Bhaidooj – Time for sibling love

Bhaidooj is made up of two words namely- “Bhai” meaning brother and “Dooj” meaning the second day after the new moon which is a day of its celebration.

Bhaidooj is an auspicious occasion for the Hindus where brothers pay visit to their sisters and sisters in turn make special arrangements – treating them with delicious food and gifts too. An important part of the ritual is the tilak which the sister puts on the brother’s forehead wishing him prosperity in life.

There are few Hindu mythological based stories related to the origin of this auspicious day. According to one legend, Lord Krishna visited his sister, Subhadra after killing demon Narkasur. Her sister gave a warm welcome to him and made the occasion really special through flowers and sweets. Subhadra also applied the ceremonial “tilak” on the forehead of her brother, Krishna and hence the festival of “Bhai Dooj” was born from there. Another legend revolves around the story of Yama, the God of Death and his sister Yamuna. It is believed that he met his beloved sister on Dwitheya, the second day after the new moon.

I am blessed with two beautiful children, a girl and a boy. They are young and tender minded, sharing a special bond with each other. Once I was upset over my son for misbehaving and playing mischief all day. I and my husband reprimanded him, by not speaking to him for a while. I encouraged my daughter too to not converse. Her reply was, “No, I will not stop talking to him, we have explained him and he will not repeat.” Though she was not on our side, inside my heart I felt very peaceful that she did not give up on her brother. That is all that mattered…

Another incident was when we were at Jaisalmer at a desert camp. My daughter suddenly went out of sight. It was a spread out property and she wandered away. I and my husband were both worried and angry. The moment we found her I just bashed her for how she just slipped away on her own. Even my husband carried a firm face and intoned, that she should have been responsible. But my little son, simply said, “We were searching for you. I was sure though that you will not have any fun without me and you will soon be back. Now you stay together…” and just held her hand. My heart melted because he did not give up on her…

Siblings are special and worthy of the connect, so do revisit your innocent childhood memories and choose to bond better this Bhaidooj…

My mind my garden

My mind my garden – Robin Sharma, a revered author had mentioned this elaborately in his book – The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari. And the thought has stayed with me since then. A beautiful garden with roses and lilacs, with lush green trees and water fountains, with pebbled pathways and chirping birds – would anyone want to escape from such a magnificent space? Rather we would want it to be a part of our life – easily accessible so that we can regularly frequent it.

Similarly our mind if cultivated into a cleaner space decorated with thoughts of nourishment and nurturing can evolve into our favorite place. If we sow seeds of goodness and humility and water them, they will bloom into kind thoughtful actions. It is so simple to keep our minds beautiful- which can thus, be our space to rejuvenate. We will be able to design creative ways to work better and enhance our being.

An equally important part is to protect it. Protect it from what? If the metaphorical garden with flowers and trees is dirtied with trash – what will happen? It will stink and lose its charm. Similarly if we allow negative thoughts gain ground in our mind we will end up acting upon those thoughts wrenching our otherwise good life. So we better take care that no bad enters our mind – our beautiful garden – which is our source of peace and fulfillment.

My child is average

My child is no genius, he is simply average

Are marks and degrees the only means to gauge?

He draws so well, he can paint his mind

He is virtuous, noble and very kind

He is updated about the current affairs

Through his telescope at the stars he stares

He is a great chef, he makes lovely tea

He teaches orphans after office, for free

He follows football, and is a basketball player

He just made a sketch of the city mayor

He wants to learn dance, yet to decide which form

He is learning languages, you know ‘Madre’ means mom

When he acts on the stage, you can’t help but applause

He pens articles, poems, seldom with flaws

On weekends he participates in social initiatives

The list goes on, he is energetically creative

Your doubt is right, how can my son be so talented?

But these are the voices of all the moms who relented

All the moms who accept, “Yes my child is average.”

Coz marks and degrees are no means to gauge

Diwali – The festival of inner light

Like each day, I sat reading the newspaper. What surprised me today was that Bombay Times the attached newsletter to Times of India which is usually an 8-10 pager supplement was a bulky 24 pager. Flipped through it and found it is disproportionately filled with promotion material. The paper is propagating Diwali as ‘the time’ to buy it all – from appliances to cars to jewelry to apparels to vehicles…Woof!!! I was left wondering that is Diwali all about shopping?

