Thursday, June 6, 2024

Periods - preparing our next generation

Smriti Irani lost in the elections. I hope she finds her way back in parliament. I say this as I remembered one of her attendance where she calmly but confidently replied in the question hour, "Period is not an illness", Smriti Irani had confidently put her 'personal' opinion in the parliament. I appreciated the way the discussion around the often taboo subject happened so openly, respectfully and in a dignified manner especially between the two genders. Each person that participated in the debate epitomized how mature we can be when discussing such issues.  

It coincided with my own internal discourse of how personally I feel about periods as a woman. Especially, since I have two daughters who will grow up one day to face similar situations, this become even more pertinent question for me in general. How should woman feel about periods? And to answer this for my girls, I revisited my own story as a girl and how did I feel the first time. But first lets start with

Should we or Shouldn't we?

talk about periods with our daughters. I came from a generation where there was no question of talking freely and confidently about it. The general attitude was nobody would. Forget about open discussions. Women were huddled together into the kitchen in the patriarchal setup and the D-day would be looked upon as a filthy disability. By the way have this outlook really changed? 

And then came the times when it couldn't be ignored any more but women just tend to be hush hush about it or giggle sheepishly too embarrassed to discuss anything relevant related. Remember those initial days of Sanitary pads showing in TV commercials. And in most of our families everyone, men or women, would do their best to ignore that Ad even though seconds before and later our eyes were glued to the rest of the content on TV. I remember being so confused what the fuss was about as a little girl who had no idea as the women in my family always dismissed my curiosity too ashamed to talk openly about it.

What does all that say about our own feelings about being a woman?

Over time, in my personal experience, after speaking with so many woman from all sorts of backgrounds, I understood this hate towards periods have led to woman in general not feeling great about herself. Sad, two beautiful genders needed to make a beautiful world but one feels constantly bad about her biology! Beauty begins at home. Instead the one word that describes the feeling most of the girls feel after starting a period would not be beauty but - 'ASHAMED'. Yes, girls feel ashamed of periods. And we have to break this cycle of this feeling of being ashamed. It is nothing but social conditioning being passed down between generations and generations of women. And don't get me wrong, by breaking the cycle, I don't mean going totally opposite and become shameless about it. We need to be confident and keep our grace. 

Some woman believe they can talk confidently about periods. But talking is different. That is your attitude. Deep down how do you feel about having periods? Especially that icky feeling you cant avoid to have about those days. To young mothers I ask to reflect, if you have a daughter would you teach her or you will escape till she gets to know from the special sessions at her school? What would you tell her when she asks if this happen to everyone even boys? How would you make sure that your girl who till now enjoyed being a girl wearing pretty dresses and playing princess dolls suddenly start seeing being a girl as a not so pretty affair after all? Will you talk to her with grim expressions lamenting on the fate of every girl or will you be carrying a smile on your face while talking?

Your deep down feelings are going to decide the foundation of next generation of girls - if they are happy being girls or not. And if they are healthy. Knock knock, the emotional health play a big role deciding the physical health of a person. A happy woman is likely to take care of herself every day and hence, have happy periods. And you have an important role in deciding that.

Think about it like this : You have to move to a new region due to some circumstances and the natives there aren't welcoming to anyone as they are not happy people themselves. A happy person is welcoming but they are not. They talk in a different local language but don't guide you. You learn with great difficulty that local language and struggled so much that in time, you also end up becoming a bitter person. You hate the country, the people and the language. And now another new foreigner arrives in that region just like you. Chances are you will not be welcoming too. The cycle continues.

We have something similar in our period-land. You talk to any woman, ask their first experience, their first reaction about having periods. And they will say they were scared, shocked, cried. How many were encouraged by their mothers or elder sisters and got to share their feelings? They hated why it happens to girls and in some cases they hated why are they girls? 

As a mother, as a human, who see myself more as a soul in a vessel, I find that feeling absurd and something that needs to be addressed. No one should feel why are they born like the way they are! We are supposed to just carry on in the best way we can with what we have got and let the life happen. 

Ok, so we agree woman should not feel ashamed about having periods. But how to feel great about it?  After all, it IS a mess we have to deal with every month. And its just us the woman suffering from it. Suffering - hmm, yes that's the root cause why we feel its a bad thing. Lets tackle that. Our social conditioning that it is a suffering. Lets challenge that.

What did I feel the first time?

