GLASS – HANDLE WITH CARE

I had always felt very sad and incomplete on seeing other children going to school while, I was at home all day, dreaming. I was a 10 year old boy, sitting at home with an imaginary tagline on my forehead – “Glass – Hamdle with Care“. I could only dream at that time, to be a big man one day, sitting on a table and working on a computer. But how would I reach that state of my life was nothing more than just a mirage for me at that point of time.

Finally, when the time came for me to step out of the house and enter into a school campus, my joys were leaps and bounds. I couldn’t contain them. I was admitted to the school directly into the fourth standard. It all happened because of my aunt (my mom’s elder sister). She convinced my all-possessive maternal grandfather to allow me to go to the school where she was working as a teacher. I was a thin timid boy with no courage at all, bearing the same imaginary tagline – “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Years later, when I passed out of my school and it was time for me to get admitted into a college the tension arose in the minds of my local guardians. But I joined. The day I went for the admission I saw a senior student carrying a sword along with all his friends, protesting against the government during the Mondal Commission issue in 1992. This time, carrying the imaginary tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” by myself, I was trembling in fear looking at the rowdy students out there. This is how my first time at college started with a serious jolt down my spines.

In 1997 after my graduation, I wanted to taste freedom and fortunately, my aunt stood by my side trying to convince my grandfather to allow me to study away from them at Bhubaneswar in Utkal University for my post-graduation. My father’s elder brother was the Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University. I stayed at my cousin’s to complete my PG in Utkal University. But I was strictly instructed to carry my tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care” without fail.

That imaginary tagline was the chain which put me under its bondage at every ‘First Step’ I took at different stages of my life. But I could breathe free with my lungs inhaling the fresh air of freedom for the first time when I came to Kolkata, my first out of state stay. I sensed, the tagline “Glass-Handle with Care” disappearing for the first time after many years in my life. I felt God’s promise of “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go“, real and evident.

Have I become very strong? Am I free from all the sufferings? Don’t I have any weaknesses anymore? No, not at all… I have become more weak and slower. But I definitely am free from that all-encompassing negative tagline, “Glass-Handle with Care”. 

Never enjoy stagnancy but always be ready for the first time adventures relying on His divine strength.

Stay Blessed!

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MY FIRST DAY AS A FREE BIRD

“My First” is an interesting topic. I have had a few interesting encounters but I’ll mention a funny incident.

A college is a new beginning in any students’ life. After the much-disciplined life of schools there comes the college. We suddenly start thinking that we are actually grown up wand that now we can do anything we want. We feel like a free bird. After 12 years of studying in Girls’ Convent school, and 2 years of +2 in a women’s college, I got admission in Ravenshaw University for pursuing higher education. I had so many emotions running through me because for the first time I was about to step into a co-education institution. I had so many things on my mind, from what I was going to wear to how to figure out where the class would be located at. But I was not alone, three friends of +2 had also taken admission in the same university, which was sort of a relief for me. 

Finally, the day arrived when I stepped in Ravenshaw University. One of my friends had accompanied me in a rickshaw. After reaching near the gate, we waited for the other two friends. After they arrived, we exchanged some gleeful glances and entered the campus. It was huge! I call it the “Red Empire”. There is a big lawn, spherical in shape with antic street lamps neatly fitted. The buildings were red in color. And my favorite color is red! The scenic beauty, the neatness, the entire atmosphere inside the campus had won my heart. To the right-hand side of the lawn, was a big digital board which read “Welcome to Ravenshaw University”. But without wasting much time we headed for the inaugural lecture. It was to be held in Gallery No. 2. We asked a few students and made our way through the crowd to the Gallery. After walking for about 5 minutes, we could see the word “Gallery”. We smiled at each other and rushed towards it. But when we reached near the entrance door, the Gallery was nearly full and the class had begun. We exchanged “oh-no-we-are-late” looks and one of us told, “Ma’am may we come in?” The class which was totally hooked to madam’s lecture was startled by our interruption. We could even see backbenchers giggling among themselves. I felt really embarrassed. But then it was mentioned in the time table that the inaugural lecture was supposed to commence at 11 am. We are only 5 minutes late. Madam looked at us, she didn’t question, she glanced at her watch and told “okay class, we will continue tomorrow” and she got up to leave. We four exchanged puzzled looks. “Get inside”, madam said and left. 

