Category Archives: Parenting

Not My Cup of Tea

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In India, a cup of tea is the most common beverage to kick-start your day.

Extensive promotions of Western-style coffee bars that have sprouted across the country luring the ‘cool’ generation with lattes and other caffeinated beverages are yet to rob a country of its love affair with a hot glass of ‘chai’.

In my family, tea is more than a ritual that you begin your day with.

It is the elixir of life itself.

The deliciously warm magic potion became a joyful addition in times of happiness, an aromatic balm that can soothe your sorrow, a faithful companion on a bored day, a welcome addition to the warmth and flavor to a plate of crispy ‘pakoras’ on a rainy day, a soulful mate fueling your thoughts in times of quiet intellect or simply because you crave for yet another cup.

It has been the essential and integral part of the rhythm of life for every member of my family – except me.

I was the Horlicks baby who had the audacity to throw up at the mere sight or aroma of my family’s favorite beverage.

I gradually got used to relatives stop midsentence an intense session of gossip and stare with their open mouths unceremoniously showcasing their tea- stained dental makeup when they heard me refuse a hot cup and chose to sip on water instead. Mother was bombarded with questions as a few handy tips were thrown in along with plotting ways to introduce me the beverage before I turned into a complete anti-tea outcast.

A few had gone a step ahead and declared that my I-don’t-drink-tea ways might even come in the way of my happy marriage, an area of research that even the acclaimed Stanford University is yet to prove – the correlation between a happy marriage and passionate drinking tea.

Luckily, my in-laws or the husband are blatantly unaware of this prophecy as they are more than happy to lend me a cup of coffee during tea times at home.

To this day, I have friends and family who don’t waste a moment to comment on my antisocial untea-friendly ways as I politely refuse a cup and stick to my choices.

Over the years, I have fine-tuned my tea making skills with variations as per what the occasion demands. I have even come to enjoy ‘the Sulaimani’ or the spiced black tea.

So if you happen to visit us at home, be sure to enjoy a steaming cup of cardamom or spiced ginger or mint tea but with a traditional filter-‘kaapi’ lover for company.

But I love You Daddy

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What had been a mild cold and discomfort soon turned into a full-blown migraine headache. If I knew that the rest of the afternoon would be spent nursing it in the confines of a dark bedroom, the husband and Sid were well aware that they free to do all they wish without the bickering lady of the house to remind them (some 200 times) that books, newspapers, pens and pencils were yet to develop legs to walk back into their places or that post a school day no miracle would get homework magically completed or that passion for your nation does not essentially include multitasking your son’s homework with cheering for eleven Indian men who were set on leaving no stone unturned to bring back the ICC Champions Trophy home.

So, when I made a comeback into the world that I had temporarily left for a good two hours, the vision that greeted me threatened to bring back the migraine in full force.

Father and son were dressed in their favorite ‘Men in Blue’ jersey as were the eleven men on the television. Father multi tasked between his e-mails on the laptop before him, watching and cheering the cricket match, helping Sid with his homework while his eyes occasionally strayed in the direction of a busy toddler in an undeterred creative spree.

Sid completed his Math problems between cheering and throwing in his views on the ongoing game.

To my annoyance, a single instruction from the husband got them cleaning and clearing up with the living room back to its former glory. Sid had not only acquired a few cricketing tips that he begged to enlighten me on but had surprisingly completed all of his studying and home work for the day. Little Princess, who had missed her afternoon nap, was surprisingly fresh after an extra dose of shredding the day’s newspaper.

I spent the rest of the evening pretending to deal with post-migraine blues while nursing my guilty conscience as I questioned my ‘no fun’ parenting skills as much as I was left in a dilemma if I must risk thanking the husband or be offended for showing Sid better means of spending an afternoon post school.

I think I will wish him instead.

With Father’s day just around the corner, here is wishing every little girl’s first hero, every boy’s friend, foe, boon, bane, banker, coach, adviser –  all rolled into one, my children’s father, my father and all the wonderful fathers of the world – Happy Father’s Day!

Recycling Slogans for a Greener Planet

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Little Princess took a cutout of the Honorable Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, embracing the French President in a bear hug at their meeting in Paris where they together put a common front on the need to fight for climate change, for her ‘news clip of the day’ at school.

The rest of the evening was spent repeating the words, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, we need to save our Earth.”

What was left unsaid was that as Mr. Modi vowed to protect the environment just as Mr. Trump dumped the Paris Climate Pact while the self-assured new diplomat from France – Macron – had gone a step ahead and recycled Mr. Trump’s slogan –  ‘Make our planet great again’.

