Author: obsessivemom

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

February is one of those months that are nice in a very understated way. The new year has settled in, there are no great celebrations or festivals, no birthdays or anniversaries also for us, yet it’s short and sweet and just nice.

For me this has been a happy month full of books and reading, some successful kitchen experiments and lots of love from family, both real and virtual.

A celebration

Oops did I just say there are no celebrations? Well that wasn’t quite true. In fact we began the month with one because February 1st was World Read Aloud Day. I rounded up a handful of children from our apartment complex and organised a read-aloud session. We sat around a table, eating biscuits, reading out portions from favourite books and reciting poems. We followed it up with word games and the children went a little crazy, happy crazy, that is. The best kind of crazy, right?We had so much fun that I’ve promised myself that I’ll do it better next year with a little more planning.

Happiness between the pages

While on books and reading, this year I resolved to buy fewer books so I could make my way through my burgeoning unread collection at home. As the resolution fervour wore off and I was beginning to feel sorry for myself (even though I had no right to) the Universe stepped in and two brand new books arrived at my doorstep. They were from my dear blogger friend Soumya. She wrote me the sweetest message that absolutely made my day. A just-like-that gift really is the best kind of gift. And if it’s books it’s even better.

Then Shantala from Shanaya Tales hosted a giveaway and I won it and Becoming by Michelle Obama came home. This was one book I was really looking forward to reading. I’m half way through it and I’m loving it.

The other happiness was the discovery of a book cafe close home. It’s the most delightful little place with stacks of books that one can read over a cup of elaichi chai or a bowl of maggi. I’m looking forward to spending some happy hours there.

In the kitchen

I did a fair bit of cooking thanks to Rachna’s blog. It has become my go-to place for recipes. I tried Gajar ka halwa and it turned out so well that I made it again and then again. I have now locked it up safely in my list of ‘Fool proof recipes I can successfully replicate’ along with a small handful of others. Then I tried stir-fry broccoli which also turned out to be a no-brainer.

Happy kids

The children have been in a happier space this month. H’s allergies, which he has been struggling with for over a year, seemed to have taken a break. He has been sleeping better after ages. He hasn’t ever been too sound a sleeper but it reached crazy proportions over the last year. Nothing seemed to work. He has no access to gadgets during weekdays, not even television. On the odd day that we do watch TV, it’s not much. And yet he has difficulty falling asleep and wakes up a number of times at night. We tried to get him to read before he sleeps, tried massaging his feet, tried warm milk and jaiphal – everything that anyone suggested – but it wasn’t much use. I’ve been toying with the idea of consulting a homeopath. Maybe after the exams I’ll do that.

Yup, exams are round the corner and we’re gearing up for them. The maid has announced a week’s leave, N has a new idea for a novel and plans for the after exam-party are underway. Yeah, that’s how we gear up.

Come on along March.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers 

As a parent I often worry that I’m raising a generation of entitled children who assume the best things are all theirs by right. That’s rather strange for a country like India, considering almost every day we see children who don’t get even a single square meal.

And yet we don’t really ‘see’ them, do we?

To be fair, we do empathise and most of us are lending a hand in various ways. Often, however, one has the will to help yet is at a loss to figure out how. How do we identify a genuine charity? How do we ensure we are supporting the right people? How do we know the aid we’re giving is going to the right people?

Pressures of the daily grind coupled with those doubts push away thoughts of helping out. We go about our daily chores with mental masks blocking out those innocent, dirt-streaked faces craving the basic necessities of life. Unknowingly, we pass on the same indifference to our children.

Then, every once in a while we stumble upon a piece, a conversation, a story that brings it all into focus. Reading Damyanti’s piece here did just that.

This is the story of how a miracle was wrought by four bamboo sticks, a blue plastic sheet and a bagful of good intentions. A garbage dump was converted into a school for children living in slums around the Okhla Industrial Area. Two women Sophiya and Pushpa took up the task of educating them.

This was 2004.

More children came in every day and now the school has 12 teachers, catering to 300 children in classes up to XII. The school also boasts a computer centre.

If that isn’t a miracle what is?

The centre is full of stories of courage where people have gone beyond themselves to help usher in this  change. For instance there’s Mithu who lost both his legs to Polio but hasn’t let that get in his way. Do spare a minute to watch this video.

You can read more about the project here. 

In March 2019, the centre’s funding comes to an end and it is in danger of closing down. If you, like me, are moved by this story, if you feel strongly that each child deserves education, if you want to do your bit to keep this miracle alive, do lend a hand. Drop by the Project Why page on Facebook and consider making a donation.

