this—I wanted the complete opposite of what my parents had, what my mother verbally regretted having, what I had always witnessed, and what I feared the most was  confessing of an unhappy life days before I died, like my mother did. And I seemed to be living my mother’s life; allowing the gaping distance between me and my husband, our separate, non-communicative, unaffectionate lives.  And I reacted, flaring ultimatums, and maybe it was wrong, but I felt the need to test him, and in my eyes he failed, or rather his reaction/answer wasn’t what I wanted to see/hear.

Was I craving an unreasonable Brady Bunch or Cleaver-style closeness that was only functional with fictional characters and a poignant script? Had I expected too much of him?  I don’t know, but I do feel he backed out on his promise to deliver the security and support of a family unit, and I remember him reassuring me on the flight over.  Maybe it's not entirely his fault. Maybe he just didn’t know any better. There are always so many ‘maybes’. 

I wanted Sunday morning pancakes, even if it would always be only the three of us—me, baby and him—at the table. I wanted us to both feel a genuine joy of being in that moment, not pressured to be there as a chore, like I remembered my father grabbing bites or inhaling his meal and scurrying back to his home-office. I wanted family nights, spent playing with our daughter aimlessly, and imagined she would crawl and jump on the bed, in the middle of us (but that couldn’t happen if we weren’t sleeping in the same bed, and we rarely did). I wanted more communication and affection to teach the child differently than what I remembered of my parents. Yes, my mother was affectionate, and it hurt me to see that her affection was never reciprocated by my father. In fact, it was the same scenario as living with my husband.  There were many times I asked my husband to make sure we all sat at the dinner table instead of eating at separate times, or in front of the TV. And the answer I always received was, "Stop controlling me." I wanted us to take the child for walks in the stroller, like I see so many couples do, even here in India. I wanted time well spent with each other as a family.

And none of the above I realized was ever going to happen. It would never happen, especially if a parent, a father, couldn't/wouldn’t get his act together, even with a force so powerful to change as having a baby. He needed to get into husband/father mode and quickly, and find a sound career where he could earn a decent income and one that a child could respect and emulate.  But what made me end the limbo dance was that he never made any attempt to convince my fears were imaginary, which made them real as the baby that was born. 

So I am battling my own do-and-act-now-and-deal-with-it-later attitude and choosing to focus on a more fruitful game plan, which I unequivocally trust will allow me to give her beyond the stable lifestyle she so deserves. I won’t lie; it certainly takes constant self-reassurance.  Staying here is justifiable, away from everyone, and I’ve no choice but to concentrate on the benefits. This strategy of mine allows me to work here, writing for local publications, as well as freelancing at many others, make and save money, while eliminating the worries of paying rent, because this is my husband’s family’s home, plus I don’t need to fork over $1500 (on average the fee in the states) a month for daycare, because my nanny/maid only costs me a mere $20 a month!  And health insurance is not a concern here; as long as I have the cash to cover the charges, medical care and treatment have never been refused or denied, and she or I can be admitted to any medical facility of our choice.  And while this may seem a knee-jerk “strategy” to some, it’s far better than working under corporate rule for pennies, where I'm not benefiting or using my writing talent to the best of my creative ability to make my living, or a chance to live an experienced and enjoyable life.

I decided I didn't want to travel the path of  "settling for less", so I must step one foot in front of the other. Because when you’re on a journey together, and one does everything to miss jumping on the family train, and chooses a different route, why continue dragging on the monotony? Isn’t it best to agree and accept there are obviously two different destinations in mind, and at least travel the journey alone (or if you’re lucky, with someone else who wants to travel on the same path), but maybe happier without a less enthused passenger?   

The possibilities are endless and as the trains of life travel to different tracks, we need to stay optimistic, because we'll always have the option to stop and allow those who want to join our journey, as long as it doesn't compromise ours. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sayonara 2012

2012 was THE year I could identify the insanities circling relationships, friendships, loyalty, love, myself—recognizing personal misperceptions definitely played leading roles in my fears—and discovered how miracles transform life forever. I learned the mysteries of why certain bonds are born, become, fizzle or strengthen. Having probably wept a river, it was the most emotional year thus far, inclusive with painful and amazing experiences.  I became a mother, with or without an active, physical role of a father figure in the picture--I finally became a mother.  I never expected to smile, enjoy and be stunned by her developments all by myself, yet the miracle of her life, and how her presence has soaked my soul with positivity and hope, by far surpasses any and all negativity, and self-pity.     Happy New Year Everyone! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Essence of Christmas

The Christmas Holiday approached and passed as fast as the bottles of wine that were consumed.

