why i oscillate between natural and chemical

9 May

Most of you know about my semi-minimalistic lifestyle. I try to avoid synthetic chemicals as much as I can. And here are some of my ideas on the topic:

Naturals are great for prevention. Chemicals are great for emergencies. My son and I don’t often fall sick. We don’t have too many allergies. We are both lazy and don’t go out much, and rarely get cuts, bruises and burns 😛 So, we don’t use many chemicals for healing.

How I got started with naturals was when my son “grated” his finger on a vegetable grater once. His nail was grated out. It was very bloody and gross. He was very brave and didn’t cry one bit. I rushed him to the hospital, and got him bandaged. I gave him turmeric milk for 2 days, and each day, I saw his finger heal visibly. Then he went away with his Dad for a weekend, and, obviously, no turmeric milk for him there. He came back on Monday with his injury looking exactly like it did on Friday. I started the turmeric milk again, and he was quickly healed. That, to me, was the best evidence I ever needed. No amount of testimonials from others can convince someone as much as personal experience.

Here is the interesting juxtaposition. When my son got that big cut, I rushed to Urgent Care. He needs help, Now! Nothing can can help “Now” better than modern day, chemical, allopathic medicines. But all the traditional medicine systems in the world help with building immunity from within. And that’s what we want to spend 99% of our time and energy on. And we hope that 1% emergencies will be few and far-between.

A similar example I have is for laundry. I switched to soap-nuts for laundry (And yes, I did a whole week of research to find the best brand and the best quality). It works “good enough”, it gets the clothes clean. There are no optical brighteners and color enhancers. There is no added bleach for whiter whites. Over time, whites will go pale yellowish in color. That is why previous generations used “Tinopal” and/or “neel” (indigo dye) to whiten whites. As luck would have it, I realized I hardly have any white outerwear. So, most of my clothes get washed in soapnuts. The “white” socks and inner wear get sorted out in a separate load with commercial, “green” detergent and get added bleach.

We live in the modern world and we need to find the right balance. Our bodies take hundreds of years of evolve, and we cannot adapt to modern chemicals within 50-80 years. I try to go natural as much as I can. And I use chemicals when I need help, “Now!”


why angie’s letter makes me uncomfortable

25 Aug

I recently read this post on Upworthy, titled “She Could Hear Every Word He Said Through The Open Window, So She Started Typing“. Somehow, this post made me uncomfortable and I started typing. Here is what I think is wrong with the post. It is written by “Angie” to “woman”, sympathizing with her, an abuse victim. It places the onus of stopping the violence on the victim and is letting the abuser get-away scot-free.

Every time you sympathize with the victim, you take away their sense of control and power. You tell them their situation is sad and worthy of sympathy, that they are helpless, and defense-less. And most unfortunately, you are telling them you have nothing more to offer to them other than sympathy. It makes the victim feel that they have no options and are fighting a lone battle.

When you tell the victim that your hear and see the abuse, yet you do nothing, you tell the victim that they are not worthy of standing-up for. You tell the victim that you are afraid to confront the abuser and they are on their own. Your words sound hollow and empty and meaningless.

Many years ago, there was an abuser who routinely told his wife he was going to work, and would climb back onto the patio of their second floor apartment through the first floor fence, and spy on her. Many neighbors saw him climbing back on to the patio through the fence. Yet, no one confronted him or called the cops, or even the apartment manager, to report a seeming intruder in the apartment-complex.

“Mandatory reporters” in the form of doctors, psychologists, school staff – all threaten the victim to leave the situation or they will report *her*. No one confronts the abuser, that they know about the abuse and will report *him*. Placing the onus on the victim to leave her abuser, adds greater responsibility on her without providing her support. It adds a greater fear on her to not let the signs of abuse show, and further isolates her.

