Summer Holidays and Parenting

Summer holidays and parenting can be strenuous or fulfilling and fun. All you have to do is to be a little bit adventurous and imaginative. This way kid and you both can enjoy the summer break. For the last two years, my track record was not very good. And I heaved a sigh of relief when my kid’s school reopened. But that was because I was bed ridden for months. This year, I was determined, bed ridden or not, we will enjoy the summer break. Thankfully, I am active this year, so its a bliss to enjoy all the benefits that health can offer you.

Summer Holidays and Gardening

I am an outdoor person. I love spending time in the open. How hot outside is, doesn’t matter. Thankfully my daughter share this passion with me. She too is an active child. We love beaches, climbing on trees, going for walks, swimming, getting drenched in rain or just sitting on a bench in the garden and chatting. We try to indulge in all these activities whenever possible. Yesterday we tried our hand at gardening.

But the problem is we don’t have a piece of land for gardening! But its no deterrence to us at all! We collected the seeds of fruits we ate in the morning and headed towards our community lawn with our seeds and a small shovel.

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  Seeds

A gardener was already working in the field. We showed him the seeds and wanted to know where we could plant our mango, cherry, plum and muskmelon seeds. He guided us to some spots. Some we chose on our own. My daughter first wanted to plant mango seeds. She started digging a hole but it was too shallow. Later on I decided to give the gardener a break and did his own work for a while. He was watering the lawn and plants. From time to time I wanted to pour some water on my head too, but I resisted the temptation. The gardener sat in the shade. If you try hard, you can make out his outline.

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The Gardener

My daughter had finished planting most of the seeds and wanted to swap work with me. We changed places. I want my daughter to enjoy nature and develop a green thumb. Gardening is also a good way to teach them about patience. No matter how well you are taking care of the sapling and plants, they will grow when they have to, they will bear fruits when they have to. You have to take care of them almost everyday and then you can’t do anything except step aside and watch.

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Chilling Out

Gardening also involves a cycle of care. You have to go to the planted spots everyday and water them. You have to keep a watch on your activities too. Don’t put too much water or too little water. And the biggest learning experience for my daughter can be, when the trees will be ready to bear fruits, we might not be living here and will move to some other place or city! I know that will be a real life lesson for her. :-)

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Feeling Of Gratitude and Parenting

Developing a feeling of gratitude should be an important part of parenting, especially in today’s world of abundance and pampering. Kids should be taught early that nothing can be done in isolation so they should not take things for granted. At the advent of our civilization, a typical day started at the crack of the dawn by taking a dip in the river, thanking river for its life giving properties and then offering prayers to Sun, the source of every kind of life on this planet earth. But somewhere down the line, we lost this sense of gratitude and started thinking about such prayers as needless exercise from the past.

Even grown ups have stopped noticing the good in their lives and concentrate on what we have to achieve, where we have to reach most of the time. We tend to hold out till we achieve something big. Somehow this feeling get rubbed off in the kids too. But for a happy and fulfilling life, its necessary to pause for a while and think about what we already have and how grateful we are for finding joys in small things. We should teach gratitude to kids from early age. I have never given it a thought till now and used to wonder why my daughter was not happy with the goodies she has got. We have never explained to her, what is gratitude and why it is important. Not even from parenting, but gratitude was absent from our own lives. I hardly used to pause and think about gratitude. But I felt deeply distressed the way my daughter used to treat her toys, color books, crayons, skates, story books and clothes. One fine day, my husband told me about the absence of gratitude from our lives. And it got me thinking. I tried to explain to my daughter what gratitude is, and she showed mild interest.

Meaning of Gratitude

Why Teaching Gratitude To Kids is Important : We love pampering our kids and we always want to have the things we never had as kids. Nothing is wrong in that philosophy. But teach your kids about feeling grateful. Be thankful for what they already have. It is important for their social, physical and emotional well being. Gratitude touches almost all the aspects of our life. It improves health, boosts immune system, reduces stress, strengthens relationships, encourages positive emotions etc. Grateful people sleep better. They have stronger bonding with family and friends because they practice gratitude. As a parent its important for us to teach kids, that they have not achieved anything in isolation. Whatever they are doing, many strangers have worked for that joy and satisfaction. The color book and crayons they are using re the result of hard work of many strangers.

Importance of Gratitude

How To Develop The Feeling of Gratitude In Kids : The good thing about gratitude is it can be learned. You don’t have to be born with this feeling. You can teach your kids to be grateful by following many methods.

  • Encourage Kids to Maintain a Gratitude Diary:
  • Encourage your kids to write down about things they feel thankful on daily basis. Initially they might need your help but later on they would love to count their blessings. Help them noticing small things such as enjoying a good sandwich, watching birds flying, enjoying a good game with friends, having picnic, kindness of a total stranger or simply watching a good program on TV. Later on they will pick the cue and maintain their diary on their own.

  • Teach Kids to Write Gratitude Letters or Notes
  • Encourage kids to write gratitude letters or e-mail to the persons they are thankful to but have not expressed their gratitude yet. Encourage kids to write small notes to the concerned person and stick these notes where the concern person can spot those easily. The echo od such gratitude goes a long way.

  • Be with Mother Nature
  • Sometimes make time from your schedule and take the kids to a park, beach, lake or jungle. Mother nature soothes our nerves and have a tranquil and calming effect on our mind and body. It slows down our process of thinking for better. Teach kids to show gratitude towards the creature of nature according to your religious belief. If you are an atheist, still tell your kids to enjoy and admire the beauty of nature and be thankful for such a bounty bestowed on our planet only. Go for camping and watch stars on the sky unadulterated by city lights.

