Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joy of Giving - Card 15 - Alka

My friend and fellow blogger, an ardent supporter of the Joy of Giving series ever since it began 16 weeks ago has written a beautiful post on a teacher who inspired her in response to the week 15 card -

A Teacher Affects Eternity

Last week Ritu posted another ‘Joy of Giving’ card. She told us to write a thank you note to a teacher who inspired us the most. I have hardly met any teacher during school days who seemed remotely inspiring. They were more like came into class, lectured us and went out. Their interaction with students were non existent.

I remember, if there was any cultural function or debate in the school, I had never seen a notice on board. It was never announced, It was assumed that those students who were participating since KG class will only be fit to participate. A girl came and whispered something into the teacher’s ear. Teacher would call out one or two names and quietly they went out of the class. Later on we would come to know that they were participating into some event. I resented those facts so much but too young to know what to do. Later on in my life, When I was teaching myself, I took special care not to be my school teachers who were cold, indifferent and distant.

During my post graduation and B. Ed days I met two teachers who were really teachers. We were no longer kids in post-graduation class. But Prof. L. B. Verma were so inspiring and motivating as a teacher. Prof Verma’s teaching subject was history, but one day he was effortlessly explaining us how our brain works! I have already written about Sharma Sir here : Merely A Teacher?

I don’t know where Prof. L.B. Verma is right now. But I will always be grateful to him for treating the subject history the way it should be treated. Whatever understanding I have of history, is solely due to his way of teaching.

I remember students of other branches also came to listen to his usual lectures. Ha! Ha! Ha! A student doesn’t listen to his own …. If there was no place to sit in the class, students preferred to stand at the back of the class and listened to him.

Its because of Prof. L. B. Verma that I have a bit of understanding of a common man’s fight against mighty empires. History is not about Emperors and their victories but History is about how mere common men defeated mighty emperors and all pervasive church priests. How common men had to make supreme sacrifice only then formidable emperors and churches had to give up their power to the common man in the form of democracy. Mankind didn’t get democracy on a platter at all. When Anna Hazare says a common man doesn’t know the power of his vote, it means our history teachers have failed miserably to teach us what is the power of our vote and how important it is for us.

Later on, when I was teaching history to my class, I hope I was able to arouse a bit of interest in history too to my students. I don’t know where Prof. L. B. Verma is today. But I know one fact, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Its really true when I think about Verma sir.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Joy of Giving - Week 16 - Card 16

The card for the Christmas weekend could be the perfect prelude to a New Year's resolution!

I am so happy my son picked this one, because I actually do both - exercise and yoga! Have been working out in the gym for over 5 years and began Yoga about a month ago...

So those of you my friends have been contemplating taking up some form of exercise, do attempt to follow this card:

Here's wishing all of you the very best! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Very Very Happy New Year!!!

New to the Joy of Giving? Here's what you can do:

Go to the page titled Joy Of Giving where I have posted all the cards selected so far. Those of you who'd like to start this exercise from the beginning, do check it out, choose the card you like, and follow the instructions!


To join the Joy of Giving right away just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog.

To know how it started click here.

To track the Joy of Giving through the past sixteen weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joy of Giving - Card 15 - Guardian Angels

When I came across this post from my older blog I thought it is perfect for the Joy of Giving Card 15. Simply because, the feelings have remained unchanged since I first wrote this some time in 2008 (and have only grown) and reproducing this one also helps me bring one of my heart felt posts back from the gallows where it lies defunct in a blog manager I can no longer access.

So this is my Thank You note to Mama, Mami, Vimala didi and Anandhi. You have meant more to me than 'family' as I was growing up and even these words actually fail to express what you meant to me...

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand;
the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
 George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Sometimes a life time can pass by before you have the chance to tell a few special people what they mean to you, how they have influenced you, how they have made you feel…and how very much you miss them.

I don’t want to lose this chance…because I completely agree with Mr Eliot, and want to tell my Angels, I know you.....

I was a difficult child growing up…spoilt thoroughly by my parents who doted on their first born. Apparently, as a two or three year old, I would refuse to sleep at night, and my parents would pop us in the car, take me on a LONG drive, until I would fall asleep…which could be for an hour or more. That’s in 1976, when cars were few and fuel was some paise to a litre.

My birthdays were celebrated in STYLE. My parents would call everyone they know, and the guest list would often run into a hundred plus. The party would be lavish, with catering and the jazz of a wedding celebration. The spectacle continued as my brothers arrived and was brought to an end when we grew up and started demanding our “private” parties with friends.