I was soaked in self pity for the Thanksgiving Holiday, because ... well, because being a Single Momma often comes with bouts of self pity at times, and anger, as the reminder that I'm raising my daughter alone resurfaces, like a wound that simply won't heal. And I guess it's only natural to feel a certain void, especially when Holidays are depicted in every holiday movie, TV sitcom, commercial and advertisement as most enjoyable and full-filling when spent with family.

But I was determined to celebrate Christmas the best I could under the circumstances.  For, Ari's sake, because she may be only 10 months (as of December 30th), but I know how kids are.  I was one some ages ago, and I remember searching for photographs and asking my mother why didn't I have the same photo as the other kids did, or why didn't we celebrate Christmas prior to me turning five years old.

My mother's reasons and situation were completely different than mine; she was from India, new to the United States back then and wasn't aware that you didn't have to be Catholic to enjoy or partake in Christmas celebrations.  When I started school and the holiday season countdown began, and I realized all my friends celebrated this spectacular holiday by exchanging presents, had a pretty tree and ate cookies and candies, I asked my mom if Santa didn't like us.  The next day, my mother dragged my father to Bradlees (remember this department store from the 80s?) and they bought an artificial tree and our first set of ornaments.  And that tree was put up every December until I turned about 14 or 15 years old.

My love and excitement for the holiday season only came to be because of my mother, who was determined to make sure I wouldn't feel left out. For me, even though my mother passed away in 2007, Christmas will always be synonymous with my mother and I have the warmest feelings when the first signs of the holidays arrive.  And I want my daughter to feel the same and grow to love the holiday ... all types of Holidays.

And I agree, my circumstances are not as gruesome as I sometimes allow myself to believe, but at times I don't feel I have any spirit left in my body, let alone Christmas Spirit.  Still, I wanted to make sure that I had a cute--maybe not spectacular--story that would show Ariyana that this Single Momma will do anything to make sure she is super-loved.  I took videos and photographs of her smiling, playing with hard-as-rock store bought Christmas Cookies, that I can't believe I found here in India--that was miracle enough! Hopefully, she'll feel warm and fuzzy when she watches herself dancing around in her walker to Christmas music that I blasted from my laptop.

I will say that it wasn't easy to climb out of bed on Christmas Eve, knowing this year I didn't have my usual entourage to help me sing 'Joy to the World'.  The past few years I was in the states, even though my mother wasn't around to spread good cheer, and had a father whose words and actions were/are obstructive at best, I was happy to at least spend the holiday with my brother and sister-in-law, best friends, and family friends.  But here in India, I was alone--except for Ari and a few new friends. So, for Ari's sake, I decided to hike to the grocery store with her in the baby bag on the front of me, and carried an empty backpack to lug my groceries home. And I'm so glad I decided to take her with me, even though it was a bit difficult crossing the haywire traffic, plus she's getting heavier!  Once I saw her eyes sparkle as she grabbed onto the Christmas Cookies, and tried to rip open the plastic wrap, after I laughed, I realized the holidays HAVE to be all about her now.  I realized that my tears, frowns, broken heart, struggles I face everyday, and feelings of loneliness all need to melt away like snowflakes on a sunny day.  Her excitement instantly warmed my cold heart like a Godiva-flavored hot cup of cocoa.

The walk home seemed a bit longer than usual. Perhaps it was the 14 pounds of groceries I was carrying! But I was suddenly humming, "Here Comes Santa" and I was under the spell of the Christmas Spirit.  That night, even though I normally have an allergy to anything cooking-related, or to the kitchen, for that matter, I enjoyed making my shrimp with marinara sauce and bow-tie pasta dish.  Maybe it was the glass of wine I had while I tossed the shrimp.  Who knows? Or maybe it was the fact my daughter had the biggest smile on her face.

She was pooped and I knew she'd be out like a light at any moment, but she was fighting to stay awake, which meant she wanted to continue enjoying her time with me, so I must have done something right.  While I ate, she sucked on her bottle of milk and smirked in between, and it made me wonder. In the states, almost everyone I know, including me, at this time of year, usually makes ourselves overwhelmed with having to buy presents, beating others to get a tree and our houses decorated with lights, and making sure ours is THE best one on the street, like Chevy Chase in the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation movie.  I'm thankful for this simplicity this year, even though I miss a few select people.

