RSS Feed

The ‘Maid of Honour’

Recently, a reader sent in  photograph (to a newspaper) caught my attention. It was a poster (in a hotel) advertising a special offer on a weekend brunch . The offer was such:

Adults – 259 net (including unlimited drinks)

Kids  – 100 net ( special kids meal + including unlimited drinks)

Maid – 100 net (kids meal and drinks)

Of the few places that I have visited and lived; UAE is where I have seen domestic help so popular. In an average household with both the parents working, two school going kids and a fussy pet, there will always be an asian help (or known as ‘maid’) there.

So coming back to that photograph and its contents; gone are the days when humans were categorised as adults and kids, now it is adults, kids and maids (atleast in this part of the world).

Maids though are adults; according to the current standards (to the place I live) need to be fed less (compared to what a nine year old can eat), made to work hard for 16-17 hours a day (7 days a week), shelter them in a room with no windows (ideally smaller than a dog’s kennel) deny any possible medical help and pay them as little as you think is required!

Whenever there is news of domestic help exploitation, people are quick to react, ‘the government needs to do that, do this!’ I understand their point and but also appreciate the recent laws passed by the UAE government to protect them.

Even though it is a 22 year old indonesian (from a family of 14 members), or a 28 year old filipino (an unwed single mother), 35 year old indian (whose husband had got the family on debts and have kids going to school)- at the end all these stories end the same.

  How many times have we seen the lady of the house walk free while a weaker looking girl follows her with hand full of bags; or the maid is let into the gym to operate the threadmill for her boss; or she sipping from a small can of orange juice and looking how the four year old ‘baba’ (kid) is force fed a packet of french fries; and she running behind her sponsor to get an extra 100 dirham note, at the airport while she is leaving to her home country.

Why do people forget that this girl, who is a couple of years elder to your  own darling is also a human being, and the apple of  eye of some mother somewhere? Why do some men (of the house) regard them the toy to satisfy their lust? How can you inflict pain on a human being who takes care of your child? How can you give her monthly a meagre amount that isnt even sufficient for your day’s shopping spree? And how can you expect her to keep working when you are at the spa relaxing because of your hectic week?

This treatment towards domestic help is not country specific or of recent in time. I have heard stories from my grandmother about how they (domestic helpers then) were fed; in a hole  dug on the ground, a banana leaf on top of it and stale food on that.

It is our attitude towards them that needs the change. They are people who needs to be treated with love and dignity because they are doing something for your house that you cannt!!!

A quick update!!

Hi people,

How are we all doing today?

I have not been writing (for over a month now) and am missing it terribly. But  my life had begun taking twists (bad) and turns (to the good again) and I had a pretty chaotic phase . I lost my grandmother, enrolled for driving lessons, was part of a flea market, spent a lot of quality time with my cousins, catching up with friends and yeah (the list can go on!!!) and all this kept my hands full leaving me with no time to write.

But I was very touched with a few friends who were concerned and pushing me to update my blog, esp Rochana, and here I am back on track!

I will very soon start with all my stories and sagas and you guys must write back critiquing and commenting me.

Wishing you all a good day 🙂

God Bless

What does the stars say???

Hello people!

How are we all doing today?

Life has been moving at a  faaast pace and I have loads of incidents and experiences to share with you all. But before that- I am involved in a project and apparently this also happens to be a topic that intrigues me the most – astrology!

Before I continue this post, I request you to read further with an open mind and not to disregard matters (on which we dont have sufficient information) as baseless or nonsense. I used to do that before and realise my foolishness.

So getting back! Astrology in Kerala (my home place) is biiiig!

I have  been curios, how is that astrology affects a chunck of people in Kerala (and warned of dire situations if disregarded!) and the entire world is fine  being ignorant on it. This got me  reading on astrology (specifically Kerala astrology) and I was amazed so see the amount of calculations, time, and thought that is dedicated to it.

Scholars (in this field) define astrology (specifically Kerala astrology) in terms of grahnila (planetary positions), kuja dosha and several other elements. And my understanding so far on this is as follows; according to astrology- man is a bundle of energy and this area attempts to look at the confluence of human energy with the same radiated from celestial bodies. This attempt is based on scientific and mathematical calculations. And a lot of research and  studies go into it.

