Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our experience with our first yard sale

I am currently in the process moving (USA to India). This time around, we had enough time to plan our move and hence were able to plan to dispose of the things at home with a yard sale. This being the first time of hosting a yard sale, I was unprepared for the challenges it would bring with it.

Couple of mothers with toddlers decided to come and have a look at the things at home before they were put up for yard sale over the weekend. I was emotionally drained after they left. Their kids were running wild inside the house picking up everything they saw, throwing them around, going into all the rooms without their Moms, waking up my sleeping child (poor thing did not even whine and was so understanding that she waited patiently for me to lift her), walking over crockery. The mothers just refused to even budge from their haggling and buying process to intervene.

At a point, all my decency and courtesy went out the door and I had to ask the kids to stay put in the living room and not come into the room where we had organized the things that we were planning to put for Yard sale. Even that was not the end of it. Again, they ransacked the entire house (Kitchen, Living room, master Bedroom) and brought things from there into the second room, mixed them with the yard sale items. This was getting me irritated, but my irritation was towards the Moms.

It got me thinking how parents do not bother to keep an eye on their child and go about doing their own thing with the least concern for place they are in or the people around them. Though it is wrong and not my place to discipline someone else's child, this day became an exception. I just could not help it and had to put it sternly to the children not to take everything, take away things from their hands, and finally physically move them out to the living room.

That experience left me angry at the parents for not teaching good behavior and etiquette to their children. It is not the child's fault if the child does not behave well. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them right from wrong, good behavior, manners, etiquette (inside our home and outside), to choose, to decide etc. If we do not do these, then we fail as parents and when the child grows, he/she has every right to blame us for not giving them the proper tools to be successful in their life.

Instead of enabling our children's bad behavior by ignoring them or saying "They are children.They will outgrow it", spending quality time with them, talking to them, playing with them helps. Children understand what we say and what we do, however young they are. Irrespective of the child being 6 months old or 6 yrs old, they understand us. It is up to us to find the right way/method of communication to them. The more time we take to be with our children, not just physically, but wholly, giving them the attention they need, the support and love they need, and the time they need, the better mannered, smarter, stronger, loving, happy and well communicative they get.

This said, there were other parents who came over with quite, well behaved kids, who politely asked if they could take a toy or a book that was on the sale pile to us and their parents, before they picked it up from the pile. Overall it was a great experience organizing the sale at home and a wonderful opportunity to know more people even at a time when I am leaving the place.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Appreciation for Old Age !!

Old Age - All of us go through it one way or other. What we all fail to realize is that, life is a big circle and  the truth "what goes around comes back around" - sometimes with 'extra baggage' as well ! In today's fast-paced world, all of us hear and read about families where elders (especially parents and grandparents) are not taken care of and ignored. Respect for elders and multi-generational households are also dwindling. Many ‘old age homes’ have opened as a reflection of this change, where elders live either from choice or because there is no one to look after them. I recently came across an interesting e-mail forward, which prompted me to post this blog. Here is a snippet from the same:

"Mr. ABC booked an air ticket for his parents' trip back to their home town instead of booking it in a train and was awarded with a very emotional thank you from his parents, as it meant a great deal to them to be travelling by air, for the first time in their whole life."

This is probably a trivial incident. I am sure there must have been various instances in each of our own life's experiences from where we can take countless examples. We often take our elders for granted and undermine sacrifices that they have done for us over the years with the simple statement - "It was their duty to do the same for their children". But if we really recount such 'simple sacrifices', it will be countless. There was a selflessness in their actions towards us, making our life better within their limited capacity, without us knowing the hardships that they might have gone through to satisfy our demands and delight us.

For example, during a traditional function like Diwali, they would have borrowed / saved money in advance, foregoing their needs, to ensure that the children are not disappointed about their fun with fireworks or new clothes !!! For such innumerable selfless acts, what do they get in return when they get old? Lack of emotional support, neglect by the family members, feeling of insecurity, disrespect and loss of dignity. Children often cite reasons such as being too busy with their own work, 'family' and children (yet they are always able to spend both time and money on holidays, expensive clothes, restaurants/parties...). They blame it on "Generation Gap" and 'brand' elders as 'conservative, boring and out-of-touch with reality'. When our own children grow up, it might be surprising to find us being categorized as old-fashioned, ignorant of latest gadgets / technologies :-)

On the same note, in many families, parents and their married children are not able to get along with each other. We also know about many parents, who still treat their married children like kids, dominating their choice of career, lifestyle and even family planning. The children are also lectured on degrading traditional values, lack of shouldering responsibilities and undermining sufferings of the earlier generations.

