Equality – Rest is a Right

Every human being, irrespective of the role he or she has within the family, has the right to rest. I think we can all, no matter where we come from in our ways of thinking, agree on this.

Everyone within the family deserves, and should have the right to a weekly off, sick leave and a support system when not well.

I think it is a worthwhile exercise for every family to examine how this actually works within the family, for different members of the family. See the way things are in reality, clearly, and make it a topic of conversation.

Notice the factors that deprive family members of this right and think of ways to bring some change. Whether these mean making different lifestyle choices, better work-flow management at home, examining the impact of gender roles on care and support, or any other factor that the family thinks is the cause.

Challenge 10 of The Relaxed Housekeeping Challenge has a brief one-page questionnaire on this. You’ll need to print a copy for each family member.

Please feel free to modify this challenge and add factors like daily rest and sleep that I haven’t considered, if you feel your family needs to examine these too.

Stay covid-safe and well. May we all use this time of social isolation to notice factors that need to be addressed within our families, so that home is a place of rest for all.

Crazy Cat

Crazy cat is in the building

visiting anyone who’s willing

to fuss or feed him or let him sit

on their living room floor for just a bit.

Evening sees him in full form playing dead downstairs

I think it’s his idea of fun!

He’s really looking for a home

I wish someone would keep him.

He’s really looking for a home

but neighbours don’t want a cat that roams.


Lets be kind to animals and remember always that they lived here first.

Silence

There used to be a silence

an aloneness that went away.

I’d look back in longing

at those wonderful days.

Then it was messaging

and junk mail that clogged the mind

with a sense of ‘too busy’

even when there was enough time.

So it was unsubscribe and delete

and let’s talk on the phone

or goodbye for now

till your ‘too busy’ is gone.

Now there’s a silence.

An aloneness that I really enjoy

a quiet peaceful empty

with my hot cup of chai.


Because freedom needs space.

The lines goodbye for now till your ‘too busy’ is gone are meant as a reminder rather than a decision to create distance. A reminder that all relationships, whether they’re with family or with friends, need time and commitment.

Alone

All alone without it’s mate

it got left out and it was too late.

One washed and hanging on the line

the other still grubby but doing fine.

Separate, but the next wash will get them together

they keep me warm in cold, dry weather.


A riddle. This is an easy one 🙂

Because togetherness is built upon the foundation of separate-ness.

100% – The Work Of A Home Manager

100% – that’s all the work to be done

home management can be fulfilling and fun!

But it’s 10% more ‘cos they won’t put things away

don’t have assigned chores, but still have their say.

Add 10% for customs and traditions that are rigid

No longer needed but stay

and deprive all in the family

of freedom.

10 % ‘cos she just doesn’t know

ways that teach all of them the independence needed,

for a smooth easy work-flow.

10% for the OCD

that makes small simple tasks big

and really time-consuming.

So many 10 percents that drag her down

till she learns the secret – shhhhhh!

I can’t say it out loud.

It’s practise makes perfect and different ways to stand firm

Till it gets too difficult for them and they just have to learn.


When we talk about the work of a home manager, it’s important to separate actual work, and work created or made complicated by traditions.

By upbringing or ideas on gender roles that make people dependent on others for personal chores like eating, drinking water and putting their things away.

And the OCD, look it up if you don’t know what this is 🙂 that makes some women make their own lives difficult and then set rules for younger women in the family, and continue the cycle of suffering and self-sacrifice that is often totally unnecessary and unwanted by all family members.


I write this poem as a journey. So, I’ve tried to incorporate some of the paths that different home managers make, some finding a workable solution by keeping many ten percent’s, and others wanting to do away with them.

Different ways have worked well for me, at different times in my life.

I’ve always felt that these ten percent’s detract from the quality of life. However, despite my thinking, there are times I have held onto some ten percent’s because working within the existing comfort level of habit assumed importance to me.

A 2021 Update: Small changes I made within the boundaries of customs and tradition expanded those boundaries for me slowly. And have built up, over almost 22 years of marriage, to a totally different way of living that is now becoming a habit. A way that is so comfortable for all, that it’s starting to be a new custom / tradition.

This Diwali

I shall put on my best dress and stay at home

we’ll have our family gatherings over the phone.

If we need to go out, we’ll visit the shop

pick up some veggies and get a short walk.

It’s two zero twenty – time to be with ourselves

covid-safe social distancing – let’s make sure it goes well.


