Archive | August, 2012

Prince Harry – A Royal Ass?

29 Aug The British Royals
The British Royals

The British Royals

Prince Harry – a Royal Ass?

While Prince Harry has become the ‘butt’ of everybody’s jokes, I feel it is unfair to chastise the young prince for what is being perceived as an indiscretion on his part. Which one of you here has not read the  fable about the Emperor and his New Clothes? Yes, the same story in which an emperor with a proclivity towards fine clothes is made to wear a fantastic new costume that apparently can only be seen by one gifted with supreme intelligence.

For only those who are well versed with this tale will know that sometimes life imitates art and perhaps Prince Harry was only wearing his new clothes. If any of you failed to see those fine threads around his royal body, then it is your own intelligence that you ought to question.

Whatever the premise, I feel terrible for the poor chap. Oh I don’t mean he is poor, but you get the drift. I would hate to be in his shoes right now. I wonder though if it is the shame attached to those pictures that must bother him or the lingering image of his un-tanned, raw English skin. How he must wish that he had spent some time inside a tanning salon or on the beaches of Channel Islands, in the very least.

And how it must infuriate Pippa Middleton that her sister’s whitewashed royal brother-in-law has stolen the limelight from her ‘middle’. It was Pippa’s butt, in that bridesmaids’ dress that had hogged more newsprint than the Kate and William wedding itself. That butt, which in my modest opinion is highly overrated, was well on its way to becoming a part of British folklore. But thanks to Prince Harry,  it now lies forgotten forever, sadly.

Recently the Middleton’s had published a blog on their party website www. Partypieces.co.uk that took a swipe at some of the royal customs the queen insists on observing within the family, such as Princess Kate having to courtesy to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (Prince Andrew and Sarah Fergie’s daughters).

It must surely have offended Queen Elizabeth and for all you know, this was her Majesty’s ploy to displace Pippa’s butt with Harry’s Royal ass and steal her thunder, in a manner of speaking. But look what happened? The plan seems to have ‘back’fired and Harry is looking like a royal ass himself. But why penalize him and strip him of his Apache Pilot duties in the Royal Air Force?

The British taxpayer is getting his knickers in a twist over this matter but he must realize that the Tower of London isn’t the only place to display the Crown jewels. They must travel to Vegas and other parts of the world too, once in a while.

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Tall tales of a stiletto loving Punjabi

20 Aug Being tall
Being tall

Being tall

I have come to realize that being tall isn’t as much an asset for a woman as people will have you believe. I have reached this conclusion after spending a good number of years as a tall person. The earliest sightings of why my height wasn’t a huge asset to me were after I turned 13 and my Punjabi aunts made it a point to comment on “What a tall (pronounced taaaal in Punjabi) girl” I was turning out to be. This was said with admiration spiked with mock concern for it would automatically narrow down my choices in the marriage market eventually.

“Oye hoye, don’t worry, buoys like taaall girls,” my nicer aunt would tell my mother who frankly did not give a damn about such things at that time. In fact, given how my eye brows were suddenly reaching out to each other and resembling blow dried caterpillars and given how a hint of a moustache had found its way between my nose and my upper lip, my mother must have realized that I would be left at the altar anyway, irrespective of my vertical growth.

At school I was the obvious backbencher and for some reason it was assumed by my teachers that people who sit at the back like tiny bits of chalks thrown at them just so they feel included. I was apparently a bright student but because the other kids sitting next to me were interested in pursuits other than education, I had to suffer the same fate as them since I was too tall to be sat in the front.

Whenever there was any trouble involving a bunch of girls at school, somehow the others would be forgotten because the eyewitness’s account clearly spoke of ‘one really tall’ girl and ‘some other’ girls. I was the first to be summoned in for questioning by the teachers and if I gave away the names of the other girls who were my partners in crime, I was a traitor and if I did not then my parents would be exclusively informed about my transgression.

Height related mental scarring continued even beyond school as my best friend Hemika’s father fondly called me Bheem. Compared to his petite daughters I was *Bheem indeed. I somehow managed to survive my wonder years in spite of the misfortune of my height.  Life turned surprisingly wonderful around the time I turned 18 and I suddenly began to be told how lucky I was to be tall by random people.