  • Use Gratitude Stones:
  • I use this method with my daughter. She is not interested in maintaining a gratitude diary or journal. So I devised this technique with her. She already has lots of colorful stones of various shapes and sizes. Whenever she feels gratitude, she picks up one stone from the bowl and drops it in another empty bowl. She loves doing that. Sometimes she needs reminding. Sometimes I ask her, after an specific event, if she is feeling grateful for so and so events? She gladly picks up one or two stones and drops those in her gratitude bowl. She made her own additions. Bigger stones means bigger gratitude, smaller ones for small mercies.

    Gratitude Stones

One day your kid will grow up and join this giant world. He /She has to face their Waterloos. Feeling of gratitude will be one of best gifts your parenting can give to them to sail through. They will appreciate this and definitely pass on this beautiful gift to their kids too.

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Clean and Organized House and Parenting

A clean and organized house and parenting often present conflicting pictures. If you are hell bent on having a clean and organized house, think for a while that once your kid’s childhood has gone, it will NEVER come back. These days most of us live in confined spaces and kids are the worst sufferer of this modern day phenomenon. Due to safety reasons they can’t spend enough time outdoors alone and you can not tag along with them all the time. And when they play indoors and start spilling water or papers or colors on the floor, we especially mothers start wearing their squeaky clean avatar.

Take a break and think for a while, at what cost you want a swanky neat house? Because on surface it seems your kid is playing and making house disorganized and dirty. But if you give your kid’s play a thought, you will realize that your kid is not just playing. Try to look at the following and give it a thought.

organized and clean house and parenting

If you try to observe nature, you can see that animals who have to learn more, play more. Carnivorous play more than herbivorous animals because hunting requires more skill than grazing. When kids play they naturally leave house and its floor dirty and create chaos too. But its better to have all these things than curbing your kid’s natural instincts and curbing their creativity and imaginary models.

Here I don’t mean that you should encourage kids to clutter and make everything topsy turvy. Or you should forget about having a clean and organized house. All I mean is this should not be achieved at the cost of childhood. You can use your imagination to have a neat and clean house and have your peace of mind too. Here are the few simple tips, you can easily apply to have an organized house :

organized and clean house

  • Give Your Kid A Spare Bed sheet :
  • Encourage your kid to be a Picasso on a big spare bed sheet. This way his / her coloring and chaotic activities will be confined to a specified area and so will be your cleaning. Give them some sponge and a mop and encourage them to use it in case they spill colors and water on the floor.

  • Specify The Time of Play :
  • Kid’s playtime should be specific, this way you too will know the time of clutter and chaos. You know beforehand when the kid will get dirty and make your house dirty and plan accordingly. Encourage the kid not to be untidy after his / her playtime is over. You can sit with the kid and explain the virtue of neatness and cleanliness. According to your kid’s age, you can tell him / her why its not OK to clutter all the time. There is a time and place for every activity.

  • Encourage Kids To Clean Up After Their Playtime Is Over :
  • Develop it as a habit when they are young. So that they can consider it as a normal after play activity. If your kid is small, ask for his / her help in cleaning up. They will do it willingly. Kids love doing stuff with parents. Try not to be bossy and controlling. Ask for their suggestions.

  • Take Some of Their Toys Away :
  • If kids litter and throw their toys indiscriminately, take those toys away, saying, “Since you have thrown them so carelessly, it seems you don’t need them. I am going to give them away!” This will make them realize the value of their stuff and putting them in order.

  • Create A Space For Their Stuff :
  • Create a definite space for their toys, clothes, books and shoes. They should know where dirty clothes should go and where neat clothes are being kept. Kids like a definite pattern to follow. Create such pattern from an early age.

Its not difficult to have a neat and clean house. All you have to do is strike a balance between kids’ activities and getting the mess cleared afterwards. We should bear in mind the fact that childhood is precious and best part of one’s life. This should not be compromised.

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Don’t Be Too Logical With Your Kid

logic

Avoid being too logical with your kid. I have committed this mistake and results are not flattering at all. If you are trying to be logical with your kid most of the time, it won’t cut much ice with the kid. Here I am not saying that you should not explain cause and effect or action and consequences to the kid. What I am trying to convey is, don’t overdo it. I have overdone it and ended up being frustrated. It works nicely in the classroom and for the textbooks. But try something else in real life.

If you rely on logic and reasoning excessively, your are not going to get the desired response from your kid. See, what rational approach does to a child’s psyche:

logic1

Kid Finds it Boring and Dry: Take a simple example, my kid is asking for a glass of water, and I am working at that time. I tend to explain to the kid, why I can’t give her water right now and why she has to get up and fetch it herself. It continued on incessantly for many years and she couldn’t figure out for a long time, why Mamma can’t get up! Sometimes I kept on explaining for more than 10 minutes. At the end both of us, ended up feeling frustrated. And no one felt wiser after all those explaining. Now I tell her clearly, “Here is the Jug, here is glass and here are your hands! Use all the three!”

You become Predictable for Kids : When you use too much logic, you become predictable for your kid and he / she won’t enjoy your company. They will use worlds like, ‘boring’ , ‘not so cool’ , ‘uncool’ for you. My kid even stopped enjoying my own made up stories, saying, “In the end your story will tell, what’s the right thing to do! Tell me some humorous stories.” Its her way of saying, your stories are too logical. I can predict the end! I tried hard to come up with funny stories, stretching my boundaries. Try to solve your kid’s problems in funny ways to convey your message, so that the kid come running back to you because you are capable of surprising him / her.


After A While Kid Will Stop Paying Attention:
If you continue with your too logical behaviour, your kid will stop listening to you after a while. Mine did. She knew if she had done A thing, I would take route B. It was like an ongoing repetitive thing for her. Like my stories, my behaviour too was quite transparent for her. And my logical methods lost all the relevance and effectiveness. My utterances were like water on duck’s back. Being too logical is good in academics but not in a kid’s life. They have imaginations, questions, curiosities etc. If you keep on being logical, you are discouraging him / her being a child itself.

