Excuse me while I crash land back to earth and back into my fading red chair, yes, the one with handles gently eroded where my elbows dig in and the seat cover peeling away rabidly at the back like the pelt of a really sick animal. Give me some time to breathe deep, pull my scattered thoughts together and be really gracious and dignified about this. I was on the Beeb, take that bitch. Err. Well. Okay. That just about sums it up.
It all happened thus. I got an email, while I was twirling a strand of hair around a finger and reading Dave Barry, a very complicated process and one that brooks no interference or disturbing the concentration. With one hand on the page I was reading, I opened said email to find that a lady from the London office of the BBC was looking for Indian moms to talk about raising kids, specific to Amy Chua’s article on Chinese Moms which has been doing the rounds of the blogosphere for the past couple of day. Plenty of us had frothed at the mouth at being bracketed in the category of pushy parenting that Chua had described, but, since I was never going to fit in her category, given that the brat spends three hours on unstructured play unsupervised every evening, I didnt think or mull too deeply about the points she raised, except to thank my stars that the mater never ever called me “Fatty…” I would have been an instant entrant into the category of those suffering from some form of eating disorder and would probably be at bariatic surgery requirement now, had she done so. I am sensitive that way. So when I read that mail, my first thought was, no way. I’m not a typical Indian mother. Seriously, my idea of pushing the brat academically is making sure his four pages of weekly homework is done and submitted in on the day it is meant to be submitted.And not the next day, because it is ‘allowed’.
But this was the Beeb. You know. Understand how difficult it was to control myself and rush out into the street and hail a cab to reach their studio. My excitement was reigned in by the man who raised a stern eyebrow and said, with all the authority he could muster, being the man of the house, and me being driverless and therefore dependent on him, “At this hour of the night, no way.” The man has no sense of occasion. I’d have expected him to pull on his trousers and drive me to the studio at F1 speed.
The car they promised to send for me would probably be stuck in traffic for the entire duration of the programme which was barely a couple of hours away, before it even reached my gate. So I thought, there it goes, my once in a lifetime moment and sadly passed on my phone number, thinking they were not going to be keen to get a disembodied voice on the phone when they could probably get interesting face to camera from anyone else in the vicinity of their studios. But nope. The emails kept coming, then a call arrived, and I was asked to be on standby at 1800 hrs GMT, which I ensured I was by depositing the child, snoring openmouthed, next to the spouse, also snoring openmouthed, in our bedroom, and gently closing the door on them so that the snores didnt impinge on the sound quality and snored open mouthed meself on the sofa watching a really bad movie which involved snake like things coming out from the ground and scaring the *scatological word* out two random men and one token woman. Ergo, when the phone rang suddenly, I jumped up with a start, banged my shin on the coffee table, hobbled to the armchair next to which the phone is placed, picked it up to realise the wire had gotten all tangled up and the phone got lifted up along with the receiver.
Polite friendly voices introduced themselves, and asked me to chat about, what else, these are the British innit, the weather while they checked on sound quality, and we had a little run through before the programme actually went live and there I was live. On air. On the BBC World. Dispensing gyaan on parenting contrary to Amy Chua’s declaration about the Indian parent being like the Chinese parent in being focused and pushy. I am not a driven mom. Ah yes, I was driven when the child had to go for therapy and such like, but once he had come up to par with his peers in terms of development and skills, I’ve slackened the pace. Maybe when I shell out money for his therapy, he will gather courage to tell me how I made him mediocre. For now, I’d rather he has a childhood he enjoyed.
We had a mother of two and a producer at the BBC on the show, a mom and a journalist from New York, and a Chinese American and her father, a professor and a Chinese parent giving their points of view.
Listen to us here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys
We are on the Chinese mom link.
Now I can die happy. Have ticked off the BBC from my bucket list, even if it was just mine disembodied ghostly voice floating through the airwaves.
WOW Kiran !!! You are super duper famous now !!!
Haven’t heard you yet, but AWESOME, K!
Congrats Kiran! This article is the most clicked and commented on the WSJ. Imagine! A right wing financial newspaper and the mommy wars are more popular than the Dow 🙂
That is just so Awesome ! Will surely listen to it… That article had piqued my interest too and generated in general a lot of controversy – what with various angles of disagreement possible…
Will hear the podCast n come back to comment on it !
Hey. Thanks all. Do give me your thoughts on the issues discussed when you do listen to the podcast.
Kiran,I heard your podcast,you sounded very charming, with that lovely laugh of yours 🙂
Hi Kiran…delurking after really long time. Great job, will listen to podcast later and get back back to you on my views.
Awesome ! Absolutely awesome !
wow! that was great. listened to it. mustve been a great honour. did us proud! 🙂
congrats big leaguer!!!! keep up the good work.
Huh, far from big leaguer…thank you.
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you mentioned something about mothers committing suicide in india if children don’t perform? can u talk more about it?
Sure, we’ve had cases in Mumbai where mothers have committed suicides if their children havent scored appropriately or havent been able to get into professional courses like engineering or medicine. Which is so awful I feel, how scarred for life the child is that he or she could never live upto the parent’s expectations.
Kiran, I discovered your blog fairly recently and caught up with most archives, delurking now to comment on this.
You sounded very mature and reflected the opinions of most new mothers of our generation, as in NOT being too pushy about academic excellence. Prof.Victor sounded good in his own right too but definitely not as extreme as Amy Chua. He, in fact, got me wondering if we could enforce more of the ‘parents know best’ rule. They are kids indeed and need a lot of guidance, not just happiness coming from say, jumping on a trampoline all day.
I wished i could hear more from you, but what i did, i loved.
Absolutely. Parents do know best, but that’s should not be in my mind an authoritarian way of browbeating the child into the parent’s way of thinking. A gentle push with an iron hand in a velvet glove, that’s more my style, I guess.
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First time here, and I’m so impressed. Yet to listen to the BBC program, but I love your style of writing. Its endearingly honest, humorous and a definite addition to my Reader. Way to go, Kiran!!