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Friday, December 26, 2014

Do, if you dare

I have seen lives ruin, homes shatter and promising futures dim out because of one deathly habit, yet I cannot understand the inducements it holds. The allurements of nicotine is strong and above rationality.

One of my very dear friend once asked me if I have to put my finger on one such habit in men that I really hate and beyond my tolerance which one would It be? I did not have to think long and the answer was straight and prompt: Smoking. (Being brought up in Indian scenario, incidences of women smokers is still not common and almost alien to me, and belonging to muslim community the evils of alcohol is equally remote).

My maternal great grandfather failed his lungs because of his addiction to beedi (a rustic form of cigarettes) and that heralded the downfall of his empire. I don't blame him for the consequences of his death, but he was a very commendable man and deserved a better death.

One of my aunt's husband was a chain smoker and died of lung cancer  within 13 years of their marriage. He was a very gregarious man and had thousands of colourful dreams. It took away his entire earnings and savings to try and save his life and in the end he left a void in his wife and two little boys lives, plus some really pressing and heavy debts. and I know how different their lives would have been if he had only kicked the habit and was still here.

My father's uncle invited Asthma on himself due to the same nagging habit of smoking, my mother's uncle died of heart failure because he couldn't kick the habit despite young with several family responsibilities and doctor's strict warning, and more recently one of my sister's brother-in-law suffered a nearly fatal gall-bladder infection as a result of his heavy smoking and had to have it chopped off to save his life.

If it did anybody any good, it was understandable, but God only knows what made man to invent such a nasty habit, and what hooks people to its horrible smoke! Of all thing I know, humans were and are better off without it.





A beautiful poem contributed by a wonderful friend I met recently, Jeanneclaire Probst.

And I do know a few men who won over it and whom I salute for their will-power and achievement.

My mother prides over her father who loved his family above himself, and when his mother-in-law showed him sense, on my mother's birth, to quit smoking for his better health and future, he took heed and never touched a cigarette again. Whenever he felt craving for it since then he looked at my mother and the innocent trust and love in her eyes steeled his will.

My uncle himself is so grateful for that one slap my father gave him when he was caught smoking for the first time. He says it was his wake-up call and he could not dare touch another cigarette for years after that and soon understood my father's care and his own good in that one slap.

Would love to read your thoughts on this post.

All those who smoke, just give this blog a serious thought and which is a better option for you?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Honey-sweet trail of travels

We all love a good journey. May it be a casual visit to a relative in neighbouring town, a family vacation to a well-acclaimed destination, a day off at our favourite club or a business trip abroad. Whatever the reason, whatever the destination, as long as the trip is pleasurable, hassle-free, non-disastrous and embarked with the right companion/s (even if it our own self) it is always fun, memorable and refreshing. Few, who are a bit more of the adventurous kind, do love a little hassles and off-the-track experiences, but at the end of the day- all's well that ends well.

But those journeys that we embark on with kids have a different magic and uniqueness to it.

Visit http://membership.clubmahindra.com/TeddyTravelogues/index.html for some amazing travel stories with children.

I still recall the family vacations and school-picnics of my childhood with awe. Even after so many years, their magic is not lost to my own eyes. Those fake treasure-hunts, excavations and explorations arranged by our school staff on our trip to the countryside hamlets near our town when we were in our primary school. My first trip to the family-resort "Silvan Villa" in our home-town, our first visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium and Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore when we were in high school, and my visits to Tamilnadu via the meandering-descent of hillocks near Pernambat. All these trips are so special for their once-in-a-blue-moon experiences and the magical turn of events their offered.

I still remember how excited I used to become at the prospects of train-journeys. For me the chuk-buk chuk-buk sound of the engine and the off-the-road trail amidst lush-greenery transported to a world of magic and surprises. I especially used to look forward for night-fall when the tiny fluttering glow-worms would appear to add the finishing touch.

But the travel-experiences involving my little nephew have a different-feel in themself. He is around 4 years old now. I remember the first time we took him outdoor on a little trip to the neighbouring town. He must have been just over 5-6 months old then, but he was so amazed by the entire new experience, to realise that the world was bigger than the confines of our home he was used to till then and so many people rushing about in strange seaters (read, vehicles) and all, he clung tightly to our fingers by his tiny fists and kept startling and looking around at the chaos around and every new sound his mind registered. He fell asleep in an hour or so but his expressions and trust in us are embedded in our hearts forever.

