Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Smallest blessings are often the greatest ( Wordless wednesday No.22)


                    Thank you for the food we eat,
                    Thank you for the world so sweet,
                    Thank you for the birds that sing,
                    Thank you God for everything.  Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ping-tones and online happiness recharge

There are some things that exist online that give one a  jolt of pleasure, spiking like a surcharge of electric current, giving you an instant lift, much like the Adnan Sami song. I list them here in no particular order.

1. Inbox (n) :  Where n is a value > 0. Never mind even if its which has mailed me the word of the day (yes, I subscribe to it), I still feel happy to a see something new in my Inbox! If it is a book-praise mail, pleasure doubles instantly. If it is from good friends, pleasure increases in geometric progression depending on degree of friendship and the varying coefficient of  degree of  intensity of the warmth being felt towards person in question, being experienced :-) Apologies for being mathematical (Somehow I love Math--I must be a closet geek  as I admitted to not only liking a much hated subject but also subscribing to  that too in same paragraph! Eeks! What is happening to me? I must have drunk more Chardonnay  than usual! :P )

2.The Ping  sound on chat from a few very good friends: Need I say more? :-)  I think like ringtones google should innovate and personalise the pings. So you know by the sound of the ping, who has pinged. This is particularly useful if you have left your system logged in, but are in another room, trying to do a  million few things (like rearranging wardrobe so that when you open it you are not buried under a flood of stuff that gushes out like  water from Bhakra Nangal dam) that cannot be postponed any longer. Depending on the ping-tone which tells you who is behind the ping, you can then decide to prioritise (or compromise based on how bad the overstuffed wardrobe really was in the first place)! :-) You can even set a Himesh Reshamaiya tone  (Yes--go ahead click on the link. You know you want to. Himesh bhai will not disappoint you. heh heh heh :) ) for that contact who pings at inappropriate moments with inappropriate things or maybe you can assign 'emosional atyachar' as ping-tone to the one who pings but does not respond back when you answer. The possibilities of ping-tones are endless!

While on the topic of chats, I must mention that I find the G-mail emoticon for 'laugh' particularly amusing. When I type ':D' when I have said something funny or the other person has, and the way it turns around into a face and smiles at me really makes me giggle.Earlier a friend and I used to use yahoo-chat and the ROFL emoticon on that, is really funny! We used to chat with each other for hours and laugh like total lunatics!

3.Comments at the bottom of each new post..  x nice people wrote back!(where value of x is higher than 42  for having the pleasure spike. For some reason 42 is minimum acceptable comments for me to feel happy. And no, 42 has nothing to do with a certain Douglas Adams. Each comment is valued, read and replied to. I do have a special connection  (not to mention a very soft corner in my heart--those lurking take the hint please!) with those who take the trouble to comment--but you already know that, don't you?

4. Statistics on my site meter, number of followers of this blog, and  number of readers of this blog: Each time it increases even by one, I feel so very g.o.o.d! Thank you all who follow and all who subscribe and read.

5. Marvellous Images or posts that I stumble upon: I love looking at photos.They fill me with a sense of wonder. They make me think.They transport me for a few moments into another world. I also like reading thoughts of positivity. I am particularly fond of Gillian's images (I absolutely love her posts too) and I also love Joe's.

If you're like me, I suspect these are the very things that make you happy too. Is it? Or do you enjoy some thing else online? No--we're not talking about that something else! Hush! People under 18 too read my blog you know. ;-)

Are there anymore online happiness 'chota pack' recharges that I am missing here? Enlighten please ! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Smile! :-)

Everyone knows that we're attracted to people who smile. There are numerous health benefits   too of smiling.

As children, we smiled and laughed so easily. Have you seen babies and really young children?  Have you noticed  how infectious their happy attitudes are? We find ourselves smiling very broadly indeed when a baby smiles at you or when a child does. (I go absolutely ga-ga over babies who smile at me!) Most experts tell you that even if you force yourself to smile and act happy when things are going wrong, you actually begin feeling better. I can vouch it is true. I have a friend who makes me laugh so much. She and I giggle like sillies over small stupidities and trivial things and within minutes we're feeling great. I so miss her!(We used to be neighbours  when I lived in Bangalore)

When I was very young, about 5 or maybe 6, I took part in a 'smiling contest' because my teacher at school entered my name for it. I had no idea what it meant and I have no clue who were the morons who thought of holding such a contest for kids that age. All I knew was that I had to go up on stage and smile. I did. The next thing I know, I was told I had won and my parents were sent a letter. Later I came to know that it was an offer from a toothpaste company to model for their product! Turned out that the  Morons who thought of the 'smiling contest' were quite smart after all.

