Friday, December 14, 2012

Of Simplicity, Solemnity and Consistency!

So, our very own Bidhya now stands married...Nope! I am not talking about the girl next door...Well! Actually, I am. She is truly like a 'girl-next-door' for me. Humble living, blessed beauty and solemn attitude is what makes her stand out from the rest of the bandwagon.

Yes, I am talking about Ms Vidhya Balan…now, Mrs Vidhya Roy Kapur!

 I have always loved her. It won’t be a hyperbole if I claim that I have literally grown up watching her in ‘Hum Paach’… I just revered the way her character was depicted. That simplicity and sombreness exhibited in the serial almost made us question the real Vidhya when we watched her sizzling and sweltering in ‘The Dirty Picture’. Milan Luthra’s film got a deafening opening and was loved by one and all.

Then came ‘Kahaani’…another splendid performance Vidhya enthralled us with. Post ‘The Dirty Picture’, the approbation for the National Award winning performer Vidya mounted dizzy altitudes and the superlatively brilliant actress conveyed a performance that's at par with her previous endeavours. The actress demonstrated her value by single handedly booming the film frontward on her steady shoulders, with a familiarity that transports you back to an epoch when very few actresses attained the same, breaching every decree in a fraternity that still favours a male lead.

May it be Parineeta, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Heyy Baby, Kismat Konnection, Paa, Ishqiya or No One Killed Jessica; with each performance, Vidhya Balan has wooed us with her talent, hard work and attitude.

Now that she’s chosen to get into a different sphere of her personal life, I wish her very best in her married life. May God bless her with life’s utmost happiness and serenity!

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Friday, December 7, 2012

The 'Dad' aspect.....helping new fathers bond with their new babies!

My article published at

When a new baby carves its way into your family, there’s a lot to adjust to. While mom stands a better chance to get close to the baby, it can quite be challenging for both the partners to connect with the little one. Mothers have natural instincts of involving with the babies solely because they devote a substantial amount of time with them; while the dads take a little longer to cultivate that special bonding. With a little creativity, perseverance and efforts, a father can feel just as attached to his new-born as a breast-feeding mom.
Below are a few simple suggestions that can help to reassure that much desired natural affection between the father and the baby.

Talk to me, Dad
Studies have proved that babies learn to differentiate between the voices of their parents’ and strangers from around 30 weeks in the womb. If the dad talks to the baby before it is born, it’s easier for the baby to feel closer to father due to the familiarity in the vocal sound. Sheena Mehta, mother to Simone, 16 weeks says, “Piyush used to talk to my tummy every morning and night towards the end of my pregnancy. When Simone was born, she instantly felt at ease with him the moment he picked her up and started talking.”

Be right there
However insane this may sound, but make it a point to be present at the birth of your baby. Veena, mother to Shruti, five, is expecting her second baby anytime. She says, “Varun believes that he really bonded well with Shruti when he decided to witness her birth. He insisted on being the first to embrace her and make a direct eye contact. He still feels that it was the best decision as it helped him connect with Shruti instantaneously.”

Let your fingers do the talking
Before your baby is born, if you can arrange for an experienced baby masseur to give some tips and lessons to you and your partner, it will really help you both in the long run. It’s a wonderful way for father and baby to spend some great time together. This will also provide some much-needed breather to the new mom, knowing that the baby is totally relaxed and benign with the dad. Apart from the emotional paybacks, studies have shown that a good soothing massage can relieve the baby from colic, indigestion and stimulate better breathing.

Touch me
Encourage the father to step into that bath along with the baby. Apart from giving him a chance to feel involved, it will help grow the expressive bonding between them big time. Bathing is a fantastic way for dad and baby to get involved with each other. “Quite frequently Varun would jump into the bath with Shruti and I could hear them chattering for hours. This is their earmarked time and I know for sure that Shruti thrives on it.” Says Veena.

Walk me around
Very often, we see mothers strapping their new-borns in the strollers to venture out just for a plain walk or stocking up on the groceries. If this role can be swapped with the dad carrying his little one in a sling or carrier, there’s nothing that can stop create that bond between the two. This will also allow father to carry on with his routine as well as for the baby to feel calm and closer to his dad.

