Tag Archives: family

Saying NO to bullying by birds

It began one day when A was drying clothes in the balcony and I was giving him moral support out there. We were discussing how some of our t-shirts and tops were missing, when suddenly he noticed my Anokhi (this detail is relevant, trust me) top on a tree nearby. Without the height advantage, I had to lean out of the balcony on my toes to see the tree and that’s when this eagle swooped and clawed my head before flying away.

I ran inside and kneeled in sharp pain and saw A right next to me also kneeled, but doubled in laughter. Given that this was an unprecedented situation (and A wasn’t done laughing), I called my mom to ask for a home remedy for eagle scratches.

Me: Amma, an eagle attacked me and I have scratches on my head! What to do?

Amma: What did you do to the eagle? (Notice how even in this situation, my mom gives the benefit of the doubt to an unknown bird.)

Me: I didn’t do anything! My Anokhi top is on a tree and I was just seeing how I could get it back.

Amma: Anokhi va? Isn’t that the shop where simple cotton tops cost some 1000 rupees?

Me: (Mumbling in silence)

Amma: Appo ve I told you, 1000 rupees for a simple cotton top is too much, now see what happened.

Clearly, I was getting nowhere with Amma so I googled for “what to do when attacked by an eagle”. The few results that came up referenced babies or other small animals and all of them suggested calling a local sheriff. By then I knew if I have to get somewhere with this, it has to be Quora where all the crazy is. I was right and found a group of falconers from Dubai who suggested I get a tetanus shot. A and I drove to the doctor while I was figuring out if I had intentionally ever wronged birds. The clinic was shut and I really didn’t want to explain over phone why I am asking for tetanus shot for an angry bird scratch. So we dropped the plan and went home.

A few weeks later, I was in Bombay at home when I noticed an eagle staring into my room. I immediately took a picture, drew a red circle around the clearly visible eagle (Times Now style) and sent it to D (the best friend) as well as A. I wasn’t delusional to believe that the same eagle followed me from Bangalore but this clearly this wasn’t normal. While A responded with his usual LOLs, D was the one who took me seriously and suggested I could be under surveillance by a national network of eagles.

Over the next few months, I saw eagles perched on different trees around my house. I began limiting my visits to the balcony and as any woman, who has been stalked before, wondered what I had done to cause this nonsense.

I visited Delhi last month and was having lunch outdoors with a friend when I noticed some eagles being unduly aggressive. I naively chalked it up to Delhi and let that be.

Two days ago, I went to soak some sun in my balcony (Bangalore is cold you guys!) and an eagle swooped real close with no respect for my personal space. I ran back in and shut the balcony door. This was all the pigeons needed to decide I was easy and they began to get comfortable in my balcony. That was it. Something in me snapped and I decided I was no longer putting up with bullying by pigeons or eagles.

I went screaming into the balcony with a newspaper in my hand and scared the living daylights out of the pigeons (and possibly the uncle in the opposite house who was standing on the terrace for a smoke).

This is it. I am now reclaiming my home, my balcony, my space. Enough is enough, birds. Your time’s up.

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Immaculate conception during wedding season

When in teens, sex was all about the sheer quantity – how much are you getting. Then came the 20s where it was about the mood, the ambience, the planned spontaneity (my favourite kind) and needless to say the quality. At some point towards the end of 20s and early 30s, IF procreation is on the cards there begins an unspoken scheduling  and then verbalized scheduling based on apps and/or pee sticks. Post which comes a time when the dates for sex are on a prescription alongside the different medicines that need to be paired with it. While sex by itself is great, when accompanied by a calendar and a cocktail of hormone stimulating drugs it does little for either parties involved.

Along with this angst, add a houseful of people and the madness of an Indian wedding – even a platonic hug seems like a chore. Typically when I whine about weddings, it is because they are a great place for anyone to be more inappropriate than usual. Not only do people shamelessly try and arrange the next wedding by pairing up unassuming souls, there is brazen questioning of anyone’s child-free status. In at least two cases in the last year or so, I have been asked about why I didn’t bring my non-existent child to the wedding. I think this is the latest strategy of the aunty network – ask with so much conviction that the person is shamed into at least renting a child for the next wedding if not making one on their own.