Further reading and researching; I came across a very interesting point (to across by a scholar). Everyone is aware of the moon’s influence on the sea waves; and we have accepted that the moon has the same effect on human beings- supported by Western studies. So why is that you refuse to accept that the other celestial bodies ‘ effect on human bodies? Just because there was no western studies conducted on it?

That is a very interesting question to ponder on but then if a majority of the world doesnt then why us (I am a malayali and come from the sect that bases life on astrology).

I am still studying this subject and gaining insights, and I want to hear from you.

I want you to tell me,

  •  what does astrology mean to you (your general take on it?) ;
  •  if you had to get a wedding union done based on your star readings- would you go for it?
  • if astrology was a part of your life, how do you think  life would be  (or maybe is now?)
  • You are an educated person, have a feel of the modern world; do you (dis) regard astrology as a bundle of deciet and lies?
  • Any interesting event/ story/ example, you would like to share with us on the above subject?

I understand life is different for everyone (from for my closest friend to my favourite cousin); that is  because we look at life and deal with it differently.

Nothing is right and wrong here provided we know what we are upto and what we want to achieve. So as my reasoning is on, I want to hear from you on this. Please understand this post is not to propogate any feelings against the subject, but purely for educational purposes (for me and for the project I am involved in).

Feel free to comment (below) your thoughts or mail me at sithara.radhika@gmail.com

Looking forward to hear from you.

God Bless!

Love you all

‘After you maam…’

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power.  You just take it.  ~Roseanne Barr

You need to be liberated!”, she tells me. My quick response , “From whom?”

This is an excerpt of a conversation that I had with a lady ( a self proclaimed feminist) during a long flight to Abu Dhabi.

Months (close to a year now) has passed but this incident flashed my mind while i was in a work meeting.

A bit into the conversation; I was having a long flight  from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi and this lady was seated next to me. After a few hours and a not-s0-nice meal, we introduced ourselves and got chatty. We spoke about families, careers, interests, etc. And sometime in between she told me about she was a feminist. I thought that was a very interesting ‘something’ to be and asked her more on that and she spoke.

She was of the opinion that women in India are restricted and need to be liberated. “It is a man’s world. Even today if there are babies and if a partner has to stay at home; it is the mother who has to. Why does the father not stay and let the mother work? In the western world, we are atleast thinking on those lines but in your world you are not even allowed to think about it. You need to be liberated!”

My question that still remains is- women need to be liberated from whom?

So who are the male characters in a lady’s life?  Her father, brother, partner, son, friends? If she had to be liberated then why was there an initial association ?

Somebody once told me that they strive for women’s equality, “We deserve the same rights as the men enjoy”!

This was more interesting because we were having this conversation, while in the ‘Reserved For Women Only’ seats in a bus. If we are talking about equality then the first thing we must do is remove the “women’s only” boards. We are equal, if men can stand and travel, so should we be able to. That is what I think.

The other day I visited a government centre to update my civil identification card and it had a long queue of men outside the office. Just because i was a woman, they let me in. If we speak of equality then I should have been there standing in the long queue and wait for my turn.

Can I use the special prevelidges provided for women and complain. I dont know, can I or can we?

Back to the question,  so women need to be liberated from whom?

Women are not weak; the first among us  (actually) got a man to commit a sin!

According to me, a woman needs to be empowered if she is striped from her rights and it is not because of the men in her life; that is because she chose that (for herself).

She has a voice and she decides when to shout or listen. If she has made up her mind, no matter how much literature you come out with or how many bras you burn; she will do as she pleases! I know women (trust me on that).

If men dont respect women, then it is because they dont want them to. It starts from the home, it begins with mothers treating daughters and sons equally, it goes on with girls not wanting special favours ( because she is a girl), further more with a woman having a voice in her house and workplace.

For all my sisters who are reading this, ‘Respect and love the men in your life, they are there for a reason. You are the princess of your life and I know you have lived the life you want. You wanted freedom, you got it. You wanted to be dependant and you are. Dont blame them for what you have made your life of; you wanted it and got it.’

Some things in this world have to be done by women, like give birth to a baby. But again you need them for the creation!

You have a soul, a voice and it will always be yours!

Let us rock the world; love you all 🙂

 

 

 

“I need a doctor”

Hello people!

How is the new year treating everyone?

