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Helping women to be more productive at the workplace is not rocket science. The first step is to create an atmosphere of shared work at home.
Plugged into the phone through the headset, piping hot Darjeeling tea on the counter and cooking on all the burners of the gas stove is the current way for me to stay connected while multitasking.
The voice on the other side was doing none of these as he belonged to the other gender. No, I am not voicing my protest against the other gender. That’s an ongoing battle as old as the first sin.
We were talking about his recent trip to Germany and how breakfast was made and eaten by the entire family in less than 20 minutes and how the entire family was out of the house after loading the dishwasher in the morning. This is not news to me, yet I looked at the sambar that was boiling in the pressure cooker with half the vegetables from the market, all cut into sizes in perfection for variety, a lavish amount of dal as the thickening agent, tamarind water to give it a tangy flavour, several masalas to spice it up and topped with seasonings to add zing into it.
The number of ingredients and vessels required to make this one traditional dish is definitely not to be counted on your fingers. After all these tasks, the companion to Idli becomes one single curry, the vegetables have lost their taste identity and merged as one entity. This is my south Indian healthy breakfast that goes with Idli and coconut chutney. We Indians always boast that home made traditional food is a challenge to the fast breakfast of the west. Is healthy food all that matters? In that case, there is more to health benefits of these healthy breakfasts.
While I was talking to a doctor of healthy food, he questioned me as to how I categorized sambar into the healthy dishes category? He asked me if it was purely because of garlic and turmeric that goes into it? He then probed me, what about the masalas and dal that could work counterproductive to the gastronomic journey in the stomach? Since I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor I had no convincing words to counter.
When we say “easy to make” we are discounting all the processes that go into the batter and considering only making the circles on the tawa or loading the Idli steamer.
If you have idli batter at home then breakfast becomes easy; so goes the expertise from the kitchen. Yes, its easy if we remember to soak all the raw ingredients, (the ingredients can’t be out of proportion), then grind it and keep it for fermenting. In between there are several dishes to be taken care of, for the easy procedure. If these processes are taken care of and the batter ferments well then voila, idli is the easiest breakfast. When we say “easy to make” we are discounting all the processes that go into the batter and considering only making the circles on the tawa or loading the Idli steamer.
Well, my intention here is not to compare the ease of making a pancake as compared to its healthy counterpart, the dosa. Nor is it my intention to tout the health benefits of sambar as against the western counterpart of milk and cereal. It beyond food, it’s beyond health, it’s beyond Germany.
Making idli, sambar, chutney, tea for breakfast; cleaning all the utensils in between making and packing lunch and then rushing through the traffic; how productive do women find themselves when they reach the office?
After toiling at home with the entire’s days chores all together at one go in the morning, women land up in their chairs in the office to do another entire day’s professional work. It’s no surprise that most days could begin with a big yawn for a coffee.
I am talking about the other larger segment of the Indian working women who toil it out before work at home, during work at office and after work at home.
Exactly how productive are they being right through the day? I am not talking about the lucky few who have a support system at home; I am talking about the other larger segment of the Indian working women who toil it out before work at home, during work at office and after work at home. Its common sense that they do not find themselves as productive as the men who begin their day with a cup of tea that’s made by their working wives, read the newspaper that is placed in the sitting room by their working wives, eat breakfast that is cooked by their working wives, drop children who have been readied by their working wives and eat the lunch that’s cooked by their working wives.
Factually, none of these women want to discuss or display their weariness at workplace because the office would then view them incompetent compared to men at workplace. Office work is like a sandwich for women, wherein the office work is the filling and working at home before and after office are the bread slices. Women are not fatigued from office work but they are fatigued because of this work prior and post their work. If women were to sashay into office fresh from bed and bath just like the men do; then trust me, they would be much more productive than they are today.
We are a country of combinations and permutations at the culinary front. In Kerala, Puttu combines with Kadala curry, Appam combines with Stew curry. In Tamil Nadu Idli combines sambar, in Punjab it would be the aloo paratha with dahi.
Who would shoulder the responsibility of making women more productive? Could women totally stop doing the work at home? That doesn’t seem like the appropriate solution. Do we censure the tedious nature of our traditional healthy food cooking and eating culture of our country ? Or do we blame the men who could take part equally at the home front?
Women run a marathon every single day; some days they win and a few days they fall exhausted but they still run the next day again. Women work hard and smart; it’s their productivity that we need to help enhance. We need to delve deeply into what contributes to the decline of women’s productivity at work place.
…when women have gone out and contributed to the family bank balance, the balance from the home front needs to come in from the men.
Women are doing their part, so now it’s the part of her environment to do its part. To have happy women at home and productive women in the office we need to bring about a change in the environment they live and work in. Families could take a look at their traditional healthy food and go for simpler healthy food. Kitchen and home are not the sole responsibility of women; when women have gone out and contributed to the family bank balance, the balance from the home front needs to come in from the men.
Indian working woman via Shutterstock
Jaseena Backer is a Psychologist. The world knows her as a Parenting Strategist and Gender
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