Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shopping spree with my son

Yes it was long overdue. Because, we shopped for the school uniform once a year and for casuals, football freaks that they were, the dress code after school hours was the football jersey as I have mentioned in my earlier blog. A couple of times when we had gone shopping, we came back empty handed as they were at that stage where their size was not available.

Finally the day arrived when we simply had to go shopping for my elder son as he told us that his wardrobe had now reached a pitiable state. After some enquiries, one of our cousins recommended one particular shop highly for its range. So that is how we set out on a shopping spree with my son. It was quite late when we started but then I told myself "well how long would it take for us to shop, especially for boys?" The idea was to pick up a couple of T-shirts, couple of pairs of trousers and following the current trend of typical teenagers  couple of shirts which otherwise was never on his list before. 

We finally reached the shop after juggling through the peak hour traffic. Once I stepped into the shop I was quite amazed to see the range that was on offer. There was so much of choice, not only for teenagers but for all age groups. Added to this the outfits were reasonably priced. It was sheer bliss to see different coloured T-shirts, shirts and jeans which actually fit him perfectly.

After the salesman showed us where his size T-shirts were stacked we started the process of selection. I asked my son to pick up some brighter shades as most of his T-shirts were black. I picked up a few  T-shirts which I thought he would like, but he told me that it had too much writing on it. So I picked up something with motif which was rejected. Some T-shirts he did not like as he did not like the feel of it. To my utter dismay I found the endless choice before me dwindling. Finally and not quite surprisingly he picked up his all time favourite black T-shirt and a green one. 

Next we went to the shirts section. My son was looking for checked, half sleeve shirts. I found many such shirts with nice colourful stripes and checks. To make his work easier and since we had spent considerable time in the previous section, I decided to help him and started showing him shirts which I thought would look good on him. An emphatic NO each time either because he felt the checks were too big or too small or the colour was not to his liking, or the one which he liked had a thin orange stripe in between instead of blue (which I noticed only after he told me) and so on and so forth. Phew! I was left panting and my head reeling. Exasperated I told him maybe in future he could design his own wear! Finally he managed to pick up one shirt. Imagine out of hundreds he could find only one to his liking but here I cannot deny the fact that so far whatever he had chosen was definitely good. 

Finally we were down to one last item - the pair of jeans. Even here he asked to be shown different varieties as he did not like something with stitched motiffs, some of the stone washed pattern and so on and so forth. By this time I was totally drained out of energy and just sat down on the sofa. I left my son with the harried salesman. Finally he had chosen one. We paid the bill and left thanking the poor salesman for being so patient. 

We had spent almost two and half to three hours in the shop to buy four items. For a person who does not like to spend much time on shopping, this was quite an eyeopener. The general perception is that girls are more choosy and take longer time. Boy! was I wrong. When talking to some of  my friends with teenage boys I realised that my son was not an exception. This was another phase I got to see of my teenaged boy - must say it sure was a memorable shopping experience.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The radio days

Sunday....... the day when we all love to laze around in bed, where my children ask me not to wake them up early, in other words my days are loooonger and things get done very late. That being the case, this sunday when I went to the kids room at around nine in the morning I found both the kids listening to some songs on the radio. Yes - the good old radio.The very own radio which Marconi patented. The radio which was a much prized purchase for all those people who went abroad those days. Who can ever forget the evergreen picture of  a person holding the radio on his shoulder and a suitcase in the other hand showing proudly to the world his most prized possession?

My father-in-law has a radio which he switches on everyday at five in the morning. He listens to devotional songs and at six one can listen to the ageless voice of M.S. Subbulakshmi singing the Venkatesha Suprabhatam. Since the radio is very old and sometimes goes off tune, my mother gifted a radio to him on his birthday. Yes it is difficult to find a radio in electronic shops these days. However call it sentimental value my father-in-law preferred his old radio. My younger son then got it to his room and now both my children listen to music on the radio.