No Place For Fun And Spontaneity: Childhood means fun and spontaneity. Don’t incorporate too much logic and predictability into it. If you want your kid to be open and communicative with you bring joy and fun into his / her life. If you want to explain something, use fun and humor. Kids appreciate it and they keep coming back to you with more questions and curiosities. My kid use to ask for something incessantly, till I give in. Now I say, “If I don’t do what you are asking for, first you will yell, then stomp your feet in the last you will cry! But still I am not going to budge.” Therefore by all means, use logic with kids but in interesting manner.

Parents End Up Feeling Frustrated: You you bring too much logic into your parenting, you will end up feeling frustrated. Kids won’t respond well to logic and explanation part. They don’t have enough data to foresee the results of your actions so they won’t understand your logic and explanation part well. In the end you end up feeling demoralized as if you have met a massive wall. In fact, don’t bring up too much logic and explanation into any relationship. Let the fun, spontaneity and simple joys of life rule your relationships to maintain its freshness.

logic2

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It’s Part of Growing Up!

HANDS
Parenting is the world’s most difficult job. No two thoughts about it. “One day, I have to be on my own, that’s why I want to go to my two day school trip, Mamma!” I was secretly quite pleased hearing this from my 9-year-old daughter. Last year I egged her on to go to her school trip but she refused point blank. She was unprepared to even discuss the possibility of going away from home for two whole days. This was a welcome transformation.

We started preparing for her trip. When days were coming near, my kid started showing signs of nervousness. Though she had traveled abroad without her parents, but that was with her aunt and cousin. She enjoyed that trip thoroughly. Till now she has a protected childhood and dependent on me for most of her work. My fault. Entirely my fault. I should not have made her so dependent on me. Its becoming frustrating for both of us.

With passage of time, I realized, doing your kid’s each and every work means you don’t love her. Though you think that you do. Making her dependent is bad in every sense. When I realized this, I am trying to make amendments. Now I try to assign her some household work which she does gladly. She also suggests to me , “Mamma , please teach me some cooking!” So I am taking baby steps in parenting all the time. Somewhere down the line I also realized that when you assign your kid some household work that concern everyone, she feels part of the family. Doing her own stuff makes her self centered. Cleaning her wardrobe, looking after her pet, packing her bags or arranging her stuff won’t make her feel connected to us as a family. It’s safe for her to go to the basement and buy some bread and milk for all of us. We make her do that. Sometimes few vegetables are needed, then we seek her help.

When I was trying to do such things, her school trip happened. Like her, I too was jittery. She is still very much a protected child. Last year, in our building, a couple was celebrating their anniversary and a doctor guest molested a 10-year-old boy while the party was on. Sometimes, I feel, before telling her about good stuff, I have to inform my kid about bad stuffs first. Its scary and makes parenting pretty difficult.

So when her trip was coming near, I kept on repeating the drill, “if you have forgotten something in the school bus, don’t go inside it to fetch it, if the bus is empty with one or two adults. Leave your things and forget about it. Your safety comes FIRST!” Till now, its the other way round, “You have left your slippers unattended, how careless of you!” “You have left your pencils and eraser? How careless!” “You have lost your exercise book? How careless!” But during those days, I was constantly telling her, “Look after your safety, it comes first! If you forget half of the things you are carrying in your suitcase, its OK!”

Due day came, I left her in her school lobby and came back. We have given her a small cell phone too. After one hour she called, her voice was full of anticipation and excitement. She just informed me that their bus has left and they are on the road. After few seconds she said bye and that’s it. I heaved a sigh of relief. She didn’t call whole day. In the night, she just made a call to inform me that she was getting ready for DJ night and partying. And what a fabulous hotel they were staying in!

Next day, in the evening I picked her up from school. First thing she told me, she hadn’t lost anything except her I-card! It rained yesterday. She got thoroughly drenched and got her clothed dried in the hotel balcony and then folded it and put those back in the suitcase!! She was all excited and chattered non stop. In between she asked, “Are you proud of me NOW?” What I answered , I will write in another post. :-) It seems, parenting is a constantly evolving process, for you and kid both.

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Standing Tall

alka-vasu
Today, you seem vulnerable
And frail
Judged, dismissed and ridiculed
By peers.

You come home crying
Over some silly barbs
But deep in my heart, I know my dear
For you those are not silly at all.

But the day is not far ahead
When you will realize
Their mistakes of
Standardizing you, stereotyping you
Fitting you into a mould,
But I know, you are your mother’s daughter
They couldn’t find a mould for her too!

Flap your wings
Carve out your own sky
Be ready to forgive and forget,
Don’t carry any burden around your neck
To weigh you down,
Stand tall and proud amidst all.

When in doubt,
All you have to do is,
Look into my eyes,
And you will see the reflection of your true self,
It’s a promise,
That I will never break.

Image Source: Travel Tales From India

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Mothers, You Are Failing Miserably Somewhere

This is an open letter to the mothers on the occasion of the International Women’s Day

Dear Mothers,

Since today is International Women’s Day. I want to write this to you. It pains my heart when I hear that women are getting raped, female fetus being aborted, girls remaining uneducated, girls being eve teased, officers taking bribes, females molested on the roads. Yes, when a situation happens on the road or office or building its a law and order problem. The less said about the law and order and justice system in our country the better. It’s practically non-existent. But question of law and order arises when a crime happens. Before that mother’s should answer some questions because “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World”. Time for some introspection, mothers:

  • Why your son turns into a rapist?
  • Why your son is a molester?
  • Why your son eve teases?
  • Why your son harasses females sexually?
  • Why your son is a wife beater?
  • Why your son takes dowry?
  • Why your son takes bribes and indulges in corruption?
  • Why your son can’t get up and offer tea and refreshments when guests arrive?
  • Why your son can’t change nappies and wash utensils?
  • Why your son has to be taken care of like a baby by his wife?

