THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!!!

So, we are once again at the crossover. Once again hoping that the next year will be great. Once again retrospecting what this passing year gave us, took from us, left with us.

I am thinking how to fill this page, but I am filled with a weird sort of void. At the same time, I am overwhelmed with all that happened.

I won’t say it was one of the best years of my life, but then good, better and best, these superlatives are perceptions, depending on our sagacity. I took one great hit this year, an emotional trauma that I am not able to forget and move on. It cost me deeply, it cost me some cherished bonds and lots of trusts.

I also saw two of my very close family members suffer greatly owing to terminal diseases and I am unsure whether they will be with us for long. And I sold something of nostalgic significance to me. But I have to convince myself that it was for the best.

This year taught me that friends must be made with utmost care and prudence and some people are just not meant to be with you for a very long time. I realised that mental peace is the key to hard work. Without a calm mind, without tranquillity of the soul, you will lose all your charm and your talents along with your vision dreams. In this journey called life, you have to let go off many people and many things that were once dear to you.

I have grown as a person this year. I am proud of myself for somethings and embarrassed about a few. But the secret is to accept it all and move on, never stay stagnant. I saw a lot of change in me, and earlier I was scared of changing but now I know, it is the only right way to be. A person who won’t accept change will erode with time.

I am also disappointed in myself for not chasing my aspirations vehemently. I should have given them more of my time. But no use regretting, let this coming year be a clean sheet and let us all rewrite our destiny. I am gonna see at least one of my dream realise this year.

For you all, my readers and my writer friends, I hope the coming year brings you all happiness and health, wealth and wisdom, love and friendship and last but not the least, peace and hope. I am in no position to preach, but I am an Indian too, I can’t help but give some unsolicited advice.

“Stay Humble. Stay Kind. Stay Humane. Think Twice. Act Wisely. Save For Future. Don’t Waste Food. Care to Share. Forget Sorrows. Forgive Foes. Fall in Love. Value Parents. Spend Time with Family. Take A Trip. and Live Good!

Happy New Year!!!

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​DOG IS INDEED MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Those two innocent eyes, that wagging tail, all time pleasing attitude is what makes dog man’s best friend.

I was once watching a documentary that stated that dogs have an all-time pleasing attitude because this is their survival instinct. Hundreds of years ago, if dogs wouldn’t have tried to please humans and connected with human emotions so well, they would have been extinct by now. This quality of dogs, have made them survive over ages. This is good information to know and when I saw this documentary, it didn’t make a big difference to me, because till then there was no “Milo” in my life. Milo is my 6 years old female beagle and she is absolutely adorable. 

It was tough for me to agree to my husband and his brother’s decision of getting a pup at home. It would be just an additional responsibility, I thought initially. But as soon as that 35 day old pup entered my home, I fell in love with her. She was so tiny then, that all her 4 paws would rest on my palm. Her hanging ears, innocent eyes, wagging tail made me so much fall in love with her. She would struggle to walk on vitrified tiles because her paws, small as they were, would keep slipping. 

So, what did I really learn from my dog? A lot. She makes me peaceful and humble. She makes me feel so loved and wanted. She gives me a plethora of positive emotions. Of course, raising hasn’t been easy – it is equivalent of raising a child.

She taught me to love unconditionally. 

As a little pup, she used to run after kids and babies as though they would be ready to play with her. No matter how much I would scold her for pooping all over the house or running after the stray dogs, whenever I would come back from office she would welcome me every single evening with her wagging tail and her ever naughty acts. She connects with me and my emotions, she loves licking off my tears when I am in my worst moods and knows exactly how to raise my spirits. She brings in so much of happiness and fun in the house. 

I cannot understand why we human beings use the word “dog” as an abuse. I feel dogs are the most beautiful creatures. They know how to connect with human beings unlike any other animal. They love to please us. No matter how you treat them, they would love to do things to make you feel special. They are extremely playful which makes them so much fun. And the best part is that they are the most loyal of all animals. It is very strange but the very basic emotion of unconditional love that we human beings struggle to show is so very well exhibited by the dogs. And this is what I learn from Milo every single day. 

