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Archive for the ‘Why’ Category

Why do the poor not have money?

In Why on 22 December 2015 at 10:57 am

We pick up our conversation on Talking about Poverty with Toddlers with further musings on a question that followed from Why doesn’t Gandhi have clothes?

The question is:  Why do the poor not have money?
Note that the question is not “why is there poverty?”  One might say that poverty is defined as not having money but that is the definition of financial poverty.  One may have money and yet suffer cultural or nutritional poverty.  Recently the Times of India carried a report on the rich who eat poorly.   The increasing cases of malnourishment among the rich now have their own term, mall-nourishment.  There are people with money who suffer time-poverty.
One could ask: why do the rich have no time?  But to have no time is considered a status symbol, and is associated with being in demand, which by the laws of supply and demand, should make one rich.  Or at least expensive.
When we ask why the poor have no money we must also ask why the rich have money.  Such conversations can be really interesting and one should approach them with plenty of time, a brave heart, and a wide open mind.
This reminds me of something from a while ago …
During the major World Bank protest of 2000 I spoke to a first-grade class in Washington, DC.  It was on a sudden request from one of the local organizers who spotted me speaking at an event. I spontaneously said yes.  I had not prepared for how I was going to tell six-year-old children about why we were protesting the World Bank and IMF.

Why doesn’t Gandhi have clothes?

In Why on 25 August 2015 at 2:24 pm

We were recently reading a book on Grandpa Gandhi to my 3 yr old.  The picture of Gandhi with his naked body caught her imagination and she got started on her “why?”   It started out with me explaining that Gandhiji doesn’t wear a shirt and ending in why do the poor not have any money.  Here is part of our conversation:

Gandhi spinning cotton on the charkha. Image: WIkimedia Commons.

Gandhi spinning cotton on the charkha. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

N: Gandhi tata ke paas kapde kyon nahin hain?

Why doesn’t Grandpa Gandhi have clothes?

M: Kyonki unke pas paise nahin the… wo garib the.

Because he did not have money.  He was poor.

[At this Bala corrected me with a better answer/correct reason.]

M: Kyonki wo garib logon ki tarah rahna chahte the.  

Because he wanted to live like the poor.

N: kyon? Why?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Don’t Cry.” What does it mean?

In Why on 19 June 2015 at 1:37 pm

How-Tears-Work-2What does it mean when people oliday “Don’t Cry!”

Are they supporting you?  Dismissing you?  Or possibly, threatening you?

As an expression of sympathy, “don’t cry,” is meant to reassure a person that things will get better and that they are not alone in their sorrow.  It would be more supportive if one simply said, “It will be all right,” or “We’ll get through this,” but a comforting tone and open arms can override the hardness denoted by the imperative, “don’t cry.”

More often though, it expresses anything but sympathy.   I shudder when I hear “don’t cry.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Something sensational to read on the train

In Why on 13 May 2015 at 1:18 pm

191vgo8sulvv5jpg“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

Even before my daughter could write I suggested that she keep a diary.  I was her amanuensis.  I remember on the first day when she asked me what she should say for me to write in her diary, I replied, “anything you did, or said, or thought, or wished.”  Since then for several years I wrote as she spoke.   Eventually she took over the writing herself but still sometimes asked me to take dictation so that she was not slowed down by her own hand.

It has been eight years now since that first day and we love to read passages from over the years.  Though many people now remember their younger days through photographs, the diary will capture what a thousand pictures cannot.  Especially if those thousand pictures remain in memory cards in serial numbered folders.  The diary on the other hand is ready and welcoming anytime, and will not oblige you to smile. Read the rest of this entry »

Weaning and Acne

In Why on 21 March 2015 at 8:00 pm

I am 33 and nursing my daughter.  I stopped pumping at work a couple of months ago.  I have noticed that lately, I am experiencing a lot of acne on face, around jaw line and neck.   I haven’t changed my diet drastically and was wondering if the nursing schedules or drop in pumping may be causing the acne.  Is there any natural stuff that I could use to control the crazy breakouts?

