Arise from the Dust…!!!

There may be days when nothing seems to be fine

Hold yourself up-strong and give things a little time

The future is not for us to see

And it’s true whatever will be will be

Fear of Death is worse than the death itself

Arise from the Dust, keep reminding yourself

                                                                                    -Gunjan Kapoor

In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a mythical bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. The history is full of examples-be it the British Rule in India, World War II or Hiroshima in Japan, to exemplify that the human spirit has always overcome all the perils to arise from the dust.

The “Thousand Year Reich” and downfall of Hitler


Take the case of Adolf Hitler, who was obsessed with his race and the idea of ethnic “purity”. Hitler saw a natural order that placed the so-called “Aryan race” at the top. With this belief, his Nazi party executed Jews in concentration-camps. It is said that more than 6 million Jews were killed in German-occupied Europe by the end of World War II.

In the end, Hitler’s planned “Thousand-Year Reich” (Reich is German for “Empire) lasted just over 12 years as he allegedly committed suicide in a bunker. After the defeat of Nazi, Germany in World War II, Germany was divided between the two global blocs in the East and West, a period known as the division of Germany which ended with bringing down of the Berlin Wall and unification of West & East Germany.

From this oppression and dark past to today, a lot has changed in Germany. Low levels of discrimination, high levels of innovation, excellent human and capital infrastructure, excellent work opportunities and excellent work/life balance with a strong woman leader (Chancellor) like Angela Merkel at top, Germany has become a great place to live in.

“Little Boy” of Hiroshima

“Little Boy” was the codename for the type of atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 during World War II by the US bomber Enola Gay. It was the first atomic bomb ever used in military combat. The allied forces dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Almost 70% of buildings in Hiroshima were demolished in the blast. Physically, it took a decade to clear the rubble and begin significant rebuilding of the new cities. Ultimately, it took just 15–20 years for viable cities to rise in both places.

Interesting part is that Hiroshima today is a city that promotes world peace. In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Peace Prize. Setsuko Thurlow, a Japanese Canadian nuclear disarmament campaigner and a hibakusha (word used by Japanese for a person affected by a bomb) gave a moving acceptance speech for the audience at Nobel Prize ceremony at Oslo.

Today, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum preserves artefacts and survival stories in hopes of “No more Hiroshimas”. In Hiroshima, every year on August 6, church bells ring at 8:15 am, the exact moment the bomb was dropped. That begins a day of remembrance ceremonies that culminates in the hauntingly beautiful Toro Nagashi festival, where hundreds of lanterns are floated down the Motoyasu River, in front of the famous Atomic Bomb Dome (a world heritage site inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park).

Taming of the “The Empire on which the sun never sets” in India

Almost everyone in India knows this by heart — the British ruled India for 200 years. We can, with better accuracy, say that the British took nearly 100 years to conquer India and then ruled India for 100 years.

The upshot of the empire, as Dr. Shashi Tharoor puts it, was that “What had once been one of the richest and most industrialized economies of the world, which together with China accounted for almost 75% of world industrial output in 1750, had been reduced by the depredations of imperial rule to one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on Earth by the time of independence in 1947.”

The British systematically purged India’s riches destroyed its institutions and created divisions among its peoples. But the country emerged out of this and in just 70 years of independence started being a force to reckon with globally again. If you really think, there was a silver lining of this British rule – there wouldn’t have been a political union called India! In the post-independence era, India has emerged as the largest democracy in the world with its own constitution, a great governance system and has made huge strides and progress in multiple fields with significant impact to local and global economies.

The virus that made the entire world disconnect with each other, yet together in pain

While the Pandemic is spreading like wild-fire globally, looking from the recent examples few countries have started to get a glimpse of life on the brighter side in hopefully post-coronavirus (Covid-19) scenario.

Worldwide hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the virus, but the daily number of new infections has dropped in some of the most impacted countries like Italy, Spain and China (where it first started). We do see a silver lining, which I sincerely hope will last for all, giving other countries a hope of what might it look like once the worst of the epidemic is over.