I know there are many people who don't even have the means to manage a simple meal like this, who who don't have a roof over their heads and can't afford Christmas Cookies, or can't be with their children--like the people in the armed forces, or those that were taken away by a senseless crime. So, I know I am blessed. It may not have been the way I intended my daughter's first Christmas to be, but we were together and she and I were smiling, happy and had fun, and one day when we look at the photographs and videos it will speak the truth; it was a joy.  I guess this is the true essence of Christmas.  Hope you all had a similar enriching experience!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holidays Are What You Make of Them

I'm learning (and guess its better late than never!) that holidays are what I make of them. I haven't been in the holiday mood for some time, or a few years for that matter, but I'm awful glad that someone sprung on me a Christmas cartoon and movie marathon with a roomful of kids (and adults too!). Who knew it was all I needed to get me in the Christmas Spirit and singing Christmas songs to my darling Ariyana. Guess the Christmas spirit is always there ... Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Hugs from me and Ari and hope Santa is extra special to all of you! Xoxo

Easy Influences On Our Precious Ones

Ok, here's what happened today. And I believe it is ONE of the reasons why this society has shrugged in their feeble answer as to how crimes are resolved, justified, punished ...etc. 

A boy, age 9, I found out later, was laughing with a friend outside of a temple, on my street. The "child' said to me as I walked by wearing a normal t-shirt and jeans, and sunglasses, "Wow. What a figure!" I couldn't believe it at first and I thought my mind was making me hear something I didn't. But I stepped backwards and I was right. A 9 year old boy was trying to use this line. A) Probably learned it from someone who was older than him at school; B) Watched a scene like this in a Indian movie or TV; C) Learned it from home or family.

I wasn't going to say anything, but then I thought maybe it is because no one says anything to correct anyone, and so I reprimanded the boy and he then said, "Sorry, sister," in his native tongue, Telugu.

Whatever the case was, the fact that a boy his age thought is was "cool" to use this line on a MUCH MUCH older girl, like me, or anyone else, shows us that kids even younger than him are influenced so easy, and it is so important to find out where he and other children are learning this and fix this problem at the root, so children like him do not grow up into the monsters that raped the girl in Delhi.

The death penalty is in place in 33 states in the USA, and if you search the the internet you can see that atrocious crimes are still committed to this day. Might seem as the only action to have in place to control someone who is harming society, but keeping them in jail also serves the same purpose. Getting to the root of the problem is more well worth the energy, time or money. We need to change the mentality in the country.

Respect for Humanity

December 19, 2012

I used be, and I should be proud and feel like I have the added benefit of experiencing both cultures; India and USA, but lately I feel ashamed of being a part of either.  i am so sad and scared for my daughter's safety in the future.  

Senseless murders of children and their heroes last week in Newtown, USA. And yesterday, the news of a young girl gang raped--she was internally bruised to the point that she can never live a normal married life and experience having her own child--on a moving bus, then thrown off off the bus, naked, left for dead, by 6 drunken bus staff members who  who took the bus illegally out for a joyride at night (it's used for a children's school during the daytime) ... and it happened in India's capital, Delhi. And yes, the country is in uproar.  Fear is seen in every girl you pass by, and women are feeling compelled to travel less by bus or taxi now, which limits their mobility even more.

The world won't end because of some Mayan Prophecy; it will end because the lack of respect for humanity is ending.

The Root Cause

December 15, 2012

I am here, in India, untouched physically by the horror that surfaced in Sandy Hook yesterday, yet my soul feels hollow, and I can't explain why I carry the sense of emptiness, loss, fear, anxiety, and the cliff hanger emotion knowing the proximity of the incident. Its happened so many times before, and yes, the sympathy was always there, but maybe its a mixture of being a first time mother, deathly afraid of my child's safety, and the fact that it happened so so so so close to home, and affected so so so many people I know and the people they know. Terror is terror everywhere. And there is no way to know when it will hit you or someone you love, and yes, we've got to do more about security, but we have to do more to learn how to read the signs of these sick individuals and find out what makes them tick. We can do everything to protect, but unless we don't move forward in finding out the root cause instances like this will happen again and again, unfortunately.