Having said that, younger generation and elders should respect each other’s 'culture', feelings and compromise to some extent.  Children need to spend time listening to and addressing specific emotional and material needs of our elders, and treasure them.  After all, our elders expect them to be heard, age with dignity, spend time together with the loved ones and a lot of love !! It is never too late to appreciate and cherish elders for their roles in our lives.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Toddler's "full" movie experience in a Theater !!!!

Should we say, our toddler's first successful movie experience in a movie theater, or our success (as parents) to give her that experience in a theater !?!?!? Whatever it is, we were so happy that our little angel loved watching a "full" movie in a theater - Dreamworks' "How to Train Your Dragon" Animation movie. She is in love with "Toothless" (the Night Fury Dragon) and "Hiccup" (Viking Boy). She sat through the entire movie without getting scared of the dark or sound effects or irritated, with the fact that she is restricted to sitting in a seat, rather than being able to roam around.

She was also very pleased with the Kids Pack (Popcorn, Skittles, and Sprite :-) we got her before we entered the movie hall. It was much more enjoyable for us to see her emote, than the movie itself. Her "Oh.. no!" when Toothless is captured by the Vikings and imprisoned on their ship.... her "Ooooooooooooo" when the Queen Dragon comes out of its nest to fight the Vikings...... her "Appa.... dragon avan friend aaiytaan" (meaning.. Dad... the dragon became his friend !!), when Toothless and Hiccup become friends... were some of her expressions, while we watched this family movie.

It was worth the visit to our local "Groton Cinemas 6" complex to "experiment" a movie. after a long gap of over a year. When she was an infant, one of us would be standing outside the movie hall, taking care of her and to keep her occupied. So, we had waited for the right time to get her started again. Overall, we were one big happy family, when we got out of the movie hall, promising more visits in near future :-)

P.S.: When parents decide to take their toddler to a movie, please ensure that the movie suits their taste, is not too lengthy, and most important of all, it is an animation / cartoon movie !!!! Remember, movie is for them to enjoy and get comfortable with this atmosphere, so that you can try to take them along to your favorite movies at some point.

P.P.S.: This is the first time which we have seen an US movie hall, with over 50 people in one screening, especially for a kids' movie, which had been running for over 4 weeks now :-) Usually. there are no more than 10-15 people...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We like to Party.. We like, we like to Party !!!

Last fortnight was packed with parties !!! It started off with Madhu's B'day party last Sun (Apr 4). On Apr 6, we had my B'day dinner party with our friends. Then we had 3 more B'day parties in a row - Madhu's playgroup mates. We also had fun at MSAT (Mahindra SATyam) Family Meet on Apr 9 evening. With so many parties, all three of us have been extremely busy, at the same time, there was no dearth of fun !!! It was amazing to see how a toddler enjoys these parties, when compared to infants.

MSAT team organized a "Kids' Corner" event, where kids, grouped by ages (0-3 yrs, 4-8 yrs, and 9 yrs and above) participated. They were supposed to express their thoughts on Spring season, as colorful drawings. The jury had a tough time short-listing the best depiction in each group. They also conducted the classic "Musical Chairs" game for the toddlers. It was a beautiful sight to see these little angels, scramble to get hold of a chair for themselves to move up in the race !!!

These events, along with Kids' Dance Floor music (nursery rhymes, peppy numbers like "I am a Barbie girl..") by the DJ, spiked the energy of the toddlers high enough to keep them going through the entire party, till almost midnight. There were also other family games, providing an opportunity for the families to get together and have fun !!

During dinner, the stage was open for the Family Talent Show, which again attracted mostly kids. The kids recited slokas or sang nursery rhymes and took home some exciting gifts, for braving the stage and the audience. Madhu also went on stage to proudly recite "Shuklam... Baradharam" sloka, and was very thrilled when she got her gift (her favorite Magic Bubbles blower).

Then, dance floor was open for everyone... Both the kids and their parents danced to the rocking tunes, till they ran out of fuel!! By the time we came home, Madhu was exhausted (of course) that she slept the moment she hit bed. It was so amazing to see how, even a couple of years of growing up, makes such a huge difference in the way kids react to crowds and parties. Madhu, for example, who used to get annoyed in crowded social gatherings, enjoyed to her fullest in all these parties. As parents, seeing her enjoy these moments, doubled our happiness as well !!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My Reflection on MNIK !!

"There are only two kinds of people - Good and Bad, and no others !!" What a great lesson taught by Rizwan's (SRK) Mother !!! She uses a simple match-stick men drawing to instill this core moral value to her son. This is probably a lesson to be learnt by many of us !!

