International Labour Day Celebrations

Today, the First of May is International Labour Day. It is a day for celebration of labourers and working classes. Here is a story from the time when I started working. I was given a posting in Mumbai. Life in a big city teaches one a lot of things. I used to stay in a rented apartment with few of my colleagues. We used to get monthly salary. There were many freshers like us in that building.

There used to be an ATM and a few shops in the first floor of our building. They knew us within a few weeks. In the first few months, the arrival of salary used to be a big event. We would look forward to the first of the month. We hadn’t yet connected our cell numbers to our bank accounts. We would plan to check our accounts at the ATM while leaving for office but there was always a queue outside the ATM. While returning home, one of us would check her account in the ATM. She would come out with a big smile and announce “Salary has come”. This was a sight to see as everyone including the shopkeepers of the shops near the ATM and the security guard used to smile with us. This had happened once or twice. After that we all were placed in different projects which made it difficult for us to return home together. Still we used to get the news of salary arrival. It was from the security guard or the shop keeper. Your friend announced “Salary has come”. Our profession gives us an identity along with the freedom to make our choices. Everyday, the completion of work gives us a feeling of satisfaction. Our work motivates us to learn more to enhance our skills. I wish everyone Happy International Labour Day.

A day for Books

Today is World Book Day, a day to celebrate books and the love for reading. I was always fond of reading so the presence of this day simply means a lot to me. Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I look for is the library. I still remember the first book exhibition held in office. It was my first year of job. I was still learning to live in a new city with room mates. Books were my best friends. Smartphones had not yet entered the markets then. I went around the books and the first thing that caught my attention was a Pocket Dictionary or a Mini Dictionary. My eighth grade English teacher used to say “If possible, always keep a Pocket Dictionary with yourself”. Like an obedient student I bought the dictionary.

This Dictionary was a huge help everytime I came accross a new word. During the same time one of my room mates was preparing for open tests for Management studies. One day she was confused about a word while solving the english questions. I had pulled out the dictionary, found the meaning and helped her solve the question. I could see the appreciation in her eyes when I completed. I told her once you find a meaning using a dictionary, you will always remember it. From then onwards, she too used to follow the same method. A few weeks later there was a long weekend, all of had planned to go home. Before leaving, she too bought the same Dictionary. Books allow one to inspire others. I still love the fragrance of fresh binding. There is a book for each mood, whether sad or happy, bored or relaxed, fiction or non-fiction, etc. Whenever I find a person liking a book that I like, I immediately am able to connect to him or her. People say with the advent of various gadgets, the habit of reading may get impacted but I feel the excitement of having an interesting book will always remain the same. I would like to keep this day to set up a checklist for reading for the entire year. That would help us in continuing this hobby. How do you think one should celebrate the World Book Day?

Small but Unavoidable

Few years ago I had attended a cousin’s wedding. The dressing room was crowded because the bride was being dressed up there. So I and a few other cousin’s decided to explore the wedding hall primarily the menu. We were just going to begin with the starters when one of the aunts called us to the dressing room. She seemed very tensed. There was mayhem in the dressing room. The moment we reached, the bride’s mother instructed us to start looking for a blue colored box. We were expected to get to the task immediately. I thought one of the expensive jewellery was lost. Suddenly a small girl shouted “Found it”. The box was handed to the beautician. I asked her what is there in the box. She said safety pins. It seems the bride’s dress was so heavy that additional safety pins were needed to tuck it. Since so many valuable things were there to be taken care of, no one bothered about safety pins. It turns out that was the most important thing since it was impossible for the bride to stand for so many hours without being tucked.

It is not just in wedding. Once I was standing in line at the airport, suddenly I heard “Madam do you have a safety pin in your purse. I need it to restart my cellphone”. The person behind me said “Its for you”. I looked around, there were 20 guys behind and 20 ahead of me. No matter where you are, you may be requested for a safety pin. It might be small in terms of cost or size but its use is unavoidable. Today, 10th April is International Safety pin day. It just reminds me, one should not be judged by their appearence but by their abilities. Next time you go out, please ensure you have a safety in your purse, since it is small but Unavoidable.

April-2021 The Month of New Years

First quarter of the year has passed. There are a number of New Years in April in India. They are based on the Hindu Calendar. We visit each other, offer respect to elders by touching their feet and wish everyone. Its the time to eat home made sweets and wear new clothes. There are special songs dedicated to these days. In some places fairs are held on these days.

