WHAT ARE DIFFERENT WAYS TO CELEBRATE?

Last few years, we have been playing a fun game called “Secret Santa” just before Christmas. It is a lot of fun and basically involves exchanging gifts in secrecy. We always used to fix an amount of money that people should not exceed. However almost every time, there will be one or the other person who would exceed the budget to show off the kind of gifts he/she can buy.

In the year 2017, I played a different kind of “Secret Santa”. There was an organization which was collecting Christmas wishes from kids living in the orphanages. They hardly have the luxury to exchange gifts. This organization then placed a huge ball of wishes in the middle of our campus. Each one of us was supposed to take up a wish and fulfill it for the child. We would never get to meet the child nor would we be able to see the expression on their faces when they receive the gift. But still many of us picked up more than one wish. Some of them really cute and few were emotional.

Those kids were asked to write down their wishes to Santa. Some of them wrote that they wanted a doll or a book or a car. Some of them even wrote that they wanted a family. Most of us tried our level best to fulfill their wishes to the best of our ability. And we so wanted to see how kids react to our gifts.

For me – that was the best “Secret Santa” that I ever played. It was really secret and brought joy to somebody who really needed it.

I ended up wondering why can’t we celebrate every festival in a similar way? Why do we need the decorations, sweets, gifts etc to celebrate a festival?

I realized that it is all about passion. If one is passionate about caring for the poor, they will find ways to work on it. Just like this organization did and they did it beautifully. If one is passionate only for his/her own pleasure, they will work on themselves only. They will show-off, buy big stuff for home, expensive clothes for the family, beautiful gifts for friends etc. There is nothing wrong with enjoyment but in my view, it should have a purpose other than satisfying one’s own desires.

Simple things can help take a big step towards this

  1. Why not share home-made Diwali sweets with underprivileged kids?
  2. Why not decorate an old age home just like you would do to your own on Diwali or Christmas?
  3. Least that can be done is to invite the family of your house help on festivals to celebrate together. Maybe visit their homes as well.
  4. Every republic day and independence, take up a project of planting trees or filling potholes or spot-fixing a garbage area.
  5. Make decorations using recycled material
  6. Make sure the all our idols that are immersed in water are environment-friendly.

I only listed down a few examples. There can be a million ways to give back to society during our own festival celebrations. Only if we make it our mission to do so, it is possible otherwise like most of us, we will always end up prioritizing our own desires over anything and everything else.

One of the biggest problem in our “Big Fat Indian Weddings” is the wastage of food. Of course, a lot of other things are wasted too and to top the list is the clothing and jewelry. But food wastage saddens me the most because usually close by the wedding halls are the slums who has kids and adults sleeping with an empty stomach. It could be so easy if we could just give away tons of food that turned out to be extra to these beggars and slums sleeping hungry. The only problem here is to arrange for logistics. There is some organization who have started this work, but in my view, the families of the bride and groom and the wedding point owners should take it up as their duty to ensure that every bite of the food cooked goes to a hungry person.

Do not waste. Every time you know that something is getting wasted, raise your voice and find out ways to get it to the person who can use it. It is so simple, only if this becomes a way of living life.

I am struggling to get there and I believe many more are. A lot of us want to do good but just don’t know how. Here is a simple solution – make it a mission of your life and you will find a way.

Celebrate because you love the festival and spirit behind not because it is supposed to be done in a certain way.

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LIKE NEVER BEFORE!

It is this time of the year when most of us wonder how quickly the year passed by. Well, this year is no exception but it has been exceptionally exceptional for us!

I cannot end this year without expressing my gratitude to Almighty for blessing us with baby Aarnav. I cannot express my joy and satisfaction for being a mother. I am immensely happy to have baby Aarnav with us against all odds. This year has been like never before because it is in this year that I have transformed into a different human being – a mother, someone who doesn’t care how she looks, someone who doesn’t rest enough in order to give more time to baby, someone who doesn’t mind waking up 10 times from the slumber just to rock and nurse the baby, someone who doesn’t mind being peed and pooped on innumerable times in a day 😊. I am happy that I am making my way to be a selfless mom! So this year has majorly been about being pregnant, delivering the baby, and enjoying every day with him, celebrating his every milestone and wondering whether there is anything better on earth than this little baby of mine.

I am looking forward to 2019 to be as fulfilling as 2018. Some key things I would like to do in 2019 are –

1. Fitness: Very important that I take my fitness seriously. I need to match the energy level of my little one plus manage a job and household

2. Being mommy: Oh yes, I am totally into motherhood. At the cost of repetition, let me tell you that I always wanted to be a mother and after a long long wait finally I am. I wouldn’t mind considering a sibling for baby Aarnav, but will have to check with my husband too 😜

3: Going back to ambitious self: Oh yes, maybe next year! At present, I am far away from professional ambitions and merrily enjoying being Mumma.

