She’s pregnant NOT sick – or uncommitted!

Many of you may have read about the appointment of Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new CEO.  She comes from Google, and is anecdotally often referred to as Google’s employee #20. She is young, beautiful, brilliant, and oversaw the creation of some of Google’s most high profile products like Gmail. She’s also credited for the clean uncluttered look behind Google’s search page.

Just Google (haha) her name, and you will see a beautiful young woman who is now in charge of one huge and important corporation. And she’s pregnant. I read with disbelief today, about how people are criticising her for being successful and pregnant, and …heaven forbid…of being pregnant and in charge of a global internet force.

Helloooooo…am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

She’s pregnant, not sick. She’s pregnant, not incapable of using her considerable brain power and judgement to run a company, no matter the size. Comments like the ones I read today, like she should have disclosed to shareholders that she was pregnant before her appointment really make me wonder whether we are sweating the small stuff as a global people. And also whether we have really moved on in the gender equality stakes.

The Harvard Business Review blog article “Being Pregnant Is the Least of Marissa Mayer’s Challenges” points out that “being pregnant re-activates all our long-dormant, or perhaps just repressed, biases about women. Yes, we have female soldiers in combat, female CEOs, female doctors, female lawyers, female editors-in-chief – when you’re wearing a suit (or an M-4) it’s easy to forget you have those weirdo ladybits that seem to make people doubt your competence. Not so when a woman is pregnant… Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy … agreed via email, adding that “moms are also viewed as less committed”.”

I know that I’m not the only vociferous voice against those who buy into the nonsense of pregnant women and Mom’s being less committed. If you are a Mom, have a Mom, are married to a Mom, have Moms as friends, and the list goes on, know that Moms are some of the most committed and determined people on this earth.

I work with many Moms who are in very senior positions who work long hours. Nothing uncommitted about them. I have Moms in my family that in between giving birth and breastfeeding a baby, have successfully passed their university exams. Nothing uncommitted about them either. I know Moms who worked right until the last day before giving birth. Nothing uncommitted about that.

Through sick children, first days at school and the organising of countless birthday parties, juggling a home, and in many cases a marriage and a full time job, a Mom is simply the whole package.

Going back to Marissa Mayer – I think people should rather be asking her how she plans to turn Yahoo around and what her vision for the the company’s future is, rather than focusing on her impending motherhood.

I know that what I’ve touched on is merely the tip of the iceberg as regards this contentious and controversial topic. What Marissa Mayer has to do is nothing new or insurmountable. Nothing that hasn’t been done before. The difference between her and the countless other Moms and Moms-to-be out there, is that she is doing what she has to do under the spotlight of the media. And that is no enviable task.

Author’s note: Regina is not a Mom but she has many friends and family who are, some stay-at-home Moms, and she observes with awe and admiration, the commitment, sometimes sacrifice, and sheer joy of motherhood experienced by these special people in her life.

Once upon a time…happily ever after (Mandela Day)

It started when I was 5. My heart was broken when the beautiful princess pricked her finger on the spindle and fell into a deep sleep for a hundred years. I was happy with joy when the prince charming kissed her and she woke up to much jubilation.

I rode on the back of a cat with huge boots as he tramped through the country-side, charming the king with gifts. Together we crafted the clever plan to bring his master to the attention of the king (and his daughter). And I egged him on as he outwitted the horrible ogre.

Throughout the years I’ve immersed myself in alternative worlds. Through devouring books I have known past worlds and future worlds. The sheer pleasure of losing myself in these other worlds, the current one momentarily forgotten, dishes, washing, cooking…all relegated to the back seat as I enjoy front row seats to witness Sherlock Holmes solve mysterious crimes and  the dashing Darcy romance the clever Elizabeth.

As a kid I refused to do my homework until I had read for an hour. By the time I got to my homework I was in a much better frame of mind. Reading has always been and remains a stress-reliever for me.

Reading provides general knowledge. A knowledge of the world. A knowledge of different people – it promotes diversity and cultural awareness. There are worlds and minds to be explored in the pages of a book.