Before we move on to my this year’s first post; I wish everyone a wonderful and blessed year with loads of love, peace, happiness and success. Recently somebody told me (of course I have heard it before too); what happens on the first day of the year determines how your entire year ahead would be. Well then this 2011 I will be sick I suppose; because all through the new year (from the new year’s eve upto the last week) I was terribly ill- a bit of food poisoning with  intestinal infection.

The incident I am narrating today is not about my health but something related.

After days of being sick (supported with intense puking and diarrhoea), I finally decided to take an appointment and meet a doctor.

Operator: Good morning XXXX

Me: Hi, I want an appointment for today with a general physician

Operator: Please hold. I will connect you to the appointments’ desk.

(***tititintinti thithithi tititintinti thithi***)

Operator 2: Good morning, appointments’ desk.

Me: Hi! I need an appointment with any of the general physician for today.

Operator 2: Let me check for you ma’am. Hmmm.. ok! Maam all the doctors are booked except for Dr. abc. He is free from 1700 to 2000. He has a patient at 2000.

Me: Okay, can you please book an appointment for me with him at 1700?

Operator 2: Maam, do you have a file here?

Me: Yes. You can find it with my mobile number. it is 12354678

Operator 2: Hmm.. yeah I get it. But maam the doctor is iranian.

Being exhausted and tired; I really didn’t know how to react and all I could say was;

Me: So?

Operator 2: Nothing!  Your appointment is fixed for 1700, please try to be here at least ten minutes earlier.

Me: Thankyou!

Operator 2: Have a good day ma’am.

I had this conversation last week, but it still haunts me. Why was there a need to mention the doctor’s nationality as a word of caution to a patient before they book in?

In fact what has one’s nationality got to with their personality?

I am not saying that nationality is something that has to be completely overlooked; it does speak a lot about one’s culture and upbringing to a certain extend, but does it hold the same importance that it has at the emmigration counter (at the airport), at one’s workplace?

Actually I have to date not even understood the meaning of having separate counters for different nationalities at the airports when the world is preaching about a global village!

I have voiced my opinion on discrimination (of any sorts) in my previous posts and I still hold on to them.

My question here is, if she had to put across the doctor’s nationality to be before I could book for an appointment, then does that mean people are asking for it before hand?

My mom (while I was discussing this with her) had a (possible) valid point; in UAE there are people from different backgrounds and some are not comfortable communicating in English and might be requesting for a doctors who can speak their mother tongue. Possible!

But when I speak to her in english, why did she have to ask me this?

A slip of tongue? Possible!

Well with all respects to doctors around the world, I salute the efforts they undertake to save a life; even if it is a case of food poisoning like I had. But I am interested to know, if any of you put across special requests in such cases?

Starting everything on a very positive note for the new year, be good .. be safe and be considerate to the people around you!

God Bless 🙂

So you think I am…

 
 
So let me get this straight… Larry King is on his 8th divorce, Elizabeth Taylor is possibly getting married for the 9th time, Britney Spears had a 55 hour marriage, Jesse James and Tiger Woods, while married, was having sex with EVERYONE; yet the idea of same-sex marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage…? Really??
 
 
It all started with this one status message that I had posted on my Facebook page and the mixed reactions that I had received from some of my friends ( in the form of text messages, FB mails, g-mails and one phone call) was shocking!
 
 
It was just the other day that I had posted a blog entry on the prevalent discrimination based on religion; and had some interesting conversations on religious tolerance, acceptance and patience. It was interesting for all of us (in the talk) to note that  people are also discriminated on the basis of their sexuality! When I use the term “sexuality”, I am refering to a person’s sexual orientation towards to the opposite gender or else.
 
 
So coming back to the FB status; the reactions were instant!
 (Please note- Specially to those who identify themselves with excerpts; I am using it to throw light on a  point and not to hurt any personal sentiments. I respect all our conversations and also understand some were meant in light humour. Please take this post and the following in the right spirit!)
 
Within minutes of posting the above message, I first received a mail in FB
….. so are you coming out with something? you want to talk? spoke to your parents? “
A text message on my mobile
” what on earth have you put on FB? have you lost your head to a chicken?”
 
Another message on my mobile
” ahahaha, not finding your type of guy i suppose….”
 
A gmail message
” such a rebel! loved your status but kindda edgy”
 
 A comment of FB
“.. i now know why you delaying your marriage….”
 