My wishes were almost always fulfilled unless they were particularly absurd. I made my first trip abroad as a 16 year old, part of a package tour to Singapore for 10 days, ALONE. My dad did not blink an eyelid as I travelled unaccompanied, with 1000 USD CASH in my hands to spend. I had the most rollicking time of my life!

My parents never raised a hand on me… I don’t remember my mother ever shouting at me, even though I bunked classes at Junior College to go for a movie. I was allowed to drive my dad’s car at 18. I would fly to Mumbai (from Cochin) unaccompanied for vacations, as young as 6 years of age.

Guess I should stop it now. But you get the picture anyways, right?

Through all this pampering and lavish upbringing, it was easy to get carried away. I could have turned out like most of my cousins, talking money and status all the time; treating people without money with contempt. I could have made jewellery, clothes etc the pre occupation of my being. I could have decided to marry rich, enjoy the riches, because riches made you who you are…in “that” world.

But I turned out different and I can only attribute that to my Guardian Angels.

They kept me grounded…with their simplicity. I grew to appreciate people for who they are, not what they wear, the car they drive (or don’t drive), or their jewellery. I grew to understand the importance of education. I saw that happiness was not in possessing material goods. It was in being satisfied with what you have. People see me as a down-to-earth person without hang ups. I give the credit to my Guardian Angels for helping me become so.

They inspired me with their intelligence…and their hard work. I was committed to prove I could master Mathematics, my academic Waterloo throughout school, and come out with flying colours at the Class X Board Exams, only because of the guidance and inspiration I received from them.

They flattered me with their praise as I would make knick knacks out of things, or laud my drawing/painting skills in front of their own guests. They celebrated my happiness on winning Elocution at school as much as my parents did (may be even more).

They took me in as part of their family, just as they did my brothers later on. On Navaratri, I would deck up in a ‘pawadai’ (traditional ankle length skirt) and place a string of jasmine in my hair to serve the guests. During Saraswati pooja, I would place my books at the altar in their home. I was part of their wedding celebrations and knew most of their relatives by name.

I would eat at least one meal a day (if possible) at their place and if given the opportunity would have loved to have a sleep over every night. My day would be incomplete without meeting them and pouring out the day’s events to them (preferably over a meal).

I could do all that, because we lived in the same compound, housing three homes and a commercial establishment. As time went on, the Didis got married and moved away. Mama and Mami (Uncle and Aunt respectively, in Tamil) continued to share that home where we would pop in time and again, to grab small chatter, and certainly Mami’s delicious hot ‘kaapi’.

Mama passed away a few years ago, and Mami does not live in that house anymore. For me, a trip to Cochin is incomplete without dropping in to see Mami and grabbing a meal there, followed by kaapi. I miss Mama and can only imagine how he would have pulled my leg or played with my kids. I still remember his full bodied smile as he would mercilessly pull my leg by mispronouncing my (best) friend’s name, knowing how irritated I would get.

I have the sweetest memories of a happy and carefree childhood, brought to life each time I meet the family, as they animatedly discuss my idiosyncrasies as a child. It is like going through LIVE memoirs of my early years…making me thank God for handing me over to this family.

Thank You falls short for what I wish to express. And yet I will say, THANK YOU my Guardian Angels.

Joy of Giving - Card 14 experience

My friend and a supporter of this blog Just Someone has written the following about his experience with card 14. So inspiring! I am taking a cue from him and even though I cannot stop my mind from wavering (even during Yog Nidra), I am going to try and focus on happy thoughts for 15 minutes a day!

Hi I have been trying to do this almost everyday and found out that this helps.
Since it was ( still - is ) not possible to control the wavering thoughts totally, I decided that I would let my mind drift - on thoughts,people,incidents that makes/made me happy.I realised
1.that troubles always are more forceful in invading your mind than happy thoughts.
2.That with some effort it was possible to focus my mind on what made me happy... what i think of the people whom i loved being think of someone's smile... ( and yeah I need to add that sex was also a thought which helped me focus in one of the sessions :-) )
I love this card... and am trying to make it a part of my day

A Tale from Gastronome

Every country has its food habits. And every country has its guest etiquettes. The geographical distinctness of our vast motherland has allowed different cultures to thrive within its fold. Apart from the variation in cuisines, the treatment to guests also varies. I have the unique distinction of being a north Indian who was brought up in the furthest corner of south India and who subsequently married a south Indian. My insight into the way guests are treated in different parts of the country stems from my experiences.