Remember that breastfeeding is the only thing you can do for your baby that his dad can’t. Hence, involve him into some basic yet important tasks like nappy-changing, comforting the baby at night, burping and of course, bathing. Encourage him to help you out in every little way he can. “When I hit the bed after a strenuous day managing and nursing my Twins, it was Chandler who instantly offered to attend to them in the middle of the night, whenever required. Except feeding, he managed everything from diaper changes to soothing and calming them. This really helped me get over my fatigue and face each day with more gusto and passion.” Valerie, mother of 2 years old Twins recalls.

Jive baby jive
Babies are very astute and keen learners. They instantly retort to music and love being jiggled about. It can really be fun to put on that favourite CD and do a little boogie-woogie while holding the baby closer. This can be a cheerful bonding experience and if you are lucky enough, chances are your baby will doze off to sleep.

Share the knowledge
In today’s internet era, any information is available at the click of the mouse. There are number of online parenting forums where experiences are shared and information is exchanged. It’s a wise decision to join these forums and seek the info, whenever necessary. “I am an active participant in some of the parenting forums available online. It helps me and my wife to deal with most of the doubts we have while raising our son. The information, experiences and suggestions that are shared, has helped us connect with Aryan in confident and optimistic way. Whenever I get a chance, I encourage other dads to explore these resources” Says Anant, father of eight months old Aryan.

Bonding is a complicated and individual experience that takes time, endurance and efforts. There is no magic formula and it certainly cannot be enforced upon. As far as baby’s basic needs are catered to, he won’t wriggle even though his connection is not sturdy enough with his dad. As you and your partner become more comfortable with your baby and the subsequent routine, variations and responsibilities, you both will experience all the incredible stages of growing up with your little one. Parenting is an experience to cherish and tiny efforts will help both of you make it a remarkable one!

The big 'N' word...are we saying it enough?

The below article is published online at:

“Last year we were really having a gala time on a cruise until one fine day Shrey spotted another similar aged boy with a battery operated toy truck. This instantly led him to demand a similar piece straightaway. I had a hard time dealing with his tantrums and unreasonable behaviour during the rest of our vacation. As soon as we landed back home, the first thing I did was to fetch him an exactly similar model to make him smile again. I know I didn’t handle the situation properly but I hate to say ‘no to my only son; I always fear that by doing so he will love me less.” Says Vruddhi, a single mother to eight year old Shrey.

“Few days back, during a Diwali party at our place, one of my guests’ five years old son caught hold of my expensive smartphone and dunked it in the toilet bowl just for fun.  I caught him red handed and handed over the matter to his parents. I was extremely disturbed when they didn’t even confront the little boy. In fact, right in front of him, they offered to replace my handset. Considering they chose not to humiliate their son in front of other guests, at least asking a boy to apologise would have helped to send him a strong message that whatever he did wasn’t ethical. I doubt if the parents will ever lay a strong foundation for his life ahead.” Sunidhi recollects.

“This Christmas, I want to gift a smartphone to my son. He is a gadget freak and already owns number of high-tech video games along with his own laptop. I want to see him happy all the time and enjoy the luxuries of life that I didn’t. I want him to have a childhood far better than I did. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure that he gets whatever he wishes for.” Amit , father of eight years old son, states.

Vruddhi and Amit are top-notch executives in multinational companies. They have strived hard and earned for whatever they have achieved until now and continue to do so for providing a better future to their children. They both realise the value of hardship and the happiness and contentment it brings along. And in spite of having such affluent careers, it’s an agony to see them fail to instil the right values in their kids.

Such parents usually feel that their children will love them less if they say ‘No’ too often to their demands, whims and fancies. This results in giving in to the child’s every demand, however unreasonable that it. Comparing your own childhood with your child’s is highly juvenile and should strictly be avoided to be used as an excuse to give up. This is a definite way of spoiling your child, if not anything else. Instead of agreeing to them instantaneously, it’s always advised to find a mid-way. Having a friendly chat with your child will help you understand his intents better. Ask certain specific questions like what he wants, where did he spot it first and why does he want it? This will help you understand your child and if his demand is justified then let him know your own reasons why you would agree to it.  If this involves a cost factor, let your child know about its value, if he is old enough to understand. This is also a good opportunity to make him behave in a certain way before he finally gets what he desires.

Sometimes, parents expect their children to understand that their behaviour is totally unacceptable by saying ‘no’ to them. However, more than the word itself, it’s important the way you say it. Similarly, there are other non-verbal cues of passing the right message like a positive body language. It may also be noted that very young children might not respond to the ‘N’ word in a desired manner due to the amount of attention they get when they do something wrong.

