Kids

Our kids are our most prized possessions. We want them to have whatever we think is the best, and many a times, many of the things we wanted as kids but could never get to have. It’s natural.

Sometimes, however, in our quest to decide what’s best for them, we go overboard — we become over-protective, over-expecting and sometimes, disrespectful insensitive. We tend to think that it’s alright “since they’re kids”. The sad but true thing is, it’s not alright because of the very fact that they’re kids. Things set in a child’s heart are quite like the engravings in stone — they may fade but they do not vanish. For example: I still remember my kindergarten teacher calling me a “weak student”. She might not have had an ill-will when she said it, but that’s something which I still remember and maybe subconsciously had had an impact in some way my life got shaped.

Here are a few things I think we need to be aware of.

  • Stop labeling them
    The early years of your kids are the formation years, their brains and hearts are like tiny lumps of clay — ready to be moulded. It’s in our hands to provide for a suitable environment to ensure that they take the best shape — a shape that a huge structure can stand-on. In future, they’ll go through a lot of hardships — when they face the adversities of life. By labeling them we’re drilling tiny holes in the boundary of the yet-to-be-built structure. Watch yourself using what is known as a descriptive language, when it comes to them, or things in general. For example, expressions like “s/he is like this only”, “s/he never listens”, “s/he would never try anything new”, “s/he is an introvert”. Remember, your kid is NOT that. It’s you who are shaping her/him to be that!
    Use generative language instead, like “s/he will surely try veggies this week”, “s/he hasn’t had the chance to try this out, but I know s/he will”, “I am sure s/he would love to meet your kid”.
    If you notice the difference in the tone used in descriptive and generative language — the former does not help the situation — it makes it worse: the kid would start believing in how you labeled her, and eventually consider herself to be that. On the other hand, generative language ushers hope. It boosts your kids’ confidence that you believe in her/him — even if s/he does not do what you intended her/him to do — but there’s no residue.
  • Lead by example
    If you’re hooked on to your TV/iPad/Smart-phone at home then do not expect the kid to conduct herself any differently. They think that it’s the norm! It might be a tough decision initially, given our diminishing attention spans, and our constant yearning to seek short-term-pseudo-satisfaction online. But it highlights the importance of family, of having a live support system to your kids. Instead of spending time online, strike conversations with them and then listen to them earnestly and do not impose your point-of-view. You will realize that they make a lot of minute observations, which may sometimes require you to modify their perspective. Also note that they’d instantly find out if you’re not genuine in your listening.
  • Let them get bored
    This is something I read recently, and then I could associate to it. As a kid, I had a lot of time to spare. It led to have a fun childhood where I enjoyed my company. I discovered a LOT and some of those lessons still bear fruit.
    Do not overplan your kids’ day, or worse, their holidays/vacations. It is very easy to get influenced by others who get their kids enrolled in every other activity out there, and then talk about it with gleaming eyes. Not judging them, but I pity those kids.
    What we don’t realize is that we’re robbing away their childhood. Let your kid get bored during the day and then discover what s/he really enjoys doing. Create venues for her to channel her creativity, and let her enjoy these years. Trust me, they will have ample time to learn life lessons when the time comes.
  • Let them out in the open
    Open spaces are eluding fast, and so is our willingness to let our kids out. But it is indispensable. Let them get a few bruises, a few cuts and a few falls. It makes them tough, and as a side-effect, prepares them for what’s out there. Encourage them to break the trend — encourage your girl to participate in cricket, football and other not-so-girly games.
    When they’re slightly bigger, send them out for hikes and camping. They’d learn precious skills there. They’d learn that many-a-times, one needs to take care of oneself as well as to watch out for others. Do not be overprotective and avoid all kinds of injuries even at home. Their bodies are lightweight and can bear a hit or a fall far better than our bodies can — so this is the time for them to experience it.
    What I am trying to underline is related to the previous point of not planning everything for them, but rather preparing them to become independent starting from these nascent years.

I am sure if we all bear these things in mind, we’d be nurturing a lovable lot which is tough, confident and ready to take charge of their lives without an iota of self-doubt!

