Monday, August 27, 2007

Leaves of a Majestic Tree

In the Baemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsible or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person has done in his lifetime. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. The tribal ceremony often lasts several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.
- Alice Walker

Isn't that so profound? Instead of using violence, kindness is used. It shows that people resort to violence when they lack love and respect - they don't know how to receive or give it. This tribe is just returning what the person had lost. I also liked this because it shows how connected we all are. Each person has touched someone in the community. Even though we think we are alone, we're really not. A lot of people and experiences have made us who we are. Sometimes we have to remember the people and the positive contributions we have made to each other's lives. (It's like watching those sit coms that do "flashbacks" episodes!)

This story reminded me of something from a book ("Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict ") about relationships. I'm not a big self-help book reader, but I had bought this when I first got married. The author had said when you're angry with your partner, you should just hug them for a few minutes. It's like calming a child with a hug. You just need to be reminded you are loved. Why is letting go of others and being emotionally independent a sign of "adulthood"?

In the South African film Tsotsi, a hardened gang member takes his victim's infant. As someone who lacks "decency" as his fellow gang member say, he learns it through the child. He learns what it means to be responsible and discovers a renewal of life in a way through a child. By the end, people are able to reach out to him through words of kindness, not violence.

Actually, on a tangent, a few friends have lost parents and partners this year and are going through the mourning and healing process. I don't think you can ever let go of that person. They've been connected to you so closely and they contributed to you being the person you are today. We can't just "erase" them or "get over it" because it's like erasing a physical part of yourself.

Another good quote I read was in Sun Magazine's Sy Safransky's Notebook:
"When a tree falls in the forest, do the other trees murmur, It was such a young tree. It had so much to live for."

It's a gentle way to say that life will continue - blossom and fade and blossom again.

My final quote is from Gandhi:
We are all leaves of a majestic tree whose trunk cannot be shaken off its roots.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the Job Training - Motherhood: When Your Elementary Schooler Wants To Be in a High School Musical

For those of you who don't know Zac Efron or believe Sharpay is just a breed of a dog, see this first: High School Musical.

Now, I get this movie. It's the "Grease" for this generation of tweens. Gabriella is smart and sweet dark-haired beauty and Troy has to cross clique barriers to be with her. And, there's lots of Kool-Aid flavored, Disney Channel singing and dancing. With the first one, Disney expected this to be just another made-for-TV movie. They did not foresee the live stadium tour, ice tour, book series, documentary, awards, and overall international success. (Side note: Director Kenny Ortega was the choreographer for "Dirty Dancing" and "Footloose")

Anyway, I do not have a tween. I have a 6-year-old.

I know my daughter knew about the music and we had burned a CD of the songs awhile back. But she hardly listened to it, and I don't know if she even watched the movie in full. Yet, she knew who Gabriella was and wanted to "be" her when acting and singing.

Her BFF Allison comes over for a play date and I had proposed watching one of the Barbie movies ("Fairytopia", "Mermaidia", etc.). Instead, they were so excited because Allison brought along her HSM DVD. The girls danced and sang along to the movie. I watched a bit until I got bored with the bad acting and just took pictures of the two girls who were wearing tiaras and tutus.

So, last weekend HSM2 premiered and we watched it together. I checked with our friends and they all had HSM2 viewing parties/sleep overs. We had friends visiting and the girls watched it together.

Anyway, it was definitely cute and you can tell Disney execs put more effort into making this movie transferable to the stage.

Now, Annika cannot stop talking about HSM! On Sunday, I thought she was watching "Annie" on cable, which is one of her favorite movies. She later told me she was watching HSM again. We went to dinner with friends and her only contributions to the discussion were about HSM. I told her I did not want to hear this and would take off points if she spoke about this anymore. (Yes, I'm adopting Hogwarts point system - arbitrarily declaring the addition and subtraction of points, maintained on a magical invisible scorecard)

On Monday, the camp teachers said the kids were singing and dancing to HSM. Of course.

I'm mixed on this whole thing because I was 8 or 9 during the whole "Grease" hysteria. My sister remembers being 5 and in love with John Travolta. Now when I watch the movie, I see all the double entrendres and innuendos. However, majority of that went over our heads at that age. So, in one way, the Disney movie is a lot simpler and cleaner. Plus, Troy Bolton in his gym shorts is no match for Danny Zuko in his black leather!