Now here’s the twist! Though you should avoid satisfying your child’s demands promptly, it’s also isn't prudent to refuse him each time he asks for anything as this will be a hindrance in building up on his self-confidence. It can also prove beneficial to ask your child to earn whatever he wants in some ways. “Every time Siya demands anything which if I feel is reasonable, instead of giving up to her demands easily, I ask to earn it within her capacity. Small gestures like helping me prepare the dinner table or carrying small grocery bags makes her feel she is working hard towards achieving what she wants. And the joy on her face when she gets what she earned is simply spectacular. In a way, I am happy, too because I don’t want her to feel that it’s an easy life and everything is freely available at the fingertips.” Says Vandana, mother of six years old Siya.

When Manoj Sharma, engineer, has to refuse the demands of his five year old daughter Paridhi, he always makes it to explain to her the reasons behind it. “Though Paridhi is still quite young, I always give her apt reasons whenever I decline to honour what she desires. This has two advantages. She grows up learning that there’s always a purpose for my decision and secondly, this exercise helps polish her reasoning skills and also makes her understand that I don’t say no without a reason.”

Sunidhi’s case is no different. She is totally distressed by the way the boy’s parents handled the situation. Teaching the basic manners to kids at tender age will help them understand the intensity of the situation. Five years is quite a young age for the boy to appreciate the value of forty thousand rupees but having to say ‘sorry’ to someone would have definitely made him realise that he has done something drastically wrong. Sorry, thank you and please are very robust words and kids can correlate with them, if encouraged at an early age. When Sunidhi was offered another phone in lieu of the damaged one by the boy’s parents, in front of him, unknowingly they sent a wrong message that it’s ok to damage things as far as they can be replaced.

Although we believe that parenting is highly nourishing, let’s also face that it comes with its own concerns. Disciplining the child is the worst nightmare. Lack of discipline is a consistent issue that most parents face these days. Many parents associate the word ‘discipline’ with abusing or unreasonably punishing the kids. However, discipline comes from the root word ‘Disciple’ which means to teach or to guide. Hence, it’s extremely important that we guide our children towards optimistic behaviour thus helping them develop a healthy and positive attitude towards life.

So, next time when your child just refuses to move without that candy floss in the middle of the road……….think! Think about how best you can make her realise that food available at road-side can harm her delicate tummy rather than plainly giving up to her unhealthy demand.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chronicles of sickness

Popcorn…Noodles…Plain-rice…Chapati with jam…Steamed corn…Bread with butter….Juice…Milk with chocos….

All the above choices, I offer to my daughter time and again and all I get is just one blunt reply...”Nah”.

She’s been sick since last couple of days with heavily infected throat accompanied by fever and vomiting. Not to mention lassitude and weakness, followed on its own. I sit helplessly next to her convincing to eat something which she plainly refuses. It’s been almost 2 days since she has eaten something substantial.

Seeing your kids sick is the last thing you desire for. When they are hale and happy, there’s so much cheer and bliss around which suddenly evaporates with the quite entry of illness. My son is habitually a quite creature. He finds absolute solace and glee in his own company so his presence doesn't really make up for my daughter’s trailing dynamism. The deadly silence at home when she is taken to bed is way too much for us to endure.

Can't stop her naughty gestures even
while battling with the sickness
A visit to the doctor only reinstated my credence that the unceasing weather fluctuations are to be accused for this illness and infection around. Number of helpless parents clutching their sick kids wasn't a cheerful picture in the waiting area. The weakness had taken over so much that the small rides and other play-mates in the kids’ waiting area were almost empty and no kid wanted to play around. The doctor confirmed an awfully bad throat infection and the vast list of medication followed.

Like all sick kids, my daughter is totally weak and no longer cheerful. Strong doses of antibiotics have turned her nauseated and losing appetite. It’s such an agony to see your child out of action who is otherwise too much to bear. Her chirpy talks fill the house with ecstasy; her naughty little feats keep me engaged all the way through, her small loving gestures makes me thank my stars all the time. I am missing her usual self and I hope she gets back to what she’s best at; sooner the better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelling with a Child....

The below article is published online:

Travelling with children can be a more tedious than housework, laundering, shopping and office backlog put together. Factoring a child’s needs into your travel itinerary can be far more challenging than sticking on that CD of nursery rhymes or making the frequent and unplanned toilet halts.
However, travelling as a family allows experiences to be shared and treasured. It can add significance to family time together away from the burdens of work and mundane routine. You can gain different perceptions on places when accompanied by kids.
If you plan aptly, the disaster times seem to dwindle, and the memoirs of the events together get reminisced. Here are some parent-tested tips to help prepare for a hassle-free and safe journey.