Cycling to work

It’s been almost a month-full of commuting on bicycle to office and therefore I think I have gained eligibility to comment on the experience. Since the distance is considerable (~21 Kms one-way), and landscape rollercoaster-ish, an amateur cyclist like me has to limit the frequency to twice (or at most thrice) a week.

Nevertheless, the experience has been exhilarating! And over-time, like many cyclists would, I have got used-to the glances of sympathy, ridicule, amusement, encouragement, surprise, and most of all the look of a-question-coming-up, from people of various shapes, sizes and ages.

Pune, the place where I live, was known to be a cycle-friendly city. Was. Things are different now, with cyclists having to jostle their way just like everybody else. It’s a bit more challenging for cyclists given the fact that unless they’re the really loud kinds, it’s easy to ignore their presence, and forget their relevance.

Following is a crude list of my observations so far. Based on which Indian city you reside in, your mileage may vary.

  • It’s not as scary as it might appear till you finally decide and hit the road!
  • People are generally considerate, given that you’re disciplined. Owning a cycle does not mean you can flout the traffic rules.
  • Be wary of taxis (yellow number plates in general), they’re the scariest lot with no regard for all other vehicles. Unfortunately, cycles form a part of all other.
  • Kids will love you
  • In general, expect to get a few ‘thumbs-ups’ per month (predominantly from Bullet-riders — not sure why)
  • As mentioned before, be prepared to answer FAQs like: “how much is it (the bike) for”, “do you ride every day”, or for the price of a specific accessory like, “did you get the headlight along with the bike”, and suchlike

As for me, I feel more upbeat in spite of sweat and stress once I reach the office. I realized that even though I may be physically stressed, but I am more mentally active. The converse is true when I drive to work. Physical stress is much easier to deal with. And with the released endorphins, it peps you up!

Mind dump

So yes, I have been away, for quite a while. Aaand, of course, a lot happened over these years, a LOT. But, as they say, cannot complain. I shouldn’t complain.

One of the good things that has happened to me in my current organization is that we have been made to undergo a ‘leadership programme’. Wait, it’s not as boring as it sounds. In fact, to my utter surprise, I have not found it boring at ALL. I used to believe I do not belong to such programmes. That such things are applicable for people who want to become successful managers. To my delight, I was wrong.

So the point of sharing the meta-information about the programme that we’ve been made to realize that one of the tenets of ‘transformation’ (from the downtrodden ordinary people, to leaders) is that we have to be fully responsible for our actions. “We have to ‘own’ our actions.” I never paid that much heed to this statement, until I consciously realized what it conveys. It conveys a lot more than what meets the eye — that it’s easy be the effect and not the cause of a situation. In simpler English — it’s easy to hold the situation or others responsible for our actions. The truth, however much we want to deny, is that it is we who chose to behave a certain way, and hence the responsibility is entirely ours!

A lot of times — in the mindless rat-race of proving ourselves to be perfect — an ideal employee, an ideal husband, a perfect parent, a caring son, a should-be-looked-up-to human — we tend to try to cover-up the actions we are not so proud of. While this might work in the near future, it has adverse repercussions in the long run, the most adverse being the effect on oneself. Slowly but gradually it erodes our soul.

Acceptance is liberating.

Accepting that we have been the cause of our actions — of not being the ideal in certain aspects or situations consciously brings us at peace with ourselves. The erosion stops, and so does the avoidance of facing the ground-reality. We need to realise that being at peace with ourselves is indispensable to trying to attain peace with the rest of the world.

Being at peace with ourselves lets us be aware of similar situations in future and behave in a better manner — which might still not be ideal — but still have better consequences than before. This is the key to a long-term sub-conscious aspiration of attaining the ideal behaviour.

White Noise

I have been experimenting with white noise lately, more so, to ward off external noises, rather than to validate the claim that such noises improve the cognitive skills. I admit, I like quiet workplaces. And I know, it’s a luxury not everyone can have. It might have to do with luck as well — if you get the hint. 🙂

Anyway, case in point being, white noises do help me in two ways: A. of course, as expected, they block external (non-uniform) noises; and B. I don’t have to worry about — as in the case of music — managing the playlist and all.

