Thursday, May 28, 2015

Proletarian and Posh Parking....

It seems University of California at Berkeley,  offers its Nobel Laureates something special.  Free Lifetime Parking  outside their department, where a board next to the reserved place actually says so.

The physics Department has 7 Nobel laureates , and so, seven parking spaces outside the department.

For all others, ordinary non-brilliant  slogging tax payer types , not only do they pay a hefty sum as a yearly parking fee, but they  join the hordes of folks who drive in everyday, as early as they can, so they find a parking space, close to where they work on campus.

It is , of course, entirely possible, but probably unlikely, that someone who did not own a car was awarded the Nobel.  He/ She  still gets a reserved parking space.  I also hear that similar stuff is followed at the  UC San Francisco campus.

There is also the need to renew these permits every year, Nobellian or not.  And the Berkeley Police penalize non renewal , Nobellian or not.

Mind you, no drivers, chauffeurs, beacon lights, or campus police riding in formation ahead of you.  Just someone trundling up, in, say, a beat up Volvo Wagon.

I just wondered how things would be if this kind of facility was offered in Mumbai, to some kind of international or even better, national  prize winners ,  say in Colaba, Dadar, and even Bandra, all upmarket areas where parking is so difficult to find.

For one thing,  you need to think of style.

They wouldn't tolerate such ordinary boards. It would have to be something spanning the width of the parking lot, with a photo of the prize winner, and assorted photos of well wishers across the bottom of the banner board.

Those owning cars , would of course be delighted, and would probably go in for a fancier model, and ask for a deferred customs duty  in case the new one is to be imported. Very clearly, a precedent exists in the form of Sachin Tendulkar. And you never know, you may even qualify for a Rajya Sabha Nomination.....

Those who did not own cars, would simply go in for vans and wagons that can carry many passengers. Probably under the advice from their son who wants to start a car hire business , and what can be better than a great daily waiting area from where to operate. 

Nothing fazes the Mumbai entrepreneur. Particularly the non-e type who mostly innovates on-the-spot  There will probably be some observant folks who will figure out a time, when the parking space would not be used.  They will observe the weekly frequency, timings etc. They may even make friends with the chauffeur, if the car has one. So many in Mumbai fear driving, and even small cars today have hired drivers.  

It would not be impossible to see a vendor of some sort, or a food cart occupy that place  during the car's non occupation. He might even name the food cart after the worthy who owns the parking space.

Then there will be folks who do not get discouraged by the presence of the car.  I mean what can be better than the trunk of the car for displaying ready made  children's clothes, trinkets, small toys, all displayed  in something that can be suddenly folded on a moment's notice. Sometimes , the bonnet of the car might be more useful, all depending on the make and model of the car. 

An event such as the prize winning individual being away  for a biggish length of time, with family and car , would be like a windfall.  Some opportunistic entrepreneur, would rent out that place by the half hour at preposterous rates, knowing that in Mumbai, there are always those who have more money than patience.  A fast food set up during late evenings would probably get the chap a percentage of the daily profit.

One might wonder where law enforcement came in, in all this.  Just imagine.  A passing cop  glances at the parking place, frowns at a couple of cars trying to double park, waves his hand around, nods at the prize winning gent getting into his car. He may even salute. Same place different time. The vendors are in full force.  Some quiet talk happens,  some stuff becomes invisible to law and order  and the cop rushes off to detain a biker riding without a helmet.

A new vendor lands up one evening. They try to shoo him away . There are arguments. Questions are asked about whose father owns the place in question. A typical Indian flavour to the conversation, doesn't allow politeness.  A direct question; "does this belong to your father ?  No ?  then stay out of this ...."

It's time for the prize winner parking lot grantee to return from wherever he has gone.  All the blatant trespassing signs disappear overnight.  He drives in; nay, he is driven in. And he stops.

There is someone languidly sitting , chewing away on some grass, looking at the four wheel contraption from under heavy lidded eyes.    A grand swish of the tail to swat a fly, a snort, possibly a superior sniff, and she continues her activities. The cow has just wandered over from the famous temple down the road, where devotees offer grass and greens to her.  She is full, and set out for a short walk.  And she amazingly saw this empty space and thanked her stars.  With all that  traffic, stalls and hawkers,  she would never find a place so lovely to relax for a while. 