What people see is that males leave their homes in the morning for work leaving kids with mothers and come back home in the evening. What are you doing with your sons during that hours? Even if, you are working, you come into contact with your kids for far greater hours than your husbands. Please my dear mothers, introspect on International Women’s Day instead of playing victims and indulging in chest beating. What kind of sons you are raising? Stats say you are failing somewhere in your responsibility. These questions are being addressed to educated liberated mothers, not to illiterates residing in villages.

Dear liberated, “convent educated” and working mothers, care to answer some questions regarding your daughters too?

  • You brought up your daughter like a son. You made no discrimination while providing her education, food and clothes. Why at the time of her marriage she turns up into a village belle and offers no resistance when you offer dowry (fine, you may call them gifts, but everybody knows it’s dowry)?
  • Your daughter is very independent and enlightened when it comes to clubbing, pubbing and choosing boyfriends. Why you have to “arrange” her love marriage bearing all the expenses?
  • Why your extremely modern daughter laps up all the goodies at the time of marriage? Any self respecting, parent-loving female will have a nervous break down while doing this.
  • I remember Hindi poetess Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, who wrote the famous peom, “Khoob Ladi Mardani Woh To Jhansi Walli Rani Thi” rejecting her daughter’s Kanya Daan on the ground that She is a human being, not atta, chawal, daal or cow to be donated to someone. She had the guts to do this in early 20th Century! What about your 21st century Generation XYZ (lost count) daughter? Does she even remotely discuss with you on these issues?
  • While clubbing, pubbing and making boyfriends your daughter doesn’t care about social norms and society. How come during marriage she becomes MUCH traditional and cares SO MUCH about societal norms?
  • How come your daughter becomes ultra mod while lapping up privileges but turns extra docile and traditional when it comes to shouldering responsibilities? Why it’s all about meetha meetha gup gup, kadwa kadwa thoo thoo? What kind of parenting is this?

Today is International Women’s Day. For once, dear modern, liberated, convented working women, instead of playing victims and crying out loud, try introspection. It will do far greater good to you and society than some chest beating. If you want respect, earn it. You can’t demand it.

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How My Kid Stopped Lying

We were constantly worried as parents when our 9-year-old daughter kept on lying constantly. Most of the time she was caught immediately but it didn’t deter her from lying. It was quite heart wrenching for us. We were extremely worried. We kept on talking to her. We kept on explaining. We kept on punishing her, we kept on loving her, we kept on preaching and teaching. But nothing, simply NOTHING, was working. We asked other family members to talk to her. Inside, it was eating me. Profound grief and sorrow engulfed me.

I tried every trick in the book. Tried to reason with her. Tried to explain to her patiently and calmly. Tried carrot and stick policy. Tried to say to her that gradually you will get rid of that habit. Tried to tell her that we believed her. But we were hitting a massive wall which was making us bleed.

Every day I woke up with determination and went to sleep with sense of doom. I tried to get to the bottom of things. When you are a parent, giving up is simply not an option. Sometimes I tried coercion and resorted to threats. Sometimes I tried emotional blackmail. But to no avail.

One day her teacher wrote in her diary that your daughter is not bringing lunch box because you are sick hence unable to prepare anything for her in the morning. The teacher in all good intention suggested us that give her some money because it’s difficult to concentrate on studies while having an empty stomach. She hid all her food in a pouch of her school bag. We were simply dumbfounded. How can things go THAT much wrong? My grief knew no bounds. What she told her teacher was partially true. I was sick. In fact so much sick that doctors advised me complete bed rest for months. But I packed her lunch box everyday. Not giving her lunch was not an option.

First we grounded her for a month. We told her patiently and calmly without showing much emotion. But as parents, saying we were extremely worried, was an understatement. By now we were thinking of getting professional help. We conveyed our feelings to the teacher too.

Our daughter was going to be grounded for whole month. She was not going to use her iPad, not going to watch TV, not going to touch my cell phone or lap top and not going to use her father’s computer. Not going out to play with other kids. We were naturally concerned. After 2 days we decided not to curb her outside playtime with other kids. We allowed her one hour playtime.

We purchased lots of storybooks. Lots of it and color books too. She loves origami, so we allowed her to watch youtube videos related to this. After few weeks, we realized suddenly that she has stopped lying altogether. Once in a while she lies but not the way she used to. So what happened during those days?

Actually my daughter was hooked to online world or virtual world. We didn’t realize when it has turned into an obsession. She had started resenting the real world and in her haste to get back to her own world, she used to lie whatever came to her mind. As before sleeping time she would be watching a video, and when I asked her to brush her teeth, she would calmly say, “I have already brushed my teeth!” If she was in the middle of something and I would ask for the pencil lying nearby her, she wouldn’t listen. If I insisted that she should first finish her dinner then watch something, she would throw the food away when I was away and coolly tell me that she had finished eating. She had no patience for the real happenings in the real world. In her haste to get back to the virtual world, easiest thing for her was to lie.

During her one month grounding period, when we took away her virtual world and replaced it with storybooks, color books, crayons, pictures, board games and friends, her lying habit disappeared. Now her grounding period is over and we do allow her to watch one or two programs on TV or few songs on youtube. But we keep a strict watch on her virtual world. We don’t use TV and internet as a babysitter. We also realized that she is very much fond of reading story books and her favorite author is Roald Dahl! When we purchased story books for her, she used to finish abridged versions in a day!