Today when I found both of them lying on the bed and listening to music on the radio it brought back memories of my days. I remember as kids we grew up listening to the radio. It started with early morning news which my dad would be listening as he would be shaving and then as we used to get ready for school, we would be listening to stations like vividhbharathi which would play kannada film songs.  In the night again the radio was switched on at seven for the evening news followed by songs till about eight thirty in the night. So you can say it was almost a daily ritual and was a crucial part of our daily routine.

When we were in our teens we got hooked onto western music and the popular bands like Abba and Boney M were our favourites. I still remember western songs were played only on sundays at twelve. At eleven forty five the four of us would huddle together near the radio and tune into the songs. At times we  would valiantly try to copy down the wordings which were difficult to understand because of the different accent. We also used to listen to quiz programmes and used to enjoy matching our wits against those faceless participants.

During our study time also we had the habit of listening to music on radio and now I find my children also getting into this habit. My husband being a cricket freak reminisces how he would get up early in the morning at around five or so to listen to live commentary when matches were played abroad. Not only that he also used to follow the election results and very methodically would draw up spread sheets of the results. So you can say that radio was an indispensable part of our life. The link to outside world along with newspapers.

After revolution in technology radio slowly took a backseat and disappeared totally from our life. Infact there was a day when my kids were very young when we were talking about radio they asked us what a radio was? At that time it struck us as to how long we had travelled in life.

But today thanks to FM stations, radio seems to have arrived back with a bang or should I say music? So happy listening to all you guys there who grew up listening to radio.       

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spirituality in Children

On my father-in-law's birthday last week, we decided to visit the temple closeby to seek divine blessings. After finishing the morning chores we all reached the temple by 8.30. As we were getting the puja done, I saw a little boy and girl of  around five and eight years of age standing on the other side. Since they were unaccompanied I assumed that they must be from around that vicinity. I was quite impressed to see the devotion with which they prayed before the diety. Once the priest had finished with the pooja, they took the prasadam and bowed before the Lord and left.

As we stood there, I saw many more children in school uniforms coming into the temple. Each one of them stood reverently in front of the Lord with folded hands, took three pradakshinas, prostrated before the diety and  applied the vibhuthi (the sacred ash) on their forehead. It amused me to see the way each and every child  apply the vibhuthi on their forehead; they would peer into their reflection on the outside of the shining bowl which held the vibhuthi and then apply it in the center of their brows!! Finally each one collected the prasad and left. All this was done with so much of devotion that I was left speechless. I realised that this must be a part of their daily routine because of the meticulous way with which they were going about these rituals.

I should say that in about half an hour or so that we were there, I saw almost about fifteen to twenty children all in the age group of eight to ten come and seek blessings of the Almighty before they left for school. All these children I guess were from the nearby Government school as all of them were in the same uniform. I realised the true meaning of the saying children are the incarnation of God. More than concentrating on the pooja, I saw God in these little faces which radiated so much of  pure happiness and joy. Their faces were so serene and I could see their absolute surrender to the Lord.

In my mind I bowed my head in all humbleness to these little ones and to their parents who have given these children that much needed spiritual backbone with which they can face the obstacles of life with great fortitude.

Do you think the more sophisticated and urbanised we become, further away we move from spiritualism? Spiritualism in whatever form that one follows, ultimately don't you think that each one of us is looking for that tranquility and answer to that ultimate question of "Who am I?"      

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Picnics or study tours?

The other day when my children told me that they have a class picnic and that they would be spending time at a resort, my father-in-law reminisced about the kind of picnics that they used to have. He told us that as part of school outing they would be taken to nearby sugar factories and would be shown how sugar was prepared or to small scale industries where they would be shown how fabrics were woven, followed by swimming in the local waterbody and lunch in the lush green fields and play before packing their bags.

That set me thinking; can't our children also have such kind of picnics which is fun and at the same time brings in some practical education? Many of you might be familiar with this joke where, when a teacher asked the class children where one gets milk from, the answers varied from packets, milk booth and shops! Somehow, the cow did not come into the picture at all!

