Saturday, 27 October 2012

A Teacher by Choice


Sending my son off to school for the first time was, as I mentioned in an earlier blogticle, one of the most heartrending moments of my life. However, this feeling has not prolonged …what with my son being so happy in school. Seeing him so attached to his teacher gladdens my heart no end.

Before he started his school the only thing I prayed for was not the facilities in the school, not an air-conditioned classroom, and lots of homework, but a teacher who was loving, caring and affectionate. The learning of course would follow. If a child finds himself in a nurturing and caring environment he is bound to learn easily without any effort.

Henry Brooks Adams says “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” How true is that! On the other hand, it is also true that “Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more.”  ~Bob Talbert

The smallest thing or action by a teacher remains with us forever. Thus, it also holds so true that while a good teacher can shape the life of a child, a bad one can destroy it.

I have heard teachers shouting and yelling at tiny tots, being disdainful to those little helpless, innocent souls who in their defence can only start crying and sobbing, howling out for their mothers…mothers who have entrusted their “jigar ka tukdas” to them. Worse still when their errors are pointed out to them they refuse to learn and believe they have done nothing wrong.

Primary teachers especially carry a large responsibility on their shoulders.  They are charged with educating the next generation of adults and are held accountable by parents and if they have the potential to shape a bright future for their students they can also scar their young, impressionable minds. What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased.

It is thus sad that in India the teaching profession is the last choice, one taken as a desperate attempt for those who have no other options left to earn their livelihoods. The Guru-Shishya relationship has no meaning today and there is no pride felt in being a teacher unless you are one of those who teach in swanky schools and get a fat salary. 

It is also a gloomy reflection on our education system that primary teachers who welcome tiny tots into the world of education are grossly underpaid and are not as respected as senior teachers. All these factors I believe have led to the sorry state of our education system which does not nourish and foster the endless capabilities of our children but stunts their growth.

Cynical I maybe but I truly do not see the spark of satisfaction in the eyes of those who are in this most noble profession. I do see it in some very few who outshine all others since they are teachers because they ‘want to be’ and not because they are ‘forced to be’. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Daughter and a Wife...Memories rekindled

The Indian Air Force celebrated its 80th Anniversary two days ago! A classmates memories of a posting we all cherish reminded me of an article I had written about 5 years back...

Life they say goes a full circle! For me it certainly has, pleasantly, besides. Oh yes it has, in getting me to Staff College (Wellington, Tamil Nadu) twice with twenty-three years gone between! Many wives have been at DSSC twice or even a more number of times so how, you may ask is my double stint here unique and what am I so animated about? Not very difficult to figure it out if you really tried; or as Sherlock Holmes would have put it “Elementary, my dear Watson”, (not that too many Watsons would be reading this though). So, how come twice with such an interval gone by? As a daughter first and then a wife of course! Isn’t that exciting though?

The salubrious climes of Wellington have not changed much; or have they? I wouldn’t really know for a girl of some 10 odd years - during my first time here - would be concerned more with the excitement of making new friends and exploring an entirely new way of life that the sprawling College complex offers rather than making humdrum observations of the weather or its effects on people’s health. Whether I noticed or not, the climate was lovely and continues to be so.

Looking back in time I remember my kid brother and I going to the KV School where the Army School now is, scrambling for the special seat in the coach that took us there from Gorkha Hills; the pony rides; the movies at the College and at Kilimanjaro and our never to be forgotten German neighbours; hamaara Bajaj scooter that gave us the frights every time we had to climb or go down the first steep slope of Gorkha Hills; the collecting of rain water to bathe as the piped water system had broken down , days on end.

There are some places which always retain a special place in your heart and Wellington was and is one such place. How can I ever forget the clouds that would surround us in our classroom while we were trying to make sense of what our teachers were talking about; or the race between my brother and me immediately after we got back from school to reach the ponies - it was exciting with us galloping, the ponies trotting; and even the School Sports Day my parents made me miss because it was the day of races at the Pykara lake; and then who can ever get over the German neighbour’s “visiting-India sister” who sunbathed almost daily in a pure white bikini to the delight of workers (and I might add officers…wink wink) at the higher levels of under-construction houses of Gorkha Hills. By Heaven’s Angels, there’s enough material right here for therapy!!!!