Be flexible with extra time
As long as you go with the flow, travelling with a child can really be a delightful experience. Small kids can get over-excited with too many new places and noises. Similarly, making your toddler sit immobile or tour for a longer period can make him fed up and irritable. Carry a sling or a carrier to strap your toddler to keep him out of trouble. Also, keeping the itinerary simple works wonders. While planning ensure that only one major activity is scheduled for a day to accommodate the last minute adjustments if your child gets exhausted or cranky.
Babies and especially toddlers love to wander around and explore hence don’t expect them to respect the time limits of your travel program. Therefore, you're more likely to retain your cool if you factor the ogling, delaying, toilet breaks and grumpiness into your travel plan. 

Pick a right destination 
A peaceful destination that’s friendly to young visitors should be favoured. A lazy seaside, family camping, Club Med or similar child-friendly places are good options. Jam-packed, over stimulating tourist charms or places without any shade should be strictly avoided. Scout for hotels that offer good discounts on the rates and some freebies like free breakfast without negotiating on the child-friendliness and safety aspect. It’s also not a bad idea to ask about the child-minding services or crèches or other child friendly facilities and activities.

Two things you just can’t miss before leaving on that long awaited trip is plenty of water and a bag of snacks. Flights can dehydrate most of the young travellers and small toddlers just can’t always hold on until the proper mealtimes. Raisins, breadsticks, small juice cartons, dry fruits, rice biscuits, small packets of dry cereal are some of the best bets. Don’t forget to stock on wet wipes for those messy clean-ups. The journey can also be made fascinating by dispensing snacks at pre-announced intervals, for example, once you board the aircraft or after you’ve covered a certain distance.
If you are travelling with a small baby or a toddler that is not fully toilet-trained, it’s prudent to stock on the diapers and the rash creams. Also carry a liquid bath soap to avoid messy handling and subsequent contamination. If you are travelling to chilly areas, carry loads of moisturising creams and a good sunscreen if you choose the beaches. It’s also not a bad idea to carry your own electric repellent or at least a cream to keep those mosquitoes and bugs away. Pack the clothing as per the climate at the destination; however, avoid carrying too many clothes by mix-matching and re-using some.

Plan recurrent rest stops 
“We spent too much time in planning our first holiday with our 2 year old son, Vivan. We decided to drive down to Goa from Mumbai. Everything was a fairy tale affair until my husband started to get twitchy at the repeated unplanned breaks we were taking to attend to Vivan and his tantrums. This led to frivolous arguments between us turning the entire journey into anguish.” Priya, a young mother from Mumbai, shares her experience.
Driving can often be fun for adults but seldom for small children. Hence, plan proper breaks in your voyage to give your child consistent chances to stretch and ramble around. A quick game of football with your little one or some simple jigsaw puzzles for some quite times can be good choices. Early start is extremely logical to give you enough time for that much desirable unwinding after a long day on the road. Had Priya and her husband considered these breaks beforehand, they wouldn’t be in those spiteful situations.

Safety first 
It’s always a good idea to carry your own childproofing kit to use at your destination. Make sure your baby is properly fastened in the car seat, if you are travelling by car. Invest in a pair of good quality removable window shades to keep your child protected from the sun. This may sound hilarious but it’s always advisable to dress up your child in some brightly coloured outfits so that he can be easily spotted at crowded places. Also, don’t forget to put a small chit with your details like phone numbers and address in one of his pockets in case you get detached. A number of packing and travelling checklists are easily available on the internet for more ideas.

Pack a goody bag 
Carrying a goody bag with toys, snacks and drinks is definitely one of the best means to keep your child calm and comfortable on a trip. Try and include their favourite play-mates, books and even some surprises. Wrapping them separately and presenting them to your child once a while will benefit in tackling those fidgety times. Jigsaw puzzles, soft toys, hand puppets, some coloured paper for drawing, non-toxic crayons and clay and picture books can prove extremely worthy for the toddlers; while babies can be kept motivated with some attractive new stuffs, baby-proof hand mirror, musical toys and rattles,  pop-up toys or teething rings. You need to start building on the collection a few weeks beforehand.