In north India for example, it is considered detriment to the image as a welcoming host if their guests are not treated to foods cooked in clarified butter, with more than the required peppering of spices or sweet meats prepared with refined sugar and garnished with dry fruits. Not a thought is spared for the unfortunate guest who may be on a diet, may be unused to such food and may therefore be unable to digest it. This hospitality called ‘khatirdaari’ in Hindi is an essential part of the north Indian’s guest etiquettes, especially amongst the Marwari / Baniya communities and Punjabis.

Down south in a typical Malayali Christian household, breakfast may consist of steak, rice, the traditional sambar, poriyals (curries), idlis/puttu, chicken curry, prawn curry/fish curry, with an egg dish thrown in. I considered this to be a layout of mammoth proportions and as a child growing up in Kerala, I was often amazed by the sight. As I would take my seat at the dining table, I would imagine my friend and his family to be gigantic gluttons.

Sometimes it is the quantity of food he is expected to consume rather than the quality or variety that makes the guest feel like he is trapped in an underground mine. It happened to me when my husband and I dropped by at my sister-in-law’s place for lunch many years ago. She is married to a Telugu and had at that point just given birth to her twin boys. That my sister-in-law lived with her own parents-in-law had not seemed like double jeopardy to me. I have smartened up since then!

A brief background to the episode will be prudent here. My hubby and I were newly weds. As mentioned earlier, I am a north Indian and hubby from the south of India. Apart from the differences in our language and culture, we were often cross examined on the food I cooked. I was accused by his relatives of feeding my tam-bram (tamilian brahmin) husband rotis and chappatis, while my own set of relatives pitied me for switching to rice as staple food. That we were a multi cuisine couple who enjoyed rice and rotis just as well as pasta and falafals, could never be fathomed by any of them.

Anyway, so getting back to that afternoon, since I was a new bride, my sister-in-law’s in-laws took it upon themselves to introduce me to Andhra cuisine and the manner of eating it. I was forewarned by the authoritarian father-in-law that leftovers would mean disrespect to my hosts. As soon as we were seated on the dining table aunty (mom-in-law) served each of us an enormous plate of vegetable biryani. I used to be a small eater then and half way through the biryani I felt rather full. But I endeavoured to finish each morsel remembering the ominous warning I had received at the outset of the meal.

When aunty cleared the plates, I heaved an inward sigh of relief knowing that I had passed the test with flying colours. As we indulged in more small talk, aunty placed another plate before each of us. I looked up at her and wondered why anyone would serve dessert in a dinner plate. As I gloated over my table etiquettes and their lack of it, I saw aunty walk in with a few dishes. To my horror, the dishes did not contain varieties of dessert, but an entire meal.

Thereafter I was lead through the course of a proper Andhra meal that consisted of an unbelievable quantity of rice; Rice with pickle, followed by rice with curry, rice with sambar, rice with rasam and lastly, rice with curd. By this time, I was smilingly stuffing each morsel of food down my gullet and cursing my small appetite. I managed to survive the attack on my stomach, but only after I had firmly refused the curd-rice-with-mashed-banana combination. Despite my south Indian upbringing, rice with banana constitutes a meal faux pas for me.

This onslaught was followed by dessert consisting of four gulab jamuns. I was too shy to refuse the plate and looked beseechingly at my hubby. He performed the superman act and reminded aunty in Telugu that a bride could only eat so much. Despite uncle’s protests, I managed to get away with two gulab jamuns.

As we bade farewell to the in-laws and in-laws, I thanked God for my stupendous gullet control that held me in good stead till we reached our hotel; where I threw up the afternoon’s effort, literally down the drain!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Four letter words

Nah! This one is not about THE four letter words most commonly used by most people, including me... This one's about the four letter words that have suddenly become the most common words in my vocabulary


When I sat down to introspect what each of these words means to me, I also realised that many of them have changed in its meaning for me over the years.

Hope, for example. I was an ardent optimist, someone who was brave and took every challenge that life offered head-on, with gumption and with fortitude. Increasingly, my hope is dwindling. I do 'pretend' to be happy and hopeful, to continue maintaining the charade of being strong, but somewhere deep inside I am not as confident and hopeful as I used to be. And yet. And yet, I know...that I will find hope again. Soon (Hello- new four letter word!)

