Saturday, 27 December 2014

Speaking Truth always is the easiest way to a better life

This post has been exclusively written for Coca Cola's Kinley Mineral Water, in association with IndiBlogger.

The first lesson we all learn in schools is, "Honesty is the best policy", and truth, perhaps, is the foundation of this policy. We are advised from day one to speak truth, truth and only truth, and yet, we do not (or can not?) follow this policy all the time. Mahatma Gandhi is once known to have said that we must follow the situation truth. For example, if a set of thieves ask you where the treasure is, better guide them in the wrong direction.

My experiments (or encounters?) with truth have been many. Oftentimes, when things are not in our favor, speaking truth seems to only add more trouble in the moment, but in the long run, it will be of great help. It is always a good policy to accept mistakes, be humble and speak the facts. After all, the facts can't be hidden for a long time. In the end, everything comes out in the open.

I was the goalie for the school football team and we were preparing for the inter school matches. I was made the goalkeeper in the last moment as the person who was set to be the goalie faced some serious injuries. So, we had this final practice match with a local football team, and were under tremendous pressure to win it. It was a prestige issue for the school, and all the dignitaries were present on this occasion. We wanted to show that we are right team to go to the inter school matches.

The match went on well in the first half. The local team was a very strong one. They had spent 3-4 years playing football and some players had played state level matches as well. We were at 1-1 after the first half. They had scored the first goal in the first minute and our moral was down. We scored our goal, partially by luck, as a result of a penalty kick.

In the second half, both the teams had become very aggressive. We scored a goal and took the lead, 2-1. There were some attacks on our goalpost. In an instance, the ball was kicked towards me and I caught it. However, I fell down very close to the goal post boundary. The opposition claimed that I was inside the goalpost when I took the ball and we claimed that I was outside. I was in a dilemma. I felt (or knew?) that I had taken the ball inside the line, and thus it should be a goal in their favor. The issue went on for quite some time and the umpire put the ball in my court. We had no time to lose, and I took advantage of this moment and declared that I took it clean. So, we ended up winning the match. While everyone celebrated, I kept a pale face and really did not enjoy the moment. The guilt had hit me.

It took time to get rid of this guilt. It also affected my confidence and stability to some extent. Finally, in the inter school matches, we faced similar situations, where umpire decisions went against us, and it was like, a tit for tat. In the end, we said, "Everything is fair in love and war", and the scoreboard is the truth, as far as the sport is concerned. When I saw scoreboard in our favor in the finals, I was thrilled. We all were. That was the moment, we had won, not just the match, but much more.

They say, "You can't change the truth, but it can change you".


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Say NO to Pre-Marital Sex, Patience Pays in Multiples

This blog post has been exclusively penned for IndiBlogger's "Yes or No to Pre-Marital Sex" contest. Check Poonaam Uppal's True Love - A Mystical True Love Story on Flipkart.

Historically, the world has been a strict and disciplined place. Over time, a large number of relaxations have been coming in and the world is a more liberal place now. Democracy has put an end to autocracy and dictatorship. We have seen a great change in way we life, the quality of life, the thoughts, etc. From a time when women were asked to be within the four walls with their bodies covered fully with clothes, we have reached world that accepts them uncover into a 2-piece on a beach. Some call it freedom, some call it by some other name. Marriages were meant to last all life, or rather, 7 janams (lives) and today, perhaps, we have started the 8th janam and thus relationships are a means to achieve goals, financial ones on a growth now. Many things that were considered wrong or illegal in the past are painted as art today, and people enjoy them in the name of freedom. Everything has its own advantages and disadvantages. Life should mix things in the right proportion for it to be a fulfilling experience. Too much or too less of anything is a negative.

It all starts with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, goes to Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, further to Mohabbatein, gets into a bit of Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya, then if all goes well until Mujhse Shaadi Karoge, and reaches a Shaadi Mubarak!. Unfortunately, these people are made to feel Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya, with stories of Khwaaish, Jism, LSD, taking over their thoughts. There are enough people promoting promiscuous content, which gives immediate fame (though negative) to them. Pre Marital Sex (PMS) is a development from these thoughts over a period of time. I am against PMS, at least at the moment, and strongly believe that one must wait till marriage to enjoy the bliss of sex. Its not about moral, ethics, religion, virginity or anything. Its just that the sun rises, flowers blossom, fruits ripen at a particular time, and they are best enjoyed then. While we can debate on several points, I have tried to highlight such points that I think are more important in the longer run of life.
Genital sex is an expression of intimacy, not the means to intimacy. True intimacy springs from verbal and emotional communion. True intimacy is built on a commitment to honesty, love and freedom. True intimacy is not primarily a sexual encounter. Intimacy, in fact, has almost nothing to do with our sex organs.
- Alice Fryling

Sex follows marriage.