4: Work on spiritual growth.

Few learnings 2018 gave me that I would like to carry forward with me:

1. Willpower works magic

2. You get what you are destined to. No odds can stop you.

3. You can endure far more than you can imagine, so never quit.

4. Life is a lot more than career and money making.

5. While making money is important and growing professionally is as much important too, but there are little things in life that give you far more satisfaction and happiness than materialistic things. Take time to enjoy that.

PARENTING – LOVING SANS DISCIPLINING, NOT DONE!

I think it was in the month of October,  and one of the Saturdays, after dropping our son at swimming pool we took our daughter to park as we had to anyways wait for an hour for him to return. We went to the park and my daughter was having a good time there and it was time to go. So she hardly spent half an hour there and was very reluctant to go for obvious reasons. She was adamant, holding her feet back and we literally had to force her out of the park. She was screaming loudly which was embarrassing. And this situation led to heated arguments between parents (inevitable), I can laugh it off now but that moment was something different. I doubted my parenting, where am I going wrong in bringing up my children”, “why she behaved that way”, “Am I a bad mother that my kids don’t pay attention to my words and many questions followed making me introspect myself and my ways. I felt broken, down and out. I must tell you that she normally abides by what I say but that day it was a different ball game, every parent experiences such incidents I guess.

As they say, sharing helps to mellow down the pain and burden, I confided to my dear friend about the situation and one thing she said really stuck me making a deep impact and that’s what I wanted to share with you all when the topic of “Discipline ” was tossed up for this week. She said “I don’t understand when parents say kids don’t listen to us. It’s really important to make them understand that WE are the parents and they cannot boss around with us, period!”

It made sense, not just “a lot of but wholly“. We all love our kids but loving them without disciplining them, without infusing any sense of responsibility, without morals is as good as a blind leading a bunch of ignorant minds. That would only lead them to fall deep down.

Though parenting is not a definite science with set rules as every kid and every parent is different but I would like to put forth my observation, rather this is what I practice (I do falter sometimes 😔):

A No Is A No:  Well this holds good for kids too. When my kids put forth unreasonable demands, I say NO straightaway. But sticking to it is a rather difficult feat to do. They may cry, bring in recommendations 😁, cling on to you and much more. And if you succumb then they know the trick to get you every time. For instance, my son for whom it is difficult to comprehend a “No” because of his Autism would just throw an agitated tantrum every time I say No. But I try to remain unfazed by anything he does and at the end he would return to normalcy. Actually, this was what proposed by his teachers too, I am following it as religiously as I could.

A timetable is important: Following timelines, having a schedule is of paramount importance when it comes to disciplining kids. And I believe in adhering to it strictly. Be it for how long they are going to watch television when they will have dinner, time to go to bed – everything is fixed. It sets an order and decorum. They should know “Early to bed, early to rise” isn’t just a rhyme 😁.

Parents should be on the same page: It’s a normal tendency that one parent is in charge of disciplining kids at home while the other significant one takes a comparative backseat. It was my mother in past and now I am the captain of the ship 😎.  So whenever a call has to be taken I insist that I and my partner remain on the same page (at least apparently in front of kids). The difference of opinion can be discussed in private. Kids should identify the authority and definitely shouldn’t get a chance to “Divide and Rule“😂.

Carrot And Stick: Ah! This is one of the management/leadership style that I learnt in college is proving to be handy now. I surely don’t believe in the thought process of “spare the stick and spoil the child but it is important to emphasise on Rewards (Carrot) and Consequences (Stick) theory for kids. It would make them responsible in the long run, to say the least. The excitement of a reward and fear of a punishment is very important in moulding up a child’s attitude. That would help them mark the difference between a “Good Behaviour” and a “Bad Behaviour”. A very recent example from Facebook though – a father made his daughter walk to school (5 miles spread over two or three days) in reaction to her inappropriate behaviour of bullying someone. And this is what I exactly meant.

Involve them in chores: Not sure how far this would go in disciplining a child but this would ensure more interaction with them, the autonomy of a greater level in kids infusing confidence. And the goal of parenting definitely includes shaping up a confident independent child. I try to include my kids as much as I can.

NOTE:  These are my observations (to a greater extent practice too) only.  I do fail many times as a parent. But I shall not stop because my kids are my responsibility. I hold responsibility towards them as a parent and towards society too, to give it a socially aware human being and the process is on. And this holds true for every parent. Remember, you are doing great for parenting is not easy and doesn’t come with a manual.  You might have a different approach, do share with me 😊.

I AM RAISING TEENAGERS… WHAT’S YOUR SUPER POWER??