Care is also a word whose meaning has changed over the years. I believe I was care-free for too long and suddenly, after the lapse of all these years (which has resulted in the greying of certain hair, and an advancement in age nearing the big Four O's) when I have found my self as a woman I am being labelled selfish and careless. Statements like You don't "care" (about my loved ones) etc have become an increasing part of what I often hear. I care and even though no one believes me yet, in a few years, they will know (another smiling four letter word... How I love you!)

But over the years, there have been some remarkable achievements. Such as - hate as a word has moved positions in my life. I don't hate anyone as easily as I used to (when I was younger, ignorant and more egoistic).... I may "not like" a person or circumstance, but the word "hate" has virtually diminished from my life.

Come to think of it, even though a certain dog in my building peed into my waste bin which was lying outside my door for pick up, and I had to dispose it (the pee) off before I gave the waste bin away I still don't hate the owner for not keeping the pet under their control, for not even having the guts to apologise for the canine's behaviour, even though they were certainly with him when the act happened (as he is never let out alone, his master/s always accompany him). I just don't like them anymore...and make no attempts at civil conversations in the elevator... It also means that I need to work on "forgive" but thats a seven letter word and I am not discussing that today!

And then there is "rude"...which is what I have to endure as my tween daughter grows up (to metamorphose into a better human being, I am sure)... Every single suggestion, "Can you pls clean up your room?", "Can we have this-this for dinner?" is met with a rude response... I also put up with it, because as much as I'd like to kid myself into believing that I didn't behave this way with my mother, I know that I did. And I see myself behaving the way my mother did, being calm, firm and even joking about it. The humour dissipates the situation, and I find that I am also offering retribution to my own wonderful mother by following in her footsteps as I handle a brat just like myself!

Speaking of childhood, my mother always called me "Varsha Ritu" (Rainy season)...because according to her, I was always either crying or angry! I have tried to change that. I have worked on my anger and the tears and although most people who know me very closely would probably say I haven't succeeded much in either department, I believe I have made certain strides. I do cry, often and a lot when I am hurt or heartbroken (but then who doesn't!)...but I have learned to control my temper. The problem is that I don't control it with people my own age but only with children, especially my own.

Last but not the least (and on a hopefully lighter note) I recently had the good  fortune of cleaning up dog poop when my daughter decided to get pups of a stray dog home for two days. Until now, I have kept away from having a pet because after spending close to nine years cleaning human poop, pee and puke (hands-on mothers - you DO know what I am talking about!), I'd kinda had had enough of the Ps and was completely unwilling to take on the responsibility of a canine, which I have been told comes with its fair share of the Ps... I am sort of averse to the Ps which is also why I use gloves to wash the fish bowl, got the maid to clean up the mess a pigeon nest had created on my window sill and feel a surge of bile in my throat when I have to clean up bird poop from my terrace... But handling those three pups made me fall in love with them. And I do think we shall pick up a pet soon, despite the 'fear' of the Ps...

In a seemingly telling tale of the process of evolution, I'd like to think I have grown wise (another four letter word) as my vocabulary has grown to fit in more and more four letter words. I have also grown a tad cynical, which I feel the turning wheels of time shall also repair eventually...  All in all, four letter words, I welcome more of you in my life even as I say goodbye to some...

Joy of Giving - Card 15 - Week 15

For all my friends who are walking with me on this journey called Joy of Giving, here is the card for this week

I have many updates on some previous cards that I shall post during the course of the week.

As for this card, it is sad but I don't remember a single teacher from school or college who really left a lasting impression on me... However, many other individuals have influenced me in very dramatic ways, been my teachers and guiding lights and I shall write a thank you letter to each of them...

New to the Joy of Giving? Here's what you can do:

Go to the page titled Joy Of Giving where I have posted all the cards selected so far. Those of you who'd like to start this exercise from the beginning, do check it out, choose the card you like, and follow the instructions!


To join the Joy of Giving right away just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog.

To know how it started click here.

To track the Joy of Giving through the past fifteen weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Joy of Giving - Card 13 experience

Rahmath recently started following the Joy of Giving cards and wrote this on her blog about her experience with Card 13.

When I first read it, I smiled from ear to ear. Here is a girl who is making a sincere attempt to do things not in her nature to do otherwise and I cannot but applaud her for it. So Rahmath dear, I give you the Determination Award I have instituted to encourage bloggers to participate in the Joy of Giving. You are swimming against the tide and I support and applaud your efforts!