It is only now as a wife that I understand what Staff College is all about. The 10 month course, the classes, the war games, the FAT, the IDT, the FSPs, Ladies’ Clubs, the numerous courses for ladies and children offering unique opportunities for their growth, the WGC, the problems with the maids, the scrambling to get wrought iron furniture made, the dresses stitched and so much more my Mom and Dad must have experienced when they were here. Of course we have it much easier. We all have cars now and computers. They didn’t. My Mom had to walk down all the way from Gorkha Hills each time we needed to buy anything from vegetables to groceries or even to get to the bakery or canteen was a herculean task, accomplished with a smile.

The Bulchand’s and Jograj’s of this world haven’t changed, the houses and roads haven’t changed, and the schools haven’t. Most of all Staff College hasn’t changed. What has changed is the person who looks at them with first a father and now a husband beside her.

Oh yes life has come a full circle for me; I am back in Wellington. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

A NEW BEGINNING


Having gone through it the first time I thought it was going to be easier this time around. But I was just deceiving myself…handing over my little piece of heart to someone I have never met before is one of the hardest, most traumatic moments of one’s life, I have now realised.

Every article, every book out there talks about separation anxiety felt by a toddler the first day of playschool or kindergarten, but very few if any mention the distress felt by a parent when he or she sees her little darling being carried away in a stranger’s arms into a strange new place.

It was heartbreaking to see my son’s beseeching eyes full of questions, full of terror, full of fright…his total shock and bewilderment at why I was leaving him behind in a place he had never seen before.

That day I asked myself the same question again and again. Why did I have to do it? I couldn’t even begin to imagine what he was actually going through, what he was thinking about. I can still picture him (actually I cheated and was seeing everything hidden from his view) crying his heart out, sobbing, going crazy missing his parents, wondering why we were not there with him, why we had abandoned him and when we would come to take him back home.

More so, when as a parent you are not at all confident about the new school, the new teachers and the environment you are leaving your child in. It’s been over three months and I still feel scared and have butterflies in my stomach taking him and dropping him at school. My heart breaks into a million little pieces seeing him sitting on his bench all alone (he is the only one I see among all those angelic faces) without me in the classroom. What if he needs something and the teacher or her assistant don’t understand him, what if they shout at and scold him, what if he gets hurt, what if he feels ill? I am not there to wipe his tears, I am not there to shoo away his fears and the worst of it all, and I am not there when he needs me the most.

Then I have to convince myself…this is after all a part of life, a part of the growing up process. He and I will have to go through this phase if I want to see my son become an independent, mature, learned young man who can make a beautiful life of his own. And this is just the beginning…

Friday, 14 September 2012

WHY WHY WHY...


Why, Why Why…
So many questions with no answers…
So many problems with no solutions…
So many mysteries with no explanations…
So many disputes with no resolutions…
Why, Why, Why…

Why, Why, Why…
I ask and no one answers…
I stand up but no one else does…
I solve but no one wants to know…
I resolve but no one listens…
Why, Why, Why…

Why, Why, Why…
Do I have so many questions…
Do I have so many problems…
Do I have so many mysteries...
Do I have so many disputes…
Why, Why, Why…

Why, Why, Why…
Am I looking for answers…
Am I searching…
Am I investigating…
Am I resolving…
Why, Why, Why…

Why, Why, Why…
Can’t I just find the answers in myself…
Can’t I just end the search…
Can’t I just look within myself…
Can’t I just make peace with myself…
Why, Why, Why…

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN



Seeing child beggars on the street is a gut wrenching experience which I generally try not to think about and want to forget quickly, for each time I see them I wonder what these children have to go through and what their lives entail. Who are the people who have driven them to this? Has heartless society forgotten them? Aren’t children supposed to be in school, learning to prepare for the hard long life that lies ahead of them?

