Are You Human?

Hello Everyone,

23rd June,2017, I was with my daughter, returning from her crèche.  Took escalators to the underground metro as lifts were absent and I was carrying my daughter in a pram.  It’s prohibited to carry a pram on escalators but I had no other option as I was alone and this is what I do daily.

But today I was jolted for a fraction of seconds.   At the end of the escalator as I was about to push the pram onto the floor the pram got stuck at the end and I was practically stranded on one of the stairs behind the pram.  As the stairs kept revolving I lost my balance but kept holding the push cart and eventually it was lifted from ground on one end while the front wheels were still stuck.  It raised to a level where I thought the baby would fall from the cart, almost inverted.  I was petrified with fear especially because as a child I heard few accidents involving escalators (just heard, not witnessed) and I was even more worried about the safety of my child which is natural for any mother on the earth (be it human or an animal, don’t you agree with me?).  Then a passerby rushed and helped me to release the pram safely to the floor.  And I instantly made it to the shore.  She and her companion enquired my well-being not just once but many times (read four to five times) before they took the escalators upwards.  They saved me and my daughter from a possible accident.

I understand it very well that this might not be a big incident but could have been an accident, that might be or might not be serious.  But the crux of the entire episode lies in the helping hands that acted in time.  Who were they?  They were not just a man or a woman but human beings because they have a heart that can feel the pain of others and generosity to lend out a helping hand.

Mother Teresa said : Helping hands are better than praying lips.

This is true to its core.  And not many remember this is also a bitter truth about the world out there.  Don’t believe me?  Check out your FB pages.  Every day we see innumerable posts depicting someone or the other in a depleted/ deprived state demanding our attention, a like, a share, a comment.  How helpful are such posts to the people actually concerned is my question?  Taking into consideration the far reach social media has I am ready to believe that such posts bring an awareness thus creating an avenue of help from somewhere.  What is disturbing are the videos posted on social media showing a person being brutalised mercilessly or a person in distress, seeking help.  Instead of helping or at least trying to help, people are shooting the helplessness of the person to get more likes and comments on their account, bizarre isn’t it?

It’s not just the reserves of non-renewable resources that are getting depleted but qualities that are characteristic traits of a “Human” being like compassion, benevolence, forgiveness etc are on verge of depletion.

So engrossed we are with our lives that we forgot to smile even in our private moments, to and with our near and dear ones let alone strangers.  We are constantly in fear that our effort to help someone might have repercussions on our lives or might simply waste our time.  We fear asking “How Are You?” because we think the other person might just share his or her problems and we might land up in an obligatory position to help them.  In short we are being “Selfish” where everything in life is about:

  • Me & Myself
  • We & Ourselves (strictly restricted to immediate family consisting of a man, a wife and children).  Anything or anyone out of this realm are strangers.

Being Human is not about the ability to think because that is what distinguishes us from animals.  Being Human is about having humanity to be precise.

I have heard people saying life is more complicated these days thanks to the competition all around.  That’s the reason for their haste and their selfish behaviour to secure things for themselves and family.  In this run to the finishing line we are becoming more and more oblivious and indifferent to the pain and sorrow of a fellow human being.  And irony is that we don’t want anyone to see and point out at this side of our nature.  “Why don’t anyone help them?”, “Why no one is coming forward with the initiative?”, “Someone please help” – are few statements that we make to show everyone around that we have a soft heart, an emotional side that feels for others.  But we fail to understand that, that “someone” or “anyone” can be us or someone else might raise such slogans when we are in trouble because”what to goes out comes back” this is the rule of life.

Have you heard about this most tossed up line “life is too short, make the most of it”?  I am sure you would have.  Well, living life is not just about being merry everyday yourself.  It is also about giving or being a reason for happiness of someone else.  There’s more to this life as a “Human Being”.  There’s a purpose to this life transcending the levels of selfish motives.  How can we serve that purpose?   I understand that not everyone is a Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi but surely there is something that we all can do given our limitations and these are very simple things to do:

  • Smile, it costs nothing: Yes a smile costs nothing but atmosphere that a warm smile can create is beyond any explanation. It brings out positivity and sets positivity which is so much important in this otherwise negative world around.  A positive atmosphere can influence productivity to a major extent.
  • Mind your tone and tongue:  Our words and how we say them show what we are.  An acid tongue can harm more than a bullet, its ain’t any discovery.  There is no point in saying “I didn’t mean it that way” after the damage is done.  Use your words wisely to soothe and ease the pain of a person and not escalate it.  If you can’t then better keep mum.
  • Try to help at least:  I have heard people saying “if I had money I would have definitely helped you”.  I understand there are so many matters in this world that needs only money to be resolved.  But help can be otherwise as well.  For example: a person needs money for surgery and he or she seeks your help and for obvious reasons you can’t support that person with that amount of money, but you can buy the medicines or can arrange food, take care of that person’s family in their absence, offer to stay at hospital.  Remember help is not always financial.  What matters most is your will to help and your effort to make a little difference.
  • Little things matter:  If God has blessed you  with what you need or may be little more in abundance show your thankfulness to him doing little things. Walking down the street you see a beggar famished, buy him bread; a salesperson at your door in the hot and humid weather offer him a glass of water; a person met with an accident offer him first aid and assist in hospitalisation if needed.  Little things do matter!

The moment when you start feeling and believing that this world is like your family that is the beginning of a change.  Don’t await the change, you be it.

 

 

 

Share the chores – It Helps!

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Hello Everyone,

In one of my article I said “Your time is best gift to your child” (https://world4womencom.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/your-time-the-best-gift-to-your-child/).  I am sure everyone would agree with it but many find it difficult to do it effectively.  Thanks to our lifestyles, complications, obligations, choices made out of compulsions we as well as our kids are at the receiving end due to “Lack of Time”.

Well it is not practically possible to sit with them and spend couple of hours separately or exclusively because of various deadlines we have.  In this scenario I think sharing chores with kids can be a very effective way of spending time with kids.  Sharing of chores here doesn’t mean burdening them with orders over orders, I believe you know what I mean.  Ask them to arrange plates on table for dinner, ask them to arrange books on rack or do their beds, they can accompany you in tasks like shopping from super market or gardening.  There are numerous petty chores that your kids can be a part of to make the big difference – for you and for themselves.

How sharing of chores with kids can be instrumental in their development?

  • Helps In Developing Bond:  Guiding kids how to go about a task, appreciating their participation and most importantly being patient while handing over the responsibilities or handling the crises (I mean mistakes) gives a definite boost to the bonding between parents and kids.  Such moments can help parents / kids to get closer, to understand each other (starting from understanding the instructions 😁), talk more often thus giving quality time that we were talking about earlier.
  • Independent individuals in making:  To begin with delegation of responsibility as chores helps kids not only to learn daily tasks but it makes them independent over the period of time.  They become responsible as well.   And confidence is surely an icing on cake.
  • A helping hand for sure:  Help from those tender hands would surely make your day, isn’t it?  And over the period of time when those hands master the little tricks they surely prove to be a huge help and relief.

So dear parents don’t stress too much thinking you are unable to spend time with your kids.  Just give this idea a chance, make smart use of time, let your kids share the chores, contribute in their development the fun way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was It Meant To Be?

Candles Online

Was our story meant to end the way it did –

  Was it meant to begin, to begin with?

You once said you can walk miles with me by your side –

 Was the journey meant to end because the path was rough?

You once said let’s get closer –

Were the distances meant to be drawn because of distant destinations?

You said once that your eyes long to see me –

Was my heart meant to yearn for you forever?

You once said life is to live –

Were my feelings meant to be paralyzed because of your rejection?

You once said happiness is to see me smile –

Were my tears meant to go down unnoticed?

You once said our togetherness is meant to be cherished for a lifetime –

Are your memories meant to haunt me throughout my life?

I am still carrying the baggage of…

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India – How It Is Perceived In The Rest Of The World.

Hello Everyone,

I would like to mention few incidents or rather reactions that I came across when I interacted with few locals here in Brussels whom I met in metro, neighbourhood, bus stop, park and a casual interaction initiated:

  • A shopkeeper from Iran who runs a petty shop asked me my nationality when I was at his shop for renewal of my mobile subscription as a part of very normal casual conversation.  When I said Indian he instantly asked “Shahrukh Khan” (an Indian actor)?  It to some extent re-emphasized a Facebook post that I came across recently that for many in the world “India” means “SRK” as the hero is called fondly.  I couldn’t have further discussion with him as I had to hurry up.
  • A smile passed and a conversation  begun:  An elderly lady wishing my daughter started speaking to me about where do I live in Brussels, since how long I have been here and where do I come from.  When I told India, she recollected and started to narrate her travel diaries to me.  She told me that she visited Agra ( I hope everyone knows TajMahal, one among the seven wonders of the world).  She seemed to have enjoyed her visit but she didn’t winked once before saying that she did found her tourist destination to be crowded and hustling & bustling with noises which are fairly of very high decibels.
  • A lady whom I met in metro had a fairly depressive views about my homeland.  She actually visited Kerala ( a state in the southern part of India).  Though she found it very beautiful and mesmerised by Ayurveda treatments and spices available there but she never minced her words when she said there’s so much poverty in India.  She actually said “people in India are very poor” (had she been publicised by media she would have faced the wrath of Indian public just like faced by the CEO of snap chat on calling India a poor country 😉).  I interrupted her by saying her views are not right as we are marching ahead and fast too.  Then she tossed another point that she came across in India – Casteism, Untouchability.  She spoke about the plight of people fighting not only poverty but an evil practice that kept humanity at bay.  She seemed to have been very much moved by what she saw.  I tried to explain her that things have changed now, why exactly castes exist and how over the centuries the very idea of castes has been misused and misled people but before I could elaborate on the issue I had to get down at my stop.
  • A mother whom I met in bus on learning that I am from India said in an excited tone “I love the food there”.

