Posted in Women & Family

Fecundity.

Fecundity: very much in media these days that I have missed all these years. Having not heard of the word, we women may still be already familiar with what it tries to convey. Fecundity is the ability of a woman to reproduce. It is the number of cycles she could take to conceive for instance. She need not have to carry on with the pregnancy. This reproductive ability was assessed by the shape of a woman’s hips etc., in ancient times. A woman’s childbearing capacity rested on her wide hips among other things. In our times, if I may, average Indian women who were in their twenties in the 90s, had the kind of fecundity that they could conceive in two cycles upon marriage (goes without saying that both the boy and the girl remained chaste until they wedded). This was the standard unwritten BIOLOGICAL norm in my generation. Hyper or Hypo thyroid, Polycystic Ovaries (PCO), Fibroids in Uterus etc., were unheard of. That happened to one in a million. We girls mostly attained puberty from our 12th to 14th year. Our menopause happens between our 48th to 54th years. We have had the longest fertility span. Mostly married in the 90s, from 10 to 12 months upon marriage the first child was born to my generation women depending on the women’s cycles. So that, almost all of us celebrated our first wedding anniversary with our newborn. Now this fecundity is what is waning in Indian women. Fertility has taken a big hit. Invitro Fertilization (IVF) is omniprevalent. India also is global hotspot for surrogacy. In fact now we have since the next level of IVF in our fertility centers. Just like our crops do not show yield without the spray of chemical fertilizer, the present generation women are unable to reproduce without external help. A good majority of India’s children are now conceived on petri dishes. How strange but what a sad truth. Our younger women are having menarche too early by their 9th or 10th year. Fertility runs a very short course is over once they are into their forties. In my mother’s generation, fecundity was one cycle mostly. In our generation we were already working women with a bit of stress as we had to juggle family life with a career. Plus we were the last gen joint family couples. Two cycles of fecundity is understandable. But our work stress was never unmanageable as that of today’s youngsters. We women of ’90s worked for banks or schools. India was not yet the world’s back office. Our software boom was still in the horizon. The IT industry to my knowledge, with its sedentary lifestyle and work culture promotion, did the present generation in. Fertility in India DROPPED big time like never before. The government need not have to be worried about family planning any more or population control. Stress is underscored to be the major contributing factor. Whatever. I have one more thing to say about today’s younger people. In their material pursuits, they don’t take better care of themselves. Those in their 20s sometimes look listless, tired and older to us aunties in our 50s. We are fitter, agile, emotionally mature and competent than our children even if our children could be making loads and tons of USELESS money. Finally what is this money for. When you miss the marriageable age, the reproductive age, earn in lakhs in your twenties that you can spend ten lakhs per cycle at the IVF center, what is the point. There are couples who have spent for at least 3 to 4 cycles which means they had to shell out thirty to forty lakhs to conceive a baby. Of course, even this fertility treatment is commercialized in India that we have now have low cost IVF centers to cater to the lower middle class budget. Their authenticity and reliability could remain unverified. Thirty years back, none of us women thought that we were having a gift and we could be the last generation when a majority of us women could be conceiving naturally without medical assistance. In our generation, our headache was always unwanted pregnancy which kept us on our toes. Change in dietary habits also stated to be a reason for decline in fecundity in women.

PS: This post on fecundity is about women’s ability to reproduce. There is also a male factor responsible that I have not dealt with as it is out of scope of this post.

Posted in Women & Family

Breastfeeding Awareness.

World Breastfeeding Awareness Week is observed from August 1st monday until today August 6th. Stepped into government’s Children’s Hospital ICH, Egmore (Neonatal) (Institute for Child Health & Hospital For Children) for the very first time in my life where the newborns are housed along with the pre-terms (pre-matured) fighting to make it the big world outside, from their incubators hooked to beeping machines. Young mothers nurse their babies as expectant mothers wait for their delivery. The entire place is buzzling with activity and the corridors are thronged by women of all ages. Yet in the chaos, there seems to be some orderliness. For, I never expected a state run hospital to be so good and efficient and clean. But I should have. I have after all in my younger years gone for procedures at Health centers that were neat and hygienic. And their services were FREE. My house-help delivered her pre-term baby boy here in Egmore hospital where he was well cared for, and having made it successfully to the world from the incubator, he is now working for an IT company. He is the first time graduate of his entire family. This is one family having benefited from government subsidies. People question about reservations and subsidies. I don’t because, I see all the time how the concessions have helped transform and build lives. Before I proceed any more, I have to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the serving medical professional who mooted the breastfeeding awareness campaign as well as the nursing stuff for nurturing young lives and rekindling hopes in mothers with their babies in incubators.

What is positivity, what is it about making others REAL happy. You only have to step into places like these to know what is life all about. Everytime a baby from the incubator makes it to the real world the nursing staff dance. And that is the dance. Everytime a breastmilk donor gets the milk bank a sachet for a baby in distress, the staff sing and whistle welcoming the literally large hearted and generous mother for her very noblest charity.

