Archive: November 2012

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Thanksgiving!

thank-you

It is overwhelming at times when I think of ‘Thanksgiving’ and why it is celebrated in the US. The origin of Thanksgiving is generally seen as a celebration by the Pilgrims of their survival due to a good harvest mostly because of knowledge provided by the Native Americans who knew the lay of the land. But for me, it has always been something different, it was as if everyone was ‘thanking’ for being alive, or rather, for having a life! And, of course, when we talk about ‘Thanksgiving’, reminiscence is not left behind either!

Every Thanksgiving, everyone has to ‘Thank’ themselves for all the memories they have created down the road. In my opinion, memories are the only wealth that makes our lives rich! When we talk to the elderly people they tell you more about their childhood and youth than their life at present. They might lose their teeth, their eye sight, and might forget what they ate that morning, but their memories of days gone by them ages ago are always intact in their mind. Am I growing old too that I am talking of childhood memories?! Maybe I am! Maybe not! Maybe I’m just nostalgic and so I write…

It is not exaggerating to say that I remember the first time I experienced physical pain as if it was yesterday. Clichéd but true! I don’t remember the pain but the source and the situation are clear… my foot got into the front wheel of a bicycle as my dad’s man Friday drove me home from school. I was sitting on the ‘baby’ seat on the front of the bicycle and he was riding it pretty fast. I was carried home after we fell and my mom was in tears when she saw me bleeding! I was in kindergarten then! And I can never ‘Thank’ her enough for always ‘picking me up’ since then, whenever I fell…

It is funny how I taught my kids to ride a bicycle in a couple of hours, while I had taken two weeks to learn it. I was very particular that I learn it myself and my dad encouraged me. Even at an age where I was in the fifth grade, my thoughts were way different than others. I would sit on the carriage seat of the little red bicycle I had and try to balance. It was easier that way as my foot would reach the ground and the chances of my falling down were less. I ultimately learnt to balance, and ‘Thanks’ to my dad, he helped me on to the actual seat and gave me a push! Wee… I rode and rode and rode to school, and back, till my twelfth grade! Need I say that since then, my Dad has always given me that little ‘push’ to achieve anything!

Small things create big memories. What seems important for one would be a trivial thing for another. But, when you are a teenager, every look thrown in your direction makes you blush, everyone who praises you becomes your friend and every pat on the back enthralls you. And when all the three come from the same person, it turns into admiration. It was difficult to think then, whether it was the love for ‘English’ or for the one who taught it, that made me concentrate more in that particular class. Whatever it may have been, ‘Thanks’ to my English teacher in Middle School, I am what I am today, an English teacher!

Living life is one thing and enjoying life is another… ‘Bunking’ classes, ‘giggling’ for nothing, ‘teasing’ boys, ‘naming ‘the lecturers, skipping lunch to have ‘chat’…. I would have deprived myself of these, if I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for higher studies. Fun is a small word when the beaches are part of your landscape from your room, the sound of the waves is your alarm clock, and the smiles of your friends first thing in the morning are your meditation. I should ‘thank’ myself for getting to study in that University, where the hostel rooms faced the beach and the changing colors of the sky and sea were my constant companions.

A little flashback before getting into this University would be appropriate when I ‘thank’ my stars. It was for the entrance exam of this course and University that made me travel all by myself in the train. And lo and behold! I met my future there! Looking back, I strongly feel that fate and coincidences are not story-book fantasies, they happen in real life too. My future in-laws along with my future husband were my co-passengers and since then, they have been so. ‘Thanks’ to my husband who took pains to woo me with his incessant sweet banter, and for walking with me since then through thick and thin. A train led to a train of encounters, ‘colliding’ into love and traversing in the direction of wedlock.

When I look at a lot of couples who crave every day and are desperately waiting to get a ‘boon’ from Above to get to be known as parents, I feel so blessed and ‘thank’ God for it. Going to the edge of ‘no return’ and then, bouncing back and that too with a baby in hand, is amazing. Today, I feel all the pain, every critical situation was worth it, when I look at my beautifully growing kids.

Somewhere along the way, everybody has an ‘influence’ of a ‘Hero’, whom you emulate and follow with admiring looks. For me she was the sole inspiration and the ‘perfect heroine’ to learn from. For her age and generation, my Granny was very forward in thinking. ‘Thanks’ to her, I learnt a lot about life and also, believe it or not, Fashion! Even today, when I think that my being in the US has cost me by not being able to have a last glimpse of her before she walked away into the other world, my heart becomes heavy.

‘Thanking’ people and their role in your life is the real ‘giving’ respect to them. But there would be some moments too, which are to be appreciated in life. I’m sure everyone would have a moment in their life which makes them say, “This is it! “, a moment when you think, if life is taken away from you right then, you are fine! When I stepped onto the deck of the building from the elevator to see the Niagara Falls for the first time, I was awestruck! Staring at the grandeur, all I could think was “Thank God, I’m alive!”

