Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pink is for Pepto Bismol

Sorry to be MIA for so long.

I started this blog when my little girl was about 4-5 years old princess and now she's an amazing 10 year old monster-rock-diva. She wants to be a spy and work for the FBI, though she wants to first redesign their outfits. She plans to travel the world and live in hotels. She's still a girly-girl with her accessories and fashion, but her tastes are bolder than mine were at that age.

This spy infatuation has been in progress for a year or so, and she begged me to buy spy gear (some glove with special listening and gadgets). She had a gift card for her birthday that she wanted to use to buy the spy gadgets at Target. Looking up and down the racks, she commented about how these are all for boys. The packaging has boys her age with the secret glasses and all. There's no reason it needs to be just for boys, since girls could dig that too!

So, after a lot of begging and pleading, she and I finally went to the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. By the way, the museum was amazing - interactive on so many levels, educational, well-designed and has an expansive collection of historical artifacts.

We found ourselves in the gift shop and were looking around for a small keepsake. We ended up getting handcuff key chain and a pen with secret ink. However, there was a section that had the 'girl stuff'. They had pink moustaches as "disguises" and lots of pink or wallets with 'spy monkeys' on them.She just thought it was lame, though was intrigued by the secret diary with locks. But, her main interest was in the wall of cool gadgets. She commented that the pink didn't make sense because spies need to be in black.

Next stop for being offended by pink overdose was Lego store. Everyone loves legos! They've been around forever. Any reason to suddenly start making pink legos to appeal to girls? They had a display in the middle where people can assemble their own Lego people - take a head, add a hat, add hair, add feet, etc.  My daughter loved it and made female characters, but nobody was pink.

My point here is that you can definitely appeal to young girls without being "pink". Anyone who knows my daughter knows that she loves pink and purple since she was 2 years old. It's insane. I never would've believed it otherwise. However, she's not colorblind and does enjoy everything. One other thing I've noticed about her is that she always gravitates toward the female characters in stories/films - and in play. Girls love the female dolls and female Lego characters. That's more important than having pink paint or tiaras splattered on everything.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dhobi Ghat Review

I assume you're reading this because you have seen this movie or at least heard about it. It's not your mainstream Bollywood movie, but considered "art house". I had friends who praised this simple movie and others who claimed it was a waste of time. After watching it, I see it doesnt' provide the fantasy and escapism elements Hindi movies are supposed to bring their audience. It brings so much more reality forward, but gently.

I enjoyed this movie for it's simplistic, but complex artistic direction. There are layers of voyeurism into lives of people with the audience being the ultimate voyeur. Sometimes it's controlled by the characters, and other times by the director.

Having been to Mumbai in the recent years, there are so many different types of people who live there. Unfortunately, most of the movies lean towards one side of the scale -- the uber-wealthy fantasy folk in designer garb or the slumdogs and the poverty that chokes you.

I appreciate this filmmaker (Kiran Rao) for showing the variety: the hip art scene parties and dealings, the lonely middle class housewife who finds a friend inside a videocamera, the artist who shields himself from intimacy and can only feel from distance, the Indian-American outsider who considers all men created equal and the young man who needs to keep his belly full and eyes on the stars. I'm not even going to talk about Aamir Khan since that's all I heard, but every one of the main actors performed so well that these characters were real and recognizable.

The best thing about this movie was how normal it was. You didn't see the rich girl defy her parents to marry the guy from the wrong side of the tracks.  The artist doesn't find his muse. People die every day in Mumbai. People wake up to live another day in Mumbai. I liked the clothes people wore - just casual clothes and western wear is so popular. The dhobiwalla wearing current t-shirt and sweats makes him more familiar to the girl from the west.

After the 80's "Sex Lies and Videotape" and 90's "Real World", videocamera confessionals inside a film portray a different angle of each story. I'm a fan of the shakey video camera shots - those are real to me because who actually edits their videos in real life? I loved the blurriness of the intimacy scene because it was blurry. I liked hearing noises of India in the background. Lord knows that Mumbai is not quiet. Films usually clear the set and kick out the unwanted. I was moved in an opening scene when a little beggar girl bursts into a dance in front of the camera. My own daughter does the same thing. Children are the same.