Physical distancing is the only way to combat coronavirus. As India also faces this global pandemic and is in a lock-down, our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji has asked all Indians to observe resolve and resilience during this crisis. I sincerely hope that entire humankind comes out of this crisis soon, as a more empathetic, caring, connected and respectful beings.

There is a beautiful Sanskrit shloka which I wish to share below:

उध्रेदत्मनात्मानं नात्मनवसदयेत आत्मैव हयत्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः

(Udhredtmanatmanam natmanavasadayat atmaiv hayatmno bandhurthmaiv repuratmanah)

Which means “Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.”

This powerful shloka, and the important message it conveys, can be applied to any situation.

Power of mind is one of the strongest and most useful powers we possess. This power consists of our thoughts. While nobody chooses negative circumstances, our will power and how we respond to them is certainly in our hands. We can choose to be destructive or constructive, elevate or descend, rise or fall, create or destroy, be a source of light or spread darkness. The power of human mind is limitless, it’s up to us to realise our full potential in a positive way.

Let us all endeavor to rise and shine and arise from the dust. Remember this too shall pass…!!!

All Will Be Well In The End…!!!

Me and my friend were chatting one afternoon. She is a qualified professional, married and expecting her first child soon. As much as she was excited to welcome the new member to the family I could see her anxiety as to how she would manage her job and kid post-delivery. Though I tried to comfort her stating things will fall in place and at this stage her health should be the priority  I could resonate with her feelings as I have gone through that stage myself.

Life changes for a woman after she becomes a mother and it changes manifold after the second child. How much thought through the decision to take a career break may seem the mind never seems to be prepared. Be it seeking advice from women having kids, taking a count of percentage of working mothers in my neighborhood (and the percentage of those working with two kids), I have done it all. Whatever decision a mother takes -to continue working or take a career break-is always a stressful one. Career breaks can be a tricky thing to negotiate, especially for women who find themselves torn between their job and taking care of a child. Besides, it can make things overwhelming for the new mother.

The stress post-delivery can take a toll on the new mom’s mental and physical health. Here a few things that can be done to help minimize it  :

  • Take out time for yourself-Me time is very important. Try to keep one hour a day for yourself by indulging in something that interests you. It could be walking, going to the gym, watching a movie etc.
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible as sleep deprivation can make everything seem worse.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help or accept help when being offered. These days especially because of the nuclear family set-up child care can be really strenuous especially for the new parents.
  • Make friends with mothers having kids of the same age group. This can be a big support group as it helps you share and also bond with other moms.

If you have decided to take a career break please do consider the following things:

  • Always assure yourself that the break does not mean a decline in skills.
  • Do not compare yourself with others-you don’t know what their situation and journey is all about.
  • Don’t let the confidence go down and stay motivated and focused on getting back to work whenever the situation permits.
  • Be ready to take on a few challenges when you return to work-could be starting at a level you had left while others have moved up the ladder in your absence.
  • Take on a freelance or part-time work if your profession allows even if the pay does not seem worth it. It will at least help you to be engaged in something.
  • Keep in touch with old colleagues and employers. Networking can increase your chances of getting selected.
  • Keep telling yourself that the situation will not remain the same and improve one day.

How much ever testing the situation may appear always be positive and remember if it’s not well it’s not the end… 🙂

This blog was first published on https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/a-memory-here-an-emotion-there/article/all-will-be-well-in-the-end

The Magical Bond…

I had a magical connection with my elder son
Something I felt was super-duper fun

So, when I conceived for the second time
I thought, to create the same bond, I will have to work overtime

He came into this world and I didn’t feel the same
And thought I am to be blamed

But slowly my heart became bigger
To shower my love on both the kids forever

So, my younger one “Anmol”

You may not be my first born but the last child I will have
And I love you to the moon and back… !!!

Breaking Each Other’s Barrier…!!!

