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Flight to Freedom

All parents come to a stage where they want their kids to become independent and yet when the little things start to flutter their wings we want to snatch them back and hide them under our wings. I had one of these moments last week when my 8 year old went for a five day nature camp – (read: five days without me!) I think the excitement he displayed  and the fear he showed was more for my benefit than any real anticipation.

 

It began with me making a list of things he would need during his camp…or let’s just say ‘things I thought he will need’. Most of the stuff I packed – raincoat (they had predicted rains!), socks, snacks, shampoo, etc. – came back  unused. I worried how he will pass the four-hour drive –  he made friends in the bus itself. I gave him tetra packs of milk – one for each morning – he had hot chocolate with his new friends. I worried he won’t get any sleep on a new bed – he slept all alone on his bunk bed and snuggled with one of the volunteers when he had a nightmare.

 

At first I was curious about his days there. Being so used to planning all his activities throughout the day, it was strange not knowing what he would be doing. I know I sound like a complete control freak!  I did not know what to do. Maybe I should have given him a bigger bag, maybe I should have packed some more snacks, maybe…so many things I should have done and had not done. Shocking stories one hears about older kids bullying young ones started plaguing  me the moment he was out of sight. I actually had a minor panic attack the day he left. My husband quietly held my hand and gave me the space I needed to let it wash over me. And then he told me it was going to be okay.

 

And you know what…it was okay. We survived! After the first day or two I was okay with not knowing what he was doing. I felt guilty about it. Maybe I should have been worried, sad, anxious, but I was not. Was I betraying my son by not feeling sad about him not being with me. I think not. Was I disappointed the camp had not called me once during the five days saying my son was missing me? Maybe a little ;-). My son came back all black and brown, with dirt under his finger nails and mud in his hair. But best thing he got with him was a huge smile on his elfin face!!! And that is priceless.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Family, Feelings, Motherhood

 

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Sid is a Star!

Hey everyone!

 

Want to share some great news! My son’s blog www.siddipolis.wordpress.com got featured in Top 5 Children Bloggers: Meet The Kids Who Make The Difference. So proud of my little darling. He has come a long way from the first time we initiated this with him.

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We started last January, with him writing a simple journal – a minimum of 5 lines everyday. Initially it was a bit of a struggle as he would not know what to write about. Children are like sponges. They just soak, soak and soak experiences their every waking moment. It was an interesting journey to help him learn how to squeeze out some of that and express them into words. He drew adorable doodles to accompany his small accounts of some prank or some game he played with his friends. With little nudge and guidance, he flourished.

 

It gives me so much pleasure to see people visiting his blogs and reading about his experiences. I recommend all parents to inculcate this in their young ones. Here are some tips on how to get them started and help them along the way that I have learned –

  1. Start small – start with a simple journal which captures what happened during the day. This helps them write about something they know very well. Their friends, their class, some project they did in school, anything. As long as they write its good.
  2. Make time to read – After the child has written a journal make it a point to read it and suggest corrections. It is important for them that you read that they have put in an effort to write. Make it a point to sit with your child and read what they have penned down. If they feel you do not have time to read what they are writing they may not find it worth the effort and start seeing it as a chore.
  3. Appreciate – Give them small encouragements as you go along. Appreciate the fact that they wrote – no matter how small or how silly the journal is. Then follow it up with suggestions to make it better.
  4. Don’t over correct – While it is important to help them with the correct spellings and grammar and even sometimes on how to express something better. But be careful. You don’t want them to feel they are not doing a good job. Also, let them write in their own style and over time when they improve you can show them their older pieces and show how far they have come by being a regular writer.
  5. Respect their right to privacy – Kids are also not comfortable sharing their feelings with everyone. So do not share their journals / blogs without their permission.
  6. Encourage reading – Introduce your child to blogs by other children and on topics that they like. Use these blogs to suggest ways to make their’s better.
  7. Insist upon being regular – Instil the importance of being regular right from the beginning. Make it clear that it is non-negotiable. If not a big post / journal make sure they write some thing.
 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Love, Siddharth

 

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Of Morning Walks and Beaches

There is something pure about a walk on the beach. Waves crashing at your feet and pulling away the loose wet sand from underneath. I am not a morning person but if I am in a beach town I wake up just for this…all by myself.

 
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One of my first memories with the sea was during one of my first few trips to Goa. We chose to stay at the shacks on the beach. I was totally unprepared for the serene sounds of water lulling me to sleep only for crashing waves to wake me up. It was almost as if the sea was in tune with me. I remember waking up wondering what the loud noise was. As I stepped out of my room I saw great big waves crashing on the beach, calling out to me to come and play. It was like meeting an old friend. One look at beautiful horizon and I was lost. I did not even realise how far away form my room I had ventured…blissful with beautiful, playful waves.

