Posted in Women & Family

Health Watch For Girls & Guys Under 35

Recently someone conceived through IVF (which is as normal these days as normal conception whereas normal conception is now like a miracle for urban Indian couples by the way) and the first thing her gynaec asked her to do was to stay away from restaurant and processed food, insisting on home food and fruits and nuts. In fact, the girl was asked to stop eating out right away when she approached a fertility clinic after being married for a couple of years. Until then the girl had been practically eating out almost every weekend. Working for a multinational IT company made matters worse with coffee machines and carbonated drinks and potato chips and fast food available aplenty to the staff working at all odd hours round the clock – sleeping through day time and keeping awake entire night going against the biological clock. How do you expect these stressed young couples always panicking about deadlines they have to meet in work – to engage in any act of procreation. They drop dead in their bed the moment they arrive home. The lucky ones have parents or in-laws to take care of their homes. For the rest, it is restaurant take-aways or home delivery for dinner.

No wonder not just this girl but many in Chennai today, women under 35, happen to come up with polycystic ovaries or fibroid in their uterus. This is the direct implication of foods loaded with chemical preservatives served in restaurants: with artificial colours and synthetic flavours. Reheated oil is not new. How many meat eaters are aware, even the top-of-the-line restaurants may procure poultry/meat mostly frozen that are shortly about to expire their shelf life. The day the restaurants serve you the menu, the meat you may consume already could be beyond the date of expiry, but the restaurants still tend to get away because they are violating no law of the land. Frozen food fast approaching expiry date are sold by supermarkets at throwaway prices which are bulk-purchased by restaurants. Now take into account the steroids injected into the poultry along with vaccines… If at all you have to have meat, look for country chicken or mutton.

Rather than wanting to be young, we ladies who are 40 or 45+ today are relieved we had a narrow escape living this kind of precarious life in our 20s and 30s.

Admittedly even vegetables and fruits and greens today contain residual pesticides/sprays but hopefully a good rinse in running water or Indian way of cooking at very high temperatures in direct fire helps in warding off most of the harmful chemicals.

Today if our children are fine, it is because we parents ate healthy food when we were young. We preserved our bodies and kept out toxic substances that could have had a damaging effect on the physical and mental health of our children.

What a harm the Pizzas and Colas and KFC chicken are inflicting on young Indians. Already in last few years there is a big spurt in children born with learning disabilities and other impairments. A good percentage of kids born after the millennium especially after 2005 are at least mildly autistic. With the air and ground water polluted to the maximum, what is happening to India’s future generations?

Whereas today, for younger generation, it is fashionable to eat out at the latest trendy restaurant – never thinking of future implications. It is not a one-off dining experience. It is year round, for every weekend, for decades. What happens with the cumulative effect.

Already we have pumped too many vaccines into our kids – that they have as such only a 50-50 chance for natural conception, the understated side-effect of life-saving vaccinations. Not to speak of the perils from radiation emitted from gadgets like mobile phones and laptops and appliances including microwave ovens… 

The wrong kind of health and food supplements promoted in this country is further worrisome. Energy drinks are nothing but steroid and sugar 200 times over. Soya, the much touted super food, is GM (Genetically Modified) basically that can have a detrimental effect on the hormones of young men and women. Under 40 while you are in your productive years, it is not advisable to consume soya on a regular basis. It could make one go sterile.

Its true India has made remarkable strides in last 20 years, but often makes me wonder at what cost? Our men are dying of cardiac arrest at the age of 25 and 27 years and our women are reaching their menopause by even 29 these days.

The side-effects are felt like after-shocks after a mere 20 year since the opening up of the Indian economy.

What is making us forego our balanced, rich and diversified traditional food and opt for junk from the west? Is that affordability?

Recently I got my hair treated for severe hair loss. For the first time in my life I stepped into a unisex salon where the hair stylists gave me multiple options including going for straightening but out of the lot, I selected Keratin because it was stated to be organic, from Brazil. I am uncertain how far this is true but the word ‘organic’ worked for me. Not that keratin is helping in anyway. But after research I found that it is believably a better option than other chemical treatments. (On double-checking it is scary to note that any kind of hair treatment involves administering carcinogen in your scalp even if the names of chemical compounds may differ.)

Next to me I saw young girls tweaking, colouring their hair with chemical dyes (even if its Loreal it is still chemical). One was undergoing straightening. She said it was her second time and she could not have been over 20. I understand, the process involves a lot of chemical use, with the strong serums rubbed into your scalp to be absorbed by your skin cells. What a toxic thing to expose your body to, at such a tender age. I shuddered – even at 48, I was nervous about hair treatment. I am still wondering about the side-effects although I was assured mine was totally organic. Is it worth it. What if like Angelina Jolie, we are carriers of BRCA gene predisposed to cancer?

What about the long term effects on young girls subjecting themselves to such an unhealthy (formaldehyde) treatment?

What about the girls who undergo facial? Got my first at the age of 36. Upto 35 years never been into a beauty salon. Yes, we girls are old world plain Janes and we have poorest dressing sense and we are terrible in grooming and accessorizing, but it is also a fact that we the ladies on wrong side of 40s are much more fitter and looking a lot younger to heavily made-up and cosmetic-dripping 20-35 girls of today. Our faces have not matured beyond our age. One main reason is staying away from chemical cosmetics and relying heavily on coconut oil, henna, egg, haldi, sandalwood, neem etc that are our cheap and best and natural beauty aids. The other reason is our healthy dietary habits. And even if some of us do not get to work out on regular basis, we still undergo physical exertion by way of domestic chores, always on our feet to serve our families. No word to add for working women.