I wrote this some months ago during the Diwali of 2020.

Don’t

Don’t go here

don’t go there.

Don’t stay out late

tie up your hair.

Don’t wear that dress

you look too old

and the colors don’t suit you

they’re bright and too bold.

Don’t put your career before your chores

do what we did and don’t want more.

Don’t,

because it makes us yearn

and wonder if we could have lived our dream

and still,

run our home.


Because the older woman is starting to look at the younger woman who has found a balance between her dream career and managing her home. And wonder. And learn.


Tales Our Housework Tell Part 2 of 2

Please read Tales Our Housework Tell Part 1 of 2 for an introduction to this post.

This second part of the post is a very rough approximation of one aspect of home management in our home. It ignores many aspects that I found difficult to measure. More details on the information in this post, in the introductory post mentioned above.

Graph 1 – Daily Chores (below)

The Total Daily Chores of 360 Minutes at the start of our married life have gradually reduced to 255 Minutes after 22 years of practise and learning. I credit this change to more efficient ways of working as well as better planning & organisation.

Step 1: Total 6 Hours or 360 Minutes a Day. The beginning of our married life with a clothes washing machine and in-efficient home management skills. It was a struggle!

Step 2: Time Saved – 75 Minutes a Day. Purchase of a dishwasher within a year of marriage – a desperate move to have some daily ease and manage jobs with long working hours and no maid.

Step 3: Time Saved – 30 Minutes a Day on daily chores. Increase in Weekend Chores – 90 Minutes a week. This was a secret that we kept until it was too old to be changed, because the general community tend to view frozen chapatis in very poor light, unles they’re branded and bought from a store.

Step 4: Time Saved – 15 Minutes a Day on daily chores, with an increase in Weekend Chores of 480 Minutes – until Step 6. We moved to Kharghar and did our daily shopping in Vashi. It was just convenient because shops here weren’t always well stocked at that time. Going to Vashi would often mean a day out as I found mall shopping stressful and would need a tea or lunch break to destress before I drove home.

Step 5: Time Saved – 15 Minutes a Day on daily chores. Another secret you don’t dare mention to other women 🙂 because, I had learned by then, they can be very critical. So I did this quietly. I started to cook larger quantities and we’d eat one fresh veg and one that was left over each day – instead of my cooking 2 fresh veggie dishes daily.

Step 6: Time Added – 15 Minutes a Day to daily chores, with an decrease in Weekend Chores of 480 Minutes – refer Step 4. Kharghar stores started stocking items better so we were able to shop local. Yaay!!

Step 7: Time Added – 45 Minutes a Day to daily chores to plan, downsize, reorganise. The change in the workflow of chores at home was gradual and more an outcome of our efforts than something we worked towards. There was a HUGE increase in Weekend Chores during this time, as we needed larger chunks of time to sort and organise. We added shelves and cupboard partitions, and it’s quite shocking really that small things well planned can bring such ease to work.

Step 8 : Time Saved – 30 Minutes a Day on daily chores – Life settled post downsizing so I needed a lot less time planning and organising. I still do that but it averages about 15 Minutes a day.

Step 9 : 255 Minutes a day on daily chores and a reduction in time for Weekend Chores. This is a rough estimate of the time we spend on chores daily, to the best of my ability to assess it.

Graph 2 – Weekend Chores (below)

Step 1: 120 Minutes a week at the start of our marriage.

Step 3: Add 90 Minutes a week making bulk chapatis to be stored in the freezer.

Step 4: Add 480 Minutes a week shopping in Vashi during our early years in Kharghar, until shopping local was feasible. It was just convenient at the time, because shops here weren’t always well stocked and that meant many shopping trips. Going to the Vashi mall would often mean a half day out. Very soon, I started to find mall shopping stressful and would need a tea or lunch break to destress before I drove home so this was quite a time consuming exercise.

Step 6: Less 480 Minutes a week – local shops finally got their act together.

Step 7: Add 120 Minutes a week for a major downsizing and reorganizing effort we undertook after years of busy when we just dumped things in boxes for later. I educated myself on home storage and organization, and learned to value workflow management and the impact planning has on easing the quantum of work.

Step 8: Less 120 Minutes a week – we came to the end of our efforts at downsizing and reorganisation and no longer needed 120 Minutes each week for it.

Step 8: Less 60 Minutes a week – I noticed that our weekend cleaning went down by 60 minutes.

