Thursday, August 10, 2017

History Textbooks Revamped but Assessment?

It has become pretty fashionable to pick a textbook and find loopholes in it and get viral over its effects. 
Lately, the History Textbooks of Grade 7th and Grade 9th of Maharashtra State Board are under scrutiny and critical cynosure. 
Why? One may well ask! There have been changes in content. The Mughal Regimes and Sultanate Regimes have been Deleted and prominence given to Local Heroes and movements. 
In 9th Grade, emphasis is on post Independence movements and changes. 
One sees Glorification of one section and Relegates other sections into anonymity. 
The outcry is that such changes are sowing Divisive Tendencies through books in the minds of Children. 
The Children! 
Do the textbook makers ever give attention to the plight of the Children? Frankly, I as a Teacher, see the children saddled and burdened with the same assessment patterns that has been a source of Nightmare for them ever since History was introduced into their Curriculum. 
Let us take a look at a typical Assessment format of "History" papers. 
We have Fill in the blanks & Name the following amounting to remembering exact details like the year a certain King died to a certain ruler who made a certain city or monument or fought a war and won. 
One alphabet here and there and a mark is lost! If Shahaji is spelled Shahji, they definitely will get it wrong and Yes there is a monumental difference. Just an "a" missing changes meaning. Talk of Divisive tendencies!!! My kids scratch heads, bewildered, they sigh! 
"Miss, one alphabet I forgot and I lost a mark!" "Hmmm!" 
Then we have Historical reasons. Explaining why a certain event happened. "So and so king was defeated" "League of nations failed" which runs into meticulous and long sentences. 
Then there are Short answers which are anything but short. The amount of content has the eyes of kids rolling. "So muchhhhh!" 
Next question which I am so so used to "What difference does it make? If League of nations failed, it failed why are we supposed to mug up such long answers?"
"Effects of Cold War" has children jesting "Trembling minds, waste of time memorising exact words, less marks, shivering nights." 
Now as a Teacher in my initial years, I lectured that it was an important aspect of our life and we must know it. Taking a compassionate view however on the impact it had on their psyche, I stopped doing that and encouraging them to do their best. Some of them even had fevers before the History exams. 
Pick a seventh Grader or ninth Grader and ask them the difference between Communalism and Communism. They might recite the exact definition but ask them what it actually means!Chances are you will get a blank stare. I have spent Considerable amount of time in the company of kids from Grade five to ten. Their Retention for Historical facts is as long as the tests last. They would like to relegate to anonymity this particular long exercise in futility somewhere back in the mind as necessary and fatigue inducing. 
Where in the world will the divisive tendencies have a place in their minds when their conscious mind does not even focus on the matter? All their concentration is on simply getting on with it. 
Concepts like "Freedom of Speech" has them asking me "Miss, Can we have freedom of leaving this subject?" 
I have seen three varieties of students. Smart ones who have superb memorising skills. 
They mug up the answers
The average kind who pick and choose what will get them to get a decent score leaving few answers here and there! 
The not so smart ones! They give up and accept below average or failing marks. They just cannot remember. 
In all this, let us ask where in kids mind it matters which part was added or deleted? Whatever happened their Life still revolves around mugging up answers which have no relevance to them! If majority of students are given a choice they (many of them) would like the whole subject to disappear! This ain't my opinion. Just a long standing observation of Children over the years.
The brief answers &  Give Historical Reasons have them dizzy in the head and some trembles in the spine. 
If anyone sensible ever gets around to asking the students, they would want that the Government  should rethink the assesing of History tests. No matter what they add or Delete the brief answers remain "not brief" but looonnnnng! 
Short Answers are not so short! 
Verbatim details to be produced. 
Hilarious moments arise when children of tenth Grade forget the year India got Independence. They know the date for it is a Holiday but year???!!! 
They do not know the difference between Republic and Independence day. 
Do quiz your kids to know how much of what they mug up they actually understand. 
One alphabet here and there and they lose marks in fill ups &  Name the followings. 
Smart ones Mug up. 
Average ones drag on.
Not so smart just "Give up" today. Their angst and dilemmas do not change with changing textbooks. 
I would have welcomed if the students got a chance to do away with these long winding answers and rather give their interpretation of various events as they understood it. If they commented with understanding of how they would have avoided an Alexander from entering India. The role of Ruler of Ambhi and Deception therein may well merit discussion on treachery and its results. They could have reflected on formation of United Nations, its subsequent rule of Self determination and stance of Anti Colonisation bringing an end to Imperialist era, it would add so much to understanding world politics and its ramifications. 
Instead  children scratch heads on who led the White Revolution and Green Revolution. In the light of effects of milk, vegan movement and effects of pesticides on vegetal world, they may well question if it was all worth it! According to them, it exists in textbooks and villages. 
Makers of curriculum may well benefit if the textbooks change narratives to discussions  instead of only informing facts. Assess in a way that allows children some modus of control than the utter helplessness, they feel when they have to mug up long answers which lose their meaning in the process of retaining,till they can purge in the answer sheets. Forget all about it in the next hour while mobile game beckons or a friend calls out for a walk. 
They do not ever discuss historical details or their results therein. If at all they do question
"What is the use? Why do we have to remember this? "
I request Makers of Syllabus
Give a thought to Changing assessment patterns and making it student centric. Adding or Deleting will not affect their psyche. 
A child absorbs the political ideology from family ideology and not textbooks! Not definitely at the tender age when the only aim is "Exam marks".
When every single detail is to be delivered as it appears in textbooks, the focus beams on mechanical act of remembering during exams and not remembering for a reference while dealing with friends of various faiths.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Letter to Her