Girls, throw the ‘Dove’ soap out of your windows. Along with the shampoo and conditioner. Lipsticks have lead content while dyes contain arsenic or its equivalent substitute. Go desi, switch over to Margo, Chandrika, Himalaya and/or even Pathanjali brand neem soaps, sandal soaps, haldi soaps etc that are not only desi but come laden with least toxic chemicals. The more international you may go like Loreal and Pantene, the most toxic substance is what you end up buying. Desi cosmetics like Lakme are known safe players. Go for Lakme Kajal and skin care, if at all you have to. Do not use anti-ageing concoctions even if its Olay: these are very complex formula, remember they are very addictive and your skin could get even more elastic if you stop using them.

And if you can, wear loose fitting clothes that can breathe – like cotton if you are in a tropical country like India. Tight fitting clothes such as denim restrict blood flow to vital organs of our body and raise our body temperature.

It angers me to see mothers get their daughters as young as 6-10 years for haircut and grooming for weddings, birthday parties etc. Well, none of my friends did that to their daughters! Do not use anything other than a mild moisturizer in your face until 35 years. Even that light application, do not start before 20 years. Coconut oil before you shower will do.

Our health is in our own hands. Distracting little girls diverting their attention towards grooming will prove to be counter-productive. In an age when the girls have to achieve academically, they will instead start focusing on trivial, banal issues. They will grow up more conscious of superficial appeal.

Eating out and grooming: attractive to everyone not mere young ladies. Just ask housewives, how much we long to go out and eat and shop because we are bored of eating our own food day in and day out? It is not entirely possible to stop eating out – but make a conscious effort to cut down the number of times you may eat out.

Make a serious attempt to eat at home during weekends and shift the eating-out day to mid week for starters. Gradually it must be possible for you to minimise if not quit eating out even in midweek.

Eat a rich diet of vegetables, fruits, greens, nuts, sprouts, whole grains, pulses, millet and fish and lean meat that are a good source of minerals, proteins and anti-oxidants. Avoid the processed and baked and the deep-fried. Would you believe that we in the third world nation called India,still eat a lot better and balanced and healthier meal than those in the west? Our milk is fresh and pasteurized for not longer than 2 days. Most of our fish and meat are fresh and not frozen. Our vegetables and fruits plucked are barely a few days older before they reach our dining table. In reality, we are having a feast at home, fit for kings. Sadly, not many Indians reckon this truth. None in the world gets to taste the 5 rasas in their tongue like we Indians do: salt, sweet, sour, bitter and savoury. And which other cuisine combines and infuses the benefits of a plethora spices and seeds and exotic veggies and roots like ours does.

As for cosmetics, just quit it. Enough is enough. I am more worried about the powerful chemicals that may enter our body through hair dyes, face creams, shampoos etc. Shampoos: go for the mildest and desi.

Even those of us with cleanest habits still get cancer. I am not saying this is a 100% foolproof method of staying healthy for the rest of your life. But at least let us make a sincere try.

Recently got to check out Pathanjali toothpaste : full lavang (clove) like I have never tasted in any foreign brand toothpaste like Colgate, Closeup, etc. Many of my friends have moved over to Pathanjali.

There is no harm in parents telling their sons and daughters the harmful effects of junk food and chemical cosmetics. It is time we have a frank word with our children: it is time girls learn how anything and everything they do in young age will have an effect on their reproductive system in future. I don’t hesitate telling my son what I have to on the subject.

After 40, when your domestic duties are at least 50% accomplished, you may feel free to freak out, but even then keep a limit. By this time, your kids will be in high school or college, still you will be doing them a great favour by staying healthy.

And finally, WORK OUT! Exercise! Do anything that you are comfortable with: walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics, dance fitness, Yoga, Pilates, etc. This truly is the only beauty aid that cleanses your system from within. Keep your body and mind healthy reading books and with other interesting hobbies like music and art. Fitness is wholesome when you give it a holistic approach.

Last word: A happy mind is a healthy mind. A healthy body and mind is a reflection of your inner beauty.

Posted in Women & Family

Five Sixers And One Dot Ball…

Recently two Indian American kids hogged the limelight in social media for winning the annual Spelling Bee contest in the United States.  A regular phenomenon now that’s no more a surprise. After all, this is the 9th consecutive year an Indian origin kid has claimed the prestigious title in America, one more feather to our cap, given that we are increasingly acknowledged now as a nation of human potential over anything. Gone are the days when foreigners conjured up images of snake-charmers and elephants whenever and wherever the name ‘India’ cropped up. It is undeniably an exhilarating feeling that the NRIs in the Middle-East may as well concede. The global Indian has arrived. It started with the IT boom in the ’90s and as India started churning out record number of physicians, scientists, engineers and techies to service around the world and we became the world’s largest ever back-office even as China became the universal shopping front for swiss knives to cell phones.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/us-canada-news/Two-Indian-Americans-joint-winners-of-US-Spelling-Bee-championship/articleshow/52470573.cms

So it is no coincidence that Chennai-born Sundar Pichai is heading Google or Indira Krishnamurthy Nooyi chairs the world Pepsico. Or that Satya Nadella of Microsoft is from Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian footprint is there even in outerspace – from the moon to Mars.