Step 9: Less 90 Minutes a week – we replaced chapatis with brown rice for health reasons as well as personal preference.

60 Minutes a week – is the time we spend on weekend home cleaning and organization right now. Barring cleaning up the mess we make with hobbies we pull out on weekends, which I haven’t factored here at all.

Please click here to view the Graphs

Once again, please forgive me for inaccuracies and approximations. This is just a post to start discussion on a very important subject. On what Home Management is and on the value that it provides to society.

A shout of support to all the Home Managers in this world!

Tales Our Housework Tell Part 1 of 2

I think it’s important to talk about housework and the skill of home management, because it occupies such an important part of the time, and the lives of many. And also because it’s a hidden, secret place to those who have never done it.

Often unappreciated or looked down on, by a materialistic society that has, it sometimes seems, forgotten the impact of intelligent and capable home management on harmony within the family. And on the family health – physical, mental as well as emotional.

I write this post as a full time piano teacher with flexible working hours that give me time to be a homemaker. I actually work the same hours I did earlier when I had a corporate career, except that I now have no commute. Being self-employed gives me the freedom to work at timings that suit me and it has had a very positive impact on our ability to have family time and slow down the pace of todays busy life to the extent we need.

I’ve tried to be as clear and precise as I can with the time we need for chores, but I know I have not been as precise as I should be. I still thought it was writing this post, to throw some light on what home management and housework is. And the value that it creates for society.

So I hope you’ll be kind and forgive me for inaccuracies.


What parts of home management are not included here

  • Paperwork and bills.
  • Time on household and appliance repairs – done ourselves or outsourced.
  • Time spent on childcare, education and parent-child activity and interaction – that is associated with raising independent well-behaved children with a practical, as well as formal education.
  • Time spent on family commitments which might include any or all of the items of home management in this post.
  • Time spent being a caregiver for family members.
  • Stress saved with home-made cleaning and personal care products. They take some prep-time, but have reduced the weight and number of items I had to carry in groceries substantially, so I’m a lot more relaxed when shopping and spend less time on it. Time wise I’d say it’s not much of a difference.
  • Who does the work isn’t factored in here. It’s just an assessment of the work that needs to be done. Maids are quicker at house work than I am but then, we organize and tidy our stuff before the maid arrives. Family, on the other hand, organizes while cleaning. So I think both take the same time.

We don’t have children, so I’ve skipped childcare.

For the other points above – it was really difficult for me to plot these aspects of home management over time, so I’ve left them out.

My Thoughts: The commitment to look after children and elderly might arise from love and caring, but IS very much an activity that takes an investment of time, effort and even skill and knowledge of the right kind of family activity – a walk, a game, a reading session, etc.

These are activities, that outsourced, are only as important as the content of the activity.

In the hands of a parent, they provide value over and above the activity as they provide a medium and time for family bonding. This added value is covered below, under ‘What is not housework’.

What is not housework

There has been some discussion on housework and home management on social media and it’s generated some confusion. I see that people confuse acts arising out of personal relationships, love, affection and caring with activities needed for the home and family to operate smoothly.

So, I’d like to be clear. Personal interactions and relationships are not home management. Therefore, they just don’t figure here.


Continued in my next post Tales Our Housework Tell Part 2 of 2

This second post plots changes our housework over the 22 years of our marriage. The events which drastically increased home chores. And those which brought tremendous ease.

Silver Line

She’s a single mom though they’re aren’t divorced
his work is his life – he feels he has no choice.
His 9 to 5 is not 7 to 7 *
most days it’s so busy he’s home after 11.

Loan EMI’s and a lifestyle but missing a life
it’s a recipe for a lot of family strife.

She has a full time job but still manages the home
children and heavy elder care – she can’t cope alone.
So it’s maids, classes, caregivers and no unscheduled relaxed time
with lonely stressed kids that often are way out of line.

But now it’s work from home, caregivers but no maids
He does some house work and takes the kids out to play
Their kids have both parents for the very first time
and life finally feels good – it’s going real fine.

2020 has been a difficult time
but like dark grey clouds with a silver line.

* A reference to long commutes.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

You Can Wish Me Happy Birthday

You can wish me Happy Birthday any time of the year
you know me well so don’t worry my dear.
It really doesn’t matter how often or when we talk –
share our struggles, our happy, or laugh till it hurts.

