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Every night, the twins demand a story before they agree to sleep. It is almost a ritual these days. Milk, story, prayers, snooze. We follow it to the T. There is some cribbing over the milk or the choice of story, but usually, it is amicably settled.

Initially, when I started on the tales, I would look for stories which had morals in them. I would hunt for short story books and even made an attempt to get the kids to go through picture books. They did take to it initially, but later on, much to my dismay, they preferred my story-telling over their own reading 😐 .

Anyhow, so there was this story about a blue umbrella which was a favourite with them. There’s a movie by the same name, but I haven’t seen it. I just took the premise of a girl who had a blue umbrella, how she loses it and then finds it back again.

A couple of nights back, as we were settling in for the night, with Lui on my right and Shobby on my left, the kids insisted that they wanted the blue umbrella story. Something inside me clicked right then. Why shouldn’t I show them what a blue Japanese umbrella looks like?  So I whipped out my new phone, logged in to the Wi-fi and searched for “japanese umbrellas”. The search page quickly filled up a hundred images of breath-taking japanese umbrellas. The twins were awestruck. It was almost as if they were looking at a wonderland! I scrolled down looking for an umbrella which was blue. Finally found it and clicked on it. This was that image:-

Decorative Japanese Umbrella

Lui and Shobbs looked at the image with awe, mouth agape. Slowly, Lui whispers, “Mumma, it is so beautiful. Maine itna beautiful pehle kabhi nahin dekhi”. Shobby turns the phone towards himself and looks at the image adoringly. Then he turns to look at me. It is a look so full of delight that I’m shocked! I just showed them a simple snap downloaded from the net, yet the two were behaving as though they have been transported to another land!

And I wondered again, about the power of the net. I don’t let the kids sit in front of the laptop unless they want to see the kung-Fu Panda movie or their personal favorite, “How To train your dragon”. I’ve never shown them anything on the internet as such. My personal aim is to get them into the habit of reading first. But for moments like these, I don’t have a book handy to show the kids what a Japanese umbrella looks like. Its the net that did the needful. And no doubt, there are many more things that I have at the tip of my fingers. Each time the kids ask me something, I just have to press a few buttons and Voila! the answers are here.

But. But.

Something inside me repels this notion of easy access.  My scope of knowledge is obtained from innumerable books that I’ve read right since my childhood. I remember going through volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica and the huge books on “How”, “Why”, “Where” published by Reader’s Digest. That information still resides with me.  With the internet, I get to learn something new, but it doesn’t stay. A month from now, I’ll forget about it. The worst part is that, the forgetting will not bother me. Because I just have to type in a few words and I can retrieve that information again. In a way, I stop straining the grey cells to retain information.

This is something which I want to keep the kids away from. Immediate, easily found information will not stay with them long. The best part about retaining knowledge is the effort that goes behind obtaining it. The hunting, the rejections, the ultimate satisfaction of having found the right answers. This is what I want my kids to indulge in.

But since I downloaded the blue umbrella image, each time my children beg me to show them the umbrella, its the phone I pull out and not any book 😦

Going around in circles, aren’t I?!

I do want my children to go the conventional way in learning but I don’t want them to be ignorant of technology either. The problem is that the technology route is far easier and quicker but less permanent 😦
And my dilemma continues………..

 

 

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A New Kind Of Fear

Warning : Long post ahead

I hate newspapers.

Gone are the days when everyone at home used to fight over the morning paper with Dad usually winning the game! None of us at home liked to read a paper in parts, it had to be the entire bunch or none at all. No sharing of pages was preferred. But then, news those days was worth reading. Was worth starting the day with.

With the papers today, it is gloom piled on gloom. The more sadder, morose, heart-wrenching the tale, the more prominently is it displayed . I really have no appetite for 4-5 rape cases reported on the front page anymore. Either the men in the country are really desperate and are on an active raping spree, or maybe the awareness created these days allows more people to come up and register complaints. Whatever the case, it’s a terrible way to start a day when all you read about is how minors are brutally assaulted. My kids are of the age that gets reported in the papers and even the whisper of the thought, of something terrible like this befalling the kids, is enough to make me bristle with fear and anger.

But this post isn’t about the newspapers. Or about depraved men breaking havoc on innocence.

This is about the other kind of fear I’m facing these days.

The twins are a riotous pair. They scream and yell at each other all day long and only when very highly provoked, do they get physical. Even then, the blows are much milder and more often than not, there is intervention by the adults and peace is restored.