But there is more than just the random accosting by strangers during the ceremonies. Weddings also mean cohabitating with family from far and near. Families with great heart but also Vulcan hearing, x-ray vision and enough curiosity to kill any feline.

Case in point:

Me (gulping the water down with my drug cocktail in the kitchen thinking everyone is in bed): Ohh..hi!

Aunty: What is wrong? Do you have a headache?

Me: No, no…I am fine

Aunty (eyes narrowing): Then? Why tablet and all? Are you still on the pill?

Me: What?! No, no…just some vitamins for good health

Aunty: Oh good, so you are trying. Nice nice… Give me also one vitamin tablet.  So much work in this wedding, I could do with some health.

Me: Ummmmm

Other problems include: How do you escape for a couple of hours to go for a scan between the mehendi and the sangeet? How do you get out of people giving a mile-long shopping list when you lie about going to the market? Or worse, ask to accompany you or be dropped off somewhere on the way to the market you weren’t going to in the first place?

But the most difficult to tackle is ovulation and prescribed sex.

With people camped in every room, walking in and out at all odd times and gendered, hostel-style sleeping arrangements; making a dash for the narrow window of ovulation is hard. Forget the stress-free ambience or the mood, there often is little room to get the basic mechanics right.

That leads to shady projects like trying to get people out of the house for at least an hour by suggesting movies, shopping or even a chaat visit. But no – every project will be met with either disinterest or worse, extra kindness where you get pulled into the amazing plan you made to get rid of people in the first place.

That’s when even an agnostic such as myself turns to all the possible gods to get tips on how exactly does one manage to make a baby without really doing it. Does one try pulling a Kunti from Mahabharata – glaring at the sun while chanting some prayers and risking blindness? There is the Mary-Joseph route, but if I actually had a barn to myself I could make this work without needing divine intervention. I also considered the birth of a child like Aphrodite from the foam of the sea on Marina beach in Chennai but knew deep within that there is no way the husband will willingly throw his testicles into the ocean.

For the sheer number of examples I could pull up, I realized that these stories were not just folklore – they were clear messages pointing in one direction.

If you want to make babies during the wedding season, you are better off trying to pull a baby out of the earth, fire, ocean or sky.  There is no bloody way that the conventional, more fun route is getting you anywhere.


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Why I won’t be trying IVF

In an ideal world this post would be one sentence long where I would just say “Because I don’t want to” and we could all be on our way. Sadly in real life that is somehow never a good enough answer.

I don’t know much about other parts of the world but there has been a proliferation of infertility clinics here in India (in the big cities at least). There are innumerable hoardings or print ads with white people or incredibly fair skinned Indian couples hugging while looking shyly at the growing pregnant belly with clichés of completing the family or motherhood. With ads taking the place on multiple inside pages or advertorials in business newspapers, every other person now believes they can suggest this medical process like they would suggest you buy a washing machine during the Amazon or Flipkart sale.

The process of IVF includes multiple ultrasound procedures, followed by follicle stimulating injections, harvesting the eggs on specific dates and another procedure of putting the fertilized eggs (yes multiple!) back in. This could be further supplemented by more injections and pills to support implantation.

But this just tells you the half of what really happens. What I describe below is an IUI, it is when they fail that an IVF is recommended by the doctors.

The scans (TVS) typically happen on every alternate day to check the growth of follicles so every other day you are sitting in a crowded clinic for about two hours to be told of a half millimeter growth in your follicle size. Alongside begin the injections. Now US based websites and YouTube videos will have you believe that your spouse/partner can inject these drugs into you after practicing a few times on an orange. In India we have too much manpower and we do not place this level of responsibility or pressure on our spouses/partners, therefore you visit your doctor’s clinic and the nurse there will give you the injections. These injections are typically oil-based making the needles thick and rookie nurses will struggle. You will develop a strange sense of empathy towards the aforementioned orange.