It is a known fact that people start having sex after marriage, and not before. However, with the so called modern society, things are a bit different. People tend to get married at a later age than usual. In the meantime, the physical desires keep increasing. Thus, they decide to indulge in PMS. Most of them know this is wrong (at least they know that it is claimed to be wrong) but they go ahead and do it. First, they try their best to hide it. However, if they are caught, they try to approve of it in order to avoid a lifetime's shame. There is all probability that these people find great difficulties adjusting to married life, unless they get married to someone who also has committed the same act.

Sex and Marriage are 2 different things. Really?

Source: http://flickr.com
In the next level of arguments, we have people who claim that sex and marriage are completely different. In the olden times, people would search for social and financial security through marriages. So, you go and find these things. Today, people are also searching for sexual outcomes, and so, you get to try the other person and decide. I am appalled when I hear such reasoning, despite there being enough evidence that forced (mostly because one person questions the other person on the basis of love), premarital lovemaking leads to mental depression and dilemma. The Supreme Court of India has held in its judgement that PMS is not a crime but it is considered equal to marriage. Thus, PMS isn't a substitute. The proponents of this idea are often those who see sex as just another activity in life. If so, why do the same people do not approve of their spouses committing adultery. Its just another physical activity, after all. Most arguments in favor of PMS become null and void when they are applied to post marriage sex with a different individual (other than the spouse). Sex with multiple partners isn't an adventure. I believe these aren't withing the scope of PMS. I mean, if you don't intend to get married, you aren't having a PMS, you're just having sex.



Sex with a partner is alright. No.

No relationship gives us the right to sex. People often interpret marriage as a license to sex. This is extremely weird. Marriage is a sacred institution that brings 2 people together under a vow to live a better life. Sex is just one one part of life. Today's world has made the significance of sex go out of proportion, thanks to the Bollywood and Hollywood. All the movies have to show a sex scene and unfortunately, movies aren't about husbands and wives. So, they end up showing partners making out. It all looks rosy because movies have a happy ending. The script is written that way. Unfortunately, life doesn't give us that freedom. Apart from all the risks that PMS poses, including pregnancy, the 2volume of stress and issues it can create, if one thing goes wrong, are enormous. There are books, stories and movies on what happens to people if they do not get to live with the partner who they have courted with. On reading/watching these, all the propositions around sex being a stress buster get beaten, hands down.

Youngsters are misled.

Source: http://zcache.com
The media that youngsters watch/listen often portrays things in a way that people decide to adopt to their concept. Often, these people themselves are confused about their own thoughts. Unless Durex says PMS is good, they can't increase their condom sales. Deodorants don't get men to bed. Lingerie doesn't necessarily lead to one night stands. Things are portrayed in a very ugly and awkward fashion these days. The other day, I was watching a video, 'My advice to 15 year old'. It turned out to be a big disappointment. The video asks the 15 year old children to ignore studies, spend time in doing other things, and experiment with sex. How cheap an advice could be? Don't these people understand that most 15 year old kids don't even have their organ developed fully yet. Pursuing passions for life is great, but ignoring the basics like education is fatal. In the name of passion, a lot of wrong communication reaches the younger lot, like Bill Gates dropped out, Zuck dropped out, etc. A set of people who have been wrong themselves, try to promote their wrongs by asking the world to do the same wrongs, so that it becomes a standard and then, gets accepted in the society. Young people must watch out and understand whether opinions expressed in news and newspapers are public opinion or the opinions of the individuals. Most news articles come with news on topics like PMS and to support, they include comments from people who are pro-PMS, thus giving an image that the world is pro-PMS. It could be with any topic. Sex sells, and marketers know it the best.

Source: http://ippf.org
Ethics.

The lesser I speak, the better. I don't believe in moral lectures. I am sure that those who are in support of PMS are mature enough to understand things. So, I'd just ask them to place a hand on their heart and ask themselves, "Am I really right? Would I approve of PMS if my spouse or parents (had) or children indulge in it?".

Sex and Rape.

A lot of people interpret things related to these in a totally different ways. Some call it cultural issue, some social, some mental, some physical, and some even think that rapes just happen by mistake. Unfortunately, we also have people who think that boys will be boys and they will rape. Does such a comment represent the entire male community? How many people are such people representing? What happens to initiatives like MARD? It is a proven fact that people try to replicate what is done in movies. When Kareena Kapoors dance to songs like "main toh tandoori murgi hoon yaar, pachkale mujhe alcohol se", what is the message she is sending? The women's groups never agitate against things like this, calling it freedom of expression. Why don't they understand that women are being commodity-sed by women themselves? It is a confused world, and there are people taking disadvantage of these confusions.

Is PMS a new form of rape, rape with consent?