Angie, your letter to “woman”  is well-meaning, but you wrote to the wrong person. I am a great believer in the saying “If you see something, say something”. Confront the abuser. Tell him you can hear him through the open windows and doors and the paper thin walls. Tell him you don’t care whether or not the victim complains about him or tries to protect him. Tell him that you are watching him, his every move, and will not let him set a bad example for your children or spoil the environment for the upcoming generation. Tell him that you will report *him* if he doesn’t straighten-out his act. It will be *his* Visa/Immigration that will be revoked, and it will be *him* who will lose custody of the kids. 

Step in front of her and don’t let him hit her or abuse her or demean her. Show the “woman” in your story how to stand-up to her abuser and be a role-model for her. Show her that you are not afraid of the abuser, that he is not worthy of being afraid. Do not allow the abuser to hide in plain sight. There are no doors that cannot be broken down. Show the victims that they are worth standing-up for, and pledge to step in and place the onus to stop where it belongs – with the abuser.  

There is a lot more you can do than type, don’t let the opportunity slip away. Knock on his door and tell him to cut it out or take her with you into your own home. Call the cops that he is disturbing the peace. Build a trail of reports so that when she feels ready to leave him, your reports and your witnessing are there to support her. Not with your words and sympathy, but with your actions.


indra nooyi: who’s talking about her mom?

4 Jul

Indra Nooyi’s comments about women not being able to have it all have gone viral in recent days. Here is the link to the original video if you are interested. The first 25 minutes or so are her talk. 

I wrote yesterday about men having the same problem as women about not being able to have it all. You can read the blog post here.

Another aspect to this discussion is the perceived lack of support from Ms Nooyi’s mom, and I want to comment about that here. There are a lot of comments on the internet about how mothers and mothers-in-law are the most unsupportive. I beg to differ.

Ms Nooyi talked about her mom sending her back out to get milk, before hearing any of her news. What is implicit to me here is that her mom was living with her, and presumably running the household. She was living there for the sake of her daughter, not her son-in-law. And when Grandma is running the household, she is the CEO of the home. If they are out of milk, she is worried her grand daughters will not have milk for the night or the next morning, and it is her responsibility to find the best delivery person. If it happened to be Indra, then so be it. (Maybe she asked the son-in-law earlier, but he was unwilling. Ms Nooyi could just as well have called on her husband to run the errand.) Grandma is not comprising on her granddaughters’ care for any news or any reason. Who knows, the store might be closing in a few minutes or it might be close to the granddaughters’ bedtime! Any good CEO of a company would do exactly the same.

As Ms Nooyi said, we need to build or enlist “co-opts” to help us get better balance between parenting and Career progression. Even Sheryl Sandberg has mentioned having a lot of support from her sister and mother in raising their kids. But we cannot take that support for granted, or feel entitled to it. 

Grandma has already done her round of raising kids. But she is doing a second round for the sake of her daughter. And she needs all the support she can get to do an awesome job as the CEO of home!


women can’t have it all… but, can men?

3 Jul

PepsiCo’s CEO Indira Nooyi explains women can’t have it all. As a career mom myself, I am very much in agreement with her. Here is a link to her talk, the first 25 minutes or so in this video.

I will not add my views here about how much I agree with her. There are many blogs and articles everywhere doing that. What I do want to talk about is the men. Can they have it all? Don’t they face the same challenges as do women? Don’t men have to make the same choices between attending to work and attending school events? The difference is, perhaps, that they are expected to trade-off work for family time. For the few men who want to have successful careers and also be there for their families, there is very little sympathy and understanding. Men develop coping mechanisms by delegating the family tasks to the children’s mothers. That may reduce guilt, but it does not salvage the aching loss of missed opportunities, less bonding with the kids and a sense of having missed-out on the kids’ childhoods.