Some meant it in humor but somebody (very dear to me) was serios on this matter, especially my sexual orientation and I had to swear on the Holy Book that I was straight and am attracted to men!
 
It then took to my thinking that people actually feel homosexuality is a problem. I then thought how would things be different if I am attracted to another girl and decide to live my life with her? Wont I still be the same daughter, friend, colleague?
 
 
I began reading on this aspect.I visited several forums and online discussions and found people stating homosexuality as ” against nature”. Well I can see their point, but then what about married couples who decide never to have children? How different are they to them? But come to think of it; are all are actions justified by the law of nature?
 
 
Another point that was used to justify against homosexuality was religion. But the same question here again- do we live our lives completly by the holy books? And isnt religion all about love and peace? So shouldnt love in any form be accepted?
 
 
Being in a relationship is one among the beautiful experiences in the world. Having someone to care aout you, who is willing to dedicate his/ her time for you or to stand by you is a big thing. A relation can be with anyone- mother, father, friend, uncle, wife, husband, children, boss, workmates; actually with anyone on this earth, even with an animal!
 
It is a feeling that makes you aware that you are not alone in this world. Some relations take names while some just remain special. I personally dont feel it is wrong if you decide to spend your time and life with someone of your same gender- it is the same feeling of satisfaction which you might be having with your wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyrfriends. So why would they be different?
 
I have not read enough on this nor have I meant people to comment and write  further. But like in my previous post; I condemn any kind of discrimination be it based on religion, nationality, sex or sexuality. I know I cannt change the world (though I wish I could!) but even if a few of us change our attitudes and pass this on to the coming generations- the work is half done!
 
As humans we have right to life and as the saying goes “Live and Let Live”!
 
God Bless

Secret Santa!

 Woho!

Jingle Bells .. Jingle Bells .. Jingle all the way!

Its Christmas time to munch our way and feel so happy yay!

 

So people, it is the happy time of the year. Christmas trees, carols,  fruit cakes, snow (for some lucky people out there!) presents, and lots of red and greens.

Though Christmas is (originally) a Christian festival, for me it is an all faith happy time; a celebration of togetherness, love, peace and not to forget isnt it the King of the Holidays!

 But the best part of Christmas that I like is the Secret Santa game.

Secret Santa (aka Secret Angel and/or Secret Friend) is a tradition where people in groups are assigned a person (which is a secret) to whom they anonymously gift a present. I have received my present from my  Secret Santa this year and I am very happy;  but my post today isnt about this.

I want to share with all of you of a true incident happening in Dubai, this festive season.

Navya (name changed) is a seven year old; who goes to one of the leading schools in Dubai.

During the first week of December every student in her class (Grade 1) was asked to pick names from a hat and the game of Secret Santa explained. But for the curios lot of seven year olds, they  disclosed to each other who their secret angels and even went to the extent of asking what did they want as a present!

Z, Navya’s classmate had also done her bit and told Navya that she is her Secret Santa. Navya, like any seven year old loves to receive and give  presents and had told Z what she wanted as a christmas present.

Every morning Navya would check if Z had an extra bag with her and was disappointed daily.

Z missed her deadline to hand in her present (to the class teacher) for her friend; now Navya couldnt take it any more and decided to take matters in her hand.

Navya: ” So what did you get me as a present?”

Z: “My mom said I am not allowed to get you a present.”

Navya: ” Miss will shout at you. She said we give our  Secret Santa presents by today.”

Z (with a very disappointed look): “My mom said I cannt give a present

A very unhappy Navya gets home and complains to her mom that Z didnt get her any christmas gift and narrates to her what happened. Her mother consoles her that Z will get her gift the next day and not to worry.

But Navya is disappointed the enxt day too and comes home complaining to her mom.

Navya: ” I dont have a present”

Navya’s mom: “What you talking about?”

Navya: “Z is not getting me a gift. Her mother didnt give her a gift to give me. They dont like me.”

Navya’s mom: ” No dear, she must have forgotten. You will get it soon.”

Navya: “She is not giving me anything. She told me. Please call my class teacher and tell her to tell Z’s mother.”

Navya’s mom : “Are you that desperate for a gift? What do you want? I will ask your dad to get it this evening when he is back from work. Mole  let me do my work now.”