As long as things go the jolly Bollywood style, all is well. However, shockingly, according to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Out of these, 24,470 were committed by a known person, a staggering 98%. Of these, it is obvious that a large number were PMS with consent, and then because one of the partners decides against the relationship post-PMS, it is called a rape. Tragic, isn't it? Worse enough, if the partner again decided to get back in the relationship, the rape is redefined as PMS. According to the HT-MaRS Youth Survey, an over 61% of today's believe that premarital sex is no longer a taboo, thanks to the influenced illusions around them. However, when it comes to marriage, over 63% want their partners to be virgins. These are the same people who proclaim that virginity is a thing of the past. Double standards?

Rise in love, take time to grow your relationship, focus on the long run, live life.

Source: http://mattersindia.com
It is thus evident that PMS does no good to anyone. It is like risking a jump from a 10 floor building, assuming we'll get Spiderman's web or batman's wings on the way. While Batman & Spiderman do win, as they are scripted to, the blind jumpers suffer consequences. Not everyone's life can be like Chetan and Anusha of 2 States. Don't be guided on the things that someone isn't trying to guide you on. Don't be motivated by consequences as your situation is always different from others and thus, will see different consequences. For all the points mentioned above and for many other regular reasons that we keep hearing day in and day out, I appeal to the young generation to abstain from the disillusions and traps laid to monetize you. Live by the basic values and principles of life. It is age old quote, which we all know and yet, don't follow, "You always have 2 choices. One is a little wrong, but will give you immediate success and happiness. The other one is a little tough, but will take you on the right path. Success may come or may not, but you will always be happy for taking the right path". Use the time that you get before marriage to focus on education, work and career, instead of focusing on PMS. Sex is an insignificant element in building a long term relationship value. What matters the most in life is how happily you live with your life partner, and that needs endless love from the heart. Each moment you spend waiting teaches you the art of controlling your life, and doubtlessly, each of these moments are adding up for a great sex life for you both in the future.

Let's not take relationships on the commercial path, try to look for benefits, or to find what will I get from this. True love has no means, nor ends.

Let love be the reason, lifelong friendship be the gift, kindness is the cause and till death do us apart be the length. Lets vow a Happy Married Life, and give it all that it takes!
It is the holiest institution of human relationships mankind is aware of...

AND IT MUST REMAIN SO


Source: http://shankerraomarriagelinks.com


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Get the best out of a vacation #TeddyTravelogues

This blog post has been exclusively written for Club Mahindra's contest on IndiBlogger. Visit http://www.clubmahindra.com/teddytravelogues/ to plan your vacation.

Vacations were the most awaited days of my life when I was a kid. Unsurprisingly, even today. After all, who doesn't like some break from the routine? I studied in a residential school, where sporting activities, adventure events, games, etc. were a part of the routine. So, for me, vacation was more about spending time with parents, other friends and relatives. It would also involve some travel.

If I get an opportunity to take some kids on vacation, I would take them through different experiences. Overall development of children happens when they are exposed to different fields and get to learn more about life. I would encourage them to use this time to focus on their hobbies. Drawing, painting, stamp collection, poem writing, etc, make a child creative. Physical activities would be another area of focus. Kids love to play. I would encourage them to go out and play rather than sit with the TV or computer games. Learning music, dance, swimming, among others, adds significantly to their personality.

Kids love to spend time with elder people as they get pampered. Planning a small trip or a few days at their native places, more of it is a village, will be a great experience. The green fields, cattle, fresh milk and food, clean environment, peace and tranquility is bound to create a meaningful experience and awaken their souls to beauty of the nature.

No vacation is complete without a visit to a theme park or a nice hangout place. It could be the Essel world, Wonder la, Ramoji Film City, Innovative Film City, etc. Places like these make kids very excited and happy. In the hindsight, they also see how these wonderful places have been built. They are inspired.

A visit to a religious place and a places of historical importance will definitely be on my list. I feel that these have a great impact on the children in the long run. Kids do a lot of interesting things at temples. They learn that there is always someone who they can look up to for help, support and solutions. Spirituality makes a person humble as people get to know that they are not the ultimatum in the world. Historical places add great value to learning. Moreover, these places are also covered in their classes and visiting them in person is a great experience.

Another important task I would plan in a vacation is nothing. Yes, nothing. Being able to do nothing is a task in itself as life demands everyone to do something all through the day. I would encourage them to take a full time break from everything, spend some time lazing around, keep the mind blank, relax fully, and only do such things that they love to do from the core of their hearts. It could be anything including eating, sleeping, watching TV, singing, playing or whatever. Being able to spend time the way one wants is a great booster to life. It helps to rejuvenate and get ready for life after vacation with great zeal and energy.

The winter and summer breaks also come with festivals and kids love to celebrate festivals. So, it is important to ensure that we celebrate them along with the kids. We must take time off and celebrate joyfully.

