Friday, September 23, 2016

It takes a village to raise a child #Proverb

There is the famous African proverb - 'It takes a village to raise a child.'

Now I never really understood this one! Well till I had kids of my own.
And even then I always thought of this as something to do with 'taking care of' and 'discipline'. I thought it meant being there for someone else when they were not in the same room for their kids. I even wondered why did I need an entire village, I mean just grandpa, grandma and uncles and aunts would be enough.  How could the 'village' help me raise my child?
But I recently got a completely different perspective of this 'Proverb'.

I thought - big misconception - I could somehow provide for all the needs of my child. If I was not good at something, I could take my child somewhere to learn it. The key word being - 'I'. And so along comes Isaac and Ziva, two different personalities with completely unique interests.

As I watched the rapidly growing Isaac, I realized his immense love for animals. Now I am not a great animal lover. I am all for animal kindness and no cruelty etc. But Isaac is in love with all animals. I mean he dreams of being a Zoo keeper or a Forest Ranger when he grows up. He spent a lot of time these past couple of months with one of his school books that dig deep into the animals from different parts of the world! I would find him often just dwelling on a few pages here and there.

I could deal with this interest. I mean all I had to do was read the book. And we did. It is how we began each day. 'Usborne - World of Animals'! First thing in the morning. It was how I got him to do other school work. Bribe - I will read Usborne - WOA if you finish Math, Kannada, writing.

And then Isaac shifted gears.
Isaac : 'Amma can you draw a giraffe for me.'
Amma: Silence - 'No. Appa can'
And so evening after evening Appa was dragged into drawing an animal and Isaac would color it. For some reason Isaac barely attempted to draw on his own. Probably because Appa's rhino's and hippos were way too artistic.

Then two weeks ago - one Friday Bandh - we had a a few visitors. One was the talented and patient 'Karan Uncle'
I am not sure how they sat down together because Isaac rarely warms up to any folk outside of the family. Maybe it had something to do with some drawing. Finally 'Karan uncle' spent most of his Friday/Saturday drawing Zebras and Hippos.

I dont know what clicked after that - but Isaac kept trying to draw the animals on his own. I even caught him following Karan uncle at lunch, post Sunday service. I really have never seen him follow anyone other than me - Yes I was an incy bit jealous. :)
I try to reason why Isaac didn't get inspired by Suresh's drawing and I came up with theory. Appa and Amma could do everything so he didn't attempt imitating.  But Karan uncle was more of a buddy and if Karan uncle could draw - maybe he should try too.

My son had found inspiration in the 'village'! 

Currently there is constant drawing and redrawing of animals. Practice ! Practice! Practice!

A few weeks ago, at the church retreat, the children were dancing to a song they had learned. As the kids kept going, there was a sudden roar of cheer from the youth! You could see all the children get really encouraged. As parents one of our primary role is to encourage our kids and we can see them grow into balanced individuals. But when the  'VILLAGE' encourages a child - we get a benevolent society!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The BUTTON and the LEAKY TAP - A story on equality

A few months ago, one Sunday evening we were hanging out at home. It was unusual, since we are almost never at home on Sunday evenings. We had the company of one of our youth from church and this little controversy started through a rather simple request from Suresh

Suresh: ' Hi Rohini - can you stitch my shirt button?'
Before I could reply, the young girl jumped in.
Girl: ' Why can't you stitch your own button?'
Suresh was taken aback and we realized that we had a budding feminist in our presence. I think he responded something to the effect of  'I dont know how to stitch a button' - which led to further horn locking and comments on why men could not do everything.

We live in an age that is completely confused. We don't have separate roles anymore for men and women and we believe everyone must do everything or at least know to do everything. The term here is equality.
A common argument I hear is how the woman's role is changing in our times. I.e. women are leaving the home to go to work and so men should help out more at home. But are they helping out more at home?
The button request conversation made me realize that there were things that my husband could not do on his own. And .... it made me happy.
Marriage is not about equality. If we were two equal individuals, who could do everything on our own, we would not need each other. The word 'need' is very important in marriage. If we do  not 'need' each other then it would be like roommates with kids :)
As I thought further into the 'button'  conversation, I realized there were many things I could not do on my own! Like fix a LEAKY TAP! Or even simpler things like unscrew a bottle lid. I could get someone to fix it like a plumber - and Suresh could get someone to stitch his button.
But just the fact that I had a person who asked me for help and I could go to the person for help, made me realize the joy of inequality.
We frequently talk about men having brute strength and women having emotional strength. That is the beauty of inequality in marriage.
We recently attended a marriage seminar and were asked to describe our marriage. Suresh described ours as a three-legged race. Clumsy, but holding on to each other!