These are few instances which depicted how India is perceived other than the media footage that shows India as a fast growing market for automobiles, leader in information and technology sector, a politically correct nation that goes an extra mile to make sure it’s ties are maintained and strengthened with other nations (well exceptions are always there, if you know what I mean).

As a citizen of India I feel elated when I see the world media or people  praising the very presence of India on global stage and every effort no matter how trivial it is, taken in the wake of development, be it for the benefit of the country or for the world collectively gets noticed.  But that’s it.  The amount of shaming we receive still weighs down our positive image.  Bitter but truth. Over a half a dozen decades of independence yet poverty and illiteracy coined as synonyms for this country though change has been initiated but the destination  still far off.  Still only a few faces represent the nation and many of those few are more about gloss than substance (I particularly mean the people from entertainment industry that too in front of the camera – actors not heroes).  Still social stigmas and evil social practices mark the face of Indian society in the global village which is worth a thought to be spared.

So the question that arises here predominantly is who is responsible for this.  Answer is pretty simple – “WE”.  We are responsible for the current depiction  of our country in the world.  How?  Our habit of turning a blind eye towards the apparent truth, blindly following a practice in the name of tradition without questioning the purpose of its existence, our penchant for pomp and show, to an extent too much patience or  non reactivity to the issues of core concern, habit of passing the buck, still lurking in past….. I can go on as I am a part of “WE”.

I understand no nation is flawless and as a nation we can never afford to look away from the issues at hand to improve the way we are looked upon in the world.

India is a country of rich, varied heritage and culture and a glorious past and the world is a witness to that.  What next?  What about the future?  For what should the world look  up to to India?  How our country should be looked upon throughout the world?  Let’s ponder over these questions.

 

 

MY SIBLINGS – MY PARTNERS IN CRIME

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Hello Everyone,

Well! I guess the title says it all.  And when you are partners in crime secrets are maintained discreetly and that goes without saying.  Don’t you all agree with that?

Walking down the memory lane I vividly remember each and every moment I shared with my brother and sister.  A fight that ensued between  them that damaged an idol breaking an arm of the same; that serious blow to my nose as a result of my brother’s alertness who thought that I would hit him and he made the first move (rather punch 😁); an instance where I was fearing the angst of my mother because of the way I fared in my exam and my brother telling me “don’t try to be holier than Pope, just tell mom that you did well today and let the results come later, who is going to tell her about your…

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TEARS CAN BE USEFUL

Candles Online

There’s an iconic dialogue in one of the Indian movie – “Pushpa, I hate tears”, this is what the protagonist says to the lady of the movie.  That actually makes me think not just twice but many times – Why?  Why hate tears? They are not that bad per say, what say?

Tears according to my understanding have their own importance in human life.  They are a strong weapon a woman possess (men say so 😉). Ok let’s not dig deeper into serious and sensitive issues of feminism and gender equality.

*Note: This is my personal take on tears and you can always have a different view-point.

I vividly remember when I was in 11th class, I along with a group of friends went for the renewal of bus pass as we started using public transport. Everyone in the group got their bus pass renewed and my turn came…

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What’s the Rush?

Hello Everyone,

When I look at the kids of this generation  (yeah I can use this word “generation” as I am already over three decades😉) I find them very smart, competitive and raring to go. Be it studies or other than that, there is always a rush.  And I have this question at back of my mind “What’s the rush?”.  Why there is a rush to win at any cost?  Why there is a rush to grow up too fast too soon?  Who is prompting it after all?  Frankly, I have no idea so whatever I am expressing here is definitely not a blame game or finger-pointing someone.