Parenting is not an easy task.  I think most of the parents will agree with me. If you start taking it seriously and think, there is a huge load of responsibility on your head. Right from worrying about whether he is eating right, sleeping enough, growth is at par with his peers, studies enough, plays enough, his marks, his position in class, his manners, whether he is doing enough extracurricular activities, what is he watching on internet, what kind of company he has, etc etc. Believe me during the last 10-15 years I have stressed on and worried about all of these things and more.

But one thing which worries me above all is whether I am raising good human beings or not. Whether I am passing on the right values to my kids or not.

The kids these days have a lot more exposure than what we had during our times. There are hundreds of distractions – TV, Computer, Mobile, Internet, Social Media. They are gathering information from many sources and not all of them are good. So it becomes very imperative for the family especially the mother to inculcate values in the child. These family values stick in the mind of the kids and shield them and guide them even when parents are not around. I just hope to God that I am able to give them this protection.

I have been acquainted with the mothers of almost all the friends of my kids. And all of them represent a different kind of parenting. Some are strict, some are not so strict, some believe in being friends with their children and others believe in smothering them with their love.

I myself have always tried to find a balance on how much to control and how much freedom to give. My kiddos are teenagers now. They are slowly finding their wings and are always probing for more freedom. Staying in a joint family there is a huge generation gap between the thought process of the grandparents and the grandchildren. If the children go out with their friends the grandparents worry about their safety, if they spend too much time on the internet they object, if the child is eating too much junk they point out the ill effects of this kind of food. And the kids think Dadi and  Dadu are being a spoilsport. So I get the role of a referee who allows a little bit of everything and at the same time ensures that the children don’t go overboard and also ensure that the children learn to listen and don’t disrespect their grandparents. Believe me, it’s not an easy task to keep them all happy.

We all love our children a lot and trust them but then we can’t be blind to their faults also. I have an acquaintance  who loves her kids so much that she can’t hear any negative comments about her children. My son came and told me once that he heard her child bragging that he had picked up a chocolate from the super market and walked out without paying and no one caught him. This coming from a 10 year old was shocking. But I still didn’t have the courage to go up to the mother and tell her about this as I was sure she would not agree and fight with me and call my child a liar for spreading such rumours about her son. I sat my son down and explained how wrong this was and what could be the consequences. But that mother missed out on giving a major life lesson to her child. So love your child and trust him but don’t be blind, keep a reality check. Kids learn emotional manipulation at a very early age be aware when you are being manipulated. When I was assigned this topic, Chiradeep had shared a video of an exactly opposite scenario. Sharing it here.

 

My major worry about my children is that they should learn to respect the other gender. As they don’t have any sister they are not actually growing up with a girl to sensitise them towards their requirements. I keep insisting that even if the girls in their class are friends they need to respect girls. They simply can’t make fun of them or tease them. My boys, on the other hand, think that the whole world around them including their teachers and parents are biased towards the girl child and that girls get special treatment everywhere. So we keep having never-ending arguments on this topic. I just hope to God that I am able to inculcate this value in them and they know how to treat a girl with respect by the time they are old enough to understand the differences.

On the same note, there is another fight I keep having in the household. Being a typical Punjabi house there are fixed ideas of what is the work of a girl and a boy. Even though my husband doesn’t cook much I have been trying to get my boys involved in cooking and other household work. And I can proudly say that my younger one likes it so much now that he plans to take up “Cookery” as his optional subject in school next year. People find it weird. I have heard comments like “Why not Computers why cookery?” I just say let him do what he likes.

I am sure you also must have come up with a different set of challenges in your parenting tenure. I would love to hear about it in the comments section. We all learn from each other’s experiences.

REMINISCENCE

The sun had risen and a new day had just begun.
School days had just become past and it was time to step in the college,
New faces, from different places what a collection it was,
Excited, expectant, and zealously everyone looked forward;

The years ahead were unknown, mysterious and surprising.
We got bored, irritated, frustrated with no scope for an uprising,
Days past we grumbled, but nothing would change;
But our camaraderie ripened and friendships began to develop.

Some would blossom, bloom and last forever till the end,
Some just took off and then ended in a crash.
That’s sad but that’s how things go at times,
But life’s spirit never let us down and kept pushing us on.
Step by step we moved forward and treaded our own paths
Towards our dreams and goals, and an unpredictable future.

The hostels would never disappoint with the life it housed,
The hustle and bustle, noisy corridors and the loud music,
The rollicking four-seaters and the companionship developed,
Loud screams at night and it was someone’s birthday.
The counterstrike warfare, or the need for speed,
The craze for the beautiful game and the head breaking
Age of empires, all engrossed many of us.

Life would teach us lessons along the way,
We loved and lost but we never gave up;
We passed and failed but we carried on, with
More wisdom and understanding, learning from the past.

All along we lost track of time,
The day was coming to a close and we couldn’t run away from it,
The time to part had come once again,
My heart grew heavy and tears rolled down my eyes.

