Of mommies and babies…

I am a 51 year old grandmother of a 13 month old grandson. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when my daughter added me as a member to a group on Facebook called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Moms a few weeks ago. She then checked with me if I was okay being a part of the group. I was very interested in understanding what kind of support they offered to each other.

When I delivered my baby girl 27 years ago, feeding a baby at the breast or from a bottle was always a hush hush affair. The elders in our family always said an outsider should never know how much your baby drinks or eats. You don’t want them to cast an evil eye by comparing with their own little ones. This became the butt of many jokes with my dear hubby who found the entire concept hilarious.

Breastfeeding had to done in a separate corner with your breast covered which meant your baby was under that tent. The one advantage of feeding alone that I can think of in retrospect is the bonding time with the little one with no distractions for both. The logic that my mom or aunts or grannies gave was keeping away from prying eyes.

We were asked to mix cereals and formula in small quantities at a time, again quoting the reason of evil eyes. 🙂 When I was a young mom, I never questioned my mother or my mother in law. If I were to sit down today and think, I can understand the underlying reasons behind the same.

If the baby’s bottle had to be kept covered, the logical reason would be to keep it warm.

If I had to mix formula or cereals in small quantities at a time, it was to ensure there was no wastage.

When I read the posts in the young moms group every day, I find that these beautiful girls have no hang ups feeding in public or clicking a pic of themselves feeding their babies. It is so wonderful to see that they do not want to hide in the closets to do something that is probably one of the most beautiful acts of nature. Ah… The smile on the baby’s face, the touch of her/his little fingers, the smell that is unique to babies of powder, lotion, milk…. There are no words to describe the feelings.

I am impressed to see them talk about exclusive breastfeeding vs supplementing breastmilk, pumping, storing and things that we had no clue about in those days. I never knew there were umpteen positions that you could assume while feeding.

When we were told to do or not to do something, we never questioned our mom or mom in law or grand moms. I am glad my daughter questions me, educates me and thinks for herself. Our little prince has only benefitted.

A lot of it is probably due to awareness and the world that technology has opened for all of us. In my days, the only authority that we referred to was the book on baby care by Dr Benjamin Spock (don’t remember any by Indian authors).

My little girl (not so little anymore), herself a mom is a peer counsellor in that group and comes out with such wonderful suggestions and ideas… Wow!!!

Motherhood and breastfeeding are such beautiful feelings to be treasured. There is nothing to be ashamed of in feeding your little one. It is more due to the perverse attitude of most people around that we hide. But then, there will be rotten apples everywhere. Do we stand and stare when a cow feeds her calf or a goat feeds her kid? Then why stare at a woman doing the same?

On a closing note sharing a personal pic that my hubby clicked of me feeding my little one who was 11 days old and it is a cherished possession even today.

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The man they call the miracle healer

After a pleasant, quiet stay at Chail, we were driving back home. In the middle of nowhere, we found scores of vehicles of all sizes and shapes parked on both sides of the narrow road. There was a small building with a board outside that said ‘Vaid Ram Kishen’. Just that and nothing else.

Parking our car to the side, we asked a bystander what was happening. He told us that they had all come to meet the vaidji. A lady who saw our curiosity came up and explained that Vaid Ram Kishen gave medicines to cure all types of cancer. She herself was getting treated for cancer of the tongue.

The Vaid or the miracle healer treats only on Sundays. People travel from far off places to see him. You need to take a token number to wait for your turn on either the small porch outside or wait in your vehicles. He treats only cancer and does not charge any money for the treatment. Any payment is voluntary on the part of the patient.

The treatment comprises of an oral medication and an application of some medicine to the tongue (this was what she was receiving for her cancer). The application of the medicine to the tongue would be done only when it was sunny. She called it natural radiotherapy. On a rainy day, the trip would be incomplete. She had been coming to him for almost 18 months, once every three weeks and claimed that her sore had almost disappeared. She works in a large hospital as a supervisor and has opted not to get treated there. We wished the lady the very best and started on our drive home.

Call me sceptical, but I personally wouldn’t consider something like this to be my primary and sole method of treatment. Especially with a dreaded disease like cancer.

If people are thronging this 3rd generation healer for treatment in such large numbers, there must be something there. If it works for them, may the healer perform more and more such miracles!

Note: I am not passing any kind of judgment on the beliefs and views of people nor am I promoting anything here, it is just an account of what we saw and heard. My opinion on treatment methodology is mine, just mine…

The cobbler from Chail

Last week, my husband and I decided to take a break, not a touristy one but to somewhere far from the madding crowd. We decided on Chail. Well, I zeroed in and my better half agreed to chauffeur us there.

Chail is a sleepy town in the state of Himachal Pradesh with a population of around 8000. There are no honking cars, no mall roads to shop till you drop and get looted in the process. Just fresh air, mountains and scenic beauty to enjoy. Our stay was in a small hotel with excellent food and views to kill for.

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We left on a Saturday morning and reached Chail by noon. Just as we were getting out of our car to check into the hotel, my husband found to his horror that his shoes looked like a pair of crocodiles all ready to devour some prey. On enquiry, the hotel staff informed us that there were no shops nearby where we could get some adhesive to paste the soles. Did the town have a cobbler who could repair the shoes? The staff hemmed and hawed and asked us to drive into the market to try our luck.

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To my utter delight, I found the one and only cobbler of Chail sitting under a tree.

He did a great job with the shoes and when I asked him how much I owed him for this yeoman service (of course yeoman, considering my hubby had to walk and drive for the next day and a half in them) J, the sweet old man smiled and said ‘aapki shraddha’. When I insisted on him telling me, he stumped me by asking for just thirty rupees. I paid him more than what he had asked for and thanked him for his help.

What left me flummoxed me was the complete lack of greed on his part. We normally hear of tourists getting fleeced by locals. How many of us really go to cobblers when on a holiday? Isn’t that reason enough for him to charge me more? But not this man… I realised this was what small town living and innocence was all about. May this breed never perish!!!