Wish our society can really understand Humanity in this simple light !! People continue to discriminate their fellow beings on Race, Religion, Caste, Creed, Color, Financial status or similar attributes. After so many generations of falling civilizations, wars for supremacy and control, religious hatred and communal riots, we continue our struggle to respect human lives.

"Love can win over everything" - a subtle message at the end of the movie but so very true. In fact, every religion preaches the same thing "Love everyone and do good" (or some variation thereof!). Indeed, it is our actions and deeds, which reveal our true choices and commitments.

Hats of to Karan Johar & team for the wonderful effort in making such a sensible movie, in the need of the hour !! SRK, Kajol and the rest of the cast have given their best, in conveying this universal message. There was never a boring moment in the movie. IMHO, Religion is just a way of life, a faith followed by each one of us, that suits our Core Values and Beliefs. We should always respect each others faith and belief. I would equate practicing a Religion to Parenting - One's Parenting techniques and skills may not be helpful or suit another's family.

Stereotyping a person based on his/her name/religion/caste is the worst degradation of common sense. Just because one person from a particular community does harm, does not warrant in "branding" the entire community as being aggressive and violent. Every group has its own do-gooders and extremists.

The famous global peace anthem "We shall overcome..someday" (adapted as "Hum honge kaamyab.. ek din" in India) is well used in the movie. Let us hope...We are not alone...We'll walk hand in hand... We shall all be free..someday !!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Amazonia (Novel) vs. Avatar (Movie)


Having read most of the fiction novels in "Medical Thrillers / Scientific Adventures" category, by Robin Cook / Michael Crichton, I decided to try different authors this time. Last week, I did a random search in our Groton Public Library, and picked up this book - Amazonia by James Rollins. When I browse 'Editorial Reviews' of novels, I look for Amazonian Jungles, Egyptian Pyramids and other Ancient Myths, Mutations / Genetic Engineering and Aliens :-) This book seemed to have some of these "feelers" and so I got it issued. Having completed this 420-page novel in less than a week (usually, I take 3-4 weeks) is a testimony that I enjoyed reading it. Yes - It did meet my expectations with all elements of Amazon - Native Indian Tribes, Anacondas, Swamps, giant Caimans & a good dose of Scientific unknowns - Mutated Creatures, Pre-historic Healing Tree, Incurable Virulent Plague etc. From an 'Action' standpoint, you have Quasi-military rangers, trails & chases, death traps, stealth weapons, explosions to keep you glued to the story's mainstream.

A very interesting point is, I did notice lot similarities in this novel (released in 2002) and "Avatar" movie (2009). I have seen the movie earlier in Dec. 2009. In the movie, you have Hometree - the Tree of Souls, deposits of Unobtainium (!?!) beneath it, Na'vi tribe protecting it and RDA corporation trying to destroy / exploit it. In this novel, you have Yagga - the Healing Tree, source of evolutionary genetic library beneath it, Ban-ali tribe protecting it and St. Savin Pharmaceuticals trying to destroy / exploit it. Coincidence?? James Cameron should answer this question, though I did not see credits/reference given to this author/novel in the movie. I also noted that many readers reflected similar thoughts in the writer's blog @ www.jamesrollins.com.

Now that I have got a new author, who writes the genre I love, I am looking forward to read his other novels like Excavation, Subterranean, Deep Fathom, Ice Hunt etc.

I also googled some trivia below:
  • In 2007, James Rollins was hired to write the novelization of the script for the movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".
  • James Rollins and James Clemens are two of the pen names of American veterinarian "Jim Czajkowski" - He sold his veterinary practice in Sacramento, California, to concentrate full-time on writing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Web savvy Aamir

Aamir Khan now has a blog of his own, with sign up option to post comments to his blog. The blog is available @ www.aamirkhan.com. Some of his posts are amazing and really heartfelt. I knew he had a blog on MSN spaces already. Did you also know that this versatile actor has a FB profile as well; pucca idiot. A true internet geek!!!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heartfelt 'Paa' !!!

Had a chance to see this movie very recently.....A wonderful movie with loads of messages and points to ponder. A few of my favorite dialogues in this movie:

"Thume yeh bacha chahiyae, ya nahi?"
"Doosron ka personal mail padna 'bad manners' hai"
"Pichle se... pichle se pichle... mistake"
"You do not become a father, by just donating your sperms"

And so many more!!! What a thought-provoking movie.... I am pretty impressed with the Indian Film industry, for coming up with many such bold efforts in recent times. In the list of movies that I enjoyed watching (I mean, not just for the entertainment, but for the message conveyed), 'Paa' also takes a special place.