Friends for so many reasons that the bond stays strong
it’s been some years, yet it doesn’t seem all that long.
Together in sunshine and when there’s just too much rain,
No time schedules, no expectations. I’ll say it again…

You can wish me Happy Birthday anytime my dear
in March, June or November, or even the next year.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Movie Review ‘Gully Boy’

I haven’t watched a Hindi movie years. Actually I found them depressing as a child. Romantic singing and running around trees accompanied by squeaky violins and high-pitched female vocals just wasn’t my thing. I personally prefer lower pitched or more full-bodied vocal technique – I find this more relaxing to listen to and it often means I am quite unable to appreciate the artistic and musical achievement of high-pitched voices on an emotional level, even though I do on a mental level. Plus the typical saas-bahu politics and family intrigue just seemed very negative to me then. As it still seems to me now.

Movie plots have changed, and Bollywood music now includes a much wider range of vocals that I find more interesting. I’ve been reading about a lot of movies that are stepping out of standard story lines and decided that it’s time I started watching them. It’s a challenge quite frankly, because watching any kind of movie has been a once a year thing for the past decade.

So, I’m applying my piano practise techniques to fitting this into my life. And have finally got through my first Hindi movie in years – Bit By Bit – like I fit in practising a piano piece when I have too much of other stuff or other practise to do and am still really keen to get done.

I chose ‘Gully Boy’ because I’ve heard about it and because it’s just conveniently there on my netflix screen every time I log on. I watched it in 3 sittings and this post is my first impression of the movie and the characters. So forgive me please, if I am vague on specifics – they’re available at wikipedia. This post is intended to convey my general impression of the movie.

Why Gully Boy made an impression

This movie is a surprisingly accurate fictional depiction of real life in the slums in India and the daily struggles that come with it. It’s pretty stark at first, but the plot pulls one in as it unfolds.

Safina

She’s a demure young girl when she isn’t being rude, getting into hand-to-hand fights and throwing objects in temper. She wants a career and is able to get her dad – a very quiet, hesitant-to-stand-up-to-his-hot-tempered-wife man – to support her. Murad is crazy about her, despite a brief encounter with Sky.

Safina is hot-tempered when she has reason, and but has serious anger management issues that I mentioned earlier. She’s the daughter of a woman who thinks it’s okay to hit her daughter when rules and restrictions fail.

She’s genuinely upset Murad doesn’t study enough and lets go when a fan compliments Murad during a BEST bus ride and asks about his career. Unlike Jess Bhamra’s parents berating her on a public TV channel in Bend It Like Beckham, this didn’t have me screaming with laughter. I just thought it was plain rude.

That said, Safina is crazy about Murad and her temperament well suited to him. I think they’d do very well in life together if she’d get some counseling for anger management and learn to manage conflict effectively.

Murad

He is the lead role in the movie, the under-priveledged boy and the son of a father who has been badly brought up and who remarries and then treats his first wife (Murad’s mother) like a servant, while Murad’s grandmother watches silently, without protest.

Murad, unlike Safina, has the ability to control his anger and let it out when it’s necessary and useful. Family issues and the need to support his mother make financial independence a priority for him and his studies take a back seat, as he realises that his dreams could bring a quick win.

Sky

She is the girl who has a ‘thing’ for Murad. A really nice and different portrayal of the ‘other woman’ or ‘other girl’ in this case – she appears unaware at first, that Murad has a significant other. Sky has a resilience that Safina doesn’t have, and is willing accept rejection and to let go graciously.

It’s evident that she still has feelings for Murad, but keeps her distance while maintaining a cordial professional relationship with him, after she realises Murad cares for Safina. I think Safina could learn some maturity from Sky. And I think Sky has a niceness that would make her help Safina despite all that’s happened in the movie.

My last impression

Gully Boy is a subtle portrayal of a myriad of social issues that India faces today, and yet, despite the social messages, quite enjoyable to watch.

  • It makes an important point, that a badly brought up boy grows up to be a badly behaved man.
  • That education, and holding on to dreams, can be a way out of the anger and frustration of working at a poorly paid job, for a man who doesn’t value the dignity of labour.
  • It fails somehow with the brown is beautiful message for me, because my overall first impression was that Safina and Sky both had lighter complexions than other women in the movie, except one – D J Sher’s foreign girlfriend. A subtle reinforcement of the idea that is a part of many Indian mindsets, that fair is lovelier than brown.
  • The plot comments on how strict social rules result in friendships and relationships being conducted without the knowledge of parents. This is a very real social problem than puts a lot of girls at risk of assault – if they’ve unwittingly chosen the wrong friends, or have made the mistake of meeting their friends in isolated places where they can be attacked.