But seriously, our education system hardly gives us any real insights other than studying and answering questions from books. Even during my time, we still did not have what I call hands on education. We would read theoretically about agriculture, cultivation of crops, irrigation system and so on as part of our curriculum. Beyond that we hardly knew how rice or barley or wheat crops were grown. Thanks to our urban upbringing! We all admire the lush green fields en-route to a resort, take pictures of farmers working in their fields, gasp in delight at the picturesque scenery as we call it and leave the memories trapped in our cameras. Period.

We go to supermarkets and pile up the trolley with packets of various items like sugar, biscuits, different kinds of flours and so on. But do we know exactly how sugar is prepared from sugarcane? How jaggery is made? What processes are involved in dehusking and cleaning of different cereals? Same way we buy apparels but we do not know how a cloth is woven from the stage of fibre to a fabric, how a loom works, how materials are dyed and the whole lot of procedure involved which goes into the making of a cloth.

At least during our time we had some exposure into this as our grandparents lived in villages / small towns and we used to get to see all of this, but now that everyone have moved out or the smaller villages now have become semi urban towns, our children have absolutely no exposure to real life equivalents of what they study at school.

Imagine the delight of little children if they are taken from the school to fields where they actually get to work alongside the farmers and you know how little ones love to muck around literally! or when  they are taken to factories and shown how the day to day materials that they use are made, they would love to tinker in garages or factories to see how automobiles work. Learning would then become more enjoyable and meaningful don't you think? One which will be remembered for a lifetime? Wouldn't it be the best way of imparting knowledge to our children right from a young age to respect dignity of labour? What more, when they do it alongside their friends they enjoy it much more.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heal this earth for our children

This year on Independence day an announcement was made at the gathering in our apartment that shortly they would take up zero waste management project and asked each resident to co-operate to make it a success. Now our apartment complex has some three hundred forty odd flats and even if we say four members per flat it would be a whopping thousand four hundred (rounding off) residents in this complex alone!

Imagine the waste produced by each of these flats and the apartment complex on the whole, on a day to day basis? Phew! is it not colossal?  I am taking the instance of only our apartment! One can then imagine the waste that gets collected all over the world! I was therefore very happy that here was an opportunity where we will leave lesser carbon imprint on this earth and not only that, my children would practically learn what would otherwise have been just another lesson in their textbook.

The project went underway from September onwards in a phase-wise manner. The first thing was to create awareness and this was done by having exhibitions and hosting a talk show with one of the experts in this field of zero waste management from Vellore, who spoke not only to the residents but also to the maids and other helpers. After this each and every flat was provided with clear cut instructions on how to segregate wet waste and dry waste. Also all the flats were given two different coloured dust bins- one red (for dry waste) and one green (for wet waste). No plastic liners were to be used and dustbins were to be covered with newspaper only.

Now the dry waste like plastic covers, milk covers, bottles etc were to be thoroughly rinsed and dried before putting into the bin as these would later  be sold and used for recycling. The wet waste like kitchen waste, dry flowers etc would be made into compost which could then be used to grow the very fruits and vegetables that we eat organically.

Initially some of the residents showed resistance and felt it was tedious and difficult.Some felt it was not their job in the first place to do this, the bins would be filthy when plastic liners are not used so on and so forth. But then I guess it is all about the change in mindset. If we cannot do our might in saving this earth then who will I wonder? Anyways now the initial glitches and hitches are done away with and things are going smoothly.

