Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 30: Handwriting

Handwriting, in old letters and cards. My Best Friend's. 

I haven't thought about her for a while but she had been an important person in my life. In fact, my life changed after I met her. I started loving myself after that.

She was my room-mate during Graduation. She was a Science student while I had opted for Commerce, but we clicked from day 1. Before her, I never knew what best friend really meant. I had close friends but till then I did not have the good fortune in my life where I could just be myself, without the fear of being judged. I guess, that happens when you move out from the guarded life at home. You tend to bond more on things once you are on your own. 

We shared so much about each others' lives. We would talk for hours, till the wee hours in the morning. She was funny, intelligent and yet very simple, almost vulnerable. But sharing things were like a therapy for us. She is the one who gave me tremendous amount of confidence in myself, the way she loved me unconditionally, justifying my actions even more convincingly than myself.

We reached out to each other through long letters after we left college. Now both of us are married and busy in our own lives. I haven't talked to her for a while, and even when we do, it sounds quite formal.

But she will always remain a very special person in my life, and I will cherish those times forever. I hope I will connect with her some day and catch up on whatever we left behind. I wrote about here long time back here and here.

To friendship!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 29: In My Bag

In my Bag is the book I am reading, of course. Always. No matter where I go. I always carry a book. Because every time I don't, I find myself in situations where I have to while away time doing nothing. Besides, these days that is the only way I can read.

This book is The Greatest Show On Earth, edited by Jerry Pinto. I love movies and I also love reading about them. This book is a collection of write-ups on various aspects of films and film stars compiled from several sources. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 28: Red

I had mentioned about this place called MAPRO at Panchgani here. This picture is from that place. MAPRO is synonymous with strawberries in a way. There are strawberry jam, crush, syrup, squash and what not!  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 27: Into The Sun

We went to Ganpatipule last year, which is supposed to be close to Pune. We thought, it would take about 6 hours to reach by car.         Well, we were in for a surprise. It took us 9 hours to reach there, and 10 hours to drive back. And guess what, we had a 16-month old toddler with us! Thankfully, we went there for 2 Nights 3 Days. 

In retrospect, we did not have much trouble, during the journey. The little one and Momma occupied the backseat while Papa drove at stretch in peace. In fact, he slept also for quite sometime (I mean the little one, not his dad thank god, who was driving!). 

This picture was clicked while on our way back when we stopped to feed the little one. If you will look at the road, you would wonder whether anybody goes that way. There weren't any streetlights too on the roads we took. It is a kachcha road for quite a stretch. We took help from the GPS every once in a while and such roads made us wonder if the GPS was really going to throw us off some cliff. But we just kept the faith and finally reached Pune at 8 pm. 

Though I must also tell you that the GPS put us off the track once during this same trip when we reached a dead end and the lady (GPS) was insisting we take right and go into someone's rocky fields. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Have We Discussed How To Raise Our Kids?

This post was first published on Parentous.

Disclaimer: My intention is not to annoy/offend any grandparent or parent but voice some common observations among family, friends circle and neighborhood.

It is common these days to find both parents working and kids being entrusted into the care of grandparents. But are we discussing the nitty-gritties of how we want to raise our children amongst us, the ones who are going to provide the primary care to the children? Are we all on the same page?