Most mothers feel low even after they become grandmothers should they not have breastfed their babies to the best of their ability. I met mothers who shared this sentiment in their 50s and 60s sounding as though they had delivered just a week or month earlier! Their anguish at not having fed their babies to their heart’s content still makes them feel guilty. I do share such an emotion myself for having been a working mom in the 1990s when we did not have breast pumps at least in India. So when women returned to work, breast milk would end up getting emptied into the ladies room washstand. On the other hand some mothers simply did not produce enough lactation. Their babies were on formula feed within a month.

Working conditions are a lot improved in the private sector these days with prolonged maternity leave of upto one year on loss of pay basis to encourage breastfeeding and boost mother-newborn bond. Corporates in last ten years allow women stepping out twice a day for an hour to breast feed their babies.

One of the physicians who took to the dias explained how even having guests could distress the babies and affect the oxytocin produced by the mother which went a long way in helping produce lactation. Stress is an important factor that hampers lactation in mothers. Human psychology and emotions affected our harmones. The bond that must be established between the mother and the newborn gets disturbed and delayed. This was cited as one scientific reason for low level or lack of lactation in some women.

The celebration today was about felicitating mothers who donated their extra milk to the milk bank in the city. This comes to the rescue of mothers not lactating sufficiently or to those babies in the incubators who cannot be formula-fed. I have heard of milk banks earlier but to be seeing real donors and interacting with young mothers and learning of the facilities proved to be very informative and educative. I was toying whether to write about this biological phenomenon about women or miss it. I decided to go for it because, the motive of the campaign is first to spread the word. And we must do it by all means. Some of us women represented NGOs and we gave away nutritional food hampers to new mothers that can aid in lactation.

The nursing staff were very enlightening and entertaining at the same time. In my school days a girl named Ruksana would perform Villuppaattu but today the sisters of the hospital did just that informing the crowds how to save milk and make it fit and usable for other newborns in need. This could save many young lives.

This wonderful young mother of a 4.5 month old baby boy told us that she has so far donated over 30 liters of human milk to the milk bank in the hospital. We gave her a standing ovation. Her target is 100 liters. And she is an IAS officer. She said, the cooperation of the spouses, the parents of the mother and the in-laws have a role to play in enabling women to come forward for donating milk. Milk bank is not strange and breast milk donation is not taboo. Like blood donation, human milk donation goes towards saving and nurturing lives. Just the way the blood rejuvenates within hours of donation in the case of the blood donor, the breast milk too is rejuvenated as easily. There is no loss of milk or drop in lactation for the donor’s baby. That’s the point. Breast pumps are available to milk in the extra milk. There are NGOs who run flying squads to collect the milk in time (which means immediately), run a battery of tests to rule out contamination, then preserve it (or freeze it) so that the milk can be warmed for use when necessary. They literally call it the ‘thanga dravam’ (golden liquid) in Tamil. I can’t find a better word for mother’s milk.

I understand that in chillier weather, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for two to four hours. My own granddaughter was fed the milk pumped from breast from two to six months. In tropical climate like India’s, quicker refrigeration is necessary and the shelf life of the milk is extremely limited. Milk collection also takes time given the traffic. So that is where the flying squad NGOs step in. Their tagline is ‘step up breastfeeding’ and they go out of the way to procure milk from mothers to make it available to needy babies. Really just listening to their awesome service shook me to the roots. Most of these good samaritans are actually men!

There are nobler ways to grow as an individual, evolve into a better human and make people happier bringing them peace. We can gift fellow humans LIFE. The potential to fulfil these divine aspirations is there is every one of us.

About fifteen young mothers were felicitated for their timely breastmilk donation to the milk bank that helps sustain young lives. The mothers came from all backgrounds: from working girls to housewives and blue collar workers. Interestingly they were accompanied by their husbands who they said, did n’t mind staying awake in the night hours to pump the breast milk, to sterilize the feeding bottles, to store/freeze the milk for donation or sometimes even deliver at the milk bank in the hospital. India needs men of this kind.

The director who spoke underscored the importance of breastfeeding. Colostrum or the first breastmilk of mothers is very vital for babies as it contains valuable nutrients that can give the newborns immense immunity. The babies’ physical and mental health (IQ) improves. Breastfeeding babies at least three to six months keeping out the formula feed is a must. Donor mothers and the medicos and the nursing staff said one thing in unison: that there is nothing called NO-LACTATION. They said it is knack to get lactation and the mothers must be primed right from pregnancy as to how to not be tempted to go in for formula at the drop of the hat. The secret lay in persistence, never giving up.

As mothers, as grandmothers it is our duty to spread the news about breast milk donation and the breastmilk bank. The Milk bank is operational at ICH in the last nine years. It is now procuring close to four hundred liters of milk which is a very healthy figure. It goes a long way in feeding pre-term babies fighting for their survival in the warmth of the incubators. And other newborns whose mothers are not able to lactate for various reasons.