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Growing Kids in the US!

download (1)It is so difficult at times to tell our kids about India’s culture in one breathe, as it is so vast! Being from a conservative country as India, it is all the more difficult to get used to the ways and means of life in the US. I remember when my kid was stepping into the middle school and she had just learnt about ‘FLASH’ in 5th grade. ‘FLASH’ is sex education given to all students with the permission of the parents.

Parents are first asked to watch it themselves and then with the parents’ written permission the kids are shown the videos. Come to think of it, my daughter was just 10 when in 5th and I found it a little odd for her to know about menstruation, growing parts of the body and reproduction. But then, I found it logical that she too should know about it if her whole class is going to learn about it. It is all the more destructive to know such issues from friends instead of the proper source.

I knew that a few of her friends had ‘boyfriends’ in 5th grade itself!!! As I have been living in this country for 12 years now, this didn’t come as a shock to me. But realization dawned on me that I now had the need to tell my angel about the culture and traditions of India. I let her know in strong words that ‘We are Indians’ and ‘We are different from Americans’. Having boyfriends, dating is all taboo in India and such things wouldn’t be tolerated in our house. Though she is sensitive, she is smart too, and hence she understood my stand point.

Before she could question me, I told her that my husband and I dated when both of us had an education and got married after having a job. I’m sure she got my point very well. Having said that, I have trust in her and I have never behaved like a suspicious mom ever. I always feel that kids need to be given that space and they need to learn from the small mistakes that they make. Of course, if the mistakes are big, they would for sure, always have us to support them as parents. But prevention always is better than any kind of cure and so I had to give her a piece of my mind for sure!

A lot of my Indian friends feel that their kids shouldn’t have ‘sex’ education at school at such an early age. Their argument that in India we learn this in 9th or 10th grade is relevant only to India. Our tradition is different, or rather I would use the word ‘was’, as I see a great change in India and its kids today. Here in America, for Americans having boyfriends or girlfriends, dating, bringing them home, all happens pretty early. Teen pregnancies are on the increase. And so the schools find it appropriate for kids to know everything before they step into middle school which is from the 6th grade.

Not that these problems are not prevalent in other countries, India for one, but we turn a blind eye to it. We don’t want to acknowledge the fact that dating and teen pregnancies are getting their foot in India too. Is it because we are scared that out traditions are being tainted? Or is it because we think that by acknowledging it, we are paving a way for our kids to follow? I would not understand this. That way, we have to agree that Americans are more practical thinkers than we even know.

Another important aspect is that the growth of American kids is way more for their age. And so, it is but natural that they know the contours of their body, their hormonal changes early. Minimum menstruation age for the American girls is 11- 12 years. Hormonal changes lead to sexual attraction to the opposite sex. No wonder teen pregnancies are on the high! Not kidding, seriously, they are!

At any given point of time, of course, being the odd kid out in school, depriving them of knowledge which their ‘white’ counterparts know, is not advisable. I would say that in Rome, we need to do what Romans do or at the least know what Romans do, in order to survive with them!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Broken Relationships

images (3)“A relationship is like a china cup, once broken can be mended, but a crack is always there.”

I read this when I was a teenager, an age when you collect quotes and poems, with a feeling of butterflies in your stomach. I still remember it like yesterday because it didn’t make sense to me then, but it does now.
Broken hearts may be easy to mend, but broken marriages leave a scar on the heart and the soul. A bad marriage of years going array is different and has a lot of reasons. But a new marriage going stale or snapped in the bud, is a heart wrenching thing, with no fault whatsoever of the victim.

Recently one of my friend’s cousin’s two year old marriage was broken. It was sad and shocking because the girl left him for another girl. No offence to anyone, but it was shocking as she behaved perfectly normal with her husband and even lamented many-a-times that she couldn’t conceive. The boy blames her for using him to come out of the ‘closet’ and the girl is beyond distance to comment on this. He is looking out for a girl to remarry, but is so cautious that he doesn’t trust any girl easily now.

Another of my cousin’s friend had a divorce because he was not interested in worldly affairs of the heart or body! Simply put, he married so his mom could have a daughter-in-law. He was into spiritual and religious activities and was not interested in a married life. The girl bore with this for a year and didn’t even let her parents know. But ultimately, when the boy couldn’t bear with the girl’s desires of the body and heart, he took a decision, a right decision I would say, to tell his parents about it. The girl’s parents are thinking of a remarriage for her, but at the back of their mind, there is always a doubt about their daughter’s future.

One of my first cousin’s marriage was broken before it even took place. After the engagement, my cousin was back to the US from India, as they were to be married after 3 months, on the request of the girl’s parents. They spoke on the phone, exchanged emails and worse, he knew a bachelor’s party too. It was then, in the course of their discussion, my cousin asked for her passport details so he could arrange a visa for her to come to the US after marriage. It was then that she told him the truth that she loves someone else and now her parents have agreed to it which they never did before. My uncle had sent out the invitation cards too and it was an embarrassment for everyone, and sad too, that the wedding didn’t take place.