I think even with no research and education our ancestors were in sync with nature. They knew even then that they had to co-exist with nature on its own terms and disturbing nature would mean disruption of the very existence of human beings. Hence every single item used was eco- friendly, made from raw materials available in nature which would easily disintegrate and decompose and merge into nature once more to be  reused again. But post industrialisation has got us into the use and throw culture added with the most dangerous and toxic plastic and e-waste, poisoning  our very earth on which we live. So does it not then make each one of us responsible? Should we not start now and save our beautiful planet 'Earth' for generations to come? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Truly a festival of lights

We have been celebrating Diwali - the festival of light and sound I must say for the past several years. After the entry of children into our lives the festivities brought out added dazzle and sparkle into our lives. The amazing and joyous look on their faces when sparklers and flowerpots were lit or the frightened gasp and cries when crackers were burst - all these added a different dimension to our festivities. When they got older, bursting crackers on their own became a symbol of courage and a sign of independence. All these happened in addition to the ritualistic oil massage and bath followed by lighting diyas everywhere and gorging on sweets and led up to the final moments when they would wait excitedly for that moment when they could start on the firework show.

All that changed this year when my children announced that they would not be bursting crackers or for that matter any other  fireworks this year. We were happy that we would in a very small way contribute towards lesser pollution this year. At the same time as an adult, being conditioned to celebrating Diwali with fireworks I asked the kids if they would atleast like to buy one pack of flowerpot and sparklers as a symbolic spirit of this festival. They refused.

I should say this Diwali we enjoyed a lot by decking up the house with lovely rangolis, amid strewn petals of crysanthemums, roses and marigolds. Prepared lots of sweets and savouries at home as well as a sumptuous Diwali meal, visited friends and relatives, and had friends visiting us. Not to forget we lit lots of diyas. At the end of the festivities, In my heart I felt that this Diwali was well and truly the festival of lights.

Monday, August 22, 2011

When Lord Krishna visited my home

Krishna Janmashtami - the day Lord Krishna was born. With both the children having flown the nest, I was reminiscing those days when not long ago, we were all celebrating this festival together, and I can still remember the joy and festive mood at home.

There is something magical about this festival, which I am narrating here. I remember visiting my friend during this festival. As I entered her house I just stood fascinated; I saw small footprints on the floor running across the house! I asked her what that meant? She explained that this was a tradition in their house. This she said, represented little Lord Krishna's feet symbolising Lord Krishna visiting her home! She also showed me how to make it. She would close her fist and dip that in the kumkum paste and press it on the floor and then mark toes over that.

This was a memory that stayed with me. When my children were small, I wanted to create this magical moment for them. That was the age when they were very much interested in mythological stories,  and no guesses there, Krishna was their favourite. That night as I kissed them goodnight, I told them that the next day was Lord Krishna's birthday and told them that little Krishna might visit them! 

That night I made little footprints leading from the prayer room to the kids room.The next morning, both the kids came running into my room yelling excitedly that Krishna had come to see them and they showed me the footprints. Their simple belief and enthusiasm was infectious and the whole family including their grandparents shared that wonderful moment along with the children! From then on this became a regular tradition in our family too.

The next year the day before Janmashtami, both the children couldn't contain their excitement. They badgered all of us with questions. Will Krishna be visiting us this year too, what time will he be coming, can they stay awake to greet him on his birthday? I told them if they wanted little Krishna to come, he would definitely visit them this time too. 

That evening, as I passed their room I could hear a lot of whispering and serious discussions going on between the brothers. I was wondering as to what was the buzz all about. When asked they wouldn't tell me. After I kissed them goodnight I got ready to make the footprints. I came to the Pooja room, and what I saw there made me very emotional. On the platform in front of Lord Krishna's idol lay a bowl filled with their favourite Cadbury eclairs!! This was their gift to the Lord on his birthday! After making the footprints, I took out some chocolates from the bowl. 

Next day early morning a small riot broke out. That day while we were still in bed, my children rushed into our bedroom with whoops of joy and amazement. Both of them were talking at the same time. Finally we managed to calm them down, and both of them narrated that little Krishna had visited them this time too and had eaten some eclairs too! They were completely awestruck!

Later in the day I could hear my younger son telling his grandparents with great gusto as to how he had seen Lord Krishna come into his bedroom and also about Krishna having eaten the eclairs! Each time the story was repeated, it kept getting longer and more vivd with lot more creativity and imagination!