“Just hold your breath for few seconds and don’t worry, Mamma is here, if anything happens, I will immediately jump and help you” Ria told her son. “But you don’t know how to swim” Ansh said. Being an aqua phobic herself, it was heart breaking to see her son, struggling like her.
One day Ria just decided to get into the pool with Ansh.
With a leap of faith, she took the first step. Ansh was floating, so was Ria !!!
In an attempt to break my child’s barrier, I actually overcame my own fears, she cried and thought !!!

Abhi Dilli Thodi Door Hai…

I have been born and brought up in Delhi and have been happily staying in Hyderabad with my family for the past 15 years since I got married. I had in one of my earliest blogs (link-https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/a-memory-here-an-emotion-there/article/we-never-really-leave-home) mentioned about my yearly trips to Delhi during the summer vacations.

More than me now, it’s our kids who really look forward to almost one full month of pampering, no sticking to the routine and unlimited masti with cousins during the summer break.

Due to the current national lockdown, we will not be travelling to Delhi this year. I am sure, there are many like us who are in the same boat. Forget Delhi, we have actually not stepped out of our apartment for almost a month now. I was talking to my mother this morning who was feeling emotional about not being able to see the kids this summer. She was also hopeful and said “Don’t cancel your return tickets now. If situation improves come at least for a week in May”. I told her in a jovial way “Aap apne ghar ka bartan jhaddo pocha karo, humein apne ghar ka karne do 🙂 ” (You do your household chores and let us do ours here 🙂

While there was an initial adjustment phase for the entire family with no outside support in the form of maids, cook, pressure of work from home etc., looking at the positive side, this has truly made each one of us responsible in more ways  than one :

  • We have become more mindful of our actions and their impact on everything around us. For instance, we now cook exactly how much we will be able to consume so that there is no wastage. We realise that there are people around us who are struggling to get even two meals per day on their plate.
  • We are learning to manage with what is available. Thankfully there is a supermarket in our gated community and we have learnt to be happy with the choices available to us.
  • We celebrated the nine days of Chaitra Navratri in March. Unlike every year, there were no flowers to offer to the Goddess, no neighbourhood girls for Kanjak on Ashtmi Day. We just focused on Pooja this year. Even minimalism can be satisfying, if we want.
  • When the lockdown was announced, I wanted to check on a couple of friends whom I have not been in touch for a long time. Even some relations where there was a reluctance on either side, I just wanted to call them and make sure they were doing fine. This feeling itself was a good sign for me to make a fresh start. And trust me they all reciprocated with the same warmth and affection. Relationships are taking precedence over ego.
  • My Nanaji (maternal Grandfather)is 95 year old and stays alone after my Naniji’s demise. Old age makes you rigid and stubborn too. He gets restless if he is not at his home for more than an hour and refused to refused to stay with my parents, even for a few days. So, my Mom was going every day with his food since his cook has not been coming because of lock-down. A lady in his neighbourhood noticed this and spoke to my mother. Since then, she has been sending him one meal (she actually volunteered for both meals) so that my Mom could go just once. We are highly indebted to her. This made our belief firm that humanity is still alive.
  • We (myself in particular) really don’t need so many clothes in our closet. We are just managing with few set of clothes. Though for the last couple of months itself I had consciously stopped impulsive buying, I surely am going to be more sensitive in the future. Mindful consumption is the key.
  • Families are moving to the new paradigm where people are getting more time with family, learning new things, reinventing old passions, spending more time with kids, going back to board games, enjoying food as all eat together on table, watching reruns of old DD National programs (Ramayan is the current favourite with my kids) .

It’s been 21 days since lock-down and this thought crossed my mind few days back….kids have been most supportive, patient, acting beyond their age and intellect (actually beyond my imagination). They have not stepped out for almost a month now. Not only do they help by doing age appropriate tasks, but also till date we have not heard any negative thoughts or expression of anxiety from them. Something we adults need to learn from kids. My elder one, 11 year old, is fully conversant with the situation. In fact, he reads the e-paper in the morning and is up to speed with the global situation.