My comment here is simple – No one  can have it all, be it men or women. Any person who chooses to be a career parent, needs the support and backing of a network of willing caregivers. And corporations would do well to encourage their employees to have better work/life balances. Employees with less guilt and more emotionally fulfilled lives are likely to be more stable and collaborative in the work-place as well.

why i think “princeton mom” is wrong

28 Mar

independent women

Princeton Mom’s article: https://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/susan-patton-princeton-mom-make-babies-now-231725916.html

So, “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton is advising young women in Ivy League Colleges to find a husband while still in College. While I agree with her premise that College has the highest density of potential eligible men, that is where my agreement with her stops.

For one, she assumes that young women in their late teens and early twenties have enough life experience to pick a good long term husband. If young women get married and have kids too early, they are doomed to a life-long relationship with men who could be life-long trouble-makers like being abusive. Very intelligent men (and women) are also likely to have higher rate of social abnormalities.

Second, having a child too early in life saddles people with high level of responsibilities that there is no escape from. You can switch careers relatively easily, but if you realize parenthood is not for you, you don’t really have many options. It is better to take time and understand yourself, and have kids when you are really ready for them.

Third, having children too early in life significantly reduces your enjoyment of life experiences like adventure-traveling, fine dining etc. You are also limited in hours and energy in building your career. It is much harder to start building your career at age 40 than it would be at age 25. You are older, have less energy, technology has moved on and you have lost a lot of your professional confidence seeing your peers get ahead while you “made other choices”.

Fourth, one parent has to take a step back in their career to raise kids. It doesn’t matter which one. Kids need their parents on-site, and cannot be raised through remote parenting. This dynamic often makes one parent “dependent” upon the other, leading to unequal relationships. If the career-parent is abusive, or suffers from some social/mental disorders, it can be hell for the on-site parent. If the marriage doesn’t work-out, the on-site parent will be under greater financial burden in trying to now take off their own career.

Fifth, with higher life expectancy, people can expect to live until their eighties or nineties. It is unreasonable to expect that most people will be happy with the same spouse they picked in their twenties. People grow and evolve, and sometimes diverge from each other. It is important to gain some life experience, and really understand your own priorities and values, before picking a life partner. Many folks are not even clear on their sexual-orientation until later in life!

Marrying young and having children early has its advantages, but only if you can control every single variable in your life. That is often NOT the case. I would advise young people to wait, and really know what they are getting into. If you meet someone special in College, date them some more. There’s no rush. The world is full of people, and you have a long life!

dating advice if you have reached a “certain” age

21 Jan

If you have a reached a “certain” age, and are still not in a long term or committed relationship, here are some things you can try. Oh, and if you are wondering what a “certain” age is, then let me tell you, only you know the number. If you feel you have been single (or single-again) long enough, then it is your “certain” age. If you are still happy being single, then you have not reached the “certain” age. No one else can determine that for you.

Meeting: Go out and meet people. Do things you love, and do things that most folks of the opposite gender love. There are plenty of online groups like meetup etc., where you can find such events being organized. Join online dating web-sites. Let your friends and family know you are looking to meet people. Accept invitations, dates, setups etc. You have to put yourself out there and meet people. There is no substitute for that. Set-up/introduce your other single friends if you meet someone not right for you, but may be right for them. You never know, someone may be so happy that they might actually return the favor 🙂

Weeding: Let people know upfront that you are looking for a steady, long term, committed relationship. That will weed out most of the folks who are looking for a casual fling, are still “window shopping”, or simply not ready to give-up their singledom. Don’t worry, you are not losing potential mates, you are only losing the time-wasting distractors. You would be surprised how many there are!

Staying put: Once you have met someone interesting, who catches your fancy, and is also looking for a long term steady relationship, then commit to them. That does not mean you start making declarations of ever-lasting love, but it means, commit to them in your mind that you will see this relationship through with a sincere and honest effort. Spend time with them, and genuinely get to know them. Stop playing games. Return messages and calls as soon as you are able. Ensure you spend time talking to them over the phone, if not in person, on a regular basis. Do not “keep your options open” or date multiple people at the same time. You are old enough to know what’s out there, and what you can get. If you are unsure, and still want to keep your options open, either you have not reached the “certain” age, or you are seeing red flags and this person is not right for you. Next!