It’s not just her lying that vanished, she no more an irritable, short tempered kid. Her attention span has improved considerably. She had this habit of not writing anything in her class, that too improved. Now we the parents are not that obstruction standing between her and her world. She opened up towards our suggestions and advises. So everything is hunky dory now? No way. As parenting is an ongoing journey which throws new hurdles almost daily. But when a child is existing in our chaotic world there will always be a method in madness.

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The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjaya Baru

The memoirs of Sanjaya Baru, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’ generated a lot of controversy. The PMO released a statement on the book, “It is an attempt to misuse a privileged position and access to high office to gain credibility and to apparently exploit it for commercial gain. The commentary smacks of fiction and coloured views of a former adviser.” Obviously the book flew off the stands in the first few days days of its release.

The Accidental Prime Minister
The Accidental Prime Minister

When we pick up a book, we often form a preconceived notion about the book and its characters, if it’s non-fiction. I too did the same. For the past ten years India has witnessed an unusual phenomenon on its political horizon. After its independence, India’s political scene has often been dominated by the Nehru-Gandhi family, directly or indirectly. But the last ten years India was governed by an almost non-existent Prime Minister. Those who keep a tab on political happenings, often find that our “nominated” Prime Minister is burdened with responsibilities, and power is enjoyed by someone else.

When I started reading this book, I too was filled with the preconceived notion about the Prime Minister being a meek, submissive, “bending backwards to please the Congress party president” type of a person. But reading Sanjaya Baru’s memoir told me a different tale. He was the media adviser to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, since 2004 to 2008. It is an insider’s account of a rare happening in a complex political scenario. After staying out of power, the Congress was back, though not with a thumping majority. But it was in a position to form a coalition government. Sonia Gandhi, being an Italian born, couldn’t become India’s Prime Minister. Her son Rahul Gandhi was lurking somewhere on the horizon of the political sky but not at the center. Everyone was curious, that who will be India’s Prime Minister.

When, Manmohan Singh was ‘nominated’ as PM by Sonia Gandhi, the reaction was mixed. Because Singh, despite being a part of India’s political party, was still an apolitical person. He was a successful Finance Minister of India under Narasimha Rao. But he never created and nurtured a political base for himself. Singh was not a popular leader and never popular with masses. He was viewed as more of an academician than a politician. Earlier he was considered as a scholar Prime Minister.

But how life flows in the political corridors of Delhi is an entirely different scenario. Here nothing is black and white. Nothing is clear cut and falls in a well-defined category. According to Baru, when the Congress Party President showed her unwillingness to concede ‘do gaz zameen’ in Delhi to a dead ex-PM Narasimha Rao, it impacted the current PM, Manmohan Singh, deeply. Rao’s dead body had to be flown back to his native place. He somewhat took the cue whose lines he had to toe and what lies ahead of him. It was clear to him, how Congress Party President deals with those who have a mind of their own.

Here is how, Baru described the scenario in his book,

“Narasimha Rao’s children wanted the former PM to be cremated in Delhi, like other Congress prime ministers. Impressive memorials had been built for Nehru, Indira and Rajiv at the places where they had been cremated along the river Yamuna, adjacent to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. Even former prime minister Charan Singh, who had not belonged to the Congress, and Sanjay Gandhi, who was only an MP, had been cremated and memorialized in the vicinity. However, Patel wanted me to encourage Narasimha Rao’s sons, Ranga and Prabhakar, and his daughter, Vani, to take their father’s body to Hyderabad for cremation. Clearly, it seemed to me, Sonia did not want a memorial for Rao anywhere in Delhi.

Interestingly, in 2007, the Congress party tried a replay of this stratagem with the family of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, persuading them to take the body of the former PM to his farm at Bhondsi in Haryana. However, Chandra Shekhar’s son insisted that the family would go to Delhi’s Lodi Crematorium if the former PM was not given a proper state funeral in Delhi. The government fell in line and Chandra Shekhar was cremated on the banks of the Yamuna at a spot designated Ekta Sthal.”

The book is an interesting journey of a Prime Minister who knew he had to remain in the shadows of the Gandhis and still he wanted to deliver. How difficult the task of a media manager would be under the given scenario? He couldn’t thrust the Prime Minister under the limelight and as a person who can deliver! If you can, read this book, you won’t be disappointed.

Image Source: wikipedia

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Wedding Decorations and Dresses

This post was triggered by a TV program. I was surfing and just saw the last five minutes of it. Here people were sending wedding decor and dresses related queries. What the adviser said as a casual remark struck with me. She said, ‘when you get inspired with Business tycoon and Bollywood style weddings remember what they spend on their weddings is their 1 to 10% income, not their parents’ whole life savings or major savings of their parents.’ Later on she also added an afterthought: “WOh bhi aaj kal ki shaadiyan, jinka koi bharosa nahi ki kab tak tikengi! (That too today’s marriages about whom no one knows how long they are going to last)”

It really sets me thinking. Really Bollywood or Hollywood or Business Tycoons spend a minuscule part of their income on weddings. If you add up their total income and what they spend on their wedding it will open your eyes. While an average Indian father starts worrying about her daughter’s wedding quite early. Sometimes the day they are born. When we go for a lavish wedding or a dress that you will hardly going to wear in future, think for a while. You might think of a better use of the money.