I understand it completely that competition is the norm of the day.  Excellence in studies is not enough to stand out among the crowd. “All Round ” development or excellence is the target of both parents and educational institutions.  “Zero” hour studies, “Extra / Special” classes, Extra curricular activities – few terms that are most commonly tossed upon these days. And to include the term “Extra” in the brochures educational institutions are charging extra (read: mind boggling high) fees, just to reiterate the fact or illusion for that matter that they are providing kids with an edge that could steer them through the competitive world and make them a winner.  And parents are definitely falling prey to this willingly (almost).

As parents are coughing up or made to cough up hefty donations and fees for the bright future of their kids they start expecting from their kids to “perform”.  And when expectation sets in  or rather seeps in, it changes gear and acquires the form of pressure on kids.  It’s a pretty much race like situation out there, whose kid is going to make it to the finish line that never exists.  I remember this incident from the days when I used to work as a teacher to pre-primary kids – a father of one particular student came to collect quarterly report of the child and asked me “What’s the rank of my child?”.  I was startled by this question.  I said to him that at first place there is no ranking system at that level.  Ranking (at least at that tender age) can hamper their confidence.  Our emphasis is on how a kid is learning, how he or she is behaving in the class with teachers, elders and fellow classmates. Are the glances of good behaviour and better learning can be seen out of the premises of classroom (at home) as well and more importantly how happy a child is.  As long as a child is picking up the things taught in classroom with interest and shows interest in the collaborative and other individual activities other than studies and most importantly are happy (psychologically not intimidated) we can mark the report card with “A+”.  It was just an isolated incident but I have many to recite if time permits.

This is new age mark of excellence and a guarantee card for success – Rank!  And the grind to attain ranks begins even before a child can spell his or her own name.  It’s a matter of real pity that despite of numerous explanations given n number of times as to how pressurizing could do more harm than good there’s no alarm ringing for those who are constantly pushing their kids to align in this race format.  So much pressure is encouraging methods like mugging up the content rather than soaking the subject.  Result: “Marks on report card with zero knowledge in brains”.

Carrot and Stick” rule of rewards is being strictly followed which says if you perform well then get Carrot (not literally 😀, it means rewards/ gifts) and if you fail get a Stick – get ready to be beaten up (many a times it happens literally too).  I personally feel it is okay to reward a good effort but too much negative approach if one fails could demotivate too.  There is a possibility that kids inculcate fear of failing and expect repercussions rather than perform with heart in place and mind free of fear.  I want to re-emphasise that ranks don’t guarantee success. Success is purely based on the inherent talent and how it is put to use.  I won’t repeat the names of great men and women  around who stand as icons to success but are not rank holders, that would be too clichéd.  I would rather quote people from my circle, whom I know personally.  They may not be icons to the world but are successful in their own right and of course no the rank holders – they are my school friends (hope they don’t take offence 😊), many from my relatives and so on.

It’s also important to see that when we talk about competition it’s not just restricted to books and education.  People want their kids to learn and excel in other activities too.  You may be thinking how it could be considered as something harmful.  Let us take a look at current scenario.  There is nothing wrong in letting a child pursue his or her interests.  There is nothing wrong in letting them compete or participate in events concerning their interests as long as it is only meant to boost their confidence and helps acquire more skills and not to rate their “standing” per say.  In this retrospect I would like to mention about the plethora of  reality shows which showcase kids of as young as 3 years doing stuff like dancing, acting, singing etc. in the full glare of camera eye.  Purpose – to be famous; to earn money; to assess your talent.  I condemn it wholeheartedly.  I don’t see a reason why the burden of parents’ of dreams are dumped upon tender shoulders.   It irks me to no end that kids who haven’t even started speaking properly are given dialogs that they can’t even mouth.  Believe it or not they are made to smile, laugh, play even cry for the perfect shot to be captured in camera as everything is scripted.  Isn’t it cringe worthy?  What is the rush to be popular or make them popular as if there is no tomorrow, I simply can’t understand.

There are quite a few things that parents need to understand ASAP:

  • Teach your kids to be happy at first place.  Let them grow up at their own pace.  Let them enjoy their childhood, don’t force them to grow up out-of-the-way.
  • Know the difference between literacy and education :  If a person can read and write and sign his or her name he or she is merely literate.  Education in true sense imparts values and wisdom.  Give education to your kids, that would count in the long run as it would help them to differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s right, period.
  • Let their interests blossom before you pluck the fruit.  To compete or not should be a child’s prerogative. Never ever force your decision and whims & fancies on your child.

A lot more has been said already in this context and a lot more will be said after this and the question will be same every time “what’s the rush?”.

