Posted in Extras

Hand me my thorthu not the bathrobe!

Inspired to write this 😀

We in India mostly prefer cotton towels not the fluffy turkish towels given our tropical climate. The turkish towels do not absorb moisture and are heavy but they probably keep you warm after a shower.

The southern state of Kerala, also neighbouring one to my home state Tamil Nadu is famous for its ‘Thorthu’ or handwoven cotton towels that are richly absorbent. Kerala is a monsoon country. Entire India is known for seasonal rains but Kerala is too very popular even with foreign tourists who visit the state especially for its monsoon season (although in last two years the monsoons have wrecked havoc in the state triggering landslides and flooding). Tamil Nadu too has its share of woven white towels from Cooptex, Erotex and such handloom boards, yet the Kerala quality is unbeatable!

I have dozens of these thin weaves at home. I got a couple for my American daughter-in-law when she lived in India and asked her not to use a hairdryer but this towel. First hesitant, later on seeing its absorbent quality and quick drying nature with 100% cotton thread weave, she fell in love with this textile. I packed her over half a dozen when she left for US, urgently asking my Mallu friend to courier thorthus to me even in Covid conditions! When I visited US recently I had taken a few with me and my daughter wanted them. I have few more in Chennai. I must remember to courier her more when I visit India next. And I have to order online another batch straight from Kerala again!

Why do we need bathrobes or fluffy towels when we have our desi thorthu. It has to be experienced to be believed! And we can have a dozen and more to use at ease. Finally they come cheapest – from Rs. 60 for smallest size to max Rs.200 or 300 for those with widest dimensions. That is from under US$1 to 5 maximum.

So now I have decided to make our local thorthu world famous! For women, it can be as good as wraparound or sarong after our time in pool. A thorthu can be quite long and wide enough to go around us and cover our entire torso. For men too it can hang nicely on waist. So easy to maintain. For new born babies and young children who you want to wipe clean of moisture for fear of catching cold, nothing like thorthu to come to your aid. Especially for wrapping your head after a shower. There is hardly any work left for the hairdryer to do after you dry your hair with thorthu. You can rinse thorthu in the washbasin, as simple as that. Takes under an hour to dry in open air or just over an arm chair in our living! Space saving as well. You can stack two dozens in little space! Easy to pack and carry like hankie. Pristine white.

Economic and functionally best thorthu! Most authentic original Indian produce are this but then who wants anything ours? They all go for synthetic and toxic China stuff only 😦

Posted in Food For Soul

Khandhan

It pains my heart to write this.

We are all parents. We know the ways of our kids. I am the ’80s teen. I know even how way back in those days, we girls still cheated on our parents and got away with it. In an era where even short skirts were taboo, i have had among my friends circles girls who ‘crossed the line’ – if i may put it so. Who violated every single unwritten code in the morals and ethics book of their conservative, orthodox Hindu families. Today they are all happily married with grown up kids in twenties. Boys for their share smoked and boozed, as expected of them, behind their parents’ back. I have heard from my husband how boys from his engineering hostel even went to call girls. We are not here all saints from our turbulent teens. Many of us have erred, keeping with times. However that did not stop us from becoming what we are today. Every single one of us including the bold ones has made it, and that’s the most cheering news of all. What would have happened if the guilty had had to be punished.

In today’s world, our children are merely taking the next step in rebellion which is part of growing-up. Or coming of age. One of my regular cabbies told me once how a particularly addictive leafy stuff has spread like wildfire to each and every corner of Chennai, mainly sold in front of school gates and college entrances. Nobody made it to sports these days without a high from the campus. Or even to the examination hall. IT industry precipitated the matter. The acute stress levels chasing deadline after deadline cast the young men and women towards seeking a quick release. Parental and peer pressure nonetheless. My friends too aver how everything is freely available in the city and you don’t have to look far. Practically no locality is free of the net. Any government that is keen on securing the future of our youngsters must know where to look first.

I was discussing exactly this problem that I don’t even want to name with my son’s friends both in America and in India. They think this particular dried leaf one is no big deal and that they’re all canvassing to make it legal in India as it was until the 1970s when it was overnight declared illegal which pushed up its procurement costs and consumption rates. Now some vested interests even cultivate it for exclusive clientele. Some anti-social rackets naturally make a neat sum out of this as they get the younger gen hooked. Said the boys, it is tobacco which is worst but sadly or perhaps very cleverly its consumption is legal. I did not agree with the boys, but the same view is also held by my generation guys who are doing well in IT field.

I went for a single session counselling with a leading psychiatrist. One thing he told me was, the youngsters of today have to know if possible everything on planet. It is age-related. Or what you say in Tamil, ‘vayasu kolaru.’ They will eventually come out of this on their own by the time they hit their thirties. Only a negligible percentage become addicts. So he asked me to ignore if I might discover my son smoking or boozing with friends. He said, it was I who had to change not the kids. My generation has to wake up said the doc with enormous experience in the field who is also running a de-addiction center. I wanted advice on parenting with him. How to deal with a son in his twenties. Of course now my son is a father himself. I don’t have to keep an eye on him. Destiny has made him responsible. Some lessons, life can teach our children and it is better we remain mere observers. Sometimes it is okay to see our kids fail or fall. With a great restraint, we have to hold back ourselves from lending them a helping hand. The only comfort for our children must be that, whatever, we parents would love them unconditionally and accept them for what they are. And that we’d accept their choices wholeheartedly.

It is not easy parenting in this century although I am now finally heaving a sigh of relief. But I have an open mind compared to even my hubby who is a lot more conservative with rigid outlook. I got to mix with my son’s friends and came to know both the girls and boys of the 90s better. Believe me, even our girls seem to love the brown leafy or root powder! The first time I got wind of the youngsters’ habits, like any average Indian parent I was shocked to the core. Or you can say my heart almost stopped. My other thought was like, ‘omg what’s happening to my good old Madras!’ But I roused myself to reality. I think I am better in dealing with crisis when it comes to family than my husband who can solve complex industrial issues but not matters of domesticity. I have had hours of discussion with the boys on delicate subjects. I think our Indian govt also has to be practical. Now why are we updating on every front. Windows 10 to 11. How many Android updates. You check even our Cowin website. How fast they are updating with facts and figures gathered from stats from all around the country. I am asking this simple question: why cannot our government do an analysis on the emerging lifestyle of our youngsters. We simply cannot have all at the same time. If you want more and more money, you have to take more and more stress. And to beat stress you need a potent stress reliever. As simple as that.