Ever since then, I have smiled whenever there is a camera in sight :-) It is like a reflex reaction :-) I see a camera or even its shadow and I grin. :-) I cannot help it. Almost every photograph of mine, ever since childhood, where I am looking directly into the camera, will be a smiling one. One plastered  with a huge 'Isn't-life-great-I-am-so-happy 'smile.

The other day, on my Facebook profile I put up a very different picture of me which my son had clicked without my knowledge. I put it up because I liked it. It prompted a huge flood of comments from my friends as well as from people who know me only as the author of the book. Most of them hated the photo and wanted me to take it off. Most said I looked angry and asked if I was pissed off about something. I truly wasn't! I was, in fact ,watching a Bollywood Hindi number (which I quite enjoy watching) and so was concentrating on steps and choreography in the song (as I love to dance) . Then my son called out to me and told me to look into the camera and like magic the smile was back :-)

Both the black and white pictures were clicked within seconds of one another. After I got so many comments for the first picture which I had put up as my profile picture, I was prompted to study these two pictures and then I thought about how much a smile really conveys, which made me write this post. The third picture was clicked when I was genuinely happy and I finally changed the profile picture to the third one after so many comments about looking angry! :-)

Top Reasons  why I believe you should smile most of the time (For smiling all the time you have to be Mona Lisa :-)) [These are in addition to health benefits of smiling given at the start of the post].

1." It creates warmth. Think of it as the rent you have to pay for occupying space on this Earth. You're living here--it is your duty to spread a little warmth." --Preeti Shenoy :)

2. Smiling also makes one look younger :-) (Yes--it is true)

3. A smile will ward off all those uncomfortable questions which the 'Prickers'   like to ask.

4. "A genuine smile improves your face value".--Author unknown

5".Smiling is contagious. It spreads. The side benefit is that it also helps you make friends faster".--Preeti Shenoy

6.Smiling makes people wonder what you're up to. :-)

7."People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile" --Lee Mildon.

8. "A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you're at home."  ~Author Unknown

9. "A smile is a curve that can set everything straight"--Phyllis Diller

10. "Wear a smile. one size fits all."--Author unknown.

11.Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.  ~Mother Teresa

12.A smile costs nothing but gives much.  It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.  Some people are too tired to give you a smile.  Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.  ~Author Unknown

Still need reasons? Or are you smiling now? :-)

Ps: If you want to smile a bit more, watch the video on the right :)  and if you liked it watch this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some more interesting perspectives.

Firstly, a big thank you to those people who left a comment on the previous post which was special for me, as it was my 400th.( Ironically that post seems to have got the least number of comments compared to my previous ones )

Here is the part 2 of  the very special post . I had asked the same questions to a few more people and had also told you I'd give you my responses at the end. :-)  So here it is as promised!


Suma blogs here  and used to develop content for an educational website. She now freelances (writes travel articles) and does all the things she did not have time to do earlier. When I first stumbled upon her blog, I was so delighted as she is my kindred soul! Our thinking, values and even taste in books and attitude towards raising children matched to a T! :-) She is smart, articulate, beautiful and a  mother to two lovely boys  (Yes, she does not look it at all. Apologies to all men who drooled looking at her picture :P  :))

1. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
The power to be invisible...think of the fun/exciting stuff I could do *wink. Besides  I think I already read minds pretty well, ask my husband.

2.Would you rather spend the rest of your life without a significant other, or would you rather have a partner who is extremely difficult?       

Without a significant other, ' cos at least then I could live life on my own terms, rather than spend it in conflict.
3.Would you like to know the day you’re going to die ahead of time? Why or why not?

No...because if I did know when i was going to die, the time left would never ever be enough. I would rather live each day as if it were the last one, which unfortunately is easier said than done.