What makes it so disheartening is the fact that I feel totally helpless and to be truly honest, don’t really know what I should do when those tiny hands blackened with dirt and grime, open up to beseech whatever I can spare for them.

Looking at them I only see little children, just like all other children in this world. I see little faces filled with hope and dread at the same time…eyes full of the innocence which only the youngest of our species can dare to possess…minds which know no better and hearts which have yet not hardened, but are about to, in readiness to tackle the many vagaries of cruel life.

The conflict in my mind arises from what I have heard about the exploitation of these children.  According to an NGO, there are at least 300,000 child beggars in India with some estimates being as high as one million children forced into beggary.  These numbers represent the largest amount of child beggars in any country in the world. Child beggary is a blatant form of trafficking wherein the children are oppressed and coerced, often by force, against their will.

I have also read about many parents forcing their children into begging. But there are also people who employ children for begging after giving their parents some money. "An employed man and his wife lent their child to a woman beggar on an hourly basis,” was a recent news item in a newspaper.

Many organised gangs maim and sever body parts of children to gain sympathy to get more money. Most of us by giving them a rupee or two or even a tenner believe we have done enough but really what is it that we are doing for them? Are we helping them or encouraging the practice of begging? The dialogue goes on in my mind incessantly.

Then there are some of us who go out with loads of change so as not to refuse a single person who asks. Isn’t that what we are taught since childhood…to never say no the needy?

I wish I knew what the answer to all my questions is and that I could actually be able to do something meaningful for these poor souls. I wish I could give them everything I have, all my possessions, my love and my life…but all I do is look away and live my life as if nothing is wrong with the world.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

THE AUTO CHRONICLES






Life, I have realised, is just like my daily ride to work in an auto-rickshaw. Some days are good, some are so-so and some days are really quite ghastly. And if you are still trying to decipher my meaning and scratching your intelligent heads…all I am trying to say is my journey in the auto is very similar to the journey of life. Up and down it goes the same as those little vehicles driven by mostly nice people and then sometimes very rude and nasty people.


Mostly I dread the little things with the very obliging drivers who are convinced that they are indispensable, but then I do admit I can’t do without them, given the peculiarity of my situation. The freedom from the stress of driving my own vehicle is too addictive. And so I leave myself at the mercy of the advice spouting, sometimes polite, sometimes horribly foul-mouthed, spit-sprayers many a times. (What a spray they can spurt!)

Whatever the pros and cons, the one hour or so that I spend with the Auto-rickshaw drivers on a daily basis has taught me a thing or two about life as we all know it.

Many of them are bored and tired of driving those bone-crunching, spine-breaking vehicles and love to chat about their lives. The roads, the traffic chaos, the thoughtless and indifferent drivers who get their licences by bribery and the corrupt cops are our main topics of discussion. And then the chat and bashing up sessions veer towards where they were born, their hometowns, their wives and parents, their children, their education and so much more.

There are those who study and drive part-time to earn a little extra cash to fund their studies, though there are also many whose main job it is to drive the rickshaw. I have met some rare ones who having retired from other jobs and hating to sit at home, pass their time driving hired rickshaws. Almost all of them have one thing in common …they want and ensure that they earn enough to make certain that their children are educated and well-placed.

Vijay from Aurangabad who goes to college in the morning, drives an auto in the evenings and prepares for his public service examination late night; the 60 year old something who drives in the night so that he is free to look after his grandchildren in the mornings so that his daughter-in-law can go for her government job, and the young newly-married one whose wife is a teacher in a school. Many of them are very forward thinking and modern and are trying their level best to not get embroiled in caste biases, religious differences and familial superstitions.

But then light doesn’t exist without dark and the good without the bad. Some of them are really mean and daylight robbers who want to make a quick buck by cheating their customers by fiddling with their meters or demanding more than is their due.

Though I myself have not yet come across anyone who is a real Good Samaritan, I have read about drivers who have displayed great honesty and integrity in returning precious belongings forgotten by their customers, that too after much diligence and perseverance in locating them. (Try tracing a stranger you have met for only a few minutes in a modern city).