Mama of two in Austin

You are not the only one to experience an outbreak of acne following a sudden drop in nursing frequency.  It seems like any time we go through hormonal changes we are prone to acne.   You may already be aware that breast milk is a popular treatment for acne.  Once the hormones settle down so should the acne.   Some home remedies that might help include reducing intake of dairy and animal products, which come loaded with hormones, getting regular exercise, and the usual good dietary habits.

Acne apart, if you are nursing less during the day you can expect your daughter to make up for it at night and early in the morning.  Be sure to eat well and get enough rest and night-nursing will be boon to you as well as your daughter.

On the Importance of Eating the Peel

In Why on 28 August 2014 at 8:30 pm

We are trying to eat whole foods as much as possible.  My son is a year old, when is it okay to give him fruits and vegetables with the peel? 

– Appa in Jaipur

Why not now?    Without the peel those vegetables and fruits aren’t whole foods anymore, are they?  The only reason to avoid eating peels is the presence of pesticide which unfortunately is very prevalent.  As far as possible, get fruits and vegetables grown without toxic pesticides and fertilizers.  Better yet, grow them yourself.  There is growing awareness of low-input sustainable farming as well as kitchen-gardening and terrace-gardening and you should probably be able to find a support group or farmer’s market near you.  If not, comment below and we will try to connect you.

Riyaan takes a bite out of an apple.

Riyaan takes a bite out of an apple.

As with any food, remember that you don’t need to persuade children to eat. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I love my ring sling

In Why on 30 October 2013 at 10:10 pm

Three weeks after my daughter was born she suddenly started crying in the evenings for several hours until at last she fell asleep.  I called my doula who suggested that I get a sling.  Where do I get a sling?  I asked.  She suggested that I look for information in Mothering Magazine.

With that I was introduced at once to two very important resources.

See the sights, feel the love!

See the sights, feel the love!

Read the rest of this entry »

A String of Jasmine

In Why on 10 May 2013 at 7:56 pm
“Give J___ Auntie a string of flowers,” my mother-in-law told me.  Suddenly I grew tense with a sense of not knowing what to do. 
string-of-jasmine-768x499I had a long string of jasmines which I had cut into small pieces and was giving out to my daughter’s friends at her Sankranti party.  My mother-in-law and a couple of her friends were sitting on the sofa. 
I busied myself in the kitchen so as not to have to respond to her instruction right away.  Away from the crowd, I reflected, why had I become tense?  I realized that it was because I was not sure how I could give flowers to J___ Auntie, while K___ Auntie was sitting right next to her.  Then I realized that the solution was simple, give flowers to both J____ and K____ Auntie. 
Why had this obvious solution not struck me right away?  Why had there even been a “problem” requiring a solution? 
Let us go back to the instruction, “Give J___ Auntie a string of flowers.”  In giving this instruction, my mother-in-law had made an assumption.  Someone who had not made that assumption might have had two questions:
1) Why had she instructed me to give flowers to J___ but not also to K___ Auntie?
2) Why hadn’t she herself given out the flowers? 
For both questions, the reason stems from a distinction made between a married woman whose husband is alive and one whose husband is no longer alive.   My mother-in-law had instructed me to give flowers to J___ Auntie because both of us fell into the former category.  She did not give out the flowers, nor did she ask me to give flowers to K____ Auntie, because she and K___ Auntie fell into the latter category. 
Upon hearing her instruction, I felt the tension of being unwilling to follow it, but it took me some time to unpack all this to understand why.  Once I understood, I saw the way.  I picked up three strings of flowers and gave one to each – my mother-in-law, J____Auntie, and K_____ Auntie.  Taken by surprise, K___ Auntie immediately asked, “why me?”  I just smiled.  My mother-in-law explained, “she doesn’t believe that there should be that difference,” and put the flowers into her hair.  K___ Auntie replied, “Yes, these customs should change.”
(originally written for the monthly newsletter of Association for India’s Development)

Why Diaper Free?

In Why on 3 April 2013 at 2:17 pm

Can you share your experience with diaper-free hygiene? I remember you mentioned a potty seat… what type of seat was it? And how easy is it to go through EC methods? Does one have to be constantly monitoring the child throughout the day?