We four got inside, but we were greeted by startled looks, “who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here” looks. We four settled in and looked left and right to see many familiar faces. Finally, I spotted a familiar face and waved my hand. She was my school senior, she too noticed me and waved back. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Di, actually I,..”, before I could complete, another madam entered the class. “Settle down class, we have to cover two important topics today,” she said in an urgent tone. Without any delay, she started taking attendance (Ravenshaw University is still strict regarding attendance). After finishing with the left block, she signaled the right block for attendance. We four exchanged nervous glances because we didn’t have identity cards or roll numbers!

Meanwhile, it was our turn. “Yes, your roll number”, she asked my friend. “Ma’am I don’t know”, my friend replied in a feeble voice. “What do you mean by I don’t know? Anyways yes, next”, said madam in a hurried tone. “Ma’am I don’t know my roll no”, another friend of mine replied. “What? And you?”  Madam signaled me. “You too don’t know your roll number,” she asked sharply. “No ma’am” I replied. “You all are from which department? Where are your identity cards? Wait a minute, are you all freshers??” She asked us, nearly getting up from her seat. “Yes ma’am”, four of us replied. We could hear indistinct chatter and feeble giggles from behind. “My my”, madam exclaimed. “This is the Second year, English Hons. Class, your lecture is in the Gallery No. 2 and this is Gallery No.3. Common hurry up, you guys are late.” Madam signaled us to leave and showed us the correct place. After we left the room, we could hear laughter and indistinct chatters all through the stairs. Before we could catch our breath, madam had asked an office staff to accompany us to the destination. Had he not accompanied, we would have never reached the Gallery. Because we were new there and the campus was huge and lots of short-cut paths and ways puzzled us. 

Finally, we reached the Gallery No. 2. It was 11:30am. We missed some parts of the inaugural session. But we got our identity cards, roll number, library card, and the syllabus. After nearly 40 minutes, the inaugural session ended. We met with a few familiar people, friends of friends. After that, we headed for the canteen, for a quick refreshment.  We had a hearty laugh, with what just happened. Then two of my friends left. I and my friend took a walk around the campus and then headed home. Thus, the eventful day came to an end. My first day in Ravenshaw University is truly memorable. 

SPECIAL FIRST TIMES!!!

First times are always special because they make you either confident in continuing what we want to do or they make us really scared to go ahead in that venture. There are many things that have gone well for me when I think of my first times. Although there have been goof-ups too, sometimes because of me and other times not. 

The very first memory that I have of a goof-up is when I was going to the school in Dehradun for the first time. I was born in Gujrat and my parents had been staying there for almost 18 years. When I was 6 years old, my father got transferred to Dehradun and we packed our bags to come to this new city which was quite different. My father and one of his colleagues had got the transfer together and hence we were travelling together. I was 6 ready to go in 1st standard and my sister was 13 ready to go in 9th standard. And the other family also had two kids – elder one going to go in 4th standard and younger one was my age. 

We had shifted mid-session so getting admissions in the school was a challenge. Somehow we managed to get admission in a school named Scholar’s Home which had 3 branches. The farthest branch was quite far off where my sister was supposed to go since she was going to High School. The first branch was quite a big school but we did not get admission there, we younger ones got the admission in the second branch which was only the Primary school. The schools were quite far off from our home and there was a school bus that would take us there. 