A person who has a "why" will live with any "How" so experienced Victor Frankl after his Gruesome, helpless existence in the Concentration camp. A horrendous unpredictable Hell where death was a welcome relief but till it descended one was at the Mercy of forces that tenterhooked your self - Respect, Dignity. One was stripped clear of possessions even the hair on the head. No clothes, no food, no medicines only endless drudgery, unmitigated, uncensored violence surrounded till a person collapsed in his own excreta and refused to budge from it till the heart and brain physiologically stopped ticking, registering!

Many self sabotaged their own chances of Survival for it meant Super human effort to dive into the inner Resources of Spirit to Bind together the remnants of a forgotten being Called "You" when you have nothing Going, where you have nothing calling, what you have is not worth anything!
You my friend today are in that Predicament. You walked into your own Concentration Camp and handed over your power and Possessions to them.
Yes you allowed that first Slap to happen.
You cried in pain instead of Asking to them and yourself "How dare this happen?"
You explained it away as "What Can I do?"
You reasoned "Things will be better"
You hoped "One day they or he will realise how wrong they were or he was! What a Gem of a person you have been taking all the black and blue marks, concealing the red that oozed with Forebearance and patience"

You kept Gathering the fragmented being that is you for your kids!
Did someone tell you that you are panning an Abuse perpetrator factory right under your bleeding nose?
All the martyrdom for keeping a roof over their heads will result in a willy nilly who will either abuse or tolerate abuse!

Do you want the same belt marks pelted on your little ones or them to do the same to someone?

Your parents will not support you? What a wonderful exercise in futility!
Have you not been brave nursing or sometimes just not nursing those internal and external wounds?

