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)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Love the Devil...

“I want to play video games on my laptop.”

“Not right now. I am working on some important assignment. Once I finish, you can.”

“No, I cannot wait. I am bored and I want to play right now.”

“I said not right now.”


“Because I said so..”

Temporary end of conversation. My son sulks, shrieks a bit and digs into his bed sobbing. I choose to ignore as I am really working on an assignment that I have taken way too long to finish. Besides, there’s one technical reason why I refused him. We have Wi-Fi connectivity at home and I have noticed that whenever he uses the internet on the laptop in his room, the speed of connectivity on my desktop relatively suffers. Well, I am not a techie to figure out the reasons and solutions, I choose to follow what works best for me.

After some time, I hear some screams and loud talks. I decide to take a break from my work and check in on my kids. Both are fighting over a new blackboard and a chalk box that we got over the weekend. Daughter wants to be a teacher while my son refuses to be her student.  I lift him up, puts him on his bed and starts cuddling and tickling him hard. This act has worked in my favour a number of times whenever my kids sulk at me.  He laughs hysterically and urges me to stop…I don’t…he laughs and screams harder. I tell him I shall stop only when he talks to me nicely and hugs me. Instantly, he hugs me and kisses me. His anger is disappeared and we laugh and talk and I try to explain him why he can’t use the internet while I am working. He, at least, shows signs that he understood but I feel that he is more dreadful about another tickling encounter.

While we are indulging in these small talks, I see my daughter standing at the corner of his bed. I pull her and start hugging her, too so that she doesn't feel left out. In the meanwhile, my son sneaks and runs to play his games on my desktop which I don’t mind at that point.

While the daughter is still with me, she looks lost. She is lost in some thought. After much provocation, she asked,” why didn't you allow him to play on laptop? He plays nice video games.” And she goes on to teach me how I should not say no to him whenever he demands to play his games on the laptop. I was pleasantly surprised at the way she was talking to me. She was actually advocating her brother which is quite rare.  She was actually fighting with me for him. While I didn't try much to resist her, I was happy that passing moments are really bringing them together as siblings. They are really growing fond of each other and hurt at each other’s distresses. I was truly happy.

The day just passed by feeling happy and loving my daughter all the more for her lovely gesture. At night, when I tucked her into bed, I whispered in her ears…”I loved the way you fought with me today. I love that you were trying to be nice to your brother and care about him.” She gave me one devilish look and said, ”I wasn't trying to be nice.  When he is playing on that laptop, he leaves me alone and I don’t have to share my blackboard and chalks with him.”

Moral of the story: Don’t underestimate little sisters!

Can you spot that devilish look?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Today is Dasara; celebrating the victory of Shakti over Mahishasura, of Lord Rama over Ravana and of Durga over the demons like Madhu-Kaitav, Chanda-Munda and Shumbha – Nishumbha. The victory of good over evil.

In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin (which falls in October) according to the Shaka Hindu Calendar. These three and a half days in the Hindu Lunar calendar are considered very auspicious. On Dasha-Hara day, the deities installed on the first day of the Navratri are immersed in water. This day also marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. People visit each other and exchange sweets. People worship the Aapta tree (Bauhinia variegata) and exchange its leaves (known as golden leaves) as a symbol of gold and wish each other a bright & prosperous future. The tradition of exchanging aapta leaves is synonymous to Raghuraja, an ancestor of Ramachandra and Kubera. Similar to Ayudha Puja in Karnataka, many groups and communities, largely the artisan castes, celebrate Khande navami, the day before Dasha-Hara; tools of all kinds are given rest and ritually worshiped. In Maharashtra, people also ritually cross the border of their community, in a ceremony known as Simollanghan, which has its roots in the idea that this day is an auspicious one on which to start ventures. In ancient times kings used the feast of Dasha-Hara to cross the frontier and fight against their neighbouring kingdoms. Thus Dasha-Hara also marks the beginning of the war season.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

So, here’s wishing each one of you and your families a very happy Dasara and hope it brings to you loads of happiness, success, good health and the love of your dear ones. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mission accomplished!

Last three days have been totally wicked with me. While battling with my own health issues, I still had to finish a couple of tasks before I could finally see a doctor. Getting your kids admitted to a so-called-good school that focusses on the over-all development of your child, comes with its own package. Not that I am complaining but it’s a double mind exercise for me personally.