As we leave the future of dear Earth in the hands of our political leaders hoping it gets a much-deserved new lease of life and a breath of fresh air –  are we doing our tiny bit to sustain our home – for us, our future and our children?

Little Princess and her class decided to celebrate Environment Day with puppets made from recycled material. I wondered what could be ‘effectively’ recycled – the cozy couch that was the husband’s favorite seat, the television or could it be Sid’s cricket bat?

We settled for Sid’s old socks, old newspaper, lots of old buttons and yarn. Even my cousin (God bless her) did her bit and recycled her daughter’s doll’s dress (without her daughter’s knowledge of course) for me.

The puppet which was carried to school with much zeal has not yet returned and the news clip continues to make its trip to school and back untouched.

But when I left an empty can of milk by the kitchen counter, Little Princess picked it up and dumped it in the little bin that holds old plastic and cans that will soon be dropped at the nearest recycling center and she jumped up and down saying, “Prime Minister Modi says we need to save our Earth.”

Okay, I have done my bit!

 

References : http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/macron-finds-his-feet-in-a-world-of-strongmen-1.2038431

Spinning Trouble

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When I caught Sid playing a game of desk cricket (a solo form of the game that required neither audience, fellow players nor rules – just a pencil doubled as a bat that struck the worn eraser that became the ball) between math problems, I, like the zealous parents of the screen-addicted generation of kids who hoped to improve their children’s attention span and even spin out the genius that hibernate in deep crevices of their busy minds, bought him the most popular toy that is all the rage.

Now, he is seen spinning that little piece of plastic between solving his math problems.

If you are blatantly unaware of the ‘fidget spinners’, you must pinch yourself awake for the world is spinning back to basics having progressed from the age of 8K televisions, quantum computers and 6D video games to little ball-bearing plastic devices that can be rotated around your fingers enticing your busy mind into its futuristic magical spell.

My early mornings were, for a short while, a culmination of physical exercises that involve crawling, crouching with arms stretched out sweeping the darkness enveloping my son’s bedroom and my entire being telescoped into the single sensation of touch trying to locate his spinner, that I feverishly hoped, will exercise my creativity after the puppets I made for Little Princess’s literary week at school became aliens instead of cats.

I went back to listening to Tibetan monks when I heard that the toy claimed by its manufacturers to boost concentration (without tests on rats and guinea pigs) has been banned from classrooms after it became a raging distraction among students.

Physics achieved its purpose when a physicist from Denver warned the spinning generation that a harmonized cascade of at least 10 million fidget spinners (lined with thin circular magnets), aligned in the direction of their spin is enough to throw the Earth’s center of gravity out of alignment causing widespread effects on the climate.

It is no child’s play that 5 million have been sold already.

Just in case the prophecy of the concerned physicist is true, we need not lose sleep over the effects of global warming or a nuclear attack to claim us.

A few million kids fidgeting in unison with little pieces of plastic will do.

No kidding that!

 

The Health Bait

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As a child, hospitals meant dreary places with stark white walls that reeked of disinfectants, ruled by doctors who reminded me of villains in movies brandishing big syringes instead of shiny black guns. The unsmiling nurse who wielded his stinging powers with cotton balls soaked in disinfectant rubbed unceremoniously on a fresh wound, became the formidable doctor’s trusted accomplice.

Other than the sugar-coated diagnosis that has a chance of spelling doom to our happy existence or life altogether (bank account wiped out squeaky clean) and the battery of tests that usually accompanies anything more than a common cold – my fear for doctors and hospitals has dissipated over the years.

With exuberant doctors zealously throwing themselves on building patient relations and multi-specialty hospitals competing with five-star hotels in luxury, gourmet food and exorbitant bills paid with a flick of the insurance card, it is not surprising that the easy-going, busy, fast-food-addicted humans of the techie generation find every reason to visit these ‘health resorts’ to relax, recover and rejuvenate from their life-style acquired illnesses.

If you are the boring few who drag yourself out of cozy beds for a morning walk or fall into the old-fashioned fussy minority insisting on boring, healthy home-cooked meals with a belief that it is not fad-diets or vitamin supplements but mental well-being and happiness that is the secret to glowing health – then you have a high chance of being penalized for not paying your dues to the hospital industry with a battery of tests the next time you visit your physician with a common cold.

Just in case you are a pretty face thirsting for fame, then it is recommended that you shout from rooftops about your pathetic story of a battle with clinical depression, for this can rise you to overnight fame (and an overflowing bank account) with the prestigious job of being the fresh face and brand ambassador of the trending ‘#Depression Movement’!