Naturally, I was drawn to the Shai character - definitely a New York Indian American girl like many I have known (or I have been). I felt the one gap in her character development was why she left NY finance job to take a "sabbatical" in India. There should've been a reference to it later and where she gets her stalker instinct.

It's been a long time since I had seen such a quietly beautiful film. It doesn't even have a beginning and an end. It's a snapshot, like many we see in it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Forgive and Forget.. what are other options?

I've had to face a situation with someone who hurt me and a number of loved ones. After that painful period, I vowed never to see this person, and it's been fine for about 6 years or so. I never forgave this person, as I chose to forget them. This makes it much easier for all to move on with our lives. Just cut the tree branch that keeps poking you in the face.

However, a situation came up recently where this person had to be acknowledged, not because of their own merit but due to family connections. Not only did this person need to be acknowledged, but I had to interact with them on a personal level. I objected to this and was becoming emotional as anger that was buried was rising to the surface. All of my arguments were shot down - "Be the bigger person." "It's family..we have to." I was bitter and hard all the way to the front door, remembering more reasons why to distrust this person. I wanted to be as disrespectful as I could because they didn't deserve it. "Be the bigger person." Fine. If I can't forgive.. and I can't forget.. all I can do is fake it. I'll be so big and generous that they'll be shocked.

Anyone who knows me that I am horrible at being fake. My emotions fly to my face before my mind even registers it, and then I'm left to reign in the situation with my words. Therefore, I knew the "faking" part was going to be tough.

Yet we survived the situation and faking it was not needed. This person was nervous as well, but respectful of my guards that I kept.

This was one of the those situations in life one must face with the right attitude. As I mentioned earlier, this was out of family obligation because one person really wanted this to happen. And, someone else loves this person, which was the biggest push for me. I realized that love for multiple people is greater than the hurt and anger I feel for this one person. And, it was that love and desire to please those important people that made me "bigger" and the anger become smaller.

It's still not perfect revelation.I have still not forgiven this person because I don't believe there's any recognition or remorse for the wrong doing. I have not forgotten the person or the pain, which needs to shrivel into a raisin.I won't need to meet this person again in the near future, though I can see situations that may call for interaction eventually.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Love Story-ies

I watched "Love Story" last night on TV; it's one of those movies that I never watched fully and even yesterday was partial. I got hooked into it, probably due to the music. The theme is alluring, and it wasn't until I met my husband did I know that there were lyrics to that tune.

I first read the book in 7th grade and didn't really get it, though I had friends who loved it. My father told me that was ok. I tried it again later when I was in high school or college, and didn't really get it. It'sa good story, but I wanted something more with it. I read Love Story 2 and 3, looking for more and not finding it. I actually became a bigger Erich Segal fan out of this quest.

So, I watch it now and I do like the sharp dialogue between Jenny & Oliver. I don't understand Ali McGraw's accent in the movie, since it sounds "upper crust". Yet, it grows on you. I do like movies with smart women because I cannot stand it when the guy falls for the girl who just stood the flowers.. enraptured by her beauty..violins playing in the back. It doesn't happen like that. I was disappointed in "Four Weddings & a Funeral" when Hugh Grant falls for Andie McDowell before she even talks. On the flip side, you have "After Sunset" and "Before Sunrise" that show the couple falling into love with the dialogue and revealing their personalities. That's what makes more sense.

The part that always stumped me was the "love means never having to say you're sorry." What does that mean? Does it mean that when you love someone you won't do anything that will require you to say sorry? (Ahem, certain congressmen and governors!) Does it mean that when you love someone you will automatically forgive them and they don't need to say sorry? You already accept them with their flaws.

Compared to today's standards, the movie just glossed over Jenny's illness. Think of "StepMom" where Susan Sarandon has cancer and it becomes a stronger part of the story. I once read a book about young girls with cancer and they had criticized Ali McGraw for looking so glamorous in the movie.