Tradition says Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of the goodness; as felt by the kingdom of Ayodhya when Lord Rama came back from a 14 year exile. They lit the entire place with diyas, they decorated every corner with torans and rangoli. The fragrance of fresh flowers filled the air; the sky was lit up too with crackers… Above all this all of them came together to celebrate the special day with a broad grin on the faces and a renewed spring in the steps.

See, we come from somewhere so simple. Festivities should be more about meeting and greeting. Diwali should be more about illuminating our souls. Today, there is so much darkness inside us – due to social media statuses, competitive environment, and pressure to be the best at everything. Diwali is indeed a good time to do away with these negative emotions. A large section of Hindu community also celebrates the following day as New Year. Which means it is an appropriate time to resolve!!

Kindness, humility, forgiveness and acceptance are the four key things that lead you to a better life. We forget about them in the everyday humdrum, and festivals are the best time to check on these virtues. So gift your house help, downplay your achievements, forgive your friends/relatives, and accept the difference in the opinions of family members.

Yes Diwali is very much about new clothes, good food and a refreshed household/office with new items that make our lives more comfortable. But all this is squandered without a bright soul.
So let us clean up our minds and let our being shine this Diwali!! Happy Diwali to all my readers 

Animation is real!!!

Animation movies are popular these days and enjoyed as much by adults as by kids. In fact I have observed that these movies challenge ideologies and inspire the lighter way. The small and big animated characters bring the screen alive and teach us life lessons. Below are 10 such movies and what I could learn from them – my hidden takeaways

Kung Fu Panda
This is a story of a Panda learning Kung Fu. For me this is one movie that powerfully exhibits that your structure or weight does not define your abilities and skills. The secret message is “Nothing” – you believe in yourself and you create magic. Our light hearted Po – The Panda in the movie, is able to learn the methods of Kung Fu only after he drops all self- inhibitions and believes that he can. There he goes!! On to become one of the ferocious and tactful Kung Fu warriors.

Jungle Book
One of my favorite movies, Jungle Book stands for ‘facing the fear in its face’. Throughout the flick Mowgli escapes, dodges, hides from Sher Khan, his enemy since birth. This endless running comes to a standstill when Mowgli decides to fight back. What led him to this point? I think self -realization and preparedness to accept the worst.

Up
The old man in the movie, a little irritable and fussy wants to build his dream house at the tip of the mountain and fulfill the dream of his deceased wife. The track is super fictitious but the message is clear – age is no bar for life goals. Many a times we hear people saying that now the time has passed or there are a set of people who mock at an elderly person trying to bring a change in their life style. The movie puts forth the thought – One should live till one meets death.

Ratatouille
The world that we live in has unstated parameters of judging a person. A saree clad simple lady, she does not look the party types; a man with a tilak, he seems strictly traditional. The little rat chef in the movie is symbolic of the less privileged in the society. He has numerous weak moments in the movie where he feels worthless and used. Nevertheless his passion – cooking keeps calling on to him, and one fine day the world recognizes. So no matter what the failures are, one should chase his dreams.

Smurfs
Smurfs is a movie that shows the power of togetherness. A fine detail of the movie – that the audience may skip noticing is how the Smurfs keep singing along as they work. Through hardships and happiness they sing “La, la, la, la, la, la, sing a happy song La, la, la, la, la, la, Smurf the whole day long.” We think while one is working one should only work, why keep humming. But we miss on the small joys that lie in singing along as you lead your day. 

How to train your dragon
The plot in this movie is that a teenager named Hiccup is tossed into a dragon fighting school  but his basic nature is that of non-enmity. So he befriends an injured dragon, Toothless. Defies the social norms of ‘survival of the strongest’ and in the end the dragon turns influential in rescuing the entire com of Hiccup. Fresh thought –  Trust and play by each other’s strengths.

Inside out
Riley Anderson, the central character in the movie lives by 5 basic emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. When she shifts to a new city – San Francisco, she takes every change very heavily erasing all her happy memories, and filling her with remorse. What i took from the movie? Do not overthink at the time of life changing events – be it shifting or marriage or baby or a new job, that is the time when we should feel open and enthusiastic.

