Tag Archives: children

A Beautiful day

Sunshine in Winter (Sardi ki Dhoop) has often been used as a sign of soothing beauty in Hindi poetry. I was never convinced about it being soothing until today. Today morning I woke up early because the room seemed to be too bright. I was a bit grumpy but when was surprised when I opened the curtains. After weeks of rain and snow, it was sunny today. The temperature had risen by a few degrees. I decided to spend the entire day outdoors. The best way to start was by thanking God Almighty, so I went to the Sri Venkateshwara temple. Every building, shop, board and even the leafless trees, on the way, seem to be enjoying the sun. The temple too seemed to be shining in the sun and encouraging everyone to enjoy this day.

The Glorious temple

The Glorious temple

I was so inspired that I went to the community park. The entire park seemed to have come to life. The kids were just too happy to be outdoors.

The sprawling park

The sprawling park

After spending weeks with heavy woolen clothes, it was a relief to walk without sweaters for a day. The kids were running from here to there. Their laughter and cheer just made up for the missing flowers. The pets just couldn’t believe they were finally out for a long walk. The entire park seemed to be like a colorful pleasant picnic spot. Infact I felt so light that I walked for more than 2 miles at a stretch, a feat I could never achieve even on a treadmill. The sunshine seemed to have rubbed on everyone, as every person I passed had a broad smile. I left only after it started getting cold.

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I think this applies to our lives as well. We are so engrossed in our daily lives that we grumble whenever there is a change. But just remove the curtains and you will be surprised as someone truely said, Opportunities are like Sunshine.

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A Fair to remember

The colorful entrance to the fair

The colorful entrance to the fair

This Friday a friend of mine messaged me about a fair going on in my city. I googled about it and found its the North American Martyrs Summer Festival in Monroeville, PA. We left around 7:00 pm. This was the first time I was going to attend a fair abroad. Once we reached there the biggest challenge was to find a parking place. After parking we thought we will have to walk a lot but there was a shuttle to the fair.

Amazing rides

Amazing rides

As soon as we reached there, I was reminded of my school days. There used to be a ‘Summer Mela’ in my hometown Baroda. Visiting that fair used to be in the wish list of every child. It used to be a colorful fair with rides and delicious food stalls. This fair had all these elements. All the stalls were decorated with colorful balloons. There were rides, games and food. The aroma of fresh fries and cold ice-cream just aroused our taste buds. Everywhere kids were running, playing and shouting. To make this entire fair musical a live band played songs from 50s, 60s and 70s. I loved the rock and roll songs.

Live band in fair

Live band in fair

In this age of high tech entertainment, nothing equals the satisfaction of attending a fair. They seem to have fun for people of all age groups. The presence of family brings in security. It also allows us to spend quality time with our family. These are the opportunities when all the generations of the family come together and have a great time. By the time we returned it was late night, but we were so rejuvenated that we walked till the parking lot. Next time you visit a new place, make sure you attend the local fairs.

Food stalls

Food stalls

Vasant Panchami

Goddess Saraswati

Goddess Saraswati

Today was Vasant Panchami. It means the fifth day of spring. In eastern side of India, it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja and falls generally in the month of February. The academic session in India begins from June and ends in April. The tension of exams starts clouding from February. Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of learning. Hence Saraswati Puja is very important for every person learning something be it studies, music, art, etc. It is a very special day for 3 year olds. They are dressed in traditional attire of dhoti or saree. The priest makes them write a few alphabets on a slate with chalk. This is called ‘Hathe Khodi’. It marks the beginning of education in a person’s life. During our school days we used to dress up in new clothes mostly yellow and go to the venue with our school books. We offered our prayers with flowers to Goddess Saraswati. Then we used to have competitions for drawing, poetry recitation, etc. The flowers used for the ceremony were often taken by the students to be kept in books. I used to make sure those flowers are placed in all my textbooks, particularly those of mathematics. I still remember once a classmate in college started teasing me when a rose was found in one of my books. But the entire joke came to an end when I said its the flower from the Saraswati puja ceremony.

