Thursday, September 30, 2010

Warning: Reading this newspaper in the morning might spoil your day

The first thing in the morning across the world that none of us can make do without is reading the newspaper. However busy one's morning is, one cannot resist the urge to quickly skim through at least the headlines. Even with T.V where one has access to news 24x7, there is nothing better than having a hot cup of coffee and opening the crisp newspaper and inhaling the delightful smell of that fresh ink.
Did you know that as early as 59 B.C " Acta Diurna" was published on the orders of Julius Caesar who wanted his citizens to be made aware of the major political and social events of the day? Phew! what an idea! And then, Johann Carolus produced hand written news letters called "Relation" and in 1605 he switched over to printing  newspapers. So imagine right now we are celebrating 405th anniversary of the birth of the first newspaper in print. What a journey, don't you think?
Despite its glorious history, somehow over a period of time, the ubiquitous newspaper seems to have become more of a fiction thriller. Gory details of murders, thefts, war and killings, vandalism, corruption (most accentuated by vivid pictures) now seem to be the staple diet of all the newspapers. Somehow I guess the editors and the journalists must be feeling that if the news reported is not sensational then it is no news. Accordingly, when we start our day afresh, reading the newspapers only ends up giving more and more negative vibes and we invariably start our day on a morose note. Because all that we seem to be reading is how the whole planet is at war, how the people's representatives are making money, how our neighbouring countries are always trying to make a mockery of peace and so on and so forth.

Articles related to positive side of human nature, courageous acts, developmental work done by some of the most ordinary people which has brought about positive changes in the lives of many people,all these and more seem to be relegated to cameo pieces somewhere in the corner of the newspaper as that does not seem to sell more copies. Many a time I cringe when my children open and start reading the newspaper. There have been plenty of  times when I have felt that the news items are so gory that I hide that particular page from my children. Or do you think that our children are getting so used to reading these kind of news and think that is normal? A very dangerous thought, don't you think?  Have you ever felt this way? Aren't our children at an impressionable age when these kind of news have a deep impact on their psyche? Should newspapers now have a mandatory warning on the front page - "Reading this newspaper in the morning might spoil your day"? Is there something that can be done? Shouldn't the newspapers make every one of our mornings more positive and pleasant? What do you say?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bringing the festival traditions back

August onwards is an auspicious month when many of our festivals are celebrated. Varamahalaksmi, Raksha Bandhan, Gouri and Ganesh Chaturthi, Id, Diwali, all these and many more are celebrated in these coming months.

It is the month of Shravan - the flowers are in full bloom, prayers are being chanted, the sound of the conch and the temple bells resonates and the fragrance of dhoop and agarbatthis wafting in the air. Within the house all the family members have their own tasks. The men folk go out into the market to buy all the necessary items for the pooja and the women folk are busy round the clock  to prepare the specialities. It's a busy season what with each festival having its own specific menu that needs to be readied. The children in turn all bedecked in their finery running around with great enthusiasm helping around in decking up the house with fresh mango leaves and flowers, helping in designing rangoli, and ofcourse helping generously in the kitchen by tasting all the sweets and savouries prepared. Wow - that was how festivals were celebrated - with great zest where each and every family member contributed to make each festival a success and a means of thanks giving to God.

Over the years with the changing life style, nuclear families being in vogue and migration to places away from home, somehow has made one lose touch with many of our traditions and customs that we used to follow from times immemorial. Festivals are now no longer the same elaborate affair as it once was. Lack of time, a different life style and maybe a lack of interest too has led to festivals not being celebrated with the same old fervor. As parents we somehow seem to be following less and less of our traditions than what our parents did. Is this making our children not only unaware but also dismissive of our age old festival traditions and practices? Obviously, by not carrying forward our customs and traditions to the next generation, we are running the risk of completely losing them forever.

Our ancestors entrusted their subsequent generations to pass on the traditions to their future generation. Isn't it time we revived and celebrated festivals with the same fervor and zest?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teacher's Day - only for young kids?

September 5th of every year is a special day as this is the day when we show our appreciation for all those teachers who have taught us and have played a role in shaping our lives. This role maybe a small one or quite a significant one, one which has profoundly changed the very direction of our life.

These days the child gets to spend just the initial two to three years of his life at home with his mother, father and other immediate elders who teach and shape the child's initial education. After that once the child enrolls into a school, it is the teacher who has a very great influence on the child. Because a child spends roughly 15-18 years (or more depending on how much further we want to study) in schools and colleges. On an everyday basis a child spends about six to eight hours in school. That's a significant part of one's life spent in the portals of school and hence with the teachers.

During this time, the teacher is the child's pivot. Many of us have come across situations where the child becomes so very fond of the teacher that whatever he or she says is the gospel of truth. The way the teacher dresses, her actions, her way of talking, the methodology of teaching all these and more are imitated by the child and hence she becomes the child's role model.

The affection the children have for their teachers is also manifested in their actions - be it taking flowers or making greeting cards themselves on Teacher's Day. But as they grow older, the enthusiasm for taking flowers or making cards seems to go down drastically. Is this the stage when friends become the centre of their lives and every act is based on peer acceptability? Somewhere down the line teachers go down in the hierarchy. Many a time we come across disturbing articles where students have clashed with the teachers, or where teachers have overstepped their role in the name of discipline.

So unless there is mutual respect and love on both sides the real significance of celebrating Teacher's Day is lost. It will just be a day which will be celebrated for the sake of celebrating. Hope some day every teacher and student will forge that special unbreakable bond when each student can sincerely thank their teachers for being a part of their life. That will be the day when one can truly wish their gurus "Happy Teacher's Day".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just make that call

During my evening walks in my apartment complex I get to interact with many senior citizens. They have their own groups and many a time, I am pleasantly surprised by their zest and enthusiasm for life. As is the present day scenario many of these elderly people stay on their own either out of their own choice, or because their children are settled abroad and hence feel comfortable to live in a gated community or for various other reasons. However all of them meet up for luncheons, they plan outings together, they have their spiritual gatherings every week etc., In general, they are enjoying their life to the fullest.

When I meet them the talk invariably turns to the topic of their children and their grand children. They tell me  with great pride the achievements of their grandchildren, the prizes they won at school / college or the drama that they will be taking part, so on and so forth. More than anything else they just wait for that one phone call from their children and grand children. The day they have had a call, one just knows. They are so full of happiness that they just cannot stop beaming with joy. Physically they might be away from their children but  their heart is always with them.

That made me realise that how much a phone call means to them specially at this point of their life. Many a time however we in the prime of our lives are so very busy with our own work and other responsibilities that we somehow invariably intend to call up people who matter the most to us but end up procrastinating. We mean to call but we don't. So, go ahead and just make that call. Bring that joy and make their day. Won't you?