At Podar Jumbo Kids pre-primary school, they celebrate the community spirit of each festival. As it’s Navratri this time, they are celebrating the nine days of the festival as a celebration of nine intelligence of the child. For ex. Day One was dedicated to the Visual-Spatial Intelligence, ability to draw, paint and work with images. Day Two was for Mathematical intelligence to reason, calculate, logic, etc..  Following this, Day 7 was for the Naturalistic Intelligence involving interests in environment, nature. etc.  So, as a part of this, the children were to be taken outdoors to enjoy the nature, surrounding, event, etc, were to be captured in the pictures and sent to school the next day where the child needed to speak about how he enjoyed the previous day.

Luckily, for us, Sundays are generally associated with the Farmer’s Market hence the kids decided to use that as a platform for this activity. I was already fighting with my health issues yet I chose to be a part of this venture. How could I possibly miss the excitement in the air especially when it was linked to a school activity this time!! 

Farmers Market is consists of individual vendors, mostly the farmers from remote villages, who set up booths, stalls, tables to sell the organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc. This event in Mumbai is initiated by Ms Kavita Mukhi (Founder Conscious Food, Eco-Nutritionist and Naturalist Farmer). It’s held at Nakshatra Van at Maharashtra Nature Park, Bandra-Sion Road between October 7, 2012 to March 24, 2013 on all Sundays except December 30, 2012. Such markets were routine before the Industrial phase but most were substituted in modernized cities with grocery stores and hypermarkets that sell food that is usually produced, packaged, and shipped from remote places.

Farmer’s Market has been a part of our lives since a little over last 2 years shortly after our move from Bangalore to Mumbai. Since then, most of our Sundays begin with a visit to the place. Along with the farmers, some local buddies also set up tables and stalls to sell products like food items, lemonades, ice-golas and candy floss, organically prepared cosmetics, eco-friendly garments, etc. What adds up to this lively ambience is the presence of different kinds of people mixing together and connecting. There’s ample entertainment area for kids as well which helps them mix and mingle with other kids enhancing social skills. You will also be pleasantly surprised to see few people exhibiting their hobbies and skills like music and playing different kinds of instruments. And when your feet is tired of shopping for the fresh and organically produced fruits and vegetables, there’s a stall of Metta Foot Spa where the foot reflexology therapy is being practised by the visually impaired yet extremely self-confident masseurs.

Our Sunday mornings are now totally dedicated to this wonderful dwelling.  Kids are so much used to it that, for them, one of the days of their weekend means the FM. Personally, I am not too much into eating organic, as such. I am basically a lazy human being. If given a choice, I would still prefer to lie in my couch and call my local vendor for my weekly veggies who will home-deliver the same at no extra cost. This has two basic advantages – I can still continue to be a couch potato fiddling with the TV remote and second, the vendor delivers the veggies without any extra amount saving my time, money on the petrol/auto and major savings on my pocket which I would have otherwise spent on petty, impromptu shopping had I ventured out myself.

But FM is different. More than anything else, I love the ambience there. I love the open skies. I love the freshness in the air. I love to see the smiles of those lovely farmers who greet you with the same love and passion every Sunday. I love to see different kinds of people who are care-free, totally in a ‘different’ mood without being judgemental about each other. I love seeing kids jumping on the trampoline, eating ice-golas and candy floss. I love the home-cooked food and the lemonade that’s being offered. I love the butterflies and dragon-flies freely roaming around. I love sitting on the ground and just watching. Actually, I love everything about this place. Those two or three hours take me away from my pending laundry, my food menus, my weekly plans and all other household chorus.

I have been telling about this to a lot of my friends based in Mumbai. Apart from indulging in some fresh veggies and fruits, this is a great and secure place to leave your kids unattended. It’s really fun to see how fast kids mix up with others and not just their counterparts but with other adults. So, if you are reading this and based in Mumbai, please do visit this place, at least once.

I managed a few clicks on my mobile, printed them at home and created a collage to send with kids to school. I really didn't have to teach them what to talk as they knew it better than me. It was all worth for when my son rushed back home straight into my bed (please note I am still unwell and in bed) to tell me how his teacher loved the snaps and what he said about the FM. I loved to see that little spark of confidence and achievement in his eyes.

A mission accomplished……finally!!

Here's the link to their official video which I came across on their site;(www.farmersmarket.co.in). Please note that this has been shot at their earlier location in Bandra.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Am I your friend?....Yes, I am!