Successful Indians have raised the bar for rest of us mere mortals to follow suit, especially the younger generation. Only resources are shrinking faster than ever before and the rat race is killing already.

As accolades for the young wizards of Spelling bee poured in at both international and desi media, there was finally a kind of oasis like sanity amid the blare of all the pomp – which read like the most sensible thing I laid my hands on in quite sometime. Basking for too long in the glory of Nadellas and Pitchais, the latest updates on Spelling Bee had bored me down with its insipidity and stale content until there was this break that came as a breather (though probably from over an year before):

http://www.indiawest.com/letters_to_editor/the-problem-with-indian-kids-winning-spelling-bees/article_ffff7a3a-1518-11e5-bfc5-ffcd73e827d3.html

Follows on the heels of Abhishek Bachchan trolled not long ago in Twitter ‘(Five sixers and One dot ball’)  (the dot ball referring to him obviously) in the awards ceremony of the recently concluded World Cup T20 Cricket, for sharing the stage with stalwarts like his father Amitabh and Sachin Tendulkar, the doyen of Indian cricket. Now, why should Abhishek turn out to be as successful or as exactly as his superstar dad? The two men grew up in entirely different set of circumstances, so the environment that shaped them must have had a marked difference. Bachchan junior won my sympathy for the unrealistic expectation the nation pinned on him, trying to cast him in the same mold as his father. Very unfair comparison and cruel to an extent. Let him be him. Just him. Why are we Indians obsessed with the father-son succession story? Fathers may leave impressive footprints that sons may sometimes willingly follow, but why should the younger men have to travel the same journey as their illustrious fathers.

Not that I am a fan of Abhishek or his ilk including the Kapoors. The junior Bachchan is equally to blame for the embarrassing episode, for taking his undue place in a stage that did not befit him.

Still, extrapolating the single Bachchan story, it is easy to generalize the prevailing panorama in the Indian diaspora. Indian parents are pushing their kids beyond a decent boundary ‘to go and get’ and the strain is showing.

The unabated suicides at Kota, Rajastan of IIT aspirants among young Indians is a trigger for this post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/06/01/life-and-death-in-kota_n_10232456.html

There is not a month that goes by without a fresh suicide story from the otherwise nondescript dusty town in the desert state of India that shot to its fame with its ‘distinguished feat’ of creating record number of IIT entrants. The heart-wrenching suicide notes penned by promising young talents to their over-ambitious parents underscores the insensitivity of us parents. The case of a young girl ending her life on clearing the IIT-JEE part I, qualifying for the advanced, raises troubling questions. There is a huge emotional cost to pay here.

But Kota hardly surprises me.  Witness to equally grueling round-the-clock rigours of IIT coaching centers in Ongole, the head quarters of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh where children from the surrounding villages and towns got enrolled for months and at times years bidding to crack the IIT-JEE, the very arduous exercise of trying to tackle the entrance in a dogged manner would make me think. Coming from a city like Chennai, I least expected a laidback ‘taluk’ like Ongole to boast of IIT calibre children, and by this I mean no disrespect to rural communities. To my utter surprise and shock, not only was Andhra teeming with IIT aspirants, their success rate was also much over and above what you may generally expect to see in urban metros like Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai.  The key to the puzzle lay in the grind the teenagers were subject to. The preparation was not scientific as it was laborious; it was more like kind of systematic, a foolproof method by which you just couldn’t go wrong.

A mother myself of a young man who is pursuing his higher studies, I am painfully aware of the stress the younger generation are subject to, at a very early stage in their lives compared to how we ourselves fared in the same age. The shocking statistic of over 15-20 fresh engineering graduates from his class sporting a receding hairline highlights certain socio-physical factors that desperately seek our attention, the primary reason being environmental degradation and resultant poisoning and pollution of our soil, air and water; the  other equally important cause is the accumulated stress. The pressure starts right from high school. But hair-loss is hardly something we need to worry about when we have more pressing issues on hand: more than 3-4 boys had elevated blood pressure levels and type-2 diabetes when they had to undertake medicals in their final year, when they’re hardly 21 years old. It is this vital observation that upsets the cart, a clear pointer to the health of our nation. What kind of young India is in the making?

If we dig deeper, pressure for Indian kids starts right by 3 years. Indian school curriculum is heavy right from the start and it is not a surprise that by the age of 5 years in primary school, our kids can not only read and write full sentences in English language along with doing some basic arithmetic like addition and subtraction, they are also ready to learn a second language and move on to writing answers to printed questions in exam halls. The second languages are invariably local tongues such as Tamil etc which are tougher to master with advanced grammars. From standard 6 joins the third language as per the 3-language formula. Some say, this is the reason Indian kids perform well in foreign universities. The grueling exercise prepares them the best to stay ahead of many of their peers from around the world.

Most kids do adapt to the syllabus to various degrees, but there is also a handsome percentage in each class who cannot keep up. It is precisely this mass that is left behind in the rat-race that grows increasingly restless . There are now Montessories and IB schools that are steadily gaining popularity in Chennai and other cities. Although expensive, for those who can afford them the schools open a new vista of knowledge and holistic learning with a motivating curriculum. ‘Special children’ cannot be having it any better.

IIT may be worth it for those kids that have the aptitude. If children have the potential, there is no reason to stop them from applying the same to their advantage. But if kids show a lesser inclination to academics, it is unwise to put them through run-of-the-mill tech courses where 100% employment is still not feasible. The kids feel miserable and even depressed at times.