I felt a pain when one of the kids told me, how we the parents still could be luckier generation while their grandparents (our parents) could have been the luckiest of Indians in last 2000 years, for they not only lived in a peaceful era sans wars, but also were surrounded by green unpolluted environs; there was no reason to chase money; life was simple and sweet. Many of the boys and girls of 90s still aren’t yet married. And they already say, they do not want biological kids, and that they would like to go for adoption. S*x life of the kids also has hit an abysmal low compared to our generation. Stress is playing a spoilsport in every front. Such a listless generation is what we have in our hands. So disillusioned when I see some kids. Of course, not everyone is in such a deep despair. I hope the Khan kid is not targeted. A wrong is a wrong whoever does it. But then when you have a kid of the same age, you think twice before judging. As a parent, my heart goes out to SRK. This must not happen to any parent. I have caught kids redhanded in compromising circumstances. I ignored them but reported on them to their parents behind their backs. My friends are mature and know how to handle things. They never stir the hornets’ nests. How to untangle situations and get the kids without least damage is the knack of parenting, with not even the kids knowing. This kind of wisdom is god’s gift.

I do not deny that some mischievous elements are flushing toxic substances into India. Neither am I justifying abuse of any kind. I am vociferously against both. But we need to take care that we don’t hurt our children. They are still our kids. I felt bad for SRK and wife Gauri. Stars and billionaires also have families and more than all emotion and heart. We cannot keep bleeding them so cruelly like this. What kind of sadists have we become to rejoice when a celebrity suffers, only because he made it big. Well, let us allow law to do its duty. This social media trial of the starkid is unwarranted and heartless.

The cleanup of Indian Gennext has to start right from the capital Delhi. Let every school and college campus be combed which is a Herculean task I know. Reforming the youngsters must be our priority, not penalizing them. We gain nothing out of turning them into anti-establishment. Engaging the younger lot productively is the greatest challenge of our times as their attention span is shrinking. With more of economic comfort, they lack the drive to excel or prove a point. Boredom is one good reason for kids going astray. This is really nobody’s fault. It has to happen. It is natural for lethargy to set in given that we have cushioned them from rude jolts of life like our parents never did for us. In Tamil again we say, ‘muppadhu varusham vaazhndhavanum kidayadhu, muppadhu varusham thaazhndhavanum kidaiyadhu.’ This is merely a cycle. For my generation and my parents, growth was fueled by desire for better standard of living. None of us even owned a telephone or car. What do our sons and daughters dream of? We tae them on exotic holidays, we shop for the best brands for them. They have had everything in life without working for anything. They lack nothing and that is exactly the problem. The low they feel is perfectly understandable. How many of them are on the verge of bottomless abyss called ‘depression’ – just ask parents like me. There is not much to fight for, we have taken it all making things easy for them. This i am saying after having hearty talks with 90s kids.

Let us forgive our children and move on. Time is the best healer. I have handled personal crisis with my patience. How many secrets a woman’s heart can hold. Right from my teens to now, i have known secret gays to hasty abortions. Sometimes just keeping quiet will do. Things will work out for better by themselves. As for the kids of 20s, they are still our children. If they err, we have to embrace them and let them know, it is ok. We can chastise them politely but convincingly as we have the right. But to bring them about without damaging them must be our mission. I do not believe in harsh punishments. Neither am I for political agendas or selective targeting. ‘Kalavum katru mara’ one more Tamil adage to quote here. This too shall pass. I can only close with the unflinching trust and belief in our kids that they will be over the bend with time. All we need to do is to be there for them when they make it on their own terms.

PS: Hopefully our media covers equally Adani port as well. Again from Tamil, ‘aanai poradhu theriyalai, poona thaan paavam panni maattiyadhu.’

Posted in Political

Going for a killing.

My fave brand FabIndia courted controversy very recently with the abrahamization of their commercial for the Hindu festival Deepavali aka Diwali. The store called the occasion ‘jashn-e-riwaaz’ only to get whipped by the backlash that followed as the Hindu community typically came up with a kneejerk reaction. The popular global brand of Indian textiles must know after the Tanishq experience.

As a patron for many years of this exclusive chain store (which is only in recent years having this many outlets), i found the ad very offending. But more ridiculous is the way our netizens discuss the label in social media. One claim of a single visit to the showroom and of the poor quality for exorbitant pricing was dripping hatred and totally unjustified. A bevy of nonsense followed smacking of ignorance, most of all haughty and boorish.

The said advt was removed immediately from media once the sensitivity of the Hindus was aired in social media.

But for the netizens to dwell upon the slight and dissect it at length with such a nastiness is uncalled for. Fifteen years or so back, nobody talked of handblocks or vegetable dyes. This brand did it and had it. Procurement was directly from weavers when it was not the norm. Fabindia were way ahead of the leading names of present times. Their silks also used to be muted, not flashy. Men’s kurtas were top of the range. Still are. The store attracted me with it its understated elegance. Now they have diversified into a variety of consumer/lifestyle catalogues all of which are of uncompromising standards.

Were they overpriced? May be as I said it was possible when they hadn’t expanded much and when we had limited branches to shop from. Their line of clothing was unique and a fusion of contemporary with the artisan which commanded a price. In that way I saw them as trendsetters or fashion-makers. It was a time when online shopping was a far cry. And handblocks especially were not yet in vogue. FabIndia could have been exclusively having handdyed kurtas in those days. Even now when we have so many, many options to choose from, I love their loose fits. I love their silk kurtas and own almost all shades. The wash instructions are pretty clear: handwash in water or dryclean very many times. As a rule for handdyed fabrics, machine wash and dryer-spinner are ruled out. If we stick to instructions, their merchandise last longest. I have friends who have been using the brand for over two decades without a complaint. I could be a brand ambassador myself: i have done a lot, lot of shopping from them and they still have the class that most other sellers lack. As for Patialas, i don’t think any other brand has it like them. What a flow. Same for Chikankari collection. Elegance. Casual chic. Breezy fit. That is how I would like to describe theirs. I own dozens of their outfits – kurtas in silk, handblock handdyed cottons, straight pants, patialas, salwars. Last year for the first time i shopped for dresses from them as well. I am one totally satisfied customer.