Whether they’re jetlagged, out of routine or eating less healthily, most kids seem to fall sick on holidays. Hence, it’s particularly important to carry your child’s medical history along. Also, make a quick doctor visit before the travel to ensure that your child is in good health and suitable for travel and the environmental changes. Carry the doctor’s prescription for all the important and common medications; even better if you carry the medicines. “Last year we were holidaying in some remote parts of North India when one of my Twins developed an upset tummy in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying the right medicine and we had a hard time dealing with the situation. That night taught me a significant lesson and now I just can’t think of leaving my home without the medication kit, even for smaller journeys.” Ashlesha, a mother of 3 years old Twins recalls.
Other basic constituents in the first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, bandages, sting treatment, and a thermometer. Don’t forget to pop a small bottle of hand-sanitizer in your handbag.

Preach and practice
Small children are flexible and shouldn't be too distressed by a provisional break in routine, but a little groundwork will help your child relish his trip. Showing pictures of your destination and chatting with them about what and who you’ll see as well as what you’ll do there can be really helpful. Whenever you talk to them, make sure you take an optimistic approach in conveying the enthusiasm and positive feelings about the impending trip. Your child will definitely take his cue from you and odds are your little one will approach the tour the same way.
And to conclude, as someone rightly said, stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey, it entirely depends on how you approach your trip. Apposite planning, little positive attitude and endurance will go a long way in making that much awaited trip thoroughly memorable!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Those fins and gills

I am a niche Goenkar.. And however trivial that may sound to you but I take immense pride in being one. Apart from the 'susegado' siestas, one important part of my personality is the creatures with fins and gills... Fish!

I come from a background of hard-core fish eaters. Thanks to my Dad, fish was a part if our meals throughout the year except those one and a half day during the Ganpati festival. It's still considered a customary ritual in some of the Saraswat homes in Goa to cook the fishy dinner on the day of the Ganesh Visarjan. In my home, it's still graciously followed where the men go hunting for the catch to even far away markets.

A part of me feels extremely blessed when I see my children loving the basic essence of my personality. I feel overwhelmed when I see my son, more than my daughter, relish his meals whenever he spots a piece of fried pomfret or kingfish in his plate. My daughter's favourite is prawns fried in basic masala flavours without much spice.

When I got married, I could hardly cook...forget about making those elaborate fishy lunches and dinners. Although, I had made this quite clear to my husband before we were committed, I could sense that he and his father did expect me to at least learn how to cook the basic fish dishes. Cooking is one area where I terribly missed having my mother in law around. My mom used to give me some lessons over the phone which finally helped me overcome my cooking inhibitions in a great way. After many years of trying, I can finally say that I can cook descent meals now that I myself can eat without any inhibitions.

Coming back to the point, I believe that cooking is a great art and some take a lifetime to master it...I am one of them, for sure. My mom is a great cook and whatever I can manage now, I owe it to her.

The patent 'prawns sukhe' in a typical Goan meal
Cooking fish is a complicated affair in Goan cooking. There are different Masalas for each type of fish. Besides, one fish can be cooked into different dishes. Hence, I have always respected the Goan ladies for their super-sharp memory and the perseverance. In most houses, buying the catch is the job of the men and it ends right there. Cleaning, cutting and cooking is then entirely taken over and well executed by the ladies. A fried fish is almost like a compulsion in a normal meal; vegetables being an option and mostly limited to few holy days of the week like Monday; being dedicated to Lord Mangesh.

In Mumbai, where I currently live, finding fresh fish easily is a big challenge making it compulsory to make those weekly visits to bigger fish markets and stock on. After trying a number of such markets, I have finally settled on one at Andheri (W) and I cannot thank enough to few of my friends for their suggestion and few others with whom I tag along.

So, next time you spot me with that big bag early Sunday morning, you know where I am heading to.....!! To the land of the fins and the gills.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, November 25, 2012

2 Buckets of Popcorn....

"2 buckets of popcorn, 4 large Pepsi please...."

The guy in front of me placed his order. There were these massive queues at the snacks counters. The young chap behind the kiosk swiftly got into action. His KRAs are quite strict about the TAT, commonly known as Turn Around Time in technical terms (Oh! I am sooo missing my Mastek days suddenly). The lady behind me has almost got into a 'train' mode giving me a slender shove hinting that it’s my turn now and I rather be prepared... I give her a precise gloomy look with a tip-off that 'look, I have spent almost 30 mins to reach where I am and I am not leaving this counter for at least next 3 minutes and most prominently, I certainly don't care about your eagerness... She reciprocates with an even dirtier guise.