I don’t remember a lot of it but I remember being dead scared. It was a brand new city, new school and away from home. I don’t know if I cried but I know that the only relief I had was that I was not alone going to that school. So, the goof-up happened when the bus conductor got confused about which branch he is supposed to drop us at. There were no mobile phones or landlines at that time. My sister was on the other bus. We three kids got dropped at the first branch which was not the school we were supposed to be at. I remember kept telling the bus conductor that I don’t think this is where we are supposed to be, but who takes a 6-year-old seriously? 

As soon as we came in, the teachers were surprised to see us as we weren’t even expected. I started crying and so did the other two kids with me. We spent the whole day sitting in the Principal’s office. There was no way they could get the confirmation from anywhere either our parents or the other school. We did not know which bus to take us back home, so we waited for long 6 hours or so for the school to get over. Once the school got over, we were escorted to the school bus. The bus was waiting there and I was so relieved to see my sister on the bus. I remember telling her the whole story and then repeating it for my parents multiple times about what really happened. I don’t know how scared or worried they got. 

Now as a parent, I feel that it was a pretty bad goof-up. We could have been lost and I can imagine the state of my parents once they came to know what really happened. Later on, till the time I was at that school – it was a pretty funny story to tell other kids that how I got dropped at the wrong school.

The first-time event isn’t always goof ups. They are also memories for a lifetime. And there is one more first time that I would like to share which was rather special – it was the first time I travelled abroad. It was an official trip to the US and I was just 22 years of age. That opportunity was rather an unexpected one but I was quite thrilled that I got a chance to stay there for 3 months. During the journey, I kept listening to the song from the movie Chak de – “Badal pe paon hai”. It did feel like I am cloud 9 and everything around was so very exciting. The first experience of explaining a Mc Donald’s cashier that I wanted to have a vegetarian burger was quite funny. After a while, I asked them if they could make a burger without meat and the lady looked at me as if I had asked for all the trash in the restaurant. Just by her look, I left the place after having fries and coke. 

At the Denver airport, I was quite nervous at the security check for a simple reason that I had to take a domestic flight now. I had heard quite a lot about their security checks. I did the regular drill of taking off the shoes, socks, coat, specs, etc. Unfortunately, my mobile was still in my pocket. So when I went through the metal detector, it beeped. And I realized that those guys take the metal detector beeps way seriously than I had ever seen. The security personnel there looked quite scary and he asked me to step back. In all my nervousness, I did not understand him at all. He had to say this thrice for me to get it and my eyes were fixated on the gun that he had taken out because I wasn’t listening to him. Of course, once I stepped back they checked me thoroughly only to find a harmless innocent mobile in my pocket and then they let go of me. I was trembling by the time all this got over, but now I knew how to handle the security there. The more nervous you are, the more trouble you are in.

We were a group of Indians working together on a project while my first stay in the US. Our project manager was an old American lady who was a workaholic. She once came to me and said – “Prabhjot, I have trouble communicating with some of our colleagues”. I was a bit puzzled if my friends were in some trouble. 

She said “Every time I ask a question to Anand, he always nods his head sideways. I cannot make out if he is saying a Yes or a No. What does it really mean?” 

I couldn’t help but laugh at this. She was sincerely quite embarrassed in asking this question and it was her first time working with Indians. I told her it is not just you, we Indians also get confused with each other. And then I had to tell my manager to sensitize the team to not use nods and communicate very clearly in Yes or No. 

Well, first times are special. Not just first time events but also the first time objects are super special – like first salary, first address of your own, first house, first car, first pet and the list goes own. My husband gets quite frustrated every time we cross the ATM where I withdrew my first salary from – because I always remind him that this is the ATM where I saw so much money in my account for the first time and what a thrill it was.

I AM DISAPPEARING

Cynthia: Hey, why are you staring at me? 

Lucy: You look beautiful.

Cynthia: Thank you! 

Lucy: You seem so happy. 

Cynthia: Aren’t you happy? 

Lucy:  I don’t look beautiful as you. 