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Recalcitrance a novel based on India’s First War of Independence

Recalcitrance
Recalcitrance

Being a history student I was familiar with the India’s First War of Independence in 1857. Though in our history books I mostly read about this titled as, ‘Mutiny of 1857′ or ‘Uprising of 1857′ or ‘ The Rebellion of 1857′ but to be fair to the history and martyrs, it should be called as , ‘War of Independence.’ When I chanced upon the book, ‘Recalcitrance’ by Anurag Kumar, I was curious to know how someone can write a novel on an important event of our history. I hardly come across fiction of those times. Another thing was how was Lucknow during those times. Lucknow is a city I admire a lot. Every city has its own soul. Lucknow certainly posses a different soul. Though I was born and brought up in another city, but I kept on visiting this city frequently during my growing years and fell in love with it. The novel , ‘Recalcitrance’ is having both, history one of my favorite subject and , Lucknow, one of my favorite city.

First thing that struck me while reading the book was Anurag Kumar is a very good storyteller. He weaves a good story around a historical event and none of them seem to make a forced entry. The protagonist of the story, ‘Chote Bhaiya’ is an endearing character. He has all the human virtues and failings, our everyday character. But when he choses to rise to the occasion, that sets him apart from others. You will also find a cute love story silently sneaking into your heart and rest there for a while warmly.

The novel also discusses the general outlook of the society prevailing at that time and how they reacts to the India’s First War of Independence’ and what strikes a chord is we are more or less still the same. There are people, who will gladly give up all the comforts of life and contribute to the call of the motherland. One section will be indecisive and follow the wait and watch policy and one will try to make most of from the turmoil and misery of people. It seems nothing has changed much since 1857, except infrastructure and clothes.

The character which remained with me, is an unnamed ‘white turbaned man.’ He is the one who assesses the strength and weaknesses of the public almost accurately and in the end reacts in quite an unexpected manner. My heart goes out to him. The book also throws light on Hindu Muslim relationships. People make lifelong friendships with another religious community but still observe strict adherence to their rituals. You will find two friends Tek Chand, Karim Kahn being closer to each other than their own family members.

Writing fiction around truth is not an easy task. You can’t take too much liberty. People know what actually happened and why. But Anurag has struck a fine balance between fiction and history. In a nutshell, ‘The Recalcitrance’ makes an interesting read and you will get to know the soul of this fabulous city, Lucknow and its people. You won’t find the book boring or writer dragging the plot unnecessarily at any place. You can order the book from e-bay.

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Missed My Blog

It has been ages since I have written anything here. I wish to revive this blog and try to write even if its just one para. I missed this blog. :-) For the time being just want to listen to this song in this rain.

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A Teacher Affects Eternity

Joy of Giving
Joy of Giving

Last week Ritu posted another ‘Joy of Giving’ card. She told us to write a thank you note to a teacher who inspired us the most. I have hardly met any teacher during school days who seemed remotely inspiring. They were more like came into class, lectured us and went out. Their interaction with students were non existent.

I remember, if there was any cultural function or debate in the school, I had never seen a notice on board. It was never announced, It was assumed that those students who were participating since KG class will only be fit to participate. A girl came and whispered something into the teacher’s ear. Teacher would call out one or two names and quietly they went out of the class. Later on we would come to know that they were participating into some event. I resented those facts so much but too young to know what to do. Later on in my life, When I was teaching myself, I took special care not to be my school teachers who were cold, indifferent and distant.

During my post graduation and B. Ed days I met two teachers who were really teachers. We were no longer kids in post-graduation class. But Prof. L. B. Verma were so inspiring and motivating as a teacher. Prof Verma’s teaching subject was history, but one day he was effortlessly explaining us how our brain works! I have already written about Sharma Sir here : Merely A Teacher?

I don’t know where Prof. L.B. Verma is right now. But I will always be grateful to him for treating the subject history the way it should be treated. Whatever understanding I have of history, is solely due to his way of teaching.

I remember students of other branches also came to listen to his usual lectures. Ha! Ha! Ha! A student doesn’t listen to his own …. If there was no place to sit in the class, students preferred to stand at the back of the class and listened to him.

Its because of Prof. L. B. Verma that I have a bit of understanding of a common man’s fight against mighty empires. History is not about Emperors and their victories but History is about how mere common men defeated mighty emperors and all pervasive church priests. How common men had to make supreme sacrifice only then formidable emperors and churches had to give up their power to the common man in the form of democracy. Mankind didn’t get democracy on a platter at all. When Anna Hazare says a common man doesn’t know the power of his vote, it means our history teachers have failed miserably to teach us what is the power of our vote and how important it is for us.

Later on, when I was teaching history to my class, I hope I was able to arouse a bit of interest in history too to my students. I don’t know where Prof. L. B. Verma is today. But I know one fact, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Its really true when I think about Verma sir.

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Joy of Giving

Ritu has posted the following card for ‘Joy of Giving’ week. Ritu posts Joy of Giving cards every week and we have to follow the instructions on card.

Jy-of-giving-card
Joy of Giving

I don’t have enough oratory and writing skills to describe Ritu. She possesses a heart of Gold . But you can’t stereotype Ritu. You can’t place Ritu in a bracket. She writes about social issues, she brings the extraordinary battles of ordinary Indians into forefront. She inspires her daughter to celebrate her birthday in an orphanage. She took kids from orphanage to a multiplex where they enjoy movie with popcorn and cola. She is not your usual social worker. She lives her life on her own term and is a reservoir of strength.

I often used to make pot of tea for security guards. I even bought thermos flasks for such purpose only. I used to put thermos at an appropriate place from where the security guards can spot it easily. I remember my niece TP was barely a year old at that time. I used to balance TP and tea-pot when I went out to give tea to security guard.

One day, I was sitting and watching television when TP came towards me and said something to the tune of ‘Gawd’. I was pretty confused what she wanted from me. I asked her to repeat what she was trying to convey. Frustrated with my lack of understanding, Toddler TP forced me to abandon TV and she tried to drag me to my bedroom. There she pointed towards my jacket and told me again, ‘Gawd, cha’!!!! Then it struck to me, she wanted me to make tea, place her on my waist and have tea-pot in my other hand and hand it over to Guard!! How closely kids watch us is sometimes frightening.