Lion King
Lion King, an epic creation of vigor and valor. A prominent character Sarabi, the wife of Mufasa, the King and mother to Simba, the cub. Throughout I was impressed by the way Sarabi emerges as the true lioness after the plotted murder of her husband. Rooted single parenting and self empowerment at its best. So womanhood itself is about core courage – no other way out.

Finding Nemo
I may sound cliché’ but somehow the experience and wisdom of the elderly is always underrated by the younger generation. I do not want to challenge the plot, but Nemo’s father Marlin constantly warned him about the dangers of the ocean, still Nemo followed his fancy idea of exploring and got lost. Marlin was not a possessive father, he was waiting for Nemo to attain the ideal age, to spend some time learning the tricks of the ocean. In the garb of being rebellious, youngsters get themselves into difficult situations and poor parents have no option but to save them.

Ballerina
This is a dance movie, where Felicie, a poor orphan girl wants to learn ball dance, a privileged form of dance usually for the rich. She gets help from Odette, a mysterious cleaning woman and a former prime ballerina. Amidst the pressure to perform Odette helps Felicie learn the dance form right and trains her secretly. A person’s standard or designation does not decide how well he can train, the ruling factor is knowledge. Knowledge.


So here you go ten movies to catch up with in your free time… Do watch all of them….

Guilt Trip

Guilt trips

When does one go on a guilt trip? When you cheat, or lie, or pretend or may be just indulge in some extra chocolates? Or when you back bite, gossip, malign or fake? All of these overlap and seem very petty when we think of this one big guilt trip that we take due to wasted time – the one we take when we fail to live up to our potential. It shakes the mind and stirs the soul.

Who defines the potential? You – How you define whether you have reached your potential for the day? The level for a day is achieved if you are not guilty about the way you spent it. It is a self-correcting mechanism uniquely in built in us by the Creator.

The problem is when you do not acknowledge the guilt to self and shift the blame on other people and situations. In reality though, a large part of it can be influenced by you.

Sounds like boring theory!! Here are some instances which we witness in our day to day life and you will be surprised how it correlates to the above. How you are actually empowered to choose otherwise:

The traffic is pressing; all you can see is flashing red lights. You are busy cribbing in the backseat; sweating while the A.C is still on, your only companion is a google map that is showing the same time even if you check like 100 times. There are many options while you are stuck this way like music, downloaded audios on topics of your interest or books. Choose otherwise.

You are a group of friends. A plan is made without asking you. You come to know once they have already left and out of courtesy they ask you to join mid- way. You feel terrible and want to just shun them. Alternatively you can give them a benefit of doubt and if convenient for you, you can actually join them. Why read between the lines when it is a one off instance? Choose otherwise.

You have good command on English. You use it for the benefit of your kids, your family and for yourself when you interact with others. But is this enough? Can you not let others benefit from your skill like friends, or the lesser privileged around you to help them communicate better? Parallely you should also do yourself a favour by polishing your language further. Choose otherwise.

You are an entrepreneur with a set schedule. An idea strikes you, which will give your business a new exposure but it requires taking a plunge and putting in extra brainwork. Also you need to convince others in the office about its workability. Too much work and investment also, so better stay where we are, why to disturb the flow? Easy way out, but is it the right way? Why not give it a shot with full enthusiasm? Choose otherwise.

Your child is average in studies. You see other kids around prospering. Naturally a parent sulks and ends up getting trapped in a circle of comparison. Another way could be to put in efforts and understand what he/she enjoys. Giving time to the child’s interest and facilitating him to outshine. Choose otherwise.

You love to dance. You have spent your entire life looking at performances and wanting to do the same. But you are worried that you will be judged by people around if you join a class. The idea itself is a presumption, leave the anxiety behind. Choose otherwise.

You have a terminally ill patient at home. Life has come to a standstill. Your entire time and energy is sucked in taking care of the patient. But when you are into it, drown yourself in the same by reading out to the patient, taking him/her out for walks, watch movies together. You may not enjoy it all the time but realize that it is a passing phase. Choose otherwise.