‘Gully Boy’ is so very different from the Bollywood movies I’ve had brief glimpses of over the years. A must-watch for any movie-goer and food for thought for an India that is working towards equality and progress. An India that wishes to break the cycle of deep-rooted anger that often targets women and vulnerable sections of society. An India that still doesn’t quite see the signs even though they’re shouting out loud.

Really looking forward to my next Bollywood movie!

The Keeper

Do you live with a keeper – a keeper of things
who won’t let go of old stuff, miss the joy that this brings.
Or have you raised a child who keeps toys on the floor
that you pick up and tidy – then go out and buy more.

So much to clean and so much to dust
more that you need but it’s still not enough.
Until lockdown twenty-twenty – with no maid at home
And you just can’t cope and you want things gone.

A keeper and collector who’s learning to let go
Less stuff, less to clean and space for more.

Covid19 sometimes seems like a message from above
less stuff to look after and time to live with patience. And love.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Questions

So what happens when your stars fail
when the hate that you’ve sown takes the wind from your sails
will you swim or will you sink
learn and move beyond your mistakes or let it push you to the brink?

Will you give up or take it all in your stride,
buckle down and hold on, or go out with the tide
will we see you as ineffective, petty, biased, and weak
or will we see inner change and the strength to let go of that mean streak?


Because social change needs inner change, and each and every one of us has a role to play in working towards a better world.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Sometimes

Sometimes,

we have to go through the motions when there’s no time

just fit in a minute to play one line.

Humans who have to schedule time to BE

to look out of the window – enjoy the sun – feel the breeze.

One minute of joy that stretches longer each day

time for work and time for play.


This poem is meant to be read 3 times with ‘play’ replaced with write, and then draw.


This poem will be published shortly at allpoetry.com 

Wanna

I don’t wanna be the woman behind the man,
let my dreams flow down the sink as I wash the pots and pans.
I don’t wanna be the woman who’s burning up inside,
and sees dirt in the smile of her sisters eyes.

Don’t wanna be the price that you pay
when we’re old, and I’m bitter because I had no say.

And you don’t wanna be the man who sat by,
watched the dreams and hope fly out of my eyes.
Don’t wanna be the cause and the reason why,
my wings were stuck and I couldn’t fly.

You wanna be the man behind the woman
who pursues her dreams and has a life of freedom.

So we’re partners searching for equal, working side by side,
sharing our dreams and our daily lives.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Friends with ourselves

It’s really lovely to be offline
and get away from the daily grind.

No Whatsapp friends who won’t answer the phone
just the joyful silence that grows loud when we’re alone.

Lessons that we all need to learn from life,
to be friends with ourselves. It feels really nice!


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

Happiness is

Happiness is a walk on a rainy day

with the sky all coloured a silvery grey.

Happiness is a yellow umbrella

and clothes drying quick in this damp rainy weather.

Happiness is the joy that we feel,

when the roads are flooded – even though the drains haven’t been cleaned.

Happiness is a state of mind,

the spirit of Mumbai that always stays high.

Happy, but unfortunately often complacent,

but we have expectations and they’re getting urgent.

So much plastic in packaging and no at-source segregation,

And not enough space for sufficient home composting.

Still we’re happy and grateful that we’re all ok,

The immediate need is to stay Covid-safe.

Gonna Fly

I’m a free bird and I’m gonna fly,

To the balcony – watch the clouds roll by.

Do a One-Mile-Walk till my heart feels light,

Enjoy this wonderful aloneness, grateful that my family is alright.

I’m a free bird and I’m gonna fly,

To the balcony, with my hot cup of chai.


This poem has been published at allpoetry.com 

There’s Always A Way

There’s always a way when the going gets tough,

Unless it’s not working out and you’ve tried enough.

Always a way to make time for quiet,

So you have resources to use when you can’t see the light.

Many ways to push through, or hang on when there’s trouble,

If you’re willing to bend when there’s need. Not fight it or struggle.

Sometimes it’s bend or break, but there are times when there’s need,

To dig in and stand firm, like a sturdy old tree.

There’s always a way if we only let go,

Of fixed ideas about how we should handle our role.

If we work to make some time to think,

Stop digging those ditches into which we will sink.

There’s always a way to hold on, to have faith,

Do our best, then accept what’s put on our plate.

There’s usually a way.

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