Time passed and my children had grown a little older by now. The tradition continued. But now I saw my elder son giving me knowing smile and winks whenever I enthused about visit of Krishna. I could however see he was still torn between wanting to believe it, but also trying to question. 

Then one of the years I hit upon the idea of making the footprints with lipstick as it was much easier. Now my younger son got up that morning and all was quiet. I did not hear the usual whoop of joy and was wondering what was happening? After some time he came down and told me 'Mamma, I know you made those footprints'. I asked him why he thought so? He said that he had smelt the footprints and it smelt of lipstick (I know children are curious, but smelling the footprints? Beats me). I told him that might be the smell of alta the red colour that Krishna generally applies on his feet. I could see that he was not quite satisfied. I knew that my children were now growing up and were slowly stepping out of their imaginary world.

Now the time has come where both my sons tell me that they knew the truth.Well the truth might have been out of the bag, but I think I will continue doing it. Why? I guess life has to have some magical moments, don't you think? And for me, it was that day early in the morning when my kids got up to the joy of seeing the footprints for the first time and telling me with great faith that little Lord Krishna had come home visiting them!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Choco - block

Today my younger son got ready to go to school and as is his custom, he perused the whole world ie. the news paper. First comes the sports page (Thank God! the main news makes for a morose start of the day) and then he takes a bird's eye view of the happenings in the rest of the world by reading the headlines. As I was busy packing what I thought was a nutritious meal (which according to them is the most boring stuff), I heard a loud chuckle and he came to the kitchen excitedly. I wondered if his favourite football player Torres had made a grand opening in his first match in his new home team....but no, that was not the reason for all this sudden excitement as he announced in a very grand manner, his tone displaying the 'I knew it all along', kind   'mama, it says here 'Chocolate healthier than fruits'.

Is he kidding? I know he is a great chocoholic. He pointed the article with great glee to me. I read it and I pointed out to him that it also says here that , I quote, 'the findings do not alter the fact that their favourite is high in fat and sugar, meaning dieticians say it should be balanced with less yummy foods such as brown rice and pulses'. So I tried hard telling him that chocolate might be healthy, but it should still be eaten in moderation. Anything eaten in moderation is always good. But suddenly he pretended to be hard of hearing and declared that from then on he would eat chocolates instead of fruits!! I was left with more of my speech on the positive benefits of eating healthy food unsaid and unheard as he opened Cadbury Silk and took a generous bite of it to demonstrate the study was indeed the final word in the matter.

I sighed, thinking how selective we all are in hearing and choosing what we want to do. I know for a fact that in another few weeks time there will be another study refuting the claim of this study but the damage would have already been done and my son would 'chocoliciously' be eating his chocolate.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meaning of freedom for each one of us..

As we celebrate our 65th Independence Day, we know that the oppressive rule of the British is well and truly behind us. And we have to be thankful to each and every well known as well as the countless anonymous people of this country who struggled tirelessly to ensure their children and grandchildren lived in a better India.

But in the current scenario would this still be significant? So then what would freedom mean in today's context I wondered?

In rural India,

are our farmers today free of the vagaries of nature and from the clutches of the money lenders?

are the hardworking womenfolk in our rural areas free from the domineering menfolk who take away all their earnings?

are they free from having to walk miles to get a couple of pots of water?

And in semi-urban and urban India,

do BPL families have the freedom to enjoy three healthy meals a day, a good education, and proper health care facilities?

has the nation progressed enough to stop begging on the streets?

have we done enough to free ourselves from the virus of corruption?

Yes - we are free from the foreign rule but unfortunately, we continue to be slaves. Of a different kind.

Slaves to our work.
To our money.
To the luxuries the money brings.
To the mall culture.
To the brands we like to wear.
To the notion that bigger is better - bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger holidays and bigger everything.