 

The beach in Pondicherry is another one of my favourites. It is best enjoyed at sunrise but that also means you have a very short while with them before it gets hot and sunny. I went there in the January last year – the best time of the year to visit any beach town in India. With waves licking my feet I walked a long way on the beach and as always found myself far from where I had started. I came across an old fisherman village called Pudukuppam. On the fringes of the village stood a small temple, ruined and dilapidated. The village was almost razed to almost nothing in 2011 when Cyclone Thane hit the coast, wiping away precious life. But life moves on and the villagers now recall it only as hazard of coastal life. One is can hear notes of A. R. Rehman’s hits floating out of houses and find women sitting outside their houses, making small talk as they prepare their meals and play board games. I believe chance discoveries like these make for great memories.

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Women at Pudukuppam village playing a local board game

 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in travel

 

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Sweet Delights from the Desert Land

Rajasthan, a place rich with stories of the brave kings and beautiful queens, of ghoomars and borlas, of satis and johars, of deserts and mirages. Mesmerizing folk tales that take you back in time. With roots buried somewhere deep down, my tryst with the scorching lands of this magnificent state began when I was 4. While I have never stayed in the state, something in my Karma keeps bringing me back and tied to Rajasthan. Now I am married to a Rajasthani and thus have a lifelong relationship with this place.

This is the first part of my Rajasthan Dairies series where I will share stories and memories that I have collected over the years. Stories about the rich food, culture, traditions, history and some folk tales. I begin my story with my love for Rajasthan’s mouth watering sweets. While the state is synonymous for some popular ones, different cities have their own specialties. Every time my mother-in-law comes visiting she knows what we would love to see coming out of her bags. So much so that friends and colleagues have started keeping track of her visits. God help me if I happen to go to Jaipur and return empty handed (read without a box-full of sweets)!!! So, here’s a list of some of my favourites –

1. Ghewar – These are mesh-like disc shaped sweets made with all purpose flour and drenched with sugar syrup…slurrrp! My earliest memories of this sugar soaked delicacy is associated with the big round box it comes in, something like those hat boxes you see in Hollywood movies! A friend of my dad’s knew my weakness for these and would bring it with him every time he visited us from Jaipur.  Associated with the festival of Teej, which is celebrated in the month of August, these mouth watering sweets can be savoured as it is or with sweet rabdi or malai.

 

2. Churma – Popularly paired with the traditional Rajasthani dish of Dal-Bati, Churma is coarsely ground wheat crushed & cooked with ghee and sugar. It is flavoured by adding roasted and crushed dry fruits, kesar (saffron), rose petals etc.

 

3. Mawa Kachori – This sinful sweet is a meal in itself. It is a deep fried kachori (or wheat flour disks) stuffed with sweet mawa (milk cheese) mixed with dry fruits, nuts and soaked in sugar syrup. Loaded with calories, this sugary delight is a specialty of Jodhpur.  the uniqueness of this sweet lies in its multiple textures. Bite into the crispy outer layer and savour the juicy soft filling mixed with nuts.

 

4. Gunjhiyaan – Specially prepared around the festival Holi, a gunjhiyaan is similar to a mawa kachori. What distinguishes this sweet is its momo-like shape. After deep frying and dipping in sugar syrup it is rolled in grated coconut to give it a distinct flavour.

 

5. Mohanthal / Dilkhushar – Mohanthal, or Dilkhushar as it is sometimes called, is a sweet barfi made from gram flour. It is prepared in large quantities on special occasions like weddings and is an all times favourite among all. Its one of those sweets that you cannot eat just one. The name Dilkhushar means ‘something that makes your heart happy’. 🙂

 

6. Malpua – These are fried pancakes, again dipped in sugar syrup and garnished with finely chopped nuts. Malpuas are also prepared during weddings, especially winter weddings, and are served hot. One can have them as is or with rabri to give it different texture and offset the extremely sweet taste of sugar syrup.

 

7. Monng dal halwa – Last on my list of favourites is Moong dal halwa which is prepared from split yellow moong dal. Making this delicacy is a tedious process involving overnight soaking of the moong dal and grinding it into a paste. Then it is slow cooked with mawa and oodles of ghee and sugar until golden brown. My mom made them e very year on Diwali and now no Diwali is complete for me without a generous dose of this mouth watering sweet.