Insanity Rises Above Religion, Race, Creed or Color

December 14, 2012 2:00 am

I understand that India may be a third world country in some eyes, and it is in MANY ways, but one thing that remains the same is that terror is terror, evil lurks in every corner wherever we live, and we can't hide from it, whether we choose to live in a modernized, organized, cultural society or not. Today, unfortunately, proves that insanity rises above religion, race, creed, or color. Why people are just simply nuts will always be the question of the hour.

Newtown's Nightmare ... A Plea

December 14, 2012 (12:30 am - India time)

While I DO appreciate EVERY soldier who is fighting and has fought the fight for others' freedom and ours, can I please raise the thought that we might stop concentrating on the battles across the world, and perhaps focus and place more competent manpower to fight the battle of horror that is terrorizing our children in a place where they are supposed to feel safe and secure? Just thinking about the children and the families in CT affected by the insane shooter.

Me and my little Diamond

Talk to the HAND!

Silence .... finally

December 10, 2012 (1:25 am)

What is that hear? Right! Nothing, but silence. No crying, whining or whimpering. Only snoring. And it's only 1:25 am and I still have enough energy to make some dinner and eat it before sunrise!

Nanny Nonsense

December 10, 2012

To my maid/nanny who can't understand any English, I just have to get this off my chest: I'm really beginning to despise you. How dare you put me in a position where I can't even make a plan, or end up cancelling at 12th hour because of your unreliability, and who are you to make to me wonder if you are actually going to show up or not everyday?! Thank you for disrupting mine and Ari's pattern the last few days! And I really wish there was an agency of sorts in India (maybe i should start one?!) to monitor these self employed twits. They seem to have the same mindset as an American DMV (department of motor vehicles) or an American government or postal employee -- they think they rule the world, and think without them nothing be accomplished.

Playtime for Me!

= playtime for me!

Bedtime Rituals

December 4, 2012

Ok, for the last 3 days, Ariyana and I have been practicing a new bedtime ritual, and so far I want to say that it's working (I think! And hopefully, I'm not jinxing myself here!) A hot bath, a body and head oil massage (which pretty much makes her drowsy instantly), a full stomach with solids and milk, her favorite cartoons on her mini personal DVD player.... and soon she's snoring! Yes, she gets up once or twice for a few sips of milk, but the wailing has stopped and I'm a happier mommy, who can at least sleep for 4-5 hours straight!  Man, I never knew how much I missed sleep before, and now I'm actually able to sleep long enough to have some good ;-) dreams!!

A little RUN of Bad Luck?

November 29, 2012

Great! After yesterday's fiasco, now I have a fever, stomach pains and my body aches, and I feel like I'm dying-- even though the rational side of me knows better. I wonder if I've caught another case of diarrhea from eating unknown bacteria, again! It's usually the case.  Is my run of good luck going to ever end?! And of course, Ari won't stay quiet or asleep (yet!) on her own! So I guess there goes motherhood; putting her to sleep while I screech in pain. She better damn well appreciate me for this! It definitely makes me appreciate my mom even more than I did.

Goodnight, Farewell, It's time to say so goodbye and go to sleep!!

November 28, 2012 (2 am)

I am going out of my mind with Ari! She'll be almost 9 months and she still doesn't sleep through the night. I have no idea what's wrong with her ... maybe her teeth, maybe the end of her cold... but thank God my friend is over to help otherwise I would be going out of my mind. 

I mean to say that I was going out of my mind, more than usual.  I am so glad my best friend was with me.  He was awesome. Always is in these situations.

 We tried everything: swayed her, each took turns pacing with her, singing to her, checked her diaper (which was clean as a whistle -- whatever that means anyway!).  Then we used that nasal, booger sucking thingamajig, thinking it her nose was stuffed--nope, it wasn't clogged.  She didn't have a fever, I had already applied Baby Orajel on her gums hours ago.  And she wasn't hungry either; she kept hitting the bottle away in anger, and spitting out the Apple Ceralac, which is usually her favorite.  My friend even made a swing from an old Sari (the fabric that Indian wear as their customary attire), tying it to a hook from the ceiling, and gently placed Ari in it and swung her from side to side.  She cried even louder.  Nothing worked. I had no idea what was wrong.  I was panicking, and getting frustrated. 
Finally, his idea of taking her up to the terrace worked!!!  We tried to avoid it at first, because she still had a runny nose and it was quite chilly, and the mosquitoes in India are nothing to ignore, and there always plenty surfing around up there.  But nothing else worked, so we thought, 'what the hell'. 