“Improving the cognitive skills”…erm…I don’t know! 🙂 Maybe…maybe not.. little do I care! There are various YouTube videos, Websites, SoundStreams that offer rain sounds, cafe sounds, etc. The one I use the most is called RainyCafe. I stick to the ‘rain’ mostly, but every once in a while I’ve tried out their ‘cafe’ option as well.

Do try out a ‘white noise’ next time you’re trying to concentrate on something, and need to disconnect. It helps.

Yellow terror!

You’re out on your morning walk on the pavement (or whatever is left of it), some of you are jogging; the morning Sun’s rays smear through the dust in the air and creates a golden mirage, you smell the freshness all around. Ah! what serenity! what more could one ask for. And then suddenly, you hear a not-so-loud engine noise…followed by a totally unnecessary series of honking —  it’s the yellow school van! The driver seems to have had enrolled a course in F1, but then left it mid-way after the first hands-on session. You are just left aghast by the way they whiff past everything — exploiting the mostly deserted roads which seem to be waiting-to-exhale — stuffed with (or in the process of stuffing) kids, who can apparently go only in a particular order so as the utilize every nook and corner of the van.

1376994223_538345445_3-Maruti-Omni-School-Van-Mumbai

These guys are flouting the rules left, right and center all over Pune — and there’s no one to question them! The traffic authorities seemed to have washed their hands after doing their part — “look, we’ve laid out very strict guidelines for school vans and buses — they’re supposed to put this warning on their rear window: DRIVE CAREFULLY – STUDENTS ON BOARD (or a variation of it)”. “Ummm…err…Mr. Officer, who is this warning for exactly? I don’t think it’s for the driver — he hasn’t ever taken cognizance of it after the first day when he got the package — I guess it’s for the people who just watch the van swoosh past them, praying to their favourite deities in exasperation — for the safety of the innocent lives — both inside and outside the van”.

 

This is why I hate Samsung devices

Came across a phone yesterday, from their latest (and hugely popular) Galaxy range. The (Android-based) UI was fascinating appealing. The capacitive touch screen was responsive. But that’s that. Seems that’s where their efforts (wannabe iPhone) cease.

You go to type a text message, and accidentally click on send….and whoosh…the message is sent! That’s the most stupid thing I have come across in a while. It’s worse than my very first Motorola, where if the phone rang while I was typing a message, the message went for a toss.

Anyway, coming back to Samsung — in their mindless rush to bring zillions of Galaxy devices to the market, did they ever sit back and think of usability? — because, apart from the looks, that’s what makes an iPhone an iPhone. I can bet it wouldn’t be more than two lines of code to put a validation to disallow sending of blank messages. But as long as their phones are selling like hot cakes…who cares…right?

Al-khajoor and suchlike

So I decided to finally go for a trip to UAE a while back. I’m back now. Fatter.

But a fun trip, I would say.

It’s interesting to notice the difference in culture, landscape and people in general, within a couple of hours of travel. Like those Arab gentlemen at the immigration desk of Dubai airport. Snotty lot. Come to think of it: their cockiness may be justified to a great extent — there are just too many of us (/people who look like us/people from the Indian subcontinent) in their country. The figure is intimidating. Therefore an immigration desk seems to be an ideal place for them to vent out their angst. Those four or five minutes is their little revenge.
Throughout my time in the UAE I observed this snottiness in Arabs in general. For example, if you accidentally bump into them (or somehow if an ‘excuse-me-situation’ arises) they’ll not utter a single word. I wonder if there’s an equivalent of ‘excuse-me/sorry’ in Arab dictionary. Probably, a typical interaction in the moral science class of an Arab school might be like:
Teacher: So Majid, tell me, what do you do when you bump into someone, or someone bumps into you accidentally?
Majid: Umm, I don’t know m’am, hit him/her? or tell dad to arrange for hundred lashes for them?
Teacher: No Majid, that’s rude! You’ll just give him/her ‘the look’. Or if s/he is saying ‘sorry or excuse me’, then turn your face away and walk-on.
Aside to the twisted Arabs, one of the best things was good food in abundance. I got to sample a Turkish delight, awesome Afghani cuisine and mouth-watering Pakistani food. All thanks to my cousins and cousins-in-law.

Apart from the family ties, I guess, food would be the only other motivation for which I can visit UAE again.