Facebook is a great tool. Some posts are extremely informative, some exceptionally witty while some really turns your stomach each time you read. Few days back, I was totally disturbed and upset by a post and wanted to voice out my opinion. I guess, finally I am motivated enough. The post says:

'I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, wishes, cares, & worries about you more than I do! If you don't hate me once or twice in your life, I am not doing my job properly. I am your parent and not your friend. Share if you are a parent and agree.'

Whoa! I was plainly shocked and utterly disappointed to read it. Stalk? Flip? Drive insane? Really? Is that actually you would do to your children? How can stalking, pestering, driving insane and hunting down like a bloodhound be remotely connected to love?

However hard I would like to believe that whoever has written the above is a responsible parent himself/herself, I would still express the same in my own version:

'I am your friend. I am your mother.  I will advise you, correct you, listen to you, respect you, support you and give you my wings just when you are ready to fly. I love you and no one will ever love you, care for you and wish for you as much as I do. No matter what, I will stand with you whenever you fear of falling and that’s my promise to you.'

The days of traditional parenting are long bygones. My kids are 5 and yet I feel a certain sense of individuality and authority in them, leave aside today’s teenagers and youngsters. I question my own childhood when my kids are all over me whenever they are around me. I hardly remember doing that with my own mother. I feel deprived when my kids take decisions about their own menu whenever we dine out. I don't remember ever being asked about our choices whenever we were treated out during my childhood. Having said this, its a no surprise that, whenever required, I use my authority and power to show them the right path. I advise them on their inappropriate choices and I do argue with them on occasions that demand.

I feel that we should not just be their friends but best friends. They need to have that connection, that confidence that comes out of a relationship in which you can truly be YOU. That person you can talk to without the fear of being judgemental. With whom you can share your dreams and desires. With whom you can share your good as well as the bad. I feel that children really need to have that connection with us; I prefer to call it friendship.

While we may want to believe that our children will never have that shortage of friendship in their lives; that may not be the case. As parents and especially mothers, we are in a position to be constant in their lives.  We can be their committed friend who will stand by them even when they are no longer “cool”; or because they don’t score as good as the boy next door, or because they don’t carry the latest smartphone or even because they have no interests in sports.

Rest assured, being friends with our kids do not get them into trouble. What gets them into trouble is our failure as parents. They face issues because they start looking out for something they lack; something that they feel will complete them. They actually start looking for that connection, which we hesitate to provide.

“Be their parent, not their friend.”

The two are not too different. I have chosen to be my child’s parent. It’s my principal duty to love them, care for them, stand by them, protect them, advise and guide them. Of course, these things come first, as a parent. I wouldn't be a good parent if I don’t spend quality time with my kids. I wouldn't make justice to parenting if I don’t fetch water for my son when he comes home tired even if he is just 5.

I am a mother, a parent and I can never claim that I am an expert at it. I make my own mistakes. Mistakes that can sometimes hurt my children. But there is that piece of equation when my kids still walk to me for a hug in spite of my nasty mood.

“Be their parent, not their friend.”

There will be hardly anyone who has never had best friends. Or perhaps their definition of friendship is different than mine. For me, friendship is a bond that you share with that special someone. A friend is someone who will always be there for you. One who will not be judgemental when you share your darkest secrets. Someone you want to have fun with, laugh to your heart’s content and cry out till you feel relieved. Someone who will accept you the way you are - with your faults and weaknesses. Someone with whom you can just be YOU. Someone who will catch that fine line between understanding you and calling you out at your nonsense.

A friend is the one you can totally trust with your genuine feelings and someone you can go to seek advice. And the one who, at times, will recognize and appreciate that advice is the last thing you need when all you need is just an ear. Someone who has seen you at your best and worst, both. Someone who understands and recognizes that you wouldn't be a human really if you didn't have those mad bad days.

And above all, when you go through really bad time and when you have a sharp feeling that the entire world is conspiring against you, a true friend will stand by you with an assurance…

‘Don’t you dare worry, I am with you and I will always be there for you, whenever you need me....’

Yes, I want to be my kids' friend or rather best friend and I am working on everything that it takes to be one. No matter how sophisticated our relationship turns out to be, shouldn't it at least begin as a friendship?