Where is the time to pursue hobbies like art or music these days for our children? It is only IPL that has saved cricket in India. Otherwise you won’t be seeing so many boys out there in the hot sun playing street cricket. IPL is a money spinner, a game-changer, so when I was talking to a kid he said, he did not want to play for Team India but said he wanted to pursue his dream of a stint in IPL! It is enough if you reach up to first division, you will be in for reckoning for IPL teams. Other than that, interest is waning in sports and other extra-curricular activities in Indian children. After standard 9, all other avenues are closed to them forever.

The news that the Swiss were voting for a fixed income as per government provisions came as a pleasant surprise last week. Even if the citizens voted down the referendum, it is laudable that the state wanted to spare their countrymen the drudgery of structured occupation so that they would be able to devote more of their time, energy and resources in passionate, creative pursuits of what really make for a happy humanity. After all, ancient man only hunted for his basic needs although later on, he went on to make his life as well as that of his community more comfortable. Human civilization did not dictate work-life as a mandatory doctrine for ages and centuries that rolled by. This present 9-5 routine is a very recent evolutionary phase. Homo Sapiens are the only species on earth that have to ‘work’ in order to make a living.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Money-for-nothing-Swiss-vote-on-basic-income-for-all/articleshow/52603391.cms

What a refreshing perspective of life. If all us are going to have to become physicians, engineers and astronauts, who will do the masonry, carpentry, hospitality, nursing, teaching, tailoring, accounting, why even scavenging works for us? How can we still hope to run the show???

To every Indian parent who relentlessly pushes his/her kid to perfection, I would like to ask, ‘why didn’t you do it yourself???!!!’

 

 

Posted in Women & Family

A Ready Reference Handbook For Every Family

This International Woman’s Day Cultivate Awareness Ladies! Because Ignorance Is NOT Bliss!!

On Women’s Day March 8th, this is what I want every Indian woman to know: where exactly she stands and what is the corresponding status of her family in case of any unforeseen eventuality/emergency crisis. Well, I am not talking about something we are all totally unaware of. In fact, quite a few of us must have put into practice something like what I am going to suggest herein. I am blogging this piece for those who have not yet been as thoughtful.

So this is a winding post, I must caution but I hope it is worth a quick browsing.

An expat Indian worker died in service with his currency balances locked into foreign bank accounts in Middle East. That was when his wife (and the rest of us) came to know, there are no nomination facilities in this part of the world. The balance (that was substantial) in her spouse’s account stood to be frozen and later transferred to a welfare fund (that keeps swelling owing to many such an unfortunate and untimely death). The couple did not share a joint account and the lady did not know the card details of her husband either. The sudden demise of the head of the family dealt them a twin blow: emotional as well as financial.  Overnight the family found themselves at the mercy of others, having been denied access to what rightfully belonged to them. With school going children and the woman being a housewife, it couldn’t have gotten worse.

This is an eye-opener for all of us out there. A woman/mother/wife/daughter needs to know what is going on with the man of her life. I would suggest, it is imperative for even the children getting to know what is the family position.

The following is a check-list I am trying to make up. It is better if both spouses share all issues among themselves. They say, making hard copy and maintaining one is risky. I guess, it is a must to have a hardcopy, like a summary of all our savings and investments. Such a physical evidence can be taken care of personally the way we handle our passports and IDs for instance with diligent care.

Make a hard copy like a Diary with following entries (even if you have gone green completely) for the sake of your beloved ones. Who knows when it should come in handy (God forbid). Educate your younger children on the relevance and drop a hint where in the event of any unforeseen accident or health issues, they could find help in financial matters. If the children are over 18, include them in family discussions. Let them get the complete picture, it is high time.

A HANDBOOK  OF REFERENCE FOR MAINTENANCE OF FAMILY RECORDS/ACCOUNTS 

INDEX I

What the Hard Copy of Handwritten Diaries and Back-up of Soft Copies like saved Mails/Hard Discs/Pen Drives must contain:

  1. Make a list of all your bank accounts: SB (savings bank), NRI (non resident Indian), RD (recurring deposit), FD (fixed deposit) etc. Include the Account name, Number, Bank address, Debit/Credit card number, PIN, the 3 digit CVV code, the Internet Banking User ID, Password, Transaction Password, Registered Mobile No., Registered Mail ID, Phone Banking Code, Phone banking password. Update the Relationship Manager’s phone number everytime for quick access. This will enable your family to operate your account in distress situations when they could be facing crunch of funds.
  2. Make sure your register NOMINATIONS for all your bank accounts. In India, one can still go for Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate,  even if it is mandatory to register nominations in the first place. Update your nominations when your relationship status changes. That is, when you marry, you may update the legal nominee as your spouse and the second nominee as your kid (minor or major) etc. For each bank account you make a list of, add the nominee names in the diary.
  3. PF (provident fund) accounts have to have nominations. Make sure you share the PF account and nomination details with your family through the diary.
  4. Make a list of your other liquid assets such as Shares in Equity Markets, Mutual Funds, Bonds etc. This is no more possible in physical form. Share your Demat account details with passwords in the diary you keep. Update password everytime you change it.
  5. Make a list of your Immovable Properties/Real Estate investments. List them one by one as per order of value and importance. Let each entry include, a detailed description of the property as to whether it is a parcel of land/plot or house/flat with complete address. Include the distinctive property ID, the date of registration, the address of the registrar’s office, the Patta No., the registered document no., the latest EC (encumbrance certificate no.) and in which spouse name it is registered.
  6. Make a list of your Life Insurance policies. Update it on every premium subscription. Let the recordings include the date of maturity and premium amount. Include riders if any on the policies like Critical Illness apart from death benefit. This is very important. Now that we pay premiums online, add the User ID to log in to the insurers’ website with password. Save the premium receipts online either in mail boxes or in your computer. If you are in touch with your agent, include his/her phone number.
  7. Do not forget to file nominations for each and every of your life insurance policies.
  8. Make a list of the Health Insurance policies of the family members with renewal dates and amount covered. Most urban Indians hold cashless Medical insurance policies in which case, let the health cards be kept at an easily accessible and retrievable place of safety. Let the children know about the cards. Do not forget to renew health insurance every year when it is due. It could come handy if any of us should suffer a sudden heart attack or stroke or accident or such misfortune or mishap. However young the kids could be, they must be educated about the health policies and must be told about the health insurance cards for cashless and spot hospitalization. As health policies are also payable online, save the relevant mails in separate e-folders.
  9. Let your children know your health conditions: whether you suffer from lifestyle diseases such as Blood Pressure, Diabetes or Cholesterol or heart condition etc.  Write down your prescription medicines and dosages clearly mentioning at what intervals they must be taken. Please include details of drugs allergic to you. A short gist of previous history can also be included. Give the name of your doctor/hospital/consultant with address and phone number.
  10. Make a list of Vaccination histories thoroughly for each family member and update each new vaccine administered.
  11. Libel Suits if any also have to be brought to the attention of your children. Please do not leave any ugly surprise for them. Give details of your attorney and make a gist of the pending cases.
  12. Make a list of your Vehicles with their Insurances (with renewal date), RC book, Road tax details. Note down the phone number of your Car/Bike insurance agent and office.
  13. Make a page for jotting down all of your Driving Licence numbers – be it for bike or car. Add the renewal dates.
  14. Create a page for details of your PAN (Permanent Assessment Number) cards (for all adults in the family over the age of 21 years).
  15. Note down the details of your Ration (PDS) cards with zone number, serial number, issuing office, circle.
  16. It is now important to list even our Aadhar cards with distinctive individual ID numbers.
  17. Both spouses must be able to operate all Bank Lockers (the contents of which could be hinted to your children if they are minor). Ask your kid to sign for joint bank locker operation the day he/she turns 18. Take your adult children to banks and demonstrate to them the locker procedure. Introduction to ATM can be by pre-teen years.  Maintain a record of your annual visits for reference even if you sign in the bank register.
  18. Make a list of Bank Locker contents briefly.
  19. A page mentioning the Bank Locker numbers is important. Let your know children where the bank locker keys are in safe-keeping at home.
  20. If you have a Will registered, let your legal heirs know of its existence. If there is no animosity/conflict of interests in the family, I see no reason to keep it hidden. Let them know where to find the will (whether it is safekept in bank locker or at home).
  21. Make a gist of Property Taxes paid. What corporation circle, zone. What is the property ID. Tax amount, paid upto which date. Update Corporation official phone number if possible. Now that the taxes are paid online, add the Login ID applicable for the corporation website with password for easy access. Make sure to save the paid receipts in e-folders either in your mail box or in computer or both.
  22. Make a list of Water taxes, Sewage taxes paid with details of corporation zone/circle and property ID. Add the Internet Login ID with password. Save the electronic receipts.
  23. A Jewelry list is a must. If you hold the purchases receipt, please note down the value of your gold/diamond ornaments. The jewelry list can include diamond, gold, silver, other precious stones and any other valuable ornament piece/articles.
  24. Do you have a House insurance. Share the details in case of theft, fire etc.
  25. Any debtors/creditors the family must know about
  26. Details of Pension policies with or without death benefits with maturity details. Remember to record your nomination for the policies.
  27. School/University certificates – date of registration/graduation, serial number, issuing authority etc.
  28. Work details like original Appointment letters, letters of appreciation and other service records
  29. Antique collections of any value with description
  30. Passport details updated periodically
  31. Have you delegated Power to anyone and registered the same? Details of Power vested in who, when, valid upto when must be entered. Are you standing in as POA (power of attorney) for anyone. Details please.
  32. LPG details with Consumer No., LPG agent number and contact phone and address
  33. Loan details. Housing loan/car loan EMIs, names of the banks/lenders, tenure of the loan(s), pre-closure if any, part-payment made etc.
  34. Land line phones/Mobile phones – connection/user name details.
  35. And awww, as a typical NRI on and off for last few years I have omitted including filing of your Income Tax Returns!!!  Most important of all in India! Make an entry everytime with brief particulars.
  36. Any Fines/Penalties paid? Make a list.

It is wise to prepare both soft copies and hard copies of the important particulars and mail them to your spouse/children IN GOOD FAITH. Hopefully we all are blessed with sweet kids not wayward ones. Trust is the main factor. If there is a trust deficit in the family, kindly do not share. Instead, details can be listed in the diary and the existence of the diary could be confided to someone trustworthy – with information of finding it where should any emergency arise.

Children need not be revealed the complete details either. It is sufficient if they are told about the diary and where to find it in times of sudden crisis.  Sons and daughters over 18 must be shown the book/diary/record and given a soft copy of their own.

Don’t take the secrets to your grave leaving your family stranded.  Weaving one’s way through legal tangles is a messy and long drawn-out affair. A drain of our time and energy. Rather than bereaving for the departed, the legal heirs could be cursing the spirits for making it hard for them!