Few observations:
  • One of my friends (more like an acquaintance) is a working mother to a 6 year old. Her child is with his grandparents the whole day when he is not at school. Left to himself, he would eat nothing which has any nutritional value (read wafers, biscuits, magi et al). On a holiday, he would be hooked to the TV either watching cartoons, or watching the unrealistic family dramas with his grandparents. He would sleep at midnight and wake up at whatever time he wants.
  • I have seen little kids watching so-called saas bahu serials and crime-based shows with their grandparents for long hours (even actively discussing the plot). To make matters worse, these days the latest trend is of explicit content in TV-serials. As grown-ups we know what is real and what is shown to gain TRPs. But, do these kids have the wisdom or experience to differentiate between what is real and fictitious?
  • I am very particular about the nutrition intake of my child, what he eats throughout the day. I have consciously kept him off the chocolates, biscuits, namkeens, other junk food, packaged juice, etc. During the day he eats what we eat for the main meals, while the in-between snacks are usually fruits, dry fruits, dalia, some cheese and on some rare occasions, glucose biscuits (if there is really nothing else). On the other hand, I have seen some grandparents giving the tiny tots biscuits, wafers, chocolates on demand because the kids would easily eat them. Of course, they would! Which kid would not? It is our responsibility to provide them nutrition. And slowly when they are hooked to the junk food, not finding anything else tasty, then the kids are called ‘spoilt’! I don’t think the kids are to be blamed here at all.
  • The habit of eating while watching TV is a poor habit. It takes your attention away from the food and you don’t enjoy your food as you should. I have seen this happening in kids. They stop enjoying their food, and would do it only while watching TV so that they are not aware of what is going in their mouth, sometimes even spoon-fed by the grandparents.

In my humble opinion, even if the parents are delegating the responsibility of the child to someone else, there must be a set of rules, thoroughly discussed and properly communicated. Many grandparents are offended if you point out too many things because they feel they have done the job and have more experience. It is important that the parents address the issue tactfully on how they want to raise their child.

I am keen to know your thoughts.

I would like to repeat that in no way I want to point fingers at the grandparents because they are supposed to pamper. It is our responsibility as parents to discuss how we want to raise our kids. However, if we choose to raise our kids in this way then that is another matter altogether. 

June Photo A Day : Day 26: Empty

After almost 2 months of erratically posting photos in what was supposed to be daily challenges, I have got my senses back. What am I doing taking up photo challenges! I fancy myself as a writer. Let us put it this way, I love writing. I love taking pictures but they feature somewhere lower in things-I-am-passionate-about list.

Frankly, the intention was to get over the mind block of posting here. I hadn't posted here for ages and wanted to get this blog up and rolling, which I have achieved more-or-less. So, no more photo-related challenges from next month!

Anyways, for today's prompt, I post this picture from our trip to Mahabaleshwar on our Anniversary in 2010. Empty pool. Empty chairs. General emptiness of space.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 24: Negative Space

I love this picture. I wanted to post this one for "Centre" but changed my mind at the last moment.

I love the way the surrounding white space accentuates the two people in this picture. The two people, who matter the most in this world for me!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 23: Last

I think I cracked a good one for this. Didn't I :-)

If you have kids of your own or at home or observed them, you would know, they like to play more with the everyday items over their toys. Toys are the least preferred playthings. So, when we think of buying some new stuff for our son, we don't go to the toy store, we head to the supermarket or plastic variety stores or novelty store and the likes. 

Paper cups are very easily available and quite fun to play with. Earlier, I used to make tower and he would love bumping it off. Now both of us make it together or he would do on his own. It is great for their motor skills because they need to control their movements in putting the cups properly. 

In the picture, is the last cup remaining to complete the tower.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 22: Enjoying Life

Vacations are certainly the best form of enjoying life, when you can just let the world go by, when you can relax for a while without needing to go anywhere. Our trips are like that. We never plan the itinerary. We just do what we feel like. 

This picture is from our trip to Udaipur at the beautiful Hotel Rampratap Palace. It has been one of our best trips, and an amazing heritage hotel experience. Udaipur was a quaint little city, just perfect for a 2-day trip on our 2nd Anniversary.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 21: Lunchtime

I am not a thhali person. When I eat out, I would rather try other items on Menu over thhali. I like chatar-matar, and not the good old daal-chawal / roti.

But I love thhalis in places like Rajdhani where you get a variety of delicacies one after another, garam garam.

This picture is from our trip to Ramsukh Resorts in Mahabaleshwar. This thhali was lip-smacking.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 20: Cute

I find this picture extremely cute. The door sign that he is pulling says "Do Not Disturb"!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 19: Currently Reading

I am currently reading 'Wedding Night' by Sophie Kinsella.