Also, talk to your children. Tell them about Project Why, about children who’d give the world to be in their shoes. If possible identify a similar school in your vicinity and plan a visit. Help them look beyond themselves. They will benefit almost as much as the children they’re trying to help, perhaps more.

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

A week into February and the New Year hasn’t quite lost its sheen yet. That essentially means I’m going strong with my exercise routine, even though the weighing machine doesn’t seem to have noticed!

Anyhow, I am grateful my spirits are still up, and that’s the most important thing.

We began the year with..

…the almost-teens staying up till midnight for the very first time. The Husband was home and four of us stayed in watching a film award show (my guilty pleasure!), eating chips, pizza and cake and washing it all down with coke and wine (no guilt for those, after all it was New Year’s Eve. However this could give you some idea why the weighing machine doesn’t move :-)).

Other than the food we also indulged in serious celebrity spotting exclaiming at how cute Ranveer and Deepika looked while N rued that Zero didn’t make an appearance anywhere at all. H pretended to be annoyed at all the excitement and continued trying to roll his eyes (he still can’t). The Husband sat calling up people wishing them a happy new year in an attempt to ‘beat the rush after midnight’. And no he wouldn’t move to another room, he sits right there trying to speak above the sound of the telly, gesturing to us to turn down the volume, completely oblivious to our dagger-looks. It’s called a ‘mobile’ phone for a reason, I would have tried to tell him in the old times. Not any longer. Over two decades of marriage one learns to manage and so I simply turned up the volume while H and N wrestled the phone out of his hands. Once done, all was peaceful.

Just as the clock struck twelve

..we headed towards our beds but someone started off a fantastic display of fireworks. N ran to the balcony and called out to the rest of us. And so we sat out watching the display with the children oohing and aahing happily. That’s really the best thing about being a parent, looking at things through the children’s eyes makes them  new and exciting.

The Husband slept off soon after but I could hear the children chatting away above his snores. That was the most reassuring sound ever – the sound of them bonding – allaying my fears that I was bringing up Kane and Abel.

School started

…and much as I like having the children home, it’s a relief to have the house to myself. I love that their school always begins midweek to get us all in the rhythm of things and also that their uniforms are the most hassle free ever, no hooks or pleats or belts or ties.

More excitement..

..came this month with Republic Day celebrations in our apartment complex. I love N’s enthusiasm that never flags despite everything being against her. No matter what happens she manages to get together a band of children and put up a performance each year. There’s much discord during the process. She comes home each evening with a bagful of complaints (everyone wants the lead role, no one is listening to me, no one is coming for practice, they aren’t serious at all…) and yet she sticks it out. I have to admit that many  times, fed up with the arguments, I’ve told her to let it go (Yup, not supportive at all) but each evening she goes down with renewed enthusiasm. This year was special because H actually lent her a hand where once he used to be as bad as the rest of them. He helped her by restoring order and goofing around only when things got too serious. One more kick in the pants to my Kane and Abel theory.

I went to check a few final practices and I have to admit they’d done quite well, given the constraints.

Work wise too January has been a productive month

… with collaboration offers coming in. I read and blogged better than I’ve done in some time. It must be the New Year effect that makes me optimistic and happy. If only January 1st could come around more often than just once a year, it would do me  world of good.

Till that happens I’m hoping to carry my upbeat spirit as long as I can through the year.

How did 2019 begin for you?

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

The warmth of fat old quilts

The warmth of fat old quilts


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

This winter we decided to change our quilts.

It was like the passing of an era.

For years we’d used the ones I’d carried from home when I moved to Delhi for my first job, decades ago. These wren’t the light fluffy ethnic creations one finds these days. Nor were they anything like modern comforters.

These were big fat heavy cotton quilts encased in old-fashioned paisley patterned cotton cloth.

Up in the North seasons are well defined – winter is winter and summer is summer and the twain barely meet. Sometime after October when the days began to get shorter and the nights slightly cool, it would be time to pull out the quilts. Quite a ritual, that was! We waited for the massive storage boxes to be opened and the quilts taken out, officially heralding the arrival of winter.

They’d be laid in the sun for a day to rid them of the smell of naphthalene balls. Then encased in crisply ironed white cotton covers they were ready to be snuggled into. When you pulled one on, not the slightest whiff of a draft dared enter. They were the best partners to have on long winter nights when your teeth chattered and your feet refused to warm up.