Make 1 or 2 hard copy diaries and store them in your Godrej almirah or any other steel safe in the house which is fire-resistant.  Lock up one in your bank locker. Let your kids and spouse know about it.

Send the soft copy to your family members and ask them to save it with password protection. The same can also be stored in hard disc/pen drives out of reach of others who are not family.

************************************

The Financial Security of a family lies principally in mutual and trustworthy sharing of information and proper planning.

*************************************

INDEX II

What should you put away in Bank Lockers:

  1. We Indians mostly reserve bank lockers for stashing gold/diamond jewelry. Now that property values have appreciated to sky levels in our cities, it is prudent to use the lockers first for safe-keeping your legal documents. If you can afford bigger size lockers, get them to put away safety the property files in proper order. File each property document neatly in individual labelled folder with brief description detailed on the front fly. This will make it easier for the legal heirs to retrieve papers, if it comes to that. Use different folders for each property. Let every folder include the original registered document with all other originals like the Patta and EC.
  2. All original Life Insurance and Health Insurance policies
  3. Original Pension policies and PF originals
  4. FD originals (if any) but these are mostly soft copies only now
  5. Any other legal paper pertaining to pending court cases
  6. Original School/University certificates
  7. Original Employment certificates
  8. Original car RC book, life time tax receipt etc. Make sure to change/update this folder every time you switch your car/bike.
  9. Any other original bank documents /share certificates etc if any
  10. Loan documents if any – property or car (original signed) with original receipts for pre-closures/part-payments
  11. Original POA if you are representing legally anyone and attested copies in case you have issued POA to any party
  12. One hardcopy of handwritten diary with the afore mentioned paritculars neat and legible as listed in Index I
  13. Finally if there is space remaining in your lockers, you may use it for stashing jewelry that you seldom wear!

Make a habit of recording physically your daily expenses if you have not so far. Let it be in Excel sheet if that’s how you may want it. 

An Excel sheet, by the way, is a precise and scientific method of maintaining family records like real estate holdings and bank account details.

INDEX III

What you must have at home in Steel Safe:

  1. Copies of all the above mentioned documents/papers you put into Bank Lockers. Just like in bank lockers, make a file folder for each entry separately. The only difference should be that, the bank lockers contain the originals whereas the steel safe at home has the photocopies. In short, copies of all listings under Index II.
  2. Bank locker keys in a distinctive pouch that the children must know about with numbers of the lockers clearly earmarked
  3. Minimal jewelry
  4. Taxes paid if any. Online taxes are applicable only in last 7-8 years. If you have any hardcopies from the past, put them away in bank lockers and store at home their photocopies. For property/water/sewage taxes paid – store the print-outs if you take one. I don’t.
  5. Original passports with multiple copies
  6. Original Ration cards with good number of photo copies
  7. Original Aadhar cards with good number of photo copies
  8. Copies of School/University certificates
  9. Copies of Employment certificates
  10. Old Salary certificates
  11. Copies of loan documents
  12. Copies of POA issued/standing in for
  13. Original Health Insurances Policies and Cashless Medical Insurance Cards
  14. Vaccination Records original
  15. Other Health/Medical records like previous histories/hospitalization 
  16. Original Driving Licences with good number of photo copies
  17. Copies of RC book of your car/bike and Life Road Tax paid
  18. Original car/bike insurance with third party cover plus some copies
  19. Passport size photos of all family members – multiple copies
  20. Original LPG booklet with copies, and one or two latest LPG refill receipts if possible
  21. Vacation ownership holdings – with copies
  22. Warranties of electronics, kitchen equipment, furniture etc
  23. Land line/Mobile phone connection Customer ID number/details
  24. Satellite tv subscription details
  25. AMC contract details for Water Purifier, Air Conditioner, Pest Control etc
  26. Lift Insurance/AMC details (if applicable)
  27. Maintenance charges records (in case of apartment residents)
  28. Club subscriptions
  29. Details of School/College fees paid with original receipts
  30. Any other substantial payment made/remittance received
  31. Original receipts of Fines/Penalties paid
  32. Rental receipts
  33. Original Agreements with copies made
  34. Income Tax Returns filed
  35. One hard copy of handwritten diary of all the listed items under Index I

It is better to file the details in separate individual folders with flaps briefing on the contents for ready reference and easy access. I prefer this method to huge box office files.

The keys to your steel safe must be kept in place known to your spouse and children but at the same time inaccessible to house maids/drivers/repairs persons/frequent visitors/relatives and guests.

Workings wives MUST share details with their husbands and housewives do have a right to know what the family stands to lose if faced with emergency crisis. I don’t see why children over 18 years should be excluded from sharing family particulars either. Under-aged minors can be briefed and told about the diary and precocious ones can be let into the ‘inner circle.’

Finally it is all for the family. Not many Indians are aware that an Indian male can leave more than one direct legal heir: his wife, his children and his mother. Bitter family disputes have since made the government and our banks strictly enforce the nomination facility. Unfortunately quite a few Indian men are in the habit of keeping their women in the dark when it comes to their economic standing.

Women’s Empowerment?

Ladies, you have every right to get the correct picture of your financial standings. If you have been kept away from these very important and necessary family details, demand to know of them. Educate your children and bring in an awareness. Maintain meticulous, systematic records in chronological order. Your future generations will thank you!

CAUTION FOR NRIs. 