Navya: “Please amme. Please call her and tell her what Z is doing to me. Everyone will get a gift and I will be the only one without a gift. Please amma”

Navya’s mom : “She hasnt done anything to you and so what am I supposed to tell your teacher? And we get you presents. Why do you want others’?”

Navya: ” Why is that you dont understand? Everyone will have a present and I will be the only one without one “, she now has tears rolling down those cheeks.

Navya’s mom” “Navya stop it now”

Crying Navya : “No one loves hgasdgflj”

Navya’s mom : “Navya stop crying. Navya. Ok I will speak to your teacher.”

Sobbing Navya : “When will you do it?”

Navya’s mom : “I dont know. Maybe sometime later”

Sobbing Navya: ” No now. Please amme”

Navya runs and gets her mother the mobile phone and helps her dial the number.

Triing Triing … Triing Triing

“Hello Ms. Seema. Hi, this is Navya’s mother speaking.”

“Hi Mrs. Ganesh. How are you?”

“I am good. How are things with you? I bet you are looking forward to the winter break.”

“Yeah. But before that I am busy preparing these kids’ Christmas party tomorrow. I hope Navya has told you about it. They have to be dressed in red and white.”

“Oh yes, she did. Actually I called to speak on something on those lines.”

“Oh why? Is Navya not coming for the party tomorrow? Is she okay?”

“No no. She is. I understand you have also arranged for the kids the Secret Santa and Navya already knows who hers is. And it seems that child told her that she has nt got her any present for Christmas. I am not sure how true this is. But do you suggest I drop a present for Navya? I dont want to mess her mood. Kids you see. And I am so sorry that I called you for such a trivial matter.”

“Mrs. ganesh. I am afraid what Navya told you is right. Z has not got her a present.”

“Oh okay. Why? I mean thats okay, i will come by the school tomorrow and drop a present for her.”

“Well there isnt a need for that. I had spoken to Z’s mom last week. I dont know what Z has told Navya; but the thing is her mother doesnt want Z to take part in this Christmas celebration because for them this is very Christian and they dont want Z to take part in any of the celebration associated with it. I tried convincing her that for the kids its all about fun and enjoying, but she doesnt understand. She doesnt want to send a present for Navya nor does she want Z to get a present from anyone as a part of Christmas.”

“Huh! Oh okay. Eeer but”

“Mrs. Ganesh, dont worry about Navya. I am handing the gift which Z gets to Navya.”

“So what happens to Z?”

“Oh lets not worry on that. That is what her mother wants! So that is what I am doing.”

“Miss Seema, I really think you must speak to Z’s mom. The matter doesnt end with my daughther getting a present. It is much more than that. That little girl is going to get hurt and more than that what is this being driven into her innocent mind? I feel …”

“I tried. I really did. But if that is what a parent wants then I must leave it upto them.”

“No No. It isnt right. When everyone has a present I dont want that little girl to feel left out. I hope you get my point and also…”

“Yes I do. But then there is nothing I can do about it. That is what they want. I am sorry Mrs Ganesh but I must hang up now.”

“Yeah okay. Thank you. Good day!”

Navya: “Am I getting a present?”

Navya’s mom (smiles) : “I told you will get one.”

“Woho. Jingle Bells Jingle Bells Jingle all the way”

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

Today is the Christmas party in the school and like the teacher said Navya and the kids would have gone home with their Christmas presents while Z might have gone home disappointed. I dont know who is right here, Z’s mother, the teacher or Mrs. Ganesh who wanted Z also to have a present for Christmas.

Why did that little girl have to go home disappointed?

Just because she belonged to a religion that didnt celebrate Christmas?

Does joy and happiness had a religion?

What reason would have the motehr given to Z?

What is the impact of all this?

What kind of person would Z grow up too?

How many more Zs would be growing up like this?

According to me religion is just a way of life; a framework to base your every day doings on. It should empower you to reason, teach you tolerance and most of all be sensitive to the people around you. What is life without happy and content fellow beings around you? For all of you reading this post; my humble request is not to raise kids with injecting poisonous thoughts about religion, caste, nationality or racism.

We are just humans and at the end of the day we will all have our own 6 ft box or would be that 54 grams of ash; there is no play of religion or nationality then.

With a prayer for a better generation than ours to shape up; wishing all of you a lovely and blessed Christmas. May the joy of the season fill light and meaning to all our lives.

Love

Sithara