I know a girl who got married, flew to the US and eloped with her boyfriend residing in the US. The boy was grief-stricken and embarrassed too. He was left trying to answer his parents’ and relatives and friends’ questions, while the girl was being wooed by her boyfriend. I also know a girl, who got married, came to the US and found out that the husband is already married to an American. He was a pervert to even think that he could live with both of them under the same roof and enjoy. But the girl ran back home to her parents. She is happy now though single, staying with her brother’s family. I know, we all must have watched movies with these plots, but believe me, I have seen them happening around me.

Why does a marriage break? There may be numerous reasons. But, the actual facts being that people don’t enquire enough about the other party before they get their girl married or fix their marriage. And the main glaring reason is also that parents don’t know much about their own children before they decide to get them married. The kids don’t feel close enough to the parents to tell them their secrets, because some parents are too strict to be friends with the kids. Who is to blame? Nobody? Or both?!!

Wake up papa and mamma; talk to your kid first, marriage comes later!
Wake up kiddos, talk to your parents first, before you walk out on them!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Parents, Eat and Let Eat!

images (2)Don’t blame the kids, blame the parents! I know, a lot of parents’ eyes would be glaring at this with anger or would have stopped reading this by now. But wait a moment! Read through this before you form any opinion. I was just talking about the eating habits of kids!

It is a very common complaint of parents all over the world that their kids don’t eat certain vegetables or any vegetables at all, varying from house to house and kid to kid! But if we delve deeper, we get to see that the parents of these kids don’t do justice to their vegetables too.

Let’s begin at the beginning….It is scientifically proven that what we eat during pregnancy, those tastes travel through the amniotic fluids to the baby in the womb. Babies develop taste buds while in there too. Doctors believe that if the moms who eat all varieties of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy, then these babies would later eat their fruits and vegetables without putting up a fight. The baby’s exposure to variety of food while in the womb would have less chances of the baby being a fussy eater later in life.

In most of our houses now, neither of the parents or either of the parents is a very bad eater of vegetables and fruits.  And so is the kid! No surprises here as to why it is so. Some parents don’t cook vegetables or dishes they themselves don’t like. Some parents are clever enough to understand the situation and try to steal in vegetables into the kid’s food that they themselves would have never even sighted upon when they were kids! If this is done very early in their childhood, like for month’s babies, then it would probably work. But not after the kid grows up enough to understand that he/she is being fed what his/her parents don’t like to eat. That’s a gone case then!

My friend is very possessive about her one and only son. She is at his beck and call always and cooks only what he likes. She cooks as if only the son’s favorites are edible on the entire planet. You guessed it right!-Her husband gets the same food almost every day as the kid’s glossary of vegetables and fruits is very limited to two or three for that matter! A day came when they had to hospitalize the kid for being anemic due to lack of proper nutrients in the body. It is absolutely fine to pamper your only kid, but not at the cost of the kid’s health.

Leaving modesty aside, I must mention here that I am envied amongst my cousins and friends! Even my mother-in-law always has a good word for me regarding my kids’ eating habits! I have always liked all vegetables if cooked in the proper way, and fruits have always been my secret snacks. No wonder my kids eat all vegetables and fruits! Touchwood! If they don’t like some vegetable they sure let me know but they eat it anyways, because I never give them a choice! Not that I force them, but just let them know the time and effort I put into cooking them! Viola, they clean their plates! Come on, that’s not being mean, but just being persuasive.

I remember when growing up, my mom used the same trick for us kids. We ate everything my mom cooked as we knew the love and effort she put in cooking for us. And of course, my dad was strict enough to support her efforts by saying that ‘what’s on your plate has to be eaten, no matter what’! You bet my parents are proud of me now when they see my kids following that!

When I stepped into my in-laws’ house, incidentally I saw that at least this was one thing that it is very common with my family’s values. They too never got a chance to say ‘no’ to any food on their plate. I was kind of disappointed then that I was in the same situation that I have been till then. But when I had kids, I was sure glad that both my husband and I had the same values as far as parenting goes!

Fruits and vegetables are in abundance in the US. There are a lot of varieties of vegetables here; in addition to the American vegetables, we get Mexican vegetables and Indian vegetables too. My house has seen broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and tomatillos playing with the okras and bitter gourds. I try my best to cook each vegetable in hundred and one ways, and the kids usually take to at the least a couple of varieties. I have tried and learnt different cuisines and so Indian, Italian, Mexican, all foods co-exist in my kitchen. My father-in-law in good humor says that I should have done my PhD in cooking, not English. Yes, I love food, and my husband likes different cuisines, the result being that I learnt all kinds. And, of course, it goes without saying that I love cooking! This has helped me extensively in winning my kids’ palates.

Eat, and eat everything is the motto in my house! And you bet, it worked and it still works!!! Touchwood!