Once outside the confines of home, they become different people. My kids, specially Lui, gets bullied a lot. At school, in the van, at the day care and sometimes, even with kids of relatives. Shobby gets bullied too, but I think he has some of that survival instinct that only boys have and he mostly stays away from situations which may end up with him getting bullied (that’s the diplomatic in him). Lui, on the other hand, doesn’t bow down if she feels that the other person is wrong. She points it out to other kids when they do anything wrongful and like most kids who get a lot of flak at home and at school, Lui’s unwarranted words of wisdom are nothing but an irritant. They despise her for being upright , for speaking up. Even in the school van, lots of kids start chanting mean things whenever she gets in. I try my best and be firm with the kids but it’s not them or their chants that I’m worried about.

Its my daughter.

Slowly and steadily, she’s turning into a victim. Somewhere along the line, I have myself to blame. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always told the twins that it’s a crime to fight with other children or to hit them. I’ve always preached about talking politely and never saying anything derogatory to anyone. Now that Lui is at the receiving end of those very derogatory things, she is unable to lash back with a few choice words of her own.  Heartbroken, she usually breaks down. This is the cue for everyone else to taunt her as a cry-baby. I wouldn’t have taken it seriously if I hadn’t seen the terrible changes coming over her recently. If you go by my previous posts, Lui was always the confident one, the only one who used to mix with all the students in her class, the only one who chatted up with and helped other kids who were ignored by the rest of the class. Recently though, she is apprehensive of going to school or going to the day-care and surprisingly, of even meeting relatives 😐

It is rather worrying. She isn’t as free as before. There is hesitation in what she says and does and recently, even the smallest rebuke from us sends her into a volley of silent tears. Its heart-wrenching, because this is not how my child used to be. I was always proud of my daughter being the boisterous one. Nowadays, kids younger than her taunt her everyday in her school van. I’ve been begging the drivers to let me know why this is happening. But like most drivers who are more worried about just getting to the schools on time, even this one doesn’t have the time to analyze what the kids are doing behind him. The other attendant only intervenes when the little boys get physical. Verbal abuse by the kids is largely ignored. When children chant “Lui is a monkey” or repeatedly call her “ugly”, the attendant doesn’t intervene. For him, its just harmless fun.

But the effect it has on Lui is terrible. Many times, when I ask her why she cries (and further allows the bullies to rag her) when others are making fun of her, she says that she feels “very bad” and somewhere inside her, “it hurts”. 😦

Ragging and bullying starts at a very young age. It’s usually one against many, as mob mentality begins from a very young age. Children learn very early that they can’t be accused of any wrong-doing if they do it in a large group. No one person will be held accountable and usually, the punishments meted out to a group are not as severe as the ones doled out to individuals. News items like the ones where a 10-year-old died of severe trauma after being locked in a school bathroom or a 12-year-old committing suicide after her ‘friends’ posted hate messages on her Facebook page are unnerving.   I’m terrified of news reports that mention mental trauma in kids. Isn’t childhood the time when one is careless and free? Since when did little kids start going into depression and the abyss of self-loathing? All because of a few words/actions of other kids?

Peer pressure is a terrible thing. I don’t think Lui ever reacted in the same manner when anyone at home scolded her or made fun of her. But when kids of her age do it, she is unable to ignore it .

For a long time, I kept wondering if there was something wrong with my daughter. She is a little sensitive, I agree, but since when did being sensitive become a crime?! She is always considerate of other kids, always willing to help, always the generous one, giving out everything dear to her if someone only asks for it. Sharing comes naturally to her. I must have scolded her a zillion times for losing her pencils and her crayons at school every other day. But later I found out that she used to hand over her pencils and crayons to other kids who forgot to get theirs. It’s a different matter that the other kids never bothered to return her stuff. Not that she would ever mind!

It seriously worries me then when my kid gets ragged and bullied. Whenever she is in a good mood, I bring up the topic and I do my best to let he know that just because other kids call her ugly does not mean that she indeed is ugly.  That she doesn’t have to take the words of other children as the law. That in spite of all that the others say, she is still our beautiful child and we all love her deeply.  Sometimes, Shobby chips in and claims loudly that Lui is the prettiest girl in his class. He says it in a matter-of-fact way which usually brings a smile to our faces, but Lui’s brow remains furrowed.  When I’m really upset at her being upset and threaten to come to her school and complain to her teacher about the other kids, Lui does a turnabout and says, “Mumma, aisa mat karo. Teacher will scold them. Phir unke mummy bhi scold karenge. Phir woh bachche royenge. Woh log chhote hain na, issliye unhein samajh nahin aata ki aisa karna galat hai”(Mumma, please don’t do that. Teacher will scold them. Their their mummies will also scold them. Then those kids will cry. They are small kids. They don’t understand that it is wrong to do such things).