4.What does love mean to you?   
Depending on the relationship, it could mean any of these things
Warmth, kindness, a touch, a look, tolerance, in letting go, laughter, friendship

5.Do you think it is okay to lie? When would it be alright?
Depends on the circumstances. There are a few occasions when telling a little white lie does not really hurt. Though I lie to myself most of the time.

There is certainly something about her! :-) I am scared to even write her name as she had mentioned in one of her posts as to how she did not want people to find her by googling for her name. So I dare not whisper her name or even put up her picture! But she is amazingly honest, down to earth, witty, sweet and I love reading her blog like many others! (Click on 'reflections' to be taken to her blog and if you are very patient and if you read the comments and her older posts, you just might discover her name! It's really not a secret, but you have to look hard, to find it. Seek and ye shall find! :P ) :)

1. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
Both the powers in the long run, I feel will destroy one’s peace of mind but if I’m forced to choose I’ll choose the former simply because I’m the kind who hates to draw attention to myself. I know it’s hard to believe but I have trouble walking into my own living-room if it is filled with more than 3-4 visitors….So you can imagine how I feel reaching late for a conference or a party, finding a 100 pair of eyes [feels like that] staring at the late arrival. Now that I’m exploring the option it is looking more and more attractive by the minute;-D

2. Would you rather spend the rest of your life without a significant other, or would you rather have a partner who is extremely difficult?
It was very tempting to choose the former but loneliness can be over-whelming.
Life with the latter is not going to be easy but if this extremely difficult partner loves me & is committed to the relationship I won’t hesitate.

3. Would you like to know the day you’re going to die ahead of time? Why or why not?
Yes I’d like to know. I need the time to pray.

4. What does love mean to you?  
For me love is about commitment, friendship, about listening, laughter, tenderness, passion, holding hands, instinctively finding each other in a crowded room, trust, making dinner together, a surprise gift, hugging, spending a day with my mother, forgiveness, cuddling with the kids, balance, …….u get my drift.

 5. Do you think it is okay to lie? When would it be alright?
A lie is a lie is a lie……whatever the circumstances. But it’s perfectly ok to when you are planning a surprise party or have a gun pointed to your head.
Personally I never lie…..I just stall, stammer, change the topic, pretend to trip and fall over, snap back, admire the coat the other person is wearing, gesture wildly with the spatula[which is dripping sauce all over], feign amnesia or tell the truth.

 He is one of my closest friends. In the acknowledgements section of my first book, I have expressed heartfelt thanks to him  "for being a rock, morale boosting, giving additional inputs and hand-holding---all this between his very busy life."  He continues to do so for the book I am currently writing too.Click on his name to be taken to his blog (which has just one post :) ) But if you're really curious about him and want to know more, I suggest you go here.

1. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
I would enjoy having the power to read minds more than the power of being invisible. As with being invisible one can only come to know what one is doing or saying whereas if one is capable of reading minds one can know the unsaid too. The “flipside” might be what happens to Mel Gibson in What Women Want. But reading minds is my thing :)

2. Would you rather spend the rest of your life without a significant other, or would you rather have a partner who is extremely difficult?      
I would rather be alone than having a difficult partner, without a doubt. As it is, one has enough problems to worry about without adding that to your list. This is not to say that I expect everything to be rosy and fairy-tale-like. There have to be lows to be able to enjoy and appreciate the high points.

3. Would you like to know the day you’re going to die ahead of time? Why or why not?
This is a tough one. While knowing in advance appeals to my meticulous nature and my habit of trying to plan things, not knowing appeals to me as “ignorance is indeed bliss”. The fact that death is inevitable is undeniable. I guess, not knowing when it’s going to come lets you live a fuller life.

4. What does love mean to you?
Love means sharing - the joy and sorrow, the festivities and the quiet moments, the celebrations and the mourning. Being connected as one and feeling for each other. Understanding the other’s emotions and having empathy. Love means providing support and encouragement when needed. And also, acting naughty too at times :)

5. Do you think it is okay to lie? When would it be alright?
I think it’s ok to lie when the cause is for a greater good or for helping somebody who’s in real need of help. “Greater good” and “real need of help” are again highly subjective things. And that is a discussion that can extend forever. Some might argue that employing violence to attain peace is futile and hence, the means are just as important as the ends. But to me it’s not so. I am not advocating employing unethical means for selfish ends too. To illustrate, it can be ok to lie to avoid breaking someone’s heart.

