Friday, December 27, 2013

To Children with Love :)

This post is a part of the 1001 Gifts Activity by HDFC Life in association with BlogAdda

When it comes to choosing suitable gifts for children, we hardly go beyond dolls, sweets or clothes. A gift acquires deeper connotations when it affects the life of the child in the long run and in a positive way. I think, manners and culture are imbibed by the children from their parents and society. Also, apart from things like love, prayers, good wishes, care and security, that come naturally, I wish to gift them something extra. If I were to make a list of five things I would gift a child, it would go like this-

       I)  My Extra Time

When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it's like giving them emotional oxygen.
                                                                                           -Stephen Covey 

What better can we gift children than our time, a listening ear and emotional support. Emotionally unfulfilled childhood can never lead to a healthy mindset in life. Most of the people with personality aberrations are those who have had abnormal and disturbed childhoods. A child is dependent on someone, is innocent about most of the things and trusts people easily; it becomes our responsibility to give him/her positive impressions and to safeguard him/her from CSA (Child-Sexual-Abuse) and child-predators. Hence, I will make sure that I give quality time, emotional support and an open environment to the child.

People have different emotional levels. Especially, when you're young.
                                                                                                    -Bob Dylan 

Many of my friends have been the ‘latch-key kids’, a term for children of working parents who keep a separate key and manage everything alone after coming from school. A friend told me how he would come from school, warm the already cooked food, change and leave for tuitions. In the evening, his tired parents would have almost no time for him. This thing has now created a wall between them. My friend has become emotionally detached, has got a life of his own and does not bother much for the parents, and feels it’s a sort of tit for tat. Absence of parents on emotional front can create a deep void, impossible to be filled later.

II)  Pets

Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.

                                   -Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘The Basis of Morality

Company of pets not only makes a child positive, happy and sensitive towards emotions but kind as well. Pets are great stress reducers and children are happiest with them, as per a research. Children must be taught right from the beginning to be kind to animals. One can know true love and friendship only if one loves an animal; it awakens one’s soul and makes one tolerant and patient. Hence, the company of pets is very important for healthy emotional development of any child. I too had a dog who was my best buddy! Hence, being kind to animals is what I will teach right from the very beginning so as to make sure that my tree, when grows up, is laden with flowers of kindness and not thorns.

III)  Languages

The conquest of learning is achieved through the knowledge of languages.
                                           -Roger Bacon, ‘The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon’

The time, effort and money spent in learning an extra language(s) can never go waste. In these times of ever increasing communication and travelling, every professional has become a globe trotter. Therefore, knowing even a single extra language will vastly add to the knowledge of the child. Also, another most important reason is that, learning a language opens up the doors of its literature thus elevating the intellectual standards. Armed with the knowledge of other languages, he/she will be able to fully exploit the global opportunities coming in way.

IV)  Self-Defense Training

            क्षमा शोभती उस भुजंग को जिसके पास गरल हो
                          उसको क्या जो विषहीन विनीत सरल हो
                                                            - शक्ति और क्षमा

These famous lines from the poem ‘Shakti Aur Kshama’ by the famous Hindi poet Ramdhaari Singh ‘Dinkar’ describe how only the strong have a power to forgive. Self-defense which is all about physical and mental toughness is usually perceived as the art of beating the other person to pulp or something to impress girls. In fact it is one of the most misunderstood arts in the world. Self-defense means making oneself strong enough that if adverse conditions arrive, one can save his/her and others’ lives.

A timid and a pessimistic personality is indeed a curse in this world where only power rules. A lot of children are bullied in schools, buses and social groups and unfortunately take that bullying lying down, hoping that the bully will leave once he gets bored. This can work once or twice; I feel strongly hitting back is required to make sure that no one can take the child for granted. In severe cases, if required, the parents may intervene sometimes. Saving a child from being bullied and inculcating an innate sense of self-confidence and dignity is like making a strong foundation.