And I would not be surprised at all,  if i heard about the Prize winner's offspring making an application in court or the government, to make the parking place an inheritable place, and going all the way up to the Supreme Court to ensure that it happens.    

Some things don't ever change in India.

I cannot see anything remotely similar happening in Berkeley. 

Gosh. All these law abiding citizens, driving past occasional empty Nobellian parking spaces outside various departments.  Not a single person deploring waste of space, and temporarily putting his/her car there, hazard lights on, bonnet up , trying to fool the cops, and not a single person looking up and asking the cops "Do you know who I am ?".

And , come to think of it, not a single cow .....    !    

(Things might change. Just heard about a Kenyan Lawyer offering  50 cow, 70 sheep, and 30 goats   to President Obama, for his daughter, Malia's hand in marriage.   Don't know about Berkeley, but Washington DC   needs to look out for its parking spaces. )

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fixing the Broken....

One comes across some interesting stuff on Facebook which one shares . Sometimes , these are quotes .   I came across this one , shared it, and was surprised at the many many "likes" that it continued to get, long after posting .

The comments often indicated the mind of the commenter.

To some, it was about perfection, grammar,  and acquiring an ability with a specified proficiency level.

To some others,  it was about  pulling down English Nazis a notch or so , in a world with so many other languages.

And to some others, it wasn't so much  about English, but about making fun of someone , or even abusing them,  sitting on their  pseudo lofty perch.

 This quote is by H. Jackson Brown , an author in the US,  and it made an appearance in the 90's when people there were averse to learning new languages , and refused to look beyond English. Very few bothered about the world outside America.  It was also a bit about being respectful of other cultures, and opening one's eyes to the world around.  (When I was studying in the US in the early seventies,  I was always asked how come my English was so good . And did I speak "Indian"  back home.  When they found I understood and spoke a bit of French , they couldn't believe it.  Although 2 years later a waiter on Champs Elysee did).......

In the middle of all this, we forget that language is a means of communication.   It may involve words, intonations, gestures and so on, but the idea is to get something useful across to another person.  You do not have to go abroad for this.  You can experience this in India,; why, in Mumbai itself, with its melting pot of people from all across India.

And if you can manage to convey whatever you wanted, you have been successful at communication. 

Broken English implies the existence of a perfect English.   The definition of "perfect" itself is hazy, because there is US English and UK English. And to tell the truth, there is actually an Indian English. Those who swear by Wren and Martin, and fancy pronunciation,  blithely ignore the fact that the US spells words pretty much the way it wants, ignoring the tenets of the Mother Language. It also makes variations in the way they use verbs, by introducing words like "gotten".  No one laughs at them or marks red lines through their written communication. Why ?  I guess power has something to do with it. 

And so making fun of those who speak broken languages, in this case, English, is more about the ability to look  down on someone from a position of power, or, in a sense, humiliate them. 

More trouble in this world has occurred because of the urge of  A to humiliate  B.

Because A and B are different.  Different in color, different in religion, different in social beliefs, different in intelligence, different in levels of prosperity, and different, even in interpretations of what each side might think is fun.

We in India are very adept at humiliating people. And the land.

On a social level, in India, we humiliate people as a show of power. It could be a boss at the office, it could be an in-law or husband in the home, it could be an appointed functionary in your school, it could even be the cops.  In rural India, humiliation is often colored by caste.  Those who purport to lead, often have innovative ways of publicising their ability to humiliate, like showing people tying their shoelaces for them as they stand  resplendent in so called power.  Humiliating the so called weaker sex, is justified  in the name of social custom.

The fear of humiliation amidst family on being unsuccessful in examinations is so huge, that today, it is a known psychological problem, being handled by trained counsellors.  Girls are humiliated for their looks, clothes and sometimes even for their independent thinking, and so on, often accompanied by forced disfiguring by throwing acid on faces.  Women are humiliated for their inability to beget sons,for their origin, for their size, for their color.

