Time for Yourself: Its Essential

I recently read an article which emphasized on the fact that Indian women are not trained or prepared to live alone. Solitude is something that they cannot imagine to exist, it’s a word that ceases to exist in their day to day dictionary. And come to think of it it’s true. And here I am not talking about women who decide to stay alone, the ones who decide not to marry or are divorced or simply because they want to. Our society in general does not think too high of these women, there has to be a reason for a woman to decide to live alone and trust me no reason is good enough ever. Hence, mostly under no circumstances can a woman who decides to live alone, can do so peacefully.

But I am focusing on women who have families and they decide to sneak a few days, hours or even minutes in solitude. This concept is alien to many. They are raised to believe that their time is not theirs, it is for the family, it is to make sure the family lives comfortably, it is to make sure that food is on the table, clothes are kept ironed in the cupboard, the domestic help gets paid on time, and yes amidst all this to make sure that everyone is happy. They become so accustomed to all the chaos around them all the time that snatching time alone for themselves in between all this feels absurd, they feel lost and deceived in the absence of others.

And why does it sound bizarre to me while I have seen the women in my family and even my MIL to a certain extent lead the same life I mentioned above. But nonetheless it is bizarre not outrageously but enough for me to take a stand against it (Come to think of it I am in a habit to take a stand against many things). Few years into my marriage I concluded that I needed this ‘Me’ time to remain sane and keep everyone around me sane. I could not mold myself to the thought that my life could not be mine anymore it was for others, I was OK to share it but to give it up completely was something I was not comfortable with. And I followed my heart, I decided that no matter what, I would take out some ‘Alone time’ as and when I could.

A male colleague of mine was recently complaining that his wife keeps grumbling about the amount of time he spends at home, she feels that he is out most of the time with his friends rather than being at home with her and their 2 year old son. I asked him if she does take time alone for herself, and my colleague gave me a revolted look and asked me what that was supposed to mean, she was alone with the kid all day. So you see what I mean. I am not sure if she wants to spend time alone but I also know that she has not tried it ever. I had read a short story once where the husband of a middle aged woman had to be away for 5 years for work. When he went away the family was worried of how she would manage alone, she had the same apprehension. But at night when she was all alone it was the first time that it struck her that she was alone and it was feeling good. She could finally do things that she wanted to do without fretting about home. And lest to say she fared well.

I am not saying that all women should decide to live alone, we need families, and friends they all are good people. I am just saying that in between all this hustle bustle once in a while it is OK to breathe in the elixir of solitude. I have days when I sit alone in cafes, or go to movies alone, or sometimes even go on my historical expeditions that I absolutely love on my own (The mere thought of this can give sleepless disgruntled nights in my family, I know). And when I come back not only do I realize what my family means to me but also feel rebooted. Taking time alone for me is a necessity it might not be the same case with everyone but we should not be anxious of it. It takes a lot of effort and lot of sacrifices to give yourself up for others and women are the only creatures capable of it but the balance I think would help many get out of the dilemma that they don’t even know exists.

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And I Found the Right Bra for ME!! 

Huh, these are not just 8 little words spun together to form a sentence, these words put together make all the difference in a girl’s life. At least in mine they do. These bring out happiness, contentment, ease of mind in me. I don’t know about other women, but finding the right bra has always been a task for me. I have realized that it is an art to find the perfect piece, that perfect fit, the perfect coverage, the perfect strap or no strap, everything perfect. It’s like having someone serve me the perfect plate of steaming hot red sauce pasta with the correct seasoning that too for free after a tough day at work. I know the comparison is absurd but I love my pasta you see.
So coming back to finding the perfect piece of the most important part of my attire, it is tough finding the “Faultless” piece of absolute perfection don’t you think. My first bra was bought by my mother, because as they say, “God knows better but mom knows best”. And I don’t remember how it had fit me, or probably I did not understand the fact that it needs to fit. At that time it was all excitement, excitement of growing up, another step closer towards being a woman. Ahhh the silliness of being a teenager!! And then as I kept growing so did these two little dangling of mine. Lest I say I was not a very big fan of them, I just wanted them to be small and petty. The large ones just did not fascinate me enough. And it is here that the quest for the perfect piece started. I gained weight, lost weight, and with every few pounds I gained and lost these two also suffered the brunt. And subsequently the quest got more vigorous.
And then I got married, and times for them changed again, both of us (My two little precious pieces and me, and not my husband and me) were in a happy space for a long time until we decided to get pregnant (My husband and me and not my two little precious pieces and me :P). And we were on a roller coaster ride. They recoiled and blew up, blew up and recoiled again. And trust me it was frustrating. A better half of my salary went away spending on this treasure. And trust me the quest is not over.
I walk in a lingerie shop and try out variety of shapes and sizes and finally find that near to perfect piece, and end up buying them in all possible colors, and then when I need to buy them again, DAMN the company stops their production, and introduces a new design. I smell conspiracy I swear!! And what really irks me; trust me I question the lord all the time, why don’t men have some problem like this. Why there undies size remains almost same all through their life. I mean I understand that possessing these makes us so womanly and all, but perhaps I could have done without them; it is really a hassle at times. But on the contrary I still like them, it’s nice having them around at times, and of course this one thing we have and these men don’t, makes us so fascinating to them, Just saying :P. So any which way I have to live with them, just that I wish they would have come with a manual with all the instructions. And one last request please god open a shop which provides me the perfect fit. Thanks in advance!!