I have a huge pile of to-be-reviewed books and also several from my own shelf. Too many books, too less time to read. Moreover, I am doing very badly on this challenge too!

Of late, even the books have not been too good. They are all OK but not out-of-the-world. I think I need to pick one from my own collection now since I buy them after much research and deliberation.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 18: Street

We love Black and White pictures. I, personally, feel B&W pictures camouflage the imperfections beautifully. Even my profile picture is in B&W.

This picture is of a village street, and it was clicked on our visit to the Morgaon Ganpati near Pune. More details about the place here

Monday, June 17, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 17: Centred

This picture is from my little one's first birthday. I was very clear, I wanted no party. At one year, a child does not enjoy a party and in fact, there is pressure of getting ready at a particular time and look after the guests. I wanted no such thing.

My son had to be the centre of all our attention and affection. So, the day was spent leisurely - a visit to the temple, lots of balloons all over the house, home made cakes, and dinner at a village-themed restaurant. I am going to stick to it more or less on his second birthday too. Birthday Parties may be evaluated when his friends (he needs to make friends first) can come without their parents.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 16: Family

This is Us. My family. This is where I belong. These are the people I want to go back to, no matter where I am. 

This picture is from our memorable trip to Kashid beach. We went there only for 1 day and 1 night, and stayed at Prakruti Resorts. This was also the first time we traveled with our son to a non-family location. 

I had posted another picture from this trip last month for Us.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 15: From Above

This picture was taken from above (the balcony) during Ganesh visarjan last year. The lazy bum that I am; I was trying to catch the procession from my balcony, not wanting to get ready as per the dress code (yellow colour) and go all the way down. 

And the view from top is sometimes much better. Don't you think?

Friday, June 14, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 14: Texture

The idea came to me while looking at so many bag pictures for today's prompt. I wanted to click the jute one, but looking at all of them, I thought it would be better to capture all of them since they have different textures.

And they are all gifts from hubby and brother. I have not bought a single bag yet!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 13: Kitchen

For the first time ever, I post here the picture of my Kitchen

I am very touchy about it. It may not be the world's most glamorous one but it is the labour of our (my husband's and mine) love. We work as a team. I ideate and he executes. We have done several small and big changes around the house, where I have thrown in an idea and he has executed it better than my imagination.

Well, the story behind this Kitchen goes like this. When we moved into our current abode, we had not done up our kitchen. And once we moved in, since both of us were working, there was never any time or opportunity to get it done. So, when I finally resigned and came to know about my pregnancy (in that order), we decided that we had to get it done before the little one arrives. So, during my seventh month of pregnancy, we hired someone to do the job. He took one month to just finish the tiling work and changing the slab, that too after rigorous follow-ups. We had moved the entire stuff from the kitchen into our spare bedroom. Every day, my husband would shift the gas from the bedroom to the kitchen in the evening after coming back from office, and shift it back before leaving for office in the morning. 

After one month of hardly getting anything done, (when I had also entered my eighth month) we scouted for another vendor. The second vendor finished the work in one month and it turned out wonderfully, as we had imagined. We had also hunted for the matching tiles and platform ourselves. But at the end we were delighted to get the kitchen of our dreams. At that time we learnt to calculate to the extent of small expenses in a kitchen project. So, it was a truly a learning experience.

I love to keep my kitchen (as also the house) neat and clean, with everything at its place. Well, but as you know, life with a toddler is another ball game. On good days, for 1-2 hours, my kitchen looks like this. But most of the time, all the utensils are spread all over the kitchen (on the floor, on the platform, wherever)! We have also removed almost all the handles because our son used to open them very easily. But let me tell you, now he is able to pull out the drawers without the handles. It is much more difficult for us. But still we plan to keep it like this because he attempts to put his foot on the handle and try getting onto the platform. Such is the life with a toddler.

When he sleeps in the afternoon, the first thing I always do is organize the entire house (also the kitchen). My hubby says why do you even bother to do it, when it will all be the same once he wakes up. Really! Somethings he never truly gets!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Open Letter to the Advertisers

This post was first published on Parentous.