The first time I had periods, I was glad and thankful. I was not ashamed, I didn't cry. The reason was I was a late bloomer. I was not conscious enough to feel bad about being a girl and yet conscious enough to understand the women in the family were so ashamed of it that nobody wanted to guide me. I am a self learned person and that helped me to learn a lot and without any prejudice against myself as a female gender. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

My tryst with compliments

I noticed this lady at a cultural event recently. She was all decked up wearing a heavy blue jewelry set aesthetically matching her traditional blue attire. She wasn't smiling much trying to dance and match steps with other people. We were positioned at some distance to be able to talk. But I couldn't help but to gesture her how wonderful she was looking. We didn't know each other at all. She wouldn't even have noticed me, a regular woman in that whole crowd of exceptionally dressed beautiful men and women. But she was elated. And we continued in our respective groups. I didn't want to say anything else. Who was she, from where she did her shopping or any other effort that can help me in any way. No, I don't want to ruin it. Let her enjoy the admiration and let me enjoy seeing the effect of it on another soul. I might not even recognize her again. But that moment when her carefully crafted presence got my attention and made me admire her also made me realize how much I enjoy complimenting people there and then, even if there is no connection between us. I do it so easily. There are numerous stories I can tell if you would like to stop and listen about all the times when I complimented someone and I can also tell in detail for what and the effect it had. Like when I told an elderly receptionist how much she resembled Meryl Streep and she went on telling me and her colleague about her great aunt who was so exceptionally beautiful. What a lovely feeling, no burden of any expectation at all but just a freedom to express admiration and see its effect on the object of that affection. 

But it made me think about my own struggles with anxiety and how it makes it difficult for me to wholeheartedly accept any compliment myself. I am mostly quiet around strangers but I am super confident in extending praise and then leaving but it is exceptionally hard for me to accept any applause or accolades gracefully that come my way. This is totally in contrast to the way I give. I am not able to receive in the same manner. My general reaction is first an awkwardness, then a sheepish reaction and then an explanation of how that state that grabbed attention was completely undesired, unintentional, and actually its not a state worth attention at all. It's as if it doesn't belong to me or better I don't deserve it. Don't waste it on me. Or in short please ignore me, let me embrace the oblivion. Compliments are hard for me to process and digest. 

Feelings like these are rooted from the childhood (Isn't that true for all our strengths and weaknesses?). How much attention you were given when you were a child, how much you were encouraged? Were you praised enough when you put even a smallest of an effort or were you reprimanded more for silly little things like just for being present somewhere. My childhood saw more of criticism than accolades. I was used to getting ignored more than getting noticed. My spirit was let down more than getting uplifted. Hence, my challenges with praises in my adulthood. The reason I am sharing all of this is because I am sure I am not the only one here. The world is beautiful but let's get real the world can get really brutal. And many of us are on the receiving end of that brutality during our formative years only. And hence a lot of us are facing such challenges. 

But here is a key I found to unlock those hidden secrets of confidence that evaded us in the childhood. That there is a beauty in those challenges. Like my challenge somehow made me aware of how much power we hold in uplifting someone's spirit by giving. If I experienced lack of energy because of unhelpful criticism then how much energy I can help to bring in the environment around me by showering genuine admiration. And subconsciously I try to use that power wherever possible. When I compliment people the smile I get, the happiness I see fills my heart with joy. I see my inner child patting my back for doing something it missed badly.


I could have been someone different. What I didn't get I wouldn't have given. But seems like it doesn't work that way always. When we experience things which are unpleasant it actually makes us more aware, more sensitive to what pleasantness can actually offer. It's like hunger. The more you are deprived of food the more you understand the importance of it. What a hopeful thing deprivation is! What a wonderful thing struggle is! May we all have enough strength to see the complete picture a challenge really holds. 

Compliments make the world a nicer place. They motivates, encourages make the environment positive and happier. Which side of the compliment spectrum are you? The proud receiver or the humble giver? For all the proud receivers, well-done for being the source of inspiration. And all the humble givers - lets plough on. And the compliments, well, please don't stop them, keep them coming. One day, perhaps one day they will be comforting to us as much as they are supposed to be.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

What's in the name? Tell me about it.

 ‘Ram’, I suddenly called my colleague in a group call as I struggled recalling his preferred name. I confess I am poor with remembering names and worse when I am not attentive enough to talk. It's a weakness that keeps people like me much to themselves. I am sure many would relate to this predicament. But that’s not the point here. The point is I called him Ram because out of his full long traditional Indian name which contained several small different names, that’s the only one that stood out for me when I quickly gazed at the screen to help myself out. And the real point of this story is I love the name Ram. Simply because I love Ram. 

