Skip to main content

I Comment Therefore I Am #2

I visited the Indian blog Hindustree, authored by writer Padmini Natarajan.  The subject of the post was 'Mother' and Padmini dealt with the subject in a complete manner.   She mentioned that fact that mothers often remember and long for a child who is absent.  They often call their other children by the name of the missed child.  She is right.  I've often noticed mothers doing that.   I never saw this mentioned in an article before, though.  At the end of the post, it was briefly mentioned that a mother is also a mother-in-law.  A thought struck me and I commented as follows:

I thought that this was a great post and you brought up some interesting aspects of motherhood which are usually missed, such as the mis-calling of a child by its sibling's name.  The very last paragraph struck me as something which could be further elaborated.  Mothers are seen as loving, caring and nurturing.  Which they mostly are.  The stereotypical mother-in-law is usually more of a monster-in-law, domineering and oppressive.  I heard a joke once that elaborated on the famous Jewish proverb that God could not be everywhere so he made mothers. This goes further and said that the devil could not be everywhere so he made mothers-in-law.  Yet both mother and mother-in-law reside in the same woman.  Isn't that the most amazing contradiction?  I think so!

I regularly visit the blog of my fellow Irish blogger Grannymar.  In the post I visited she was showing a photo of an old family recipe book which contained scores of recipes handwritten by members of her family, such as her mother, her sister and Grannymar herself.  One of the commenters, Bikehikebabe, picked up on the fact that Grannymar called her mother 'Mammy' and mentioned that in the USA, 'mammy' was a name given to a servant (or back in the ante-bellum days, 'slave') of African American origin.  So I commented:

I always called my mother 'mammy' too when I was small and sometimes I still do.  My children call her 'nani' because that's what Indian children call their mother's mother.  In fact not only mine, but all the granchildren in my in-law's family, cousins and all call her 'nani'.

When I started reading I noticed that 'mammy' became 'mommy' on the United States and 'mummy' in England.  My husband always calls his mother 'mummy'.  I suppose it's because Indians follow British English.  I remember seeing that 'mammy' in the movie 'Gone With The Wind' played by an actress called Hattie McDaniel.  She was a servant or I suppose slave as it was in that time, of African-American origin.

Whether it's Mammy, Mummy or Mommy is only a matter of accent.  In that comment I was also referring to the fact that my mother is a grandmother not only to my children, but to all the children in my in-law family.  As an Irish woman married to an Indian and living in India, my life is a nice blend of both Indian and Irish family life.

I visited the Cheerful Monk blog authored by Jean Browman.  Jean's post was about the eccentricities of some people regarding their pets.  I commented:
I know a woman who is middle aged and yet unmarried. She has a pet dog and apparently spends a fortune on it. I’ve heard that the dog is better dressed (and accessorised) than most people. I have nothing to say about this as such, but I suppose everyone is different. For some, the main focus of their lives might be their kids, for others it may be their kids, or maybe someone or something else. It depends on what course your life takes.

Unknown Mami does this every week and this week, I’ve done it too.  Thanks to Unknown Mami for the inspiration.

This post first appeared on Write Away on WordPress on 19/7/2010

Popular posts from this blog


Many years ago, when I lived in Dublin, I met someone nice and started dating. I wasn't serious, I just thought we could have nice interesting discussions about India, which I found absolutely fascinating, as I was working in the Embassy of India back then. I had no intention of getting attached with a foreigner, with all the attendant cultural problems. I was happy living in Ireland and the idea of marriage couldn't have been further from my mind.

We both thought we could just keep things in control. One day, after a lot of emotional turmoil and denial, it hit us both that we were in love. Truly. Madly. Irrevocably. To the point where we couldn't live without each other. I'd known about the Indian system of arranged marriages and when it occurred to me that he would probably be married off by his family as soon as he returned to India, I felt physically ill at the thought. We are both tenacious and patient people. We realised that bringing our two worlds together would…

Kipling Got it Wrong! Or Eastern and Western Culture - Reflections

What Is Culture?
I’m opening this blog post with a question. What is that elusive concept which is commonly known as ‘culture? Culture is way of life. How we live. What our values are.  Our customs, attitudes and perceptions. And also, I suppose, how we express ourselves in art through, such as music, dance, theatre and cinema.  It’s quite a comprehensive area and not too easy to define, really.

The Journey
I was born in what is commonly known as ‘the west’. I lived in Ireland for the first thirty years of my life. When I was thirty, I married my husband and came out to India to live here with him. That was the beginning of an interesting journey, which is still evolving. I must have had some east/west comparison stereotypes in my head. But in India, I found that the people I met had huge stereotypes in their heads about what they called ‘western culture’ and ‘western way of life’. Not long after I arrived in India, I was struck by the number of people who said things to me like ‘in the …

Five Ways Social Media Has Changed Our Lives

Has social media changed the way we live? You bet it has! I’ve been in India for 22 years and have visited home in Ireland maybe half-a-dozen times. The biggest challenge about this, for me, has always been coping with the difficulty of making contact with old friends and family. However, that’s all over now, thanks to Facebook. I check my phone every morning and read that uncle Ned in Dublin is furious over the biased referee in the boxing match or that my cousin Paula in Dublin went to see Take That in concert (or whoever!). I speak to my cousin Veronica in Scotland every few days thanks to WhatsApp. We haven’t spoken this frequently since we wrote to each other as kids. Social media has definitely changed our lives forever. I can think of at least five ways that social in which it has affected life as we know it.

Social media makes the world more accessible to us. This is a fact. The world is at your fingertips. Find out which of your friends and family are on Facebook and once you …