We humiliate our land  by throwing all kinds of dirt on it, often changing the nature of the soil. We humiliate our rivers, by soiling them with side products of industrial progress, and the dirt of humanity  , both in life and in death.  And we humiliate our mountains by not understanding why they stand the way they do, and by ravaging through them in the name of progress.  We humiliate our public transport by soiling it and stealing from it.

 We humiliate law as it exists, by following it in its breach.  We humiliate money by misusing it and degrading its value

So many of these things are local to our country.

The quotation above says "Never make fun of  anyone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language."

It is not really about language.   It is more about decent altruistic communication without running anyone down, and giving respect, and the fact that variety in humans exists.

And it is really about removing the word "humiliate" from your cerebral and social  dictionary.

Until then,   can A and B be friends ?


Saturday, May 23, 2015

H, R, HR, and being your own FDA

It tells you something, when the headline of "Maggie noodles 2014 batches recalled by the FDA"  shares the front pages of newspapers   with the PM,  protests by farmers, planes landing on the Yamuna Expressway ,  black money,  and the Delhi quarrels between the CM and LG.

And while I can understand why someone needs to certify drugs , I never could see why someone needed to certify foods.

Until now. 

Long long moons ago,  there was much discipline in the way we lived . That was how "management" happened instinctively in families. Mostly by the mothers, the Executive Directors.  To be sure , there was HR.  Human Resources Management.

There was more consideration about the "H" in "HR" than the "R", or the Resources that lay around.

 We were our own FDA, and our own cops. And we did our own appraisals and took them seriously.  I count many HR managers amongst my friends, and they would possibly be the first to acknowledge the contribution of their domestic  "Executive Directors"  in making them what they are today.

  Matriarchs of families cooked seasonal foods, traditional foods, along with foods that were prepared in summer, sun dried well on terraces, and then stocked  for year round usage,  as accompaniments , on kitchen shelves. Kids guarded the drying stuff on the terrace as part of their summer holidays, and shooed off inquisitive birds et al. There was a wide variety in the foods we imbibed throughout the year.  At mealtimes as well as snacks.

One of the biggest differences between childhood then (> 50 years ago)  and today, is strong knowledgeable mothers vis a vis those today who mindlessly give in to every whim and fancy , in a family unconcerned about food values.   

I've known someone who once had to travel to the native place urgently, left her college going sons to their own resources,  and on return, indulgently mentioned that in the 4 days that she was absent, the fellows managed to consume 45 packets of Maggie noodles.  The empty packets were the proof. It wasn't that regular food was unavailable ; there were places that would provide a dabba service, canteens etc. Maggie didn't grow in your backyard, and had to be bought, just like the dabbas.  But their choice was clear.  (What my son wants , my son gets.)

I've known some ladies who aspire to make pav bhaji "just like in the hotels",  blobs of butter, shining oil, perhaps food color et al, and they never forget to mention how Coke or Pepsi is mandatory on those days because "In my house , it is a must, no one has pav bhaji without it..."  . 

And I have known well educated and informed ladies , who pride themselves on their Chinese dishes (after having attended classes) , who display horror and surprise at the fact that I cook all that without MSG.  Ironical, because the horror is misplaced. 

And what to say about mothers who dote on expensive high fructose corn syrup loaded fruit juices for their kids, and then crib and discuss on how fresh fruit prices have gone through the roof.  And they  are always the ones who look for kiwi fruits, imported apples , pears, extra large grapes, fair and lovely bananas,  and assorted fruits sold with individually suck fancy labels.   

I grew up enjoying seasonal vegetables and fruits.  There were certain fruit preparations which were traditional and seasonal, and one learned to appreciate and enjoy them.  As a child one loved sweets, but something that has always remained with me throughout half a century is that, doing exercise earns you a meal.  I didn't know then what a calorie was.  And anyone overdoing sweets (or any other  special item ) out of normal proportion at a meal, was gently admonished. Being able to eat like a glutton was never considered an achievement.    