Yestderday I was put off by the ad. But like Tanishq i must admit that Fabindia never compromise on their standards. If anyone finds them expensive or not upto mark, it means they do not care for wash instructions and they have no idea on fashion trend or market pricing. Handblocks are expensive whichever label they may be. Handblocks with veg dyes do fade away faster. Colours will bleed on repeated washes but will hold after some time. That is when the true beauty of the garment will come out. Then there is the element of human error in handblocking process which lends the fabric its authenticity stamp. The brand showrooms are posh and employ efficient staff. Shopping with them is an experience matchless, and rare for an Indian brand. Pricing is a product of many, many add-ons such as ambience etc. The ignorance of some parties is pathetic and comes through the way they discuss anything that goes against them. The obvious fact is that machine made textiles last longest with colour never running being factory produce. And ofcourse come hell lot cheaper! Naturally!

As for styling, as someone not good at accessorizing or understanding fashion, I can still reckon how Fabindia was among the first to introduce the semi patialas, the straight ijar pants, the harem pants, short kurtas, the wraparounds, boatnecks, chikankari the way we know them today, initiating a bold trend and making a powerful fashion statement. Such a new and refreshing look to the old wardrobe.

I said i wouldn’t go for the brand again. I will not shop with them for a brief time to register my protest. Then after decent lapse of time i shall return to the showroom. I have been shopping with them for almost twenty years now. If the brand has not repented, it is another story. What is not overpriced in this country. From cricket player to movie actor. Nobody is forcing consumers to buy them. Consumers are kings. They pay the right price for what they think they want.

Demonizing anything or anyone who does not agree with us is evil. You can condemn someone or something for the wrong, but not for everything. You cannot use the slip as excuse to character assassinate them.

Whatever it is, let us argue, let us badmouth and then let us forgive and forget. This kind of stoking hate and fueling hate is horrible. I have no appetite for this kind of negative emotion. Every opportunity must not be used to propagate hate..

And yes, Diwali is DIWALI only NOT FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS. No way Jashn-e-riwaaz. Don’t send me your season’s greetings for Hindu festivals. Greet me ‘happy Deepavali, happy Pongal, happy Navratri.’ Greet me by the Hindu name of our festivals. Big, big no to generic names to Hindu festivals or abrahamization of Hindu festivals or anything Hindu. We are Hindus and WE ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL BE ABRAHAMICS. We revere our Dharmic roots very much and we want nothing to do with abrahamics that have no relevance for Hindus. Hindus for over 2000 years or perhaps 10000 years. Hindu Dharma – the longest surviving continuous native civilization in the world. Yes, you will have to swallow it.

Posted in Environment

Vanity In Pet Breeding.

After having white lab rats (not hamstrings) (bred especially for rearing as pets), it is time for (my grownup) kids to go for salamander fish (axolotl) in their aquarium (not really a pretty sight just like the lab rats however smart they may have been). We have had this conversation months ago and we are at square one on this yet again. How can the hyena be viewed vicious and the lion crowned the king of the jungle. Prejudices of many shades exist in our mindspace. One of the biting truths about pets we want on our home rug is that, most of us would like to have them for their vanity. Very few of the canines are bred for the watchdogs they are. Not many of us may be aware of the transitional journey our canines have had to undertake to grace our lives in the present, with their silky fur and satiny skin. The Pug for instance has been crossbred for over a century like any other canine so that what we have today is flat nosed, highly prone to obesity and heart disease and arthritis. The obsession to breed the perfect canine first surfaced in the American Kennel Club over a century ago. Ever since, countless canine lineages have been selectively crossbred and mixed bred that many dogs we have in modern times such as the German Shephard have very little in common with their ancestors from just a century before. The watchdogs of today have descended from the wolves of the forests, carefully domesticated and crossbred to alter their physical appearance and behaviour, to serve us as our friendly companions. The popular canine breeds such as the Cocker spaniel, Doberman, Dachshund, Golden retriever, Labrador, Lhasa etc., just to name a few, of present times have had a remarkable cosmetic makeover in last many decades. Selective crossbreeding brings with it its own share of health woes for the dogs as organs are mixed and matched, with the animal psychology or behaviour going for a toss. The new breed has to rewire the brain mapping and re-evolve. The results may always not be favourble even if aesthetically pleasing. For the pug as we see, the flat nose is the reason for serious breathing problems which in turn can put the life of the dog at risk. The Alsatian no more has the curved back but has gained pounds, all the time becoming less ferocious. A perfect manmade balance seems to have been struck here in taming the wolf to our advantage: less menacing, yet watchful and alert with a keen intelligence and sense of smell and ‘right’ canine looks. The human race’s infatuation with the purebred or the pedigree is equally harmful for the canines, as multiple congenital disorders are rampant leading to organ failures and a shorter lifespan. Human greed for pure bloodlines that are prized breeds has led to relentless (and at times commercial) inbreeding among the pedigrees that the purebreds today are not mostly immune to deadly infections. High mortality among pedigrees is a recorded fact. Whether selectively crossbred or mixed-bred or pedigree, the canines of current times have not had it easy to pamper our homes and make our lives more tolerable and easy. This is a good reason why we Indians must go for country dogs and strays among whom mixed breeding may occur naturally. We slam bodyshaming, but what have we done to man’s best friend over time. Exotic (amphibian) pets are fine if they are not intentionally harmed for breeding or when their species is not threatened with extinction . A big NO to wildlife especially the endangered as pets!

Posted in Environment

mission miyawaki

Someone from a club i am associated with has been instrumental in creating a small patch of what is called ‘the Miyawaki forest’ in a public park within city limits, pumping a little more oxygen into poisoned Chennai airs. That set me thinking.

Akira Miyawaki, the Japanese botanist, thought of this great idea of greening in bits and parcels wherever and whenever, creating tiny sustainable forests of native vegetation.

The Harrington road, the Spurtank Road, Shastri Bhavan road and even the Boat club as I remember from my school days are a far cry from the parched reality we have been calling our capital today. We chopped down trees in our own home. My in-laws place had at least two coconut trees, four Ashoka trees in the front and banana, mango trees and greens and flowering plants in the backyard quarter a century back. My parents surrounded their dream house with seven coconut trees, neem, mango and curry leaf trees etc. Not a trace of that green foliage exists today. Not only did we cut down the trees, we also cemented the ground so that monsoon downpour has no chance of percolating underneath the sedimentary topsoil layer, blocking any rainwater retention for ground water-table rise and moisture content. That is how good old Madras transformed into the concrete jungle we live in today as destructive transformation such as ours in every homefront changed the city for worse, polluting our waters and airs forever. Any breathing space was converted into spare bedroom without a thought.

That brings to my mind the lungs of the city our public parks and the dried up lakebeds, that metamorphed into housing colonies and private estates including lucrative professional institutions.