Lastly, Ryan O'Neal. Wow. His acting was flawless. I need to go dig up more 70's movies with him.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


There's been a lot of hype about the end of the world happening on May 21, 2011. Then, there is the doomsday prophesy for 2012, which was worthy of a Hollywood movie. I was surprised to hear of the extent that people were taking these prophesies seriously. One man cashed in his savings for signage, while another couple quit their jobs to promote this. One person interviewed on the radio said it was freeing not to worry about his mortgage and job situation. He was just worried about his friends and family not being "saved." It sounded like a very escapist mentality to me - no need to worry about responsibilities because it will all disappear.

The one benefit to these doomsday prophecies is that it makes one stop for a second to think "What if they are right? What if it all disappears tomorrow? Why am I at work when I should be in Paris cafe with my loved ones?" Of course, if it all disappears, there should be no regrets as the world has lived its course. I think it's more difficult if you're the one disappearing, and others live on, which is the struggle for people who are terminally ill.

I read this article in New Zealand Herald and loved the author's words: Make it count tomorrow. Do all the things that matter to you, do nothing else. Write letters, spill secrets, make declarations, hold your beloved in your arms.

But why are we waiting until the end of the world? We have no guarantees on tomorrow. Why not tell people you love how you feel? That's simple enough, isn't it?

There's a scene in the movie "Madagascar II" when the plane is crashing and they all believe they will die. So, the characters are revealing their secrets (you're a true friend, I broke your iPod). Melman (the giraffe) shouts to Gloria (the hippo) how he loves her and always has. They survive and it's ... awkard.

That's the fear we have about our tomorrows. What if the truth is revealed and it becomes awkward. There's no way out and we have to live within that framework each day. On the other hand, what if it doesn't and becomes more authentic? No surprises.

Each morning, I have inspiring quotes from Dalai Lama and Paulo Coelho on my Facebook page (go to their page and "Like" them). I suppose the "Rapture" news hit Senor Coelho which prompted the message: Don't live every day as if it were your last. Live every day as if it were your first." 

How beautiful is that? Look at everything with excitement and opportunities for growth. Again, why wait until our personal end is near to make those changes? 

We should look at changes happening as a beginning, not the end. I had a discussion with a colleague about some work. People always say "In case I get hit by a truck, I want to make sure someone else knows this." I'm tired of people saying "hit by a truck". The phrase to use is "In case I win the lottery and don't come back." It's more positive! 

Speaking of winning lotteries, this is another barometer that I gauge my happiness on. When I was in my 20's, I used to work in NYC. I used to commute 2 hours door-to-door (car, train, 2 subways, walk). There was a big lottery at that time, and I thought to myself "If I win, I'd live in NYC." It hit me then that I loved my job, enjoyed it enough to keep doing it even if I was financially secure; I'd only eliminate my stressful commute and get that awesome NYC apartment. Unfortunately, when I play this game now, I would most definitely quit my job and focus on my writing, traveling or going to school to learn something new. Why not do it now? (Girl, you're talking about living your life like there's no tomorrow! Helloo!). It's just the practical side of security and providing for my family. There is a tomorrow. There is a mortgage and we do need healthcare coverage. 

While I can't make a drastic move to quit my job and cash in my savings, I do want to live like each day is my first and try to say yes to new opportunities and experiences. That's how you live a life with no regrets.

My apologies for an erratic post! I haven't written in a while and have lots of thoughts!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Owning My Age

Oprah has a blurb here about Getting older and how women are handling it. I'm officially 40-something in June. It seems that once you cross over the big-0 threshold (whether you're 20, 30, 40, 50), it's irrelevant what's in the middle and it's just something.

I had a hard time facing 40, and it was because I had set 40 as a goal for myself. When I'm 40, I'll have this.. When I'm 40, I won't be doing this.. When I'm 40, I'll look like that.. It was hard to face because I hadn't delivered on the goals and felt like it was a deadline I missed.

However, it's just a matter of keeping the same dreams and extending your goals. It's not as if you fall off the earth at that point. When I was 20, I thought life ended after you got married. What a shock it was after I got married to realize you keep waking up day after day. That's the same thing with the 40's. You have more days to do more!

I've made some crazy resolutions now.
Wear more skirts & dresses. I've always looked young, so I always dressed more maturely to be taken seriously. I always opted for classic looks, but more conservative. Now, I'm leaning towards more trendier options and be more stylish. After my daughter was born, I stayed away from my favorite skirts because it just seemed she should be the one wearing the mini skirts, not me.