Did anyone come through to stop the abuse for you? In that case if no one would hold the hand that cracks what else can you expect?
Why to expect?
Sometimes a violent annihilatory impulse must cross your "on the brink being".
To End it all!
End yourself, perish or End the Abuser's life.
It would be redemption of Sorts true but where will that leave your life?
Again at the Mercy of Others for a Crime. You may cry yourself hoarse pleading your innocence and no one will listen!
Just as No one hears your screams and blood curdling wails, do they?
Knowing fully well, the injustice inflicted on you, each decides to look the other side.
You know why no one helps you?
No one does for you do not Care!
You heard that right, you do not Care for your own being.
Too long Pity has been your constant companion. Pity from others who survey from afar your injuries. Cluck clucking on your pitiable affairs. Keeping their Distance for they do not know how to salvage a situation where they cannot enter.
Each senses your Helplessness and is wary!
You suffer for a profound reason.
You allow, you submit, you crumble!
So much advice is floating about why you should not be beaten and yet here you are nurturing an Entitled Weakling to rule your Spirit and Existence. You have blockaded your own Exit Routes!
I have no words of pity yet!
What is the use?
Can I balm the Gangrene that is invading your entire Being? It will amputate you altogether.
Do you not see, You have to do something?
All the words in the world are hollow.
You are not uneducated to not know what all of the typical "Do not tolerate Abuse" means!
I may make thousand bridges for you to walk out and through but The first step you have to take.
To me my own words of pity, sympathy, encouragement sound powerless till you realise what you are allowing.
Deplorable is your Condition I know but my dear Neighbour, You are the one who will Choose!
Choose to Lie in your Excreta and not Care or Take Stock and some Action!
Be catty and Shrewd.
Throw that Filmy Kindness Jargons you have learned and ingrained all your life.
In Martyrdom lies not your virtue.
They do not have to realise your value Someday.
What Can you do?
First Permit yourself to breath and Repeat to yourself, you are not a bedraggled toy to be mugged around.
Tell yourself silently, you deserve to Get away from it all.

Even when it is raining blows and at present you cannot stop it, promise yourself a Dignified State one day.
Then Act.
Take Stock of your Resources! Financial Resources? Jewellery, any employable skill, place you can Go and camp once you walk away. Can you create finances enough to tide over few months?
Is there something you can build on?
Think Think Think there must be a way!
There has to! You must begin somewhere discreetly, slowly inching away, planning away.
There is this book by Meena Kandasamy "When I hit You" I bought instinctively for I am unable to sleep at times knowing you are breaking each second. I do want to read how a woman gathers that courage to finally fling away the many "Conventional" barriers she is tied to. Just like you are. Enduring day after day. I want you however to read it first. When you find in you the same "Wake up" jab, I will rest easy. For we women are bound with a kindred bond for each other's tears. Till one sobs the other cannot settle. Maybe in that book, You will find a new hope to charter a new journey of a constructive life on your own terms. When you will make your Grand Dignified planned Exit, I have promised to buh myself a Copy of "When I Hit you".
Take a Hard Stock! Make that hardest Decision. Talk to your kids only after you have planned everything and are way out of that Dark House. They cannot possibly want to stay in the Terror area but if they do, give a firm hand. They are better off with you even if it means lots of adjustments. Trust me, once you have taken the Independent flight, others would join in with hearty supports. It is only a clingy vine they fear or Domestic quarrels they abhor. No one has the time!
Once they know, you and your basic expenses are sorted by You, their Respect will multiply. Once they know your Decision is Final, they will back your abusers in the Corner where you once belonged.
Take the Slander and Gossip. One can learn to ignore it. Belt marks, table thumps, slaps marks, swollen eyes are not!
You are educated to find food on the table. Get clothes on the body.

Take pictures of your battered self. Sounds funny, to a Shrewd one it does not. It will help you as a daily reminder what you must never allow ever again. Another to let the law officials know what you were up against and why you need to keep that brute/s at a far far distance! For he and his allies will not surrender so easily. Threat to your life is also a possibility. It is there even now. Any of the blows can kill you in one swipe. Somewhere, some how you have to take chances!
The only way is Break Away and Build a New life however low on Amenities it maybe.
After a long hibernation of your spirit, few Jolts are necessary.
Too long you have accepted a meagre and precarious quagmire pulling you in and in till it gobbles you up in enterity.
You were not born to simply be a punch board.
I am there, waiting for your first catty, bold step. A planned step.
I am waiting for you to create your new "Why" and live with the new "How".
Once you do, I will have Gentle hugs to boost your Flagging intent.
Once you choose to Live, I will be there with a Salute!
Once you Dare, I will tell your offenders to not bother you for You are on your own and Have a Right to Be Not Bothered.
I may not have the answers to All your Woes but I am praying that you find in your wailings a need to stop and Say "Enough" and "No more".