 

While these are some of the more popular ones, Rajasthani cuisine has many more sweet treasures to delight your sweet tooth. Every household has its own traditional sweets and no meal is complete without a sweet. An interesting tid-bit about Rajasthani sweets is that these are not called ‘desserts’ which is supposed to be had at the end of a meal. They are  had before, during and after the meal. So next time you are planning a trip to this majestic land indulge in its sweet delights and don’t worry about gaining some extra kilos. To know more about my adventures in the Desert land, follow my journey here.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in travel, world

 

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Make the Best of Weekend Getaways

Weekends are tailor made for short getaways and if there is an extra day or two thrown in in the form of a long weekend its too good an opportunity to let go. As weeks are becoming more and more stressfull this trend is catching up. People look for quick options to fulfill their travel quota. Some do it to de-stress and some to satisfy the travelling kida in themselves.

Having lived in Mumbai for the past 10 years I have had my share of these weekend escapades where we just up and leave the city to explore nearby locales. There are so many beautiful places to go to within driving distance near Mumbai…but I’ll save that for another post. What I want to share here are some key tricks I have picked up while on these trips that truely ensure you have a good detox on these getaways.

So here goes. My tips on how to make the most of short getaway trips –
1. Dont pack in too many things on the itinerary – remember the whole point of this is to destress. Don’t make this a tick-mark trip where you have to see everything and do everything. For once just sit still and let the peace settle in.

2. Travel light – since you are going for just 2 days refrain from packing in all the spoils of your latest shopping spree! Keep your baggage light…it helps to unpack fast when you return late on Sunday night and have work the next morning 🙂

3. Go in for a spa therapy – you may not be a spa person but make that rare exception and go for a spa. Let the massuer work their magic on your tired muscles. You’ll be grateful you did when you are hunching in front of your laptop on Monday morning. Couples can opt for joint spa sessions. Some places even offer family packs!

4. Rent a bike – If the place allows it rent a bike or a cycle and explore the local area. Finding a lesser known water fall in the middle of nowhere makes for a better anecdote than the air conditioned tour guides.

5. Drive down – Road trips have a charm of its own. Stop on the way to click that perfect sunset or to have freshly squeezed sugarcane juice at a village on the way. Play car games or just lose yourself in soulful music as the scenery passes by. Choose an old highway over the expressway – they are more picturesque :-).

6. Go Gypsy – Try staying at a homestay or rent a villa instead of booking into a resort or a hotel. Lots of websites today offer exciting off-beat stay options. Explore those. They are easy on the wallet too. Plus if you are lucky you get to taste the real authentic food.

So get your bags ready. 2016 is a year of many long weekends. Here’s a ready list for you to get started. Happy Holidaying 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in travel

 

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Holiday Art!

Some cute art by my 6 year old to make Christmas holidays interesting…

Ice cream stick art and clay art by Siddharth

Ice cream stick house by Siddharth

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Birthday cake for dad!

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Octopus family…daddy, mommy and sid

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Ice cream stick Dragon Fly

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Ice Cream Stick Dragon Fly & Garden Stool

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Motherhood, Siddharth

 

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Ramblings of a mother

Never have I been so conscious of my own shortcomings as I am now as a mother…to watch how I react every time I feel something. Then again, I think, by monitoring how I react, am I not killing my son’s spirit of spontaneity? While my lovely son has brought back the many delights of childhood in my adult life…the child in me longs for the freedom to be!

If I’m angry, I try not to show anger. If I am impatient over something, I try to be calm.  If I get a sudden fright, I try not to scream, lest I scare away the little one. If I get hurt, I do not howl, lest I’m teach my little one to howl every time he hurts himself. He is watching me at every step…every move I make becomes his role model to follow. Or adds to his confusion, because I am not perfect. But when I teach my kid, I teach him to be perfect. You should not cry over little things. You should not shout when angry or irritated. You should not run around when out. You should not hit someone just because they have annoyed you or taken your favourite toy before you could reach it! Etc. etc. etc… If my child goes to a shop and asks for things he likes, I tell him don’t pester. If he looks at things I know he likes and doesn’t ask for them he is suppressing his feelings because he has been taught not to pester.

I wonder why we lay so much stress on being good, doing the right thing, teaching the right behaviour? What happened to childlike spontaneity? Or is teaching behavior all about ingraining the childlike spontaneity with good reactions and actions?  What’s wrong, I say, with howling for 10 minutes when you hurt yourself? What’s wrong with hitting someone who has hit you? Oh! the confusion called motherhood.

At one end we teach our children to express freely, and in the same breath we teach them to monitor their feelings and not display extreme behavior. The balance between teaching good behavior and encouraging natural instinct is a fine line one needs to tread very carefully. The secret, I guess, is to guide and not teach or preach.  But who on earth has been able to unravel this secret?

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Daily Life, Feelings, Motherhood, People

 

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