Detailed view of decorations

Detailed view of decorations

This year I wanted to attend this ceremony. It was going to be organized by the Bengali association of Pittsburgh. I was glad when my friend Sahana said she too was also going there and I can join them. It was -12 degrees Celsius as we drove. All the way there was snow on both sides of the road. I was reminded of my school days as soon as we entered the hall. The goddess was decorated with bright flowers. People were dressed in their traditional best. The kids looked elegant in their cute dresses. Everything was just as I had always celebrated, the prayers, the flowers and ofcourse the food. It was the super tasty khichadi with mixed veg curry, chutney, sweet, papad and fruits. We immediately felt at home inspite of being strangers. Below is my platter:

The delicious prasad

The delicious prasad

I am very thankful to my friend Sahana for taking me there. Kudos to the Bengali association of Pittsburgh for organizing this event so far. I just hope Goddess Saraswati blesses us all with knowledge. Happy Vasant Panchami and Happy Saraswati Puja.

Mastani summers

Yummy Pista Mastani

Yummy Pista Mastani

There is one thing which makes me long for summers. It is the cold delicacies like icecream, lassi, etc. They not only provide respite from the scorching heat but also lighten up my mood with their sweet taste. They seem to flock the markets as soon as the summers begin.

Pune has a special dish called “Mastani”. It is a mix of cold milk shake and icecream. The cold milk cools down the thirst and the icecream provides the much needed sweetness. It comes in different flavours ranging from pista to strawberry to orange to chocolate. In summers you also get a mango flavour. Not only the taste but the mode of serving is also unique. It is served in a long glass with a straw and a long spoon. For some flavours like pista it is also decorated with nuts. After a sumptuous dinner its just the right thing to have with your family.

The restaurants serving mastani have a pleasant sight. They are generally filled with families with children excited over their mastani. It is served in different parts of pune. This is one of the things one should have. So the next time you are in pune, you know what to have for dessert.

Be a healthchaser

According to the statistics of WHO, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight. Today most of the parents are educated and aware of the problems of obesity then why do so many kids suffer from this problem. I observed a few kids and found the following:

1. Most of them have a liking towards fast food. Somehow I do not see this craze for fruits.

2. Many are glued to television or computer games for hours which explains the reason for the long queues for spectacles.

3. Some of the advertisements just point out the demerits of going out in the sun. As a result many people stay indoors.

I understand due to the fast growing cities, the number of playing grounds are reducing. But most of the schools still have their grounds. There are swimming classes at many places. Similarly most of the sports clubs also offer coaching. Also the parents can form an association and hire any sports ground for practice. In my building, the parents formed a group and hired a karate teacher to come and teach in our building premises. Last year a skating instructor was invited. There was no need to take the kids anywhere, which made it possible for working mothers also to send their kids for an activity. Every evening while returning from office, I used to get refreshed just at the sight of those kids learning something new on their vacations.

Today I read an article which mentioned about All India Kaustubh Memorial Basketball Tournament, Navi Mumbai Basketball League and Navi Mumbai under-16 Football League getting started. Kudos to Times of India for highlighting these news. I think even these small events need to have proper coverage, only then the kids will be motivated to pursue these hobbies. Also awareness related to healthy eating should be spread through television. One such initiative was launched by Radio mirchi to inspire people to pursue an activity. The parents need to understand that the kids should be motivated to go out, play and chase the sun to be healthy. I just hope the number of children suffering from obesity reduces.

Exams!!!!!!!

The academic session in India begins in June and ends in April. The end of March signals the beginning of exams. This has more effect on human life than any season. The neighbourhoods become quiet and kids spend more time indoors. Most of them have tension on their faces. These days the competition begins right from kindergarden and so even the parents move around with a very serious face.

As a kid I used to become very scheduled during this time. Getting up on time, studying and reducing on watching television. Everyday when the morning alarm used to ring, I used to tell my lazy self, “Its just for a month and then you will be free after the exams”. When I see the kids today, nothing has changed it seems. The same tension, the same schedule and the same anxiety. The exams make a child realize the importance of being regular with studies. It also explains the need to take up the responsibility of one’s studies. At my home, there used to be a new tension after exams. My mother used to be a teacher. As soon as the exams used to be over, her paper checking used to start. I still remember watching television endlessly whereas mom checking for hours.

The only people happy are the ones who are in 10th and 12th grades. The board exams get over by march end and so does their ordeal. The 10th graders are the happiest as the first challenging exam is over. Consequently the multiplexes are filled with them.

To all the people having exams, just put in your best. All the best.