She taught me how to trust and be there for someone you love

Dogs are supposed to be guards for our homes. This fact is based on a single quality that dogs have – ability to trust their master completely. They amplify the emotion that dog’s owner feels. If a stranger like a plumber or carpenter enters the house, I am cautious of this stranger and just want to get the work done. Milo then keeps barking at this stranger and is far more cautious than me. She will keep running around the house till this person leaves our premises. If a loved one visits my place who I happily welcome inside, Milo showers that person with all the more love. She would sit around the guest and wag her tail indefinitely. No barking and no anger is visible in her behavior. 

When I was pregnant and I used to take Milo out for walks, I noticed that she started walking ahead of me. Sometime later I realized that she not letting anybody come closer to me – animal or human being. She was being protective. She somehow knew that I should be helped and she did it in her own special way. Though later on I had to control her protective behavior because it was getting dangerous but I totally got her concern for me.

EDUCATION – IS IT REALLY SERVING THE PURPOSE?

I was chatting with my friend few weeks ago. And our conversation shifted from daily routine of our lives to his daughter’s education.  He brought up an important issue that he came across in her school.  The teachers at school expressed their displeasure at the child’s inability to converse in English.  That came across as real shock for the father.  Since the day she was born till she stepped out of her home she was habituated listening to her mother tongue.

So whose fault is it, the parents’ or the child?  Or why it is fault at first place, is my question or rather concern.  English is just a language, isn’t it?  Practice it and master it and for the little kid she is it’s pretty easy.  But the modern education perhaps what we see nowadays is all about the obsession with one language “English”.  So much so  that speaking in English is now being taken as a yardstick of how knowledgeable a person is.

I have been in Belgium for almost nine years now.  One thing incredible that I have seen here is citizens respect for and pride in their language (they have two though 😀). I understand that  English language skills are required to be acquired to be at par on international platform but if any student feels comfortable to communicate in mother tongue when English is not required shouldn’t be looked upon down.  That could shatter his or her confidence beyond repair.

English is s just a language, period!

Change is what we need: I vividly remember one of my professor in college ranting one particular point that generation over generation is lapping yet the syllabus being taught isn’t changing.  It’s same for many decades,  reducing the knowledge gained to a mere piece of paper which we call Degree.  The nature of education system is mostly mechanical that produces graduates year after year who struggle to face the high-end demands of the job market.  We need more courses that enable imparting of practical knowledge (read skills) making it possible for students to be job ready, therefore countering the unemployment issues.

Is Education imparting wisdom?  Probably No. Schools and Colleges nowadays are merely producing literates but not educated people who can distinguish between good and bad; right and wrong.  Reason could possibly be commercialisation of Education.  Believe it or not Education is one of the thriving business. Especially schools where fear of parents for  future of their kids is tapped and cashed against the promises of all bright and glossy future. After pocketing sizeable income of parents pressure pedal is pushed real hard with kids underneath it to generate hollow grades.  Pressure deprives the joy of learning.

Teaching is no more a holy occupation for many but has been reduced to a mere profession like any other 9-5 job.  The connect which we had with our teachers, the regard and respect which we hold for them is beyond any word could possibly explain is missing now for sure (rapidly dwindling away).  Their interest was not just our grades but they intended to carve a strong positive personalities out of us.  And when such intention goes amiss there is every chance of students going stray.

To an extent parents are also responsible for such a state of education.  The penchant to be associated with brand (government schools are for people of no class is the general idea floating) and once admission is done after massive donations are offered a majority of parents feel their young ones and their behaviour is the sole responsibility of school.  And this attitude is a big “NO”. Nothing can absolutely absolve parents of their responsibility towards their young ones.

What should be the purpose of Education after all? There’s a saying in my mother tongue (Telugu) that a person without education is a weird animal.  It clearly shows that the purpose of Education is to make a person – a human, build his or her personality, impart wisdom apart from skill.  But the education this generation is receiving is quite hollow and shallow.  The content in books is not enabling our kids to learn about our deep rooted culture, our roots, the reality.  It’s not giving them a reason to be proud of their very own identity, their country.  There’s nothing beyond few people in history and the number of times the country was looted.