– expectant mother in Bangalore

Babies!  from the cover of The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears.One can approach diaper-free hygiene from many angles.  One is the basic right of the baby to be heard.  Another is the baby’s wish to have a clean dry bottom and an appropriate place to pass urine or stool – that is, not into something wrapped around his/her bottom.   Then there is also environment, public health, social integrity and so on.  But at a basic level, going diaper-free helps us understand babies’ expectations once out in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Why is my baby so calm?

In Why on 17 October 2012 at 8:10 pm

Every one around me wonders, when I say, my son doesn’t cry much or he just wakes up only once during night for a feed and never cries for milk. I have seen him cry a very few times from the time he was born. The maximum he does while he is hungry is put all his fingers in his mouth or keep rolling and turning right and left.  My dad came 2 days ago and was astonished to see that he doesn’t cry while having bath. He seems very active otherwise. 
Does such behavior and gestures reveal the personality of of my little one when he is grown up? Will he be a shy and a introvert personality? 
– Amma of a 3-month-old in Baltimore
     Are you keeping a journal of these observations and questions?  What a rich experience it will be to revisit them. I am no behavioural scientist so I will start with the obvious – your observations are coloured by your expectations.  One person’s shy is another person’s gregarious.
     Now to your first question.  Crying is a form of communication.  Putting his fingers in his mouth or rolling and turning seem to be other signals that you have learned to read.  Eye contact, squirming, tense fists, craning neck, can all signal needs.   If he is able to communicate in other ways then he has no need to cry.
Dr Sears says:

 We have been led to believe that it is “normal” for babies to cry a lot, 
 but in other cultures this is not accepted as the norm. 

So one answer could be that he is not crying because he feels heard and is content.
     But if you feel that he is not only not crying but also not communicating very much, then I would suggest being more receptive.  Just as adjusting the tuner on the radio can make the sound come through clearly, there are ways you can tune in to the questions, concerns and messages your baby conveys.  The more you listen, the more baby tells you.  The more baby is involved in the happenings of those around him, the more he has to talk about.
     One lesson offered to modern society in Jean Liedloff’s groundbreaking work, The Continuum Concept is to let the world of babies be integrated with the world of the adults around them rather than keeping them in his “baby spaces” e.g. bed / cradle / playpen and with baby paraphernalia.  Some new parents are so concerned not to disturb baby’s feeding and sleeping that they separate baby from the rest of the family, household and social activities.  This often means missing out on all the fun – and remember that for baby, your work is a big part of the fun.  If you have to leave what you are doing in order to attend to baby, the atmosphere may be stifled.   Why not drop the formalities, carry on while carrying baby and let the ideas flow freely? The sling helps parents do just that.  Babywearer-in-chief, Dr. Sears, writes:

 Because baby is intimately involved in the mother and father’s world, she is exposed to, and participates in, the environmental stimuli that mother selects and is protected from those stimuli that bombard or overload her developing nervous system.

– Dr. William Sears, “Benefits of Babywearing
     The sooner a mother gets comfortable nursing anytime, anywhere, the easier life will be for both mother and child.  If one feels the need to go to a separate room or cover up every time baby nurses, it limits one’s mobility – no fun for mother or child.  While Ask Amma does not endorse any diaper, she offers for your amusement this advertisement for Lugs featuring a mother nursing freely in public.   No special clothing is required to nurse in public but if a nursing top nursing makes you feel more comfortable, by all means get one and nurse away.  Jivika nursing kurtas are zipper-free, making for discreet latch-on and latch-off.
     The sling and the nursing kurta are two garments that helps moms stay involved in various activities, even while attending to little ones.  This attention and involvement allows children greater exposure into the social behaviour of adults and also gives them a safe space to talk, listen and think.
     In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes how she came to embrace her quiet nature after a lifetime of trying to conform to social expectations to be the opposite, and invites readers to recognize the often overlooked strengths of introverts.  She contends that contemporary American society has over the decades, come to presume a higher degree of extraversion than in the past, and than is comfortable for a large part of the population that thrives on solitude.  She urges everyone to nurture environments that accommodate diverse personalities.  When allowed to blossom on their own, introvert and extravert qualities will develop along with other aspects of one’s personality.
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