Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

Periods and pads…

February 12, 2018

There is much adulation of the movie,

click here to watch the trailer


which is based on the achievements of


who has given a TED talk about what he did for his wife.

However, I also received, on my wellness egroup, the link to a blogpost with a different point of view, very interesting, read it

Ma href=””> here

I am not for the fictionalization and/or glorification of anyone while that person is living. When some time has elapsed, one gets a better perspective about who the person was, and what that person achieved, or failed to. In this sense, I think making a commercial movie about something which has not yet been tried and tested enough was not a wise thing to do. However, this is only my opinion.

But I am not wriring about that topic; I just want to share my own experience with my periods.I hate to share this, but I think I should. (My way of dealing with it was to try and expunge it from my mind once I reached menopause…but as you can see, the memories have not left me).

I grew up (and “grew up” at the age of 12, in 1966) in a large city, but had to manage with cloth, and it was messy, smelly, uncomfotable-to-painful, and very embarassing. Sanitary napkins were available, but my mother, thinking they were not a good solution, did not buy them for me until a couple of years later. My cousins in Chennai, and in the smaller towns of Tamil Nadu, also managed with cloth; we had to use discarded cloth, too. The menstrual period was truly a curse, and yes, it was the lack of proper protection as much as cramps that made me detest going to school and then college on “those days”.Even sanitary napkins did not have plastic shields in those days, and were made of cotton which could lump together, especially in hot, humid weather.

Since we were “exiled” to the back of our (then) large houses and given food only after the rest of the household had eaten, and were not allowed to touch anyone or go out, I was told by my cousins in Chennai, Madurai and other towns, to use medications like Primolut-N. We were made to feel, and felt, unclean and impure. I have heard my uncles use the phrase “kasappu kadai” (butcher’s shop) to indicate that someone had her period. “Not at home” and “far away”, denoting the way we were made to stay at the back of the house or in villages, in the cowsheds outside the house, show the “reverence” that we got.

to delay the period for a few days. Every single cousin I knew who used this had her first pregnancy miscarry; I do not have enough data to know if this was just a coincidence. I cannot draw any inference from seven cases.

I attained menopause (with huge relief, and no other problems such as excessive bleeding or fibroids) at the age of 42, 21 years ago. (A fairly active lifestyle has, luckily, kept me in good health.)So I am not aware of what sanitary napkins are made of these days. When my grandchildren were born, we used cloth nappies as I was taking care of them 24/7; I didn’t like the idea of disposable nappies for many reasons, and I stitched pieces of soft, old dhotis for this purpose. We had to use the occasional disposable nappy, of course. But I was already reading about fires iin landfills in St.Louis, where my daughter lived (she used reusable pads) so we cut down on disposable nappies as much as we could.

The studies cited in the blogpost seem quite extensive and fact-based, but the point I am trying to make is, the use of cloth may not be related to health problems, but it is certainly related to a big factor of discomfort and embarassment…which, if the write-up is true, the “pad” does nothing to alleviate.

How comforable and secure is the cup? I have been doing a bit of reading about it, and I do feel there may be instances where it may not be suitable, or it may take a while to find the right one.

I’m sorry, but I disagree with the writer’s statement about traditional women showing us “how mensturation should be revered , how the first period should be celebrated”. We were treated as outcastes during our periods, and given no consideration in the matter of food. Mensturation was not revered, it was a matter of shame and withdrawal. Most mothers would not tell their daughters about it in advance…my mother did not mention it, and at first, I thought that I was badly hurt. (I have no sisters, and no cousin talked to me about this, either).I still cringe when I think of the child I was, and my ignorance about my own body. Ignorance is not innocence.

I have hated every period that I had, the very painful (epidurals were not given those days) process of childbirth, the mood swings,the awful cramping, and the bloating. My reproductive system shutting down was , to me, one of the best things that happened, especially because it was rather early.

I am not taking any stances here, simply saying that menstruation is a very tough process that most women handle by themselves, or at least, used to before they could look for information on the net in the privacy of their homes or phones.

Sorry for the sombre post. But most of you on this egroup are young, and I just wanted to depict how things were, a few decades ago, in metropolitan cities and towns (not villages).