Recently, a girl saved herself from getting raped with this art. Not just boys, but girls too, should learn this holistic art that not only makes the body strong and tough but is also very calming for the mind. I once saw on NG Channel about a man in Thailand whose brother was murdered brutally. To avenge his death that man learned ‘Muay-Thai’, a martial art but by the time he became proficient in it, he was too clam and positive to take revenge and instead, forgave the murderers’! Hence, self-defense esp in today’s time seems more like a necessity. Actor Akshay Kumar credits his success to his black belt training in Karate only!

The child should be pulled out of his comfortable cocoon, be thrown out in the rain and sun so that he emerges out a winner and as a more experienced person.

V)  Secured Funds

             माता शत्रुः पिता वैरी,येन बालो पाठितः।

                     (Parents who do not educate their children are like enemies)

This old Hindu ‘sholka’ describes the importance of education. Nothing can be achieved without it and for that, we need funds, a lot of funds. Our loving family, a fit body, culture and everything will be of no use if we do not have good education and career, hence monetary aspects are important too. Money is what keeps world going and people work only on incentives. Leaving everything on fate is a sheer foolishness; after all everything is based on ‘give and take’. Planning for future is the most important thing and taking in view the ever rising costs and inflation, I will gift him/her a plan that keeps the future safe and can be used in the time of need. I think, a policy like the ‘HDFC Young StarsPlans’ will be one of my most important gifts for a child.

There is a Persian saying that goes like

जिसके हाथ में हुनर, उसे मुफलिसी का क्या डर

(One who has a skill, need not fear penury)

How true! One must have a skill or art to keep his stove-fires burning even in rough weather. We cannot always depend on one job or a business. A skill or art will always be there in difficult times like, say, recession or financial depressions. For acquiring such a skill, obviously, funds are needed; hence, investing wisely in a policy becomes an essential part of the whole financial planning for a safe future.


This post is a part of the 1001 Gifts Activity by HDFC Life in association with BlogAdda.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thank and Pray

I came across some really touching photographs on social media and Internet. These pictures are painfully stirring and I do not have more words to describe my feelings. I was rather stoned into silence when I saw these. These pictures will also make us stop cribbing about our lives. I hope so. It is not my purpose to drown you into gloom and sadness. Rather, I feel that along with our personal celebrations this New year, we must take out a moment to pray for peace and happiness for all the beings trapped in such bitter conditionsSome of the pictures are given below.

A baby elephant is trying hard to wake up his dead mother, shot by hunters.

An Afghan war survivor eats a bread made of grass.

A child bride enjoys her marriage ceremony, not understanding what it really means. Her groom sits next to her.

A mental asylum in Kandahar, Afghanistan. All the patients are usually tied to hooks. That's the treatment they receive for their whole lives.

A young cancer patient.

No words...

These are just married Child-brides with their husbands who will be legally allowed to consummate marriage once these girls enter 9th year of age.

Finally, something positive- A dog saved from drowning by a dolphin.

My sincerest apologies if these have spoiled your mood for any reason but I could not stop myself from sharing these pictures. 

This New Year, kindly thank God for the life you have.

I got these images via e-mail fwds or on social media.
Internet Links of Images (as traced on Google)-

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Friendships & Love for Dove!

Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O! The joys, that came down shower-like,
Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty.
               - S. T. Coleridge, ‘Youth and Age’

Writing for this contest made me recollect the fragmented memories of many long lost friends. In the course of life, we meet different people, each one unique in his/her own way. They not only enrich our lives but give us sweet memories too. Honestly, I never had a steady best friend till college. I will start chronologically.

When I was very young, I used to live at my ancestral house with my mother, as my father was posted to North-East India. In a big combined family with grandparents, aunts and uncles, life was as interesting and colorful as it could be! I was admitted in the same school where my young and attractive aunt had just started her career as a teacher. A same-age cousin was my best friend then and we were too young to indulge in adventures, but I remember we used to laugh and run the whole day! After that, my father was transferred to another city.