Thus, I would balance the vacation time in a way that the kids get to do what they want as well as they do what they are supposed to do. With these few initiatives, I feel that kids will be able to make the best out of their holidays.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

#RiseAboveFear Thoughtfully, Don't take that blind jump in the pool

This blog post has been exclusively written for IndiBlogger's Rise above fear! contest in association with Mountain Dew.

In 1997, I joined Sainik School, Bijapur to continue my education. It was an all new life and I was slowly adapting to it. A lot of adventure awaited me and I was all excited. We had many of these athletic events, sports competitions, races, etc. When our house master came in to our barracks to select the team for the swimming competition, he said, "Whoever knows swimming, take your swimming trunks and come with me to swimming pool. And those of you who don't know, enroll your names for the classes."

Now, I was in a dilemma. Did I know swimming or did I not? I was a 10 year old kid then and had no idea about swimming. Those TV visuals of people beating their hand and legs in water appeared in my mind. I also remembered of those couple of occasions when I had been to a swimming pool, all to play in the baby pool. So, I decided to take my swimming trunk and follow the house master.

We were about 20 of us and there were 5 lanes. The first 5 took a jump into the pool, which was about 25 meters long. The depth of on one side was 12 feet and the other was 4 feet. The 5 reached the other side of the pool, and their timings were recorded. The next 5 were asked to get ready, and I was given the lane in the mid of the pool. I took my position, and soon, the whistle was blown. With a tiger's dare, I jumped into the pool. In seconds, I was gone, deep down in the pool, absolutely unaware of what was happening. A huge volume of water went in my stomach and I lost my breath. I struggled to beat my hands and legs to seek help. In moments, our PT (physical training) instructor Sanjeev sir dived to rescue me. He took me out, and in all terms, saved my life.

For the next 5 years, I did all that I could to escape swimming and stayed away from water. I would participate in all other activities that would exempt me from swimming, so that I am occupied in those time slots. I even skipped the mandatory swimming tests in some or the other way. However, in Class XII, there was no escape. The swimming test was a mandatory requirement before passing out from the school.

I was terrified. It was then that I thought what I holding me back. It was one unplanned wrong risk that I took long ago out of my thoughtlessness. It was a bit awkward for me to note that all my friends were able to swim now and I was afraid to even go near the pool. I decided, to dare. I challenged myself to learn swimming in the next 3 months and clear the test. It was, after all, a question of dignity, when I saw my juniors swimming through fluidly.

I went to the swimming pool and requested the instructor to train me. The training started. I still remember how afraid I was when I was entering the pool. It took a lot of guts to get in. After basic training, a rope was tied around me, and I was asked to jump in the pool. Despite those training sessions and gaining confidence by learning those basic moves by holding the edges, I trembled. I was practically pushed in to the pool and I just gave up. I was pulled towards the edge. It was easy due to the rope. I was asked to leave the pool, and take "fail" for an answer.

As I walked out, something in me kept telling me that I would regret this moment all my life. Fear is temporary. Regret is permanent. I went back and requested for one last chance. I closed my eyes, put all my trust in the God and the coach, and dived in the pool. It was horrible. The rope was a savior. My kept instructing me on how I should move my hands, legs and balance my body. I was able to manage myself for some time and reached the other side of the pool. I was covering the width of 10 meters in shallow water. This completion was a great confidence boost to me.

There is always victory after you have dared and given your best. That's perhaps why Mountain Dew's "Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai" is such a catchy phrase. In a week, I was able to learn the basic free style swimming and was able to do that 10 meters without any support. In the coming days, I did the full 25 meters and I felt this was a real big accomplishment for me, as I had dodged this for year. In the end, it was not just swimming that I learnt, but also the fact that we ought to rise above our fears to make things happen. Its always better to try, than to think you can't.










Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Toilet for Babli

This blog post has been written for Domex's #ToiletForBabli initiative on Indiblogger. Visit http://www.domex.in/ to be a part of the "You Click, Domex Contributes" initiative and help children like Babli live a better life.

Open defecation is one of the biggest challenges that a country like India faces. There are several reasons for this problem, including the inability to reach all the people in the country. However, we can not deny the fact that this issue needs immediate attention and we must put in our best foot forward to ensure that we provide the basic sanitation facilities to everyone, at least considering that we are in the 21st century already, a century that we boast for technology and immense human advancement. Man has reached Mars and yet, our people aren't able to find a toilet. Strange.

It is sad to note that, according to the UN, nearly 1/3rd of the world population does not have access to a proper toilet, and nearly a billion people are forced to defecate in the open. People are choiceless and are forced to defecate outside, without privacy. Open defecation is a leading cause for diseases like diarrohea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitits, worm infestation as well as reduced physical growth. Putting an end to open defecation will not only help people with privacy and reduce possibility of diseases and infection, but will also help children like Babli improve their attendance at school, and reduce their visits to hospitals. There have been several cases where stools are washed into lakes and rivers, and this water is used for consumption by people. In some countries in Africa, diarrohea is the third bigger killer of children below 5 years of age.