Monday, June 26, 2017

Eid Mubarak ~Ye Le Teri Eidi!

My maid sauntered into my house, six years ago. She said she hailed from a remote hamlet four hours away from Kolkatta. 

She quoted a reasonable amount and was willing to wash my terrace balconies. That is all that mattered to me. She has today become the Reigning Queen of many households in our building. She begins her work at eight in the morning and works till midnight. She is by no means rude or greedy like many I had seen and witnessed earlier. She has won hearts with her patience - she will wait if your work is not done. Never in a hurry. She does everything. Fill water, take your wheat to the flour mill, take kids to bus stop for school, baby sit for an hour, fold clothes, wash clothes, floors, window sills. I have never heard her back answer or grumble. 

There is a purpose to all the hard work. To earn money for her three children in village who are raised by her mother. She and her husband with kids were thrown out of their family house those many years back. She with her husband ventured into Mumbai to find their fortunes. She has heard her kids growing up only over the phone and once in ten days, in a year, when she visits them.

She hardly ever takes an off, for she is hard working. Only when she is injured savagely, she will be off work. Always smiling at idiosyncrasies of kids and adults and shares their joys and sorrows. News of Death, illness or issues in building we get from her. No, not gossip, it is her concern that she shares and understands my aloof lifestyle. She informs so I may do the needful. If I do not, there is no judgement. She is nonchalant sharing all festivals in the building and yet present for work all days.

She is a boon for Holi, Diwali and Ganpati fests, she is present as she has nothing special to do. She is favoured for her omnipresence. Her only festival is "Eid" and she distributes kheer to all and sundry whether she works for them or not. 

She brings kheer for kids all over the building for in them she sees her kids enjoying. A day before Eid, I hand over the "Eidi", her rightful gift, according to me. I have been doing it all these years. 

This year I had to go for a trip and was not sure if I will be back for Eid so I gave her Eidi and wished her. Her whole being twinkled. I thought it was the money. 

I thought wrong!

She took it quietly with a happy smile. After some time she came to me where I was cooking "You know Bhabhi, I work in so many houses. I clean for their festivals and work diligently for all. Only you and the Doctor bhabhi above gives me "Eidi" No one else does. Koi humko Eidi nahin deta bus aap dono hi."

In those garbled words, she made such an important statement for our Country. 

Eidi for a Person is love. A happiness they have been feeling ever since they were children and after Namaz they waited eagerly to have their Elders keep Eidi in their hands. What they gave was not significant.

They gave. That was significant. You cannot describe the pure bliss of being the recipient of Eidi. It is the love of elders. It is belonging. It is the counting of Eidi coins to eat the Sweets or just lovingly stave it away. 

Here, where Runu is so far off  from her children, her parents. From both forces. From one she may Receive "Eidi", to another she may Give "Eidi". Both pleasures taken away for livelihood is an important duty. One she has no complaints about. 

She accepts. People have changed her name to "Renu", to "Reena" to suit their sensibilities and avoid the discomfort of reminders of her faith. Her services are valuable you see. She is willing to go the extra mile for all. 

They give her generously, but on their festivals when their Happiness counts! 

They do not realise, this one day is valuable for her. 

The Eidi you put in her hand will make her being shine and put a spring in her step. She never counts it anyways. 

It is important you put something you call "Eidi" for her soul knows what it means to hear "Ye le teri Eidi!" 

She accepts her fate and the Subtle Discrimination as she hands over her Kheer containers to Everyone, sharing her Eid filled heart. 

None of the lot have the Sensitivity to overcome "It is not our Festival." and just say "Ye le Teri Eidi."

I feel content, I could overcome and teach my children a small lesson in humanity. It is her happiness that should count, she offers her labour to us the year round, non-stop, no holidays during "our festivals" the only one who will work during those days when other maids will say, "It is our festival, we will not come.

Let us Give them "Eidi" when it matters the most to them! Be not afraid to hug them as that is how they wish "Eid Mubarak." 

Veils of Discrimination lifts then and Sprouts of Equality can be sowed. 