In my growing up years, I have met various people from varied backgrounds and cultures. My school friends were like siblings to me and I was really close to a few of them. I can recollect some other memories too- Shaheen was my best friend then. We loved to talk, read ‘Tin-Tin’ and ‘Chacha Choudhary’ comics, and create origami paper art she was very good in. I distinctly remember a funny incident when we tried to create our own language! We used symbols for words and developed a funny manuscript. The entire thing was fun but our ‘valuable’ manuscripts were discovered by a teacher who wondered what we girls were upto! We also made a group ‘SPAN’ where ‘S’ and ‘A’ stood for our initials and ‘P’ and ‘N’ of two other friends. We also got a ‘logo’ by our art teacher who lovingly designed for us! I still remember those sweet incidents! What a lovely time it was!

I also remember a good friend named Srinivasan, who was a maths genius. Sadly, he left the school after his father’s demise. School time was also quite loaded with homework. Like my friends, I too was left with little time for extra things.

Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of Spring's unclouded weather,
In this sequester'd nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And flowers and birds once more to greet,
My last year's friends together.
- William Wordsworth, ‘The Green Linnet’

After a few years, a studious girl called Ananya became my best friend. We used to exchange books and magazines, and enjoyed common games like teacher-teacher and ‘stapoo’ (a game played with seven stones). Our disgust with the common girlish game ‘ghar-ghar’ makes me laugh even now! We were best buddies for some years but a rift emerged after her foul mouthed elder sister spoke to me rudely on a few occasions. We reconciled later but her sister again, did the same but this time, was given a befitting reply by my mother who clearly told her to mind her tongue. Though she came to our house and apologized, I was too put off to continue our friendship and hence, that lovely chapter with Ananya ended.

I also remember a light-eyed boy (of my age) who had a longish name but was fondly called Naasir or something like that. He used to play with me and my best friend sometimes. With his gift of the gab, he always made us roll on the floor with laughter! Although he was never that close to me, I remember him because his family looked as if straight out of an Afghan city. His father, a burly and sturdy Pathan, looked fierce. His mother resembled the late actress Madhubala! Ya seriously! The entire family was extremely good looking! Although his father looked rugged, he was a sweet natured man with a soft heart and an ever smiling face! Looks can be very deceptive sometimes!

Life! we've been long together
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear--
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
--Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good Night,--but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good Morning.
                                                                     - Anna. L. Barbauld, Life’

When I entered my teenage, a girl called ‘Disha’ became my best friend. Even though we were together only for two years, we struck a deep bond and became very close! I can easily recall adventures with her. Once, during the Diwali time, we went to a nearby fair and ate so many ‘gol-gappas’* that we could hardly walk and this made us laugh like lunatics! We sat on a bench and laughed and laughed! One day, we decided to do something exciting! We ordered a lot of grocery from a local store over the telephone and sent it to her friend’s house! One day, we came for a stroll and did not realize that it was 11:00 pm till our parents came searching for us! The teary farewell and our last hug are still fresh in my mind when I had to leave that city as my father got transferred again. We did stay in touch for sometime but then got busy with the rising pressures of academics.

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

In high school, ‘Roshini’ became my best friend. We used to give each other our autographs and talk a lot about many things; rather any topic under the sun was enough to spark a non-stop chatter! I remember an incident then- There was this nice and sweet half-Indian-half-Chinese girl in my class. One day, out of sheer curiosity, we innocently asked her if they really cook lizards and roaches for supper. After that, she never spoke to us again! That incident always made us laugh! I learned many things from her. She always smiled and had a very positive personality, and hence she was mostly out of the trouble! After school, we joined different colleges and as usual, after sometime, lost touch.

In college, Megha became my best friend. She is still my best buddy and my soul-sister. We have gone out innumerable times and shared the deepest secrets of our hearts! From mimicking our professors to playing practical jokes on friends, we have done it all! It is not just about adventures, we have learnt a lot too.

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” 

                                                                                                       - Helen Keller

When I went through a very rough patch in 2008, she cared more than my own relatives. So, when you are with your best friend, every minute seems like a fun filled adventure. I still have no idea about her income or official status because all this does not matter in true friendship.