It is refreshing to see movies like Paa, Black, Mozhi (Tamil), Taare Zameen Par, Phir Milenge.... Such movies openly talk about topics that are either considered taboo to be discussed openly or about the narrow-minded approach of the society, that refuses to think outside-the-box. The concept of stereotyping, which is still commonly followed in our society, is being questioned or viewed differently in these new-generation movies.

These movies showcase the "odd-ones" (a stereotype category given by the society) who stand out, in a different light. These movie-makers wear a different hat and show the problems and complications that the society's stereotyping brings in the lives of these "odd" people (e.g Isolating AIDS patients, or mocking special children and their parents). They also provide awareness on the medical disorders (e.g. Autism, Progeria etc.).

Wish these efforts will make an impact on our society and people start thinking and breaking from the clutches of the age-old miseries with so called 'socially acceptable' ways of life. This ranges from a variety of un-written rules to rituals, which are blindly followed in different layers of society at different points of time, again depending on religion, status, profession, caste etc. As we open up our minds to such new ideas and thoughts, I am sure each one of us have realized or will soon realize the benefits of being open-minded, at different instances of our life. Let us 'Heal the World' and "Make it a better place.. for you..and for me..and the entire Human Race.."!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

தமிழ் படம் (Tamizh Padam) - விமர்சனம் (Review)

Watched "Tamizh Padam" movie a couple of days back... This hilarious spoof movie was a new and refreshing effort from Kollywood, the தமிழ் Cinema industry. They mock every 'formula' (or should I say 'masala') or so-called 'logic' , which has been portrayed in typical Tamil commercial films, but without hurting the original creation. All of us can think of a bunch of stereotype scenes - 'Punch' dialogues and gravity-defying stunts by our 'mass' hero 'Stars' (ranging from Super, Ultimate, Supreme...) and 'Thalapathi's (Illaya, Chinna, Puratchi..), typical village and 80s love scenes, hero turning into a millionaire in one song, 'Its a Medical Miracle' uttered by Doctors etc.


Some of the interesting sequences include:

1. Maniratnam's famous one-liners from movie 'Thalapathi', and ending with a different 'Ramana'

2. Hero turning into Crorepathi even before a Coffee is ready, all by doing some errands !!

3. Full-length song composed beautifully only with meaningless words used in many hit Tamil Songs like Oh Maga zeya (from Khakka Khakka), Shaka laka (Mudhalvan), Laalaakku dol dappima (Suriyan) etc.

This movie is strictly for Tamil film fans and frequent movie-goers, who can understand and appreciate each mocked-up scene and relate it to the original movie - counted at least 20 movies !! Though in some places it did feel a bit of a drag and could have had an improved screenplay... overall, it was full-time fun ride, minus any logic. Hats-off for the creative (at least for the Tamil audience) and different attempt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

3 Idiots - my initial reaction!!! WOW!!!!

WOW!!! Loved it. Such a nice entertainer.... As usual excellent performance by Aamir Khan... Ofcourse the rest of the crew as well. Was transported back to my college days.... The essence of the care free life of college captured very well.

Ofcourse there were a few thoughts to ponder as well... Like:
  1. Study for knowledge sake and now for marks or work.
  2. The focus and pressure of the educational system.
  3. The lack of practical application and simple explanations for complex words/mechanisms!!
You can add on any more if you like... But yes that is the crux of the movie. Must see...........

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Surprised!!!

Somehow with the changing priorities in life, I never got to blog about anything for a long long time now. With a daughter (toddler) at home, freelancing job, chat with hubby, visit friends, handwork, and the flare to read books, I never felt the need to sit down to blog. That became my last option in my list of priorities. Especially now that I am no more sitting in front of the laptop for a continuous 8 hours a day where I feel the need to take a break from the current job that I do, I really do not feel the urge to write.

But today, while I was browsing networking sites searching for my friends and trying to reconnect, I noticed that most of my friends, whom I have lost touch with, have started blogging and guess what they blog about!!!!????!!!! COOKING... They post recipes on their blog on a periodic basis. Some of them do it daily while some do it weekly and so on. So many of them who I never thought would get so domesticated ended up posting blogs with cooking recipes... But that is pleasantly surprising as well as it strengthens my thought that cooking is an art.

I do love and enjoy cooking. It allows you play around with the ingredients and create surprisingly fabulous dishes. But there is a risk that you will end up with a charred dish as well. But what is life without a little risk!!!