Waiting and patience are both virtues which nature has compelled us to practice now. Being restless will only make us miserable and frustrated. May be this entire Corona episode was a much needed pause for the humanity to stop running, to stop chasing. And to think of it what were we running away from and what were we chasing?  Sometimes I feel sorry about this entire situation…. what are we leaving for the next generation ? Hope some lessons are learnt soon…Maana Dilli abhi thodi door hai but we hope to be there soon !!!

The Change I seek WITHIN…a reminiscence of the year gone by…!!!

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“ Teaching is more than Imparting Knowledge, it is Inspiring Change ”

– William Arthur Ward

I had volunteered for the Teach for Change initiative for the last year and had written two blogs on Momspresso and Womensweb. Links attached:

https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/a-memory-here-an-emotion-there/article/the-change-i-seek-within-part-1

https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/a-memory-here-an-emotion-there/article/the-change-i-seek-withinpart-2

Today I had this sudden urge to write the concluding part about the year gone by at the school.

As I was reflecting on my experiences since I started this journey last year, I do want to share a couple of things through this blog:

  • There were many occasions I came back from the school teary eyed. Well almost every single time. The love showered by kids made me overwhelmed and valued.
  • I had gone to the school on 14th August 2019 and asked the kids about what they knew about Independence Day. During our discussion they shared they had to come to the school on 15th August. “We will be scolded if we don’t come, one kid said with innocence”. The irony of the situation made me feel helpless.
  • There were few late new admissions in the class. Many super intelligent kids (especially girls) had joined the class. Lakshmi Prasanna- there is no way I can skip mentioning your name. You make me so proud as your teacher. Since she had joined the school late, she could not get the exercise book distributed by TFC as the books were over. She literally pestered me to the point that the very thought of going to the school to me would mean explaining her the reason for delay in issuing the book. This girl was so keen on learning and actually made me religiously follow up with the administration team to expedite the issuance. I really liked her attitude and sincerely pray that some good opportunities come her way in the future.
  • 4th September 2019 the kids had study desks. One of the Corporates had sponsored the desks as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibly) initiative. They could not contain their excitement the moment I reached the class. I also felt a sudden spurt of joy inside me. That day I considered myself eligible to sit on the chair kept for teaching staff.
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The entire process and associated experience made me a better person in terms of appreciating smaller joys of life.

I have more patience now to deal with any situation specially while dealing with my own kids as I can empathize with them better.

Technically speaking I did manage to complete the syllabus and had just one last visit pending in which I was supposed to conduct the exam for the students. This is still pending because of the lock-down, due to Coronavirus and I kind of feel incomplete because of this.

 Through this blog if I can inspire anyone to be part of any teaching initiative, I will feel my efforts of penning it down have been fruitful. And trust me you will come back richer …!!!

The Mask…!!!

Our real self is hidden deep down inside

Layers of mask we put to maintain our pride

Some to please our friends and family

Some to hide our pain and agony

Some we wear longing for acceptance

Some to show, others our rock-solid endurance

Only the close ones know our real self, hidden deep inside

During our difficult times we must keep them by our side…!!!

Winds of Change…!!!

“Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.”

                                                                                                –Arundhati Roy

“But why don’t you join the school?” Krishna asked the small girl. “Because I have to help my mother with the household work and graze the goats in the morning”, she replied.

“If you are willing you will accomplish whatever you want irrespective of obstacles” Krishna smiled and said. She started reflecting on the years gone by.

Krishna had a very normal childhood. Born in a poor family in Assam, life had been tough since childhood. Her father had left their family under the pretext of searching for work soon after Krishna was born and never returned. Her mother, Kaveri would wash utensils in other houses earning barely enough to meet their expenses. Due to these experiences since early childhood, Krishna somehow found it difficult to trust people specially men.