Really now!! How can I help my daughter when she suffers from the Stockholm Syndrome?

There’s  a huge learning curve ahead of us. I have to learn to teach her how NOT to accept bullying and she needs to learn how not to react to bullying. She can take a tip or two from Shobby. He plays the safety card well. He himself never bullies anyone (he just cannot!! He’s too tiny to do that!). Unfortunately, he isn’t able to defend Lui either. This is something that she alone will have to learn to face and fight.

So many things to protect a child from! Seriously, our parents had it much easier. I don’t think we ever heard of words like ‘depression’ or ‘peer-pressure’ or even ‘trauma’. When parents used to send us to school, they were confident of wisely investing those 6 hours in us. When I now send my kids to school, there are a hundred different worries running in my mind. Will the driver drive safely? Will Lui be spared the ragging today? Will she have a good day in class? Will she come home without tears? Will someone tease her inappropriately?

Once again, parenting isn’t easy. Its tough, demanding and mind/heart-wrenching! Its has its benefits though and that alone are enough to help us get through each day.

Anyhow, if anyone has faced similar situations where their children have been ragged or are the centre of attraction to bullies, please chip in with your comments on how you’ve handled it. I’ll be much obliged !

 Thanks 🙂

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Ig m ore the typos..

….while I try and get the hang of my smart hone
( I hate dictionary help )

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Starting Young

I came back home from office yesterday and Shobby came up to me with a scrap of paper (it was literally a scrap) and showed it to me.

“Mumma, Z gave me this. Uski mummy ka number hai. Maine nahin maanga, ussne khud diya” (Its her mother’s number. I didn’t ask her for it, she gave it herself).

“But why?” I wondered aloud.

Arre baba, jab bhi baat karni ho, call karne ke liye number chahiye na, issliye“(So that, when we want to talk, we can call each other).

“She asked you to call her?” I asked further.

“Yes”, he beamed.

Ya Allah!! 😐 😐 😐

Shouldn’t I be waiting a few more years before kids started exchanging telephone numbers?

But that wasn’t all. Lui took the paper from me and sat down to scribble something on it.

“LUIIIIIII”, thundered Shobby,” Woh mera hai. Z ne mujhe di thhi. Jaldi se return karo“(That paper is mine. Z had given it to me. Return it).

Lui gave him a cool look and said, “Z meri bhi friend hai“(Z is my friend too).

Nahin!”, yelled Shobby, “Woh aapki sirf friend hai, lekin woh meri BEST FRIEND hai“(No. She is just your friend but she is my best friend).

Saying this, he snatched the paper from Lui and stuffed it into his shirt pocket where it stayed till this morning. Before leaving for school, Shobby comes up to me and handing over the scrap, says, “Mumma, yeh please chhupa ke rakh do, nahin to gum jayega“(Mumma, please hide this paper or else it will get lost).

Yup! That piece of paper was really precious 😀 😀 😀

Its well hidden now with only me and Shobby aware of its location.

When the BIL came home at night and we narrated this incident, his first reaction was to turn to Lui and say, “YOU, miss, are NEVER sharing any number with anyone, geddit??

😀 😀 😀

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There’s this advertisement that plays regularly on TV. It’s an ad for “Moov” pain relieving balm. Personally, I’m a BIG fan of “Moov”. It works like a charm when having a severe headache or body-ache! In fact, for common-cold, Moov works much better than Vicks, when applied on chest and back. It’s a different matter that the skin practically sizzles with the resulting heat. Not advised for kids, no.

Anyway, coming to the ad, it’s a rather sweet one. Wife and husband having a few moments of playful fun.

It’s all very cute, something that I think most couples could relate to. Except, maybe, the end.

The end bugs me to no end 😦

Why does the couple break their embrace so hastily when their kid walks in? What was so wrong in what they were doing? Come to think of it, the kid wouldn’t be there in the first place if the parents hadn’t got intimate! Why couldn’t they still cling on and call the kid to join in a group-hug?