I know realize that I'll be 50 in no time at all, and I will regret that I did not wear more skirts in my 30s and 40s. If I could save one regret down the road, let this be the one.

Skincare is for real. I love wrinkles on men and women. It's soft, it's natural and it shows their battles. My mom's wrinkles show her struggles with health. My grandmother's arms were fleshy wrinkles that extended into soft hugs.

However, I've got a little kid. I don't want to be grandma just yet. So, I'm fastidious now on the creams and lotions and cleansers. It's bizarre, but some of these things do work!I'm still trying to find the difference between the $50 moisturizer and the $3.99 Nivea.

I'm fighting the biggest wrinkle between my brow. I realized most of it is due to stress at work. I refuse to let my clients leave a stamp on my face! So, I have to remind myself to not frown so much.

Health is for real. I had some bizarre health activity last year. I went to general physician, specialists and lots of tests. They all came back that I was healthy. This didn't make sense. I was so determined that this was not normal activity for me, and there had to be something wrong. Finally, I listened to the last doctor who said what the first doctor said 6 months prior : I'm getting older and physical changes happen. It's not the same body you had 10 years ago. It took me some time to wrap my head around this. I'm too young to settle into "well, time to get old and fat." Please. I'd like to do some of these runs this summer. I've accepted and realize I have to kick exercise up by 10 notches. Stay with 1 glass of wine, rather than 2. There's no quick pill or short answer. There's never been.

Overall, I'm so grateful for having the healthy reports come back. It pains me to see friends on Facebook talk about surgery or chemotherapy.We have to enjoy every moment we have in this body of ours.

10 Year Olds - Gotta Love them!

I haven't written in a while, but I've had all these thoughts spinning in my head about my daughter being 10 now. (Remember I started this blog when she was just 4 years old!!)

For her 10th Birthday Party, she wanted a Hollywood Party. I let her take the lead on this and she's a regular Martha Stewart when it comes to planning parties.

We got 3 yards of red felt to serve as a red carpet for the guests. She wanted everyone to do hand prints in cement just like the stars do. I vetoed that as I had visions of sticky hands in clay dripping on my carpet. So, I suggested finger paints and big poster board. The girls had fun with that -- they selected different colors, wrote their names on it and Annika cut out a "10" from glitter paper. Now, Annika has a great keepsake of her birthday.

Another activity to go with our theme was to actually act. We created a box of random items (toys, toothbrushes, sunglasses). Each girl selected one item and stepped into a team. Now they had to make a short commercial about all three products. This was great because they were all creative and sat in their groups to work (one team scripted it). We also did a fashion show where they were fashion designers with hats and scarves. We re-purposed the red carpet to be a cat walk and took their pictures.

The guests had Shirley Temples (the bottle of cherries was emptied) and pasta for dinner (in lieu of pizza). For favors, we handed out sunglasses and some keychain/jewelry craft sets Annika picked out for her friends.

She originally wanted to serve sushi to her friends, but I talked her out of it. Instead, we went out to dinner for sushi on her birthday. We had a fabulous time thanks to a gracious waitress who was patient and accomodating. She even brought out a dessert and sang Happy Birthday. We were surprised because we didn't know they sang at Japanese restaurants. When one of the diners next to us wished her happy birthday, we commented that she wanted sushi. He replied, "Oh, a girl with expensive tastes."

Is it that obvious?

The elementary school does a Lip Sync Competition for the 4th and 5th graders in March. It gives a chance for the kids to be creative and express themselves on stage. Annika and her friends performed a Selena Gomez song. She and her two best friends worked on the routine since January. The other moms and I chose to take a back seat on this and let the girls drive it. It was only in the last few weeks that we began to panic and tried to arrange more practices and help with their costumes (one mom bought chain necklaces and I made headbands). During the show, we were quite surprised to see the quality of the acts. Some where like ours (earnest effort by kids), while others had been choreographed, well-staged, and coordinated costumes. Next year, we all told ourselves.

