Tag Archives: india

Discovering a Hero

For most of us, our father is our first Hero. How would you feel if you found your father had achievements in bravery. The wars (1962, 1965, 1971) fought by India after independence (15 August 1947) are present in our school history. As we study about these our hearts are filled with pride for the defence services.

This year marks 50 years of the victory of the 1971 war. Let me share my school story on this war. The teacher had given an elaborate description of the bravery of our defense services during this war. I was so moved that I repeated the same description to my mother in the evening. My father listened to all this with a smile. At the end, I said I wish we could have met a war veteran of 1971. My mother replied “Why only 1971, you can meet a war veteran who was in both 1965 and 1971 wars. He is sitting right in front of you”. She pointed at my father. That day I came to know my father had started his career from Indian navy and was a two time war veteran. I never heard him speak about this. He showed me his war medals after I insisted. I don’t have words to explain how proud I was of my father. It seemed like discovering a hero further. I have seen people talking endlessly about their smallest of achievement but my father never spoke about his achievements. He taught me “Actions are louder than words”.

I have met so many people in my life but am yet to meet another war veteran. True heroes never speak about their achievements. They just do their work with selfless dedication. The discipline and dedication of Defense brings out the best in people. My father taught me many things through his life. I hope these values remain in our lives. I wish everyone a “Happy Father’s Day”.

Memories with Tea

Today May 21, 2022 is International Tea Day. Tea is referred to as Chai in India. It is a beverage made from tea leaves, milk, water, sugar, ginger and is served hot. It is so popular in India that there is hardly any road which does not have a tea stall.

It has a special meaning in every person’s life. There are many things associated with it. It is a morning ritual in many families where everyone start their day by having tea together. We also have it with evening snacks which gives us an opportunity to have informal chat with our colleagues. Infact so many discussions happen with tea that there is a famous phrase “Chai pe Charcha”, which means discussion on Tea. It is the first thing served when guests arrive. The taste changes based on preference of ingredients especially the ratio of milk and water. It can be enhanced by adding Tulsi (basil leaves), cardamom, cinnamon, etc. These additional features became permanent for many people during the pandemic because of their benefits against cough and cold. There are some people who seem to have the ability to make amazing tea.

When you make tea for someone it shows you care for that person, which means a lot today. There are many stories associated with tea so I am very happy that there is a day dedicated to it. For me, tea is an opportunity to create memorable moments. Happy International Tea Day to everyone.

Red pens everywhere

The months of March and April are full of examinations in India as the academic session comes to an end. The situation of students is discussed in a lot of forums but very places have mention about the teachers. Being the daughter of a teacher, I have witnessed the situation on their side as well.

My mother was a teacher and was very economic, she always bought pens with replaceable refills. She would plan her schedule way before the examination season so we will see bulk of red refills bought. As soon as the exams would start, she would get bundles of answer sheets to check. Mom would make sure she had all the resources to check answer sheets no matter where she was in the house. So red pens would be placed on study table, dining table, coffee table or any other place where she might sit for 15 minutes or more. As the exams progressed, the refills would start getting over quickly. One day I needed to sign some form and I picked a black pen. My father came rushing with a loud “STOP”. He asked me try the pen in a rough paper. As soon as I scribbled on the rough sheet, I realized the black refill of the pen was replaced with red refill. Even the refills of the non-red pens were replaced with red refill. He gave me a black pen to sign the form. He kept it carefully in the cupboard with a “This is one of the last few pens with non-red refill left in the house”.

Today when I see students going for exams, it takes me back to my school days when we would stand outside the examination hall doing last minute revision till the bell was rung. It was the thought of the long summer vacation after exams that would keep me going. Next time you visit the house of a teacher during exams, don’t be surprised to see red pens everywhere.

Welcome normalcy with colors

My plate of colors for this Holi

The festival of Holi was on 18th march in 2022. There are news of reducing covid counts in India which makes this festival even more special. This is also called the festival of colors. I happened to visit a nearby market a week before and found the shops full of dry colors. Also the different types of instruments to spray water are amazing. The sight of these takes me back to my school days.

We celebrate this festival by applying colors on each other. People prepare special sweets. We used to visit each house in groups and were welcomed with home made sweets during our school days. Its been a month since the schools have opened for all classes. Kids are happy to be at the school premises after attending online school for almost two years. People seemed to be so happy with return of normalcy that they have extended the celebration to two days. Since 18 th march was a holiday so students and teachers were allowed to play holi in school premises on 17th march. For a change both students and teachers became kids.

We play with colors from morning till afternoon. The mischievous ones even mix colors in water and user the water sprinkler toys to sprinkle water on others. Although most of the color is washed off but sometimes we apply so much color that it stays even after repeated scrubbing. Those left over colors show how much a person has celebrated the festival. Most of the neighbourhoods organize commmunity dinners. We too went for one. There a fifth grade boy had a colorfull chin and ear. I jokingly asked him how would he explain the colors on his face and ear to his teacher in school the next day. He very sweetly replied “Now we need not bother because both my chin and ear would be covered by mask”.

I hope the vaccines are found for all age groups and no one falls sick. May this Holi bring happiness, prosperity and health for everyone. Happy Holi to everyone.

Bravehearts on Bikes

We celebrate the Republic Day on 26th January in India. A large parade is organized in the capital New Delhi which is telecast live in national channel. It is a ritual in my family to watch the parade. We used to have a flag hoisting ceremony in school followed by march past. It used to get over by 8:30 am in the morning. I used to rush home to catch the national parade from the start. The parade has march past and tableus of different states and government departments.