A long time back, I’d written a post about my parents being the epitome of coolth (I made that word up. Don’t bother to check in a dicsh. I made up that one too 😀 ). One of the points listed there was about the intimacy Dad shared with Mom. They were unapologetic about it. As we grew older, we realized that they had every right to do what they pleased. If we walked in on them, we learned to walk out too. Our parents were doing nothing wrong and I’m sure we never got suspicious of what they were up to. If they were to jump apart and look guilty every time one of us walked by, we would have definitely thought they were up to something sinful and *gasp* ‘wrong‘!! Since there were four of us, that would have been a LOT of jumping the parents would have to do 😐

The one thing I learned  is that seeing parents so in love with each other, gave me a sense of security. It makes me want to have the same level of comfort and love with my husband. We are getting there too. Hugging and kissing each other is a routine activity between us and the twins. When we cuddle up, either the kids join us or leave us alone 🙂 . The kids are comfortable with our intimacy and we are careful not to cross the ‘laxman rekha‘ in their presence 😀 . For obvious reasons, we don’t indulge in PDA in front of the in-laws 😀 .

Which reminds me, if the ad depicted the couple moving away because an elder entered the room, it would have struck a decent chord, what with keeping in tune with the Indian sensibilities. The blush on the woman’s face would have been justified then.

It just seemed so silly that they jumped away only because their kid walked in.

I mean, I found it odd. Did you too ??

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For a few months now, I’ve been contemplating going on a sabbatical. The thought first crept in when I was busy on my previous project and didn’t have the time to breathe. I was cranky, tired and snapped at every given opportunity. Working 12 hours at a stretch for weeks does that to some people. I’m among one of those weak, insipid ones who fall prey to long working hours 😦 . It didn’t help that I also have kids and a family to tend to.

Somewhere along the way, it didn’t seem worth the effort. I was putting in all the hours I could. I know I’m good at what I do, yet, I wasn’t happy. Satisfied maybe. Glad to be doing something with my brain. If I were a housewife, I would most likely be found in the corner of my room, cobwebs hanging over my body, hair in dreadlocks, drool over my chin as I chewed my pencil over Sudoku, level Hard. The kids would be forgotten, cooking would be a distant memory and the BF would  almost be on his way to becoming one.

But I digress.

I like what I do. Which doesn’t really translate to “I LOVE what I do”. I don’t love it. Period. I don’t like taking work back home (though, there are times when I cannot avoid it). Each evening, as I lock up for the day, I’m glad about leaving. I hold my head high and rush out as fast as I can. I never look back. Its not about the work, I’ll admit. I’m sufficiently engrossed when I’m at it to forget to call the BF for his morning call. I’ve even missed out on calling the Pediatrician regarding some ailment of the twins only because I was busy debugging a script (bad parenting example here). I’m glued to the PC because I’m interested in what I’m doing.

Working From Home

Working From Home

The current project I’m working on is much better than the previous one. I like the easy familiarity with the tools and the platform I’m working on. I like the good vibes I share with the people at the client side. Though I’m busy, I’m not neck-deep in it. I do have time to breathe these days 🙂 .

Yet, I think I need the break.

I’ve been contemplating a lot on what I really want to do in the long run. Should I continue in IT or should I venture out to doing stuff that I love?? A really long time back, I’d written a post on how I want to start my own boutique. There was a time when every single dress that I wore bore results of my painful contribution to its look. A little thread-work here, a few sequins there, a little mirror-work on one and sometimes, a little painting on the fabrics. There were other times I thought of taking up writing full time (thats a joke really. And like I said, I was just ‘thinking’ about it 🙂 ) because some people who read me liked what I had written. It was a powerful boost of self-esteem and confidence. It felt good to be appreciated for doing stuff that I loved to do.

When I decided to take a break, I also decided to hunt for other avenues of income, things which didn’t take up as much time as the current one does. I was in a dilemma, because I’m one of those people, the jack-of-all-master-of-none types. There’s a lot I can do, but not good enough to guarantee a regular income! So I thought that maybe I could start writing short stories or articles (only problem being, I suck at social commentaries and my kids HATE my stories 😦 )

So imagine my surprise and consternation when I read this article by my favourte movie reviewer, Baradwaj Rangan ( Since 2007, when I first discovered his blog, I swear I haven’t watched a film unless I read his review first. He is GOOD!!) . A snippet from his blog states this :-

“That’s one thing you’re not really prepared for when you begin to “follow you passion,” that one day it will become a job, and the pieces you used to write at your leisure, for fun, for a break from the daily grind, now come with deadlines. No one tells you that, one day, the passion becomes the daily grind.”

This is exactly what I was afraid of all along, just that he presents it in a much better manner.

