Friday, March 20, 2015

Congratulations! It's a girl!

We had moved recently from a different city to Mumbai. We unpacked our bags, and all the clutter of the domestic life fell out. Ahead of the internet connection, the other more important requirement was the all-important cook and a helper to help with the cleaning. .  Finding a house is extremely simple thanks to housing websites these days, but unfortunately there is no app to find helpers with a good work ethic and who have a heart of gold.

As we sent the word out for the vacancy, a plump looking decently dressed humble looking lady accompanied by her young teenage daughter walked into my house for an ‘interview’. She said she was new to the place and knew no one and had worked for no one in the area. She had no references she could give me but she just wanted an opportunity to find some work somewhere. Something in her sincerity appealed to my otherwise suspicious mind as I thought I should give her a chance. Looking at her daughter, I wondered if she would train her to wash utensils and clean houses too. But as I look back to that day, I see how mistaken I was in my assessment on this front.

It turned out that the lady had three daughters around the same age and she was working hard to educate the girls to enable them to make a good living better than what she could manage.  Her husband was fortunately not a drunkard but a good man with a steady income and a living quarter that allowed them to live with their daughters with dignity. And both were happily providing for their three daughters to study well beyond the free school education. Vocational courses, a laptop, anything to help the girls learn and get good jobs even while they slogged all day.

On a similar note, another woman I employed had three daughters too.  But she had left them in the village she came from. She often spoke about how young she was but had so many responsibilities and mouths to feed. She felt the best way of reducing her ‘burden’ was to hand it over to another in the form of marriage.  And even though she lived in the big progressive city of Mumbai, she had no qualms in marrying off her eldest daughter at the age of 15 to a lad of 18 to live a wretched existence like she did.

While the second case made me despondent, the first case gave me hope. Save the girl child, and cherish her is not just another campaign. It is a very real awareness requirement in both rural and urban India where girls are routinely killed, treated as a burden and never a priority. If only, all parents started looking at daughters not as a burden, but educated them and loved them as they would love their boys, the country would be a much better place. 

A giant mithai box at the Chembur Festival

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Day in Dubai

It was the month of December and I was deep in the middle of work at office and work. The last vacation I had seemed to have been years back, (okay, I am exaggerating). Proposals to be submitted, events to be held, projects to be completed, I seemed to be drowning in a truck load of work. Fortunately there was the amazing holiday in the middle-east that I had to look forward to, light at the end of the tunnel and a glimmer of hope to come back rejuvenated.

I had made plans with the two SSs in my life (daughter and hubby) to visit the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat for a lovely long trip during the Christmas and New Year break.
Dubai is a city of man-made wonders. I am not the biggest fan of man-made wonders, but when I saw this glittering city, I thought otherwise. A city that came up in the desert, a city with few resources, and a city that is one of the largest commercial hubs in the world is a force to reckon with. It showed the perseverance of mankind to conquer a hostile environment and transform it completely, that people now flock from far and wide to it. Tall buildings do remind me of Howard Roark of The Fountain Head and make me believe, they truly are testament of the human spirit in achieving such heights!

With its man-made palm islands, skyscrapers that adorn the skyline, endless shopping malls, one can only marvel at the rulers who achieved all of this in a short span of time. Besides these man-made wonders, the desert and the beaches are natural wonders that can be seen in Dubai.  The sheer scale and size of everything here are mind boggling. Be it the miles of shopping malls, or the ‘sky is the not the limit’ height of the tall buildings, they did make me feel very small. How I wish I had a house in one of those tall buildings with fantastic views from up there or atleast a similar building in Mumbai! Perhaps a housing website will help me find me a great deal in Mumbai in those coveted towers downtown (the day I can afford it!)

Apart from the artificial wonders, Dubai is also blessed with natural wonders of the beach and the sea that are of course humongous and you feel insignificant when faced with these natural wonders. Our day had us visit the sand dunes and the beach. It is incredible how sitting on a sand dune and watching the sunset, or sitting on the beach can make all your stress dissolve away as you realize how small you are as compared to the vastness of things around you. I am guessing that going up one of those sky scrapers (esp. the Burj Al Arab) would have the same effect. The tranquility along with little SSS troweling her way through the sand and picking out shells made for a blissful day!

We wrapped up the day with a lovely dinner with one of old school friends and her family and truly felt thankful for the people I was with for being such fun and being there.