My life was made easier by the fact that boys my age had finally become taller than me. It made me feel less macho. But such joys too came at a price. Unclejee types sitting next to me on a flight would use my height as a conversation starter. “Are you into modeling?” “No, I am not.” “Achha, but from your height it looks like you are a model.”

Ya right. All tall girls have only one aspiration in life, to make it as models. So why miss an opportunity to stereotype someone?

Aunties on the plane weren’t as bad for they merely expected me to load and unload their luggage in the overhead cabins.

You would think that after all these years, my tall genes might be finally paying off, but no such luck sir. The husband does not like it when I wear high heels and become taller than him. What kind of a self respecting shoe lover walks through her life in flat shoes? Beautiful shoes are almost always made with high heels that add not only to one’s height but also lend elegance to one’s frame.

I keep buying gorgeous shoes and we keep arguing over it each time we step out together. I am accommodating by nature and usually bend my knees a bit while standing next to the husband at a party just so that I don’t look too tall, but any act of such consideration goes unnoticed by him.

Women don’t seem to have a problem with me being tall. But sometimes if I am at a party of mostly short men, I go through an entire evening with my knees slightly bent while speaking to them. This I do out of respect and also out of courtesy to the male ego.

Last month when were in London, a retrospective exhibition on Christian Louboutin’s life and creations was being held at the Design Museum. The husband offered to escort our little girls and me for the exhibit, much to our collective surprise. **

It was like a citadel of stilettos in there with Loub’s red-soled beauties displayed like works of art. We were in the presence of greatness. It would not be an exaggeration to say that those shoes had the same impact on my spirit that the famous daffodils might have had on William Wordsworth’s.

Any person with basic common sense would have realized that day that a good heel is as essential to a beautiful shoe as a roof is to a house. But what do you know? We were arguing about my heels the very same evening. I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE.

“I don’t do Cocaine. I don’t do pot. I am not a shopaholic. I don’t drink much either,” I told him fighting back my tears. “Can I not be indulged even a bit and allowed to keep my heels?” By now I was feeling terribly sorry for myself, that of all things, I was having to defend my shoes.

I think the point got taken that day.

So here it is, I will bend my knees till they hurt, I will tilt down my neck till it goes into a spasm, I will walk on my knees if required, I will weep till the cows come home but I am not about to stop wearing heels anytime soon. Why should I be sorry just because I am tall?

 

*Bheem is a famous Pandava from the Mahabharata. He was a giant.

** Famous French shoe designer.

 

Of Chinese & French parenting and the lessons I have learnt from an American woman

14 Aug Teach your children well

Tiger Mother

Tiger Mother

Teach your children well
Teach your children well

French Children Don't Throw Food
French Children Don’t Throw Food[gallery order="DESC" columns="1" orderby="rand"]

Unlike many women my age, when I was expecting my first one, I wasn’t the least bit anxious. As far as I knew it, there was nothing unusual about becoming a parent, for reproduction was nature’s way of maintaining continuity. Dogs and cats became parents; CEOs, politicians, beggars and even terrorists became parents…. just how difficult could this business of raising kids be, I asked myself.

However, I noticed that everyone else I knew did not share my sentiment on impending parenthood. The women of my generation seemed to be taking to motherhood as easily as a two-year old takes to a Ravensburger puzzle. Every other parent-to-be in my environment was buying self-help books so fanatically, that even before our child was born I began to feel like a bad parent for not equipping myself with the wherewithal of raising children.

When I stumbled across lessons on things like ‘potty’ training in these books that I had forced myself into purchasing, I wondered what the fuss was all about. There were enough people in my country whose illiterate parents had not read ‘What to expect when you are expecting’ and the ‘Toddler years‘ but I am sure, sooner or later, they all managed to eat by themselves and get to the toilet when nature called. So why the fuss?

I wondered if the innate thing called ‘instinct’ was being given a fair chance to surface under the barrage of information that accompanied the fine art of parenting.