I have my work on one side and my hobbies on the other. I like writing. But I also like writing at my leisure, when I feel like it or IF I feel like it. I did a short stint for Parentous. Contributed for a month(thats a total of 4 posts) and then suddenly, it seemed too much. Though I had to contribute just once a week, the pressure of coming up with a meaningful post every week seemed too much. I realized I couldn’t do it. That I was uncomfortable sharing my blog-time on someone else’s blog 😐

When I read BR’s blog, it made sense. My insecurities were not my whims. There was someone else who was facing the same issues. Today, when I get bored of my work, I know that I can turn back to sewing a few sequins or weilding that paint brush. I can sit back and read a good book or turn to my blog to spout my feelings. But what happens if I do all these for a living? I’ll probably enjoy doing all this…..but one day, when I’m tired and bored of it all, what do I do? If my comfort hobbies become my work, then what would be my comfort when I feel like getting away from it all?  Some would suggest that I would need to build up diversity in my hobbies, learn new skills (you are never to old to learn) but after an age, its not everyone’s cup of tea to chart new paths(you cant teach an old dog new tricks!!) .

I’d applied for leave, hoping that I’ll find my calling in something else and follow it. Probably submit my resignation and follow the dicatats of my heart.

But now, I think I’ll just use the leaves for what they were meant to be…..a break. I’m still not ready to change my track. Sure, my work doesn’t bring me big-time happiness. But it brings in the moolah, which kind of compensates for everything else. Plus, if I ever get bored or need a break, there’s so much more I could turn to, to bring me comfort.

For now, I’ll not give in to the temptation to make my passion my work. I’ll let it be what it is……so that when I want to get away from the grind, it is right there, welcoming me as always!

Please do take a few minutes to read BR’s article (link given above). It is brilliant! Puts a lot of things in perspective.

Do let me know if anyone of you has given up their job to follow their heart….I want to hear your side of the story too 🙂

Love,

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I recently read a book called “Break In” by Dick Francis. Its a story of a steeplechase jockey and his twin sister set in  the backdrop of Francis’ forte – horse racing.

Right from the beginning of the story, it is made clear that the two leads have a bond that is strongly telepathic, they can both read each others mind and even as kids, could figure out where the other was , when the elders got tired of searching for one.

As I went deeper into the narration, I felt as though this book was written for Lui and Shobbs !! The invisible bonds that tie Kit and Holly together, is creepily similar to the bond between Lui and Shobby. It is fascinating, to see them both together. They fight, they yell, they squabble, they land punches and usually beg us to get rid of the other. But the second we, the adults, try and reprimand any one of them, the other gives out a banshee call and literally goes for our throats 😐

Lui will complain about Shobby, I turn to scold Shobby and Lui will whack me with her plastic bat, indignant that I dared to raise my voice on her brother! Shobby, not the whacking type, tends to hurl himself on us to put maximum distance between us and his sister. A kabaddi-champion in the making, is my wild guess!

I can list a hundred different instances when they both abhor the intervention of any third person between them. At school, they may completely ignore each other, reveling in the company of other friends. But the day Lui skips school or Shobby is at home, the others gets restless, refusing to talk or play with the other kids 😐 . Their teachers have time and again pointed out this behavior in every parent-teacher’s meet.

Recently, since the BF is away, the twins sleep with me. One night, since Shobby and Lui were involved in a major fight where Shobby was the main culprit, I punished him by making him sleep on his bunk bed. What I didn’t bargain for, was the effect on Lui. She was awake most of the night. She kept waking me up to convince me to bring Shobby to our bed. She was worried that he would be scared all alone. Apparently, she was deaf to his snores 😐 . Each time she woke me up, I would ask her to go back to sleep and not disturb me. Eventually, she woke me up to inform that she was joining her brother on the bunk-bed.

By the time the two woke up the next morning, they were back to screeching and clawing at each other.

Frankly, I’ve given up on the two. They might bring the house down with their yelling, but I desist from playing the referee. Let them fight, they’ll obviously make-up after a while. Then they will shoot accusing looks my way and hold me responsible for all the misunderstanding between the two 😦

Its funny and sad at the same time…..I mean I know the kids love me and all but somewhere, I believe they have their own little space where I’m not invited. As they grow older, I can feel the space expanding. Earlier, they used to come and talk to me directly about anything. Nowadays, they discuss among themselves before approaching me 😐 . They crack their own jokes, get under the blanket and laugh their guts out, play peek-a-boo with each other…and I, stand outside like a silent observer, simply watching them and thanking Allah that they don’t need me to keep them busy. That they have each other.

But it hurts too 😦 . A teeny tiny ache in the vicinity of the heart……

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