Then there are those who go out of their way to help on their own initiative in crisis situations. Somehow, our media fails to give any coverage to such acts of valour and unselfishness, concentrating instead on the morbid and gory details of death and pain.

So what’s the connection between my auto rides and life you ask? Well, just as my experience in an auto-rickshaw can be anything from pleasant to horrible, each day of my life presents itself with unforeseen difficulties which seem insurmountable at times and on other days, time goes by like a song. A song you want to hear again and again and yet again. Only, does it happen so?


Saturday, 26 May 2012

AGONY SAYS


Nirja dear, I see your concern for the downtrodden increase by the day, a good sign indicative of how you have grown in your compassion for the underprivileged and the oppressed. Which brings me to the question as to why do perfectly normal, educated and intelligent people indulge in female infanticide and other heinous acts?

The Bhagwad Geeta explains it very well. In verse 36 of chapter 3, Arjuna asks Krishna “Impelled by what O Krishna, does man commit sin even against his own wishes, as though driven by a force?” Krishna replies “It is desire-lust: it is anger born of Rajas: it is insatiable and grossly wicked. Know this to be the enemy here in this world.”


When the desire for acquiring anything grows out of proportion, it degenerates into “lust” to fulfil that yearning; then whatever stands between that longing and its realisation, becomes the target of anger.
In anger, our ideals are overwhelmed and we pitilessly compromise them. Justice, truthfulness, honesty, uprightness and all such noble values remain supressed in a heart which is filled with lust and we are ready to not only compromise our morals but even justify our actions with all kinds of hollow arguments.

A sense of inner inadequacy makes us run out to possess, acquire, own and enjoy the objects of the world, but these cravings are insatiable, the more we satisfy them, the more they multiply. This lust-desire is the greatest enemy of man. The only solution is to know the enemy well and to banish him forever by giving up indulgence in sense pleasures, which, in any case are short lived. 

Aamir speaks very wise words when he advises us to look within and change ourselves if we want to change the world. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

SATYAMEV JAYATE


सत्यमेव जयते नानृतम् सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः । येनाक्रमत् मनुष्यो ह्यात्मकामो यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परं निधानं ॥

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages, whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.
(The above quoted Sanskrit verse is from the Mundaka Upanishad)




With tears in his eyes and truth in his words, Aamir, I feel, turns the key to viewers’ hearts – viewers whose humanity has remained firmly under lock - every Sunday. With his heartfelt rendition of what some may brand as just another “reality TV” show, he (Aamir) has begun something that should have never have needed such a big push to set in motion, in the first place! Nevertheless, I will go along with the saying, “देर आए दुरुस्त आए” (better late than never).

Can the human race be actually given classes on being humane, civilised and benevolent, rising above the pettiness of it all? Seeing the well-researched and insightful Satyamev Jayate for those one and a half hours, it seems nothing is beyond the pale of human depravity! Shocking displays of violence, murder (female foeticide), greed and abuse which have been brought out in the three episodes televised till now, are not new to us…we see them every day in the newspapers we read, the news channels we watch, in the fictional serials we watch with bated breath and of course in real life all around us; fact is stranger than fiction indeed!

There are those who are brave enough to take things in their hands and choose to fight and act against the improprieties of people and life but then most of us choose to remain quiet and carry on with our so called normal lives. But then what can we really do? Most of us don’t know where and how to begin the change. Even when things move us we are either so used to happenings like these and just read about them and move on or are unable to or don't know how to bring about change. Like Aamir says the change will come only when we are willing to change ourselves. We can’t change the world but we can transform ourselves into what the supreme power created us to be… “Humans”.

Many before Aamir and many after him have kept and will keep the war on and maybe someday, even if not now, they will be able to make a difference. That day hopefully will dawn upon us soon

Thursday, 24 May 2012

SCHOOL DAYS



The other day my friends gave me a pleasant surprise when they called me up to chat with me from the US. They were taking some time out from their busy schedules to spend time together. Reliving old memories we had a very fun filled, giggly 40 minutes on the phone.