I am here talking about the milk bank with ICH only. No idea on private maternity homes. I understand that the obstetricians are in a convincing position to affirm to the donor mothers on the importance of breastmilk donation. Finally it all boiled upto them. Is there anything Chennai does not have? Blood banks, Sperm banks, Milk banks and Placenta or Umbilical Cord banks. Yet if anything has a dearth of donors, it is the milk bank.

Quality time. I have to thank my club for giving me exposure to hitherto unexplored grounds. Even as a mother and grandmother I needed to know better. Its not just about charity, its about our mindset. I have been personally involved in some private charities, but working in tandem with a group is another level. This way we come across altogether new aspects of life and needs for assistance. We can tap into genuine and worthy causes,

Really impressed with the Dean who spoke without batting his eyelid on breastfeeding. Kudos. He was to the point. Never made us women squirm. On the other hand I felt most respectful towards him. He has been delivering in detail on breastfeeding for a week now. Women feel comfortable with him. It is good to be told that a woman’s breasts are the ‘Akshaya Patra’ for newborns and the more you give, the more the mothers lactate. The milk never depletes or recedes just like, lighting a thousand diyas from a single diya (lamp) will not kill the flame or glow from the donor diya. You cannot explain milk donation better.

My ladies have no qualms about talking openly about breast milk and sharing their very private motherhood stories in public. I understand what openness really means. What maturity of a society is all about. And how there are REAL avenues to work on with people and help them in their lives if we truly care. MISSION BREASTFEEDING. May every mother pitch in so that our babies stay off formula feed for at least upto their first birthday.

Posted in Women & Family

Angaheenam.

About to extract a couple of teeth and get a bridge. I left an infection unattended as we had back to back lockdowns on pandemic for which I am paying a heavy price today. But its okay. There is a remedy at least. Even so, I couldn’t stop obsessing about my front tooth – yah sadly its right in the lower front of all places 😦 – that i have had since teething. Just losing my healthy teeth for no reason made me conscious of it for the very first time. Last couple of days I am going to the mirror and checking and checking my teeth and I find them strong ironically. Case of building strong, basement weak 😀 Then I pushed the thoughts of self pity out of my mind as I remembered the breast cancer patients who get their breasts hawed in pretty younger age. My beautiful willowy working aunt wasn’t even my age when she had her right one chopped. She was more upset about baring her chest to a male surgeon, coming from a very conservative family. The mastectomy was only her second concern. Once she understood it would be a life saver for her, she went under the knife wholeheartedly. She in fact has had a double mastectomy and double knee replacement. But she has a tremendous willpower. After her first mastectomy, she was on leave for a month that happened to coincide with her summer vacation. From the second month she would take a bus to her chemotherapy and radiation sessions and head straight to her school where she was teaching board X girls! Twenty five years later, the cancer has relapsed for a second time and has caught her in the esophagus. A double time covid survivor as well, my aunt just completed a course of forty radiations in the wrong side of her seventies. When I went to her straight from airport this May, she was the one who made the filter coffee for me. Her spirit is my greatest inspiration. Her first surgery was a neat job. Her second was hastily done up. It was then she cried, and never for anything before. She said, the surgeon botched up with his sewing because probably he did not even consider her a woman. She was just a blob of flesh for him to chop and stitch up. There was such a lack of aesthetics that my aunt for the first time in her life, felt like a freak She felt as if she was denied her rightful dignity. I could see the difference between both sides of sutures. The second one was a patch work done poorly. It revealed the heart of a very cold man. Every one has a soul including women with breast cancer in their sixties and seventies. Surgery may be basically butchery, yet we women are not the cattle to go under the blade. I do now get it how my aunt must have felt all those years back, having to forego her breast. But she would dismiss my concerns and tell me that she wanted to live long for the sake of her children. And if her breasts would come in her way, she would rather have them chopped without regrets. I do get the import of her words of conviction. What is that with losing a couple of frontals. Its okay. I have to have many loud laughs with my granddaughter. I have to guffaw at the jokes cracked by my family. Yet this word ‘anga heenam’ keeps haunting me as I run to the mirror to check my front tooth for the nth time. Something that’s been with me for 50+ years will be history. My heart goes out to women who throw out their breasts and wombs so that they can live for their families. The presence counts. The presence is what matters. The husbands who love their wives with their chopped breasts, with one breast with the pair gone – these great men merit a standing ovation. Anga heenam – losing a body part, an internal or external organ, can take a big emotional toll on women.

A friend who was mother of my son’s school friend, died of breast cancer. She opted out of mastectomy by will and settled for chemotherapy and radiation so that she would not be disfigured. But the relapse happened too quick. And she regretted to me having to pay with her life for putting vanity first over health security. A small tooth extraction can give us so much gyaan!!! Even the menopause is not easy on us women. Something with us for over 40 years just ceases one fine day. We know it is a biological cycle and it has to happen at the right time for our own sake. The hot flushes, the mood swings omg… I wonder why god made us women into complicated creatures. As my friend says, even the responsibility for anything lies with women as our reproductive organs lie within whereas for men it is external.

Kudos to women in 50s, two of who I know being mothers of my son’s school mates, who had to get both their knees replaced too very early.