When will we gain independence from the corruption of the mind? Will we ever?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adieu dear Harry Potter

Well the first time I had an inkling about a boy wizard called 'Harry Potter' was sometime in the year 1998. We had gone to one of our friends' place for dinner and our friend's son who was all of nine was reading a book. He was so very engrossed that nothing disturbed him. I was very curious to know what book it was and when asked his father said 'Harry Potter'.

At that time I did not really think much about it. Growing on books like Grimms fairy tales, Aesop's Fables, Enid Blyton I was busy collecting those for my child who was just about three then. However Harry Potter burst into our lives when the series was made into movies and I bought the set of first four books.

The first time I read the books I got totally immersed into Harry's magical world. My household chores  got done in a jiffy that even Molly Weasley with all her magic spells used, to cook and clean was outdone by me. After this I was  invisible to all, just as Harry was with his invisible cloak. Oh!!! what a world of enthrallment as I stepped into Hogwarts - the school of magic. It was the kind of school that I had always dreamt about. Applauding Harry during his Qudditch games, traversing along with him on his journey into the world of unknown dangers and coming out victorious against the Dark Lord by sheer courage, trust and love as his only weapons. Now with the series finally lowering its curtains for the last time, it is difficult to bid adieu to a friend with whom I have travelled together for such a long time.

My children especially my younger son, is so much into Harry Potter that he is reading each of the books umpteen number of times and has almost all the book by heart (I wish if this was their English text books all the children might have scored a perfect century each time). Now every moment I have to defend myself from his spells which are cast on me. The moment I ask him to study he 'Stupefies' me, when I ask him to pass on something he cries out  'Accio', when he wants to be left alone he 'Obliviates' me. So I have my own Potter at home. All the pages in his books have pictures of the Elder Wand, the symbol of Deathly Hallows, the Sword of Gryffindor and finally Harry himself. At school they have quiz competitions amongst their friends. To beat it all he has now ordered his grandfather to read Harry Potter!!!

This is what I say is the powerful magic of Harry Potter who has spun magic and enchanted young as well as old alike in his dare devil adventure. It is with great sadness that I bid adieu to Harry who will always remain a part of our lives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A mother's tears

This incident has left me very disturbed. It was the day when we were anxiously waiting for the recovery of a dear person in the hospital who was in the ICU. My eyes fell on a group of people who were talking to one of the doctors. I could sense that it was something very critical and all three - a woman, a young man and the old man looked really worried.The woman in the group had tears in her eyes.

After this I saw the young man walking from one counter to the other and the old man trying to console the woman. I asked them if there was any way in which we could help them and the old man told us that his grand daughter who had been hospitalised for over a fortnight, was critical and needed blood transfusion immediately. At that, we told them not to worry and managed to arrange for donors. The mother was so very overjoyed that she just thanked us every now and then. She told us that they had come from the village and her daughter who was fourteen had to be admitted to the hospital due to liver problems.

Now that the little girl had received blood transfusion we all heaved a sigh of relief. The mother, her aged father and the young man who we came to know was her son were overjoyed. When in  ICU I felt everybody who was there felt a bond with each other as everyone knew what each one of us were going through. Just by the emotions that each one's face reflected was an indicator as to how each one's dear ones were faring.

The time was 4.15 in the evening when the doctors called the young man inside and when he came out we immediately knew something was drastically wrong. Yes, the little girl of fourteen was not able to pull through and had finally given up the battle. We were all totally devastated by this. We had not seen this little girl , but there was a bond which had formed over a period of 3-4 hours. This just shook me and the tears of the mother was something which I could not bear to see. I tried as best as I could to console her but it sounded hollow even to my own ears. Oh! life sometimes can be so very cruel.

The only final act of help that we could do was when they fell short of money.We left them to grieve together. The final memory of that mother was her taking her daughter's clothes to dress her up one last time before the final journey back home.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Unforgettable moment of my life

This happened when we were in the hospital recently. With the never ending waiting that accompanies any visit to the doctor I then pursue my all time passion - that of  observing people around me. Some faces looked tired and worn out, some of them had their eyes closed, maybe tired of waiting for their turn, some of them looked worried and I hoped everything would turn out fine for them and then suddenly I was captivated by a little girl maybe all of two years. She was chubby and had a great twinkle in her eyes. I smiled at her and she hid her face behind her mother's saree and there began a game of hide and seek between us.