More than the movies, the ambience at the theatres has always fascinated me. What really makes it worth spending epic money on tickets, apart from the movie itself, is an opportunity to watch and judge different sets of individuals during those waiting times. Just while I write this on my mobile notepad, I see a young lady heavily dressed up in an opulent sequin saree with loads of jewellery. She made me ponder whether she chose to watch the movie only because she missed that last bus that could have taken her to a wedding/reception. There are others who are so skimpily garbed as if they will just turn around and request for some help to splurge on some descent clothing. I am not against anyone’s dressing sense and neither a ‘What-Not-To-Wear’ host so please be aware that these are purely my own personal thoughts; they should not be treated as offensive in any way.

Love is the ultimate thing on this earth and if you can manage to bargain for it at a secluded corner in the waiting lounge, there’s nothing like it. This is the biggest lesson some of the couples, especially young, newly married ones try to demonstrate except they hardly realise that it can get really awkward and uncomfortable when you have small kids around who are more than eager to explore new horizons. But I guess, someone rightly said, love has no confines and certainly not the time limits.

There are others who are busy putting their babies to sleep as a safety measure to be able to watch the movie undisturbed. I have gone through this so I can definitely pacify with them. Some hurriedly want to make that last visit to the wash rooms before the movie commences. Some want to make that one quick phone call to inform that their phone will be switched off/silent henceforth until the movie is over. Some busy preparing their kids with some preamble about the movie. Some like me occupied by their mobile phones and then there are some who just like to observe around, again like me!

Finally, I see a huge queue lined up outside the screen where I am supposed to share some space with 'Richard Parker'. I head out to get blended with the flock and just while I am about to enter, I witness this beautiful National Anthem presented by the deaf and mute kids on the celluloid. Not that I am a great patriot, but this anthem always brings a tear or two in my eyes. It’s so wonderfully filmed and executed that words are just not enough to express the feelings about the kids who present it.

And finally, I am in my chair…waiting for the movie to begin and enjoy my own rendezvous with Piscine Molitor Patel!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roar of the Tiger!

It’s been quite some time I blogged. Got totally busy with my brother’s forthcoming wedding and the ensuing preparations. Then the Diwali and just while I was still plunging in the verve of the festival, there comes the news of the death of Balasaheb Thackeray and another charismatic member of my family. I know that this is not a germane start to my paused blogging but I still decide to go ahead.

I really wanted to write a lot on the legend. The charisma that ruled Mumbai and taught Mumbaikar’s to hold their head high up. The perpetual guiding force for many who had lost the hopes and succumbed to the situation. But I choose not to. Because, I feel I am too trivial and slipshod to write about the legend that I really don’t know that well. I may not approve the ways he adopted to ascertain his point but I salute the intents and his honest and brave eloquence that endeared the masses on a larger scale.  ‘Tiger’ that he was called, was an apropos title he lived his life with. With his death, the financial capital of India comes to a stand-still faster than anything else; such is his supremacy and the influence on the people of Maharashtra. There will never be another stern tiger like him. He has gone forever and ever leaving behind a legacy that needs a terrific leadership to proliferate and nurture. 

Rest in peace, Saheb! You will be forever missed!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Motherhood: A Song for Life

(The below post is my entry to the Women's Web on-line magazine's Motherhood:A Song for Life contest and it won the first prize...Hurray!!!)

I am at my dresser, busy looking at myself in the mirror while applying that last coat of lip gloss over my carefully outlined lips followed by a dash of mascara. I notice a tiny figure right behind me waiting impatiently for me to finish. I am done with a brisk lining of my favourite eye-liner and I rush into my walk-in-closet to dress up. Just a peek and I notice that the same figure has now taken over my dresser and smacking the lips and applying the lip gloss or at least pretending to from the pack-n-play set. No rewards for guessing here…..she is, indeed, my daughter. 

These occurrences are quite regular at my home. My daughter tries to be like me at every chance. I should be happy, isn't it? Technically, yes. I should. But more than happy, I am worried. I am worried what if I am not able to give her the right reasons for wanting to be like me. I am worried that I might, unknowingly, do something that may be inappropriate for her to replicate. I am worried that she will grow with certain virtues of my personality that I am not very proud of. 

Motherhood for me is indeed a song for life. It is a responsibility that I have chosen to shoulder and I will do whatever it takes to fulfil it with confidence, poise, skills and passion. 