This year we celebrated the 73rd Republic Day. One of my most cherished part of the parade is where formations were done on running bikes. The precision with which people stood on bikes and saluted always awed me. I used to wonder about the countless hours one must have spent in reaching that level. This year it was also done by women. If it was only possible to know the emotional and physical effort, it would have inspired so many people. It is strange we have so many stories of hard work around us but very few of them reach us inspite of so many mediums like TV, ott, etc. I wish the series makers would have taken the stories of these ladies and shared. It would have made a huge difference. This year we also celebrated the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhashchandra Bose who happens to be my favorite national leader. This made the Republic Day more special for me. I think these national days play an important role in reminding us about the fruits of hard work. Wishing everyone a Happy Republic Day.

Preparing for Diwali

Diwali Diyas

Today is Diwali and Kali Pujo. I always look forward to this time of the year. Its a holiday all over India. We used to have a mini vacation of 3 weeks during our school days. Preparations start way before the festival. Bedsheets, cushion covers, curtains, etc to be put up on this day are pulled out, cleaned and ironed. The entire house is cleaned and sometimes renovated. All these activities bring a lot of excitement for the kids as there are new things to do everyday. I used to enjoy setting up the diyas or lamps on the Diwali evening. The chief attraction was the crackers. We would go with our father and get the crackers.

These days I see a lot of hue and cry over pollution due to crackers. This year it is so much in news that sometimes it makes me feel guilty of using crackers as if our crackers are the only reason for pollution. At the same time a thought comes to my mind that Diwali is only for a few days in a year but the pollution increases the entire year. Just as we prepare our houses for the festival, can we not reduce the pollution the entire year. If we reduce the use of vehicles and rely more on walking or cycling for small distances, we would not only cut down on pollution but also improve our health. Even for work, if people opt for carpool or public transport, traffic may be reduced. Additionally people can also plant more trees. These habits would not only create better environment but also better health.

Today evening when I went out to light the diyas, it was dark. As soon as the diyas were lighted, the darkness was removed. The world has faced a lot of loss and sadness in the last 2 years. Diwali reminds us that we can come out of the darkness of dispair through the light of knowledge and persistence. This has been proved by the development of Vaccines. Let us not take away the enjoyment of festivals but use it as an opportunity to create a better life. May this Diwali bring happiness and joy in all your lives. Happy Diwali to everyone.

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.

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.

Celebration of Learning

Today is Vasant Panchami, a festival to welcome spring in India. It is celebrated on the fifth day of month of Magh in Hindu Calendar. It is either in February or last week of January. The celebrations are performed to welcome spring(Vasant). In East India, people worship Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati is called the Goddess of learning, music, knowledge and arts. We dress up in yellow, decorate the temples with yellow flowers. We put up our books and musical instruments at the house temple. With the exams scheduled for April, we pray to the Goddess to bless us with good scores. Community functions are organized where we all meet up. This is special for kids who are about to start schooling. A ceremony called “Hathe Khodi” is performed. The priest prays in the name of the kid and then helps him/her write a few alphabets with chalk on the slate.

During my school days we used to have drawing competition and poetry recitation competition making it a celebration of learning. The poetry competitions were very special. I learnt to face the stage from them. We used to be given a poem of one of the notable Bengali poets. The community hall used to be filled by members. We had to stand on stage and recite it. It used to be interesting to see different kids recite the same poem. The first poem I had recited was Lichu Chor. It describes the experience of a village lad while stealing lychee and getting caught. I was 8 years old. I could remember only 4 lines from the middle of that poem today. Funny part is these were the lines that I forgot while reciting on stage. There are music and dance performances. These events made me realize my love for performing arts. This year the celebrations were different with social distancing and mask rules in place. On this Saraswati Puja, I pray to the Goddess Saraswati the pandemic phase gets over and life returns to normalcy. Happy Vasant Panchami.

Celebrating the Republic Day

My mother was surprised to see me awake early today before 5:00 am. I told her its 26th January and I am at home. 26th January is celebrated as the Republic Day in India. The Indian Constitution was created after Independence. The new constitution came into force on 26th January 1950. From then onwards, every year this day is celebrated as the Republic Day. This is one of the special events of winter. My school used to start at 7:30 am. We used to start practicing march-past 2-3 weeks before republic day. For this practice we used to reach school by 6:30 am in cold. I used to get up before 5:00 am to reach on time. Maybe this was the reason I woke up early today. The house captains used to align us based on our heights. The school band used to play the drum and we would practice march-past for days. “Haven’t you seen the march-past of Republic day!” This was the ending statement of every scolding of every teacher and captain for every mistake during the practice.

We used to have a dry run of the entire ceremony on the previous day. Before the Republic Day, I used to iron my uniform and polish my shoes. On 26th January, I would wake up early to dress up in freshly ironed uniform and put on the polished shoes. Then my mother would tie up two tight plats. We would reach school on time, stand in our designated positions. Then the march-past would begin. We would walk a path across the playground. Then the principal would come and unfurl the flag. As soon as the flag unfurls, we would sing the national anthem. The event used to complete by 8:30 am. We used to rush home, to catch the Republic Day Parade at the capital New Delhi. The defense parade is followed by the tableau of different states and national organizations. We used to discuss about our favorite tableau for the next few days. Our Constitution gives equal opportunities to everyone. We have leaders who have come from humble backgrounds. They have proved themselves through their work. They always inspire me to strive to be better. This year I watched the entire parade like school days. As the day comes to an end, I hope everyone is inspired to do their best and make 2021 a great year. Happy Republic Day.