Another surgery..and back home again

November 24, 2017

2 weeks after the surgery that I described


the knee injury that I had sustained in Madhya Pradesh (a young man boarding the train to Bangalore in a rush pushed me from behind, and I fell with my knee hitting the corner of a tin trunk, leaving me in excruciating pain) flared up again, and I could not even move a few steps.

I realized that the “settling” of the knee problem with antibiotics in September had not really solved the problem. So I went to the orthopaedic surgeon in Fortis while I was underoing the follow up after the surgery.

This surgeon did not give me any feeling of confidence, so I went back to Dr Ananda Murthy, the orthopaedic surgeon I had consulted in September.

I went only with the idea of having physiotherapy to clear the inflammation, but I soon had to change my mind. Dr Ananda Murthy clearly explained that I had a meniscus tear in my knee, and there was some other growth that he could see. I also mentioned the

Plica syndrome

the Dr J V Srinivas, the orthopaedic surgeon at Fortis Hospital, had found, and he said he would take care of that, too. He explained the process of


clearly to me.

The decision made, I felt there was no point in delaying, and suffering. Friends took me to Shanthi Hospital which he asked me to go to, and was admitted. At noon, the arthroscopy was carried out, and I was discharged the next day (23rd November). The bill, by the way, was half was what Fortis would have charged! The hospital was small, pleasant, and quiet. Very clean, and a lovely private room with a view of a mango and a jamun tree! Good nursing staff, and good food (at reasonable rates for visitors,too).

With some amount of pain, Anjana took me to her home, but I found my knee progressing really well as the day wore on, and late that night, she drove me back home. I put some of the stuff away, let the others lie, and zonked out at 11pm…waking up only at 7.45am today (24th Nov) instead of getting up early and crossing the road to Dr Ananda Murthy’s clinic and being the first patient when the clinic opened at 7.30am!

I managed to cross the dangerous Bannerghatta Road and went to the clinic, where the doctor saw me and pronounced me fit to carry on normally. Both he and the physiotherapists at Shanthi Hospital and the clinic made the same statement:

“At your age, we usually have to tell people to walk more, and take the stairs, but we have to give you the reverse advice. At the outset, don’t walk more than 2 km per day, and be a little careful. After that, you are fine. We are impressed with your level of’s closer to a 40-year-old.” That’s the kind of compliment that is very reassuring!

I underwent some physiotherapy, made the dangerous crossing (the road!) back home, and the compressive bandage having been removed, I felt such a sense of relief.

I had the hot-water bucket-bath of a lifetime,cleaning away all the plaster and bandage gums (oh how affectionately they cling!), tender massaging of the various stitches. This was followed by a self-pampering full-body moisturizing-cum-massage (done by me!)

I look at my body. Perfection in looks? No! So many bulges and bumps. So many places where the call of gravity is being heeded. So much efficient storage of fat. It doesn’t look anything like Miss World’s. But there is one great thing about it…it’s alive, it has carried me through 63 years of healthy life.

It has bounced back–fast– from so much that has been thrown at it, and it houses me in great comfort still.To me, this body is perfect. I will pamper it with a good lunch and a siesta now….or should I walk 2km to my daughter’s home and be with the grandchildren?

Plastic in my lifestyle

May 24, 2017

I like to think of myself as green, but apart from plastic bags, here’s a partial list of the things I use and see around me , which have plastic in them…the list goes into the hundreds each day. I started with the morning and moved through the day:

My bedside lamp.
Toothbrush/Toothpaste tube.
My “home” slippers.
A lot of items in my kitchen…spatulas, jars, containers
The containers of all my cosmetics, my combs
My mobile phone, my earphones and my bluetooth device
All the electrical/electronic devices at home (refrigerator, television, modem, laptop, wires, and so on)
Since I don’t want to use leather, all my handbags/backpacks, luggage, and shoes/sandals
My umbrella
All the electrical switches
Parts of all kinds of motorized vehicles and cycles, too
My timekeeping gadgets: watches, clocks in the home
My water bottles
The packets of various food items, snack items and sweets
The covers of magazines that are delivered or sold
So many components of the public transport that I use
Reflectors on the road, advertisement banners, sheets used as shelters

I stop at this point, as the list seems unending. Plastics are here to stay, and we cannot be hypocritical and say, “Ban plastic”. I don’t think it’s possible…it’s too useful and cheap material. We can only try to regulate its use.