Is this scenario good for young and impressionable minds?

Time to think – parents, educational institutions, government.

PREPARATION FOR PARENTHOOD

This week on Candles Online, we are discussing the importance of preparation in our lives. There are things that you can enjoy the most when you dive in head first, but for a majority of important events in our lives, we feel that we must prepare ourselves. Is parenthood one such event? Without doubt, yes. And yet, it often throws even seasoned parents into a conundrum.

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Source: Good Parentig Quotes

No matter how many books you read, or gyan you get from mothers around you, or prenatal yoga you do, nothing helps you get back on your feet faster than the thought of your newborn unattended. The stitches from my C-section still burnt with intense pain but one whimper from my daughter would make me spring up from my hospital bed. I wouldn’t entrust her feeds to anyone else. I’m sure many mothers will agree with me when I say that their mothering experiences were quite different from the one’s around them in certain aspects. The same goes for parenthood in general. No amount of research on being a parent is enough when you’re tackling a toddler who refuses to brush her teeth with ‘pink’ toothpaste and wants the ‘blue’ one instead. Aaaah, now there wasn’t anything about toothpaste choices in that book on parenting, was there? Don’t bother checking. There may be a thousand, no make that a million, other instances that the book doesn’t offer advice on. Why? Because every parent and every child is unique.

So should we not prepare for parenthood?

Of course, you must! While much of the learning about parenting happens on the job, there’s still a lot you can learn beforehand by observing others, through books, even through your own experiences as a child. For example, I am eternally thankful for the parenting books I read that acquainted me with the bowel movements of newborns, or else I may have had a heart-attack when I saw my daughter’s first few stools changing colours after every two days!

So yes, books, videos, the experiences of others, they all help you prepare, but the very first step in preparing for parenthood is preparing oneself, and by this I don’t mean buying things for the child, or redecorating your home to make it baby-proof, or going to the doctor or taking your health supplements on time; I mean preparing oneself emotionally to become a parent.

Two days back I talked to my best bud who is not a mother yet and we were discussing how some of our friends are second-time parents already, whereas she couldn’t conceive of being mommy to even one child because she thought she wasn’t prepared for it. What did she mean by that? Not prepared financially? Or her residence wasn’t baby-proof? Or that her career didn’t allow her to be a mother? It was all of that too, but mostly she meant that she wasn’t yet ready to take on the responsibility of taking care of a child. She wasn’t emotionally prepared.

Why is emotional preparedness important for being a parent when it’s your body and your pocket taking care of the child? It’s because biologically, after attaining puberty, most people can become parents very easily. Some are as young as just teenagers when they become first-time parents, but to be a good parent, one must be willing to take that responsibility and ensure that they will do their best to be good role models to their children. 

 

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Source: Pinterest

From what I have learnt after being a parent, parenting is all about being responsible, sacrificing and setting a good precedent for your child. Parenting is a lot of work and most of the time it’s a thankless job. Oh! also most of it is guesswork. Add to that, today’s definition of a parent does not limit itself to ‘someone who takes care of a child’ because the term ‘childcare’ itself means taking care of the physical, emotional, educational, financial and spiritual needs of a child. No wonder it’s a confusing experience for most first-time parents, but let me tell you, it isn’t any less confusing for second and even third, or fourth-time parents, because every child is unique! Again taking an example from my own life, my mother tells me, I gave her hell at mealtimes, and she fretted that my brother would turn out the same way, but he turned out to be an angel. So much for her parenting experience!

So if you are planning a family or are expecting a child in your world soon, the first thing to prepare is – yourself. Ask yourself if you’re ready. Ask your self if you will be devoted to your child – love him, nurture him, ignore his tantrums and bad habits, yet guide him on the right track to life and be a friend, mother, father, family, guide, teacher, protector and cheerleader to him for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you answer yes to all of the above, you’ll know your preparation for parenthood is almost done. Now go ahead, have fun being a parent and yes, you may now buy that cute dinosaur onesie! 😉

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Source: Pinterest

Featured Image: OnlineMommyDiva at Pixabay

ADULTERATION IN EDUCATION

‘Wait, what?’