Friday, October 19, 2012


For a long time, my son requested me to have a pet at home. And every time he popped that question, I thought of numerous new reasons, in addition to the old ones, why we cannot keep one. For him, pet has to be a dog and exactly the way it’s shown on TV or cinema….extremely chubby, fluffy, with super-clean and super-groomed hair and last, but not the least, one whom he can cuddle in his bed.

I have grown up in a house that always had a dog…a Pomeranian. If I am calculating correctly, we've had 4 of them, one after the other. My Dad was extremely fond of them and I have seen him, many times, finding solace and peace in their company. The dogs responded likewise. I remember, once when my Dad fell sick, one of the dogs didn't even wander near its feeding bowl for a couple of days in spite of rigorous attempts. Such was their love for each other.

However, it’s also to be noted that in spite of being in the company of such adorable pooches, I have never really looked forward to being with them. I have always been scared and nervous with them. And I guess if they can sense love, they can equally feel detestation. None of them came even an inch closer to me, forget about loving me.

Apart from my own inhibitions, I believe that pets can be great companions. They can help to build the responsibility and reduce stress levels. It’s also believed that people can find themselves more calm and peaceful after spending time with their pets. It’s quite shocking to note that pets can help people to deal with their serious illness. Some researchers have discovered that they can help motivate people with serious life threatening ailments like cancer. I've also read it somewhere that kids who grow with furred animals around them are lesser prone to allergies and asthma. Well, this is just a thought and can be controversial in certain cases.

But the fact is not all can afford a pet. Firstly, the grooming, the pet care, the food and the accessories can really cost quite a lot of money.  However, apart from the monetary chunk, pets can be really destructive and fierce, too. I remember an incident where a newly bought puppy almost torn apart the expensive Persian carpet at one of our friend’s place. Needless to say, this led to a lot of nasty arguments at home. Subsequently, some pets can be a health risk for certain people. Allergy prone families should strictly re-consider this option especially if you have infants and toddlers at home.

I tried to explain all the above reservations to my son. To my disbelief, he was ready with his entertaining and funny solutions to each of my concern raised. For example, I told him the dog needs to be walked out 2-3 times a day for attending to his nature calls. To this, my son offered his valuable services. We stay on the eighteenth floor of a high-rise and every time my kids want to go down, either I or my maid has to accompany them. They are even petrified to step in the lift alone. Imagine, he taking the dog for a walk all by himself, in the lift, alone with the dog and then in the walking area shielding the poor dog from all other stray ones.

Introducing...Jack and Jill
Finally, I gave up. I assured him to get a pet but not a dog. I offered him some options and he chose a fish. Well, just between you and me, he really didn't take that long to pick amongst fish, rat, spider, butterfly and snail. So, I finally bought this beautiful pair of Goldfish that has proudly acquired a perpetual position in my drawing room. They have succeeded in keeping everyone at their service, especially me, right from changing the bowl water at regular intervals to mapping their feeds. My kids have named them as Jack and Jill….which I kind of liked a lot.

So, now Mr (or Mrs) Jack and Mr (or Mrs) Jill are members of our family. Whoa! Our family is really growing! My son, as promised, really cares about them and offers his services within his capabilities. He helps cleaning the bowl and feeding the fish. I really encourage this since it was his idea to bring them home and he has to recognize that he is accountable for their well-being. Now, he is earnestly waiting for Jack and Jill to have a baby so that he starts caring for the baby, too. I am quite certain that he has even thought a name for their fry. May God and more importantly, J&J fulfil his wishes.... touché!

This is what I call a companionship.....Camaraderie, in French!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Television: substitute for love?

“Come on, kids…its dinner time!”


“I don’t want you to say ‘no’ to the food…ever!!”

“Ok….but you have to put the TV on. Only then will I have my food.”

“No TV. “

“No food. I don’t want it.”

“Ok….just for some time…is that clear?”

“Ok, Mamma!!”

(Giggles around…)

These are usual negotiations at my home during lunch/dinner times. Kids just refuse to eat without the TV…either cartoons or some DVD… Although, as a responsible parent, I realise the ill-effects of television on my kids, I just fail to hold them back. Hence, I chartered out some rules. No TV during the rest of the day…only during the eating times. This has worked to a large extent and I hope eventually I should succeed in cutting on the TV time quite substantially.