Do post it on your blog :-)

And Rahmath, I totally agree when you say "You know even though the cards say you are doing it for strangers, I think these cards help us give happiness to ourselves more." 

I did it!. I actually did it again!

Yes, compared to Week 12 JGC of handing over 10 inspirational quotes to strangers; Week 13 card of making chai for your night watchman, was easy. But, it would be a lie to say my heart did not race at the thought of just handing out tea to someone I have never even seen the face. (I know…..sad).

There he was standing, doing his job, watching the street dog and her kids play . Haha he might not have even noticed someone watching him like a hawk .(that was me). I waited till 10:00 pm but then, I watched him check if all the cars in our lane were locked or not. He was moving away from our house. But I knew he would come back. I planned everything to the moment, even the dialogues. When I saw him nearing; I ran down.

“Bhaiyya” I called out to him slowly.
“Meinea thodi chai banayee hain, piyogea?”
(Translated to …”Brother” (We call everybody not related, brother) “I have made some tea , Would you like to have some?).

He was surprised .It was apparent in his eyes. He did not smile. But then he looked like those father types men serious and straight, who rarely showed pleasure or pain outside that much.
“Tand hain. Garam kuch hain tho zaroor piyengea.”
(Translated : Its cold here. If there is something hot , I will surely drink).

I ran back home, poured the hot hot tea in a glass , ran back and gave it to him. Then I came back with the greatest grin in my face and told my husband with a giggly dance. “I did it”. “I did it”.

Surprised but smiling he asked, “You actually did it?” He is one person who knows how much of a scaredy puss I actually am. I am so glad I have him. He never dampens my excitement even when I do anything at all. I nodded happily.

I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I can do this again. I can do this again. After drinking the tea the watchman just kept the glass outside our stairs. I couldn’t ask him if he liked my tea. But I am satisfied.
You know even though the cards say you are doing it for strangers, I think these cards help us give happiness to ourselves more.

And don’t you think it’s our duty to ourselves, to do things that make us happy?; because only then, can we make others happy.

Hence, Highly recommended to try them out!

Joy of Giving - Card 13 experience

My friend and fellow blogger Alka wrote this on FB for the Joy of Giving card 13

She has been making tea for the security guards in her society for "selfish reasons" she says. Once you read what the selfish reason is, I assure you, you will be tempted to become just as 'selfish'.

I reproduce this with her permission. Read on:

I often used to make pot of tea for the security guards. I even bought thermos flasks for such purpose only. I used to put thermos at an appropriate place from where the security guards can spot it easily. I remember my niece TP was barely a year old at that time. I used to balance TP and tea-pot when I went out to give tea to security guard. One day, I was sitting and watching television when TP came towards me and said something to the tune of 'Gawd'. I was pretty confused what she wanted from me. I asked her to repeat what she was trying to convey. Frustrated with my lack of understanding, Toddler TP forced me to abandon TV and she tried to drag me to my bedroom. There she pointed towards my jacket and told me again, 'Gawd, cha'!!!! Then it struck to me, she wanted me to make tea, place her on my waist and have tea-pot in my other hand and hand it over to Guard!! How closely kids watch us is sometimes frightening.

Later on we shifted to another apartment. Here too, I used to make tea for security guards on and often. Even today, the guard came and handed me a fancy tea-pot. Sometimes they get spare milk from somewhere and ask me to make tea. Sometimes they get milk and sugar and ask for tea leaves only. These days, winter has set in suddenly and I try to give our security guards tea everyday.In fact we have 63 flats in our society. If residents of every flat provide guards with tea, their next turn will come after 2 months! But its too much to expect, I think.

I am not an altruistic person. When I do something like this, I have a very selfish reason. I want my surroundings to be pleasant and full of positive energy. Small acts like this fulfill my selfish purpose. Security guards always greet me cheerfully. They are more than happy to help me in our hour of need. One day my nephew was returning from office. It was quite late, in fact 2:30 AM. Street dogs were getting quite ferocious with him. He phoned me, stating his plight. I assured him, that I will pick him up. But when I tried to start my car, it refused to come to life. I went to the security guard and told him about the problem. He immediately told me not to worry. He narrated the entire incident to another guard. Told him to be vigil as he was going out for few minutes. He took his danda to scare away the dogs and came back with my nephew in five minutes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Joy of Giving - Card 13 experience

Candid confession - I am a bad tea maker!