-Sonnal Pardiwala

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tinkle Buddy Box

On 18th of April 2017, we were returning from a tiresome road journey back from Gujarat in this sweltering heat. 

We had chores lined up and a weary body to contend with. My younger one was blissfully active as he had caught up on his sleep in the car! Pleasures of Childhood! The thoughts on how to keep him occupied in the afternoon and get some rest sounded like two conflicting goals. 

But someone up there conspired to alleviate my misery. On our doorstep was a delivery boy, waiting with a box of Tinkle Buddy Box

I simply told him it was a pre-birthday gift arranged by his Angels. Kids love surprises and mine is no exception. After the mandatory bath, he settled with his Buddy Box and was engrossed happily for at least three hours. To my relief, I got my dream nap undisturbed and without having to worry over him. 

So, I would like to share in his words his opinions on the world he discovered in that box. A journey in the words of an eleven year old rather than an intellectual dissection by a 40+ worldly wise woman who has lost the innocent childlike wonder. 

The box comes in bright colours and neatly packed stuff. We will take the tour as it unfolded. However, there is a cute introductory booklet by Suppandi giving a peek into the various activities rolled into the box.

Being an Avid Reader, naturally he gravitated to The Tinkle Super Special Book which is 192 pages filled with pure entertainment. Central characters being Shikari Shambhu, Suppandi and hilarious accounts of their (mis)adventures which sure tickled his funny bones. It is loaded with Trivia that added to his general knowledge and made for a great Quiz to let us know we are so ignorant! It added to my repertoire of a few things that I should have known but forgotten. 

Tinkle Holiday Special Book was labelled by him as a sombre affair of Adventures by Aliens, inanimate objects like batteries, slippers and ancient objects like mummies.

His vote for the favourite one goes to Tinkle Super Special!

The next to grab his attention was the Tinkle Board Game akin to the good ol' Snakes and Ladders. It comes with its own flavour of fun. The green fibre Dice almost looked like a Candy to him and we did pull his leg to not gobble it accidentally! Our punishment for the teasing was we as a family had to set aside our time to play the Board game. As a family, it turned around as a Fun Bonanza of peals of laughter. The varying and cute penalties won his heart! He happily coloured himself a black moustache. 

I, happily, discovered I could recite the table of eight but also haltingly (much to my chagrin). The material of Board game however is not likely to last the rough and tumble of this eleven year old who thinks it can be utilised and moved around as he wants (sometimes drumming on it lightly to sometimes pushing it around). I would settle for a  little tougher material but all in all it makes an interesting family game of leg pulling and surprises. 

He and his elder brother together endeavored to put together the Shambhu's Adventure Jigsaw Puzzle. It contains 108 pieces. It took them around 30 odd minutes to bicker, poke fun, call each other mild names to get it all into a pleasant and complete picture. 

The stickers, however, did come out and will not last more than few uses. They aim to take lesser time the next time around.

Being a DIY guy, next he picked up the Super Special Activity Booklet. There are 16 fun activities using paper, pencil, glue, bottles, straws, scissors, books to make handy stuff for use, for example, a cute little pencil box and a snaky card. He plans to attempt few more in days to come. 

His delightful squeal at the Tinkle Badges of his favourite characters like Wingstar, Defective Detectives, Shambhu and his ludicrous Suppandi, had to be heard and enjoyed. 

The Tinkle Paper Plane Activity was the quickest to reach its conclusion and also reached its perishable end pretty fast. That is how eleven-year-olds operate I guess! 

The Tinkle Card Game features Suppandi, Shambhu, Tantri in various colour codes. Two to six can play it. The twosome brothers had fun combining them colour-wise and character-wise. Quite some noise emanated in form of giggles while forming rules or dealing cards. He says "It is an eye stimulation game".

Suppandi's Auto Rickshaw Box: It has twin activity of creating its shape and colouring it intricately. It sure promises hours of creative, crazy affair with imaginations and colours. It has to be folded and creased. A boon for a mother who wants to be left alone to do her chores without supervising every move. It is pre-cut and pre-creased. No need for cutting and using scissors. What relief!
All in all it was an engrossing buddy for my little one. 