If we could do that on the phone I can’t help but smile conjuring up the image of the three girls, now mothers and career women, spending the weekend together under one roof with nothing to worry about and think about but our school days.

The smile stayed with me for a long time assuaging all my anxieties and tensions of the day. Long forgotten yet still vivid memories came rushing to the fore making me wish we were all together reminiscing those days. All of us were amazed at the instant and bewilderingly fresh recall of our silly escapades, the people we knew and the crushes we had.

I now understand why most (not everyone) consider them the best days of their lives. Not that it means life is not good now but surely the lack of responsibilities, worries (the only worries I remember having were related to whether I did well in my exams, and how one of our teachers (no names here…all my batch mates know who I am talking about) would respond to our shortening the length of our skirts yet again) and the abundance of silliness, gossip, pranks, teasing and the total lack of maturity made those days memorable.

That they were the best days of our lives is most evident from how all of us school mates have all gotten back in touch with each other thanks to Facebook and Parijat Punj ( a school mate) at the helm of it all. At heart we are still the same …grown up kids…kids who are trying to behave like adults and when we meet or talk on the phone we become what we always will be 16 year olds.


Friday, 18 May 2012

EXTRAORDINARILY ORDINARY




In my quest to be an extraordinary human who leaves her mark on the world, I fear I have turned out to be just the opposite…an extraordinarily ordinary human!

Who you may ask is an extraordinarily ordinary human? According to the dictionary the word “ordinary” signifies many things which include being of common or established type or occurrence; familiar, everyday, or unexceptional; uninteresting or commonplace.

Now adding extraordinary to the word ordinary I can say that I am exceptionally or remarkably of common or established type or occurrence; familiar, everyday, or unexceptional; uninteresting or commonplace.

Many of us (and I wouldn’t dare to say that most of us) have that special yearning to do something special, something so impressive and incomparable that we stand out from among the ordinary crowd. I am no exception; and there I believe is where I become one of the crowds, one of the many who want to do so much in life but never somehow end up doing anything that can count as even ordinary.

So caught up in dreaming of the impossible and exceptional have I become over the years that I most often forget what I am here to do…being a good daughter, a good wife, a good mother, good sister, good employee; these being the last on my list when I am fantasising with stars in my eyes. Over the years those fantasies have changed and I have had to modify them as age catches up and I move on to yet another stage in life, but the fantasies have stayed.

So what have I learnt from all this? That ordinary, mundane and what we might term, commonplace things in everyday life are mind-numbing and dreary but doing them to the best of my ability with all my faculties is where the extraordinary comes in focus!  I am now gradually and painfully coming to the conclusion that being ordinary is where the extraordinary lies!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Lily’s Village

Heather and her beautiful loving family have been through a lot and have through all of it never lost the spirit of living. I want to thank her for sharing a part of herself and her family with all of us.

I'd heard the saying "It takes a village to raise a child" more times than I can remember in my life. However, it wasn't until after my beautiful daughter, Lily, was born, that an unexpected event changed my life. It was through this event that I truly understood the meaning of the statement. I saw firsthand a living, breathing representation of my own personal "village" show up at a critical point of my life.

My daughter was born on August 4, 2005 and my husband and I were thrilled of course. Unfortunately, my happiness was short lived. It was only three and a half months later when I received news that would change my life. November 21, 2005 was the day I was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer I had was malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lung caused by asbestos (which I had unknowingly been exposed to as a child). Symptoms of mesothelioma are difficult to notice as they mimic common ailments. As I absorbed the fact that I had mesothelioma, I couldn't help but think about the little girl I just given birth to, and what this diagnosis meant for her.

If I had done nothing I was told I'd have a little more than a year left to live. Because my mesothelioma prognosis was grim, I decided to move forward with a very drastic treatment option. It was called extrapleural pneumenectomy and required the surgical removal of my left lung. The surgery kept me in the hospital for almost 3 weeks and after 2 months of recovery; I was to begin chemotherapy treatments I had to do all of this while adjusting to being a new mom who couldn't always be with her daughter. Without the help of my village, I am certain I would not have been able to make it through.  