We didn't win, but we were so proud of the girls. Annika blew us away by her dance skills and timing. Her confidence on stage propelled her to do these moves unabashedly. (Seriously, standing up on stage for 2 lines in a class play scared me when I was 10).

It seemed almost every 4th and 5th grader was super confident about his/her performance. Some were bolder than others, while others could've used a dose of modesty. There were on the shy side, but overall they were comfortable.

I wish I could bottle the confidence of 10 year old girls and save it to present it back to them when they're 18-24 years old. They know they look good, they know how things should be done, and most of all, they don't care what boys think.

I don't know if Annika is a product of the YouTube generation or just generally confident and optimistic. I listen to her almost every week asking me to put a video of her on YouTube so she could become a YouTube sensation like Justin Bieber or whoever else.Now, she's motivated to try out for American Idol. I keep telling her that's fine and good, but she's got to practice.

"Mom, when I'm in the Top 12, they'll show you in the audience and you'll be on TV."

The best part about being 10 years old vs 40 years old is that your dreams are unencumbered. They're colorful balloons rising into the air, and if you hold onto them, you'll float anywhere!

I mentioned to her about Oprah's Book Club and how books become successful. "Mom, you should send your book to Oprah." Of course, that's easy enough. (Pop goes my balloon!)

She's really into the spy thing these days. She was annoyed that all the spy gadgets are geared towards boys. Really, couldn't we get a prettier spy glove with secret encoders? She wants to be an FBI agent when she grows up. This way she can travel the world and stay in hotels. However, she does want to redesign the clothes FBI agents wear. And, she wants to tell people that she was a 'child star'.

Of course she can do it - she's 10 years old!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ski and Ye Shall Receive

I've had a fear of skiing all my life. I once heard my parents say "If you fall down while skiing, you'll naturally break your leg. How could you not?" I believe they were watching the Wide World of Sports with the "agony of defeat" skiier that flies off the edge of the ramp. During college, I refused to go skiing with friends. I think my not-skiing was a deal breaker for some relationships.

I finally agreed to ski about 12 years ago. It was after I got married and we went on a trip to Vermont.  Some of us signed up for lessons. And, guess what? No legs were broken. I was ecastic! If I focused, I could do this properly. I was so elated from my skiing adventure, I decided to change careers. Seriously, if I could ski, I could be a programmer. Nothing else seemed as fearful any more. 

After that trip, there were few opportunities to ski, but I wasn't interested. After all, I did it once and proved it to myself. Besides, it's cold. Get me a cup of hot chocolate and spot by the fireplace instead.

My daughter had an opportunity to ski and I wanted to pick this up for her sake. We went last weekend to the mountains with friends. The kids were signed up for their lessons already. I was pretty set on skiing initially, but started to withdraw at the last minute. I had reasons not to go - not all my girlfriends were going, it was pretty cold, it seemed like too much effort. Somehow, one of the friends just pushed me a little and I said I'll do it.

There were 5 of us who signed up for the lessons. I was really impressed with Big Boulder's lesson program as they had 5 stations. You finished one task and then 'graduated' to the next station. I bring this up as one person dropped out at the 2nd station for climbing the slope. Another left after the 3rd station and too many tumbles. Now there were three and we stayed on. Instructors made us stay at station 4 for at least an hour (we were in queue for most of it). I could go down well, but then relaxed too much at the end of the slope and fell down. I would fall and would get up laughing. I said, "This is like my daughter's violin lessons. You have to keep practicing over and over until you get it right."

I finally moved on to Station 5 and we had to go downhill and change directions. I fell repeatedly. I crashed into the red fence there and heard onlookers "Oh!" I probably seemed like the 'agony of defeat' skiier at that time. I felt like it too.

I was getting more frustrated and trying to keep my eyes on the goal of where I wanted to go. The instructor seemed like a ex-hippie with a white scraggly beard. He came over to make sure I was ok and tried to remind me this was supposed to be fun. Now, I knew my daughter was watching and I had to get up again.

As I was prepared for my next attempt, he came up and told me a story. He asked if I liked wine. I replied, "Of course."

He said, "Pretend there is a grape under your ski and you have to turn your foot like this. We're making wine!" A kid in line piped up he doesn't drink wine.