The unwritten rule at mealtimes was that you ate what was served on the plate ,  regardless of whether the vegetable qualified as your favourite . Asking for seconds was optional.  And so you always started the meal with one representative of everything  that was  cooked,  long before someone designed the food pyramid. The various preparations  offered a plethora of tastes and textures.   Some of us tried shoving unpopular veggies behind dal katoris  and got found out.

And it was never all serious.  Raw mangoes, guavas (off the neighbor's tree) , tamarinds (red and green), Rai amlas ,  were all enjoyed secretly, with spices and salt,  on hot afternoons on the shady part of the terrace,  while everyone else napped ,  and matka cooled water drunk immediately because it tasted so sweet.  Families even made ice creams  in pots, where the churning work was outsourced to the kids and their friends. Seasonal fruits, saffron, sitaphal and such , were perennial favourites as ice cream flavors.  

Traditional snacks and festival food preparations had much to do with the seasons and the soil. These were prepared and relished during those days, and offered to friends, but we never made meals out of these. Unless of course, it was Puran Poli.  That too, in moderation .  We were introduced to delicacies of other parts on India too, and loved them.  But like the Bard said, "For everything there was a season...."

When food processors first appeared on the Horizon, my mother was in the process of acquiring a ghanti or electrified grain grinder.  The existing option was the manual stone grinding , which was laborious and time consuming and the public grain grinding places at the chakki,  where the entire output came with huge temperatures and assorted mixed grains from the previous grind. She felt the excessive commercial grinding power destroyed the nutrition due to the heat generated.  To this day, we see the difference between food prepared from the home grinding ghanti and commercially ground flours. I still have my mothers chutney stone, and use it. 

Clearly, this isn't the place to praise anyone.

But it is certainly the place to point out, that sometimes, taking unpopular steps is necessary to introduce and convince kids about good food.  There is something to be said about seasonal and traditional versatility   in our foods. Traditional practices of cooking foods, that not only preserve but even add nutrition (think cast iron kadhais).

And there is something to be said for taking the trouble to introduce kids to this at a young age.  So they can make sensible decisions when faced with a food ad tsunami, made up of 50%  inaccuracies .

It is difficult in a society, where some folks get their self esteem from being demanding and having people give in to their demands.  And a mother trying to improve some one's eating habits gets made fun off by those who didn't bother with them in the first place .

Like I said , we need to concentrate on the "H" in the "HR".

Today we are awash in the "R"'s as in Resources.  Most resources today come glamorized.

There is , as in life, an over emphasis on  "looking good".  Even in food.

Many resources claim that they make life easy. And convenient . Even in food.

Like stuff that discourages  active chewing, and encourages mindless swallowing.  

Sometimes, swallowing  of claims, rumors and distorted facts emblazoned in television and print ads.

(Having said that, I wonder if it is a sign of the times, that the first thought that came to mind when one heard about Maggie people being booked for excessive quantities of lead in the food,  was whether some one was getting back at someone ?  (banning 2014 manufactured batches in mid 2015, given the consumption rate of Maggi Noodles,  kind of boggles the mind..)

On second thought, would the FDA do similar actions  against cosmetics producers using harmful products in things like fairness creams et al ?  

At the end of the day, what really remains is the ability of generations to use native intelligence acquired thru generations, common sense , and be their own FDA....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ambassadorial Times

I actually learned driving,  in 1967 , on an Ambassador car , that our family owned. I even remember the license plate number and the color of the car.

The earlier car was a sea-green Hillman , with the sort of horn you don't hear today, and as children , we always knew someone was reaching home, when a signature honking with a 1-2-123 beat was heard  on roads with the then minimal traffic near our house.  This car had trudged up hills, blown radiator lids in the ghats, and even successfully made it to a hill station , stuffed with passengers, and a radiator with a banana skin tied on top to replace a lid which actually fell into the valley. The banana skin thing was a truck driver's idea.  The car had also driven down the mountain to the coast, with passengers sitting on mattresses loaded on to the rear seats, en route to leaving a child (not me ) to a residential technical Institute in Mumbai (from where I am now actually writing this) .....