Cynthia: What has beauty to do with happiness?

Lucy: No? See, so many people come to visit you. They are amazed by your beauty. They take lots of pictures of you 😦

Cynthia: You would have seen many who admire my external appearance. Have you encountered anyone who cares for me? 

Lucy: Oh! But why?

Cynthia: Yes, people are interested in their recreation but never think of what can be done to preserve us. 

Lucy: No? 

Cynthia: Well, no.  They aren’t even bothered if I am going to be extinct. Many of my fellow species have already become extinct. 

Lucy: Then I am the one who is better off here. At least some people are interested in giving food and accepting me as their family. 

Cynthia: Yes, you are lucky. 

Lucy: Most of our habitats are being occupied, I hope they stop doing this. 

Cynthia: Yes, sorry, Lucy. I cannot do anything for you. 

Lucy: Yes, you can. Please be happy

Are you wondering who Cynthia and Lucy are? This is their picture together. 

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(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

From the moment I saw the picture, there was only one question on my mind. When was the last time I saw a butterfly in Bangalore? Except for parks, I have never seen them otherwise. I remember during childhood, so many caterpillars and butterflies were taking rounds in our garden. Now, we don’t have them. It is sad, the first thing I thought of is the butterfly extinction when I saw this picture. 

Butterflies do not need much from us. They have their own enemies in the form of birds and insects. All we need to do is not dwell on their habitats. Another reason why butterflies are dying is the use of pesticides. Fruits, vegetables, and nectar are the main staples for butterflies. The use of pesticides is causing genetic changes in the produce, that butterflies could not survive on them. During summer, when the temperature crosses 40 degrees Celcius, butterflies cannot fly. They lose their capacity to fly. If you see a butterfly in your balcony or garden, during such time, provide water and some corn for them to eat. They cannot survive otherwise. Butterflies are very beautiful, and future generations would have to only read about them in books if we do not become responsible. Hope to see lots of colorful butterflies coming season.

THE ROAD AHEAD

This is a very intriguing picture and I like to call it “The Road Ahead…”. One look at it and I felt this depicts life. Our journey through life and our future – the journey into the unknown…

 “The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

There are two ways to look at this picture. One could be the gloomy lookout. I sit in my room overwhelmed with all the problems I am facing, feeling depressed and thinking about my future. When I look at this picture I feel this aptly depicts my future. The sky is overcast with dark and ominous looking clouds. I can barely see the path I am treading yet I am zooming ahead full speed. Scared of what is in store for me. Wondering if the clouds will ever dissipate and allow sunshine into my life.

And the second outlook would be again looking at my future. But this time I am full of enthusiasm. This time I see these clouds as full of promise. The promise that the first clouds of monsoon bring to us. The promise of rains – the rains that bring us prosperity and abundance and hope that makes us zoom towards that future.

My mood changes my interpretation but one thing is for sure. I think there is a reason why God allows us to see only a little bit ahead of us and keeps the future hidden. This keeps our hopes alive and makes us strive for a better future.

As I wrote in an earlier article also. Hope makes the world go round…

LOVING WISDOM OF THE MOTHER HEN

Elusive, these days, are the sights of hens with their brood of chicks tagging behind them. But, if you go to the countryside, you’ll be greeted with such endearing scenes near farmsteads and in the fields. It is truly entertaining to watch the chicks following the mother hen wherever she goes. The mother hen, on her part, is wise in her ways to exhibit behaviours that her little ones would follow to learn.

A psychologist by the name of Konrad Lorenz was intrigued by these sights. He keenly observed the phenomenon of some species of animals forming an attachment to the first large moving object that they meet (it may be any object, not necessarily a parent animal). After conducting intensive research, Lorenz came to the conclusion that this phenomenon is innate and programmed genetically. He named this process ‘imprinting’. Most animals acquire their locomotor skills by imprinting.