Just then the little one's father came and spoke to the mother in a very worried tone and I could sense that there was a lot of agitation on their faces. I asked her if  everything was alright and  this was what she told me: She said that they had come from a nearby village to the hospital as their little one is suffering from Thalassemia - a disorder of the blood which is inherited wherein the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin which destroys the red blood cells and which leads to anemia. People suffering from this disorder need to be given blood transfusions on a regular basis. Now on that particular day the hospital was short of stock and therefore had asked them to find donors for their child. They did not know any one there and so were looking very dejected.

Luckily on that particular day we had also gone to the hospital with a few donors who were to donate blood. When the donors came to know about this, they immediately  set about calling their friends and within an hour two donors came and donated blood.

I can never forget the look of gratitude on the face of the parents for whom these two good Samaritans were as if none other than God himself had come to help them. And I stood there marvelling at this wonderful moment that unfolded right in front of us.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A whiff of fresh air

Well seems to me the ''aam admi" is put to great difficulties day after day. This time it was the diktat from the Govt that all the LPG consumers have to go to the gas agency and submit their LPG number and the Electricity RR no.This drive is against weeding out those who have bogus ration card (I am sure the present day APL generation have never ever heard of something called ration card).  The thing is because of this extra burden the personnel working at the gas agency are not taking calls to book gas from consumers.

We therefore had to go personally to collect the gas cylinders as they said that they did not have enough delivery boys to deliver the cylinders home!! My mom had the same difficulty and hence we went to get the cylinder from the agency. Now once we got the new cylinder loaded and put it in our car we paid a small tip to the person who loaded it as we could see he was expecting it.

After getting it home, getting the cylinder inside the kitchen from outside was quite a humungous task so we looked here and there to see if there was someone around who could help us. My eyes fell on a boy of about 18-19 who was working at a nearby construction site. I called out to him and asked him if he could get the cylinder inside. He readily agreed and then lifted the cylinder and placed it inside the kitchen. As he was leaving, by habit I offered him some money and he simply said  "No, thanks!" (Did I hear it right?) At first it did not register and then when I tried again he said the same thing and that too in such a polished way I was flabbergasted. I knew this was not the run of the mill person but someone who is a rarity these days. I asked him how much he had studied as his English seemed very polished. He said that he had completed his tenth standard! Since we wanted to show our gratitude we gave him some sweets to eat and he went back to his work.

He came across as a whiff of fresh air amidst such pollution. I wished that may be we all should learn a thing or two from this simple and kind hearted person who is not educated academically but rich in knowledge of love, kindness and sincerity. People like him are the need of the hour, specially given today's state in our country is in. We need more people like him don't you think?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

National pride

Our country celebrated Republic Day and many of us have surely watched the very touching video of the silent national anthem by the speech and hearing impaired children. One could see the pride and joy on the faces of these children.

It is another matter that, of late our country is mired in umpteen numbers of scams and with the kind of message that the Government is coming across each and every one of us the citizens of India seems to have lost their power of voice or even if there is it just seems to be getting drowned unheard in the abyss.

But let me come to the point. As usual after several months we finally went to the theatre to see a movie and after the initial advertisements I was surprised when the message flashed on the screen for all to stand for the National Anthem. I sang the anthem with great gusto. I could feel my chest heave and could feel tears round the corner of my eyes and my heart was bursting with pride. Such is the power of our National Anthem !! The whole atmosphere felt very electric and I am sure every one of them must have felt some kind of deep emotion welling up. I was also happy that my children were also witness to this as otherwise it is only in school that they do sing it everyday.