Strangely I remember this from my working days after years, years…

There was this secretary to chairman. I was at that time a new appointee, youngest in my workplace. Anyway someone had already whispered in my ears that the stunning lady in her forties was a breast cancer survivor. One day she came to say ‘hi’ to me as I was a fresher. Then suddenly she reddened and told me, ‘i may have removed my breast but my ovaries are intact.’ The woman had had breast cancer in her twenties. She was single. She was such a looker. I got bewildered by her outburst. I told a girl who had joined with me what the woman had told me. I think the young me had sparked an envy in her. I never told another soul about this again. For days what she said was ringing in my ears. I understood her aching even though I was unmarried then. My heart goes out to her even today.

I kind of was also thinking of men who bodyshame women when they have not-so-pretty and duskiest daughters, skinny wives. These have to be monsters to make a meal out of women’s souls. My take is that, insufficient men find an urge to belittle women who are too good for them.

The breast cancer women who removed their breasts were most beloved to their husbands, as I bear witness to their happiest fulfilled lives. The men did not seek pleasure out of turn. The anga heenam can be in our body, but not in our minds. That is the point.

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. We WILL always remain beautiful to the deserving ones in our lives, the worthiest of our love.

Posted in Political, Women & Family

Pro Choice Vs Pro Life.

Pro Choice Vs. Pro Life, an Indian perspective

The raging debate in the US right now is on women’s rights on abortion. Its a very sensitive issue there where teenage pregnancies are not rare. And equally common are broken families, adoption, foster homes. The legislation expected could have political, social, economic ramifications. I never expected any nation to be so much alive and politically-socially conscious as the US, although I have been increasingly aware how mature and literate the American population generally is. And I am also surprised how the country is divided on opinion. Well balanced. I guess America has come of age. I respect the way they dissect a bill before it becomes a legal statute. The pro-life – pro-choice arguments are heated, and for reasons justifiable. How the population engages in healthy discussions and present counter arguments is interesting. There are campaigns, rallies educating masses and gathering support. Before the motion is brought to the floor of the house, the finer aspects are contemplated and analyzed logically in great detail leaving no room for misgivings. Witnessing the democratic way the entire construct is executed building momentum showed me how every voter’s or citizen’s right counts in democracy. I wish India is as mature, and not just the world’s largest democracy. We have to move things from grassroots level and our masses need to be well informed and opinionated. In coming months we shall come to know what will be the law of the land, but as of now the pros and cons are doing the rounds in the States.

I may be an outsider, but my family is American so it concerns me as much. I was not vocal on the matter during my recent visit to the US because, women there are extremely sensitive when it comes to women’s rights and issues especially when it comes to something as personal as women’s body. Precisely this is why I am Pro-Choice.

a question of quality vs quantity. don’t our unborn children have a right to dignity. https://vijiravindran.com/2019/03/30/when-law-needs-to-take-a-walk-medical-termination-of-pregnancy-after-20-weeks/

As a grandmother, as a mother, there is a lot I have seen in my life than the younger women of today who are raising banners for Pro-Life. They in all probability have no clue what they are talking about. How many of these women in twenties or thirties or still in teens will have the patience or mental strength to raise a spastic child or a Down’s syndrome baby whose birth could have been prevented. Leave alone the medical bills to foot. India has such Draconian laws that do not allow women to go in for Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) when the foetus is twenty weeks. I have known a case when the ultrasound scan and other medical test reports showed anomalies in the second semester when the pregnant mother was forced to carry on with her term against her wishes, expecting the birth of an abnormal child. The couple have been raising a boy physically and mentally handicapped since his birth and now he is eight years strapped to his baby cot, fed through tubes. How many women who shout slogans arguing for pro-life will have the devotion, courage, financial backbone and/or strong heart and mind to go through what these young parents are undergoing. Their happy life as they knew it long since vanished with one scan report years back. A simple MTP could have done everyone good. Only, the detection came a couple of weeks later. Laws that are outdated need repealing. In this scenario, I do wonder how mature societies like the US can actually go on and frame constricting laws that can do more damage than bring in welfare to the society.

The religious perspective adds fuel to the fire as we can see. The Catholic church is not for termination of pregnancies.

What about teen pregnancies. Illegal pregnancies appear to be rampant in the US in underage women which can be constituted as ‘rape’ (as in any other country). How can any legal statute try to legitimize the birth of a baby born out of such unholy nexus. How can any law enforcement agency reserve the right to deny these victims their fundamental right to abort what they do not want or deserve. How many babies are abandoned in the trash can every year? How many end up in foster care? Is this what the state wants for our unfortunate unborn children and their poor unlucky mothers.

It is not just the US, it is high time even India revisits the law governing MTPs. If abortions cannot happen for valid medical reasons on completion of twenty weeks of pregnancy, then the screenings for anomalies at any stage is pointless. Quality of life is worth considering than quantity of life. These were media reports stating that government was considering allowing legal abortions until 24 weeks although there is no update on the issue. There is always misuse in some quarters but this is a small collateral considering the larger benefit on anvil. Govt of India can weigh allowing MTP upto 24 weeks consulting a medical bench when the mother’s life may not be endangered. Asking for sex of the foetus is illegal in India punishable with a sentence. This is to prevent gender-based crimes in the garb of MTPs. It seems to be serving the purpose.