Yes... During the days I lived in Delhi and my father visited us often, he would ensure that either he made the tea himself or got the maid to make it. The chai I'd brew would be impossibly bland (yeah! Imagine tea tasting bland...), and dad would always complain that it would either be too watery, too milky or just not boiled enough.

When I'd follow the instructions to make good (and palatable) chai (from mom over STD mind you!), the cup would never be full! I would end up brewing half a cup and would wonder where the damn water disappeared!!!!

Coffee on the other hand is so so simple to make (and drink!)

I don't drink tea (and lately I have stopped drinking coffee too - turned vegan) and always attributed my atrocious tea making skills to the fact that I didn't enjoy a cup of the Indian chai, brewed and boiled, milky and sugary.

I can of course make English tea (just have to boil water and the tea bag does the rest, or simply pour a teaspoon of tea powder in to the boiling water and cover till the flavour soaks in - easy peasy)...

Anyway to cut a long story short, I spent two whole days wondering how I will brew tea good enough to be consumed by the night security staff of my housing complex as part of the Joy of Giving card 13.

Last night, I just plunged into the act. I tried to follow my instincts...and actually stood there tapping on the platform as the tea boiled (hoping its boiled enough).

Brewing one cup has been a challenge for over 20 years, imagine I had to brew almost 20 cups!!! So I took an easy way out. Camouflaged the taste with cardamom and ginger .... And handed over the two flasks at the gate to the supervisor (who by the way, accepted them as if he is used to receiving chai from residents!).

In the morning I picked up the flasks and the cups and the supervisor wasn't there, but the other security men were all smiles; one even thanked me...

Whether they were simply happy that someone had chosen to give them tea on a winter night (its 11 degrees in Pune) or they actually enjoyed the taste, I won't know. But I am glad that 10 people I fed tea to, smiled afterwards :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joy of Giving - Week 14 - Card 14

Thought I need to stick to the New Card Every Monday schedule I followed in the early days of this exercise.

So here is the card for this week.

Personally I am capable of 'silence' but completely incapable of focussing on the silence. So I take up this card as a challenge. In the process I hope to learn to keep my mind from drifting during my tri-weekly yoga sessions.

I have added a new page to my blog titled Joy Of Giving where I have posted all the cards selected so far. Those of you who'd like to start this exercise from the beginning, do check it out, choose the card you like, and follow the instructions! 


To join the Joy of Giving just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog.

To know how it started click here.

To track the Joy of Giving through the past fourteen weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Joy of Giving - Card 12 experience

I did it!

Gave away 5 leaves of the 10 Inspirational Quotes I'd created to 6 strangers; a couple, two girls and two guys... I was at a Mall yesterday and had carried the bunch of print outs with me...

I sort of 'picked' the people I gave the leaf to. The people I chose looked "at ease". They didn't seem to be pre-occupied or in a hurry. They actually stopped as I said "excuse me" and approached them, stood and heard me out and took the leaf from me happily...

Which is why I didn't give one to couples with kids (bad!).  As all parents are, couples or a parent with children were pre-occupied, in a rush or on a short fuse. And I didn't want to hand over my precious leaf to someone who wouldn't have the time to go through it...or would just dump it...

Somehow, attaching an 'expectation' to how my leaf should be treated has also been a revelation of sorts for me... I mean I did "expect" some thing from complete strangers!!!! How human (and a gullible one at that) does that make me!

Which is perhaps the most important thing I have learned through the past 13 weeks. That each card I follow is not merely an act - there is a take away, a learning attached to every experience.

Letting go of my inhibition was difficult...but I had my kids to goad me on... And they also learned a thing or two about approaching strangers. Most of all, I wasn’t feeling guilty for having snatched even a minute of their precious time....

I am happy happy!

To join the Joy of Giving just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog. 

To know how it started click here

To track the Joy of Giving through the past thirteen weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Joy of Giving - Week 13 - Card 13

Yes friends, we have another lovely Joy of Giving card this week 'For Strangers'....

Rahmath, I do believe this one is easy :-)

Hope all of you will also join in and spread the joy :-)

To join the Joy of Giving just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog. 

To know how it started click here

To track the Joy of Giving through the past twelve weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Joy of Giving - Card 12

This is the template of the 10 Inspirational Quotes I will give away to 10 strangers today and over the weekend.

It might look a little childish but I deliberately made it colourful to make people want to stick it up on their workstations, refrigerators or wherever. 

Please feel free to download and take print outs to distribute. It is the thought that matters, not the copyright.... :-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All grown up at 8!