My  much awaited responses :) 
1.Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
  Surely I don't want to read minds.(what a curse!)  I'd much rather not know and think what I like to think they may think :) But aah--to be invisible! I'd travel to India undetected in First Class on Kingfisher or Jet or British Airways as many times as I liked! Bliss :-)
2.Would you rather spend the rest of your life without a significant other, or would you rather have a partner who is extremely difficult? 

 Even with a guy as sweet and charming as Satish, I sometimes feel like running away to the Himalayas (yeah, my family has heard it many times :)). No way would I tolerate a difficult partner for even 24 hours--I'd run away for sure! :P  (and I have been married for almost 15 years which says a lot :)) Life is too precious to waste even a second! 
3.Would you like to know the day you’re going to die ahead of time? Why or why not? 
I would surely like to know. Then it would concretely  and solidly reinforce the fact that time is indeed too limited. I could then read as many books as I liked guilt free and also watch as many movies as I liked without giving a damn to my ' worldly duties'  :)
4.What does love mean to you?    

Love  is unconditional acceptance of another person and the pure warmth, joy and that ecstatic feeling you experience  when you think of them. You smile inadvertently :) You forgive anything they do. You want it to last for eternity.  That feeling is love. :) It can be love for a mate, a friend, a child, an animal or even a passion for creating things--anything that gives you that feeling is love.
5.Do you think it is okay to lie? When would it be alright?

Yes--it is definitely okay.(as long as one is not  a compulsive liar like Jim Carrey in the movie) It is  really cruel to be one hundred percent honest all the time. 

"Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up at least a little bit."
                                                                            ---Edward. R.Murrow

Friday, February 12, 2010

A very special post (part 1)

This post is very special. So it is lengthy.Therefore I will spilt it into two parts. But I know you don't mind that! As a special treat, you can play some lovely music too.(just click on current mood video on your right for a superb piece of music). So get that cup of coffee or that drink, settle back into your chair and enjoy the read. :)

I did! Because I didn't write this post at all. But hey--that is not why it is special. 
It is special because it is my 400th post!!  (yes FOUR HUNDRED!)

I wanted to do something different from my usual posts. When I think back, I have gained so much from blogging. Most importantly I have made some amazing friends (most of whom I met in real life too later on) only because of my blog.So as a tribute to blogging, I thought I'd ask a set of very interesting questions to a set of interesting people and put up their answers/interviews.If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would probably remember me mentioning these people from time to time in my posts. Now you can meet them here :) I really enjoyed reading their responses and it made me think. I am sure it would make you think too.

These are the five questions I asked:

1.Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
2.Would you rather spend the rest of your life without a significant other, or would you rather have a partner who is extremely difficult? 
3.Would you like to know the day you’re going to die ahead of time? Why or why not? 
4.What does love mean to you?   
5.Do you think it is okay to lie? When would it be alright?

I put forth these questions to ten people. I heard back from 7 of them.   I am putting up the answers in the chronological order in which I received their answers.
Guru blogs here.
He writes beautiful poetry that strikes a chord. He also sends me these hilarious jokes and interesting stuff from time to time (which I then quickly forward to a set of my close friends). He is a devoted Dad and husband and is someone who believes in living life to the fullest.

1.       Being invisible was one of the greatest fantasies in my youth, for obvious reasons! So I think I'll stick with that, for emotional reasons now! :P

2. Without a significant other. because then you at least have a shot at happiness by yourself! :)

3. Nah! I think if I don't know the date then I will live longer than that fir sure! (I can't prove myself wrong here anyway!) :P

4. For me constant thought is love. Thoughts that inadvertantly bring a smile on my face is love. Seeing myself completely in the other person is love.

5. It is ok, sometimes. Especially, when the pain of the truth is just not worth the pain. When you don't want to burden someone with the truth!