Green cover is shrinking at an alarming pace not only in our metro, but in entire India as the pressure on land is increasing steadily with elephant corridors and even the protected scheduled forest areas taken over for industrialization and/or urbanization. The promised afforestation is not happening. We cannot take over prime and secondary forests and then try to substitute them with tree saplings along river banks by way of compense or like an afterthought. Things simply don’t work that way. Native vegetation cannot be replaced by foreign species even if that could be teak. Teak cannot stand for neem or banyan. (By foreign, here is meant anything not local or native geographically to a particular area. In India, localization may be as specific as a district or state.)

the miyawaki forest-vertical garden in gn chetty rd, chennai, one of the many in the city these days…

But the little bit of greenery that caught my attention in city roads by way of kind of vertical gardening made me wonder if this is Miyawaki forest attempt as well! Other cities like Bangalore are far ahead in trying to infuse little of oxygen into atmosphere compared to Chennai, I know, but somewhere we have to have a beginning.

Terrace gardens are another big way to go green, even if that may fall far below desired level of greening. We have to remember that trees have to be replaced by trees and not with mere potted plants that do not root out and trap moisture in soil. Our city must have native neem, mango, peepal or the sacred fig, banyan and ashoka trees planted more not merely the aesthetically appealing flame-of-the-forests for street side shade.

Gardening is no more a leisure activity, it is our dire necessity. Forestry is our basic requirement today. There is an ongoing debate on commercial forests about which I am skeptical as it can encourage more prime-secondary forests falling prey to development agenda. Native vegetation also may come under threat with commercially viable alien species becoming popular choice.

I am resident of an Arab country where they are greening their arid landscapes expending millions of dollars that the city I live in middle east seems far more greener than the city I come from in India. From transplanting Amazon trees to virtual desert lands to creating fresh water lagoons from the sparse drizzle that hardly graces these parched limestone terrains, the locals and government go out of their way to ensure a little quality oxygen content in their airs, which is admirable. For this, we have to love nature first, we have to care for our environment. We have to love and respect our country first as well. We must cringe at damaging and destructing mother nature as we do in India so ruthlessly. Alas, in India, we have government and gurus who happen to think economic progress and God can be found by deforesting and industrializing, what do we do!

how about a hanging garden for Chennai…

Let each and everyone of us at micro range create our own little Miyawaki today that at macro level we can bring in a transformation in India over a period of time. We read of inspiring stories of how individuals raise forests, sustain vegetation and preserve waterbodies even in India. It is time we do our bit to giving back to Mother Earth what we have taken from Her.

A typical Miyawaki we have already been having in Hindu temples by way of ‘stala vrksha’ – the native tree and vegetation for centuries. The concept is really not entirely new to us. All we need to do is expand from here by and large to cover more and more tracts with greenery.

Posted in Lateral Thinking

Gender Neutral & Unbranded.

Recently shopping, i picked a cute dress for my newborn granddaughter. My son and daughter-in-law put down the one in pink i selected for our baby saying, they did not favour the typical pink colour associated with girls. Embroidered on the front was the word ‘princess.’ My grownup kids found it too sexist and vain to their taste. Who says blue is the colour for the boys and flowers are for girls. The clothes I observed, they went for, were kind of unisex. This was not the first time I heard on the relevance of going for gender-neutral clothes from the young couple. They tell me how the discrimination started right from a child’s infancy with pink dresses and baby dolls given to girls, and the shorts and shirts and cars being boys’. My children are also against introducing brands to kids which is why they insist, they would have to forego ‘Barbie’ doll for their daughter. It’s important that the playthings or toys would not be gender-specific. From Walt Disney to Pokemon, the young people said, they would try to keep their baby away. Instead, unbranded animations and books on wildlife and nature would be introduced. . Which is why they opted for a neutral name for their baby as well. Well, my granddaughter goes by a tree name. Her middle name is an exotic African wild animal going extinct. Her surname is a concept or way of life. There is no religious hint to the name. This way the couple who have adopted plant-based dietary habit, cut through genders, races and nationalities, saying they do not believe in borders.

Born and raised a vegetarian in India, ideas such as crossdressing and freethinking do not go down readily with me given my conservative background. It remains to be seen how successful the new parents are going to be in carrying out in principle, their kind of universal ideology.

Looks like more guys are on the block sharing the neutral perspective. However, one of my friends opinioned that even this kind of lateral thinking, and even activism which is one step ahead, can be luxuries unaffordable to masses. You have to be privileged to afford the ‘unbranding’ exercise and be choosy about consumerism.

Posted in Pictures Foreign

Review: Harriet

Strongly Recommended.

This award winning Hollywood flick with Cynthia Erivo playing Harriet was on Netflix. The picture sheds light on socio-economics of America in the nineteenth century and how discontent is brewing among the black community who pine for slavery to be abolished. They leave no stone unturned to win over freedom from their slave masters and one way of going about it was to flee. Families stay united and keep track of/searching for the sold or missing members. There are underground networks who aid the fugitives in settling down when recruiting more ‘conductors’ to help rescue slaves from their miseries. Minty who later goes by her ‘free’ name Harriet Tubman is an exceptionally brave black woman who flees from her slave master in Maryland. Her flight to freedom wading through inhospitable terrain is incredulous. In Philadelphia her new home, she assumes the name of ‘Moses’ and becomes a successful ‘conductor’ directly involved with freeing dozens of slaves and ferrying them across to northern states from the dangerous south, either by road or rail or boat or even by foot as she proposes in the secretive Abolition committee (or society?) to which she is appointed. The freed slaves are to be gainfully employed in the underground railroad work. Real life story, Harriet is a very inspirational picture, a gripping watch. Period film set in eighteen hundreds, it is about the determined pursuits of the one bold woman who would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Harriet is forced to flee once more to Canada crossing borders as the Fugitive Slaves Act comes into force. As civil war ensues, Harriet leads a battalion and in the process frees hundreds of slaves as she lights up the beacon of hope for what is to come in future: abolition of slavery and freedom from slavery for the African American Blacks (called Negros in the picture).

Posted in Socio-Political

Humanity Is Basic Decency

Equality and Social Justice are basic human decency.

My recent visit to African American Museum in Washington DC reaffirmed to me a lot of my views. Finally I know I have no ill-conceived notions on equality and social justice. Its despicable, abhorrent that some of us must even come to think they must be superior to fellow humans merely by virtue of birth. I cannot help but find parallels between racial prejudice that seems to be interwoven with the birth of modern America and the caste prejudice prevalent in Hindu India that are strikingly similar in most ways. Only, in India, the assault is more on the mind even today.