I'm so lucky that I have a friend, who will come to my (and Ari's) rescue, (even if it's not his kid), whenever I call, at any hour, even if it means sleep loss for him as well.  A super hero that has the patience to put a crying baby to sleep and calm a single momma with major insomnia trauma, without flinching! Now that's what I call a man!

Thanksgiving Note, better late than never!

November 24, 2012

An awesome life is a state of mind. I choose an awesome life ... going forward. :-) I am little behind in what to be thankful for Thanksgiving. I'm really thankful for old friends who have never given up on me, and new ones who have taken the time to understand me, and hope I spend even more time laughing with them and experiencing and enjoying every moment I can with them. And I save the best for last, my beautiful 8th month, Ariyana --- my joy, motivation, and inspiration to be a better person, and have the life I was always intended to have. Hope all of you had the most wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Just right or not enough?

November 23, 2012

Are there other mothers or single parents (dads too!) that ever feel this way or am I the only one?

I constantly wonder if I'm really a good mom. Am I letting her sleep too much, or am I letting her get away with not sticking to a certain bedtime? If I leave her crying on the floor or bed too long, I feel like others (neighbors) will think I don't care about my child crying, and if I pick her up and soothe her each time she cries for me, I feel like I'm giving in to her manipulation and that it will create a bad pattern.

I want her to be independent, but I don't want her to think I don't care. I want her to build and learn to have a "safe" feeling with me. I'm thinking ahead... I want her to feel like I will always be there for her no matter what. I want to create an atmosphere where she will feel at ease to she share anything with me.  I want to her feel confident that I will always be there for here if she is ever in deep trouble. And I feel like that starts now. Or maybe I read it somewhere, and I'm just freaking out.

So, why do I feel like the most terrible mother when I try to have my "me time"? When I'm out, and supposed to be enjoying adult time with friends, I'm constantly thinking about my daughter, even though I know I'm out to free my mind, and rejuvenate myself so I can give my best to her. I guess I always worry that I'll miss a significant development, or that she is probably experiencing separation anxiety, which is often developed in the 8th month, or so I read somewhere. ( I do a lot reading these days at 4 am when I'm at my wits end!) 

She's at the stage where she clings to only me, and won't let anyone else, except the maid/part-time nanny, hold her, which makes friends so uncomfortable, and difficult for me to get anything done--even writing, or a quick trip to the bathroom!

I watch her sleep, and I wonder if I'm giving her everything she needs to be happy. I'm not talking about the basics - diapers, milk, safe place to rest her head, and love from me, but I really wonder if I'm letting her down in any way, if I'm disciplining her appropriately or enough, teaching her the right tools in life so she won't become a leach on society and on (me!). I wonder if she is experiencing all of life that a child her age should be experiencing and making memories from. And since I do it all on my own, without an active father, though she has male role models in her life, I wonder what is she really missing out on, and am I enough for her?

And I don't have to try to keep her my priority, she is one, but after worrying about work, daily routines, getting her ready and prepared for the day, and calming my own insanity, I honestly feel like I forget to let her experience certain things on her own, simply because it is easier for me to do it for her. Certain things like, letting herself make a mess and try to examine her food, and maybe try to feed herself, and picking her up and calming her cries, because the screeching is annoying me and I have to get back to work in a peaceful atmosphere.

She smiles, and laughs, and plays with me a lot, and I know she trusts me and loves to be with me, but she cries an awful lot too, especially when I put her down for even a moment. I feel she doesn't seem to like her independent playtime. Is she like this because she is unhappy? Is this because she doesn't have an active father in her life? Or is this normal? I don't know.

Every time a holiday or festival comes around, I see other children experiencing it with their families and even though she doesn't understand much of the holidays, I wonder how she will feel when doesn't find a photograph of her "first" holiday. Am I just being paranoid? Am I over thinking? Am I being obsessive? I guess this is all emerging with Thanksgiving being yesterday...

And being in foreign country, India, our outings our limited too, though I and my friends try to take her out even for walk (well, she can't exactly walk - I walk and she eye-walks), but I do know a visit outside and even a short walk to the market really boosts her spirit.

I only wonder incessantly if I'm allowing her to experience life as she should be, or am I limiting her in any way, which will incapacitate her ability to develop into an affectionate, compassionate, strong, honest, confident, happy, contributing member of society and proud of herself.