Growing families and the firm belief that larger spaces enabled the transport of entire sets of relatives from point A to Point B , probably made folks zero in on the Ambassador , which was acquired , after advancing for years and years,  through a  huge wait list.  In those days, the choice was between Fiat and Ambassador, and it was, regardless of the technical specifications,   like choosing between  a delicate girl, and someone who was healthier.  My mother even once thought the Fiat as "taklubi" , and I suspect the idea was that a car  should have an ability to be hardy, and to hold its own in severe circumstances  and not collapse .

Silence was never a virtue in these cars,  you never changed the hand gears according to speeds specified in some manual, but actually by sensing the engine sound as you accelerated. There was no power steering then, and turning these cars at sharp angles was an achievement that kept your upper limbs in excellent health. Seat were designed for maximum usage , and clearly with the possibility that people would sit on laps, given the amazing leg room in the rear seats. Bucket seats were unknown, which was nice. I mean why should the company decide how many folks can occupy one seat ? 

The trunk of the car was very spacious, and nothing was sacrificed  to, say, modern design considerations.   These cars also came with something we used to call, for want of a better word, "handle".   This was in addition to the usual "jack" , using which we learned how to change punctured tyres in our time.   Whenever the car did not start after pulling a thing after switching the ignition on, someone would get out with this handle, poke it in through a hole way in front below the radiator, and rotate the shaft in a motion similar to extracting sugarcane juice.  For some reason it was always done with a jerk,  and at some point, the air-petrol mixture managed to ignite and get things moving, so to speak. 

Trunks and Bonnets did not ever open with some magic click from the driver.  Someone always tickled something below the bonnet , moved it and lifted the bonnet, showcasing the engine in all its glory.  A  collection of so many interesting shapes and sizes, at so many levels, where you could use a screwdriver to minutely tune things, and some experts could even do it by ear. There were steaming radiators, where someone always shouted at everyone else to stand away,  while opening the lid, and occasionally got scalded by the hot water. Those were the days of a complicated arduous climb up the Bhor Ghat from Mumbai to Pune, with mind boggling fearful acute U bends combined with a sixty degree simultaneous slope,  and everyone stopped up the plateau, after a tunnel, with bonnets open, and radiators cooling, with folks refilling the water in there, while other folks bought ice golas from vendors who frequented the place.

Being part of a family function, could mean being the driver, who transported numerous relatives from house to wedding hall in minimum number of trips, thanks to people occupying every single available space in all the seats, and laps of people. Seat belts and such restrictive stuff had not entered the Indian market,  were probably considered fashion then, and no one knew what air bags were. Small kids often stood leisurely leaning back against seats (front and rear), buffeted by weighty adults who kind of packed the kid in. It was considered  completely normal to ask your driving age son to give you and your ten friends a ride to the house of your eleventh friend who was having a Haldi Kunku. And it was often a prize winning , wordless, sometimes quietly  protesting performance from a  son, accompanied by so many ladies , in rustling silks, jewellery, flowers , some younger ones on laps of older ones, heads hitting the roof,  all of them vociferously wondering if they just missed the turnoff  to whoever's house, and should they go reverse and go back....

The sturdy car bore all these excesses with equanimity.  It was built  for societies such as ours, with bad roads, potholes,  lots of travelling luggage of assorted shapes, folding stools, random additions to number of passengers at the last minute, and people with a knack for pushing cars when stuck. When there was an engine problem,  there were people who would delve in and adjust settings , screws and levels, since nothing was packaged and covered like a black box, a la today's cars.  It also made members of the family,  semi expert on things like Carburettors, fast and slow settings, Shellac, Delco, Bendix Wheel, Starter, Fuel pump, dynamos, Armatures, washers, accelerator springs and so on. And no one ever cribbed about drying a drenched Delco point after driving through flooded roads in torrential rains.

When I moved on to a Fiat consequent to a life status change,  everything was so light. In comparison, driving the Ambassador felt like driving a tank.  The Ambassador was like a strict tough school teacher, who ensured you put in the requisite strong effort changing steering wheel  gears, doing laborious sharp turns, and proper reversing.  Because all that training is good for you. (Like learning math tables up to 29).