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey'd,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride
- Shakespeare, ‘Sonnets’ (104)

Friends never grow old and ugly. They enrich and nurture our lives with love and care. Apart from the fun filled precious memories, the most important gift of true advice is what best friends can give each other. I made many friends, some close, some not, two left me for their heavenly abode while some simply faded away. I may not be in touch with them now but their bitter-sweet memories will always make me smile! Ditching a friend is the worst sin we can commit. Good and truly well-wishing buddies are rare that’s why the ancient Hindu text ‘Chanakya Neeti’ says

दुर्ल्लभं प्रकृतं वाक्यं दुर्ल्लभः क्षेमकृत् सुतः।
दुर्ल्लभा सदृशी भार्या दुर्ल्लभः स्वजनप्रियः II
(Truth presented in nice words, a noble son, a pious wife and a well wishing friend, are rare in this world)

Another thing I wish to add is that I am an animal lover to the core and for years, my pet dog was my best buddy. I can still remember his softness and wide eyes filled with true love. May his loving soul, rest in eternal peace. Animals become true friends and unlike humans, never ditch us for petty worldly pleasures. Love an animal and you will know what real love is! Author, A.A. Milne beautifully explains friendship in his book ‘Winnie-the-Pooh

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.”Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” 


Love for Dove and The Face Test

           “But he who dares not grasp the thorn 
            should never crave the rose.” 
                                                        - Anne Brontë

In the 90s when Dove first arrived in India, none had imagined that this creamy soap with a big price tag and a memorable tag line ‘Is it love? No it’s Dove!’ would generate such a massive customer base! However, that time most of the people found it very expensive and also could not understand its very concept. ‘How could a soap be made of so much crème?’, ‘it is double in price and yet so small?’ ladies would wonder. Only those who tried it in spite of doubts and high-price got the ‘rose’ of a creamy soft and supple skin! My mother was one of those early users and hence my association with Dove is not new. I remember this expensive pearly white soap with a typically curved shape and a faint but soothing smell. Dove suited my mother’s skin type and she used it regularly.  I prefer Dove soap especially because it prevents dryness of my skin. It has been a few years since I have been using Dove shampoo and Conditioner. Another Dove product I am very fond of is Vita Oil Serum that detangles my hair in a second and helps in styling.

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”
                                                                                                              - Coco Chanel

Flawless skin is the most important aspect of beauty. It not only makes one look younger but also more confident about oneself. No makeup can ever work properly or look good on a wrinkled, dry or patchy skin. Hence, for a fabulous skin, using a brand that is trusted and suits oneself is the most important thing. Talking of this premium brand, it is owned by Unilever and has presence in more than 35 countries. It was one of the earliest brands to use e-mails for marketing their products and provide a forum to customers for queries on skin care, thus creating a vast and useful consumer data and informational network.

Dove strives to be
 ‘An agent of change to educate and inspire girls on a wider definition of beauty and to make them feel more confident about themselves’. 

According to Unilever, Dove is the largest premium brand in the Company’s portfolio, and it alone delivers Rs 400 crore in sales! Dove Face test is also not a novel campaign; it has been there since 1950’s and that shows that the brand has full confidence on its quality and worth. Check out this 1950's print adv by Ogilvy & Mather.

This 1957 adv too is just awesome! 

Since Megha was out of the city, I called a neighbor for the face test. It was fun taking the test. The process of blindfolding, the face test and guessing game and all were real fun! The results were correct, we both guessed the right cheek. Face test bonded us more than ever and now, we’re friendlier than before!
 I got this wonderful face test kit from Dove@Indiblogger

Dove really works, that’s why I am very fond of it, just like my mom and millions of other women world over! 

*’Gol-Gappa’ is an Indian snack, a paper thin hollow dough ball filled with spicy water and mashed potatoes.

Images from:
  1. http://weheartit.com/entry/37589022
  2. http://www.indiblogger.in/topic.php?topic=95
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWD0co3qFpI
  4. https://www.google.co.in/
  5. http://torricelumngirl.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/dreamstime_11136066.jpg