Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saas Bahu versus Sitcoms

Just a random thought. Wonder why saas bahu (MIL-DIL) serials are so popular in India? Why do we not have sitcoms such as Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and so on? Is it a reflection of our so called repressive culture and society that glorify medieval customs such as karva chauth with their portrayal and stereotyping of an ideal bahu? Are these serials also leading to an over active imagination where folks start taking these plots seriously and imagine they are victims of such behavior in their real lives too? Wonder if it is because of these soaps that I hear of incidents such as a mom-in-law chopping off her daughter-in-law's tresses while she is sleeping.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Am Crushed

I don't know why it took me this length of time to finally post something today. There have been loads of ideas, thoughts, madness floating around in my head but guess it will take some time to sort out my rambles and note it down. It's all become a blur inside but will hopefully post my numerous ramblings more often.

For now, what's keeping me super busy before and after work is my new obsession, my latest crush, the current love of my life. Since I do not own a space outside to do my own gardening and live in an apartment in one of our cramped, polluted Indian cities, I've been trying my hand at a little gardening in my tiny balcony.

Guess the older I grow, my thoughts seem to turn more to those idyllic childhood days living in the midst of nature where greenery was abundant. Winters meant a variety of flowers that chai memsahebs would painstakingly plant in front of their bungalows. Chrysanthemums, dahlias, phlox, pansies, zinnias, poppies, etc etc and of course your own home grown organic vegetables in the backyard. I remember the flower shows in February an annual event where everyone would compete with their best in all categories be it for the best bungalow with the best flower garden and vegetable garden, or for the flowers, non-flowering plants, vegetables, or even home grown produce. I would painstakingly prepare flower arrangements a week in advance to prepare for the children's section. Those days there were no smart phones, technology around so guess this was our way of entertainment and keeping ourselves busy. :)I remember my Dad spending hours in the garden tending to his prized garlic or papaya trees and Mom all excited about the strawberries and the flowers. Though I admit I am not yet a great gardener like my parents, I do try my best and guess will get there and hopefully I can afford a tiny garden someday. :) However, I do often wonder why I didn't inherit my parents fabulous gardening genes. :) For now, will post a few pics of my flowering plants that blossom now and then in my tiny, sunny balcony.

It was fascinating watching the progression of this hibiscus bud to a full grown flower over a period of 3 days and I did bore Ange and Serena for a while with daily posts till Angeli suggested that maybe I should start a joba blog. :D

I am also a little worried about going on vacation next month in case the maid or the watchman forgets to water them and have been looking at those automatic plant watering systems on Amazon and other sites though I am hopeful and sure they will be fine. Guess I've become a little protective and sometimes think to myself that now I know what it's like to have kids. These plants are like my kids and am going to miss them. I know this is not a good example and those who've been expecting us to produce kids the last few years will not be happy reading this comment, but well that's the closest I will ever get to having motherly feelings and I am perfectly fine with it, say what you may. :P Now I'd better scoot before my thoughts start flowing here faster than my ability to process them. ;)

The Art of Gifting

The most annoying thing to receiving a gift that is so horrendous that you cannot ever imagine giving anyone, is when someone asks you whether you liked the gift and you have to be so diplomatic and lie that you absolutely loved it though you HATE it and are cringing from inside. 

Even though they know that it is something worth not gifting and they absolutely would not use it in their own lives, they gift you anyway. In this case, it is not the thought that counts because they were not thinking of you at all. It was more of a chore and wondering what do I have in the midst of my existing gifts at home that I do not like and would like to discard because they do not want to make the effort and go and shop for you. It's that thoughtlessness that I do not appreciate but of course I would never show it upfront and still say it was lovely so guess that makes me a hypocrite, eh! And that's why I rant here. :P

I believe the value of a gift does not matter. It may be a flower or a plant but it has to be something worthwhile and not something that makes the receiver grimace. When you do know what a person likes, their hobbies, their preferences in music or books, the stuff they like to wear, the objects they like to collect or do up their homes with, and their personal tastes and preferences, then of course it is sacrilege giving them something that you would like to discard, a hand-me-down that you know they couldn't use and neither will you.

My first rule is never ever gift someone something that I would never use or care for. Second is never pass on gifts that I have received or do not like because who knows when that may come round. A boarding school pal received the same present that she had gifted someone on their birthday with the same wrapping paper intact. Another dear school pal of mine complained how she would constantly receive crappy gifts from a friend till her gift was gifted back to her through another friend who she had passed it onto. Sounds quite like the merry-go-round. :P 

If there is a budget crunch or you are in doubt as to the other person's tastes and preferences, I think saying it with flowers or a box of chocolates is always the best bet. When the maid gets me a flower in the morning I am happy, or someone gives me a small chocolate bar, that makes me happy. And if someone gives me a book or a CD based on my tastes, or even a small potted plant that makes my day because it shows that the person has taken the time to think of me. Oh yeah, simple things make me happy. I am even elated if someone sends me a mail or a letter remembering me and some nice nostalgic moments. Now that is being thoughtful.

As I reiterate, it's the thoughtfulness that matters and not the thoughtlessness. Wonder why most Indians still try to pass around useless gifts. If you have to gift, GIFT well. Again, I do not mean in terms of material wealth where you always need to buy a branded watch or perfume but can be something small but tasteful that shows the receiver you were thinking of them and they matter. And sorry, I would not like to list the thoughtless gifts I have received here. I think I've been diplomatic enough with this post. :D

PS: This post was written 4 years ago and I guess I have changed as a person with low tolerance towards crappy gifts. I have a school friend who still hasn't stopped with the passing around of hand me downs. When I was in college, she would give me the worst presents, which included a gold top, bathroom slippers that she later admitted she was passing on. Yeah, I've taken a lot of BS but that's changing and I'm beginning to stand up for myself. :D

Two decades after college, she visits my city and even though I repeatedly told her that not to give me clothes knowing my past experience, she insisted it was from a particular brand, spoke like it was gold she was gifting me, and gave me the worst shapeless shabby crumpled T-shirt I have ever seen. I figured out over the phone that she was trying to pass it on even before she reached India but she didn't heed my advice and gave it anyway. I posted it on various Whatsapp groups for my friends to decide and common referendum was I should return it so that's what I did. ;) 

And this is why I don't blindly follow brands or fashion

I just think if you are a good friend, you will make an effort to understand a person's choice and especially when you live in another country and haven't seen the other person in a really long time, clothes can be a big no-no coz of the fit, style, preference, and size. Even in brands, it's not like we all have the same taste. What I may like, somebody else may never wear. It all depends on our height, weight, and comfort with certain clothing. 

Well, I am happy with a bar of chocolate but when someone supposedly your friend gives you such a thoughtless gift and refuses to even listen to what you are saying, it just gives the impression that they don't really care about you.