My kids engrossed in TV :-(
Children have become much more absorbed in cartoons and comics over countless years and it has become a prime activity in some lives.  Normally, children begin viewing cartoons on TV at an early age of six months, and by the age two or three they become passionate audiences.  This has converted into an issue since too many children are watching too much television and the shows that they are watching (even if they are cartoons) have become ferocious and addictive.  The promotion of cartoons has become uncontrollable and overpowering.  This is ill-fated because children watch the cartoons on the television and they see material that is not suitable for their age group.  The Children who watch too much cartoons on television are more likely to have mental and emotional complications, along with brain and eye injuries and invariably the risk of a physical problem upsurges.

Mental and Psychological Effects of Children’s Cartoons

While we fight to tackle the issue of too much cartoon-ing that is being offered by our television channels, what the mainstream press avoids to discuss is the adverse effect of these cartoons on the young minds of our kids. Kids friendly channels like Cartoon Network and Hungama are no longer safe for the children with some of its precarious contents.  

If you have ever observed, our very own ‘Hero’ , Nobita, from the popular cartoon series, Doreamon, consistently  flops in school tests and do not secure beyond a big ‘zero’.  But the character is depicted in a way that in spite of a total disappointment at academics and being in confused state of mind at all times, he is always valued, loved and pampered by the cat-robot Doreamon. I was traumatized one day when my son proclaimed that he will try hard to get a ‘zero’ in his school-worksheets to seize an opportunity to meet Mr Doreamon. Instead of reacting aggressively, I chose to explain him how dumb Nobita is and how important it is to fare well in studies. It took me a heck of a will power to clarify to him how inappropriate Nobita was behaving and in real life it always scores to secure good marks in academics.

While we are at it, we cannot avoid the topic of cartoon related injuries. Each year, dozens of our lovely children fall victim to being instigated by the irrational and/or super power-driven characters. How many times will these small, innocent kids be hurt under the pretence of ‘having fun’? Whenever you Google some articles providing detailed case studies on the subject, the results found may be totally upsetting. But as a responsible parent, grand-parent or a guardian such articles are a must read.
TV’s effects on overall development 

With new TV shows produced to target children as young as 1 year old, it’s imperative to learn the effect of such shows on the brain development in younger children.
It’s proved by the Neuroscientists that environmental experiences meaningfully outline the developing brain because of the flexibility of its neuronal connectivity. Thus, the mental and emotional growth of the child can be powerfully obstructed by the continual exposure to any stimulus in the child’s surrounding. This can either be done by setting up a pattern (Habits of mind) or by denying the brain any other experiences. Suitable stimuli like close communication with affectionate caregivers; a developed, collaborative, human language environment; engrossing hands-on play occasions; and age-specific educational encouragement — enrich the brain's development. On the flip side, environments which encourage logical inactivity and hostile conduct (e.g., fierceness, brutality, anger) refrain the brain from participating enthusiastically in social interactions; creative and resourceful play and complex issue resolution. Also, pushing youngsters into academic learning, when they should be personally exploring the realistic world may risk in by-passing vital aspects of development.

Adverse consequences have been witnessed in today's schools, which seem to be associated with too much of the incorrect kind of media exposure. An "epidemic" of behavioural and social problems, uncertain academic capabilities, language hitches (which encompass to reading abilities as well as oral communication), and poor problem-solving abilities are testified by educators all over the world. Of course, parents' hasty lifestyles and socio-economic variations are partly responsible, but the growing research on television viewing obviously supports its significant role, with different children's tolerance thresholds varying widely.

There is no shortage of detailed research materials on how evil the television can prove to our youngsters. Yet, we don’t realise what it takes to switch off that idiot box and move out of that cosy couch. One cannot neglect the ill-effects caused on the eyes by consistent watching of television.  Some ophthalmologists believe that we don’t damage our eyes by simply using them however; some activities can really strain them beyond their threshold. In simple language, when one looks at an object for any length of time, the eye muscles are working hard. Hence, when you watch the television consistently, without moving your vision, the eyes can become really tense and tired. Solution? Extremely simple and do-able.  Just switch off the TV, get out of the couch and go out. Who knows, you may end up playing a football match, or jumping on a trampoline, or just strolling in the park.

Hence, it’s extremely important to control the usage of television in our lives. For children between the age of 1 and 5, just try and avoid it and restrict it in case of the older ones. There can be a mutually agreeable TV time, which if followed diligently, can help you bond as a family and have better lives.

So, happy controlled viewing!

Image Courtesy: Google Images