"We're making grape juice!" He made me laugh and loosened up. I went down the slope so gracefully! Everyone on the sidelines cheered for me. I don't know how I did it.

After the lessons, I returned to the slope with my daughter and friends. She was awesome and had to keep looking back at me. I told her to keep moving forward without me.

Like my first experience skiing, I'm coming out of this one with a few life lessons.

1. The first realization was that this is only about me. It's up to me how I move up or down the slope. Instructors can only call out.. my friends can only watch lest they fall with me. I can stay at the bottom of the slope, or push myself up using whatever knowledge and skills I have. Or, I could walk away.

2. You do have to focus, but it's important to relax. We have to enjoy the climb and glide, which is why we were there.

3. Little eyes are watching you. It was important for my daughter to see me fall and get back up again.

4. Once you have started the momentum, it's important not to stop. I've started to plan our next ski day since I need to get back on quickly. If I wait another year, I'll be starting from the bottom.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Since last night, I found 3 things to be grateful for and wanted to share.

1. As I was driving home, the headlights of a plow truck were coming towards me. This was one of those higher construction type vehicles so lights were poised higher. I had a flashback of a scene I had seen on the news of armored vehicles going into a town in Egypt. I am grateful that the only headlights I see are plows, not tanks. There are people in different parts of the world who wish they were looking at a plow truck. I am grateful for living in a peaceful corner of the world.

2. I went to the pharmacy to pick up my daughter's Epi-pen. The school nurses keep a set and had sent reminders that this was going to expire at the end of month. They are very strict about the expiration dates. I picked up the 2 set of epipens and paid $31. I asked the pharmacist if this was using the insurance. She said, "Yes. The actual price is $200. The insurance covered $169 of it." I said, "Ok, then!" and swiped my credit card. What if I did not have insurance? Would I have to make a a decision between my daughter's epipen and how to buy groceries for the month?  I am grateful that I have insurance and income.

3. My husband is travelling this week for business. He went away in December and I had to manage on my own for a month. It was tough and overwhelming at times because of work and school demands. However, last month he was with his family and this week he's staying at a Hilton. The major conflict for him would be dealing with airport delays. I thought of military wives whose husbands are in war zones. The fear and stress level must be so elevated! The stress of not knowing the security of your partner is just an enormous feeling. To add to the usual duties of balancing work/home commitments is unfathomable for me. My heart goes out to those families who have to function not knowing where or when their husband/wife will return home. I am grateful for those families and their sacrifices.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Attitude is my choice

I once took one of those Facebook quizzes "Which Hero are you?" referencing the TV show "Heroes". This was my favorite show for about two-three seasons until it became way too complicated to comprehend. My answers led me to have powers like Peter Petrelli, who coincidentally was one of my favorite characters.

If you didn't watch the show, his character didn't have his own super powers - i.e., to fly, to start fire, to stop time. His were "empathic mimicry". If he was around a hero who had a certain power, he could exhibit those powers. On his own, he couldn't fly, start fire, etc.

I found this really intriguing because that is true about me. I sense others strengths and weaknesses and absorb them as my own. I've gone to Atlantic City with gamblers and non-gamblers. Guess when I was lucky? I've worked or been friends with ambitious people and non-ambitious people. Again, guess when I did well?

Last week this trait struck me at the gym. I was on the treadmill and there was an elderly woman adjacent to me. She was walking at 3mph or something. So, I ended up cruising around the same speed. She left after some time and a thirty-something year old guy came on. He's a regular at the gym and has a lean, runner's physique. He was running at 9.0mph (yeah.) Somehow I picked up speed and was running faster than I was, really pushing myself. No one told me to go slow or fast. I just pick up the mood around me and accelerate (or decelerate) to that level.

I get inspired very easily and happy I have people in my life with high standards about different aspects. On the other hand, there are people in my life who are very negative and unmotivated. This is where I have to find my own strength and push them away.