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR ACCOUNTS

Candles Online

Hello Everyone,

“Congratulations! Credit card with a limit of 5 lakhs has been sanctioned in your name” – these sort of messages fill my mail inbox every second day.  I wonder how and why because never in my life I have applied for a credit card.  Reason – I dreadfully fear Credit Cards.  Why – As a person who has been closely associated with collections department of personal loans and credit cards I come across people who often complain about the exorbitant rate of interest that burdened them and I must say they are right.

Ok, lets talk about the positives first before discussing about how Credit Cards could hamper the balance of accounts or even the mental peace. With the advent of plastic money – Credit Cards, life has certainly become easy.  How?

  • Easy to carry.
  • No need of immediate liquid cash.
  • Status symbol : Silver, Gold, Diamond (not…

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Play Groups – More than just play

Hello,

The social setup of families in the current times is “Nuclear” – parents and kids, that’s it.  The Joint Family system is more or less dwindling away especially in the urban lifestyle.  Whatever be the reason psychological or financial;  self-imposed or otherwise the links of the joint family system are slowly de-linked and what we are left with is the single or nuclear family structures.

Mine is also a Nuclear Family in a foreign land.  With no help around, no near and dear ones around going can be tough sometimes.  I can sense it often.  Though days are busy with daily chores and kids more often than not I crave for support, emotional and otherwise.  I am sure many mothers/wives sailing in the same boat  (read living offshore) face such moments – moment of truth.  And of course we cannot call our husbands at the drop of a hat lest we end up disturbing their professional fronts.  And no matter how many times we use our Skype option to call home a void is still there because of physical distance.  And it’s not only us who fall prey to this “I am alone🙁” syndrome our kids also get impacted by the nuclear family set up and foreign domicile at least till the time they start going to school and exploring the world outside.  And this is the time they (between the age of 10 months – 3 years) befriend gadgets namely smart phones and tablets.  With parents busy in their respective duties and with no grand parents or other family members around to engage them television or phones come to their rescue.  They get this addiction  (more or less).  Such involvement also hampers their social skills along with their health beginning with their eye sight.  Sad but true.

What could be the possible solution?   How can I keep my kids engaged and entertained. Taking them to parks everyday or  just a walk outside…. one probable solution but weather in Brussels can be spoil sport many a Times.  What shall I or rather one do?

My sister-in-law once told me about playgroups that her son attends.  It’s a very good idea I thought with kids of almost same age together.   Then I started to search for playgroups in nearby areas to my place in Brussels.  I found few, in fact I am a dormant member of two playgroups on Whatsapp ☺ (never attended because of reasons known to me).  But being a member of a group on whatsapp gives me a detailed account of activities going on in playgroups and trust me it’s definitely a place to be for kids.

So as the name suggests is play group only about just play?  I would dare to say “NO”.  Playgroups are not just about play but beyond that.  Let’s see what else:

  • Break from monotony:  Though we are housewives we do have a set strict routine to follow, if you know what I mean.  Day in day out we are churned in that routine.  Playgroup meets give mothers a break, much-needed relief from the monotony.  Be it at someone’s place or outdoors such meets help refresh moods, that makes a lot of difference.  When kids meet their friends we too can make new friends for that much needed emotional support (to have fun as well😉😃) in a foreign land apart from family.
  • Develop social skills:  When kids go (before schooling begins) out and meet their counterparts again and again at regular intervals and involve in interactive activities be it learning alphabets, recitation of rhymes, colouring, playing outdoors, constructive activities etc. they develop social skills of interacting with peers and manners as well.  And the best thing is that I could think of is such meets would keep them away from mobiles and tablets at least for a considerable period of time.  Double bonanza, isn’t it?
  • Informative/ Educative:  When I say informative I don’t mean rocket sciences.  When mothers meet in a playgroup there is exchange of ideas (chatter added 😉).  Ideas as to how to inculcate habits, healthy recipes, information regarding health issues, vaccinations, schools –  you just name it, mothers know it all.  And playgroups facilitate healthy exchange of ideas helping us to better ourselves for the betterment of our kids.
  •  Potluck ( icing on cake😉):  I am not sure if it happens all the time because as I mentioned earlier I never participated in playgroup meets but I have a hint of doubt that potluck do happen.  If it does then definitely its a feast for taste buds 😋.  Well this might not be a serious point to advocate but definitely an icing on cake, isn’t it?

What I mentioned above are few instances of how playgroups could help mothers and kids equally.   I am sure those who are active participants of such playgroups would have few more points to list.  But the matter of fact is playgroups are not just about play, it definitely play and more.  I would definitley love to be actually active in those circles.