Later on we shifted to another apartment. Here too, I used to make tea for security guards on and often. Even today, the guard came and handed me a fancy tea-pot for chai.

Sometimes they get spare milk from somewhere and ask me to make tea. Sometimes they get milk and sugar and ask for tea leaves only. These days, winter has set in suddenly and I try to give our security guards tea everyday.In fact we have 63 flats in our society. If residents of every flat provide guards with tea, their next turn will come after 2 months! But its too much to expect, I think.

I am not an altruistic person. When I do something like this, I have a very selfish reason. I want my surroundings to be pleasant and full of positive energy. Small acts like this fulfill my selfish purpose. Security guards always greet me cheerfully. They are more than happy to help me in our hour of need.

One day my nephew was returning from office. It was quite late, in fact 2:30 AM. Street dogs were getting quite ferocious with him. He phoned me, stating his plight. I assured him, that I will pick him up. But when I tried to start my car, it refused to come to life. I went to the security guard and told him about the problem. He immediately told me not to worry. He narrated the entire incident to another guard. Told him to be vigil as he was going out for few minutes. He took his danda to scare away the dogs and came back with my nephew in five minutes!

Actually Joy of Giving is not for others. Its for you and you only. The joy you get in return can’t be described in words but can be felt only.

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Joy of Giving

This simple yet amazing exercise of spreading joy was started by Ritu. She asks her friends to complete a single task within a week. This week she has asked us to say no to showers and use bucket and mug for taking a bath. Read below what she is saying:

This week we have a card that is so easy to follow, any one can do it.

But first, a prelude:

Long ago, taking bath under a shower was considered a luxury. Not only because showers were considered an indulgence but because showers were considered an indulgence due to the amount of water they consumed. A bucket of water was considered enough for a clean, thorough and hygienic bath.

Somehow things changed. Homes with more advanced forms of plumbing became popular. Suddenly it was not enough to just take bath – we needed “rain shower heads” in our bathrooms to replicate the rain that poured naturally… Needless to say, water consumption increased and slowly but steadily through our patterns of water use we started depleting our natural water sources.

Did you know that a 10 minute shower can exhaust 120 liters of water from your tank (@ 12 liters per minute)? With an average of four members in a family, that is almost 500 liters of water everyday; 15000 liters of water a month; 1,82,500 liters per annum.

How can we cut down this massive water consumption without compromising on hygiene? (If I ask my kids they will gladly say “Bathe twice a week!”)

Use a bucket. That’s the card for this week:

To join the Joy of Giving just follow the cards. To know how it started, please click here.

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Don’t Treat Your Kid as A Miniature Adult

If I were asked to give a message to parents, without hesitation I would say, ‘Please don’t treat your kid as a miniature adult. We should allow our kids to be kids.’ But we are falling in this trap without realizing that. A kid needs direction, leadership and clarity from parents, not same treatment as meted out to an adult. We can’t have a heart to heart talk with a kid and expect an adult like understanding in return. That doesn’t mean we should not explain things to kids or shun a culture of dialogue and debate. By all means, we should encourage kids to communicate with us on any topic but we should not expect adult like response from kid.

A kid doesn’t have so much experience, expertise and data to access a situation and take right decisions. Here the leadership role of parents become important. We should guide our kids, make them see things in perspective and help them solving a problem. But train your kids to be a leader too. Especially in fun activities. Let them guide you. Do what they told you to do. Let kids decide about their clothes, toys and other matters.

Most of the families have a single child. So a kid is thrown into adult company most of the times. No doubt a kid imbibes the adult behavior and way of talking. Sooner or later the kid start taking and behaving like an adult. You might consider your child smart but the reality is he/she is missing out on a lot of spontaneity, curiosity and creativeness, the hallmarks of childhood. We should allow our kids to make friends with other kids. They need other kids to feel like a kid. These days we don’t welcome other’s kids in our house. It seems as a great hassle. But imagine this, one day our kids are going to step out into the real world and deal with different types of people. Why not start this process early? We should allow our kids to indulge in different constructive activities with other kids. This way they will learn the rules of management first hand. They will learn interpersonal skills and how to manage the resources given to them.

If we keep on treating kids like adults and expect “desirable results” from kids they will start walking, talking, dressing up and behaving like adults. We won’t find big deal till it is confined to behavior. If we treat our kids as miniature adults, they will show the symptoms of anxiety, depression, panic, worries just like adults.

Its totally uncool to treat our kids as miniature adults. Try organizing something with neighborhood kids. My friends suggested that I can throw a dance party with no additional frills. My friends also suggested that I can throw cakes, sandwich or Diwali Cards making party. Kids will learn to make things and enjoy themselves.

I allow my kid to take bath in the balcony in her tub. Sometimes my kid makes sandcastle. Yesterday she made a road of sand, leading to a mall in the balcony. We get drenched in the rain and listen to songs while having lunch or dinner.

Sometimes I try to treat her as a miniature adult but its results were never to my likings. Its impact on my kids personality is not good too. So I try to check this habit of mine and try to follow the way our parents and grandparents raised us.

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Being Happy: Learn to Remember

My Grandfather
My earliest memories with my grandfather was of doing Maths with him. He taught me tables, calculations etc. What was remarkable? He never raised his voice or hand on me while teaching. Though he belonged to the old school of teaching but he never believed in spare the rod and spoil the child type of things. Whenever I was unable to understand any problem, he tried to teach me adopting different methods or giving real life examples. Sometimes when he had to go somewhere, he remembered the sums from our Maths book and when he came back, he usually called me and told me how to do further sums. While traveling , he used to do all the calculations of my Maths chapter in his head. I still long for such a fantastic memory and brain!!!