The schools close by mid April for summer vacation so these new years also mark the beginning of holidays. It is the time to grow beyond studies and be carefree for kids. As children of a cosmopolitan city, it used to be a month long celebration for us since everyday one or the other person had New Year. Personally I feel these traditional New Years give us an opportunity to rekindle our lives. It is common to lose motivation on the resolutions of 1st January. One can take this time to assess ones progress and motivation, if needed, can also modify the resolution. They give us an opportunity to assess the first quarter of the year and decide whether we want to spend the rest of the year in the same way or make changes. As the covid counts are rising again, it is time to assess our activities and be careful again, so that we can control the counts and beat the pandemic. Wishing everyone a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.

Penning on the Pen

Something came out while re-organizing the old cupboard which motivated me to pen my thoughts on the pen. It was my Grandfather’s fountain pen shown in the image above. I was in third grade, when I saw it for the first time. It was very special to my mother so one had to be really careful while holding it. I just wrote an ‘A’ with it and was simply amazed at the smoothness. From then onwards I started looking forward to writing with fountain or ink pen. Every time my mother re-organized that cupboard, I would take up the opportunity to use the pen. Most of the great litterateurs like Rabindranath Tagore, William Wordsworth, etc used to be shown with a Fountain pen. Seeing them a childhood fantasy began to take place in my mind. I started thinking, holding a pen would motivate one to write better.

We were allowed to use pens from grade 5. The results of an academic session use to come by post during summer vacation when I was in school. From the day, my Fourth grade results came, I started pestering my mother for an ink pen. The moment the ink pen came, I started studying the language textbooks and solving the assignments. Everyone was surprised since this happened 2 weeks before the school opened. They thought I was going through the change phase when mischievous kids become responsible. The reason was the fantasy. I always wanted to excel in language and have a beautiful handwriting. That is why I had took on the language textbooks. Even after the school started, I used to love doing anything which involved writing using the fountain pen. My school work was always up to date although my dress and fingers had ink stains. I realized my fantasy when I was in grade 8 and had moved to ballpoint pens. It is one’s thoughts and dedication which motivate a person but sometimes a fantasy inspires one to improve. Luckily I found a few fountain pens in an old pouch. Its so nice to look back and smile on those childhood fantasies.

A day for the Pranksters

Today is First April, which is often called the April Fools’ day. This is a day when people play simple pranks on their friends. The pranksters shout ‘APRIL FOOL’ after playing the prank. Most of us take these jokes lightly if played today.

April used to be a month of exams during my school days. So we would try to lighten the atmosphere with the excuse of April Fool’s day. One of the most memorable April Fools’ day happened within my team. One of my colleagues managed to play pranks on 6-7 people. She did it separately. On the same day, we had a team meeting. We all ended up complaining about her. I can still remember our manager’s face. He was neither able to laugh nor able to scold. Towards the end of the meeting we all were laughing. These simple events give a break from monotony. A year of social distancing and isolation has reminded us, it is so nice to meet others and have these special events. Every year I tell myself before going out, I should think before taking believing anyone but every year I get fooled. This it is different because I did not get fooled for the first time. It is because I did not go out. Let us pray that things go back to normal again and we are able to laugh together again.

Challenging the Marbles

A new children’s toy store opened near my house. I was passing by it on my way to the grocery store. My curiosity got the better of me and I ended up entering the shop. The colorful games are always a sight to behold regardless of the age. Among all the games, one game stood out. It was Brainvita and I ended up buying it. The very thought of challenging the marbles in this game fills me with energy.

This game has always been a challenge. I received the first Brainvita on my eighth birthday. Initially I used to end up with 8 or 9 marbles. I used to get bored after 1 or 2 games and give up. Most of my friends also ended up with same results. One fine day, someone asked me how intelligent I was. I did not have anything other than my scores. I asked myself, how should I confirm my intelligence. The answer was Brainvita. That day I decided to work on it. After playing for 2 hours I was able to complete a game with 3 marbles. The box said, if you end up with 3 marbles you are intelligent. I was happy and informed my mother. My mother asked if I would be able to reproduce it. That was a lesson for me, since I did not remember the steps to end up with 3 marbles. Before you claim anything, you should check all the facts. Same goes with our work, before marking anything complete, we should validate all the tasks have been done. It is most important to prove your expertise to yourself. Once you do that, you need not bother about what others think of you. I did continue my practice and eventually identified the steps to end up with 3 marbles. Sometimes I feel these solo games are a big motivation. If you want to turn your mind from negative thoughts just pick up brainvita and aim to get one marble. Soon you will be so engrossed that all the useless thoughts will be substituted by ways to find solutions. This is my way of activating my brain.