Posted in Women & Family

Can Vitamin D be absorbed by our scalp, hairline, crown?

I have always had this doubt regarding vitamin D which is best absorbed by human body from direct sunlight. Many of us however miss it. Even those of us who have scope for sun exposure sadly dab the SPF(Sun Protection Factor) creams of various strengths ranging from 15-20 to 60-70 (in case of those who have to be under direct sun for hours in tropical climate). Since I am a home bird, I have never had much of use for the SPF sunscreens. Also I am out of touch with the cosmetic world. I go for a few known brands whose produce are not tested on animals. Plus I am missing out the beauty routine as I am not the salon person. All these put me in fix and I have no idea on anything when it comes to grooming. My friend’s young daughter of 22 recently advised me that, even at home I need the SPF protection as I am exposed to ultraviolet rays from my desktop/laptop and mobile phones. Also I spend hours close to my window. Although there is no direct sunlight filtering in, she said I may still be exposed to the uv rays that infiltrate the atmospheres. I wondered whether vitamin D from sunlight is better and healthy choice, or the protection of our skin from ageing because of uv rays of the sun is! As I am mostly based in middle east whether temperatures can hit 50 c easily in summers, I do make it a point to apply a coat of sunscreen whenever I go out. I leave it to my exposed arms to soak in the vitamin D, saving my face and neck from the job! However, whenever I have to wear full sleeves, I rue the fact that not a square inch of my skin is open to sunlight. After all, sun light is the best and natural source of vitamin D and it comes free! I wondered whether my exposed crown and scalp can absorb the vitamin D for me! Can nails and hair that are external growth without nerve endings absorb anything at all, even something as finer as the rays of the sun? I googled for information but there is no satisfactory answer. The search results all summarize that loss of vitamin D can lead to hair fall. Anyway, this is also news to me! But my question is different. I just want to know whether my scalp, my hairline or my crown may be capable of absorbing the vitamin D from sunlight. Thanks to some indoctrination on importance of sunscreens, nowadays i am habituated to moisturizing my face and neck with at least a weak SPF cream that I never used to until a couple of years back. In cold weathers, I have no option but to wear full sleeves. I wonder whether my scalp and hairline are doing some OT (overtime) work for me in the circumstances when it comes to vitamin D absorption! Just a thought lolz. I wouldn’t really bother about a tan. Bleaching which is staple with most women where I come from, is ruled out for me as I can’t stand the whitening treatment. So I have to balance my sun exposure and vitamin D soaks. Any day vitamin D wins hands down! Still if anyone can assure me that my scalp/hairline/crown can absorb vitamin D for me, I will feel free to lavish on SPF creams. I feel guilty for dabbing a blob from a tub of sunscreen everyday now. Am I denying myself the much needed super vitamin for after all some useless vanity. Honestly I couldn’t care less! We menopausal women have much use for vitamin D as we tend to lose our capacity to make more of this vitamin resulting in the onset of Osteoporosis. Yet, given the level of air pollution in India and the heat and the dust and the high temperatures of both India and Qatar that are sunny most part of the year, I would like to have both the protection of an SPF layer as well as my quota of vitamin D from direct sun whenever and wherever possible. If only I get credible evidence that our scalp and hairline and crown soak vitamin D, it will ease my conscience and I will feel less guilty going for the SPF. Where to find the answer to my curious questions. Nobody I have asked to, has provided me with satisfying solution. Nobody simply has any idea. I do have the habit of feeling my scalp whenever I am out in the sun with a veil of sunscreen on my face. Whenever I would feel the familiar warmth of the sun in my crown, I would wonder if that’s vitamin D that is seeping in right at the moment hahaha!!! Anyone ever wracks one’s brains to think the way I do?! All said, my friends are going for an annual course of Vitamin D therapy that is recommended to me. As most of us do not absorb sufficient vitamin D from direct sun, physicians are prescribing the 7 day vitamin D intake that I am planning to commence shortly. The procedure is to be repeated every year. Hopefully that will allow me to go easy on SPF sunscreens. A friend recently felt disoriented and the diagnosis was Vitamin D insufficiency. Ever since I am taking vitamin D much more seriously. In any case I do not go for more than SPF 25 that can last me for maximum of two to four hours after which I am open to sky when outdoors. I guess this is good material for research!

Posted in Women & Family

Why aren’t there separate rest rooms for ladies and gents in flights and trains.