He now goes to a play-school in Bangalore and recently went on a little-trip to the famous Cubbon Park there from school. It was his first school trip without his parents or any family member around and we were all wondering as to how it will all turn out for him. The first he did after returning home that evening was call up my mother and relate the happenings.

You can guess the magic and excitement of the novel experience he had, in the conversation that ensued between them.

He: You know! I went to the park today and came back just now!"
My mother: How wonderful! Did you enjoy, love?
He: Yes! You know, granma! it was VERY good.
(not waiting for any further questions he went on himself).
You know! There was a VERY BIG train also there. (meaning, the famous toy train meant for joy-rides). It even goes round like a 'D'...
My mother: Really! That's amazing, precious.
He: And you know! The bus we went in... of our school! It was also SO BIG!

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's natural to fear, but...

Fear is a very natural emotion. There is nothing to be ashamed of about it. It is the most obvious reaction and it makes us realise our fall-backs and find our strengths.

But when fear becomes an obstacle rather than a constriction in life, and when it is rather irrational it is so much more of a necessity than choice to defeat it. Running away from Fear is never a good option. It will follow us wherever we go. We need to face it and overcome it to reclaim our life, our worth and victory that is ours.

The new mountain dew video (Tamil) captures the very essence of human struggle against fear and the sense of liberation on overcoming it so wonderfully, you really need to watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsbgh3U7tnY&sns=em

Join the fight against fear https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia

We all have such stories to share where we had our devils to fight, our own battles to win and our proverbial territory to claim.

The demon I had to fight in my student years was stage-fear. I was a very studious, witty and out-front student. I never even batted my eye-lids when I had to ask the teachers a question, express a doubt, stand by my friends or even clarify my actions. I don't recall as to why, but I used to freeze before the mike and audience on stage. My words would get caught in my throat, my mind would go blank and after few minutes of hopeless struggle I would retract with a feeble "thank-you." I had even given up enrolling in such competitions after I failed three or four times.

But one incident which stands out is when my favourite teacher in higher-primary school enrolled my name for a speech competition on her own accord for she had observed my communication and expressive skills and believed I stood a good chance to win. For her sake I willed myself one more time, and prepared with all my heart and soul. I even rehearsed before my family and friends to subdue my fear. My sister had even adviced me to not look at the crowd but at the wall behind them.

But when the big-day came, and my name was announced, I had only gone past the initial acknowledgement of the judges, teachers and students present, and the topic at hand when a wandering glance at the gathering made my lips go dry, my thoughts wayward and my limbs cold. I stood there glancing from my favourite teacher in one corner, to my friends in the crowd, to my sister in the far corner. Tears began to blur my view and words completely unconnected to each other stumbled from my mouth trying to make one proper sentence. I never felt stage-fear more strongly or more real before then. It was me versus my fear...and my fear won.

I couldn't even manage a sorry or thank-you. I simply stole away my eyes from all those who knew I had prepared a good speech and had expected a good show, and retired to a corner seat trying to with-hold my tears for I didn't want any more attention.

My parents and friends were sympathetic towards me after it was over, my sister spent hours discussing the whole disaster trying to find an antidote, and my favourite teacher didn't even as much as mention a word about it. She was just as usual. It was as if I had not even participated. I couldn't decide if her silence was more hard on me or her remarks would have been.

But i had never felt more humiliated before my own self, and it had me I began to participate in every competition, debates and assembly slots I felt up to. For me, it was a matter of my self-esteem now. I didn't care if I won or lost. I didn't care how other participants performed. It was my battle against my fear and I had to win over it.

It was not easy. I fumbled, I failed, I lost everytime but every time I also progressed a little further on, maybe a minute, a paragraph, a point or almost to the end, but every time I fought a little longer and every time I felt my enemy become weaker.

My liberation came in the form of the special personality-building lectures and work-shops my high-school arranged for us in our matriculation year, and finally when I joined my graduation course. The lecturers, classmates and ambience were so friendly and fostering, my strength and confidence grew stronger and stronger. It gave me a whole new perspective and platform. I took part in personality development courses, several seminars, projects, debates and competitions and also won quite a handful prizes and trophies. But i would rate my crowning glory to be the day when I graduated.