Imprinting is not proven in humans, though babies are seen to imitate their caregivers in various respects. Be it in animals or in humans, caregivers are known to train their young ones as they go about their day-to-day activities.

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

A mother hen ensures that her chicks follow her to the right places to pick on the right type of fodder. The chicks observe their mother picking on certain worms and insects and leaving out certain others. These, they understand are poisonous. Also, the chicks learn from their mother’s behaviours how to identify the predators and ways to escape from their clutches. Sensing danger and inclement weather conditions, the hen calls out to her little ones in her special language and the chicks hurry to the safety of their mother’s wings.

The role of the mother hen is to train, guide, protect and make her chicks capable enough to survive and fend for themselves in the world.

But, not all chicks are sensitive and obedient to their mother’s voice and behavior. There are those who prefer to go their own way. They are the ones who learn their life lessons the hard way. At times, they don’t live to learn the lesson!

Looking at this picture and penning these lines, I am reminded of God’s ways of training and nurturing human beings. He shows the footprints that need to be followed and calls out to each of us in languages that we can well understand. He points out where enemies lurk around to pounce on us. Those who are sensitive and obedient to His voice walk confident of their ways – may be in rugged terrains, but sure of the grip of every step they take.

However, there are those who choose not to be sensitive to His call and care. They opt to go their own ways. Still, God spreads out His love as a mother hen spreads out her wings to protect her chicks from harm.

Indeed, God is gracious and merciful in His ways – teaching us amidst myriad life events, the ways to live and emerge victorious. Are we willing to learn under His loving care?

MY LIFE IS THE CANVAS, WHICH THEY COLOURED WELL

When I think about colours, the only thing that comes into my mind is the ample colours that my children brought into my life. When I see them, they bring me happiness, the joy of unprecedented love and care.

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(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

When I was given this picture, it just reminded me how my kids keep me happy and content about my life.

Kids never judge by anything, they shower joy to everyone around them. Last year, when I lost my dad to cancer, it was quite disheartening. It was something I could never live with, losing him forever. I remember as a child, there were times I would always wish that I don’t lose my mom and dad forever as I could never imagine living without them. Later when I had my kids, again I used to think the same.

When my dad was battling with illness, the only strength that held me stable enough to handle everything was my kids.  I knew that I would be losing him forever, but I could not just sit and weep, I should assure him that pain was just a phase, everything will be fine and he would be recovering soon. He too found to forget about the pain he is enduring inside when my kids were around. It was not easy for him though, yet I knew their smile was enough for him to just forget he was unwell for some time.

Whenever I am sad or upset or even unwell, my daughters come to me enquiring me what happened to me. They never let me feel alone or even lost. Even though am their mother, they take care of me, as if they are my guardian angels and I truly believe they are my guardian angels.

My daughters wash away all my sorrows, my agony and bring me sunshine in my life. Maybe at times, I might have failed as a mother, but they are overwhelmingly my greatest support and my backbone.

I recollect the days, when I am extremely tired and over irritated, my lil one just comes to me and hugs me and kiss me without being asked. It is like they know that I wanted them badly.

Kids do things without being asked, but they do the best. 

We as parents should permit to do things, as they feel like, rather than pipelining them into our own channels of discipline and other mundane things we end up doing. The more we let their imaginations run wild, the better humans they become.

Being a parent, I am used to be in a circle of moms, who are more panicked, anxiety struck, overwhelmed, scared and even confident ones. I admit I am a combination of all these. I know they will find their own way, I am not a mom, who wants just academics to be perfect, but I want them to be JUST HAPPY about what they do because I believe that they are the gems that outshine in my life.

My kids are my strength, who lead me in my life.

Like they paint the walls in my home, with their tiny fingers holding those crayons, smiling at me, as I watch them do all naughty things, even when they know, I might scold them at any moment. The just keep smiling and melt away my anger in no time.

My life became their canvas to paint the most colourful life for me with them as the colours I enjoy being coloured with.