This has been on my mind for years or perhaps decades now. My friend voiced the same and asked me to blog it. She was asking how the 14-15 hour nonstop to the US would go down with me. Pretty bad, I admitted. I have a mental block when it comes to the loo used by men. I don’t trust men with hygiene! I mean, we ladies are a bit fussy about these things. First time we flew to the US, we switched flights twice. So there was no need for me to use the inflight loo shared both by female and male passengers. The transit airport restrooms saved the day for me. It was the second time I took the flight that dealt me a blow below the belt literally! Over 15 hour nonstop that was supposed to be a song, and yes indeed it was, except for the loo for me! As such I have knee issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis from my teens. This complicated matters for me. I kept crossing my legs every now and then making myself as comfy as possible. My spouse kept reminding me, what I did was not enough. I needed to empty my bladder that I refused to do. On intense pressure from him, I rose from my seat and walked the aisle to the restroom. Some three or four caucasian men stood in queue before me and each weighed a ton, towering minimum 6’2. I wondered how they would even fit into the tiny cubicle. Then I almost threw up imagining the loo after it was used by them. Right turn. I decided to hold my bladder until we landed. And even before we had the chance to approach immigration, I looked for the nearest restroom once we touched down. Return was same story. But I am more than comfortable in home turf that is Doha. I did experience slight discomfiture when I held my bladder back and my friends warned me that I must not. I am repeatedly advised by everyone not to do that. Same issue I have with trains. But in India, matter is different. We leave home after emptying our bladders and board mostly the night train. We sleep it off in our second a/c or third a/c berth. And before we know we may be arriving at our destination. Our address would be just an auto ride or uber afar. Trains too with their non segregated rest rooms have been a problem for me in the past. One way of solving it is, not setting your foot into it! But women when we are in our fertile years sometimes, cannot totally avoid visits to restrooms. That way I have. Now with the fertile years almost behind my back, I don’t have the compelling urge to visit the restroom in flight or train. Thankfully that era is coming to a close almost. But been there, done that. It is extremely inconvenient not having a demarcated loo for women in our trains and flights. Some of us women tend to have unpredictable cycles especially as we come close to menopause. We would benefit enormously by segregation of restrooms for men and women in our public transport systems. Compared to how it used to be, IRCTC have definitely improved our train restrooms with complete stainless steel fittings, still they leave a lot more to be desired.

When it comes to restroom facilities, I am most comfortable in foreign soil. Now that I am a grandma, I can appreciate the baby diaper changing rooms, feeding rooms etc., better. It is in India that we suffer most especially when we travel. We have to go look for hotels with decent restrooms. Nobody seems to bother really. I really loved the A1 petrol stations of Reliance with excellent rest room amenities. Unfortunately they had to be shut down when the gas became unviable. For a brief time I did feel safe when we drove through the highway because every 50 km to 100 km there would be a Reliance A1 petrol station with attached restaurant and good clean rest room facilities. India is manufacturing and exporting sedans, but these guys out there, do they even think about the package this must come with. 1997-2001 when our residence was in Malaysia, we could go on long drives and road trips with our little son because, for every 50 km there was even then excellent rest rooms and restaurants. What is the point in toll collection and even having the Ferrari in our roads when the basics cannot be met. I agree, the citizens lack precious civic sense. Make it payable I say! Staff it. Educate people. But do bring good restrooms to our highways.

Indians just do not understand the concept of having a dry restroom and that is a problem! They have to water down the entire compartment or airport lounge to feel clean! I wonder when we will grow up!

Anyways, I have said enough. Would be relieved if any airline gets a cue and starts setting a precedent with at least one restroom in flights earmarked exclusively for women. This will benefit a lot, especially women having their periods. Experience! Same goes for our trains.

In nonstop long haul flights, there are at least four restrooms for economy class passengers apart from those reserved for business class. Why can’t at least one of the restrooms be reserved exclusively for women. The other three can be common loos. Just a thought.

I have to thank my friend who asked me not to hold back both my bladder and my peeve against the flight restrooms that is a nagging issue with me always! One of these days I would like to see one restroom at least in flights marked for women. I guess, this is subject for conversation and consideration only with Asian women. There is widespread equality among sexes in the Europe and America. However, in my limited time and exposure in these two continents I still found restrooms segregated for sexes and no common restrooms (at least so far). So why can’t we have restrooms for women in flights? I agree inflight space is precious. We are not asking for extra space creation here. Seeking only allotment of one of the four economy class restrooms in long haul flights exclusively to women.

Posted in Women & Family

Menopause: A Different Perspective.

I was googling on something and chanced upon this accidentally. Not in exact words, but i try to reproduce here whatever little I could glean.

Surprised to learn that only homo sapiens reach the menopausal stage. Menopause is not the biological phenomenon with any other species in the animal kingdom than humans. This bit of info is news to me. This singular fact puts the human race in a league of its own, far and away from other living organisms with five senses. Human beings alone are endowed with the sixth sense of reasoning. Menopause or waning of fertility before one’s life time has enabled the human mothers who progress to become grandmothers tend better to their families and steer them forward with strength and purpose. All other living creatures retain their fertility until the fag end of their lives so that their preoccupation with procreation and food procurement keeps them busy leaving no scope for energy or efforts to think out of box. Their brain faculties therefore never got to develop like that of the humans. The chimpanzees and gorillas may not survive their full life span, dying well before their times. Human mothers’ fertility comes to an end with age, long before their lifetime can get over. The ‘free years’ when the females need not have to concern themselves with reproduction and nesting of a young family, spare them the absolute and essential time to devote and care for the youngest members of the family like the grandchildren for instance. Grooming of the youngest is mostly the responsibility of the seniors. Grandparents play a proactive role in the life of the grandchildren. Skills get honed and talents identified and developed thanks to them. The age old wisdom and logic of the seasoned matriarchs can have beneficial effects on the new off springs. The women pass on traditions and values that will be carried on further for generations. The elephant matrons may come a closest second to the human mothers when it comes to herding their families.