The box comes in with a Subscription form and a special introductory discount offer price for a period of six and three months. 

Fills up hours of an active kid's daily vacation schedule with a little family time thrown in the Board game and lot of "Me" time reading and making stuff as instructed.

By Sonnal Pardiwala

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Heal Like An Indian - #MoreIndianThanYouThink

Mumbai, after New Delhi, received "Lufthansa's A350-900 Airbus". Lufthansa launched its most modern and environment-friendly flight from Munich to Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport. My heart received this news with a nod and shake of appreciation. India is getting its fair share of attention and is a globally coveted destination. 

What grabbed my attention, though, was the TV Commercial on "Be like Indian" ,"Think like Indian" ,"Eat like Indian", "Dance like Indian"!

For those few moments brought ponderous thoughts and a tug of pride at being an Indian. Worldwide our habits, our methodologies, our philosophies are being observed and seriously considered worth emulating. This country is a system in itself where civilizations have left footprints that can guide us for eons to come. 

What Resonates in the Commercial is the call to Be like an Indian in all ways possible and be an invincible force to reckon with. 

I would like to add another simple, winning line: 

"Heal like an Indian

There is a deep truth and message of peaceful healing and going back to roots experience I share here. 

Eight years back, my mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Busy as I was in raising my kids and tending to my young family, I barely contributed much to her well being, thinking I was just one of the three daughters, there were others who should or would take care. Besides, my father was there to take all decisions. 

I blindly followed the dictates of Doctors as she underwent Splenectomy, where the Cancer had spread. OK, surgery done, immediate threat resolved! All went back to their regular life, without much thought. Doctors had warned of a possible relapse but well, I and others in the family thought it was a distant future. I did not sit back and guide my mother about natural alternatives nor peeked much into her life.

I was busy, you see.
The insidious thing struck again this February in the form of lumps in the Lymph nodes. Diagnosis shook us out of our self imposed, selfish and self-deceptive lethargic frame.

I stood trembling at the verdict- Stage 4 of Peripheral T cell Lymphoma. Being a Heart patient, even the Chemotherapy would have to delete few drugs reducing its efficacy further. 

Doctor's opinion was that she had a year or less left. Chemotherapy would create little more Longevity but side effects galore! 

"How do you say Goodbye to your mom?"

"How Selfish I was to overlook my own mother's deteriorating health!?"

Guilt, remorse, self deprecation all washed through me.
My mom, not very educated was blissfully, unaware of her state till then. The first episode was kept a secret from her but now we had to tell her!

Tell her, you have less time left on this earth...with us...

Her tears streamed with tons of emotions, regret at unaccomplished things, agony of Days to come. 

Her first fear she put in front of me.

"I will not do Chemo! I do not want to go through all that radiation, burns, hairloss!"

This time I vowed to myself, I will be in this with her. I wanted her last days to be peaceful and hopeful. I along with my sisters will find a way to heal her or at least reduce her pain as much as possible. Her strong principles do not allow her to camp at her daughters house except those enforced medical diagnosis days of assessments and subsequent mandatory rest. She needed a place to stay without responsibility of daily cooking and chores, her heart needed hope and an alternative to Chemotherapy. 

That is where the "Heal Like Indian" adage made inroads to my heart. 

I began searching ways that will help her. Her frail body was too weak to implement yoga and diet restrictions already in place we could hardly get or risk trying. 

I had to find something that will deeply resonate and find a niche in her Indian heart. 

Then I hit upon with blessings a natural method that would perfectly serve her needs and give her hope and an alternative to the painful Chemo treatment. 

She is a rural-bred soul, that grew up with cows and fields. 

She revered cows and had an affinity for them from childhood. Not only was it an object of her religious worship, but also a source of nutrition. Floors were adorned with natural paste of sand, cow-dung and dry grass. Fields were made rich with their manure. 

Just the right source to submit, for her to heal. 

We found therapy based on using Cow products and as she applied diligently, she felt her weakness episodes reduce and appetite return. Though we realized, she needed complete rest and freedom from the feeling that Cancer was a punishment for her  misdeeds! Her stress mounted as the full impact of her condition began dawning and so the waterfall of her tears. She needed a break and healthy dose of reassurance that she is not alone.