Dear Advertisers,

I am writing this letter in the capacity of a mother of a child at an impressionable age.

I don’t watch TV, and as a consequence neither does my child who is in my care throughout the day. [And thank God for that!] As a toddler, he is learning the ways of the world, a tiny step a day. I put in a lot of effort in trying to instill good values and good habits in him.

The other day, I happened to catch a few advertisements on TV, quite by chance. So, I will take this opportunity to share my concerns about this ad and on retrospect this ad too, but I would suggest you must take it as concerns of a mother about several such ads. These are just two of the many on TV.

The first advertisement shows a child making faces at fruits and vegetables, while the other one shows kids turning up their noses at milk. These may be real-life scenarios in several households, but not all. May be it looked like a wonderful idea to connect with mothers of children who shun nutrition by turning up their noses at fruits, vegetables and milk. But when I watch these ads, it feels extremely unsettling. I want to turn off the TV because I don’t want my child to watch these ads. I am relieved that he is fond of fruits, vegetables and milk but kids emulate other kids. It does not help that children in these ads are making faces at fruits, vegetables and milk.

I will neither throw statistics at you nor quote psychologists. I won’t even link strong public opinions on such ads or tread on how misleading ads can be. I just want to say, it is worrying for me, or any other mother like me, to let our kids watch these kinds of advertisements. It just negates all the hard work we do in making sure they favor natural food like fruits, vegetables or milk over packaged sweetened juice or milk additives laden with sugar or chocolate.

Today, my child is too young but tomorrow he may want to watch some TV. So, for me, the concerns do not end at how TV could be addictive for young kids; but I am in fact more anxious about the kind of advertisements on TV. Moreover, these days a lot of ads of products, which are not even directly related to kids, are targeting children. This is highly alarming. In a few countries around the world, there are strict regulations on targeting young children by marketers and it is highly unlikely we have anything noteworthy in India.

That is all I have to say. For now.

Yours sincerely,
A Concerned Mother of a 2 year old 

Note: Dear parents, is it me or you feel the same way too?

June Photo A Day : Day 12: 11o'clock

This is the watch I gifted to my husband on his last birthday (this year). It is  called the Timex Expedition Analog-Digital Watch, and it can be worn both by men as well as women. 

Now a little history. My husband is not an easy person to buy gifts for. He appreciates and values my photo-gifts but when it comes to 'things', he is unabashed about his desire to exchange it (if need be). So, I have had experiences of shirts, mobile phones, TT bats exchanged. So, I was skeptical about this watch. I absolutely fell in love with it, and thought he would love it too but with him you never know! He is a gadget freak but he does not believe in obnoxiously priced ones. He wants his value. This watch was very reasonable.

I got this delivered to his office on his birthday and he absolutely loved it. Even I have worn it once while going out with a friend for a movie since it matched my outfit so well :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 11: Something Funny

I was badly stuck on this. I kept looking for something funny, then one thing led to another and suddenly I thought of this really hilarious book I had read: Why Men Can Only Do One Thing At A Time And Women Never Stop Talking by Allan and Barbara Pease. And if you have not read this book, trust me, these are not the only funny illustrations. There are so many others. Highly recommended for a good laugh on men and women stereotypes. 
Pages 26-27 | Book: Why Men Can Only Do One Thing
At A Time And Women Never Stop Talking

Monday, June 10, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 10: You!

Yes, that's me!

This picture was clicked in my seventh month of pregnancy. We had just bought our D5100 and the hubby was trying out different settings. He's quite good at clicking pictures.

But you know how it is during pregnancy. You keep ballooning. Atleast I did! [By the way, that also reminds me of that Parachute Hair Oil ad "badhti hoon roz thhoda thhoda". I would get quite amused by that ad during those times for the altogether different meaning it implied for me.]
The clear instruction given to hubby for clicking my picture was - I must not look fat. You can see how he has clicked, accommodating my instructions and considering the state I was in.
But jokes apart, I love this picture. The angle is quite refreshing!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 9: From Down Low

So it is all destiny. Who would have known that the several random pictures we clicked in last couple of years will all fit together so well to sail me through these Photo Challenges?