Not Being The Conventional Female : Torn Between Good or Bad

I don’t know how many of you are fan of Jhumpa Lahiri as a writer, but I for one am a big fan of what she writes. I still remember reading “The Namesake” when I was nearly 14 years old and crying at the end of almost every chapter. This was what Jhumpa is capable of doing to me.

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I recently finished her latest book “The Lowland”, and surprisingly I finished it within two weeks (Given that I am a working mother of a toddler, trust me it is commendable  ). And God was I engrossed in this one, totally. I probably need a week before I can take up anything else to read, to remain immersed in the sheer joy and sorrows of all the characters in the book. It was an interesting read, a page turner for sure. It had the typical Jhumpa backdrop of a scholar Kolkata boy reaching America, deciding to stay on, parents back in India, having a new generation to raise, torn between the odds but refusing to go back. But this time around the female protagonist was not the regular saree wearing, long haired, abiding to rituals and traditions, longing for her children to stay Indianized despite staying in the US female, but a young girl who reaches US in the most turbulent times of her life, a widow married to her brother in-law and carrying a child from her first marriage who decides to forego all behind and start afresh.

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The female in the story is Gauri and her character intrigued me, she is portrayed as somebody you can easily end up abhorring during the course of the book, but her character is more complex than that. As the chapter unfolds I found multitude of dimensions to her character. She is raised by her grandparents with her brother amongst her uncles and aunts and her cousins, falls in love with Udyaan who is a Naxalite Activist and is killed during the course of his struggle, Udyaan’s brother Subhash who is settled in the US decides to marry her and take her to the US as she is expecting Udyaan’s child and his parents have not been very accepting of Gauri ever since her first marriage. She ends up in the US and though acclimatizing herself is not a big issue but her personality is. She chops off her long hair, wears trousers in place of sarees, walks out of her house and family to make her own identity. In the process she leaves Subhash and her daughter Bela to find her identity. By the end of the story she realizes she is alone but this is the life she has made for herself which she accepts and lives with it.

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So her character gets a lot of thrash from the readers as she tries to break through the premises of the orthodox Indian society of being the perfect Indian wife, daughter-in-law, and mother. She is daring and willing to break the norms of the society. Fearless at heart she decides to live life at her own terms, and pay the price. At the end she is depicted as a loser, nowhere in life which only emphasis on the fact that perhaps living the conventional way is the only way to happiness for an Indian female. It bewilders me; I want to believe that her circumstances were such that she became such an unconventional female. A troubled childhood, a husband who lied to her and got himself involved in anti-government activities, risking his life, not once thinking how it would affect her life, she ignorantly gets herself involved in the murder of a policeman who has a toddler son on the behest of her husband. I feel she punishes herself of taking away a father from a child by moving out of her daughter’s life. She marries her brother in-law in an attempt to escape the city which has taken away all she had. So her act of rebellion is marked by a lot of incidents happening in her course of life. What we see is how callously she leaves her family to be on her own, but she has gone through a lot to finally have a life for herself. Having the child was not her choice, and not necessarily she was molded to be a mother. And is it not OK to not to want the conventional life of being a wife, mother, daughter in-law. Why is it not OK to just break free and flee?
I am no way justifying what Gauri did, it was wrong at many levels for her to leave her 12 year old daughter who looked up to her, her husband who had accepted her amongst all odds. But probably she was not carved for this role, she could have continued living like that trying to be the immaculate wife and mother but a bit of her would have died every day. She could not blame anyone for all the wrong that happened to her, but I feel there was absolutely no way we could discard her emotions, her turmoil. She made decisions for herself, wrong or right she lived with them, probably she regretted them by the end, but she had made the decisions for with which she could be content. She did not want anyone to set the rules for her, not anymore. So I feel that women who choose to live their life differently should be allowed and not condemned. Somehow a boy is allowed all the eccentricities he wants to indulge in but girls are expected to be all nice. Frankly why should boys have all the fun?

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Overall I loved the book I loved all the characters, the story line, the flow of text. I enjoyed it and would eagerly wait for the next one from Jhumpa .