Today, almost nine years since our first child arrived and four years since the second one stumbled in, I have come across so many ‘bestselling’ theories on parenting that I now know that ‘parenting’ is not to be treated as a rite of passage. Parenting, as things stand, is an applied science and we need to institutionalize it by creating special academic courses on it.

Ludicrous? Not really. We are an entire generation of by-the-book parents who live in nuclear families and turn to Amazon or Flipkart each time we find ourselves in midst of parenting dilemmas. How did we get to this?

Even though Louise Hay calls us ‘Victims of victims’, I think our parents raised us just fine. They did not seem ‘this’ stressed about parenting. They relied wholly on their parental instinct and though they loved us, they did not live to please us.  I concede a fair amount of ‘raising the hand’ at us was involved and that part I do not endorse at all. But other than that, when they disciplined us, they did so with awe-inspiring authority.

They did not constantly worry about our ‘self esteem’ or beg for us to be ‘included’ or rush to us with participation prizes. With the exception of a few from our generation, who might have become serial killers/ suicide bombers or drug peddlers, most of us are getting by in life fairly decently. Si?

Anyhow, since my own parental instinct has drowned in the noise of the multitudes of new age parenting styles, I was looking for the golden median. My heart told me to raise a happy and content child, but my mind and Amy Chua told me I was a bone lazy mother who was depriving her children the right to be child prodigies.

I am sure most of you have read Battle hymn of the tiger mother by the aforementioned author, Amy Chua. I know of many parents who have been inspired by Chua’s ‘iron handed’ style of parenting. I, on the other hand, was really mad at the lady for taking away her daughters’ childhood and then for proudly going to town with her style of parenting.

I could be wrong here, but as far as I know, no birthday parties, no carefree holidays, no play dates, instead hours spent practicing piano or studying is not my prescription to a happy childhood. It may drive your child to strive for excellence and may make a prodigy of her, but at what cost? And yet, many mothers are hailing her for her style of parenting. I don’t call this parenting, I call it Chinese torture.

After Chua, a milder book on French parenting titled Why French kids don’t throw food by Pamela Druckerman became popular and out of sheer curiosity I picked it up. Druckerman’s manual on French parenting is so far removed from the dragon parenting of Chua’s that I took a liking to it right away, even making mental notes and putting them into practice the very next morning, much to the befuddlement of my kids. “What happened to you mom? Why these new rules?” my two slightly displeased children asked me. It did not merit and answer and I left it at “Because I said so.”

“Is it something you have read in this new book mamma?” enquired the older one after she overheard me discuss my new rules with the husband.  (Well yes, I am a Punjabi and we do not know how to whisper or speak inaudibly.)

“Only partly, but mostly because I believe in it myself” I said.

“Oh mamma you told papa it is a book on French parenting. You are not even French. You can’t just read a book and suddenly make new rules for us,” she said in an annoying tone that belied her age.

According to Druckerman, French parents are laid back, trusting and calm and as it turns out, so are their kids. French folks look at parenting as a wonderful journey and not a stressed out uphill trek. Their kids sit through five course meals, never refusing or wasting any food and they go to sleep by themselves almost as soon as they are born. I think copious amounts of wine and brie might have something to do with this inbuilt calm, but even so, this book made a lot of sense to me.

Last week at my younger child’s PTA, the school principal introduced us to a life-altering book on parenting called Teach your children well by Melinda Levine. The author, who is a well-known practicing psychologist in the United States, guides you through the maze of parenting with appropriate suggestions to bring up a happy, secure child who may not necessarily be a high-achiever in the conventional sense but will grow up with a strong sense of self as well as a healthy regard for relationships. This is because Levine does not measure success only in material terms and reminds you that privileged kids often grow up with a sense of entitlement instead of gratitude.

She does not, at any point tell you to not encourage your children to do well academically but she urges you to focus on other areas of your child’s development too. She is against overindulging and advises parents to allow their children to feel disappointed at times as it is important for their mental and emotional growth. I am only halfway through the book but I want to meet Melinda and give her a tight hug for writing this wonderful manual on parenting, as it is more in keeping with my own instincts.

I have looked at mothers of high achieving kids and wondered if I should do the same. But thanks to Levine, I know that I don’t want to be a competent mom. I just want to be a good mom.

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