Enjoying with Colors

The festival of Holi happens when the season is about to change from Winter to Summer. There are warm days and cold nights. Many people fall sick. During my school days the final exam for an academic session used to happen in April. The month of march used to be full of internal assessment where our notebooks, workbooks and assignment books were checked. Falling sick had to be avoided because one may miss out on internal assessment.

On the day of Holi we used to prepare our bags with colors and pichkari. Pichkari is like a spray bottle. We would fill colored water in it and spray it on others. We would be given strict instructions to avoid water while leaving the house. Within 5 minutes of stepping out of the house, we would be colored and wet. In those days, cell phones were not common with kids so after 2 to 3 hours, it would be time for lunch. We would be so colored that it would be impossible to identify us. Calling up the neighbors to find out if we are near their house would not work. So our parents would come out in search of us. Once they found us, we would have to go home. That day we would spent long hours in shower. The rest of the day would be spent in instructions of being extra careful since we had exposed ourselves to the risk of getting cold by playing with water. The next day all of us would have colored faces. For a change, our school prefixes would be lenient in their checking. The amount of color on the face would show how actively one celebrated the festival. Although the festival of Holi would come right before the final exams, it would give us a colorful break from studies. I do pray those days come back again and we are able to meet everyone without the fear of getting sick. Wishing everyone a very Happy, Safe and Healthy Holi.

Here comes the King

Last week the vegetable vendor brought raw mangoes. Mango is called the king of fruits. It is a seasonal fruit and is available during summer only. If there is anything which makes us look forward to summers it is mangoes. This tasty yummy fruit just makes everything pleasant.

Mango is consumed in a number of ways. As soon as raw mangoes appear in the market, the terrace of the houses are full of jars. Raw mangoes are cut and marinated with spices and oil. They are then dried in the sun in jars to make pickles. This way mango is consumed the whole year. Raw mango is sour in taste. I would cut raw mangoes, tomatoes and cucumber into small pieces, sprinkle rock salt and squeeze a lemon. This salad just makes my day. We even add it in pulses/lentils to make mango dal. This seasonal fruit reminds us, nothing is permanent in life, be it good times or bad times. Today we all are going through a challenging phase. Tomorrow is Holi the festival of colors. Normally we would go to everyone’s house with colors and wish them but this year due to rising Covid cases, community functions are not happening. So no socializing during Holi. I believe this bad phase will also pass and we will be able to come together again one day. We should make the most of the situation. Stay at home, spend time with your family and have lots of mangoes as long as they are available fresh.

Celebrating Earth hour

Today, 27th March 2021 is the Earth Hour 2021. It is a world wide movement organized by World Wide Fund for Nature on the last Saturday of March. It is held every year by switching of non-essential electric lights for one hour between 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. We used to spend this time singing songs or reciting poems. We are so habituated of electric equipment that we cannot think of life without it. Pollution is increasing every day. Conserving forests and wild life has become a necessity. This day is meant to remind us of our responsibility towards our planet.

During lockdown many people spent their time on digital media. We all are aware of the side effects of looking at a screen for long hours. At the same time, there were many who came up with creative activities. People realized gardening is actually fun. They created beautiful vegetable gardens in their compounds and even on their balconies in flats. As one starts studying plants, seeds and manure, one realizes there is so much to do. One can use everything from broken mugs to jars to old boxes. I often used to wonder if every community had a green balcony competition or a green compound competition, where the greenery in each house or apartment would be judged. The one with the most healthy plants would be declared a winner. Every apartment would look so beautiful. How would it be if every kid’s school project included nurturing a plant for an academic year. This would help the child to learn so much. I think if all of us do our bit in increasing greenery and reducing carbon footprint, the world would be a better place to stay. Let us try to make this Earth a better place on this Earth hour.