Where else can You Journey to the Centre of the Earth? Or go Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? Or spend Five Weeks in a Balloon? Jules Verne’s books have been hugely inspirational to me.  In real life, to do each of those things would take a ton of money. But I can experience them anyway, in my imagination, for a whole lot less.

Amidst the Limpopo textbook scandal I am keenly aware of being extremely fortunate to have been brought up surrounded by books. A child should never have to ask for a book. A child should never want for a book. It should be provided, thereby encouraging them to read for enjoyment, affording them the opportunity to discover  wonderful, different, new, worlds and peoples. Allowing minds to develop and expand.

Mandela Day is coming up on the 18th of July. What better day is there to donate books to children who need them? I will be doing so.

And in so doing I hope to go a bit of a way towards affording kids who can’t afford books, the beginnings of a happily ever after.

 

Cake wrecks

Have you ever wondered what happens when cake decorating goes wrong? And have you ever wondered what happens to those cakes? Well, some actually get bought, if only for the novelty and laugh value. I would buy one just for a laugh, to see the looks on my guests’ faces when as I bring it out.

I came across this hilarious site called Cake Wrecks about …cake wrecks. You simply have to go for a visit. I laughed so much at some of the exhibits that tears were streaming down my face, holding my tummy with my head in my arms (hope this mental image inspires you to go there).

And no, I am not getting paid to write this, I don’t know the owner of the site and they don’t know me LOL :-).

If I ever had to decorate a cake, I would probably not do much better… although if I got a message to ice on the cake like the one below I would try to phone the person to confirm the message first.

This is the cake that had me in stitches.

Cake Wrecks image

 

Someone phoned into the bakery and dictated a message over the phone. I suppose that all they wanted written on the cake was “Happy Birthday” with balloons and other such decor. Off course, they must have said “…with balloons and crap like that on it” and that’s exactly what was written on the cake!

What would you do if the expensive cake you ordered came like that? I would serve it, just for a laugh! And next time I ordered a cake I would probably draw the baker a picture of what I wanted on it LOL :-).

 

Pune

During my recent trip to India, I spent 3 weeks working in Pune. It struck me today that I have written about Delhi and Agra, and have not writen a word about Pune. Today my post is dedicated to Pune.

Pune is a very large city in the provice of Maharashtra. It is the same province where Mumbai is located. Pune is the 8th largest city in India with 3,115,431 inhabitants. It is the cultural capital of Maharashtra (Wikipedia). It is a mere 30 minute flight from Mumbai.

I spent 3 weeks over January and February, in winter, walking around in short sleeves. I am told it gets very hot during the summer. It was wonderful weather when I was there.

I stayed in an apartment complex in Magarpatta City. Magarpatta City is a self-contained city within a city, consisting of residential, business and commercial settlements. It has schools, gym, spas, and recreational facilities. It also has eco-friendly practices, such as rain water harvesting, vermiculture, a bio-gas plant, garbage segregating at source, use of fly-ash bricks in construction, and has one of the largest residential solar water heating systems in India. Solar panels have been installed in every residential apartment complex. Read more about this here.

Magarpatta City has wide leafy boulevards and has a constant maintenance team looking after the pavements and parks and making sure everything is spotless. The image below is of the road into the city from the main gate. The gate is manned by security. Busses and rickshaws can be found outside the main gate.

The leafy streets of Magarpatta City
The leafy streets of Magarpatta City

Pune has many shopping malls. Magarpatta City has 2 and the 3rd one, the Magarpatta City mall is being built and looks huge. Opposite Magarpatta City is the newly build Amanora mall, it is also huge and looks very upmarket. The other malls I went to were Inorbit Mall and Phoenix Market City, both in Nagar Road. This last one is truly colossal! I need not mention that all the malls I went to have the full range of retail, entertainment and wellness choices. I also don’t need to mention that they all carry the full range of branded shops. This goes without saying for any mall in India. Destination Centre in Magarpatta City has all you need for daily shopping, and stays open until late in the evening – great if you are working late. It also has restaurants, and the BEST masala tea I had in India!