In a recent report jointly prepared by the WHO and the UNICEF, it was stated that nearly 597 million people practice open defecation in India (largest in the world).

When we think of women defecating in the open, it is such a shameful thing today. While on one hand, we are talking of becoming the crown of the world by 2025, on the other hand, we are struggling to take care of the people who are unable to catch the pace at which things are moving. It is the collective responsibility of the society to ensure that we move together. Corporate in now taking the initiative through CSR activities to help people get these basic amenities.

One such wonderful initiative called "You Click Domex Contributes" is taken up by Domex. The company has taken an initiative to make villages in Maharashtra and Orissa open defecation free zones. Nearly 443 million school days are lost due to diseases caused by open defecation and this initiative will cause a significant decline in this number. You can help make a difference by visiting http://www.domex.in/ and click on Contribute. You don't have to contribute anything. Just enter email ID and the company will contribute Rs 5 on your behalf towards this cause. Awesome. I just did it. Please do it right away !

Sunday, 19 October 2014

This Diwali, just make it a #GharWaliDiwali

This post has been exclusively written for Indiblogger, celebrating this Deepwali with PepsiCo #GharWaliDiwali Film. What an awesome video this one, truly winning hearts. Check out https://www.gharwalidiwali.com/, share your Diwali story, and win gifts for your family.

Source: www.idiva.com
Deepawali is undoubtedly one of the most favorite festivals that we all celebrate. Holi too. Who doesn't like colours and lights. Sometimes, I wish, Deepawali and Holi should be celebrated on the same day. For a long time, nearly 10 years, I stayed away from mt parents and hence, missed the festival. It is one fantastic moment when the whole family comes together, leaving all their egos and cat fights away, and hug one another, smile and wish that their lives be fulfilled with light.

One of the most memorable experiences that I have is the Deepawali Special Trading hours. The stock market opens in the evening for about an hour or so and this period is considered very auspicious to buy stocks. Thats why the name Muhurat Trading. It also marks the beginning of a new year according to the Samvat calendar. I really enjoy that one hour of trading. Its a pleasure to watch.

#GharWaliDiwali is a splendid experience, especially considering the delicious food that my mother prepares. There are some sweets that are specially prepared for the festival. Apart from them, there is kheer, which is one of my favorite delicacies. When eaten with pooris, it makes a wonderful combination.

Source: www.diwalisms.info
Not to forget, Diwali is a extreme shopping season. Not only people are curious to buy everything during this time, because it is counsidered auspicious, but the shopkeepers also provide exciting deals and offers to further stimulate the desire to shop. Statitics prove that we see highest volumes of gold sales, vehicle sales, gold sales, clothes sales, etc in this season. Flipkart sold Rs 600 Crores worth goods in 10 hours in its run up to Diwali. This is also that time of the year when I get to shop along with my family. It is an amazing experience to go out with everyone and buy stuff that we need.

Diwali also means crackers. This is a festival that celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama. It marks the destruction of the evil and the return of the good. Though I may be absolutely wrong, I find it a bit weird when a whole set of NGOs, celebrities and others coming together asking everyone to not burst crackers in the name of air pollution and noise pollution. Noise, yes, I can understand. But it should be okay until, say, at least, 8 PM? Air, I don't know how much an evening's crackers would add to the pollution compared to a days's vehicle pollution, or say, cigarette pollution. I think, we should be happy about the way we celebrate our festivals. May be, take public transport for 2-3 days to compensate. So, this Diwali, go on, have fun.

Source: www.webneel.com
There is no Diwali like #GharWaliDiwali. Go Home. Celebrate. Live the moment !!!

Everything else can wait. Carry some Pepsi, and Kurkure, too :) Everyone loves them

Happy Diwali !!!

Duvayein, Badhaiyan, Mithaiyan, Khushiyan
Iss Tyohar ki Hai Kayi Saari Khoobiyan
Aao Manaye Milkar yeh Deepoan ka Tyohar
Rab Sabko De Sukh, Samruddhi aur Dher Saara Pyaar

Shubh Deepawali




Sunday, 22 June 2014

Crayons of Hope - Episode 2 - Papa Kehte Hain...

After a long break post the first session of the Crayons of Hope program, I returned to the school that I am affiliated with for the second session. A good number of students had left the school due to reasons like parents' transfer, relocation, etc. But then, more than 70% students were present. A few more students expressed interest to join and got in.

The kids were extremely joyed when I told them the meanings of their names. Most of them had faced difficulty in the 1st session when we had a discussion about their names. After a brief chat on what we had done previously and how that impacted them, we started with the day's session on the topic "My Parents".