With each passing day, your back will hurt and so will your stomach. You will put on about 4 kgs in 3-5 days and your boobs will hurt like they are taking revenge for every bra worn. You will burst into tears seeing a cover slide of a presentation template because it has pictures of kids on it. You will experience rage when you realise your jeans no longer fit. In that fit of anger, you will go shop for clothes that are one size too big and justify to yourself that you will grow into them when you get pregnant. You will feel sadness when someone asks you if you are already pregnant because your face looks puffy and you are wearing loose clothes.

You will yell at your partner for not having to contribute anything beyond a sperm. You will then cringe knowing who is being the real pain here. There will be awkwardness because there are days for prescribed sex and abstinence. You will be embarrassed when you realise that sex is the last thing on your mind and then be struck by the irony of this situation. You will say mean things to people you love even when you know you shouldn’t.

You will go to the clinic with hope on the day of implantation/insemination. You will feel wistful about how it needn’t have been this way – you on the bed of a clinic and him in some grimy bathroom with a broken window sill. You will squeeze your doctor’s hand for a second longer than needed when she wishes you luck. You laugh the hollow laugh when she says it could even be twins while secretly being terrified. You will get off the bed as though there is a seed of hope you are already carrying. You will be sore and crampy and convince yourself that you should be prepared in case this is how the next nine months are going to be. You will wipe after every pee and look for traces of blood. This will become a habit that will stick with you for much longer than you’d like to acknowledge. You will start being nicer to your partner and without saying it you both will stop planning for holidays in the following year.

You will go for a HCG blood test and not know what you could have done better when you get a negative result. You will get angry when you watch the Mothers’ Horlicks ad because the bitch had it so easy (and which fucking clinic gives you a report with POSITIVE written in such a large font size). You will cry for something you never had and will find it hard to explain the loss. You will not know what to say when the doctor says you can always try again but the success rate is less than 10%. You will be crushed when you get your period because there was some forum where one person posted in 2012 about how her HCG levels were reported wrong and you held on to that as the last hope.

The decision to stop fertility treatments is a tough one. Which handbook tells you how many attempts are good enough? Who can quell the voice in your head that wonders about if you are being a quitter? How do you say with confidence that you are not passing up on a chance every time someone suggests something new? How do you explain to friends and family that you are tired of trying? How do you truly know that your partner is okay with this choice and not saying it to save you the trouble?

When people constantly told me it would all be worth it in the end, I didn’t have the courage to tell them that I think otherwise. I am doing it now. I am placing myself and my most precious relationship over this pressure to procreate. I am intentionally choosing to not put myself and those around me through the cycles of hope and rejection. I have immense respect for women who are able to do otherwise. I don’t pretend to understand what motivates them but I don’t lie about wanting to be them either. When I am told I will forget all of this when I hold that little bundle in my arms, I struggle to explain how I am not that magnanimous and know that I can be resentful. I find it hard to place myself at the center of these struggles month after month when there is so much worse happening in the world around me. Whether it is biological or not, I find this level of self-centeredness after a point, distasteful.

Sanity doesn’t come easy. Sometimes it’s a choice and therefore I choose.

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Things only amma can say

1. Your idduki is too tight. Give it to me I will get it fixed in Madras store.

2. Your manjapudi has a konjum kadugu in it.
3. I reorganized your fridge – oru full shelf for cheese is too much.
4. Why is the fan so dirty? Ask your maid to clean it. Vela vaanga ve theriaadu. MBA padichu yenadaan pannalo
5. We should get you more paatram
6. Why are you buying inda soap? So expensive. I will show you which one to buy when we go to supermarket.
7. Your ironwala charges 5 rupees per shirt? You should bargain no kanna…you cannot give anything people ask for.
8. I do not understand why you are making so much fuss for that laptop. I do not see any difference. It is just white.
9. Yelaame matchinga irukanum is not compulsory (for curtains, cushions and even clothes)
10. You can buy flowers to put in a vase but two extra flowers for pujai room is difficult. Ok, what can I say…you only have to decide. It is your life.
11. You look strange…thoppai valikarda?  (I am 28 years old). Of course if you eat so little and cook so little what do you think will happen!
12.  Your peringaayam does not have the same vaasanai as mine. I will send you some when I go back.
13. To a friend when she thinks I am not listening: Romba ve chamathu…evalavu nana veedu nadathara
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