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

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

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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.

Be careful what you wish for 

Be careful what you wish for 

This week I went down with a bad backache. My initial reaction was pure disbelief. The thing is I never fall ill. The worst I ever get is a cold – it’s often terrible, but it’s a known enemy. I’ve learnt to manage it. Besides, despite the cold, I can go about most of my chores. This time, however, one attempt at getting out of bed brought sudden tears of pain to my eyes and I promptly retreated with a tube of Volini and a hot bag for company.

I think I’ve mentioned earlier that I’ve been going for yoga this past year. I’ve been rather a reluctant ‘yogi’, so to say. Somedays I develop a random reluctance to doing the plank, other days I get bored with the endless suryanamaskars.

That’s not to say I don’t do them. I do. And, despite my weight (which I seriously need to reduce) I find I have more stamina, greater flexibility and fewer aches and pains than a lot of others. A result, perhaps, of having had an exercise routine all my life.

However, instead of being grateful for all of that and feeling a sense of achievement, I began to resent it a little bit. I resented the fact that people who couldn’t do it were getting away with easier/fewer exercises. I sound stupid even to myself as I write this, but that’s how I felt.

So the other day I was chatting with some friends and I said, half in jest, that what I needed was a good backache to convince our instructor to go easy on me. And BAM.. the very next day just as I was on my 12th or 13th suryanamaskar I pulled a muscle or something and that was it.

Mercifully the instructor helped me with some relaxing exercises and I could get back home. Once home I was confined to the bed with that excruciating back pain.

I’m better already, with just a lingering pain now. I’m enthused enough to go for the Pinkathon this Sunday, that’s tomorrow. I figured if 80 year-olds could walk their way through it, so could I. And then of course there’s the handsome man-behind-the-run to consider. So yeah, I’m going, bad back and all.

And I’ve learnt my lessons. Here they are:

– Be grateful for what you have.
– Nothing in your life deserves half-hearted effort.
– Enjoy your exercise routine.
– If you don’t, give it up.
– Pick up something you do enjoy.
– Oh and don’t try to sit on a beanbag when you have a backache. Go for that hard, straight-backed chair you’ve written off as ‘most uncomfortable’.

Beyond the learnings, there was another huge plus to this whole episode. I’ll talk about it in my next post. Do check back soon.

Why I’m loving being Mean Mum

Why I’m loving being Mean Mum

“You’re done H, you can go. N you need to revise the last two chapters again,” said I wrapping up the revision for the day.
“That’s not fair, she deserves her free time too”, chirped up H.
Eh? What was that? Who was that? I looked up surprised at this vehement protest from the most unexpected quarters.
I have, many times in the past, rued the fact that the twins never see eye to eye on anything, anything at all. They have a different sets of friends and often enjoy playing different games.
Over the last few weeks, however, I’ve noticed a change – the beginning of a partnership, a truce of sorts against a common enemy. Moi!
As I’ve pushed and prodded them towards their books, they’ve ducked and dillydallied to the best of their ability and they’ve perhaps decided that they need to join forces to combat the onslaught :-).
After N finished her two extra chapters she walked off to her room and I overheard them talking, “So not fair na, we don’t even need to study so much. We can’t call our friends over even on weekends.” says he.
She nods in agreement, “I couldn’t plan a single prank for April Fools Day. And it comes just once in 365 days. Imagine! So unfair.”
Hah! I feel so smug! I cannot stop grinning.
Even as I type this they’re playing table tennis without a table, with a bouncy ball shouting in laughter during their break – the break which started out at 15 minutes and has stretched to almost an hour. I just don’t have the heart to break up their camaraderie. They talk and laugh and wrestle and play computer games together.
I am going to grab complete credit for this transformation. The truce is so charming I am almost glad of the exams. Almost. I hope it extends beyond the exams too.
And so here’s the learning for the day:
If you want your kids to become best buddies try turning into Mean Mom.

 

PS: It has the side benefit of getting their studies done and may also be useful in inculcating some great habits.

 

In need of inner peace

In need of inner peace

Right now I feel like Po, in desperate need of Master Shifu. The twins’ exams kicked off today and that has me all in a tizzy. You’ve heard me ranting already I know. Bear with me, dear friends for another week or two. I promise I will try my hardest to not let my anxiety spill out here.
Correction: I will try not to get anxious at all.
But you know how it is sometimes? One knows the right thing to do and yet cannot? It is hard to not get anxious. They’re at that age when I’m not sure how far I should be helping them. It is hard to let them be, to leave them to find their own feet, to be ready to watch them fail. I know I have to do it at some point but is this the right time? Is there a right age, right time at all?
What if that ‘right time’ is different for both kids? What if one of them is ready for that push and the other is not? How do I push one child to study on his own while I focus my attention on the other? Is the first one old enough to understand why I’m not holding his hand all the way like I’m doing it for the other?
Sigh!
These are the things that have been top of the mind for me this week. I will add though, that there has been a move towards independence since the last exam – a tiny minuscule one – but it definitely has been there and that gives me heart.
I am trying not to let my anxieties reach the twins. So they have their television time and their hour of play and we have something called ‘exam treats’ too. They seem to be doing fine. 
Somedays I worry that they’re not worried enough and somedays I worry I that I’m making them too anxious. Yes, I’m one big bunch of confusion struggling to find a balance for the children as well as for myself.
I’m not really too nice a person to be around at this point in time.



A whole new world

A whole new world

Once upon a time life was:
A vibrant work environment : People to meet, interviews to slot, night shifts to get through, copies to edit, pages to be made, designers-ad guys-systems guys to bicker with
A bunch of friends: first day first shows, long hours at the gym, shopping in the old city, countless evenings at the coffee house
The Husband and I: Long conversations, Late night television, Endless games of scrabble, dinners with friends.
Our cosy comfort zone.
And then.. 
A decision.
To step out. 
A new life for us
with two new lives.
A whole new world.
**********
This post is part of  Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda for the prompt ‘Out of my comfort zone’.

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On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Of Roasted Apples and Warm Winter Evenings #BookBytes 14

Of Roasted Apples and Warm Winter Evenings #BookBytes 14

Here’s my pick for this week’s Book Bytes. “I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream….. I know how the nuts taken in conjunction […]