My daughter Lily was with my parents while I had my surgery in Boston. While my husband and I were in Boston fighting to keep me alive, we were surrounded by people in similar situations who understood what we were going through; they showed us love and support and helped us get through each day. My parents were experiencing the same thing back in South Dakota where I'd grown up.

Lily was with my parents who received a ton of help as well. There were little girls who I had baby sat who were now mothers themselves offering to care for Lily when my parents had to work. So many of the people I'd known over the years and had gone to church with showed up and offered their support in one way or another. We were all so absolutely grateful for the outpouring of love. Because of everyone who stepped up to help in some way, Lily was able to grow and thrive while my husband and I were able to focus on my health.

Today, the nurses are gone and I no longer have to see my child via the grainy printed email pictures my mother would frequently me while in the hospital. Although my daughter is with me now, my parents have a unique bond with Lily because they were present for so many firsts in her life.

My entire family now has a new appreciation for life and the many blessings in it. The road has not been easy, but we have learned to embrace whatever life sends our way. Cancer, in many ways, has taught us so much about the beauty of life.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

COOKING …LIFE SAVING THERAPY


Why? My hubby often asks me, am I in the kitchen most of the time even though I have a fulltime maid and cook (he is no chef). It’s a question I never ask myself as in cooking I find a pressure relief valve as no other; let me explain.

My love for cooking aside, I have always seen cooking as a creative art wherein I can challenge myself to do better each time I chop, whip, beat, fry or bake. And above all this, cooking has come to my aid as a friend many-a-times.

Those depressing days when I was stressed, filled with negativity and anxiety, it has acted as a balm to soothe my nerves and rein in my ever uncontrollable emotions and feelings. And if all the blogs and articles I have found on the net are anything to go by I am not the only one who thinks so.

Julie Powell, set out to whip up every recipe in legendary chef Julia Child's cookbook when she felt stymied by her own problems. The blog and book that resulted, "Julie & Julia," are portrayed in a film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. More recently, cooking goddess Nigella Lawson has spoken about the satisfaction she finds in conjuring up simple gastronomic delights during difficult periods such as the deaths of her first husband, sister and mother.

The solace, the peace of mind, the fulfilment and the contentment that cooking provides me is incomparable. And even though I can’t measure up anywhere near Nigella Lawson and other well known chefs who have made a name for themselves, surmounting all odds, transforming all personal hardship into a culinary journey, I cannot but admit that I have benefitted from its healing powers.

The simple task of getting all the ingredients together, in the right quantities, putting them all together to make a delightful creation gives me direction, hones my skills and bestows the satisfaction of seeing the pleasure in my children’s and husband’s eyes gives me a high as no other; especially when he, my dear husband, is not irritated about my spending too much time in the kitchen. The details, the exact quantities and the step by step act of cooking are like therapists who take me to a place where I can relax, be myself and forget everything that has been gnawing away at my mind.

And even though my husband and I can’t digest all the culinary delights that I frequently cook up and all I inadvertently end up doing is cooking up a domestic storm, cooking will remain my safe haven, my shelter in a tempest, a shoulder to cry on, a friend I can always rely on to lift my spirits, a friend who will never leave my side even in the most difficult moments of my life.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

My father ...a guest author on my blog.


Nirja, here's a poem I wrote many years ago in praise of the Indian housewife.


We had never met before but when I
proposed, you consented to be mine.


We had to spend a lifetime together and you
knew me not but, you consented to take the
plunge. 


You were among strangers when I got
you home, yet you consented to hang on.
I could not arrange a honey moon for us, but you consented to remain home to share your personal space with us, the family.


My folks wanted me for themselves, they exluded you, yet you gladly consented to be part of us. 


You have no demands, no needs,
and have consented to be mine forever and
ever in this and many more lives - oh!
thank you my love, I'm so grateful.