How many of you are aware that nomination facilities are unavailable in some countries like in Middle-East for instance. Please repatriate your savings to mother country in that case for your own sake and the sake of your family, leaving a safe margin for comfortable living in the host country where you are a temporary guest (as employee). Share all account details with Internet Login ID, ATM password etc with your spouse and grown-up children.

Keep your loan commitments to the minimum even if foreign banks offer you attractive lendings at very reasonable rates of interests. Remember these are constraining traps which can prevent you from leaving the port of your employment at your will anytime you wish.

May there never arise an emergency situation in your life! But it is better to stay prepared in case of any eventuality, is it not.

How many diaries to make:

One for the Bank Locker, One for the Steel Safe at Home and One for handy reference that you can tuck into wardrobe for instance – for easy retrieval. It may be prudent to include even your e-mail IDs and passwords. But please take care that the sensitive records stay out the eyes and reach of any/all outsiders other than family members. Minors like under-aged kids can be hinted about the diary whereas the adults must have 100% awareness.

Soft copies to be password protected and saved in mail boxes in registered E-mail IDs or in Computer/Hard Discs/Pen Drives. Preserve them the way you take care of your physical IDs and Passports. Stay alert.

Before writing this up, I did reflect on the sensitivity of the information we could be sharing in diaries/soft copies. Is it worth the risk. I guess it is, because online transfers are safer with OTP (one time password)s generated with every single transaction in your registered mobile number. Still it will be prudent to exercise due caution and keep the material out of reach of anyone other than trusted intimate family members.

 

 

 

Posted in Women & Family

Feminism Within Four Walls…

WOMEN ARE BORN-SISSIES! Blame it on our XX chromosome!

 

What is Feminism.

Feminism to me is more about women opting for a flying career – not as air hostesses but as captains aboard. How many women out there even as Ground Staff – in Civil Aviation/Aerospace Engineering.

How many of us including me, among women, would opt for a Maritime career with 15 months at the sea at one go or for a posting at an Offshore Drilling platform should opportunities surface. The answer is ZERO even among the most liberated amidst us (from the west). Applications are called for from eligible qualified men, never women. And not surprisingly there is not a murmur of protest. FROM FEMINISTS. Busy donning the receptionist/secretary role?

Once talking to a man who flies weekly to an unstable man-made island in the middle of nowhere trusting his life with a rickety chopper that dispatches regularly his crew, I came to know temperatures exceeded 70 C in (the offshore or otherwise) oil rigs. Weather permitting, the men who subsisted on rationed food in pigeon-holed quarters could return on time to their families. There have been instances when they  were forced to stay back for extended periods disconnected to the rest of the world when things went wrong in the horizon (literally). Similar is the working condition in African countries, risky in their own way with physical and health threats and also being employed in uncharitable desert regions.

Occupational hazard is steepest when it comes to high altitude projects like building bridges – which are mostly undertaken by men. Same goes with sub-surface jobs. Again, the earnest window cleaners happen to be men, don’t they? Any takers among women for fishing? Stinks? Fisher-women I guess are more likely hawkers? Priestesses are fine but who among us is coming forward for a stint in burial/cremation ground?

Women are surgeons, astronauts, train drivers (in India) and flight lieutenants (as they come from the bold and daring army background like in most cases). Otherwise the statistic is hardly flattering. There are women mountain climbers, arctic expedition scientists (good number in HBO than in reality), marine biologists, archeologists yet there are also so, many, many things women are NOT yet. Or would rather BE NOT. BY CHOICE.

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SOFT SKILLS HAVE TURNED TO BE THE URBAN INDIAN WOMEN’S FORTE, THE TERTIARY SECTOR – THE PREFERRED MEDIUM OF SECURE EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE. CORPORATE LEADERSHIPS OVER CHAMPIONING MIGHTY PHYSICAL CAUSE COULD WELL BE A SORE WEAKNESS

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Women entrepreneurs seem to be content designing clothes and homes, baking among other nubile lady-like things. Appropriate for the sex and the society they come form.  PhDs are for Economics mostly over Nano Technology. Literature over Logic. Challenges like these make us truly ‘the flower power.’

How many ladies are really upto running a garage for instance,  getting their hands and feet dirty. Oh yes, there are the peasant women milking cows in the shed! And there are those farm hands.

How many young girls are keen to take up boxing (the picture Irudhi Suttru (Saala Khadoos in Hindi) is an inspiration for this post) or weight-lifting. Cricket is for ‘gentlewomen.’

Claiming equality with men, we though would like to spare ourselves from seeking equal hardship when it comes to working as foremen in factories  -to say so. We would rather leave the dirty, dangerous jobs to the men!

How many girls in our cities and villages enroll for mechanical or civil engineering. Why should they when there are safer options like chemical, electronics, electrical and information technology and architecture. Those few who do venture, invariably shut themselves into air-conditioned cabins restricting themselves to planning and such docile assignments. The tough work is for the boys. Field work is routinely left to men, east or west.

But look at how many Beauticians we have. Women Choreographers. Camera women. Directors. Writers. ACTIVISTS !!! Activists :these come in all colours, shapes and sizes ! We have maximum aspiring women here with many more waiting in the sidelines  to become the self-appointed ‘voice of nation’ as we see. Clutching the mic that is. (One Smriti Irani is what it takes to quell a 1000 or more Barkha Slutts, ladies. Know what to make out of your life).