 

 

 

The Curse of the Indian Pancake

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My family and I are under the dangerous spiral of an enticing, aromatic spell.

Do I blame it on the deep-rooted gastronomic tendencies of my ancestors or simply my South Indian roots?

A spell that has been cast by the golden brown, wafer-thin, crispy, rightly-sour concentric spirals merged into a single perfect circle sizzled on a hot griddle, drizzled with ghee and rolled to perfection; delicious by its lonesome self or dunked in thick coconut chutney or a spicy tangy lentil-based gravy called sambar.

No, I am not referring to the French crepe or Gordon Ramsay’s glamorous spicy potato breakfast pancake but under the charm of the delicious spell, I have tasted wisdom that the most amazing things in life are simple – like the humble Indian Dosa.

For those foodie fashionistas who fuss over dairy-free, gluten-free meal – this pancake that finds its first reference in the Tamil Sangam Literature in 6th century AD, that applies the science of soaking rice and legumes overnight and then fermenting the ground batter lending to its sourness as well as breaking down the starch so that it can be readily metabolized into the body, becomes the cool and tasty answer to your hunger pangs.

For diabetics, diet-freaks and my fussy children – this good-carbohydrate-rich, lightly salted, sugar-and saturated fat-free (discount the ghee) variations of the crispy dosa is a life saver.

For the lot of you who are just too posh to cook – just accidentally pour a ladle of dosa batter (readily available at all supermarkets) onto a hot griddle, lo and behold, a meal that is high on your taste-o-meter is ready.

Could I blame my children (who have trained their taste buds to cat and flower-shaped dosas in their school snack box, appeased their hungry tummies with crispy ghee drizzled variations for breakfast, dinner, a healthy snack and occasionally for lunch too) for placing an order of a Chinese variation of the dosa at a popular Chinese restaurant, leaving the confused Asian waiter in his clumsy Chinese attire to forget to sauce his English with the usual hint of Chinese.

So, up until the Chinese come up with a duplicate of the humble Indian pancake, that has found its way out of Indian kitchens into the Oxford dictionary and elevated to the status of a star street food in Europe and Americas, my family and I (and three-quarters of Indians) will continue to stay bewitched under its mouth-watering spell and proudly call it Indian!

 

 

References : Dosa Days, The Khaleej Times 

 

 

Digital Dilemma

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When Mr. Narendra Modi, the honorable Prime Minister of India, encouraged a switch from e-governance to mobile governance, a few government officials worked feverishly on updating their Facebook status and uploading pictures that threw light on their political influences and milestones in order to impress him, especially during important meetings chaired by the Prime Minister himself.

Mr. Modi was quick to banish these hand-held pieces of technology into his meetings, the likes of which worked a few hundred seconds faster than light and kept busy government servant’s eyes and mind captive under its enticing digital spell, while the matters of the nation took a backseat.

I always assumed the founder of I-pad, Steve Jobs, had touch screens instead of walls at home. Astonishingly, his children had limited access to technological wonders created by him and went to schools that focused on hands-on learning. Luckily, his creations have been put to good use by leading schools that have switched to e-books and use games like Minecraft as teaching tools leaving Gen-Y parents confused and little children with glasses as thick as soda bottles.

I have nothing against technology but even in the digital era, isn’t moderation the key?

So, before the digital bug bites and later swallows us whole reducing our brains and cognitive functions to the size of a pea and before my children stumble onto games like Blue Whale (that has the blood of 130 Russian teens on its vicious hands), I have decided to put my family on a digital diet.

I plan to start by accidentally switching the WiFi off when I intend to have a conversation with the husband or unintentionally slip the I-pad into the microwave oven when I need to give Sid a piece of my mind.

But may be it is a good idea to make a date with Google in order to find out the best solutions to my new-found predicament!

Creativity Rebooted

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A long time ago, about a few years after the dinosaurs were wiped out from the face of the earth, owning a telephone was a luxury.

Six months after father made a booking for one, our very own shiny green phone arrived along with two directories (that doubled as pillows when our relatives visited us). My brother and I set out to make brief calls, under father’s watchful eyes, to our school friends whom we otherwise never bothered speaking to.

Wonder what an ancient Roman would say if you told him that he could watch Gladiator while riding to Athens in climate-controlled comfort or how your great grandparents would react if they looked down from their heavenly abode and saw their great grandchildren holding onto tiny slabs to listen to ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ before they have uttered their first words.

Artificial Intelligence experts claim that robots will take up most of the physical and rote jobs for humans leaving man free to focus his intellect on creative tasks, subsequently creating a few million jobs in entirely new fields.