 The Fiat was like a holiday ; everything was easier on the biceps and triceps, and for some reason the steering while , although not of the "power" type,  could be twirled occasionally with one hand. It was actually like a female version of the Ambassador.  By and by, our  Fiat retired after 38 years of meritorious service, and is in Vanaprsathashram at a automobile repair teaching department at a  polytechnic at our native place in Kokan..

Those were days of no expressways, people drove with windows open, sometimes assorted handkerchiefs and towels drying in the breeze, anchored somewhere inside the car.  Hot seasons saw wet khus mats on the top of the car.  You stopped when you saw someone selling local fruit,  or a chai tapri away to one side.  Or a famous vada place . Someone would see a temple and one would stop to  honor a grandmother's wish.   We didn't really have radios, but plenty of kids sang popular  songs and played antakshari during the journey.   External communication from the car was  simply non existent. (I mean if you said "Bluetooth", a shocked driver would  simply take you to the nearest dentist, and saying "Ice Cream Sandwich", would get the benefit of a strict maternal glare. )

Life has changed. Today's cars  talk less. They glide.  Trying to do it noiselessly, on roads that haven't changed at all. Its like trying to do a fashion show in the middle of Bhuleshwar. 

 They also cost more.  Most are air cooled,  and it is in the fitness of things, and probably not a coincidence, that the radiator cooling spot in the Bhor ghat , disappeared with the advent of the expressway.  Today's cars are also selfish.  One seat , one person.  Compulsory seat belts.  When malfunctions happen, entire packaged engine parts are changed. Banana skins are not used.  Looks are important. And so are dynasties. German, Korean, Japanese, US and yes , Indian.

Mumbai's weather has not appreciably altered from the old days, but every modern car now come with AC.  With the result, that people are unable to otherwise tolerate heat.  And they get easily rattled.  When life gets too easy,  you get demanding  and  lose temper easily.  Speed is of essence in everything. Whether it is the expressway,  responses, phone calls,  food preparation,  or just about anything.   Which includes losing temper.

 So you have road rages.

I suppose we need to move with the times.   The newer cars are here to stay  in their different categories, shapes, colors, makes, fancy engines and fancier names.

But  somewhere, there is a thought, that  we lost something wonderful, when we gave up our eclectic ambassadorial lives  in this modern world.

Clearly, it wasn't just a car. It was a lifestyle......   



Tuesday, May 05, 2015

SAHM and HFM....

One of the unfortunate side effects of being part of a Digital World, is that there is a need to label  everything.  You might question this,  saying one always used adjectives to qualify and describe stuff.

And there is a difference. The domain of the adjectives is more personal, local, subjective, and open to random useful change. Like milk, that boils, sometimes splits, curdles, aggregates, even gets hung up , and becomes paneer without making a song and a dance about it. 

 Labels is something more global. Someone decides what can be called cheese, and you comply, varieties/definitions/parameters  et al, without worrying whether you really need it. At some point you start believing in labels.  And forget that things were just fine before that.

Like with the label SAHM.  Otherwise read as Stay-At-Home Mom.   

In a boring digital world, this means someone who alternates between cooking, cleaning, child-managing, official picker-up of stuff around the house, catering to whims and fancies, visitors,  advising relatives,  and then stresses out at the lack of intellectual  pursuits and  what is called "me time" . (All these things are again labels, that mean something specific.  Intellectual pursuits defined by your professional training, and "me time" could be anything from stationery cycling , reading, writing,  gym , singing, socializing,  et al)

In my time, my mother was what you would call a SAHM.  Thankfully she couldn't be bothered by nomenclatures.   She was a post grad from Columbia University (1948) in Food, Nutrition and  Child Development, and was in her element  as a SAHM, despite assorted  obstacles in her path by those , who had very narrow views about things. 