We found an authorised Institute in the State of Gujarat that offered an 11-day retreat using  Panchgavya therapy. They made their syrups, packs, medicines made of all substances derived from the cow. They offer free services right from purified water with Tulsi leaves to specially cooked food to medicines made lovingly by their compassionate Souls that believe in "Service to Humanity", their biggest goal. They have  group discussions on people sharing their experiences with this debilitating disease called Cancer, their symptoms, their attempts at finding a cure. A small little community enclosed in that caring space which says that you can heal this dreadful army of cancerous growth. 

As I write this blog, she is in her fourth day of retreat with my sister pampering her. Her misgivings replaced by hope as many like her share and partake of this selfless service we call "Seva". 

Yes, India has a legacy of healing the natural way and offering "Seva" with a pure heart. It is all encompassing and all embracing. Ever since she started the treatment, she feels empowered.

Ever since she heard of the institute, it was her last vestige of hope of a painless death. 

These compassionate souls who have created this space out of benevolent intentions to help heal and cure. No material benefits are solicited - only a heartfelt need to alleviate suffering and allay fears in those hearts that were losing the last vestiges of life control. 

I do not know how long will my mom live but I know she will live feeling empowered to be able to give a tough fight to the undisciplined army of cells gnawing away her body. 

This touch of 'Karuna' has enhanced her and re-instilled in me, my faith in my Indian roots. 

When your health seems to spiral out of your control, I would boom. A therapy fountain springs in every corner of India! 

If you want to beat a Disease... Well...You have to 
"Heal like an Indian".

Have a look at what Lufthansa has to offer...definitely #MoreIndianThanYouThink:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Babies made a human out of Me.

Till I discovered I was pregnant, I was a carefree and a reckless woman in my twenties. The moment I was told, I had a life within me, lots of emotions sprung forth. Fear of losing the baby to miscarriage as I lost the first one. Anxiety, to even go to the washroom or even move from bedrest zone more than necessary…

As self-fulfilling prophecies go, I indeed landed up in the hospital. From a rational and modern person, I became God fearing. Pleading to every faith I knew. Cajoling and coaxing and negotiating with Gods to bring my little one safe in my hands. My ordeal was further complicated with a premature arrival of my son. Since he had breathing issues he was in the incubator. To feed him I had to get up and go from my bed to the room. 
And a Mom was born! 
I had just had a C-Section and my entire lower abdomen was seized with excruciating pain. To go there I had to walk up. My baby was hungry! 
Gathering every vestige of will power that I never thought I possessed, I got up and walked like the mermaid who walked on pins. Every two hours, I had to struggle with my exhaustion and pain but the rewarding gaze of my baby on me filled me up with so much love. It defined what complete trust of another being on you meant. When I sat in the sterile incubator room with my little one suckling, all the pain seem to be non-existent. Only my gurgling angel's sleepy gaze! I fondly locked onto his satisfied smile. I knew in that moment I would die for him, endure for him and take on the world for him. 
Having a baby changes everything they say, and every bit of it is true. 
A whole new perspective emerged into doing everything. My little one was so precious for me that I learned to question tradition where his comfort mattered.
Sorry to disappoint all. I and my cutie pie slept soundly and he was toilet trained by two and a half, happily as mommy had never made eliminating waste an over the top issue. It was a quite routine between me and my husband and my son. One of us took turns in changing diapers, putting him to sleep, telling stories, feeding during weaning. Raising our kid was a new level of growing as literal partners for both of us. We became inventors, storytellers and questionnaires. We responded differently now to so many situations and could tell a ritual for its validity or its obsoleteness. 

Birth of my second one brought out the confident woman in me. Knowing this will be the last time I ever shall be pregnant I took happier decisions like changing doctors who would look at me with compassion and not a patient. I assertively expressed my needs and assured the doctor to be ‘calm’ when the second one declared a premature arrival. I told the doctor to go ahead and operate without fear. We had a cool chat over the entire surgery in the wee hours of early morning. 