Click on her name to be taken to her truly amazing blog. Gillian is based in Canada and owns a spa. She clicks the most amazing pictures. She is one of the most inspiring and positive individuals I have known. She is also a mother of two though she does not look it at all. (She looks more like a model).

1.I think both powers would cause too much trouble. :-)  But if forced to choose only one, I’d read minds.  Invisibility doesn’t appeal to me much, but perhaps reading minds could be helpful in ways we haven’t even thought of.  Medically for example, being able to know what coma patients or other infirmed people think and go through.  It could be a means to really helping others.   

2.If I chose the partner that was extremely difficult, that wouldn’t be true to me.  I’d have to say that I’d spend the rest of my life without a significant other.  I do enjoy my own company, I do have friends, and I’m sure I could find a date. :-)  But life is short and precious and if someone is determined to be difficult for the sake of being difficult then they don’t value me.  I deserved to be valued.  Quality of life is important too.  I’m not afraid to be alone.

3. I would not like to know the date of my death.  I’d forever see it as a black mark on my horizon, it would limit me.  Not knowing makes me free.  I love to be free.

4.Love means many things to me.  Mostly it means looking at everything, everyone, and every situation through eyes of tolerance, caring & respect.  Expect love and you shall find it everywhere.  Love is all there is.  I’m very sure that even in the darkest of days….love is there.  I dreamed about this once, and so I have this notion that we are all here to experience varying contrasts of love.  It is a plan that we will all be made aware of one sweet day. 

5.Lying a tricky one.  In situations it may be required.  To save your life for example.  To make lying a habit or lifestyle choice such as people who lie to make themselves more appealing, or to make others jealous, or to just deceive is plain wrong.  But lying can have its place.  If your intention is to help, then I think it is okay.  I hope that makes sense.  By nature I don’t lie.  I simply can’t, and have no desire to.  And that’s no lie.:-)

    He needs no introduction. At least, not on this blog. Still for those who are curious, you can click on his name :-)
    I didn't meet him through the blog, but I am able to blog only because of him :-)

    1.Power to read minds especially that of a woman's. You would be able to go miles ahead from where you are if you had that power. Remember that movie with Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson? (He has the power to read what women are thinking) - Right up my alley :-)
    2.I guess with a difficult partner because if I had the power to read her mind then would do things appropriately so that she was not difficult any longer. Also at least you would have someone whom you could discuss things with rather than be lonely and have only the television as your companion. Having said that I do not have a difficult partner so just need point 1 to be fulfilled.                                                   

    3.No. It is certain that you will die one day. So why know when it is and start worrying about the fact that it is coming nearer. In any case when you die it does not make a difference to you perse - the problem is for people who are left behind.

    4.Love to me, normally would mean having someone whom you can talk to, express your worries, discuss silly things and not having them judge you for what you are not but for what you are. However there is an additional aspect when kids are there and that is giving and getting affections without involving any give and take.

    5.To a loved one and family - Never. To outsiders I think at times maybe. For example if  a white lie you said made some kind of a difference to that person and made them happy then guess that is Ok.

    Prashant Dhanke

    The moment I  first read his blog I fell in love with his writing and his powers of observation. Click on his name and read his post "six whatevers" which are  6 stories in 2-3 sentences. I wasn't surprised when he was chosen as the Chief Blogger of Royal Challengers out of  thousands of applicants. Now he is also a good friend.

    1. The power to read minds will be a huge burden. I'll rather observe people invisibly and live with my own comforting model of the world. I can't give up on the luxury to make assumptions on people's feelings. I will however, like to know more about what people think in general, but not specifically about how those around me think or feel. Of course there are physical and financial advantages too of being invisible :).

    2. Definitely without a extremely difficult partner. I'll have an aquarium and a dog instead.

    3. The first reaction was yes, so that I can plan things. But having given it more thought, I'll like to live under the illusion of immortality for as long as I can. Not saying it jokingly.

    4. One of the many emotions. They always come entangled without clear boundaries. Describing my perspective on love, or jealousy for that matter is a tough and long task and I love being lazy :).

    5. It is not only ok, but necessary to survive and evolve. All of us lie, mostly to ourselves, albeit unknowingly many a times. The brain does it for you. On the other hand, deliberate lies should be avoided if one wants an easy life in the long run :). However, I'll still not tell my mom how much I spend at restaurants and pubs.