The article shed new light on impending menopause for women that occurs anywhere from their forties to mid fifties. The fertility gene is also a DNA inheritance from the maternal family tree for women.

This really has helped me look at menopause at a totally different angle. At 52, I became a grandma and that’s the best gift that has come my way in life so far. Most of my friends have reached the milestone of menopause, some of us are almost there… with a bit of trepidation. We have been having mood swings and hot flushes for years now. We feel bloated and cry for nothing… our nestlings have grown wings and taken flight.,… and we are enduring the ’empty nest’ syndrome… my working friends are also going for premature retirement… all of these affect us women emotionally, psychologically, physically… as we try to come to terms with the drop in estrogen levels, the single hormone that has played a vital role in our lives since our twelfth or thirteenth year on menarche… Women’s health is incumbent upon oestrogen to a large extent that I have known ladies taking to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to extend their fertile years for the benefits it promises: such as preventing breast-ovarian cancer and heart disease. However HRT is a double edge sword to be handled with extreme care and caution. As much as possible, in my personal opinion, it is better to let nature runs its course without medical intervention.

The simple and beautiful explanation on menopause was educative to say the least. At 53, I have had my full course and have no reasons for regret. I guess there must be more articles like these in the media, tipping women on not only fertility and menopause but also on adaptability and work/business options. Some of us do pop pills already for ‘lifestyle conditions.’ We are well aware, with the estrogen stripped, we will have no armor for protection for even our knees that carried our tired bodies all these years – and osteoporosis might be lurking around the corner.

As someone who lost my parents before I tied my knot, I am grateful for every extra year that I get blessed with. Appreciate it far more when I think, I have lost two of my classmates (from school) to cancer before they hit the half century. A couple of more took out their wombs in their thirties or forties. I am here, I am doing good, why complain.

Blessed with abundance of kindness, love, affection, gentleness, decency, everything. There is nothing more we women may want out of our lives.

Enlightening article on menopause. I have to search for it again. Proudly a grandma!

May be I have blogged on Sabarimala, but now we couple of girls are waiting for the inevitable biological cycle to complete its course so that we women can go have a darshan of Lord Aiyappa ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CLEAN.

Uplifting and sensitive write-up. Logical. No wonder, the menopause or cessation of fertility in human mothers at a stage long before their time is up, helped the humans evolve into the numero uno species on Planet Earth as their focus shifted from tending to families to opening up of bold new horizons.

Posted in Women & Family

Tell me your friends, I shall tell you who you are.

the easiest way out is to fake and get into everyone’s good book. so why are some of us not doing that.

I penned a nasty post recently and shared it with my school friend. She was put off by what I wrote and immediately denounced me. She said, I had lowered my standards by blogging that one. I trashed my note the next moment. I realized I needed such friends who will chide me, condemn me, who will dissuade me, discourage me, talk me down, who will point out my mistakes and correct me. I need my friends to chastise me and ridicule me. I need friends who would spank me, who would tick me off, who would set me right if I go wrong, who would steer me to the proper way ahead so that I don’t go astray even unwittingly. I need friends who would ask me NOT TO SHOP. I need friends who share with me their family news first. I need friends who ask me to act my age. I need friends who show me the spiritual path reminding me that what lies ahead is a shorter life for me than what distance I have traveled so far. I don’t require my true friends to sugarcoat bitter truth for me. I want their brutal honesty. We have argued umpteen times, left group etc., but we have always returned to each other: we are not sisters by blood rather we are sisters by heart – we the school friends. My friends give me a hi-five when I say its almost three years since I hit a beauty salon. My friends ask me not to henna my hair. With my friends I have been to most ancient places of worship. We share tips on cooking, puja mantras, kids, home management mostly. We go dutch whenever we dine out. We know each others families from school days. Our parents were friends, we are friends, our spouses are friends, in laws know each other and our kids too sometimes would hang out. If my friends give me a dressing down, I take it with all my heart. They are my well wishers. They wouldn’t want me to lose my integrity, dignity or honour by any means. After all this is the only wealth we middle class behold with such a pride. Our shame is our only treasure. Our self-respect is our protective shield.

I have been shuttling in and out of India since 1998. Yes, for almost a quarter century, I have been having one foot in India and one foot abroad. Where I mix overseas, ladies boozing is not uncommon. We are all social drinkers, no denying that. But we are married to very serious minded career professionals who enjoy a stature in the society we have come to belong in. We are well aware of our own responsibilities. I share a healthy relationship with all my acquaintances and friends that I acquired walking this arduous but interesting road holding hands with my spouse. We have never had help whatsoever on our way. We are entirely selfmade. Our earnings are dharmic. We are now a senior couple. Younger people touch our feet for blessings. This promotion in life is god’s blessings.