It wasn't required for me go on-stage, nobody expected me to nor forced me to do it. But I was so grateful to my Almighty, my parents, my sister, my friends and my teachers who had supported me through all my ups-and-downs, showed me the light and never let me give up.

I went on stage by my own will before the entire college- staff, administration, lecturers, students, their parents and the special guests and gave my thank-you speech without fumbling, without missing a word and without stealing my gaze from the audience.

Friday, December 12, 2014

We, the solution

Whenever we think of the terms dirty, unhygienic or low standards of living the image we get in our minds is of slums and forsaken lands now used as garbage yards, where people have no sophistication in behaviourism, and live a crude and rustic life.

I agree these areas do need reformative measures and awareness of personal hygiene and sanitation on a large scale. But are areas outside these slums in cities and towns free from such menaces?

In the very heart of such big dream cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc the truth is far from being anything dream-like. Take a fleeting look at their bustling market areas, heavy traffic points, bus stations, railway junctions (even railway tracks), street corners and harbours. Everywhere you find packets of wastes, strewn garbages, open drainages, walls and side-walks sprayed with spits and nauseous fluids.

Then we cry hoarse over the increasing pollution, deadly diseases and disease-bearing insects and bacterias, lose of immunity, and lack of preventive and remedial measures.

Without accepting that we are the problem. We allow such bad habits to foster by silently overlooking them, by slackening our own habits over simple excuses and contributing to the increasing litter directly or unknowingly.

The other day one early afternoon as I was returning home attending a quick errand with my mother, we noticed a little toddler in his uniform relieving himself at a street corner his mother standing vigil behind him. The deed, though not in a good stride, was not so prominent as it is an usual occurrence in every city, town and village in India. But actually shocked us was after the child was done, they both very leisurely strolled to their home just across the street.

We just couldn't comprehend why on earth the mother couldn't rush the child a few more steps to the home instead of letting him defacate just across the street? Is public hygiene and proper sanitation measures only a myth? Or public and personal health so available to be taken for granted?

It is just not the story of a single mother-child pair. It is not even the plight of only those rural areas where proper urinals and hygiene standards are not available. How many amongst us Indians can claim to have never been a witness to such acts?

It is so true healthy sanitation habits and hygiene begins at home. It is our duty to teach our children proper cleanliness and hygiene, and also set proper example, for them to follow and for our own good.

It's really simple yet effective everyday tasks. Like,
-Recall what we learnt as children.
-Follow what we preach.
-Believe in what we teach.
-Use hand sanitisers and encourage others too.
-Use effective disinfectants.
-Do not litter around.
-Do not spit on streets and pavements.
-Use polythene bags if nauseous.
-Discard waste according to government guidelines.
-Recycle.
- Join Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and like-minded individuals in the Banega Swachh India campaign initiated by NDTV network and Dettol India by visiting the link here:

http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/

Do not discard the obvious into oblivion. We can be the change. Laziness can be lethal sometimes.

Wake up. It is our nation and our responsibility.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swachch Bharat! My clean India

I am often tagged teasingly by my friends and peers as "The Environmentalist" due to my commitment to ensure proper hygeine, my efforts to combat littering and ensure proper disposals in my presence. It is all in good fun and it never hinders me from my commitment, because I know I am right. I am determined, because I love my nation.

From infancy we are taught that cleanliness is second to Godliness. We are trained to not only to keep our body, mind, manners and books clean, but our surroundings and the entire eco-system as well.

As children we are given lectures about the importance of hygiene and the hazards of litter. Rewards and punishments were used to enhance this message and imbibe in us such healthy and good habits. Whenever we made an effort at cleanliness we were given accolades and rewarded little medals and candies; whenever we were caught erring, like unpolished shoes, dirty unclipped nails, littering the school-premises, etc, we were made to stand dunce outside classrooms and scolded before in front of our peers to ensure such acts would not be repeated.

But, as we grew up reality was far from the innocent lessons we were taught as kids. There is little resemblance to it with the public en-masse. Furthermore, we see how little others care, and at least think about it. Consequently, we wonder, "What the heck does it matter? Why should we continue picking up after others? Who cares? What difference does it make anyway? How can I alone change the world?"

And we too joined the crowd.

What we fail to realise is that WE CAN BE THE CHANGE. If we would do our bit, encourage our companions to do the same, and try to persuade our neighbours like-wise, we can make a difference. If we show that we care, those who look up to us will care too. If we don’t follow the crowd, and do our tiny bit, each and everyone of us, we can rectify the situation.