I hear you say. You must think I’m crazy. How is it possible to adulterate education? It’s not milk or masalas. Right?

Ever come across any of these situations?

  1. Students seeking admission to colleges don’t know how to spell the word ‘college’.
  2. Students from English medium schools don’t remember the Hindi alphabet.
  3. Students in Senior School do not know the names of North-East Indian states or their capitals.
  4. Students with over 90% marks in English make silly grammatical mistakes.
  5. Student’s who have apparently passed High School, don’t know how to read or write.

Don’t tell me you have never come across a single scenario like the ones enumerated above. If you have had your eyes open to the world, you will concede that each and every point I have written above is true. I have written from an Indian perspective, but I’m sure in your native countries, this must hold true as well.

Now comes the next question. If our students are not able to do even simple things like remembering the Hindi varnamala, then what exactly are they learning in school? Also, if we are supplementing our children’s education by an array of educational aids, like tuition classes, videos, interactive sessions, blah, blah, blah, then why are they faltering in the basics of education?  

Can you see where I’m heading with this? Yes, I’m trying to say that we are adulterating the education we impart to our children by feeding them knowledge that is doing the opposite of what education ought to do. To put it plainly and harshly – we’re making them dumber.

If you don’t want to believe my claims, I’ll present to you these alarming reports I came across –

The Hindu reported that in rural India only 53.5 percent of children were able to solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem in the year 2012. India Education Review quoted the Annual Status of Education Report 2014, where it was found that there was a steep fall between 2007 to 2014 in the number of children in Standard V who could read a Standard II textbook, in both government and private schools. Then,  a World Bank Study published in the year 2014 provided that around 1/3rd of all third graders in Indian schools could not read in their own native languages. The biggest shocker for me was reading the 2009 published OECD-PISA International Survey where India, much to our shame, was ranked 72 among 73 countries for the quality of our education. Ever since then we have stopped taking part in the PISA survey.  Any guesses why? Here’s another shocker – over a lakh of schools in the coutry have only 1 teacher per school…. yes, PER SCHOOL!

And the joke is that we have apparently brought down the number of our out-of-school chidlren from 32 million in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2011.

If this does not raise the question ‘what are we teaching our children in schools’, then I don’t know what else does. And if this does not prove the point that we have adulterated our educational system, then I don’t know how else to prove it to you.

I understand and appreciate that we are all loving parents who are doing their best to provide their children with the best education that their means can afford. But dear parents, the problem doesn’t lie in your intention or in your child, the problem lies in the system that is imparting education and in your blind acquiescence to its gaffes. Your nifty International schools with the air-conditioned classes and computerized educational aids may just be a money-making racket, guilty of teaching your kids the wrong things because they are too invested in providing unnecessary gimmicks to your child, while completely ignoring the point of education. Tell me what use is knowing how to operate a tablet if the child does not know how to read the words on a screen? Tell me what use are those fancy picture books, when all the child wants to do is stare at the pictures, and ignore the text?

Schools and their modern corollaries, tuition centres, are camouflaging noise, wrapping it up in glitzy software and serving it up to our starry-eyed children on the pretext of giving them ‘quality education’ and ‘helping them beat the competition’. Have you ever wondered why the octagenarian Dadaji living next door can still rattle off a poem by Wordsworth or Mahadevi Verma, while your Engineer child needs a calculator app on his smartphone to do simple arithmetic? It’s because Dadaji was taught to first clear his basics and internalize what he learnt, unlike we who want to learn things as soon as possible. Learning is a slow and gradual process that is best dealt with when it’s done step by step. Rushing it by too much data and too many distractions only hinder students from receiving true education. This is what adulteration of education is.

My point is, we need to separate the grain from the chaff here, get back to the drawing board and draw a line between what is cardinal to the education of our youth and what is frivolous. Imbibe the cardinal, leave out the frivolous. I agree education does not stop at teaching them the alphabet. But an education does not mean cramming and learning by rote, like how we are encouraging in our schools and tuition centres these days. Can you justify writing in bullet points for a Literature paper, when the point of learning Literature is to understand it subjectively? But this happens, like in our CBSE system where students are taught (I was one of them) that to gain maximum marks in the Boards, we must write our English Language answers in bullet points containing the main points of the ‘right answer’!