 




I started with a pep talk on parents and their role in our life. Slowly, I encouraged children to contribute their views. A couple of students even stood up and give a 60-90 seconds talk about their parents. Most students spoke about how their parents are adding value to their life, about their parents' work and interests. I could see a lot of them saying that their parents buy whatever they ask and that makes them very happy. I uttered a small statement, "Never complain about what your parents have given you, that is all they had".

I distributed the sheets to the children and they got on to business. Over the next 30 minutes, they sketched all that they wanted to say about their parents. It was an interesting session. However, I was able to notice that kids didn't have much idea about their parents. All they knew was their names, occupation and a bit about the dreams/aspirations that they had for their children. Perhaps, that has always been just enough to fill the forms for admission and focus on studying.

I'm not sure if its the phenomenon everywhere but it is definitely a phenomenon in India that children seldom interact openly with parents. Most kids/adults confuse respect with fear. Parents always want to ensure that their children are afraid of them and be under their noses at all times. While this has its own advantages, it can not ensure that the kid is on the right path. You never know what is happening in your absence. I have always had this thought in my mind that to have a strong relationship, there should be more love and not fear. When you love someone, you ensure that you do a lot of right things and when you fear someone, you ensure that the other person doesn't get to know what you are doing.





I encouraged the kids to go back to their homes and spend time with their parents. Interestingly, when I asked them who all help their parents in work at home, everybody raised their hands. I asked them to question them about their lives, their friends, their business, how was it like when they were kids, how was their school life, college life, how their their parents live then and so on. Engaging with parents helps kids to get the fear factor away and slowly, they start feeling connected and the relationship grows to into a more meaningful one. There is always something that you can learn from everyone.

This was another lovely hour of discussion we had and I did enjoy it. Here are some images of what happened through the session as well as the outcome.






 



Check out this album on facebook for images.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Story of the Corporate India - Racold #WhatsThatSmellBoss

This post has been written exclusively for the Indiblogger Racold "Close Encounters of the Smelly Kind" contest. Check out http://www.racold.com/ for more information on their products. You can also follow the company on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/racoldthermoltd.



Its a very well known fact that there are a lot of guys and gals who skip bath for various reasons including unavailability of hot water, lack of time, laziness, etc. These days, the deodorants and perfumes are used to smell good. But then, when sweat mixes up with deodorants, it produces a very nasty smell and becomes intolerable, not just for the neighbors, but for oneself too. A fresh bath early in the morning has numerous benefits like it energizes the mind, relieve tension and stress, improve blood circulation, removes toxins, etc. Doctors even advise people to have a warm bath at night and it helps in getting good sleep. Forget the benefits, its perhaps the bare minimal and the least expensive thing one can do to follow the principle of "Cleanliness is next to Godliness".

We all have come across such people in our lives. Unfortunately, for various reasons, we can't even tell them that they are smelling nasty. All we can do is stay away from them or take some jibes on them, at least until they understand. Some people are so idiotic that they do not understand at all or behave as if they don't. I have been through such situations. As I remember some such people, this one guy comes so much to my thought. I've scripted this song on the lines of "Hotel California".

On a super pretty Monday, My life becomes unfair...
Nasty smell of sweat and bad breath, Rising up through the air...
Up ahead in the distance, I could see my colleague, an idiot...
My head grew heavy and my frustration knew no limit...
I had stop for a fight...

There he sat on the next chair, His mouth opened like a contaminated well...
And I was thinking to myself, How the hell will I tolerate this smell...
Then I walked up to his place, And asked him #WhatsThatSmellBoss...
There were jitters down his spine, He tries his best to escape...

You're listening to a story of Corporate India...
Could be a ghastly place, With a nasty face...
Plenty of scope to spray more perfumes and deos...
Any brand any price, You can sell them here...

After all it was winter, I suggested him to buy a Geyser...
And he take bath everyday, Lest he lose all his friends...
How I love my Racold Geyser, I told him its the best...
Some bath like its a ritual, Some bath to rejuvenate...

So I called up the market leader, "Please suggest my friend a Geyser"...
He said, "We have had that pleasure since nineteen ninety nine"...
And until you throw your laziness far away, I'll wake you up in the morning and show you the way...
Just to ensure you bathe...

You're listening to a story of Corporate India...
Could be a ghastly place, With a nasty face...
They're also many bathing everyday for the sake of Corporate India...
What a nice surprise, its worth its price...

There were times in our living, the disgusting sweat on display...
And they said, "We have problems with water here, either cold or not there"...
And in the board rooms, they'd gathered for the team meetings...
They pollute the air with their foul smells, we can't just escape the nasal taste...

Last thing I remember, I was running for the chair...
I had to find a place to ensure, that this guy doesn't come near...
"Relax", said my colleague, "I've learnt my lessons over the days...
You can happily sit next to me, Because I'll never skip to bathe!"...

