A Cultured Life…

…stumbling through life with two beautiful daughters – often tripping, sometimes running!!

What do Clementi & Ravi mean to me?

The guilty verdict of Dharun Ravi in the University of Rutgers Webcam spying case hit me hard.

  • University
  • Freshman
  • Dorm
  • Room mate
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • connected 24/7

Aditi my 18-year old freshman is all of this. But she is a 1ooo miles away from home and there is no end to the things I worry about. Letting my first baby to go to the US for undergrad studies was the hardest thing I have ever done. September 2011 – All of us flew down to the US to drop Aditi off at University. Many $$$, much advice and many tears later, she was in her new home and we were ready to go home to India. Our sage advice (both necessary and unwanted) revolved around the importance of regular eating habits, regular bed times, partying, some bit on boys and the ground rules for Skyping at designated times of the week.

According to published reports, Dharun Ravi, 18 set up a video camera in his dorm room and briefly filmed his gay room mate, Tyler Clementi, also 20,  in a tryst with a 30 year old man he met on an internet site. A few days later, Dharun set up the webcam for a second recording and proceeded to tweet about the ‘viewing party’. The second viewing never happened because Clementi found and turned off the camera. A few days later Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge after posting to his FB account. At that very momet, Dharun posted an apology on Clementi’s wall.

All this in the first three weeks of school!!

Of the many pieces i have read, this one from the The New Yorker struck a nerve – there does not seem to be much hate or malice on either side. Just teenage stuff with tragic consequences.

As a mom, I try to imagine every moment that that both the boys went through. Tyler – Shy, just come out, testing his independence; Dharun – the brash, tech savvy, eager to score points with his peers. I try to leave the legalese to the experts.  What comes out is the mean-ness that only teenagers are capable of; that feeling of invincibility and the feeling that the internet is their oyster. I truly believe that youngsters today do and do not recognize the power of this explosive online world. ‘Kony 2012’ and ‘Tyler – Ravi’ are two extremes in this spectrum.

I know Aditi is an avid Facebooker, connected closely to her younger sister and friends she has had for much of her 18 years. I have gently pointed out the pitfalls of too much public showings and impression I want to think that she is fairly sensible about social media and friendships in general. What I was not prepared for was the realization that sensibility is not going to help in the explosive online world of personal branding which is viral and absolutely boundary-less.

­­­­I know that I have raised independent children. But nothing prepared me for these new fears that I need to confront. I am emailing Aditi articles, comments – anything that will give her bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. I hope she will draw the correct thoughts from two lives irrevocably destroyed. I want her to recognize the dangers and the pitfalls of the world we live in today along with the ease and fun. But most of all, I hope she will know that her parents are there for her, always.

The hardest part of parenting is waiting – while work in progress.

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What Rahul Dravid showed me about Swati…

On March 9, 2012, Rahul Dravid threw the entire cricketing world and a nation into a frenzy by announcing his retirement “from International cricket and domestic as well.”

There have been reams written about this man – his humility, his graciousness, his erudition, his technique. I am not qualified to write about his cricketing record, but Rahul Dravid has given me an insightful peep into my 15-year old daughter Swati.

Since moving back to India in 2004, my daughters Aditi and Swati have taken to sport, especially Cricket and Tennis in a big way. Every match, every series telecast on TV was devoured by the girls. It was all I could do to lay down the law that said we would only watch matches when India played; the rest would have to be followed on the news and the internet. It was in 2009 that I learnt of an old classmate who was now the editor of Cricinfo. During one of our conversations, I learnt that he was a good friend of Rahul Dravid and that Dravid was visiting his Bangalore office. I arranged for Swati to visit the Cricinfo offices and meet him. Speechless and spellbound, Swati had her picture taken with both Sambit and Rahul and said not more than two sentences during the time she was there.

At that time, I treated this incident as famous person sighting and figured it would just pass on. As time wore on I was pleasantly surprised when Swati began exhibiting an interest in writing. In the days since that meeting, I got to know that Swati was already a Sambit loyalist. Sambit and Rahul together was a whole different story.

In her reactions and affections for Rahul Dravid, I recognize her ability to see behind the glamour and the glitz. I see her recognize the flinty determination on his face and the stoicism that Rahul has displayed on the pitch in YouTube videos of his grand matches. I have read Rahul Dravid crafted his game with a phenomenal individual effort.  You could see this determination in his face; it was not just an effortless waving of the bat. I see this determination in the way Swati has addressed her Achilles Heel in Math and can’t help but wonder if somewhere, somehow, this is where her determination comes from.  As she soaks in the hundreds of articles she reads about Rahul Dravid, she recognizes the grandeur and the simplicity of a man who epitomizes a gentleman and contrasts him with people who now bear the mantle in Indian cricket.

As parents we are painfully aware that children are a Work-in –Progress. We wonder who they will be when they grow up and hope that they embody the best in you as well as the very best they can ever be. Swati is only 15 but her awareness of life through Cricket has been a remarkable journey for me and I feel as though I am watching from the sidelines. She has celebrated the losses of the Indian team and cried through their lows. I know that the recent England and Australian tours were somewhat of a watershed and portend huge changes for Indian cricket. I listen to her musings and sense that she has a far greater understanding of the game than I do.

Something tells me that we have raised a girl who bats a straight bat. My hope and prayer for her is that the qualities she has been reading about and perhaps writing in her blog are the ones that she will keep uppermost as she goes through life. Not just for herself but also for those that she chooses to keep in her orbit.

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Now the knee….

A torn hip ligament, a broken elbow, a torn shoulder, now the knee. I am not sure what comes to mind on reading this litany, but I have just about had it!! Since April 2010, I have been dealing with all of the above, in the order given. Just as I thought the shoulder was healing, and perhaps, just perhaps I could get back to running, I found myself hobbling on one foot, unable to bear any weight on my right leg.

My right knee was killing me.

My friend and fertility specialist, Dr Madhuri suggested an Ortho that I could go see. The ortho, Dr. Sudhir Pai gave me the welcome news that all six ligaments are in good condition. Hallelujah This meant I could run whenever my shoulder felt it could handle the running. The cause of the pain is calcification behind the patella (commonly known as the knee cap). The patella is the single most important bone in the leg connected to all kinds of ligaments and muscles in the back and front of the leg and plays a huge role in walking, running, jumping, skipping, climbing, bending or carries a heavy load. The presciption: Simple exercises to strengthen the quadriceps which are the four muscles on the front of the thighs.

All this while – the my brain maze is just thinking about running. I want to get back to running – the 4.30 am alarm, the pounding of the pavement, the soft trails under my feet, the sweat soaking my shirt, the camaraderie of my running group, the unabashed gluttony at breakfast.

I have missed it. All of it.


wake the pounding of the pavement

I was

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