The day we got our Twins home, me and my husband spent a better part of the night just staring at our son and daughter. They were so tiny yet so charming and charismatic. It took us a while to restore to the fact that we are now parents of not one but two gorgeous lives. We had been preparing ourselves since that first ultrasound that confirmed the Twins. But all that readiness, the pre-natal classes, the bookish knowledge that we thought was good enough for us to carry through this just went for a toss when the doctor handed me the babies. Our babies. No books explained the feeling when you are holding two of your babies, one in each hand and when you can’t even stretch your hand to wipe those tears rolling down your cheeks. 

During the first few weeks, Motherhood has been more like those sad songs from Rafi or Mukesh where I snivelled and bawled for the want of rest and sleep which I was totally deprived of while continuously nursing the twins day in and day out. And however strong I still recommend breastfeeding, I just gave up on mine within the first few months. It was getting wearing for me nursing two babies and was moving me emotionally. Hence, in the concern of my health and to safeguard the bond I shared with my babies, I decided to switch over to a few formula feeds during the nights and however submissive it may sound, it really worked wonders. 

The journey since then has been totally worthwhile. Though I take pride in claiming my rights as a mother; I just cannot disregard the role of my husband in bringing up our little ones. It was he who offered the diaper changes in the middle of the night when I had just rested my back after a tiring and strenuous day. It was he who would panic more than me whenever the babies sneezed or coughed. He’d cancel all his calls, appointments and travel plans; however important they were; at one frantic call about the change in baby’s stool. I gave them birth but he was no less than a mother when I needed that extra hand in managing the home and the Twins. 

Some days have been totally taxing yet there were others which are static in my memory. I still cannot seem to get over the emotion when I first dropped them at their playgroup, bidding adieu with tears rolling down my cheeks more than theirs; sitting on the stairway hysterically waiting for that hour to pass by; that touch of their hugs when I picked them back; that apprehension and anxiety when I switched them over from the cosiness and safety of the car seats to the school bus; that excitement when I first saw my daughter draping my dupatta like a saree; that moment when my son insisted sitting on my lap at the steering wheel and sniggering at his achievement. 

Motherhood has been a song for me…a song that has taught me the intrinsic worth of my entire existence. When I saw my kids scribbling my newly painted walls with the crayons; it taught me Patience. When my kids reminded me about that pending ice cream treat I once promised; it taught me Commitment. When I caught my kids playing in the stack of clothes that were just delivered after dry-cleaning, it taught me Forgiveness. Each time when I hug and kiss my kids, they reciprocate with ‘I love you, Mamma’; it taught me Gratitude. Each time I argue with anyone on my kids’ behalf, it taught me Courage. And above all, each time my chipmunks just hug me and kiss me or just want to be with me without a reason, it has taught me life’s greatest lesson – to love unconditionally. 

When they have given me so many reasons to celebrate, I owe them, too. 

'A promise to respect them, care for them, nurture them and love them like no one else. A promise to stand with them whenever they fear of falling. A promise to give them the wings whenever they are ready to fly. A promise to be their best friend more than their mother.'

Motherhood is indeed, a song for me. That melodious rhythm I want to start and end my day with. That euphonious tune I want to live and die for. That lyrical endurance that transformed me from being someone’s daughter into someone’s mother. I can’t acknowledge enough for this gorgeous life that God chose me for. 

Thank You, Almighty for life’s utmost blessing – Motherhood!

Embedded here is the video created by Mom n Me which describes the journey of Motherhood. It pretty much explains my feelings in a nutshell.

If you are a mother and proud of being one, do share your thoughts through your blog. Here's a link to the contest. It'd be nice to read through your version of this celestial relationship. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

I don't want that job! Common job interview mistakes

Have you ever drawn blank at an important exam? Spilled a drink at your first date? Faltered at an important presentation at work? At one point or another, tension and nervousness has gotten the best of all of us.

One of life's most infamously panicky events, the job interview, is perfect for these sorts of foot-in-mouth moments. The combination of enthusiasm, excitement and pressure can cloud our judgement and lead us to make blunders, conclusions and remarks that we wouldn't usually make.

Committing mistakes is part of being human, and most interviewers will let the occasional blank stare or groped sentence slide during an interview. But there are some errors that you just can't recuperate from; blunders so absurd that they'll completely obscure any potential you may have in the mind of your interviewer. As the famous American Author and Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said ‘Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude’, it’s essential to have the right attitude to face that one crucial moment of your professional life!