A huge part of learning is the struggle to learn. If we keep providing our children crutches, how will our children ever learn anything? A simple example will further clarify my point. If your child can’t count from 1 to 10, he can’t do addition or subtraction. Then please, stop giving him aids like calculators in the name of ‘good parenting’ and further ruin his chances of learning. Teach him how to count instead. AND teach him yourself instead of providing him aid from a tutor or a phone app.

Remember that education does not necessarily come from maximum exposure. There have been greats like Beethoven who was a musical genius inspite of being deprived of the sense of sight, hearing and voice.

Pradita Kapahi.

RECIPE FOR FIRST CRUSH, SERVES ONE

I was 10 yrs old, stupid, silly and with a head full of imagination. I was hanging on my gate on a summer vacation afternoon and saw a family move their stuff the house next to mine. I watched with feigned disinterest as the furniture was moved in. By evening the family that was going to reside in that house came in a Maruti 800. Out came the mum, dad and three sons. I watched their procession inside the house, holding their suitcases, bedding, baskets and bags. All three sons were dashing, smart and adolescent Punjabi boys. The parents moved in snobbish, and so did the sons, but my eyes were fixed on the youngest one.

He was dribbling a basketball with loads of attitude as he went inside. My heart fluttered, and I didn’t know what this feeling is called. Time went by, and their home became a fortress no one could breach. They installed high iron gates and higher walls, no one could peep in. The family hardly ever interacted with us all in the lane. We used to make fun of them and called their house a citadel. The boys were never seen playing outside or on streets. But whenever I got a glimpse of the youngest one I ogled him open-mouthed.

He had greenish blue eyes, hardly seen in us Indians and very fair-skinned with a golden tinged wavy hair and wore awesome jackets, glares, shoes. He was older to me by some three yrs and a complete rogue. I gathered all the information about him that I could from bits and pieces I overheard. His school, his coaching centre, his friends, what kind of student he is and so on. I came to know he isn’t academically bright and not a stand out in sports. We were both growing, and soon he gained height and started looking even more devilish. I timed his comings and goings and hanged around the gate to see him. My only wish to talk to him once and be noticed.

My father used to throw huge and lavish birthday parties for me. Everyone was invited from relatives to business circles and from friends to neighbours. But I would wait for him to show up, cause I know he will shake my hand and give me the present and wish me. I dressed my best possible and acted cool. But the moment he came up to wish me the world dissolved. He always gave me a smile with attitude my heart would go mmm mmmm.

Then came the day I had to sell tickets to the school carnival. I had to go to all homes but chose his home first. I rang the bell and stood with bated breath. I know aunt hates visitors, but the urge to see him was strong enough and I kept my pride aside and stood to wait. A maid came and told me no one is home. I was going back with a sad face when I saw him walk towards me. He talked to me and bought one ticket for himself. I was about to faint, he was talking to ME! Reluctantly I went to the other houses long after he went back inside.

Few more yrs passed, and he became even more handsome. Girls ogled at him, and I heard he became a playboy too. But still. The crushed common sense wasn’t ready to let go. One day he came home in a red car. It was the first time I had seen such a car in real life. It was no less than a Ferrari to me. Winged doors, two seater, open hooded, red sports car. He and that car were made for each other. My heart nearly stopped when he got out and removed his gloves, helmet and goggles. From that day it became my only hobby, to watch him zoom away in his car.

Years kept rolling by, and one by one each son got married. I won’t lie to you all, I felt jealous when he got married. I thought his wife wasn’t good enough for him(though she was more educated and it was a love marriage). Soon enough he had two kids to himself and my life too got busy and never I thought of him much. But then last year, the brothers got separated and made nuclear Homes, he left the street and bought home in next colony. I won’t say I was heartbroken or sad, but I felt a little bit of my innocence and childhood fantasy leave with him.