Marriage is not about equally dividing responsibility. Marriage is about sharing responsibility.
Marriage is not about who makes the Tea. Marriage is about making Tea for someone and having someone you can ask to make Tea for you.
Marriage is not about about who brings home the pay check. Marriage is about taking the decisions together on how that money is spent.
Marriage is not about who stitches the button - but also who is willing to ask for the the button to be stitched and who is willing to stitch the button :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Buying my First car!

I could say, I was born with a silver spoon. But it seemed that sometime around the age of 22, I spat out the spoon and decided to try my foot with the regular steel spoon in the real world.

One interesting journey I had was the buying of a car.
As someone born with a silver spoon, you would think I had a car or a bike or some mode of transportation of my own in Amchi Mumbai. Oh No! Amchi Mumbai is famous for its excellent public transportation and phenomenal connectivity. I also had a dad who had not grown with a silver spoon and at least to some extent chose not to spoil his two daughters with his riches. And so when we were taken out of the school bus system, which was around 11 years of age for me, we had to travel by the Bus no # 214 of the famous Bombay Muncipal Corportation.

I remember during the Bandra fair, which happened close to our place, the #214 never came close to our house and so after a long day at school we would have to walk the last 1 km! Of course we didn't dare complain as both dad and mom would pop out the story on how they had to walk all the way and sometimes had to walk 2-3 hrs to get to school. Now that I think of it, I don't think their bags were heavy - but I still dare not argue.

When we started going to college which was further away from home, it was bus -rail - walk.
Even after I learned to drive at 18, I was rarely given the car. I was allowed to drive only if dad or mom were in the car. I remember once, nervously, asking dad for the car to go for tuition. But that was the max I would dare. There was no way that I could even think about asking for the car to go for a movie with friends or even to a friends house. All those 'extra-curricular' activities had to be done on bus-rail-walk mode.

When I landed in the US, a car was the least of my interest as I struggled with the cold weather and poor academic understanding. But right after the end of our first term, a friend of ours offered to sell his car as he was buying another one. Suresh and I were friends at this point and decided we had just about enough money to buy a car and we would pool in the cost of the car, fuel and insurance. It seemed like a good deal till we crashed the car - A whole another blog on the crash - COMING SOON.

Once we had got our confidence back and I had made a few extra bucks at the summer job volunteering at the Greek festival, we got back into the task of car hunting again. Our budget was ~$2000. That was it! And that was all we could afford. We spent days looking for a car. Something that actually worked! It was hard but we finally found this perfectly cute Red Honda Civic! Cost $2000.

Perfect it fitted in out budget. The man who was selling it to us, was a good talker. And we were newbies! He told us the car was perfect and that he would take us to a mechanic.
Never for a moment did we think anyone would cheat us! I mean why would they cheat us! We were nice people! So they had got to be nice people! NAIVE!
The car seller did all the ground work for us. He took us to a mechanic who he knew! ALERT! ALERT! Then once this ' good' mechanic approved the car, he took us to the DMV and got all the paper transferred to our name, took the cheque for $2000 and that was it!
We probably drove the car about 10 miles, maybe less than it  and it stopped. Our very first day on our wonderful car, bought with our hard earned money and we were pushing it to a parking spot just so we would not get a parking ticket!
We drove around the car for about 4-6 months. If you dont believe that an inanimate object can harass you, try buying a car that does not work too well! The car harassed us each and every day! It stopped at random places. It refused to start in the middle of the interstate. It cost us a lot of money in repairs.

Finally we sold it off for about $200 - just happy to get rid of it. The 'nice' mechanic who bought it also made a ton of money off us in repairs before he 'advised' us to sell the car.
The scar of this car buying was very deep. So deep that for the next 3 years we did not look at another car. Even when we had a little savings in the bank, we chose to stick with using public transportation and doing groceries on the cycle and carrying them in a haversack back home.

Finally in 2004, after I had returned from an internship and Suresh had a part time internship still going, we ventured into car buying again!
Just as we finished paying for the car in installments, we happened to take a course on Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.
This was about the time I was almost 9 months pregnant! I think Isaac and Ziva will have Dave Ramsey and our own personal experience with car buying to thank when they get their license and are refused their own vehicle.

For those of you who had your parents buy you your first vehicle, be thankful! For those parents contemplating on buying your kids a vehicle! STOP - It wont kill them to ride public transport! They may even learn a few lessons on money management.