Everyone would go away and get lost in the crowd,
Whether friends would meet again will remain unanswered.
One thing was for sure, we would never get these days back:
Memories were all we could carry with us in our hearts.

I looked up in the twilight sky thinking of all that I would miss,
All that it could have been and some that never could be.
I closed my eyes, as all those carefree days flashed in front me;
I walked towards home waiting another brand new day.

BEYOND THE DOORPOST

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here.

 

Numerous times a day did I hear,
These lines from my mother dear.


Unaware what she meant exactly,
I often sulked dejectedly.

 

The house and the square courtyard,
Was all that I had to myself under everyone’s surveillant guard.

I loved my family,
So dared not march towards anomaly.


But their fears unspoken deep within,
And tears unshed bothered me day out and day in.


Courage had I none,
To venture out and have some fun.


The open skies beckoned with their serenity untold
The lush green orchards how I wished to behold!

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here.

 

Leaving behind the years of tender childhood,
As a young man I one day stood.


Shaking my fist and bellowing loud,
I threatened to go past the ominous doorpost.


Quiet silence surrounded me,
Sad lowered eyes refused to look up at me.

A sudden gust of wind,
Brought traces of noise from outside.


In no time was a flurry of stones pelted on the windows freshly painted,
Gun shots and fire – hearing which my mother fainted.


Hours went by as we stayed securely in,
Hoping it would stop and we would save our skin.

 

The night brought with it a silence so eerie,
I heard my father step into my room with eyes bleary.

The night was long with stories of attacks ghastly,
Of lives lost and families ruined.


Of women violated,
Kids killed and mutilated.


The reason for years of safeguarding,
Now clearly stood at my face staring.

 

Clutching my blanket close to myself,
I looked at my father’s retreating poor self.

Blood seemed to gush from my veins,
And the brain threatened to hold the reins.

 

Sleep eluded . . .
Thoughts crowded . . .


As the clock struck six,
I tip-toed down the staircase.

 

Looking back at my loved ones,
Would weaken my resolution.

I looked ahead and opened the latch above my head,
Taking a deep breath I slipped out . . .

 

Beyond the doorpost . . .
Into the darkness that my mother had guarded me against, the most.

There is danger out there, my love
You’re safe in here!

 

 

(P.S. Written from the viewpoint of a youngster in a violent conflict zone of war and extremism)

INTO THE LIGHT

The day I was born you called me princess,
You laughed when I cooed, you jumped to see me stand,
You held my hand when I fell and fell,
You were my first teacher and saw me through good and bad.

You saw me grew, but to you, I am always tender,
You cried for my pains and overwhelmed by my tiny success,
You drove me to school and “kiss me before bye” was your rule,
You were so thoughtful and cheerful, and to you, I am the most beautiful,

I was a naughty child and confused girl who frequently needed an aid,
And you were always there to guide your little mermaid,
Never know what’s trouble cause of your care,
And you gave me many memories to share.

When all the hope seemed to be gone,
You were my shining beacon and gave me strength to carry on,
Many times you embarked on official trips leaving me sad,
But when I am in your arms, I am always glad.

You enriched our lives with your care and love,
And for which I can never express how much I owe,
To help those in trouble, you always had a way,
And your job got a special pay.

Till that unfortunate day, everything went so well,
And I never knew even the meaning of the word HELL,
If I knew that would be the last day, I would see you walk out of the door,
I would have hugged you more and more,
Since you are gone, I tried so hard to show nothing is wrong,
But deep inside I know without you how I can never be strong.
I yearned for your hug, your words and your kisses all these days,
And I tried to speak to you one more time in a million ways,
That uneventful night I heard you cough,
But little I know that’s the end of my laugh.

I never had any bitterness for God in my heart,
But now, in my life, I still struggle for a new start,
All I wanted to see you step out of that hospital my dad,
But all those doctors failed attempts made me mad.

It was hard to accept that you will be missed,
But I felt your skin so cold as I kissed,
I heard people saying “its okay he became old’’,
But how can I ever say that I lost my “precious gold”.

Days months and years passed since you left,
But the pain in my heart never left,
Each day I kept watching the infinity,
And living each day with uncertainty.

I asked God for your love again, one last miracle,
And I kept waiting for the answer from the oracle,
There was always dawn after dusk,
And little I know, I just needed to ask.

One fine day, I felt your tender touch again,
And I know it was the flutter of an angel’s wings,
God answered my yearning prayer,
And again He made me happier.

Now I know I am being watched and not alone,
All the sadness and despair is gone,
Dad, you never failed me before,
And from now on I will never fail you for sure.

As a father, you gave me life, strength, happiness, and everything,
And I won’t let it go for anything,
One day the world will sing about my success so loud,
And I am sure that I will make you so proud.