Muhammad Ali, the boxer, comes across as the most dynamic sportsperson with a mind of his own. We all grew up watching him, yet the powerful statements he made and the principles he stood for have moved me to the core. Not stopping with mere words, Ali gears up into action. He truly makes a difference. What an inspiring life!

Parts of this museum, in spite of my anticipation, bore into my soul straight. From fictions on Africa such as those of Wilbur Smith, I had precisely imagined the slave ships and the slave trade. However nothing prepared me for the graphic details and illustrations. In India we had a slightly different story. The ‘untouchables’ were sometimes asked even not to be seen. In Kerala, they had to move shouting so that they could be avoided seen from their voices. Breast taxes were imposed on women. Cremation and sanitation duties still continue to be caste-based. The brahmins, baniyas and kshatriyas prospered at the expense of the shudras and the panchamas without a conscience. Denying knowledge ran in the Hindu ranks. Knowledge reigns supreme in some communities, not because it was shared. Knowledge became a weapon to some because it was NOT shared but kept within blood lines. There has never been dignity of labour in Hindu community. There has never been a sense of service. Divinity and service to humanity are totally de-linked. Animal sacrifice seems to have been replaced by animal abuse in the abode of god and in the name of god. The temple elephants! No Vedas were prescribed to be monopolized by a single community. Scriptures from later dates connived to maintain the supposed hierarchy or social order dictated by the upper castes as the Varnaashramaa expanded aided by the Agamic temples. Psychological damage done to the lowest castes of India by the upper castes is staggering, with the former’s sense of dignity stamped upon for centuries that they lost count of their self-worth. This is very much like the captive elephant psychology. The ‘broken’ mammoth comes to believe that it cannot break the shackles of steel chain rooting it to a spot. The giant believes its place is confined and is unaware of its might. Just like the lowest castes of India believe that they belong where they should, and remain ignorant of their true potential. Genes can have a limited role in knowledge and skills. Rest can be achieved by sheer practice and training, with inculcation of good knowledge. The lowest castes of India have been at the receiving end of history quite like the coloured races of America.

Knowledge is Empowerment.

America is a far healthy and mature democracy where there is scope for debate on sensitive issues. In India, the very channels for a reasonable dialogue are shut tight that anyone who tries to pry open the sealed doors may be christened ‘anti-hindu.’ Hindu Dharma has a future if and only if the Agamic structure is dismantled or is infused with representation from every single walk of Hindu life. The way forward is for the Hindus to become an inclusive society where social justice has a chance to prosper. Caste based occupations must be turned into professional ones as a first necessary step. Why should we have to be discussing this seventy five years since our independence.

why reservation?

I have absolutely no regrets that some friendships have been strained because of my strong views on caste prejudice. I stand by my unshakeable opinion which received a resounding thumping at the African American Museum! I think it is not just indecent but utterly inhumane to even consider oneself superior merely by virtue of birth. Denying knowledge sharing is selfish and cowardice. That wrong sense of entitlement has to be stripped off some.

By sheer coincidence or perhaps by cookie manipulation (!) i chanced upon ‘Harriet’ in Netflix. Logging out with wet eyes. Hats off to the brave, intelligent, inspiring woman! She reminds of me of the much demure Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, daughter of a Devdasi who was refused medical college admit for her caste. She went on to become the first woman physician in India who later founded the Cancer Institute, Adyar, Madras (Chennai), one of the first of its kind.

Posted in Extras

PCR Test, American Style !

  • Drive-in PCR test for Covid 19 in the US for least contact
  • PCR test FREE in the US, not chargeable. Result in one day.
  • Rapid test (for antibody) for covid 19 gives result in one hour ) (not acceptable in some airlines and in some countries)
  • NO DOCUMENTARY PROOF requirement for the test

Had to undergo a PCR test to fly QA from America. This is now mandated by most countries these days as we know, even if we are fully vaccinated against Covid 19. For a fact, i had taken both my Covishield (Astrazeneca) doses in India. We googled and found the nearest lab testing for covid in Chantilly, Virginia where we were staying a few days before flying. CVS pharmacy did it and we had to book a prior appointment for the test which was a drive-in one. When booking the appointment, we were asked for personal details such as names and addresses, contact no and date of birth. We immediately got an email confirming appointment and giving us a registration number. At the appointed time when we drove through the single window serving the PCR test purpose in the pharmacy, we were cross-checked for details. When things tallied, we were handed down a transparent envelop with two compartments for a self-test to our surprise. I was half-expecting a lab tech to extend a hand from the window with a cotton swab to insert into my nostril! One compartment in the envelope contained a printed leaf with our personal details. It also had another sheet of instructions as to how to do the PCR self-test with illustrations. Thirdly there was a small single slim and long paper pouch of about 10 cms perhaps containing a cotton swab stick for insertion in our nostrils. Fourth, there was a small square of a paper towel to wipe nose on finishing. The second compartment merely had a small test-tube with a stopper. It contained fluid one quarter or perhaps one half.

As per the illustration, I verified the personal details first and ensured that the entries were correct along with registration number. I wanted mine to be spelt exactly like in my passport as i had to carry the certificate for my international travel purposes. Secondly, i studied carefully the self-test method and made sure i got it exactly. Thirdly i tore open the paper pouch and took out the swab stick with one inch or so of cotton at the other end. I took care to tear the pouch where it was mentioned, which was not the cotton end. I carefully placed the swab stick into my left nostril and saw to that the cotton part was fully within my nose as instructed. I rotated the stick (which can be compared to match stick for instance, only a little longer, say about 10-12 cm approx.) clockwise and anticlockwise thrice as it was directed, touching all the inner walls. For 45 seconds i retained the swab within my nostril and then pulled out. I repeated the procedure for my right nostril next with the same cotton swab. Then I carefully opened the test tube in the envelop and deposited the stick with the swab dipping into the liquid in there. The break-off point was clearly marked in the stick so it was easy for me to break the stick nicely for the swab portion to snug-fit into the test tube. I sealed the lid tightly and returned the tube to the second compartment of the envelope. I sealed next this inner compartment first.

I sealed the envelope with both the compartments next totally. There was a drop box for us to deposit the samples. We did just that. In the information sheet and in the email was listed the lab test results website. We only had to enter our registration number to check for updates. We could download the results after twenty four hours. It was stated that the results could arrive anytime from 24 hours to 76 hours but we got ours online in 48 hours as orally indicated by the pharmacist.