Krishna was fond of studying and aspired to join the school when she would see Babu’s sons going to study. She fought all odds to study at the village Primary School. Those days it used to be a boy’s only school.

“If you don’t teach, how will I learn” she had asked the school headmaster. Krishna was the first girl to be admitted to the village primary school. She would get up early morning help her mother with the household chores. She had to walk several miles to reach the school. Her grit and determination made it seem effortless for her. She would take tuitions for Babu’s kids in the evening. She even topped in her school!

Krishna easily managed to secure a scholarship for her post-graduation. She even picked up a part time job in the evenings to send money to her mother for supporting the family expenses. She would stretch herself to study and finish her assignments late in the night.

Krishna would have limited dresses for herself, rarely go out with friends or spend on herself; but she always wore her confidence, would go out the way to help others and spend on things that they need. Ravi, her batchmate was always in awe of her resilience. He had also proposed Krishna on the last day of college. She politely declined it as she had her eyes set on her goals. Ravi went to US to pursue his Master’s in Business Administration. He, however, continued to be in touch and helped Krishna secure a grant from a leading foundation in US to help provide infrastructure, study kits and internet-based learning for the school children.

Krishna now heads the school she had difficulty getting admission to. Thought she had the best offers during Campus placements; she chose to be back to her roots to bring about the change she had dreamt of during her early childhood. Even on a busy day, she makes sure to take out an hour each day to teach the Life Skills to small children. She likes kids who are inquisitive and encourages them to ask questions. She wants each girl to rise and shine. Her mother also encourages other parents to support education of the girl child.

Fighting all odds, she carved a way for herself. Krishna successfully changed the stereotypical representation of lives of females in the village. You can often hear her telling the students “New opportunities and new way of life is within grasp. We should quieten the chatter in the head to be able to hear the inner voice…!!!”

And other children in the village too are learning to live their dreams 😊

Earth and Us… !!!

Once upon a time there was a planet called “Earth”
Where people were happy and living in mirth

Then came “greed” leading to disruptive innovation
Which in the long run was harmful for any Nation

Year 2020 didn’t start on a good note
First the Aussie fires then Corona virus

There was lot of fear and uncertainty
Only thing that could save humans was positivity

While the Earth closed itself for repairs
There came “Hope” and “Power of Prayers”

Giving a big lesson to the humanity
Let’s support each other during this calamity… !!!

A Second Chance… !!!

Arun was a workaholic who hardly spent time with his family and friends. He would always say “I have no time”. He aspired to become the President of the Company sooner than the Company norms and swamped himself with only one thing-WORK. Riya his wife would often ask “Are the kids only my responsibility?”. Hurt by his constant absence she had over the years grown used to it.

Arun barely slept that night. He tossed and turned, as the mistakes of last 10 years played over in his mind. Life had changed in the last six months since his wife was diagnosed with Cancer. As he embraced the past with remembrance and future with unlikely longing, his earnest desire was to get a second chance to spend some more time with his loved ones.

Arun took Ria to the States for her treatment. His childhood friend Adish and his wife Smriti made sure that the kids were taken care of in their parent’s absence. While the pain of Chemo was something she had to bear alone, his constant support and presence made her emotionally strong to handle this trauma. It was a long battle for Ria and Arun.  Finally, doctors gave the good news that cancer had gone into remission. Arun was relieved and cried uncontrollably like a child. He was thankful to God for the second chance life had given him.

As they packed their bags Arun assured Riya that she would have his back. He promised to live a balanced life and not ignore the important people in his life besides work.

Arun had missed the promotion because of his absence from work, still he had no qualms. He had now learnt to treasure the relationships over material possessions. Kids were happy to see their father around more often something which used to be a rare phenomenon. He carved out time for improving his social connections.

Sometimes a second chance is what we long for in our relationships. And not all are lucky to get that chance. So, respect and value people and relationships before it’s too late. As they say second chances are not given to make things right. But are given to prove that we could be better even after we fall…!!!

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