Pune has more than enough to choose from in terms of restaurants. If western is your style, the Hard Rock Cafe will suit you. The Sizzlers range of restaurants offer lots of yummy food. There are many trendy restaurants. I am vegetarian and I had more choice than I could eat in all the time I was there. In fact, in the month I was there I did not eat the same thing twice (except if I chose to, like Gulab Jamun, described in a previous post).

Sukanta is a pure vegetarian thali restaurant. Within seconds of seating and with huge flurry and a whole lot of noise, a round stainless steel tray is placed in front of you with 9 or so smaller stainless steel bowls on it. Each bowl is then filled with yummy food – veggies, curry, dahl, breads. Even the sweet is placed on the tray. As each bowl empties it is immediately filled (I kid you not, it is that quick) – waiters walk up and down the restaurant looking for empty bowls to fill. And they know just which ones need which food. You literally have to put your hand over the bowl to prevent them from filling it again.

The next day we went to Soho for my friend’s birthday. This is a trendy place, where you can get a good meal and have a good dance, it is place to go when you want to have a good party. We were there on a dry day, so no alcohol was served, so just time your visit well.

Deccan Harvest in the CyberCity area of Magarpatta City was also good. Fancy and with good food. Another thali restaurant I went to was in Phoenix Market City mall, very fancy. Food very delicious. Same concept as Sukanta, called Rajdhani.

Pune restaurants - Soho and Rajdhani Thali
Top – Soho Restaurant; Bottom – Thali at Rajdhani

Now if you are going to Pune, you simply have to shop in Laxmi Road. In terms of clothes and jewellery, whatever you can get in the malls you can get here, with more variety and much better prices. One can’t bargain in the malls. But you can bargain in Laxmi Road. If you are not a local or speak Hindi, go with someone who does to do all the bargaining for you. I bought some beautiful clothes, including sarees there.

The hustle and bustle of Laxmi Road Pune
The hustle and bustle of Laxmi Road Pune

I am told that Pune is a city where the motorbikes outnumber the people. I think this is certainly true. It was also here that I drank the heavenly nectar of sugar cane juice mixed with lime juice. A simple corner stand housed a medieval-looking press, hungrily eating chunks of sugar cane, fed continuously by a sweating attendant.

Sugar cane juice stand and the some of the many motorbikes in the city
Sugar cane juice stand and the some of the many motorbikes in the city

Getting around Pune is easy. There are busses and taxi cabs. If you are brave, hire a scooter, or a car. If you want some adventure, I can definitely recommend the ubiquitous rickshaws – ready my post on this interesting, fun and sometimes frustrating mode of transport – Rickshaws. They are everywhere, their sound unmistakeable as they putt-putt-putt their way around the streets looking for fares. I would be lying in bed in the middle of the night, and their putt-putt-putt sound would reach up to me on the 10th floor.

On my second last day I visited the Aga Khan Palace. It is a beautiful, majestic palace. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi was held under house arrest for almost 2 years with his wife Kasturba Gandhi and his secretary, Mahadev Desai. Both his wife and secretary died here, whilst in captivity. The gardens are large, beautiful and serene, despite the noise and activity of the Pune-Nagar Road just outside the gates.

The Aga Khan Palace in Pune
The Aga Khan Palace in Pune

There is so much to see in Pune. I did not do much of the tourist stuff. Tourist sites mention the Osho Meditation Resort. I did not go there, only drove past and I must admit that I was dissappointed to see lots of westerners there. It is geared towards western visitors. I suppose western visitors bring in tourist revenue to the city. Even though meditation and yoga are of India, to go to a resort catering mostly to western visitors is not to know India. I believe that the gardens are beautiful and are open for an hour or two at sunrise and at sunset. Otherwise you will have to book in to the resort.

I prefer the real India, the grittiness and gentility, rubbing shoulders with people, street food and drinking the local tap water – YES, I did it in Pune! And I was fine.

I loved being there, living day to day, absorbing the culture and the vibe. I hope India is on your list of places to visit. And that Pune will be part of your itinerary.

 

 

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