In return I pray to God to choose you and
you alone always and every time in our after
life. I can only hope that you will consent
when he asks of you.  

My husband, My hero, My friend







Author: Elizabeth Spoor


Found this lovely poem on the net. As an Air Force wife can't help but identify with it. 


i sit here and think of you day after day
trying to find the right words to say

i know things are hard, i know things are rough
when duty calls, times on our family are tough

its so hard to comfort you so far away
when it feels like our lives are in such disarray

it kills me to watch you walk out the door
knowing your going to a far distant shore

i fear for your safety, i fear for your life
guess that's part of being an army wife

just a bit selfish i may seem to be
but all i want is you home with me

you provide for our family, you keep us from harm
risking your own life, your weapon in arm

you never have any concern for yourself
putting you own fears aside on a shelf

you fight for our country, our freedom, our lives
 
while still making sure that our family thrives

you always call home every chance that you can
just to make sure that the kids understand

that daddy may have to be away
but that you think of them night and day

even though miles may keep us apart
just remember to carry us deep in your heart

and on those days when you feel all alone
just remember your family is waiting at home

my love is pure and true to the end
you're more than my husband, you're my hero, my friend

MY BEST FRIEND OR MY HUSBAND



I have very few friends, blame it on my upbringing, or the fact that my father was in the Air Force and we never stayed in one place long enough to make many friends.

We have always been a close knit family preferring to keep to ourselves, thus the lack of ability to make long lasting friends. This lack of ability has always nagged me and I have tried to go the extra mile for people I liked. That of course is another topic altogether.

My search for my best friend ended when I met my husband. I talk to him about everything, sharing my innermost sometimes even what may be considered shameful secrets, thoughts and troubles. I am the most comfortable when I am with him and we have a great relationship. He has been a guide and a teacher. He has encouraged me especially through the dark and hopeless times.

He has always been there for me through the thick and thin of it all, through all the travails of life, putting me above all else. I am not the easiest person to live with and like a true friend he has many-a-times advised me on letting my hair down and not create stress all around.

Can a husband really be a wife’s best friend? You may ask. In most cases I treat him like a friend and not a husband when it suits my purpose, especially when I want to talk to him about his family. And above all I forget that he is my husband and I cannot treat him like a human punching bag expecting him to do everything my way. I take him for granted too most of the time as any other friend would and when he does the same to me, I can’t stand it. I am a mass of contradictions and expect him to treat me like a Queen while not reciprocating in kind.

They say marrying your best friend is the secret to a successful marriage. In our case we became best friends after we got married. My husband is my best friend!

Thank you for everything you have done for me dear best friend.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

NON-VIOLENCE IN PARENTING


As a parent struggling with the challenges of parenthood, this story is truly inspiring. I have always believed that hitting children can never teach them what is good and what is bad. Violence is always a short cut resorted to by most of us to lighten the onerous but very satisfying task of parenting. On the other hand shouting and screaming is also a violent method of controlling children and that is one thing I as a parent have not been able to control. Being firm and shouting at the kids are two very different things. This incident yet again proves that I have so much to learn as a parent.


Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico , shared the following story as an example of "non-violence in parenting": 

"I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban , South Africa , in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, ' I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together. ' 


After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00. 

He anxiously asked me, ' Why were you late? ' I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, ' The car wasn ' t ready, so I had to wait, ' not realizing that he had already called the garage. When he caught me in the lie, he said: ' There ' s something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn ' t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I ' m going to walk home 18 miles and think about it. ' 

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn ' t leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. 

I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don ' t think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence. " 

"Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me."



Sunday, 12 February 2012

THE GOOD MOTHER


I have been a mother to a handsome smart boy for over eight years now and became a mother all over again some two years ago to another bundle of joy, my second son. All along I thought I was doing a great job of being a mother but then doubts have begun to assail me because of all the criticism and suggestions that seem to flow freely from all around. So, the thought what entails being a good mother, has been troubling me for a while. What was it that I was not doing? Criticism though well-meaning and well placed can be very hurting and brings about loads of self doubt.