How many women in the lower-middle class strata opt to work as simple as courier-women (even if in India there can’t be a teenage girl in the present who cannot ride a moped/scooter). As medical representatives. As marketing executives or travelling sales personnel. There are some in Chennai, and ofcourse there is one in my relative circle who is a successful rep selling surgical instruments minting good commissions, still these are avenues women generally seem to avoid stepping into.

How may women TTRs in overnight trains covering long distances through different states from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Goa to Assam?

I am a woman, have had a working woman for mother who never spent a day in kitchen, and I am the fourth generation literate woman from both sides – parental and marital. Still I lacked, and lack still the courage to venture into anything physically taxing, exhausting the way men in our families so readily do. I am hesitant to step out of my comfort zone – and not necessarily security is always the question. Four generations of seeing the light has not made me strong enough and weaned me from weaknesses – imagined and physical both.

Why cannot we women still push borders and get ourselves do the unconventional jobs. Who will stop us from pulling a cart or lifting a sack of grains. From changing a fused bulb to fixing a leaking faucet. I don’t think women are made fragile. It is more of a mind-matter.

Easiest to become gossipy Journalists. Make-up artists. Teachers. Doctors. Cooks. Tailors. Nurses. Domestic servants. Sans any unforeseen risks, I see. You may also dress up as an added bonus 🙂 Arts and Aesthetics are alluringly feminine.

Equality only in pay checks? Equality only in treatment? Equality not when it comes to sweating as hard and sincere as men?

The best excuse we can give is women sitting in board meetings. I have had enough of Indra Nooyis and Chanda Kochchars, thank you. I have had an overdoze of even Sania Mirza and Jhumpa Lahiri and Nandita Das and Latha Mangeshkar and ofcourse Sunita Williams.  Not to leave out Indira Gandhi to Kiran Bedi. I want a woman mason. A woman carpenter. A woman house painter. A woman plumber. A woman electrician. That is someone I failed to be. My friends failed to be.

Women apprentices should be working the labs and the lathes alike. Women trainees must be willing to leave their cozy air-conditioned offices to serve in inhospitable environment, the way men dare to. Who and what prevents us from taking responsibilities, donning the unenviable role the way men have.

These are grey areas I see even women of the west seem to be shy of, not coming abreast with men. If there is any presence at all, it is negligible and hardly worthy of mention. Whereas there are male chefs, male hair-stylists, male dancers (hehe even gigolos – but i am yet to meet one 😦 ) so what do we have to show among women for male equivalents in a variety of traditionally male-dominated professions.

This is the reason I condone feminists. Women like Arundathi Roy and Barkha Dutt make me revolt. First one is a one-book wonder who capitalized with sensationalizing incest. The second one – well you know. It is exactly the kind of feminism they have come to represent that I detest fiercest.

I am impressed to what length a working professional male or a male labourer can go. Can exert himself willingly: physically and mentally. ALL FOR THE FAMILY.

Whereas we women still want to exchange night shifts with male colleagues in IT industry. Where do we go from here.

Excuse me, this is most definitely meant NOT to be a reprieve for rapists and wife-beaters. As much as I hate men, I also adore men. Love their sense of humour, happy-go-lucky attitude, gossip-free banter… Even a 20 minute chat with a well-informed man with a funny bone is enough to make your day … whereas women continue to disappoint me …

Very elite among us forsake domesticity and kitchen duties – because we think we are above it all. Very rare to see women who think otherwise. Juggling home and office is not piece of cake for every woman.

Driving or swimming is not a feat, Miss. It is mandatory in this 21st century CE. Sense of independence is every woman’s inheritance by birth. Gene. You may have lost it in transition but acquiring one is not a privilege.

I am a Varahi worshipper. She is war chieftain 🙂 I love Parvathi’s hold over Shiva. (I didn’t want to mix religion in this post but couldn’t help it. As much as I revere Saraswathi and Lakshmi, the reigning queens of wisdom and wealth, I am for the strong, fiery, aggressive and dominating form of Mother Goddess – the Shakthi who is no non-sense. She means Power and I am her loyal devotee.

But I know, this is face value. What we women have to still do is EVOLVE. Equality to me is a totally different plane. Equality is not just about bringing in your share of bread. Raising a family is part of the package.

Men in my life have helped me grow in their own way.

Women have been the anchor in my life. But i will not let any man be defaced by one Nirbhaya BBC story.  Women have been subject of abuse of various kinds, but I shall not let that cloud my judgement on men. Good men.

Men view women as sex objects not because we kindle their imagination, but because we are proving to be sissies, acting like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – looking lost and helpless. Women seeking concessions are shameless.

I am sick of reading the typical feminist-authors, the so-called self-righteous advocates of women’s causes. With a couple of gloating women activists they complete the picture: one of perpetual lament, pleading tone, unconvincing anger and weak claims.

Women have been on the defensive  long enough. Time to get offensive. Counter offensive. Playing victim for too long – at the receiving end. Isn’t it time we break out and into every other male bastion.  The first thing we will have to do is STOP dreaming the Fairy tales. So long as we act ‘damsel in distress’ waiting for ‘the prince in shining armour’ to come to our rescue like we are the Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel (and rightfully seeking ladies’ seats in buses and trains), I do not see a hope.

Emancipation is not just about trotting around in faded jeans and carrying placards in protest rallies. IT IS ABOUT LIVING A MAN’S LIFE, IF YOU CAN THAT IS.

So dear Feminists, stop your shrill cry now wanting more, acting selfish. Break new paths.  Throw the stones of excuses behind you. Walk free.