Quality of life would be at its prime with robots babysitting autopilots in the cockpit, take up long-haul trucking routes on highways, clean up the city while we get our much-needed night’s rest and may be even take up to doing your morning jogs or attempt yoga postures that you had given up trying, with not as much as a frown, while you are just too busy fanning your creative side and unleashing your inner artist.

Statistics for obesity will never fail to disappoint with its increasing figures, but not to worry, there are robots to nurse you, feed you and take care of you while you recuperate after your Dr. Bot’s liposuction procedure.

In the first, Japanese venture capital firm Deep Knowledge added a robot named Vital to its board of directors.

I wonder if Vital will be held accountable for its executive decisions as is in the case with its human counterparts or if Vital will evolve enough to become the first robot to get into a corruption scandal.

Now that Artificial Intelligence has found its way into the board room, a little more creativity can empower robots to run the world, while we intelligent species of human beings can blissfully just work or even pretend on keeping our creative juices flowing!

 

 

Spaced Out!

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ISRO’s record launch of 104 satellites, UAE’s ‘Mars 2117 project’ that aims to set up the first inhabitable human settlement on the red planet and Mars One launching its official worldwide search for astronauts who will qualify for a one-way ticket to Mars in the year 2023 are some of the greatest ‘out-of-this-world’ advancements in Space Science .

When I heard that Leonardo DiCaprio has signed up for a trip to Mars, I wondered aloud if I could sign up too. But I was quick to abort my mission plans when I caught the husband and Sid engaged in a discussion about the fast foods that they could indulge in my absence. The thought of my family indulging in flour-coated chicken while I floated around in an uncomfortable spacesuit with an Earthly superstar suddenly did not seem very glamorous.

However, this made me wonder if the future of parenting would involve bedtime stories to children about a bygone era of Earthlings and the normalcies of Earthly life – flowing fresh water, free oxygen and naturally grown fruits and vegetables.

Or, will the future see humans divided as Earthly Patriots and The Gen Z Martians?

Will there be curbs on Earthlings visiting Mars with exceptions to those possessing the ‘red card’?

Will there be campaigns on ‘Make on Earth’ or ‘Make on Mars’?

As I sit ruminating on the future of humans sharing two planets, I read that NASA had finally revealed that it was not dust on the telescopic lens of the Kepler Space Telescope but seven Earth-like planets (TRAPPIST -1) orbiting in the ‘habitable’ zone (or the Goldilocks Zone) of a Sun-like star – some or all of which harbor water and possibly life.

I then decided that the future of Earth is best left in the able hands of scientists and astronomers, while I should better focus on going about my Earthly duties!

Fright of Fantasy

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A family emergency back home had the husband booking tickets and me anxiously attempting to fill a suitcase with anything that the children and I might need during our stay. We traveled the same weekend that the newspapers later claimed as ‘Desert Haven at its Wintery Best’, with dramatic temperature dips and the Weather Man predicting rain, thunder and even snow in some areas.

However, my distraught mind only took notice of the bizarre weather conditions after the captain announced, minutes into our flight, that all in-flight services will resume only after we fly out of the ‘turbulent’ setting. This mostly caused many tummies to rumble but thankfully for me, anxiety (and the ‘turbulent’ announcement) only dimmed my appetite for piping-hot stale flight food.

A few more minutes into our turbulent flight got Little Princess excitedly screaming ‘weee’ for it had become a rollercoaster ride that we had not paid for. Sid’s questions about whether the captain could navigate his way through the rain and if the aircraft was resistant to lightening only got me frantically searching for the Airline Safety Card, my anxiety peaking as I hoped to reach my destination in ‘one piece’. The lady beside me gave me a strange stare as her grip tightened and she appeared to mumble a silent prayer.

Thankfully, our captain was neither depressed nor suicidal; with a ‘fit’ aircraft and ‘healthy’ engines and all migratory birds cozy in their nests, he did not require to use Sully-like antiques to land us safely at our destination.

When I read about driverless flying cars that are set to hit the skies, the news felt right out of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter. These ‘secure autonomous aerial vehicles’ are fitted eight propellers, in the case of failure of any one, the other seven could complete the flight and aid safe landing, in addition, to operate in all weather conditions except thunderstorms.

The husband claimed that this will come in handy for people like me who fall into the category of ‘always’ running late and then having to beat traffic jams.

Robots and machines are the future and are soon set to become the norm, but the very thought made me dizzy. Still reeling from my airline rollercoaster adventure I said, “better late than never!”

My dear virtual friends, I am yet to look into your spaces as I am still ‘catching’ up with all that I missed during my time away from the virtual world. Thank you for understanding!