If the rain gods decided to visit, the quilts would be out all day. We’d sit long hours wrapped in them, despite the heater burning bright. We’d munch peanuts with coriander garlic chutney and tell endless stories. And when it was time for bed we’d shake them off to rid them of peanut husk and cuddle down for the night. The faint smell of naphthalene balls mingled with that of peanuts and mum’s Lakme moisturiser and lull us into the best sleep ever.

After years of use, the cotton would gather together in bunches becoming a thick, tough, heavy mass. Then it was time to look out for the rui dhunane wale who roamed the streets calling out ‘rui dhunwa lo’ accompanied with the twang of their instrument. They’d get out the cotton and bit by bit transform it back into soft and fluffy balls to be refilled into the case. Freshly filled it would be carried up to the terrace or laid out in the courtyard. Then, our grand moms would sit for hours in the afternoon sun, their daily chores done, gossiping about friends and family as they threaded the quilt. Once done it was ready to use, good as new.

Those weren’t just quilts, they were a bit of my childhood, perhaps that’s why I clung onto them for so long. But then, old has to yield place to new, and so we finally gave them away. As we turned in for the night in our brand new comforters the Husband said, so very rightly, ‘Woh baat hai nahin in me. They’re just not solid enough!’

For more winter nostlagia do drop by my older post here.

My Travel Scrapbook – A #Review

My Travel Scrapbook – A #Review

When the twins turned toddlers we took our first steps in travelling with them. There was no looking back. Their curiosity and enthusiasm motivated us to step out more frequently as they grew.

The first time they took a dip in the sea at Dapoli, climbed a hill at Hathgadh, wandered through the Bhool Bhulaya of Bara Imambara at Lucknow and went Strawberry picking at Mahabaleswar are all memories we treasure.

At the cusp of their teens, I find travel opening the children’s minds in a hundred ways, making geography and history so much more interesting. They come back bubbling with excitement, talking constantly of all they have seen and I just want hold on to those moments, forever, as do they.

We have photographs, hundreds of them, but they’re more for me than them. Besides, we don’t make physical photo albums like we used to, and that makes them hard to access.

The Travel Bug

…reached out to me recently, to review ‘My Travel Scrapbook’. As I went through its pages I thought it was a wonderful way to keep travel memories alive. I have to admit I have always loved scrapbooking.

My Travel Scrapbook

…is divided into two sections – National Travel (Ten pages) and International Travel (Five pages). I think that’s a fair allocation, though I wouldn’t have much minded doing away with the International pages, for now at least.

There’s a map where children can  mark off places they visit. A section asks them to mention the State they’re going to and the cities they visit. While on that, we kicked off a great conversation on Indian states, how they were formed and why they divided (because we had gone to Uttarakhand recently). We didn’t even realise when we had segued off to discussing the Cauvery water dispute. You really never know where the conversation will take you once you begin talking to the children.

A tiny section asks them about favourite local foods they sampled (Petha at Agra, Dal Baati in Rajasthan) that encourages them to try different kinds of food rather than sticking with pizza, noodles and ice cream.

The book also has space for them to record their travel stories. They do accumulate plenty of them from train tales to local legends. Mine wanted to write about a quaint restaurant they’d visited where they discovered a tiny library and the little boy who sang funny poetry at the Agra Fort. Those nuggets are priceless memories to look back upon.

Of course there’s space for photographs and also a box for the children to make and stick their own peel-off stickers. There are some pre-prepared ones plus some blank ones too. I loved the wonderfully glossy pages and the small cheerful boxes. The layout is clear and easy, perfect for the younger tweens. The book makes for a great keepsake, something the children can flip through (as can you) for a bit of nostalgia.

What I loved most

is that this turned out to be a fun, no pressure exercise. It’s a personal account, much like a journal, so there are no benchmarks, no specific way for things to be done, just a rough guideline. That leaves the children free to do it their way. I love that the book helped cut down on their screen time and kept them creatively employed.

What could be better:

Given that this is a scrap-book I would have liked a few more fun stickers (sun, beach, etc) to be picked from, and randomly stuck on to brighten up the pages.

Price: Rs 699
Published by: Curiosity Bug
www.littletravelbug.in

Final Verdict: This one is a keeper for the travelling tween.

Disclaimer: I was given a complementary copy of the The Travel Scrapbook in exchange for an honest review.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

I’m sharing a quote from the book 1984 by Gerorge Orwell. The first time I read it I must have been in my early teens. I have little memory of it perhaps because I would have had little or no understanding of it. Then I read it again some seven or eight years ago and […]