Let's clear the air first before proceeding with the rest of this story. Yes I am talking about 'The Ram' from the epic Ramayana. But I insist there is nothing religious about it. Yeah yeah I agree, it started because of the religion I was born into. And the culture- yeah all those festivals. And the rituals. I get all that but to avoid wearing the religion on my sleeves, lets say my love started when I read the epic Ramayana and loved the character of the main protagonist, Ram. I loved it so much that I didn't care about what is right or wrong in that holy epic as many modern people debate. I like to stay away from ‘those’ sort of discussions. For me, there is this whole romance associated with Ram and Ramayana, a whole cult that has nothing to do with the story. It’s just positivity and complete devotion to an idea of someone who is very pure and kind. It’s the process of focusing and devoting one self on that pure form that I find very attractive. I don’t want anything negative between me and that feeling of devotion. Clear? Good lets go back to the story.

I felt very proud that I was factually correct while calling my colleague in my miserable state of absenteeism. I also felt very amused that I could chant Ram publicly while speaking with my colleagues. That’s the beauty of Indian names which are after our Gods. That’s why my daughters names are after the Hindu Goddesses. Calling these names ensure something spiritual at least in the whole busy day than doing nothing lol.  

BUT my colleague was not very happy about it. As I said earlier, ‘Ram’ is just part of his full name but of course, his first name which he prefers to be his calling name, is different. And everybody is used to calling him with that regular name. So after the meeting, much to my surprise and his annoyance, my little 'one second' faux pas ensued a kind of mayhem. People were confused in the office, some called him and asked what should they actually call him and some got so confused they were asking who is this new guy called ‘Ram’ in the team! And though he was able to clear some air in sometime yet his name as ‘Ram’ stayed with the project manager who is an Englishman. Ram is a name that has its own significance, its own magic, even people from other cultures pay attention to the name especially when someone say it with the kind of devotion like mine. Ram, Christ, Buddha, Mohammad these names make people around the world pause. They are not just names, they are the ideals of human life. The manager was adamant to call him only ‘Ram’ every time and not letting it go as he found it nice and easy to pronounce it. Especially after learning with much difficulty so many different kind of names in our multicultural team.  

Poor guy struggled to remind his real first name to the manager and rest of the team for sometime but finally gave up much to his dismay. Later whenever he talked to me, he would call me by different names, some times Ruchi, sometimes Rohini and sometimes just anything - he said he genuinely gets confused but I suspect he does it to get even which I honestly don’t mind. After all, I felt blessed as I get to hear ‘Ram’ ka ‘naam’ every morning in my work calls.  😂





Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sounds of Quiet - #poem

Whirling waves in the heart of oceans,
Trembling thunders in the dust of clouds ,
Violent volcanoes in the depth of mountains,
And yet, surrendered all sounds to the joys of quiet.

So many words that I could have chosen,
Thoughts aspirations and hidden desires
Let only float in my eyes with contention
For, I have surrendered all sounds to the joys of quiet.

They tell I can be the master of this 
Those tell I can be the master of that
May be all are right but how does that matter,
When, one has to surrender all sounds to the joys of quiet.

So listen to my one bit, coz I promise  words have ceased to excite me
Silence no more is compulsion but my golden friend
I can teach you too how it inspires glee

But wait.. who am I to teach an inspiration
To speak that which can only be felt and can’t be expressed
It might not come to you any day or it may
If it does then you too will surrender all sounds to the joys of quiet.

That day we’ll talk our hearts out my friend,
And how real that conversation will be,
No spoken word yet the quiet will reveal each others..
Thoughts aspirations desires and dreams..

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Internet - A parent's dilemma #ChroniclesOfAnITmomma

I think it was just a year before my high school when I became curious about Internet. We didn't have it at home. We didn't have even a computer at home that time. It was the newspapers where I first read about it. Nobody in my family knew about it. And I was so curious!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Main jahan rahoon.... on 26th Jan

One year ago we moved for the first time to another country. Moved from our country of origin to a completely foreign location. My wandering soul as always embraced this as an opportunity to traverse new lands n skies, converse with new different people, soak in diverse cultures.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Butterfly with a #Blindlist

Have you ever imagined a life like that of a caterpillar who always stayed in its cocoon? Protected and sheltered from the outside world. Spending its days and nights, all inside. Growing in body and mind but still who has to remain inside. Until the inside is not big enough!