Look at the picture for today's prompt. This picture was clicked by hubby randomly while on a stroll with our neighbour-friend, and exploring our new camera. I don't even know who this kid is! Sudden brainwave suggests me a name for this picture: random click, random kid. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 8: An Animal

A Snake.

Sure, it is an animal. I quote Google for support: 
 "A snake is an animal, and to be more specific, a carnivorous reptile."

This picture is from our visit to Katraj Snake Park in Pune last year. Since we keep cribbing about how there aren't enough parks or zoos to take kids to, we decided we should atleast go to the one which is there. It is famous as a snake park but it has a few other animals too. Don't ask me much, I did go there but I was caught up into minding the toddler. Plus, we had to return back after a while because it was time to close. That's what happens when you make sudden plans!

Friday, June 07, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 7: Bright

Here is my picture for today's prompt: bright red colour of strawberries.

This picture was clicked in 2008 when we went to Panchgani for our First Anniversary. Panchgani and Strawberries are sort of synonymous. There's this place called MAPRO in Panchgani which is famous for a whole lot of delectables like Jams, Fruit Crushe concentrates, Spice Tea and Sandwiches. It is hard to miss the place. It is always swarming with tourists.

The twin towns of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar are great getaways from Pune and Mumbai. Both are next to each other and boast of a beautiful weather. But personally I have gone there so many times that I tell my hubby, not Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar please!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 6: Transport

Here's my picture for today's prompt: a train.

It is amazing how each picture taken from the archive is also digging up the stories associated with it. This picture, in itself, is not spectacular, but nice in its own way because of the way it has been clicked.

It was taken during our first trip ever to Goa, in 2010. Our reservations for returning back, were not confirmed till the last 2 hours of boarding the train. We were checking out overnight buses and cabs, while having a leisurely lunch at our resort (which was Colonia Santa Maria by the way; highly recommended). Then suddenly, the Geek (my husband) received a message on his mobile that our tickets were confirmed. In a matter of minutes, we had packed everything including the lunch we were having and miraculously got a cab too. We were on our way to the station in 15 minutes flat. 

I was really skeptical when we had to reserve seats in the General compartment because we could not get the AC ones. But there was no crowd and all our co-passengers were backpacking western tourists, who had interesting stories to tell. It was one awesome trip. 

You would all agree, a train journey has a character of its own. I have not boarded a train for a long time now. We are dreading to take the little one in any train journey so soon. I would probably wait for another year. He will be all over the train if we took him now. 

This also reminds me that I need to pick up the book "Around India in 80 Trains"by Monisha Rajesh for reading pretty soon. I wanted to lay my hands on this one badly, and luckily I won it in one of the contests. But now the poor thing is languishing on my shelf. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Are Our Children Growing Up Too Fast?

This post was first published on Parentous.

I came across this article on the Hurried Child Syndrome in the Times of India recently. It talks about how children are growing up too fast or being expected to grow up fast

“It is a set of stress-linked behaviours, which result when a child is expected by his or her parents to perform well beyond his or her level of mental, social or emotional capabilities.”

On one hand we lament how children are growing up too soon and on the other hand we are burdening our tiny tots with a slew of activities in the name of opportunities. Why, even the age at which kids start school is getting pushed back with every passing year?

This subject also reminds me of this article. I am bugged no end with these so-called talent reality shows for kids. Why do parents send their kids, barely out of their diapers, to go through several humiliating and make-believe situations in the process of competing? Have you seen little children gyrating and gesticulating to inappropriate songs? It makes me cringe even sitting at home. Thank God, I don’t watch TV anymore and do not have to go through such ordeal. I also take offence at people who suggest me, even jokingly, that I should send my child to some talent show.