I know my grandfather’s main subject was Sanskrit. He spoke this ancient and beautiful language fluently but he was comfortable with all the subjects. He taught me till tenth class. And his teaching method was excellent. You never feel afraid of asking questions., when he was teaching.

My grandfather had a hard childhood and adult life. He educated himself in the absence of his father. Only God knows how he was able to do that. Later on, most of his adult life; he shuffled between job and court appearances. His army of relatives had gifted him court cases. My grandfather was facing not one, two, three, ten , twenty but 67 court cases!! A lecturer of Sanskrit couldn’t afford Lawyers. He presented and argued his own cases in the court and won 64 out of 67 cases registered against him. When he used to narrate these incidences, his heart was not filled up with hatred for his relatives. He just told me these things as facts of life. I know he had nerves of steel but he didn’t transfer that quality to me. :-(

In the morning, we often used to fight over newspaper. Who will read it first. Of course, first my Baba used to read, then my father then…. Sometimes when Baba was reading newspaper I used to squat and scanned last page, the sports page. Whenever he spotted me doing that, he often gave the whole newspaper to me to read. My joy knew no bounds at such a grand favor.

Another thing I remember about my Babba is, he always encouraged me to ask questions and never admonished me if I went overboard sometimes. He inculcated in me the culture of debate and discussions and how to look at thing logically.

I often see old people struggling with boredom and isolation. But I have never seen my grandfather getting bored. He had something to read or he listened to the radio. We had vast space at our home. Due to my grandfather, we had most of the fruits and vegetables grown at our place. I remember mango, litchi, guava, peach, custard apple, jack-fruit, gooseberry, papaya, lemon, mulberry and amla trees in our compound. When everyone was taking a nap at afternoon, I used to sneak out and tried to climb each and every tree. If it was laden with fruits, then… :-) Due to my grandfather’s efforts, I had the opportunity of having freshest salads in this word. Just before lunch, we used to dig out radish and carrots and plucked tomatoes. During winter season, my grandfather grew potatoes, peanuts and green peas. Sometimes, when we were with friends, we dug out potatoes and made Tikkis. I can guarantee, nothing can beat the taste of those Tikkis. Until, I came to a metro city, I never realized how lucky I was growing up with all the comforts of a city but environment of a village!!! I wish my kid can experience the same joy and harmony with nature.

I remember, when my grandfather died at the age of 87, I was devastated, totally shattered. I was unable to deal with the reality that it was OK. I refused to see his dead body. I never said Goodbye to him. NEVER. But he never visited me in my dreams. That is very comforting for me. It means he went away as a satisfied soul having no unfulfilled desires at that time. Right now, wherever he is, he is quite peaceful and happy.

He was the only person in the world, who loved me unconditionally. NO matter what I did or thought, he was OK with it. Grandfather is the only person in the world who claimed, “Whenever I see your face, my lifespan increases!!!” When I remember these words, I feel like the most beautiful person surviving on this earth.

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9/11

people-looking-out
When I had seen this image in my newspaper, I was deeply distrubed. Even till this date, whenever I remember the incident, everything just stop within me.

=================
Newspapers showing
Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
Peeping out of windows.

As if asking,
Office hours had JUST begun
But how could life be over?
Suddenly, definitely, precisely
And clinically for everyone?

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
We were just balancing
The morning coffee in one hand,
And files in another,
But how could life be over?

A man made lightening struck,
From the sky
To plunge everything
And everyone in darkness.

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
Would we melt together
With concrete and mortar?

Expectant faces,
Fearful faces,
As if asking
Was it our destiny
To be one with steel girdles?
And not with mother earth?
What had we done
In our lives,
To not to deserve a few feet
Below the earth?
But to evaporate
With the vapor of morning coffee?

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Being Happy: Never Let Others Decide for You

If you want to be happy, never let others decide for you. Only you know what is best for you. It is good to have friends and family and their positive influence on our lives. But if you want to be truly happy, don’t give others so much power that they start deciding for you. It is safe if you allow others to interfere in your matters so that when something goes wrong, you can blame them. But if you want to experience true happiness, take your own decisions and be ready to take the blame too if something goes wrong. How can anyone find happiness in such a situation?

Why we allow others to show us the ‘true’ path and ruin our happiness? The flaw lies with us. We want the love and affection of people that’s why we allow them to run our life. It is beyond our imagination that what will we do if we annoy certain people? The mere thought of rubbing some people the wrong way makes us extremely uncomfortable. But the other option also doesn’t grant us peace of mind. We resent ourselves for letting others dominate us, decide for us or practically run our lives for us. Happiness can never be achieved if we keep on expecting approval from others.

Why certain people keep on expecting approval from others? Why can’t you approve yourself with all the positives and negatives? If you keep on asking for certificates from others they will come with a price. The price will be your self respect and dignity. If you are willing to pay such a high price, go ahead and allow others to define you but never expect that happiness will knock at your door.

If you let others decide for yourself, you will never be happy but aways end up feeling like a victim. You will think something on the lines of, this horrible thing is happening to me because of so and so. You will never feel in control and in charge. You will always put blames on others for your misfortunes. A victim never feels responsible for the bad knocks of life. They always held others responsible hence never feel the need to take corrective measures themselves. Imagine, giving so much power to others will be a key to unhappiness.

If you want to be happy, never allow others to make crucial decisions for you. Commit your own mistakes and enrich your life. Once you start taking your own decisions you will come to know what works for you and what not. But if you keep on letting others decide for you, you will loose the chance to know what is best for you and what makes you tick. The greatest outcome of such decisions will be increase in your self confidence and you will have a positive self image.

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