Taking it slow: Go slow if you must, but understand what that means. It does not mean you create artificial communication gaps – returning calls with text, waiting 2 days after a great date to message back, and so on. It means, do not get engaged or married in a hurry because you can’t wait to have kids (or whatever your reason is). It means, do not jump into bed even before you know if you can spend an entire day or a weekend with them without wishing at least one of you were dead 😛 Take your time on physical intimacy and life-changing commitments, but do move at a natural pace to really get to know the person and see if you enjoy their company. If you feel like calling, call. If you feel like asking them out, then do so. Make sure you get an enthusiastic response from them every time you reach out, or you give them an enthusiastic response when they reach out to you. Make them feel special, and also see if they make you feel special as well. That way, you won’t be chasing someone who is not interested in you.

Dealing with issues: And certainly take it slow when you run into issues, do not run for the door. You can break-up any time, but really put in your best effort before you call it quits. Think about the issues, and try to resolve them with mature dialogue and discussion. (Unless you both are addicted to feelings of anger and drama, and enjoy the fights. In that case, all bets are off 🙂 ). Ask for advice from folks who are in long term committed relationships, talk to therapists if that might help. If your partner refuses to go, you can go alone. They are most likely to tell you examples of how to make things work, rather than the standard advice of “plenty of fish”. And most important, bring-up all issues and concerns with your partner directly. Do NOT use middlemen (or middle women) to convey messages. If you can’t have a direct dialogue with your partner, that is cause for concern. Either you need to get more assertive and speak-up, or tone yourself down so your partner feels safe in speaking-up.

Keeping yourself inspired: Read stories about long term relationships, how they met, and talk to your own family and friends of how they faced challenges in life. Such stories are inspiring and help develop a problem-solving attitude, rather than encouraging to take the easy exit. And if you believe in the Laws of Attraction, then it will bring in more positive energy in your life.

I hope some of these ideas help. If you have any more to share, I would love to hear from you!


the case of jahi mcmath

7 Jan

Jahi McMath was a 13 year old girl, who went in to the Oakland Children’s for a routine surgery to treat sleep apnea. Things went wrong quickly after the surgery, and, from all, accounts, the hospital didn’t handle it right. Her mom was just advised to just hold a container up her nose where it was bleeding abnormally. When the bleeding continued, her mom was handed a bucket! Shocking!!

Eventually, the young girl’s condition deteriorated until she was finally declared “brain dead”. And then the controversy started. Her family wanted to move her into long term care, while the hospital wanted to “pull the plug”. There were many more details, defining what procedures hospitals can perform on “dead” patients, and the Courts got involved.

Reading newspaper articles and various blog posts, it appears that most people are focusing on the technicality of death. They are dismissive of a mom’s guilt for taking her daughter to the operation that eventually got botched. And that is the problem. This is an emotional issue, and people are trying to close it logically. That doesn’t work. It leaves the mother feeling cheated, and fighting in the Courts. She will never get closure.

The whole point of advances in Medical Science is so to improve the quality of life. And Closure is an important part of that. What the mom needs is help in moving towards closure. It doesn’t matter if the child is brain dead. Mom is feeling guilty about having taken her to the operation in the first place. She feels helpless and frustrated at not being able to help her daughter when things went wrong. In her time of sadness and grief, she is forced to be hostile and defensive, running to Courts, dividing the nation and questioning the laws. It bought some time for the mom, in a very very conflictual way.

A better solution would have been for the Hospital to make-up for the post-operative neglect. They should have helped the mom move her daughter to a long term care facility. Provided some caring, sympathetic, hospice care until mom came to terms with her loss. It would have taken 1-2 weeks. And that path would have been kind and compassionate, making amends for the mistakes that happened. That would have been a private and dignified path for the young girl that was deceased.