The other day, I also came across this article on how the ‘Indian Idol Junior’ judges want the kids (between 5 to 15 years of age) to have fun and not take it as a competition. With so much hullaballoo on making it or not making it to the subsequent rounds, even the oft-repeated words that ‘this is just the beginning for you and you will get many chances in life’ sound so lame.

The fact of the matter is that parents over-schedule their children’s lives, and expect advanced levels of maturity, wisdom and behaviour. Parents try to live their own dreams through their children or pass on their fears/insecurities. But, the truth is that when things are done at the right time as per the child’s age, the benefits are manifold. What’s the hurry?

What are your thoughts on the Hurried Child Syndrome? Do you also agree that it is eroding our kids’ childhood? 

READ more articles by me HERE.

June Photo A Day : Day 5: Environment

My picture conveys a clean environment for today's prompt: unbelievably clean beach, a beautiful expanse of blue sky above and deep blue sea beneath accompanied with unexpected solitude. 

This picture was taken during our trip to Ganpatipule last year. I posted another picture from this trip here in the 'Can't Live Without' prompt for May Photo a Day Challenge.

5th of June is World Environment Day, and it is deeply reminiscent of my work life, many light years ago. We were involved in a lot of Green Building projects and also propagating the idea of 'Green'. I used to be involved in campaigns or activities around 'Green' around the World Environment Day, since I was in Marketing Communication profile. Can't believe  that was in this life time. In fact, it was only about 2.5 years back, and feels like ages. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 4: After Dark

After dark? Well, the lights are switched on in the Club House and the common areas (in the society), and that's how it looks (see picture). 

This picture was clicked in 2009, a few months after we moved in to the place we call home right now. The process of looking for that perfect place, finding it, converting it into your personal space and moving in, is such an important milestone of life. You won't know it unless you have gone through it. But once you find that perfect place which feels like home, everything is worth it :-)

When we moved here, the surrounding place was getting developed. There is a sea of change from how it looked then and now. There are several constructions going on around our place. Every day some new project is launched. Earlier we and our neighbors - four of us - would just go on looking at sample flats in all the surrounding projects, to get some interesting ideas. It was so much fun. 

There is a lot of construction going on, but the space overlooking my balcony is still an expanse of fields, which looks breath-taking during the rains.  

Monday, June 03, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 3: On My Table..

On my Table is Cold Coffee, made by the Geek, the hubby [read 'Note' at the end].
In these hot, summer days, I am thankful that hubby is kind enough to whip up Cold Coffee for me. In spite of the heat, I still have my daily dose of 3-4 mugs of tea during the day but once in a while Cold Coffee on a hot day is all that one needs.

Ah! simple pleasures and small blessings of life :)

Note: I have zeroed in on 2 terms to describe my husband and I on this blog. I am a 'Nerd' and my husband is a 'Geek'. I like the ring of these words. By giving these names, by no means I am claiming that we are intellectuals. Both of us are obsessive about certain things and by these names, I am just recognizing this aspect of our personalities. His obsession is technology and gadgets, mine is books. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 2: A Moment

These Photo Challenges have made me break my own rules, of not sharing personal pictures. I have tried to be inconspicuous though, as much as possible. 

When I read today's prompt, this picture came to my mind. This picture, which was taken few days after my son's birth, embodies a moment - one of the most beautiful moments of life, when it has not yet sunk in that a bundle of joy is really in your life, when you just want to look at him over and over again to let that feeling sink in well, when you just don't know what to do but smile at the miracle of life and feel blessed.

This is a precious moment of my life.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

June Photo A Day : Day 1: B is for ...

No points in guessing, B will always be Books for me. 

I have done a lot of Book images last month. Here's a little different one. This is my collection of mythology (Mahabharata / Ramayana) inspired books. Catch an exhaustive list of Mahabharata-inspired literature here, and I will soon be putting up a similar one for Ramayana-inspired literature. 

Since the time I read Yajnaseni, there has been no looking back in my hunt to discover more versions of our mythologies. So, if you know about any editions, please mention in the comment below. I am always on the look out to discover more.