Well, I don't remember what was my 'level' of thinking at 8. All I recall is that I loved playing the mundane ghar-ghar games, hopscotch, painting/colouring etc... The thought of 'boys' didn't cross my head till I turned 15...

I do remember my youngest brother's thinking at 8. Being 8 years junior to me meant that we had a generation gap between us. I remember in class III he had crushes, but nothing serious. But then that was over twenty years ago...

At 8, my son has been volunteering pieces of information on a daily basis on several sundry topics, some which I find uproariously funny, others which leave me zapped.

For one he has begun resenting a hug before boarding his school bus in the morning or a kiss that I'd like to give him just any where. He retorts: "Don't hug me/kiss me in public. I don't like it!!!"
Now that it has been established that he is embarrassed by it, the daughter will hug and kiss him to piss him off every available opportunity, in public! *sigh*

Last night as we discussed a probable vacation spot he candidly said, "When we go to Goa I won't get out of the room. I don't want to go to the beach because of the women in bikinis."
Daughter: "Maa, just look at this boy! Just 8 years old, look how he talks!!!"
Me: "At 8 you don't like girls. Wait till you're 15 when you will want to stay at the beach only" *devilish laugh*
Son: "We'll see about that!"

Over the past few months, his conversations have been getting increasingly candid - like the one about How hot you are - or - About Gay.

While I was amazed that he knew about bikinis, I also knew that he was telling me exactly what was going on in his mind. As he grows up, the one thing I am happy about is that we communicate. That I guess is the only 'upside' to these inputs...and the humour of course!

Joy of Giving - Week 12 - Card 12

Its been three months....well, almost... since I posted the first Joy of Giving card.
This week the card is a tad tough. 

It is not easy to be friendly with strangers in our country. We are vary of strangers smiling at us (I am talking from a woman's perspective), especially when the stranger happens to be a man, and often have to respond with a scowl (because frankly, you just DON'T know what is going on in his mind). 

Many times I've had a bad experience when I've been just cordial with a stranger too. You can read about one such experience here...

But, since it IS the Joy of Giving, I am going to attempt this one. I will start with the public place I am comfortable with. Either the mall near my locality or the CCD... I still haven't decided upon what quotes I will use, but will share it when I create my doc.

Hope all of you will also join in and spread the joy :-)

To join the Joy of Giving just follow the cards every week and post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog. 

To know how it started click here

To track the Joy of Giving through the past twelve weeks, click here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy... Do remember to tag me in your posts...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Joy of Giving - Gratitude Diary - Jae

My friend Jae Rajesh shared his Gratitude Diary with us on FaceBook. I am sharing it here with his permission.

When I was prompted to record my gratitude, as an exercise in the ‘Joy of Giving’, my mind was overloaded with a flurry of thoughts of different people, different times, and different places. And the one thing that gives me the most discomfort is disorder, may be a side effect of the times I spent in a regimented life. My mind was a total mess of memories crisscrossing with no connection with each other. I needed give some kind of an order or index to my thoughts. How do I prioritise them, give them the correct due? In terms of importance and value, each has been of equal relevance to me. Therefore, I decided I’ll do it the way my life happened…in a brief summary.

I want to convey my gratitude to:

Early years
My parents, for the pampering I received as a toddler (can’t remember before that), being the youngest of five relatively older siblings. I don’t recollect a single moment of unhappiness during those years or anything that I was denied that I really craved for (except for the occasional ‘Fanta’ which used to be my constant demand during any outing)

My mother, for teaching me to read and write Malayalam before I even started school (I used to read the weekly episodes of novels from weeklies, as she went about her household chores), and ensured I got admission into one of the best schools of the time.

My maternal Grandmother and Great Grandmother, for instilling in me my cultural values, teaching ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharatha’ and scores of other stories, told and repeatedly told. (Even as a small kid, I knew all about the problems of keeping more than one wife or husband)

My siblings, my sister and brothers, for the unlimited affection and partiality shown to me as the youngest, for letting me win when I’m losing and bearing with my tantrums when they didn’t. Teaching me the alphabets and words and reading the clock, as I was preparing to join school, with no formal preschool learning.
My father, for gifting the environment of a happy childhood.

School years
To my teachers, especially Mrs Rodrigues from the primary years, who taught me the Queen’s English as my English Teacher (and almost succeeded in removing my ‘mallu’ accent) and subsequently groomed me to be a leader at a very early age, giving me the confidence for a life time.