She learned to drive  a car, so as to be useful when my father was posted away from home in his transferable job. At a time when  bread was becoming ultra fashionable at breakfast time, (with people mindlessly devouring it slathered with butter and sugar), her kids had fresh moong dal khichdi, sometimes bhakri, with poha papad  and ghee  along with a small glass of fresh orange juice, for which she would drive once a week to the big mandi to source her juice walla oranges, to the great delight of the vendors.  As someone who never tasted an egg in her life, she ensured that her kids had occasional omelettes with loads of dhaniya etc, and a lot of her effort was directed towards sourcing hand pounded rice, so necessary in our  B-12 deprived  vegetarian diets. I remember the Khadi Village shops would sell this rice, and after they stopped,  she had a threshing "hole" installed in our garage, and two old people would periodically come and do the slow manual dehusking of paddy she sourced and purchased  from admiring farmers on the outskirts of the city..

All this was just part of what she did.  She and my father played badminton and tennis on weekends, in a plot in our colony, with our neighbors. No special clothes, sarees tucked in , Bata canvas shoes, sometimes barefoot, and as soon as it was possible, we children started on our own regular sports in school and out of it.  One of my most abiding unforgettable memories is that of doing 30 suryanamaskars  everyday, till I was 13, without which breakfast  strictly, did not happen. 

She could do everything she asked us to do.  

When I started learning swimming, and  gave  the usual fake excuses, she got determinedly into the water, in her ancient swimming suit, and I  quietly followed suit, soon doing deep water jumps etc. All of us soon learned cycling (which she already knew)  and  eventually cycled daily to school  for miles. She was part of the group that often ran behind us, as we tottered on the bikes, pedalling on for dear life, during the learning days..  

This wasn't all.  She thought school was only part of what our brains attempted. And so we learned music, musical instruments, calligraphy with reeds, and  there was even a guy who came to teach sanskrit shlokas , because we went to English Medium schools, and she felt we shouldn't miss out on those.  There was never a running down of any cultures or religions.

The purpose of writing this is not to eulogize her.  Nothing would be enough. 

But the purpose is to show, how you do not need to fit,  in labels defined by society , as a Mom.  SAHM or otherwise.   You could have me-time, us-time or just time.

You have your own education, possibly in a unique filed. You continue to learn.  Your education is not over.  No one can be allowed to define your levels of expertise.  Your general life education is something you need to realize.  Your children are unique in the sense that you can guage their capabilities and guide them uniquely at various ages, and instill confidence in them. Young kids often pick up different languages  very fast below the age of 5.  Simply playing with different kids everyday.  Encouraging your kid to be bilingual or even trilingual is a great achievement.

Sometimes you find that you have inherent teaching abilities.  You do not need a job to prove anything to anyone.  Creating games for your kids as they play with friends at a very young age, could be your forte.  This is no less, and perhaps much more than doing something for someone, so he/she can make money out of it.

I have , at various times, been employed, unemployed, and now retired, but thanks to a general awareness of being gifted a wide education by my parents,  frustration and disillusionment has never been an issue.  It has been a continuing education all the way.

Being a Mom,  SAH or otherwise, is many things. Which do not need labels.  It is a smooth analogue sliding into one or more roles, innovatively, as per your needs .    

Sometimes it even improves your sense of humor

When I decided to take early voluntary retirement to attend to my father , and the kids education requirements,  someone asked me , "What do you do the whole day, now that you are home?  .  Dont you get bored ? "

 This required the taking of a deep breath , to cool down.

 I told them , "I do nothing. Take naps in the afternoon. "

Later, with the daughter into serious swimming, I did get into the pool myself to renew my aquaintance with the sport.  Waiting for her workouts to get over, I was once sitting next to the wife a a very highly educated person, in the viewing gallery, where she had stopped by  during her evening outing.

"Kya aap ko yeh sab pehenke swimming karnemein kuch sharam nahi lagti?"  was what her biggest worry was. 

Once again a deep breath. And then I let go .

"Kya hain na, jab mein yeh sab pehenti hoon na, tab khudko Madhuri Dixit samjhti hoon aur Pani mein jati hoon swimming karne....."

I cannot describe her expression in response to that.

Like I said, it improves your sense of humor.  

And so to hell with labels like SAHM.  Discard the labels.  

Be a HFM  (Have Fun Mom).