I saw an image online - "My attitude, my choice..and I'm chasing happy." That's where I need to be. Even Peter Petrilli had to find his own purpose.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spin on Chinese Mothers

Amy Chua's essay in the Wall Street Journal has caused a buzz on new sites, discussion boards, Facebook, NPR, or wherever anyone wants to talk about Chinese Mothers. So, I had to add my two cents to this topi

Some of her comments are tongue-in-cheek, while others are not. It seems to be pretty hard for the western readers to swallow some of these statements she's made in this essay. There's a different cultural mindset with which most are not familiar, so it comes off harsh. It seemed a lot of people were shocked by the 'no play dates and no sleepovers' statement. The biggest worry on the boards seems to be socializing skills that the children are being deprived of and how they are becoming 'robots'.

First of all, this topic resonated with Chinese, Indian, Korean, Russian, and other immigrant communities quite strongly. The one similarity between these ethnic groups is their extreme competitiveness. Being just average is not acceptable. One has to stand out above the others not only to be successful, but to survive. The immigrant parents couldn't even make it to the US by being average or just coasting. This is what they know, and this is why they want their children to be successful. It's a matter of survival of the fittest. On one board, a commentator praised the American mothers of the 30's, 40's and 50's and their values. Well, they were women who came from the Depression and knew what it was like to struggle. And, they would instill the values of education and discipline so children would grow up able to survive.

However, little did the immigrant parents know their kids would be fascinated with proms, pop concerts and beach parties. There are countless hyphenated Americans who struggled pleasing the parents while seamlessly blending into American society. If you're from one of those communities, you didn't go to the prom, or if you did, Lord knows you didn't go to the after party at the shore.

There has to be a middle ground and that's the key. You can ease up on the homework and the 3 hour practice sessions. As a mom, I find myself cringing at the B's my daughter brings home. I know she can do an A job, but she's not focusing on it. I see the potential and don't want her to waste it and recognize the A's are her goal.

While Chua is talking about no playdates, we had a 'no dating policy' at my house. My parents were quite strict about this with no phone calls from boys and no parties with boys. It was rough and we hated it, argued and tried to convince them otherwise. Later, my sister and I were actually fine with their actions and appreciated it. This is one rule I'll probably carry over. Really, does a 13 year old need to have a boyfriend? There's only one time in your life you can be in drama club or on a varsity team. Take advantage of that in your free time. There's enough time for dating (I know a lot of people who feel they've been dating forever!). There's so much going on in high school that you don't need the hassles of relationships that don't really go anywhere. I don't know if I'll be as strict, though I believe my husband will be.

At my high school graduation, my family and I were surprised at the enthusiasm and achievement many Americans had toward the graduation milestone. This was it! Kids worked hard to graduate high school and they could be rewarded. What is all this fuss? How could you not graduate high school. It's not the final stop; there's more coming.

The pressure is intense - no doubt about this. My parents were lenient over those of my Indian peers. My parents acquiesed my junior year to allow me to get a liberal arts degree versus the business degree that would promise me a job after college. My father has a chemistry degree, and he is a writer. He said he saw himself in my eyes when I said I couldn't get out of Calculus. He had to let me go. My favorite party game  was "Guess my major?" Most Indians rattled off the usual - Engineering, biochemistry, pharma. After I'd announce I was an English major, I could see awe and surprise in their eyes. Then they'd confide how they wanted to be English/Sociology/Psychology themselves, but have to do engineer/biochemistry/pharma because of their family's expectations. It wasn't until I changed my major did I make the Dean's List.

This is part of the middle ground for parenting. It doesn't matter what your major is, but your focus in life and your values for personal development. I later completed my Masters, and my brother is now researching PhD programs (and he was the one that rarely brought home a decent report card!).

I was surprised in this essay that there is a lack of demonstration between parent and child. As an Indian (and Gujarati to boot!), we grew up with lots of love and affection. Adults have no problem being affectionate with children. It's PDA between couples that's absent since love is expressed differently.

Anyway, Chua is harsh in her essay and some points seem extreme, but the core points are there. this is like the saying - Aim your arrow for the sky. Even if you don't hit it, you'll be higher than you would be if you were aiming at the ground.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Word Masala Poetry Anthology

A great way to start the new year!

I have two poems included in the Word Masala Poetry Anthology. It is published in the UK and was edited by Yogesh Patel. I haven't gotten my copy yet, but recognize some of the poets on board and know their reputations as writers. So, please support the publisher.