This is what is Crush I guess. A cup ☕️of Infatuation infused with a sprig ☘of Obsession. Boiled in the cauldron of 😍Admiration and stirred with the ladle 💖of Romance. Simmered on the fire 🔥 of Passion and spiced 🌶with Innocencece. Served along with Fancy 💄And garnished with Silliness🌹.

Time Taken: A Youth

Serve Hot !😉🍵

IS IT MAGIC OR IS THERE SOME LOGIC ???

As a child I always used to wonder if this universe is a magic. It actually started with one silly thought of mine. When the physics teacher was explaining the solar system, I stared at the picture that was printed in my text book. If the earth is round  and human beings live on all sides of it, imagine people living on the south and north poles of it, especially the south one, people are actually standing upside down :-). Later I learnt, it’s all relative to the force binding us to earth. It is so astonishing that there is sun which with it’s gravitational force binds all the planets, planets with their gravitational force bind their moons.

The Earth rotates on its axis, so the whole surface is warmed and cooled once a day every day. If it didn’t rotate, one side would be permanently hot, and the other cold. It is at an angle (23.5°) to the sun, which gives us our seasons. The earth is the right size. If it was bigger, gravity would be much stronger, and we wouldn’t be able to move. If it was smaller and gravity was weaker, it wouldn’t hold our oceans.

Wow!! I just mean wow. There are solar systems which are part of galaxies and many such galaxies form the universe. One or more of the planets may have life on them just like earth does. Life that doesn’t belong to the so called earth that we know of is called alien life. If some other planet has life similar to us who can think and create wonders, would they be also referring to us as, aliens ?? What happens if humans get to meet extraterrestrial life ?

There is the Big Bang theory, the big bang from which this entire universe originated. Black holes that can take in anything and everything into them. Most of the matter that enters a black hole ends up in a singularity. However, some black holes reach a theoretical mass limit and, when they do, they fire out excess matter in jets of radiation, known as Hawking Radiation.

Like humans and other species have a life cycle, stars are also born and they die. The only way for us to know the birth or death of a star is the radiation it emits. Everything in this universe is measured in light years. Light holds the key in understanding this universe. It is so amazing how light can help us reconstruct what has been created for us. That actually brings me to my next wonder, light.

Few weeks ago, I read an interesting journal about how human brain processes images. Imagine two people standing at a landscape. Naturally the beauty mesmerizes us, but there is so much processing involved before we can see what’s there in the landscape. Every color has a different frequency, so when the reflection of light from the landscape falls on the retina, human brain starts to process each and every frequency that originated from the landscape. This is the exact same principle on which DSLR’s are made and many of you may be aware of it. The most interesting point of the article that really made me wonder is that, seems no two human brains process the same landscape/image exactly the same way.  There would be minor distortions, but if the two people express their thoughts on what they see, they won’t be able to find the difference with human naked eye.  

Human brain controls everything in our body, it is the driving force behind every activity and our reactions. Brain controls not only the physical part of our body but the emotional part of it too. On a emotional scale, everyone of us are different. 

Who programmed human brain ? It is just as inserting a USB drive to a computer and installing an operating system that exactly works the same way (provided the hardware configuration is same) on all the computers it is installed. The logic and the output always are the same. It is just wonderful how we humans have been programmed to be so. If we are really programmed, who programmed us ? 

Space has been wondering me for many years now and my quest to understand it never seems to be coming to an end. I have so many questions to find answers for. I believe in logic and it is extremely hard for me to accept anything that doesn’t fit into some logic. It’s all physics, the law of forces and transformation of energy. But, how and why ?? 

Do you know what is the biggest wonder of all ? The conditions that can support life,  when compared to the existence of our universe with respect to time/light years are fractions of a second. It’s just a flash of time where life can come into existence and ceases out as the conditions worn out. We humans, now are currently living in such a golden period of time. The miracle is happening right now in the milky way, in a solar system which is centered by sun on a wonderful place called earth, where you and I live. We are living in the most precious place at the most precious time.

I have written this article and you are reading it, was it already programmed to have happened this way !? I don’t know !! Do you ?