For the PCR test, the pharmacy did not bill us. PCR TEST IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is FREE! yayyy In India, it costs nothing less than 2k to my knowledge.

In last six months i have given four PCR tests already for my travels. I found the one in the US most user-friendly and hassle-free. It is a great service rendered by the US government, not charging a single penny for the test. Frequent travelers have to undergo PCR every now and then. Further, the working class people may benefit immensely because of waiving of the cost/charge for the test. Truly a wonderful humanitarian service. I wish Indian government could replicate this selfless service. India citizens spend heavily on PCR tests and our labour class especially have come to bear the brunt. Even for moving from state to state, India has necessitated PCR tests. It will go a long way in helping the lower middle class if PCR tests are available free of costs at least in government hospitals in India. I am well aware of the overhead cost run, just a thought. Any free service also must not dilute the quality of our PCR tests.

Thank you America, truly a big hearted and mature nation! How many refugees find a home with you even if you are derided and misquoted on immigrants. How many from around the world come to you to realize the great American dream. I find the US most user-friendly nation in my limited experience, with everything very well streamlined and hassle-free. Life just gets that much simpler and easier.

Posted in Food For Soul

Retirement Homes: Boon Or Bane?

This post of mine is from July 15, 2015. I am not editing it to see how my mind worked in 2015 😀

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Who wants to have her Mother-In-Law home today. I would like a break myself perhaps had I not lost my mother in an young age. May be that tempered me into hosting her – which I consider is a privilege. I am human, at times I long for privacy and she does wear me out, but at the end of the day I guess this is one cherished treasure I could be leaving behind for my son… a precious something… I remind myself, my MIL is not my MIL but my husband’s mother. I was thinking whether we parents would be happy if our son might be sending us some greenbacks from wherever he will be working/living in future. Is that what parents seek? In modern world where mostly the elderly are either pensioners or somewhat financially sound, what shall they want from their children?

The first question anyone who comes home asks me is: YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW IS WITH YOU?!

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A friend’s widowed mother recently got for herself a condominium (retirement home) at a cost of 75 lacs bucks plus annual maintenance charges running into thousands of rupees per year very much to the chagrin and disappointment of her 2 married and well-settled daughters. Whats more, the lady who is a retired govt teacher, kept her family in the dark about her intentions. That really set me thinking.

My views on old age homes are coloured by what I saw in Malaysia. Malaysia was a real learning period in my life in many ways. Upto 60 years or so the chinese there worked hard. Bought themselves a home (as primary investment) and also a condo in highlands (hill-stations) (for a second loan/secondary investment) to settle down on retirement .

One such a posh retirement village comprising some 100 luxurious condos in Camaroon highlands or somewhere got swept under landslides common in these regions. So that is when I came to know what a lifestyle the retired enjoy in peace in the sunset of their lives, in better-off circles. Later I learned this is a universal phenomenon in ‘mature’ societies like we have in the first & second worlds.

Not every elderly settlement is expensive though. There is a range of retirement homes to suit your budget you can comfortably choose from. And you may opt to live in the heart of the city or pack your bags to quiet nests under mother earth’s shadow.

A mature society boasts of a happy contended senior citizen population

The retired folks happily make the condos their home. A lesson for aging parents in India: the retirees do not leave with their children the burden of guilt. Its a wise decision taken in one’s prime years that works fine with everyone The grandparents graciously leave the centerstage and enrich the evening of their lives in the company of peers playing shuttle, going for swimming and long walks, reading in libraries and attending concerts – in harmony with nature. There is 24 hour in-house doctor on call. No wonder Malaysian chinese live upto 100 years.

Many of our chinese friends were scrupulously saving for their second home – a condo. It also helps that Malaysian cost of living is cheaper than Indian and real estate in Malaysia is not as steep as in India either. Homes are affordable – and yes, even a week-end getaway or a luxury condo. Everyone is able to pay off their first housing loans/car loans by 35-36 years, eligible for an add-on or a second loan by their 40th year.

THE GENE FACTOR – FAMILY VALUES

Whereas we Indians are Indians anywhere & everywhere. Malaysian tamils, most of them, have no connection whatsoever with mainland India. Their ancestors migrated over 150-200 years back. Some do fly down to the south (mostly to Tamil Nadu) (or whichever part of India they are from – a small percentage this is, like Punjabis & Mallus for instance) but by and large they see India only in tv and pictures and books and media.

Yet its a surprise our temples and cuisines (although murdered beyond recognition) and traditions and some typically ‘Indian’ ways of life/culture are preserved until this generation in Malaysia.

First and foremost 0ne that was most striking to me about Malaysian Indian families was their joint-family set-up. Even the MIL-SIL issue was there (to my satisfaction hahaha)! Like in India, the joint families were beginning to give up as nuclear families were already happening, yet the joint family remained intact in many homes.

Next, Indians were in the habit of hoarding real estate properties – houses typically. Indians owned maximum houses in KL, Penang, etc because when others like Malays & Chinese stopped buying with their second wanting to enjoy life, our tamil/Indian bros and sisters went on acquiring their 3rd, 4th and 5th homes & even landed estates. Rentals added to Indian homes’ pooled income naturally! (Seeing us I am told even chinese/malays are now buying more homes!) (The same is true of my Indian American friends who continue buying a string of homes in the US). Looks like this property hoarding/acquisition spree & rentals/leasing is in Indian genes  Holiday or Investment: Investment ofcourse!! Why should I blame others, I am preaching onething but practising something else for sure!

Our Indian friends were cutting back on expenses and saving diligently just like we keep doing in India for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc etc. We never enjoy our lives quite, do we – atleast compared to our western counterparts. Among Indians, north Indians even there seem to spend better than us south Indians. South Indians prefer the charpoy over 4 poster kingsize mattress anyday looks like 

The idea of aged parents being sent to old age homes sounded preposterous (atleast until we were around) in the south east asian country (in Indian community).

But I truly liked the condos concept. Senior citizens in developed countries, unlike our Indian seniors, looked forward to spending their twilight years in peace in condominiums, away from the clutters of routine work/family life. With 24 hour security and doctor on duty, to me the condos seemed the ultimate you cannot miss out on. Sounded fun. Even the government fixed age of retirement in India is 58 years, stretched to 60 in the private sector.

Elderly couples opting for condo was such a cute thing. In 60s, mostly we have our children well-settled. They need us no more. May be we can extend our busy years until ’70 if we are lucky. And then what to do.