    I would give you my responses to these questions too--in part 2 of the post, along with three others who answered.

    And if anybody wants to answer these questions please do so in my comment box or on your blogs and I'd surely read.

    I am sure you enjoyed this post as much as I did, right? Right? Right? :-) 
    Ok, then write!

    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Manjadi-kurus (Lucky little red seeds) and other things--a picture story post

    My mother lives in a tiny little village in Kerala, far away from the tourist bounds. It is Kerala at its best--unspoilt, serene, tranquil. Green fields compete with forests of tall rubber trees and shady groves that boast of trees like jackfruit and mango.

    My mother has no computer (She sold it after my dad died.Dad used to be very net savvy and I used to get at least  2 mails from him every single day. My mother could not bear the thought of using it) and so I have no Internet access when I go to live there. It is end of modern life as we know it and I welcome the break.

    My mother has a beautiful cottage. She also has a lovely  Champa tree in her garden that she has tended to, all by herself with a lot of love and care.She has a myriad flowers, her favoutire being Hibiscus (she has more than 40 varieties of it) and Petunia.

    There are goats and hens to keep one company. There are wells for my children to draw water from. The sun shines like a diamond through the forest of rubber trees and my children explore the 'forest' and marvel at 'rubber milk' being collected in coconut shells to be turned into rubber sheets.


     I too love walking in these rubber forests with my children, pointing out tiny insects to them and explaining (for the 100 th time) how 'rubber milk' turns into rubber. In case you haven't been to a 'rubber estate', this is how a coconut shell filled with 'rubber milk' (latex or sap)  looks:

    More than the nature, more than the tranquillity and more than the fragrance of Champa flowers that my mother loves plucking (Oh the fragrance! It is easily my favourite flower. see picture below) there is one thing


    that I absolutely love to do. It is collecting from the ground 'manjadi kuru' or little red lucky seeds. It has a boring Botanical name which can be found here. It has a fascinating story behind it which can be found here.

    The tree grows just outside my mother's cottage and any free time we got, the children and I would be at the foot of the tree, collecting the little red lucky seeds or manjadi kurus. My son and I used to compete to see who collected more. They are tiny and they look like little gems dropped in mud. When you pick it up and rub it between your fingers, they start shining. We have collected almost a whole bottle! I simply love these seeds and I was at my happiest, like a child, when I was gathering them from the ground :-)

    We must have spent hours collecting those seeds. They sit now proudly in UK, looking at the snow outside :-)
    It is a dreary, dull, snowy , wintry, freezing cold day today.

    But the warmth of those little red seeds is hard to contain in the bottle they are confined to! Anjali Menon was so fascinated with them that she even made a movie which won many awards.

    If you ever visit a Krishna temple in Kerala, be sure to play with these seeds. You will find them stored in  large'Urulis' or huge brass containers. You can play with them but you are not allowed to take away even a single one from the temple, as it is strictly forbidden as the seeds belong to the temple and are sacred. It is tantamount to stealing if you take away even one.

    The only way you can own them is if you find them on the ground or if someone gives it to you.
    Just like happy memories.

    Fascinating, aren't they?
    Ps:  My next post is a very special post :-) You'll soon know why.

    Friday, February 05, 2010

    On the role of a whiteboard in raising a child

    Everyone who is a parent has an opinion on parenting. There are scores and scores of books written on the subject. Even  people who have no children (yet) will have some opinion on how they would like their children to be raised. What is amazing about it, is everybody is right in their own way! There is simply no 'right' and no 'wrong' way. Each of us does what we think is best for our children. It all depends on what your priorities are and what you choose for your children. What saddens me however is when parents compare their children with other people's children (MY Child scored this much in this exam, how much did yours score?My child plays tennis and violin.Does yours do anything? My child went for state championship in Chess. My child is preparing for IIT entrance.What are your child's plans?)

    Richard Bach had said " Children are not our property and they are not ours to control anymore than we were our parents property or theirs to control". Khalil Gibran too expresses these sentiments beautifully. (Click here to read it).