The conclusion written by me is too positive compared to the reality. In reality, we still continue to fight him and people like him. People should realize that brushing teeth and taking bath are the most important part of a wellness routine. Dirty clothes, shabby hair, unpolished shoes, etc are all the other issues, which can somehow be tolerated. So, to all those people who skip bath for any reason whatsoever, I'd like to just say, "Do good to India, take bath everyday."


Monday, 31 March 2014

Crayons of Hope - Episode 1 - What's in a Name?

After nearly 10 years, I stepped into a school. Honestly, it was neither very nostalgic nor did any memories of school flashed on my mind. I walked in to meet the principal. But then, the peon stopped me and asked me to sit down at the entrance. I waited for nearly half an hour and then, I was sent in to meet the headmistress. As I mentioned in the introduction post, we decided to go ahead with the Crayons of Hope project.

After a few days, I was scheduled to take up the first session at the school. This session was focused on self discovery. In this session, our objective was to delve into ourselves and discover what's within us. We started with the meaning of our names. A lot of thought, idea, discussion goes in when parents name their children. They choose between hundreds of names for their kid. In most cases, parents try to ensure that the kid grows to represent what he is named, in some or the other way. In fact, the names also represent, in some way, the parents' aspirations from their kids. This more so true in India where each name has a story behind it. So, it was very normal for me to assume that all these kids knew the story behind their names.

However, I was totally astonished when I could see that 90% of the children didn't know the meaning of their names, forget the story or logic or reasoning behind it. They kept saying their name and asking me for the meaning of it and I was taken aback. After all, I didn't know the meaning of all their names. I'd often read in articles on social welfare that the ground realities are different but then, never did I feel in the wildest of my dreams that the ground realities are so different. And yes, the kids I was speaking too were scholarly, could speak all 3 languages (English, Kannada, Hindi) and were sufficiently mature and knowledgeable.

Unfortunately, this is the truth in our lives. We speak and discus about so many matters everyday but if we are asked to speak a few words about ourselves, we are dumbstruck. Our focus on details for other things is very high but our focus on understanding ourselves is too low. We spend a lot of time to give ourselves things, like we buy, we spend, we talk, we boast, we socialize, etc. May be, we just don't give that time to ourselves to introspect who we are and what are we doing. Long ago, I started an exercise to do a quarterly review of my life to quantify my progress, and I stalled it after 3-4 quarters. May be, that will be an interesting thing to do to promote self realization. Defining ourselves is quite a tough task and can get really challenging at times.

The time spent with the kids was extraordinarily amazing. There were so many questions. I tried to get some teachers who helped some kids with the meanings of their names. However, we could not help a lot of them. Unfortunately, I had no access to the internet too. I promised the kids that I will come up with the meanings of all their names in the next session. We progressed into self realization and the kids came up with their own ideas about themselves. All these ideas were put up in the postcards. The postcards indeed turned into amazing pieces of art.

It was a great experience for me, and I believe, for the kids too. They looked excited, happy and curious to find out more about themselves. May be, this little hint will help them to get an understanding. May be, they'll go home and ask their parents, "Why did you name me this?" May be, they'll go on and google more about themselves. The path to discovering, uncovering and exploring has just been opened. I hope to find out more as the days go by. We've just sowed some seeds of hope.

Its time for some homework now.

Name
Meaning
Ajay
Victorious
Aneesa Banu
Pure
Bhavana
Feelings
Bhumika L
Earth, Role
Chethan
Consciousness
Eram
Paradise
Faisal Pasha
Decisive, Wise
Geethanjali
Collection of Poems
Girish
Lord of Mountain
Gowthami
Removing Darkness
Hamsa
Swan
Irfan Khan
Gratefulness
Jeevan
Life
Kishan Kumar
Young Krishna
Lakshmi
Goddess of Wealth
Leelesha
Playful, Light hearted
Mary Stella
Star
Mir Hamza Ali
Powerful
Mirza Abbas Ali Baig
Prince, Lion
Mohd Kousar Ali
Abundant
Mohd Sharif
Honest
Nanditha Nandu
Happy
Neetu
Moral
Preethi Singh
Love
Puran Joshi
Success
Raghavendra Nair
Destroying Sins
Rubiya Sultana
Queen
Ruwell
Saba Farheen
Jubilant
Sabiha Banu
Beautiful
Saniya
Moment in time
Shahid Mubarak
Blessed
Shaik Mujaheed
Head, Warrior
Shakti Kiran
Power
Simran
Remembrance
Sukhendu
Pleasure
Trisha
Wish, Desire
Umme Salma
Peaceful
Venkatesh
Lord of Venkata Hill
Zabi
Zahid Ali
Devotee, Unselfish