It was then it stuck me that if we, the honest citizens of this country do our duty with diligence, hard work and loyalty, and also, instill in our children the same sense of values, there is no doubt in my mind that our country will once again rise and shine despite the scam-filled governance we see today. The sincere pride and love we see in the faces of each of the children in the Silent National Anthem should be on all Indians. Don't you think?

What do you say? 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cobbler, cobbler mend my shoe.......

Every now and then it is very common for my children to come to me with a complaint that the zip of their school bag has come off or the sole of their shoe has come apart or the watch has stopped working and so on and so forth. Each time this happens they ask me for a new one to replace any of the above mentioned items. I tell them that all these can be repaired and can be used for the next ten years and they stare at me amazed.

I realise that unlike olden times our children are getting used to the use and throw culture. Once some thing as small as a zip of the bag is not working they think that it is time to discard it and buy a new one. One cannot really blame them. I guess from the time plastic was invented mass manufacture right from toys to kitchen ware lead to use and discard practice. Over a period of time the children have therefore got used to this.

I remember when we were children and when we had to get our shoe mended we used to go to the cobbler and really enjoy seeing him deftly mending it. Similarly if our kitchen knives were to be sharpened there would be these people who would come and do it (I do not know what they were called) They used to have a metal wheel which they would rotate and hold the knife against it and we would enjoy seeing the sparks fly as they would sharpen the knife. There would also be people who would polish the zari on the sarees, or polish silver ware and so on. But over a period of time these utility professionals yet who were a very integral part of our lives have slowly disappeared from our life.

Just the other day my son told me that the entire sole of his football shoe had come off and he had to get a new one as he had an important match to play. Well I was aghast as it had been bought not so long ago. I told him that this could be repaired and  I took my very much sceptical son  to a cobbler whom I had just seen open shop close to my house and as we stood there waiting, I was once again mesmorised as his deft fingers nimbly sewed the shoe and within ten minutes when we got the shoe back my son was amazed to see such neat and perfect work and as good as new shoe. He was very happy. That day he learnt that discarding need not be the only solution. As we walked back I pondered sadly as to how long before will these people who have been an important part of our lives last in their specialised profession in this age of technology?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our children deserve a better India

I always remember this sanskrit saying "Yatha raaja, tatha praja" (As the king is so will be his subjects). This might be a very old proverb but I should say it is more relevant in today's scenario than at any other time. Every other minute, there seems to be one scam or another tumbling out of this Government's closet. Values like righteousness, truth, honesty, hard work etc., seem to have got buried in the deepest recesses of the earth.

Many a time, I question myself whether this is the same India where we as students used to read about unity in diversity? Is this the same Bharat where the Vedas were born? Is this the same land where great sages and saints once lived to guide mankind? Most importantly is this the same  land where Lord Krishna once revealed in such beautiful words the Bhagavad Gita - a beacon showing every man the right path to live? 

I feel deeply distressed that our so called elected representatives are busy misusing the mandate given to them by us. When my children read the newspapers they ask me in a matter of fact manner if all the people representing the Government are corrupt? And if they are, why are they not being punished? Now as a parent there are several questions that revolve in my mind. As parents, we try and inculcate the right values in our children right from their impressionable years and follow it ourselves. We encourage them to be truthful and honest all the time. We teach them these values by reading out books like Panchatantra, Ramayana, Mahabharath and so on. We try and teach them about simplicity and austerity by telling them about the life of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhiji and so on.

But in the current situation children are old enough to understand what is happening around them. They are more than ever exposed to a world which seems to be contradicting the very values that they are being taught by us. In such a scenario I feel at a loss as to explain to the children why things are so. It comes as no surprise if children have already turned out to be more and more cynical and remain completely unaffected by all the happenings around them, as it seems to have become a daily affair.

It troubles me as to where would all this lead to in future? Is it not a scary scenario? Isn't it a tragedy that our children are growing up in a corrupt India and more dangerously, believing that it's the way of life? Will our future generation be able to uphold the right values?