    I have worked with children for more than 8 years. I used to conduct workshops on developing thinking skills in Children. I used to teach at  schools. I have also taught street children. Somehow I have  a way with kids, perhaps it is because I really like their company. But that really does not make me an 'expert' as each child is different.

    So,when people ask me for tips and tell me to write on parenting (and I get so many such requests) I hesitate, because these are my own methods. This is what I believe in.These are not absolute diktats, as what I want for my children might be very different from what you want for yours. Recently I got a mail which asked me to please, please please (yes the please was repeated thrice :-)) write a series on what I do with my children. and why I don't share ! Earlier too I had got such mails. So with explanation and disclaimer in place, here goes the first post :

    There is one thing that I feel every home with a child (by a child I mean those above 3. Till then they are toddlers) MUST have--- a white board and some markers available handy along with a duster or a wipe. Put the whiteboard at a convenient height where the child can reach it and write comfortably on it. Allow the child to do whatever he/she wants on it. Don't be bothered about scribbles, squiggles or whatever he/she does on it.

    How does it help? Well, it is a very handy tool for expression. To the child, there is no tomorrow or later. It is NOW. If a child wants to draw, a resource is readily available. It is hard to resist a white blank space and markers available readily. It is easier to forget about it when it is tucked away in a drawer which is what happens with paper and crayons.

    Also, it is neat and does not have to be 'put away' like papers, coloring books, paints and crayons.

    Ever since my children were little, the white board has always been a part of their room. Both my children wrote so much and drew so much only because of the whiteboard being readily there. It was so much fun!

    My daughter used to line up all her soft toys and play 'teacher-teacher'--a marvellous way to reinforce what she learnt at school but of course she did not realise that. To her, it was just fun. When my children's friends came over, they would love to draw on the board.

    Learning multiplication tables also became fun on the board as writing on it was so much better than writing in boring notebooks with pencils. The whiteboard did not feel like a chore, it felt like play! So too spellings.
    We would play the 'teacher-teacher' game where I was the student who always made spelling mistakes and my children would correct me. I would act silly and pretend I didn't  know and they would proudly write the correct spelling on the white board. (Of course this was when they were much younger. Both read on their own now)

    When my daughter learnt to write, this was one of the first things she wrote on the white board. I had to click a picture! (click on images to enlarge)

    Sometime back,she again made this and I again clicked a picture.I am sharing that here as well.

    My son also uses the whiteboard a lot.

    Once when I was not well, this is what he had done.

    Having a whiteboard readily available adds so much fun to daily routines with a child.
    When a canvas is blank the possibilities are indeed endless! (and yes I mean that as a metaphor)

    In case you are worried about how it will affect the decor, let me assure you, it makes a superb accessory in a child's room. This is how it looks on their wall:

    So I have finally overcome my reluctance and shared one of the things that I do with my children, with all of you.

    Depending on the response that this post gets I shall decide whether to post more of these or not. If you found this post useful and want me to write more such posts, please let me know :-)

    PS: Some of my articles on children and parenting have been published in past issues of Readers Digest Joy.

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    A Need for love (Wordless wednesday no.20)

    I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better.  They fight for honor at the first challenge, make love with no moral restraint, and they do not for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death.  Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying. 

    ~George Bird Evans, Troubles with Bird Dogs

    If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat.  ~Author Unknown


    The top two pictures are of the same dog that I clicked in Kerala . I don't know whom he belonged to. He was always roaming around on the road, in my mom's village.

    I don't know why, but Children and Dogs always come to me and they absolutely adore me :) I too love dogs and most children.

    On the left is a picture clicked on my Birthday, when we came out after a nice meal in a restaurant in Bangalore. It was a stray on the side of the road who wanted me to keep petting him. The moment I stopped, he would  nudge me with one paw to continue! I was so surprised at how demanding he was. 

    A good friend who was with me, bought a bun for him from the bakery, but he refused to touch it. He didn't want food. He was only hungry for love.

    Aren't we all, deep down like that, Mute stray dog?

    PS: 1.For those who are  still doubting , here is scientific proof.

    2. On a different note, Just Books (which is a venture by a group of IIM grads) have just published an interview with me and also said some very sweet things about me. Click here to read it.