A retired life sans commitment…

The happy pictures of grannies & grandpas melted my heart. Because I know, we married people hardly have time to ourselves in our younger years. The kids come along, worklife gets demanding, socializing and partying and holidaying all have a fixed time schedule/limit whereas in retirement couples may find themselves truly relishing each other’s company having fulfilled their joint responsibilities together. It is like back-to-square-1 I thought.

Many of our friends in middle east have done the Bali, the New Zealand, the Kenya, the Eurorail and others. Without kids I mean. Somehow I could never bring myself to do that. May be in future I would in the safe knowledge that my son has better company to go see places with …

Most of my local friends share my sentiment. We have similar views on sending our children to dorms/hostel in UG etc. We are reluctant to let go of our children easily …

Now that all of us girls are in the same boat, we find that our grown-up children are adults who we no longer have to wait on. Neither do our kids need us anymore except for moral/economic support. Our young and eager fledglings are flexing their wings waiting to fly out of the nests someday. To those of us with a single kid, this is like a weight placed upon our hearts. Coming to terms with reality is difficult.

Attachment & Detachment

They say in Thamizh: Petha Manam Pithu, Pillai Manam Kallu.

Better we maintain the distance with our kids right from the start keeping in mind, they are not ours forever. Just like we stopped belonging to our parents long back (and in my case from too very long back). Those of my friends with a second kid are relieved they will have a few more ‘years’ to look forward to.

I know we Indian parents are a lot more sentimental than those from other parts of the world and our emotion is our children’s greatest spoiler. One of my friends is too very attached to her only son/child studying to become a professional and it really makes me think of cautioning her. Too much of attachment, somehow I feel, is not good. Either for the boy or for the mother. All hell may break lose in the heavens with a most trivial thing like the arrival of a daughter-in-law in the scene. I have known or rather learned to keep minimum attachments with those I love most because otherwise it hurts too much.

I liked the way of life in Malaysia/other developed nations where elders gave space to the younger  generation. Personally I wouldn’t want to suffocate anyone with too much of emotion. The affection is there in the heart and it will stay for this lifetime and beyond… I do cry at the drop of a hat but when it comes to my family, I try to steel myself and be prepared.

One of my friends who became a citizen of the USA took her in-laws to live with her. Her FIL passed away quietly in a nursing home in a distant state from her place after remaining a vegetable for over 2 years. Electric cremation to the 80 year old man without a sound who lived most of his life in India. I wonder about the purpose. The imposition on children, the anonymity of dying in a cold place hooked to the machines, everything.

Why not a home for the aged in India. There are many now. In last 20 years, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tanjore everywhere even within Tamil Nad we have excellent care centers and/or retirement homes for seniors. Why couldn’t my friend’s in-laws choose to live in one of them.

On one hand I agree, my friend’s husband was firm about wanting his parents to live with him in their old age. He felt it was his responsibility as a son to take care of his parents till they breathed last which is great. Yet as working professionals, the couple could not attend to the sick old man when his health deteriorated  so he finally had to be admitted to a nursing home for professional care and medical attention.

My friend carries a bit of guilt burden about this when there is indeed nothing bad to feel about. The couple did their duties to the fullest. But I think this thing about our parents stays stubborn in our conscience. Despite all that they could do to the old father, the husband-wife pair blame themselves for having had to send away their papa to the care center. Through this period, my friend had to put up with her sulking angry and unreasonable mother-in-law.

In India, yes, we always have 2 extremes or perhaps more.

Where relationships bondage you…

I have always felt that developed societies treated this retirement/nursing home issue with a refinement that comes with better education and emotional maturity. Relationships are not bondages in their circles. Rather they are relaxed and enjoyable without constricting anyone.

Or may be we Indian parents expect too much from our children because we give our children our lives like none other. Ours is one supreme sacrifice. From the moment a child is born he/she becomes the epicenter of the parents world.  There is no such a thing as twosome in Indian families. Its always 3some or 4some (in case of 2 kids) (rare to see over 2 kids in India except in muslim families where 3 is minimum). Where is the privacy between husband and wife. Children become our life. Children become our obsession. And then finally no wonder it gets all the more difficult for us to share our kids with their life partners. Parents start to look like the villains over a stage. Why cannot Indian parents ever learn to quit the scene quietly. I am also a parent – I am willing to give but expect to receive nothing in return. Where there is no expectation, how can there be any disappointment.

Interestingly I learned this lesson from my own MIL. At 77, she is a grand mother and mother of 5 successful kids. All her male children are working professionals good in their fields and the only daughter is married to a professional as well. All her grand kids are budding professionals as well and show promise of a great future. Yet I see her simplicity and broad mindedness in not taking anything for granted. And something much more none of us can resist: not taking credit for her children’s success. You have to be real generous to do that. Born with silver spoon, she travels by auto (rickshaw) just like me without a murmur, never claims any personal victory and has never boasted to any of us how successful she is in her life. Her sons and daughter have come to respect her and love her not fear her. Sometimes I think this is a reason even for her good health (touchwood).

Not getting too very involved in the children’s life is something only level-headed Indian parents can manage I guess. My MIL has such a maturity – to live with us in a joint family yet retain individuality without trampling on our privacy and independence at the same time. I really appreciate that and wish I could emulate her example in future. Any may be this is why I am having her with me.

Irony is, it is those who do not want their in-laws/parents with them today are the ones who cannot let go off their kids ever. Those who live in joint families on the other hand are mentally better prepared. In my observation.

PRIVACY, What? Excuse me, we are Indians!

But even with my MIL I remember when my FIL was around, they hardly spent any time together. Their lives went around their grandchildren in the second innings of their lives. When my FIL was there, I have asked them why they could not go on all-India tour or pilgrimage or just on a simple holiday as a couple. Not even beach or kutchery (music concerts)? But to my amazement, they lacked that kind of interest to step out anywhere as an elderly pair who had accomplished their domestic responsibilities to satisfaction. It always made me wonder whether aged couple wanting a moment of privacy is indecent or selfish or whatever. Is it unnatural?

Today when I see my MIL watching alone the tv soaps, I urge her to go to temples/kutcheries again but she is very disinterested. She gives me space but still is the queen bee of the family. While I respect it I also have this to say: the COMPLETE detachment I saw in Malaysian elderly is absent in not only my MIL but in all septuagenarians or octogenarians of India. Despite the space they allow us that is. Wanting to stay in-charge, never to be side-lined is a privilege that no Indian Mother-in-law seems to relinquish willingly. Or may be I am hoping for too much!