So, this evidences that I am a sincere student. Haha ;)


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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Crayons of Hope - An Introduction to the Fellowship program

Towards the mid of 2013, I started feeling that life is incomplete. After living over here, on the earth, for 26 years, and working in the banking and financial services industry for nearly 5 years, things looked not so bright to me. Despite attempts to discover reasons for this new found sadness, I wasn't able to point at one. There was a strike of some unsatisfied feeling in me and I felt my life lacks something. Some void, something missing. The search led me to the grand old Maslow's need hierarchy theory. I wasn't sure but probably, I was just moving from the Safety needs to Belonging needs. Slowly, I started realizing that it had always been my dream to do something for the society, for the people around me, as soon as I am done with certain responsibilities of life. May be, the time had come.

Source: Wikipedia

Over the last 2 years, I had been searching for opportunities in this direction but all the volunteering opportunities wanted me to engage over the 2 days on the weekend and it seemed an impossible task to me. I tried to do some advisory work or support some of my friends who are in the social sector but then, that too was very heavy on me. I enrolled for the M121 Fellowship, an online social entrepreneurship course conducted by Movement121, Chicago. The course taught me more about running a social business. I have always been interested in these things, be it volunteering at NSS (National Service Scheme), attending rural camps, participating in debates on empowerment, reading about NGOs, thinking about Micro-finance, etc. After completing the M121 fellowship in mid of 2013, I was desperately in need of something to fill the gap that its absence would create.

This search led me to the Crayons of Hope (COH) program while exploring an article on One Billion Minds. The program sounded too simple for me. Simple, not from the execution point of view but from the thought point of view. The program's plan/structure was easy to understand.
  • COH fellows will approach a school/NGO and ask for a class or set of students for the program
  • The students will spend 1-2 hours every month with the COH fellows
  • In each session, the COH fellows will speak/discuss about one topic of importance to the children over themes like self discovery, goals, dreams, environment, family, nation, sports, etc.
  • The children will sketch a postcard on their understanding/learning
  • These postcards will be sent to COH
  • COH receives postcards from all fellows
  • COH sends these postcards to other fellows, ie, the postcards are exchanged
  • In the next session, the children receive postcards from their friends in the other part of the world, an unknown friend, a new friend, and in the process, the kid learns about the thoughts, experiences and feelings of the children in a different location
  • Over the 12 sessions, the children get to convey their thoughts and also learn others' thoughts.

I applied to the fellowship and received a mail from Swastika saying I have been accepted. The next task was to figure out a school or NGO for me to get started. This process took quite a long time, almost 3 months. At last, I found the school next to my home, Subhash Memorial English High School, receptive to this idea. After an initial discussion and a lot of convincing efforts, the head mistress agreed to connect me to 30-40 kids of different classes for this project. The idea looked great to me. In fact, I thought I will take up one class, but then, getting kids of different age groups would be an interesting value addition. We thought that the kids from Class III to Class X would be our target segment. I left a couple of brochures with her and sent an introduction mail as well. In a week's time, the message reached the children and the interested children enrolled their names with the school office. About 41 children enrolled their names and I decided to go ahead with all of them, assuming some could leave the course over a period of time either due to transfers or change of school or in case they do not find this interesting.


      


The Need  
  • For millions of children around the world, destiny has already been written.
  • And for most of them it will not change in a lifetime.
  • Now. Imagine 1 million children exchanging 12 million postcards every year.
  • Each child will exchange 12 postcards during the year.
  • Postcards follow a different theme every month.
Target Impact
  • Every postcard is a hand drawn story of identity, hope and friendship from one child to another.
  • Children covered in the program follow 12 consecutive themes designed to bring out their perspective on issues concerning them.
  • Receiving a postcard will help her understand what the issues mean to another child somewhere else in the world.
How we work?
  • Crayons of Hope is a Not for Profit organization based in India.
  • We offer a global One Year Fellowship to young people around the world to help us run the program.
  • Fellows work with schools and institutions in their communities and help children craft their postcards every month.
Crayons of Hope is not a new program. The work has been in progress from nearly 2 years. With the fellows program, COH aims to improve its reach. The application to the fellowship is open through the year. The following links can be of help.

Web link - http://www.crayonsofhope.org/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/crayonsofhope
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/crayonsofhope

So, my hope journey with Crayons of Hope has begun. I'm excited to cover these 12 sessions with kids all around me. On a lighter (or serious) note, life has moved on from being called Bhaiyya to Uncle and may be, that just shows up that there is a lot more to share with higher responsibility. In my introduction session with the children, they almost assumed that I was there to conduct a drawing competition. In fact, even the teachers had a similar opinion until I explained them the whole objective that goes behind the final sketch.

Creating hope with a postcard is tough. Things that aren't tough make life boring. So, let's get going...