Imagine at the age of 53 as a grandma, when some friends I acquired at a later age trying to convince me to have casual intimate chat with strange men just for cheap thrills. Telling me I am rigid and inflexible. Telling me its fine to hit the liquor bars. Admitting to me of being alcoholics – addicted. I have always boasted to one and all that none of my friends boozed (regularly) and everyone had an impeccable character. The point is, at one stage you find out that you cannot carry on with this kind of girls any more. We share nothing in common. The discovery was made by me pretty late. I am not the unreliable friend. The fault lies with those who played double games and won our trust hoodwinking all. This is betrayal of highest order. To realize that we have a friend’s husband calling the girls to bed is shocking enough. To see the girls fraternizing the offender’s wife seems ominous to me. Such a compromise on family values of those who I thought were my friends, is dealing a raw blow to my heart and soul. I am still unable to heal because I trusted too much, and now I know too much.

On advice of my school friends I broke up with my friends who I met in my 40s without a second thought. I have no intention of compromising on my principles. I don’t want corruption of my mind and dilution of my upheld standards. I don’t believe in too very liberal way of life after all, I discovered to my own surprise. Their way is ‘bhog’ and mine is ‘yog’ – as simple as that.

I am the normal. I don’t want to regularize and mainstream the abnormal as passable or acceptable in my life. I have since raised my bar even higher up. It is okay, who I have for friends are my fortress. I don’t regret speaking up the truth.

Character and self-respect and dignity and honour are most important virtues to me. There is no way I can tolerate compromise on these ethical and moral principles that I hold dearest to my heart. This is how my parents raised me in their absence. Where would I have been had I traded in my most basic belief system. My spirituality leans on my strong and unwavering principles.

To some of my friends or perhaps ex-friends I am not sure, I would like to say here, you need someone like me to rub in the truth into your shameless skin. Don’t expect me to tell you what you want to hear. I will not do that. I can be cruel and unsparing but having someone like me in your life is for your own good. Never in a million years I will belong with you.

புடத்தில் இட்டால் தான் தங்கமா தகராமான்னு தெரியும், We judge a man by what he becomes in the times of crises. Everyone can play god when all is hunky dory. The acid test of life – I have passed with flying colours like my simple minded sweet school friends who will never sell their soul for naya paisa.

Family, faith and dignity and respect come first for us friends. Blessed to belong with my old girls. We are the duskiest, we sag, we are crowned salt and pepper, we have love handles, we have tummies, we are the bummiest as well, we have BP, sugar, cholesterol what not – but our trophies are our families. Our bodies have taken the worst beating in life and we wear our scars on our shoulders like stars. Our husbands love us the way we are – with our marks. In fact, love us more for what we are, what we have become. We girls don’t have loads of money. We girls don’t live in flashy bungalows. We friends are not decked up in diamonds and rubies. We have hardly stepped into a star hotel. We don’t groom or accessorize well. In fact we are the fashion fax paus. We unwind on red oxide floor and eat heartily in each others’ homes. We laugh and cry together. But we live a genuine life. We live for ourselves. We don’t seek validation from any quarters. We are happy the way we are.

We are today like the lighthouses, showing right direction to seekers. We friends are like the shade giving trees. We girls will never misguide or give wrong encouragement on anything to anyone. We can be the bitches as well. You will see the beauty in us only if you have a beautiful heart.

Posted in Women & Family

Kick Like A Girl.

This (my altered version of the story) is inspired by a whatsapp share. A young boy goes to play football for the first time. His teammate, an older boy, teases him not to kick the ball feebly like a girl but with gusto like a boy. The boy’s dad assures him that he must kick (the ball with force) like a girl. What a way to parent our children. We women are always on the defensive, at the receiving end, rarely mustering courage to rise up to the occasion to kick an offending man right in his groin. It is time we girls go offensive to score a point! It felt good to read up the post that was a forward. Ironically, it is the men who preach equality of sexes who seem to hold least respect for women’s honour. My logic is simple: treat women the way you may want your mother/sister/wife/daughter to be treated. Or else let me PUNCH, KICK, KNOCK YOU OUT for the girl I am!

Posted in Women & Family

Sajda for the sweetest souls.

I just want to add a small late night post before i hit the bed. Watched yet again the ‘sajda’ song from MNIK picture. I think SRK has done a fab job enacting the ADHD character. Those of us who get to see kids on the autistic spectrum – even in the rock bottom level of 1 out of 10 or what we call ‘borderline cases’ may know what to expect. Or we can easily identify with SRK’s role that he has performed to perfection. May god bless these special kids and may god gift their parents with enormous patience. I would like to expand more on this one but reserve it right now for a future post. I did a lengthy one quite a few years back but for reasons that I cannot disclose, trashed it. Let me try to do a fresh one, so until then.