It is good for us in a way. We want her in a condo neither. We like her with us. But my MIL is lucky to have 4 sons/families staying in the city. (Its never the daughter’s responsibility believe me). How many of us could prove to be fortunate like her?

Old-age home is not a bad or cruel idea at all. For some its a dire necessity like for those whose kids are NRIs. For the destitute, there are homes supported by charity. One such is ‘Vishranthi’ – first of its kind to be founded in Chennai.

There are 2 sides to any coin: abusive in-laws/parents versus cruel daughters-in-law/sons-daughters. This underlying fact could be the governing principle when it comes to many choosing between joint and nuclear families.

What is an Old Age Home like? Atleast one run on charity?

A good friend of mine put in a strange request to me last week.   She lives in a neighbouring state.  Hers is a ‘rags to riches’ story.  She has this habit of calling her high school teacher every Teachers’ Day, i.e., on September 5th.  (My friend joined our school for the higher secondary course after completing high school in a different institution).   Born in a very poor and large family, today she has achieved a remarkable and enviable status in her personal and professional life. Says she, the hope instilled in her by her teacher in high school days  is the reason for what she is today.

My friend had called her teacher as usual this Teachers’ Day but found that the phone line was cut.  The old fashioned teacher hardly used a cell phone or gave her numbers to others.  My distraught friend therefore called me in great anxiety wanting to know what happened to the old teacher who was in her ’80s and lived by herself.

I made some enquiries in her old dwelling place and learned that the senior teacher had moved to an old age home run by the school she served for over 30 years zealously.  She had been taken ill and therefore decided to take up the offer by the institution.

Blessed with well-to-do brothers & sisters and happy families, the lady had refused offer of shelter from everyone of her kith & kin to make her old school old age home for women her final residence. The school is unique in that it supports destitute women in a wing from a charity trust.

For my friend’s sake I stepped into the home for the aged for the first time in my life. It smelled of antiseptic right from the reception giving me a sick feeling. I met the grand old teacher in a first floor compact suite with a small built-in kitchenette she hardly used. Bathrooms were shared or attached in bigger rooms. A small tv plugged into the wall was running noiseless pictures.

The lady told me she felt comfortable in the home that she had been living in for over 6 months. She opted for common kitchen food served in the dining. Or sometimes she ordered food to her room. Almost all residents were 75 plus she said and a majority were retired teachers like her without family support.  Some among them were infirm. The teacher herself had been a child bride in those days widowed in her teens without issue. She got her education on her widowhood and was allowed to work as a teacher by her family. She taught high school kids.

Talking to her for over 1 hour I was disarmed by her sense of peace and acceptance of her last days (she is fine now). She said she wanted to pass away in her school grounds – in familiar surroundings – that gave a meaning to her otherwise barren life. Her relatives came to see her on fortnightly visits.

She ate sparsely, she spent her time reading scriptures rather than watching tv but said her eyes were beginning to get weak. I told her about my mom and my aunt and the connection was instantaneous. Here was one woman who had also devoted her life to teaching.

I had gotten her some wholewheat crackers that she accepted. I called my friend from her room and both had a hearty talk. My friend was delighted and grateful that I tracked down her ageing miss. For me it was an utmost satisfying day. The visit to the old age home, the meeting with a senior citizen- a retired teacher who devoted her life to selfless service, seemed to subdue me with a kind of strange emotions. I felt I was at rare peace with myself. At that moment I knew I did good having my MIL. Today my deep anxiety is about what shall happen to her if I have to move with my husband in his workplace?

Finally saying good bye and walking through the school grounds, I looked back at the home for the aged, tucked behind the trees, almost invisible from the rest of the buildings. There wasn’t a clue there were about 2 dozen aged and sick awaiting their turn in those gray blocks. Some got visitors but not all.

Retirement/Old Age Home –  A conscious choice?

I never thought visiting an aged home would depress me that much. It did. I wondered whether all my previous ‘learned’ thinking on retirement homes/condos was like a mirage – unrealistic. Cold. Heartless. Could a home for the aged be so much lonely, miserable and bleak. But I got the distinct feeling with the teacher’s although she never admitted to me she found it depressing.

Or may be it is a figment of my imagination. One more reason I thought could be that, the home was managed by a charitable trust with limited funds. May be the wealthier ones like my friend’s mother got herself were better?

They were for a fact so far as I knew. Because once in OMR, the IT highway, we were looking for some real estate. We chanced upon a property that was already developed into a retirement home. It wasn’t quite the luxurious condo but adapted to Indian lifestyle conditions. There was a temple inside, bhajan halls, tennis court, walking tracks, gardens, dining halls and individual apartments & security and a medical clinic. Guess it was some 15 years back. Now the place is sold out and the brand name has earned a high respect among senior citizens.

I thought the cluster of retirement homes was far better than the gated-community/enclave. In old age, the homes gave privacy not seclusion to its occupants. Safety and medical help were at arm’s reach.

Now I come to learn there are over a dozen in and around the city serving the grand old at various budgets. You may choose the facilities and opt for one as per your finance status.

Age with Dignity

One gracious deed of the MMS/Congress govt was facilitating REVERSE MORTGAGE for senior citizens of the nation that helps preserve their sense of independence.

http://profit.ndtv.com/news/your-money/article-how-senior-citizens-can-benefit-from-reverse-mortgage-373027

This is a good reason for the elderly not to nurture misgivings about imposing on their ‘reluctant’ children and/or for their adult-children in the event of weighing supporting their ageing parents (under trying financial conditions). I wonder what makes some of us think we are doing our parents/in-laws any favour. Rather are we not duty-bound the way they were when they raised us. The retirees can make a choice as to how to live the rest of their days in dignity. The fate of economically unsound/dependent retired lot is awfully miserable to imagine.

Despite my reasoning & logic, I would still like to dispense my responsibilities to the elderly within the comforts of our own home (thankless as they could be) – which alone can save me from a terrible guilty conscience.  May be its a personal decision for each & every one of us. I discovered I did not care whether the ageing Indian parents preferred spending rest of their lives in condos or not. Unless the circumstances are compelling, I hope no senior citizen in this country feels neglected or ignored and thereby needs to exercise the option – even if that could amount to taking our elderly for granted. Retirement/Old Age home is conceptually good, undeniable. Still let us allow our grandchildren the luxury of basking in grandparental love & spoiling pampering which is something we can never hope to substitute with.

Finally son(s), a mother is not after your cheque. A mother wants to see your face first.