It is really strange if we think about it. We cannot bear to hold on to a chocolate wrapper, an empty packet of chips or cookies, fruit-peels or a soiled tissue cloth until we find a waste bin and simply discard it on the spot. But, we don’t mind walking through or driving past the same litter on the streets.

When the same litter accumulates near our homes; or is strewn in our court-yards by the winter breeze and clogs our drains; when the same litter emits foul odours during summer and causes flooding of rain-water during monsoons; when the same litter causes pollution and breeds air/water-borne diseases and food-infestations, we raise hell and blame everyone except ourselves. We refuse to see that we are the cause of all these evils.

We are being redeemed for our own mistakes! If we had not littered in the first place, none of these problems would have occurred?

To make our India really clean and beautiful, we need to clean our thought-process first and become children at heart once again. We must do what we did as children to keep ourselves, our homes and our surroundings clean, with the same diligence, zeal and belief.

Also do use proper urinals and public toilets. Do not spit on the streets,

Maintain personal care and hygeine to avoid all illnesses.

Separate your garbage according to Government guidelines.

Recycle.

The erring habits are really nasty and shameful for a civilized soceity and following the aforementioned points is really healthy and easy.

Join Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and like-minded individuals in the Banega Swachh India campaign initiated by NDTV network and Dettol India by visiting the link here:

http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/

Swachch Bharat! My clean India

From childhood we have been taught cleanliness is next to Godliness. We were tutored since infancy to not only keep our body, mind, manners and books clean, but also our surroundings and entire eco-system clean too. We were given lectures and lessons on how to avoid spreading litter, cleaning them if any and the good and bad effects of cleanliness and the lack of it respectively.

To encourage us further on and to imbibe in us such healthy and good habits the means of rewards and punishment were used. We were given accolades and appreciation, little medals and candies whenever we made an effort at cleanliness; and whenever we were caught erring, we were made to stand dunce outside classrooms, and scolded before the gathering to ensure such acts would not be repeated.

But as we grew up and saw little and dwindling resemblance in public en-masse from the innocent lessons we were taught as kids, and also how little the affects were seen and even as to how little others cared, we thought "what the heck does it matter to continue doing the mundane task? Who cares? What difference does it make? and, how much can I alone change the world?"

And we too joined the crowd.

What we didn't realise is- WE ARE THE CHANGE. If we would do our bit, encourage our companion to do the same, and try to persuade our neighbours like-wise, it will make a difference. If we would care those who look up to us will care too. If we wouldn't join the crowd, our tiny bit of effort would join to contradict the harm!

*I have often been tagged teasingly by my friends and group-mates as "The environmentalist" for my efforts to ensure cleanliness by avoiding littering the grounds and ensure proper disposals in my presence. But it was all in good fun and it never hindered me from my commitment, for I knew I was right and I did it because I love my nation.*

To make our India really clean and beautiful, we need to clean our thought-process first and become a child at heart again. Do what we did as children to keep our surroundings clean, with the same diligence, zeal and belief.

Also, do use proper urinals and public hygeine,
Do not spit on the streets,
And follow the waste segregation technique propagated by the government. It very easy and effective way to channelise proper decomposition and recycle. We only need to discard the wastes separately according to their nature.

It is really strange if we think about it. The very bit of chocolate and chips wrappers or a rag of cloth which we cannot bear to keep few minutes longer till we can have access to proper garbage bins and so throw it off just then and there on the streets, it just doesn't bother us to walk through the same litter or drive past it.

But when the same litter gathers by our house-corners, OR is strewn in our court-yard by the winter breeze, OR when it clogs our drains and emits odour during summer, OR causes flooding of rain-water during monsoons, OR the corporation simply accumulates the same garbage at street corners and sets it on fire (because it is too messy and expensive to sort it out, recycle or properly decompose) AND the smoke suffocates us, OR the resulting pollution breeds air/water-borne diseases and food-infestations, we raise hell and blame all except ourselves not realising we were the root cause of all these evils.

We are being redeemed for our own mistakes! If we had not littered at the first place why would have any of these problems occured?

Do think it over and do the needful. It is for our nation and our own good.

Follow the swachh India campaign started in association with Dettol India at: http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/