To my school friends, who to this day, remain as close and loyal, for the happy and rollicking time I had in my schooling years.

To my Scout Masters, for instilling in me a love of the sea and everything associated, which eventually led me to join the Navy.

Early Adulthood
To my course mates, my brothers-in-arms, for helping me endure and enjoy the rigors of the training days and giving me a new family to be a part of.

My Physical Training Instructor at the Academy, then POPTI B Singh, who taught me to swim. (Well, at least not drown)

And the long list of various other instructors and seniors who went through personal discomfort to impart me real education on leading men and serving the nation.

To my wife, for the wonders of the courtship days, for loving me with all my faults. For the gift of limitless love. For our lovely sons. For standing by me and supporting me through the tough times and then make them seem insignificant.

To my sons, for their perfectness as children.

To my close friends, with whom I’ve shared the good and bad times, whose company and presence have become part of memories I treasure.

For the grace of God, in letting me appreciate the right from wrongs and helped me give the correct priorities in life.

And a whole score of others, whom I cannot name individually, since I had mentioned, this is just a summary. Thank you all, none of you will be, none of you can be forgotten for the duration of my life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tackling tantrum throwing

Different couples have different reasons for having children. Ours was a bit complicated and some day I will note it down (makes for insightful reading).

Bottom line is we not just had one child, but two. Now there is a very good reason for that too. Read about it here...

However, as any parent in this world will tell you, while parenting has its obvious joys, parenting two kids also has its challenges. Handling both of them, the sibling rivalry and trying to be 'reasonable' and 'fair' to both (even in the midst of a terrible fight), has never been easy. But I have found a via media, a veritable middle path that I use in tackling some of the 'sensitive' issues between them, and I am sharing four of those 'tactics' here. 

When my children hear me mouth the following words they think I am insensitive and impolite. To me, this is the only way to avoid losing my temper, shouting at them and in the bargain, feeling miserable. 

Here's a list of what generally gets my goat and how I deal with it:

1. Crying - Really loud. Most likely in a public place. Or in the midst of a guest/relative/friend. For a vague reason that could range from "You always buy her/him everything and me nothing" or "I REALLY want to play now and you are saying 'study'"....

I shush them quiet and say "I don't want to 'hear' a sound. Cry in your mind."

First few years they'd actually become quiet and calm down and figure out 'how' to cry in their mind. Sometimes I would go a step further and tell them "I don't mind if you cry. I don't want to hear it. Thats all."

Then came a phase when they would irritatingly ask me, "How can I cry in my mind?" 

Now at 12 and 8, they just quieten down. Guess they've also learned that I am deaf as long as they screech and I am also beyond embarrassment with their tantrum throwing.

It works!

Sometimes I am at my wits' end and then I remember how my mother used to tackle us. She would find it hard to ignore us, if we (like my own tots do) kept tugging at her clothes, chin, hands whatever to grab her attention and get her to "accept" that she would shout at the brother/sister who was hassling us... But finally she would give in and say:
"I will shout at him/her when I find them alone next."

If we protested, she would say in her sweetest voice, "It doesn't look nice to shout at him/her in front of so many people. So I will do it when I find him/her alone."

What it does is calms the situation down for that moment. Kids being kids soon forget the reason why they were squabbling or fighting and the issue is laid to rest without actually screaming/shouting/threatening the child, and thus avoiding another confrontation ("You don't love me..."....)

I use the same tactic. And this one works too.

Of course when the children realise that this is just a way of postponing the crisis or brushing it under the carpet, they DO get mad and shout, "But you never do it!" or "I KNOW you won't shout at him/her..."

But, in my experience, it is a better way of dealing with intense sibling rivalry or tattle telling...

3. Love - When their fights go beyond the usual "I hate you" I stop and remind them how much their sibling loves them. "But she/he loves you so much..." This sentence almost always gets to them to stop mid-way and listen to you through the crying and tears. 

The older one does sometimes say "No he doesn't..." to which I always promptly say "He does. If you stop fighting you'll see the love"...

This works too :-)

4. Hugs - What child hasn't questioned your love for them? As a parent, don't we often hear, "You love her more than me..." or "You love him so much you agree to everything he says"...

I often tackle this by hugging them real tight and telling them that I love them as much as I do their brother/sister... After the initial resistance, that lasts a minute perhaps, I feel their bodies slacken and give in to the hug. Then they hug me back. 

A hug can heal any thing. Believe me... This one works like magic!

Images courtsey: Google Images