Friday, July 29, 2011

Charity does begin at home!

Charity means differently to different people. My grandmom believes in feeding anyone she meets.. from the daily helpers to any extended family member to any child in my building who walks past her door. If she could feed me via phone, she probably would! But clothes, old newspapers, old utensils… NO! They are meant to be ‘sold’ to the raddiwala for money. This included our old clothes, school notebooks, carefully washed Bournvita bottles and even old tattered shoes. 

My mom’s beliefs are different. She believes in ‘volunteering’ – from giving blood to teaching anyone who asks her for help to giving her seat on the bus to older travelers, she believes in extending herself. Having had to struggle financially herself, the only time she would open her wallet to give money generously was to aid education in any way – from becoming a guarantor to paying fees to hostel fees to buying books, she has done it all. 

My definition of charity? I never believed in it, until recently. I did not believe in unorganized giving – I would contribute annually to a not-for-profit of my choice, but my old clothes, books, vessels – all of them would be dumped in the dumpster, never ‘given’ to any cleaning or cooking help. I never gave ‘giving’ to my support staff any thought.

Until Button was born.

I listened to the stories of my cleaning staff’s children and I began to notice the children on the road. In my head I have categorized them as the ones belonging to ‘begging’ rackets and the ones who actually belong to families who love them, keep them, but in abject conditions (due to various reasons). The latter category I have begun to help.  I give away Button’s old toys and clothes and sometimes even books. I don’t think I can help ALL the children I see. Even the one or two I help, I sometimes wonder if I am doing the right thing giving them something that is not sustainable (and against my tenets of organized development). But I do feel sorry to see them robbed of small pleasures like a car or crayon, or even worse the necessity of clothes.

Every morning I cross this dumping ground near my office and I notice a little boy(a boy exactly the same size as Button) being fed by his mom or cuddled by an aunt or teased by his siblings. Yesterday, I saw him playing naked in a black puddle with a used paper cup - my heart sank, my stomach roiled and my temper rose. This morning, I met the mother of the boy, gave her clothes, toys and a healthy dose of ‘sanitary’ advice and reached office. Although I am not sure if I did the right thing, my heart is lighter. At least for some time the boy will not step into sludge(hopefully) and play with toys instead of  unhygienic rubbish.  

On a more proactive basis, can anyone direct me to an orphanage in Chennai that accepts donations of used toys, clothes and books? 

Friday, July 08, 2011

Let her be....

Today's women have it bad, really bad. The world expects them to be super successful at everything and yet have a serene smile on the face with perfectly coiffed hair and pale pink unchipped nails. Most people I met pre-work would ask me what I was doing and I'd grin and say that I was enjoying motherhood. Either people would stare at me as if my words were in Aramaic or smile smugly thinking of how exalted their positions were. In fact I have known friends who'd call themselves "only" homemakers, bah! Now that I have begun work (and it has been an exhausting juggler's act for 5 weeks now), I am struggling to find enough time to do everything. However, all the people I've met without exception, now nod sagely and smile appreciatively when I tell them that I work fulltime! Again, such easy judgement. As if life is easier. 

My mom worked too, She was always running around in the evenings with Bank work or Community service or some extra school work. She was quite frazzled. But my wise energetic grandmom was. She was the anchor in my house. The house revolved around her. Even in those days, she believed that cooking and cleaning were best outsourced. So, we had a cook and a maid to do the housework. She read voraciously, listened to music and talked to everyone and most importantly listened to everyone. She is 82 years old now. And doesn't regret any decision she made, except not traveling to Kashmir when she had the chance. 

That 'anchor' is an important fixture in every household. Despite the necessity of an anchor, the women who decide to stay-at-home are laughed at, patronized and ridiculed. But I salute these women, who put in everything to make the lives of their immediate family so much more meaningful. But the world won't let her be. 

Does it mean working women ought to stay at home? No. I don't plan to quit my job anytime soon. I am enjoying it!  But the anchor is important. The anchor - systematic time together is important, I've realized. I am working hard at getting the anchor into place.... God help me! 

Friday, July 01, 2011

Q & A with Button

Prologue: When Button is in a foul mood (crabby, sleepy, tired) it is easiest and most fun to ‘irritate’ him. It is also the best time to get lovely zany crazy answers about life J
All the questions below were on different days of course....he'll learn someday how amusing he was.
Me: Button, what is my sister’s name?
Button: Thumbelina!
Me: Who do you sit with in your class at school?
Button: A dinosaur and a pig!!
Me: Button, what did mamma give you in your snacks box?
Button: Many hugs (awwww, that too my son)                  
Me: Where did you go after school today?
(the answer is supposed to be his grandmom’s house)
Button: California                                                   
Me: What is appa’s brother’s name?
Button: Hanuman (It most decidedly IS not!)
Me: Who do you love more... amma or appa?
Button: Hyundai Verna !!!!!!!!!!!!!!