At the end of each of these instances you would have two options either feel guilty about the clumsiness with which you managed the situation or feel contended about the way you lived it. I am not saying that it is easy.

But as someone wisely said time is like the flowing river. No one can touch the same water twice. Time once gone is gone, when you know you have no way out; why not accept it in full grace? At least it leaves you with energy to think new. In that spirit may you actually find a way out and you may actually skip the guilt trip!!!

Perspective

Perspectives like God are everywhere
Each person has his perspective rare

Like praying to some is a religious routine
For some hard work is all you need to win

Like marriage to some is a fresh start
For some it’s a clutch that tears you apart

To some money matters more than anything
For some it is just a materialistic string

To some peace is music and crowd
For some peace it’s in the trees and clouds

To some style is tags, brands and options
For some style means minimalist selection

To some hashtags and insta means connection
For some it is still meeting, greeting and affection

To some a life of purpose should be busy and fast
For some the real purpose is to explore the vast

It’s hard to say which perspective is wrong or right
Because keeping a perspective is everybody’s right

Choose yours with virtue and wisdom
Believe in it and set the rhythm

5 Values

Values that I would like to give my child

I actively refrain from writing on parenting as it makes me feel typical. I am a mother of two and they are all that I have in this world. I confess that I am a strict mother; I put in a lot of hard work to make them self- disciplined. My dream is to see them grow into self -dependent individuals with an aura that is distinctly theirs. Away from the regular chores pertaining to academics and health I wish to imbibe the following values in them:

Learn to say an unexplained ‘No’

In India, ‘No’ is considered as a bad word. Kids or adults who refuse to gel in an ancestral or societal set up are looked down upon. Majority of those who muster the courage to defy, usually do so with explanations because here unnecessary weightage is assigned to what others think. I want to teach them to have faith in their ideas and how to politely say a ‘No’. Initially people find it offending but gradually, they accept it as your nature. This in no way means that they will grow up to becomes less sensitive; rather they will understand that “I need not fight every time, not every battle is mine.”

Cleanliness and organization

Which mom in the world would not want it? Often in our quest to facilitate the children we end up carrying their bags till the stop, removing their tiffin’s once they are back, putting their folders in place…the list goes on. I don’t seem to relate to these acts of sympathy. I want them to live through the fatigue and still shine. Cleanliness and organization go a long way in living a quality life.

Multitask

Today kids live in a world of amenities and distractions. I make sure that my kids get a flavor of everything be it studies, sports, drawing, entertainment, friends time, stories and surprisingly so much fits in a single day. My daughter is 8 years and she has started understanding that if she is reading a book it is as refreshing as any other way to pass time. The moment they were exposed to the world of online shows and series, I imbibed in them the habit to watch with a pause. This allows screen time to be one of the many ways to take a break.

Speak the truth

Why does one lie? There is just one reason according to me – to protect one’s projected image in front of family, teachers, friends.. And these days’ kids are anxious about their social media standing which is actually even hollower. ‘What shows and what is’ are totally different, totally disconnected. I teach them that whether they get scolded or appreciated, truthfulness is one of the strongest of the virtues. It lets the child be free and in complete acceptance of self.

Celebrate routine

How many times can we plan a surprise or take a vacation? More than money, time constraints come in way. An ideal way of living would be where they celebrate the 24 hours that they get each day. How can one do it in the same space and schedule? One can, by changing the mix of activities while a few activities stay constant like studies. For example one day the child is painting, the other day he is cycling while on some other day she is just sleeping a little extra. This keeps their energy levels high as each day they look forward for some new thing to do. This fills the vacuum created by a monotonous pattern of living. They are happy in their so called routine which allows them to do it all.

So studies being at the center the extras can revolve around. It also increases their efficiency in academics. Doing everything every day is not possible and leaving everything is simply not worth!!!

I do not intend to give tips to any parent because I believe every parent-child relation is unique. But if my blog empowers a reader to adopt an alternate approach, I would be more than happy.