During my stint with Mastek, I was appointed on an interview panel which interviewed and selected the candidates for operational roles. I particularly recall an incident when one of the candidates kept referring to his resume for answers related to his career. I rejected him outright without spending a minute more. He had just one chance to be able to express in a clear and concise manner what he did, his knowledge, skills, experience and accomplishments without having to refer to the resume. If you do not have adequate memory to store the important milestones and facts of your life you’re just not worth it.

Rahul Deshpande, a young marketing professional from Mumbai went for an interview with a MNC for the post of Sr. Marketing Executive. The interview went off quite desirable until the interviewer asked him whether he had any questions. In a bid to impress the panel, Rahul asked him several insignificant questions including who their competitors are. As expected, he never heard back from the company. As Marketing specialized, he was expected to do his home-work before attending the interview. If he had visited their website and done some basic research, he could have easily figured out the answers to most of the questions he asked. There is no justification in today’s hi-tech world to attend an interview without doing the basic research on the company, the management, products and more importantly the competitors. In addition, anticipate and prepare well for what the hiring managers might ask you: your strengths, weaknesses, why you left the previous job, where do you see yourself in next 5 years, how you will add value to their company, if selected, and so on.

Interviews are always two-sided business conversations. While the interviewer wants to know about you and how appropriate you are for the position and the company, he also expects you to know whether the job and the company are fit for you. Hence, there’s no harm in carrying a note pad with significant and related questions that you may have. This might also impress the hiring manager to see your seriousness and preparedness towards the position.

Passion + Energy = Good Impression. Managers want to see a sense of enthusiasm in their people. It really doesn't matter how boring your last job was, you can still be passionate about your work and you need to get that across to the hiring manager adeptly. Don’t speak negative about your former boss, company or the responsibilities you held. Try and put a positive twist to your situation and the job search. Besides, this is a small world; who knows your ex-boss may be friends or in relation with the interviewer.

Most of the times, we expect our next job to make up for all the inadequacies of the previous one: salary, benefits, career prospects…..but be realistic in your approach. Please remember that no new prospects can undo all the wrong that might have happened to you in your career. Be realistic about your demands. Prioritise your expectations and present them in a way you don’t sound too demanding or unreasonable. Similarly, remember that negotiation is a great tact; only if used wisely and diplomatically.

You are all poised to face that moment confidently and you arrive late at the venue. Voilà!  All gone for a toss! It’s extremely important to honour the time assigned to you for the interview. Make sure you reach the venue at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled appointment. This will give you some time to catch a breadth, freshen up, complete any paper-work and be ready. Needless to say, respecting the time will leave a good impression about you.

Nandita Mehta, a young techie from Bangalore was called for an interview on her anniversary. Nandita and her husband had already planned for the grand first anniversary dinner. As her interview slot was towards the evening, she chose to attend the same in her party attire thinking she wouldn't have enough time left for a change-over. Although, her resume was quite impressive and the interview went on well, she never heard back from the company. The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most significant one. The first judgement an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That's why, it is imperative to dress professionally for a job interview, regardless of the work environment. Along with bright coloured attire, you also don’t want to exhibit pierced body parts and spiked hair. You have already lost your chances of getting that job if you chewed gum or showed up in bedraggled clothes. In general, the candidate dressed in a suit and tie is going to make a much better impression than someone like Nandita, in a bright magenta saree heavily embossed with sequins and opulent brocade work.

Sandra D’Mello, experienced personnel in secretarial practice from Goa wasn't a graduate but desperately wanted to switch over to a better paying job. This desperation steered to fake about her qualifications. The interviewers were highly impressed with her attitude, resume and experience and offered her a job. Sandra was over the moon but that didn't last long. In a background screening, carried out by the company on all new hires as a standard policy, the genuineness of her credentials was questioned and she was sacked on the spot. Had she mentioned the fact during the interview, there was a remote possibility that the company could have considered her if she had an edge over other graduate candidates. Hence, it’s always prudent to mention the particulars that are true and verifiable.

At last but not the least, it’s always a descent gesture to send a small ‘thank you’ note to the interviewers for the consideration of your candidature and the time they spent on you. They will appreciate it. The gesture will also demonstrate your willingness to follow-up on tasks assigned.

 Image Courtesy: Google Images
Special Thanks: Sushmita Sen (My fav actress)