Does every action that you take as a parent warrant close scrutiny? Well that’s what all the parenting guides and information on the net will have you believe. If they are to be blindly trusted you have to be a supermom who just like Superman flies about doing 1000 things at one time, has X-ray vision to see through all, has looks to die for and above all has the time to romance the love of her life. Well, that’s a tall order by anyone’s standards. Either I will have to employ a whole battery of people to help me or just fall apart.

Will I have to be from the planet Krypton to prove that I am a good mother? Well the fact is I never aspired to be a supermom…but the flip side of the coin is that I am one of those mothers and individuals who wants to be the one who can pack it all in. And that maybe is why I suffer from guilt time to time.

In real life, moms get stressed and lose patience. Sometimes, we yell (a lot). But one of the things that most people and experts forget to mention [and I’ve experienced it] is that children are very resilient. And like I read somewhere, “they know that when you act in love that you’re acting on their behalf.”

Mothers are sensitive and comments like “your child is a little thin, isn’t he?” and the fact that you are not teaching them something or the other almost every minute of the day and spending quality time with your children every single minute can lead to some very anxious moments. But even knowing that it is not easy to let hurtful and snide comments slide by and not feel guilty, I have begun to realise that it is best to do exactly that!

However, like an article on the net mentions, doing what you believe is best for your children and your family, makes you a good mother, no matter whether it fits into anyone else’s standard or not. There will always be decisions you make that others will be able to find fault with. I am sure most people know how that feels.

Then what is it really that I as a mom have to do to be a good mother?

Aside from keeping them physically comfortable, I believe what is of the essence is to see the love and sparkle in my children’s eyes. For me, the hugs they give me, the laughter they share with me, the trust they repose in me, says it all. When they want to sleep in my arms and want me to wipe away their tears and when they call out to me when they have slipped and fallen at play and are hurting is what the bond between a mother and her children is all about.

Deborah Linggi, a communications consultant from San Diego and mother of a 5-year-old son, says that slowing down the day-to-day juggling and negative self-talk lets her be in the moment with her son. That’s when the self-doubt fades and it becomes easy to tune in to what really matters. “We laugh and I look into his eyes and I see the sparkle, and he gives me a hug and I know he loves me. I feel that this is a solid, loving, [and] bonded, mother-child relationship and it feels good.”

At the end of it all we mothers need to dig in our heels and remember that our commitment needs to be only and only with our children. As mothers we have to be comfortable with the decisions we have made for our children, learn from our mistakes and children (for there is a lot they can teach us about ourselves and our values) and be aware of the fact that the only one we have to answer to is our children, later in life.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dialogue with Sri M

A very interesting dialogue with Sri M my Dad's Guru 

Question: How should one behave in one’s relationship daily when we have so many images to protect about ourselves?
Sri M: Spiritual life cannot be diverse from day to day life. The inner attitude is more important. Therefore, the key issues to consider are:
a. Can I be transparent in my relationship?
b. Behind the behavior, is there hatred or bitterness?
c. Am I behaving or relating, independent of my action, in a manner which is hurting others. Do I enjoy hurting others?
d. Am I behaving very nicely with the person so I can dig his grave? Or because I am expecting something from that person?
e. Can I relate with someone with love and affection without intending any harm to that person?
f. ‘How to make friends and influence people’ is the worst book ever written! This will make you into an artificial human being! Instead, look within and see how am I actually? When I smile, am I actually smiling? Or is it a put up?
g. The common factors across human beings are: same desires, same jealousies, same hatreds, same problems, same shortages, same dissatisfactions, same rancor inside! Can I accept that? Can I treat, in my mind, everyone the same? After all, all the human beings are the same!
h. So therefore, the practical aspect of looking at is to assess oneself before you go to sleep in the evening and say, can I live tomorrow no matter what my ideology is, no matter what my theory of life is, can I live without creating problems for others without hurting people? Is it possible for me to accept faults of others? Because I also may be having many faults. Am I completely free of faults?
i. Understanding this, if we can relate, then there is a possibility that we can be able to sort it out!