The blood group must be your motto…….B+ .

September 9, 2013

There’s nothing the matter with me,
I’m just as healthy as can be,

I have arthritis in both knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.

My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.

I’m overweight and I can’t get thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in

And arch supports I need for my feet.
Or I wouldn’t be able to go out in the street.

Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I’m all right.

My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

Old age is golden I’ve heard it said,
But sometimes I wonder, as I go to bed.

With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
And my glasses on a shelf, until I get up.

And when sleep dims my eyes, I say to myself,
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?

The reason I know my Youth has been spent,
Is my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went!

But really I don’t mind, when I think with a grin,
Of all the places my get-up has been.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
Pick up the paper and read the obits.

If my name is missing, I’m therefore not dead,
So I eat a good breakfast and jump back into bed.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me, who are growing old.

It is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in.


December 2, 2011

Why is our culture (well, at least what I observe in India) so obsessed with covering up things?

It’s both figurative and literal. Literally, we seem to want to cover every possession we have….the TV, the washing machine, and even the food processor in the kitchen are covered with cloth covers, and there are specially made plastic covers available in the market for each of these gadgets (and more). The covering is perhaps to guard against dust…but that is not really a solution with a gadget that’s in use on a daily basis. I was amused to find at a friend’s place that the lacy cloth cover they had on the dining table was actually preventing them from dusting or cleaning the table properly. When I went next time, I noticed, to my further amusement, that a plastic sheet had been used to cover the tablecloth!

Some of this “cover up” seems also to do the westernized style of life. When one sleeps on a rush mat that is rolled out at night, and rolled up and stored away in the morning, there is not much that can be covered…but a bed with a mattress needs a bedsheet, a top sheet, and a duvet or an artistic bedspread on top of it all. In our country, all this just manages to catch a lot of dust, and has to be changed at regular intervals, creating a lot of work! Seating on the cement “pyol” or on the teakwood swing…or sitting on those same rush mats or dhurries….doesn’t involve any cover up material, but a sofa set must have cushions, and covers for those cushions, and sofa-backs…the fashionable (and affluent) life-style is still the one that imitates the western mode of life, with plenty of material, which may be unsuitable for our hot climates…but is followed, sometimes with an air-conditioner to keep out both heat and dust. We cannot even seem to stand having our wonderful sculptures of stone and marble as they are…we need to cover up “sensitive” body parts with cloth. Our ancient appreciation of the human body seems to be covered up by the cloth of prudery and hypocrisy.

Another form of cover-up, I notice, is that of our repressions in many ways. There are so many topics that are taboo for Indian families to mention; and we cover up, and pretend they don’t exist. Recently, working on some data for child abuse, and sexual abuse of women within the home, I found that it’s far more prevalent than most people realize….it’s all covered up within the family, and often hushed up…to the detriment of the victims, and to the general detriment of those who might be sensitized by a more open discussion of the topics, to be wary of such situations.

We seem to sometimes live in a cover-up world…especially we of the middle class. We are happy with our water supply, and turn a blind eye to the fact that our maids probably queue up for pots of water. We do not want to know how the trash that each houseproud woman or man throws out, accumulates in toxic piles in the landfills. We do not want to talk about how corrupt our leaders are, and how they are amongst us. We bribe our way to getting our various papers moved through government babudom…and then we do not want to talk about it.

Whatever is covered up (and denied)…to my mind…is something that will fester and get worse. Recently, a problem I had denied to myself came to a head and finally demanded resolution. Covering it up was the worst possible thing I could have done. Bringing it out into the open, talking about it, has made tackling it much easier.