Mumbai teaches patience…

The city of dreams… the city of lights….. The commercial capital of India… so many titles have been accorded to our dear Mumbai. Today while I was waiting for an auto rickshaw, it dawned upon me that Mumbai is also our teacher in patience. Wondering why I am relating such a noble golden virtue to the super stimulated metropolitan – where your status is decided by your unavailability… all in the city are busy and like to be that way. Still amidst all the chaos, I caught a glimpse of patience…

When I saw a headphone clad teenager who was sweating due to the heat and heavy traffic. Suddenly he shakes his head and takes a spring, because his favorite track played.

I saw a middle aged woman, rushing to catch her office bus. There comes a temple on the way, she gestures her colleague to hold the bus while she takes a statue pause to pray for not more than 10 seconds.

The school van arrives and one of the kids has not reached. The driver is continuously looking in the direction from which the child comes, the moment he spots just a corner of his uniform, he shouts, “Come fast!!!”

My husband travels for 2 hours every day (one side) for work but comes home beaming. Occasionally gets goodies too. What does he do en-route, listens to music, pj’s on radio and yes does all his surfing work…

A teenage girl stepped out, wearing a red gown with dazzles in her ears. She is waiting for her cab to come and in the meantime it rains, she runs towards the shade below the tree, calls the driver again. People around are noticing her as she is all decked up, and all she does is gives a faint smile.

At the mart, the billing queue is long. I saw a man with 5 items in his cart, standing behind another who had 2 full carts to be billed. He thinks and requests the man ahead to let him bill first as he will take very little time, the other one willingly obliges.

I was down to fetch my son. An old man and a boy both were waiting for an auto. The boy, dressed in formals, looked hassled as if he had to be somewhere and was running out of time as he checked the time thrice in a span of 10 minutes. After a long wait, one auto arrived, the boy immediately reached for it, but wait a minute, what did he do next? He stepped back and asked the old man to board the auto.

The fruit vendor while pushing his laden cart toppled over a stone on the road. His pile of fruits spilled all around. A car coming in his direction abruptly stopped and all the nearby people and vendors helped him by picking the fruits that had fallen near them.

I had a doctor’s appointment and I reached 50minutes late due to an accident that had occurred on the highway. I was feeling pathetic and that’s when the doctor said, “It’s not you alone, many of my patients are late. Please its ok!”

We visited a popular restaurant in Parel. We were waiting for a table to get vacant. A family had finished their dinner and was casually relishing their dessert. The woman noticed that we were waiting since long and she seemed to insist to her family to vacate as they were done with their meal.

I am sure even you must have come across a few such incidents while you wait for your turn practically everywhere be it roads, malls, theatres, play areas, ferry rides, restaurants, stations, airport, hospital – our city leaves us with no option but to remain patient and poised.

Visarjan

The aura of Visarjan

I am born and bought up in Mumbai. At the age of 34, for the first time I visited Girgaum Chowpatty on the eve of Anant Chaturdashi, and I discovered a new meaning in the process of Visarjan. To the world the relevance is that Visarjan is when Lord Ganesha leaves for Kailasha and takes the misfortunes of his devotees along with him. To me, it appeared as something bigger, something more magnificent.

I and my family chose to park our car at a distance and walk the streets to witness Visarjan. I was a part of a stream of people, belonging to different castes, each with unique physical attributes and of course from different financial statuses. But, there at that point all were together, in one flow. Visarjan unites….

We enjoyed the simplest of foods like berries, star fruit, corn, tamarind and Mumbai’s very own Vada Pav. Through our casual stroll, we relished these and so did my children. Visarjan helps enjoy small and simple……

I saw two kids, of a local labor family, poor but dressed to their best. As the music started rolling, they danced without any fear or intimidation, while their parents clapped and encouraged. Visarjan let them open up and seize the moment……

All were walking, all pedestrians – no two wheeler, no cars, no rickshaws, only feet to feet. No inhibitions about heat, distance and fatigue. Visarjan made us ecofriendly at least temporarily…..

An ordinary annual fest, appeared like, the world is celebrating. From where I could see, I saw only colors and a diverse crowd. From what I experienced I felt a gush of energy and inclusivity. It was as if I understood an unsaid message from God himself that humility is the only religion and camaraderie the only celebration…