I do want "Annie" and "Barbie" to stay in the picture right now. I want to take her to see Disney shows this fall and am torn between HSM on Ice, Doodlebops and Playhouse Disney -- she enjoys all three right now, but I can only tolerate one show.

Yes, this is the start of something new..

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What Not To Say #1.

Rule #1. Do not ask a woman if she is pregnant.

If a woman is pregnant, she will tell you or it will come up in conversation.

Do not say, "So, when are you due?" or "Congratulations, Mama!" And, don't even think of patting her stomach.

If her water breaks on your Manolo Blahniks, then it might be an excusable question.

Also, if you definitely know a woman is pregnant, pay attention. Do not ask her "What's your due date?" after she has returned from maternity leave.

(For P., S., R., A., N., M., U. and countless others)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

When Desi Aunties Rule..

This was born in an email exchange with friends. I'm taking it up a notch.

Welcome to the home of a Desi Aunty.
You will find the following:

- Complete set of swans, and ceramic items greeting you on the doorsteps.

- Bunches of silk flowers thriving in Mikasa vases (or Mikasa lookalike)

- Candles of all shapes, sizes and scents are set about the house. They are never lit.

- Cream-colored ceramic hearts that read "Raj & Jyoti's wedding 2001" or a Dollar Store baby frame with "Pinky's baby shower 1999" inserted instead of a photograph. It doesn't matter who these people are. Their favors have a home.

- There is a closet or armoir filled with vases, frames, candleholders and all-occasion cards. One enters this sacred realm only when you need to give a gift to someone.

- set of Corningware circa 1987 (white with cornflower blue designs)

- Niagara Falls magnets holdup Christmas card photos of babies and kids that you don't recognize (Maybe Pinky's??).

- If you're in my mom's house, there will be calendars of gods, goddesses, gurus and swamis. Again, you do not recognize them.

- If you do go into the master bedroom, you'll notice the dressing table. There is a glass or mirrored tray with perfumes, cosmetics and Ponds and Nivea creams lined up. There will be the Cover Girl products next to the Clinique ones, which were obvious gifts.

Apologies to the desi aunties (and my mom) who recognize themselves. It's all in good fun!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On the Job Training - Motherhood: Ear Piercings

I was reminded of my daughter's ear piercing moments.

It's customary in India to have a girl's ears pierced as a baby. I've heard of piercing the ears within 2 months. The belief is that it hurts less at that time. My sister and I have had my ears pierced since then. We wore 18K gold hoops forever and were not allowed to change them or remove them. I had to take them off during gym in 8th grade and I was so anxious! Hopefully, it would be just as easy.

I waited until she was a year old and asked the pediatrician to do it. I had to select between the one diamond or one gold pair he had on hand for selection. Within the first month, her post earring got caught in her pacifier ring in her crib. The earring came out and there was a tiny bit of blood. I was home alone and really freaked out, and called my friend for advice. I tried to put the earring back and she wouldn't let me - screaming at the top of her lungs! I felt like an abusive mother! Horrible. Horrible.

So, Annika walked around with 1 earring. Then 2 months after that, we had bought a new carseat. This one had straps that came down over the head. Seemed very secure, why not? So, I had placed her in the carseat and she was squirming around. As I brought the belt down, her earring got caught again. More blood-curdling screams. (Oh, yes, she cried too!) I promptly returned the carseat.

Both she and I were traumatized now. My mom, aunt and everyone who saw her said, "Why don't you get her ears pierced?" I pushed them off.

Finally I was overcome by all the nagging, and I think she was 2 when I finally consented. Mom and I took her to the mall. Actually, it makes more sense to have the Piercing Pagoda do it because that's what they do. They were hygienic, provided a care kit and more of a selection than the Dr had. I remember the girl saying, "Oh, she's such a happy baby! I hate to do happy babies because they start crying!"

She cried for a second, but they had lollipops ready and she quickly forgot. I felt much relieved.

Annika actually has lost a lot of earrings. We used to put the gold ones, but she lost them. We gave up and got deluxe sets from Claire's for $5. I have gold-plated hoops for her now, but they're not as expensive so the loss wouldn't be so regretful. I don't understand how I ended up having 1 set for life (or so it seemed at the time) and she's gone through dozens already!

There's no moral or parental revelation to this story. Just funny in retrospect to think of how anxious I used to be!