Decency, morality…these seem to be words that cover up a lot of hypocrisy, too. A recent report on Indian sexuality in Indian homes says that 78% of parents do not discuss the topic of sex with their children, who then get right or wrong ideas from the peers or the internet. “Nice people don’t discuss this,” is often the refrain. What is wrong about discussing topics such as transgender, same-sex love, rape or eunuchs? Why do we pretend that these topics don’t exist, cloak them with the cover-up of invisibility? It’s as if these people inhabit an entirely different planet from us.

I agree that we need not be discussing such topics all the time, and all of us cannot be evangelists. But a willingness to accept that the world has many different hues is something we need to do….I must accept that I have dirty clothes and that the washing machine that cleans them need not be hidden away under a plastic cover, pretending to look like something else.


March 4, 2009

The sight of a beautiful little swing in the home of one of our friends set me thinking nostalgically….

There was a time when a swing was an essential part of a home. There were, in the houses I went to as a child, always large “koodam”s as they were called, surrounded by small rooms; the life of the joint family was very much in these “koodam” or halls, and the small rooms were for sleeping (and perhaps procreating!) purposes…the front hall always had a large swing, dominating the room. In fact, there would not be very much more furniture, as most of us would spread out “pAy” or reed mats if we wanted to sit or nap, or even sleep at night. But the large teakwood plank, suspended on chains was the delight of a child who came to visit grandparents for the holidays. The chains might not always be oiled, and the swing would go creak, creak, creak, as people sat on them and gently swung…I loved lying on my back on my grandmother’s swing, and looking up at the wooden beams of the ceiling above me. Later, a ceiling fan was added, pushing down the oppressively hot and humid summer air on to the persons on the swing.

How many family discussions, squabbles, and arguments must have been threshed out on the swings! How many marriages arranged, names of babies decided! How many surreptitious touches between young couples who were prevented by prudish morals from showing their affection for one another openly!

In fact, the “oonjal” or swing ceremony is still an integral part of the Tambram wedding, and the couple sit on the swing as the ladies from both sides of the family sing and circumabulate with water which is supposed to have been fetched from the holy rivers.

The swing is often used as a metaphor for the ups and downs of life…and a life that is hanging by a thread is described as “uyir oonjal Adugirathu”..” the life is swinging”, literally. Of course “swinging” in English also has the extremely negative connotation of being hanged!

We also refer to “swinging youth”…iLamai oonjal Adugirathu! There is, in fact, a movie with this title… and here’s a song by ILaya rAja, who, to my mind, is every bit a musical genius as A R Rahman…

(Sideswipe: Don’t miss Kamal Hasan’s PINK safari suit!)

Funny how such an intrinsic part of our lives has all but disappeared from our lives..the lack of space in our apartment buildings has ensured this. Well, it’s nice to see slimmer versions of such swings in friends’ homes, at least…’s the slender version that I photographed in our friends’ home!

What’s also sad that in some homes, the swing is still there on the balcony, but mosquitoes, traffic noise, and a need for the fan and air-conditioner has ensured that it’s hardly used….

I think I am going to buy a nice swing seat for my daughter’s front porch, if I can afford it!

What is status?

April 3, 2005

Entry prompted by one of our dinner guests telling us that we should move out of our present place and go somewhere “befitting our status.” What is status? Seems to be just the fact that we have more money than, say, ten years ago. Otherwise, we seem to be exactly the same people we were. Our friends are, spiritually and,even more important, geographically, all around us, where we need not take long car rides to visit them or vice versa. What will we find in an apartment building or a house which “befits our status”? Will the new neighbours be as warm as these? Can I leave my front door open whenever I wish, totally secure? How long will it take me to set up a lifestyle such as this, where I can walk or cycle to accomplish all my work, and take out that polluting device, the car, only when absolutely necessary?

How does having more money make us different? How does it make our needs…apart from the basic ones…different? I don’t feel we will be any happier than we are right now. In fact, when I compare myself, I do so not with the swank apartments which cost crores..but with the people I see who live in little tenements and hovels. I think I already lead a very luxurious life by Indian standards. Will having more material comforts or luxuries make me, somehow, a better person? If that is so, how do I keep upgrading material comforts?

When I am very happy, why the need for change? Just because our bank balance looks healthier? What is status, what is style, what is luxury and what is basic necessity?