Medical situation struck at our little heaven. The elder one diagnosed with a condition that had no allopathic cure or answer. Tradition suggested continuous blood tests to monitor his situation. Again the mother had to think, behave and respond differently. Spiritual learning gave mental reserves to cope with the panicky situation. As a mom I gave into understanding why a condition came up and what can be done. I could see the results of healing.
Schooling brought joy as well as other set of challenges and when their comfort was compromised well. By now you know how we as parents innovate and question! We found the school system redundant and literally have walked out of the system. All I will tell is that as an external candidate my elder one topped the ‘Mumbai Division’ with 94%! 

The only aim was to build a life that was happier for them. One that kept them away from discomfort... Systems that were obsolete we discarded to bring in newer paradigms...

We learned to create a dialogue for discipline and never coercion. 
All I will say is the moment we held our extension, a journey began... towards self-reliance and newer discoveries. 
Yes, having a baby changes you! You transform into a human being who thinks first for the baby and then for yourself. Through the diapers and feeds, homework and bruises, certificates, awards and degrees you are a resource... A parent… A formidable force that moulds a baby into an individual... For them you would take on the world... And change the world a little, if need be…
Work is still in progress and shall ever be...

So, I went on to lock horns with the ‘massage woman’ when she picked up my bundle with unhygienic hands and when he cried in the massage I refused her help. My own mom argued that his bones shall be weak, he will not sleep and that he will be overburdened.

Outsourced massage is the norm. Not for me. I took up massage of my little one and was rewarded with a cooing bonding and a super great ritual. Questioning and arguing continued over many things. Supplement breastfeeding with water and jaggery and honey. My doctor had warned not to give anything. I dug my heels and refused outside food. Only breastfeeding if required only breastfeeding it will be. My mom frowned as it was unheard of a woman to refuse the advice and ‘burden’ oneself so. Of course I went onto reject their cloth pad for a diaper so that he sleeps soundly. It was ‘waste of money’ and lead to bad toilet habits, according to them. 

I had few doubts though as to will I be able to love my second one with equal fervour. All disappeared when I held him, yes, a son this time around too. This time I was wide awake to feed him immediately. I took the sterner decision to not go to my maternal place for ‘resting’.  I chose to rest with my little supportive family who was my support system throughout. We celebrated at McDonald’s on the sixth day of his birth. As a family we flourished together and cared together. 

As doctor trembled at the blood tests fearing dire circumstances and my three years old stood silently without any said effects. The agony of regular pricks hurt me more than any pain I have ever gone through. I chose to walk out of a leading haematologist’s cabin with my ill-treated baby and look for another one. Further questioned and decided to stop the tests and focus only on our new found faith. He is 15 today and still has the condition but totally healthy and fit. 

Education was not in the books but the approach inculcated. My younger one happily home-schools and enjoys every bit of his life. 
From the first tryst with parenthood in April 2001, till today we have come a long way. Things we adapted and never questioned, at the mere frown of our little dudes we went into reforming and restructuring. 

Candle Messages!

Worshipping Deities with the help of an agency of fire is Universal. From Diya made in ghee or oil to Candles! Hindus believe that Fire is an agency that takes our messages to Gods. Christians use Candles to achieve the same.
Candles enjoy widespread popularity not only for religious purpose but also for Meditation. From Candle lit dinners to Healers Circle, candles have become the Mainstay of expression. It has become an industry. It has become the Coveted accessory to decorate a space, to cleanse the space and illuminate both hearts and souls.

Often, I 'm asked which colour candle to use?
The General rule is use whatever is available. Praying, sending out your intent is more important than obsessing over colours.
However, if it is possible, if you can plan in advance or you can collect and keep, it is a good idea to co ordinate colours with the intent vibrations that you wish to Manifest.
Below is a quick Reckoner.
White Candles are multi purpose. They can be put to use for all purposes.
*Light up the Candle to Cleanse a space.
* Affirm that  the Candle clears residual energies and uplifts the vibrations of the place it is kept.
*Alternatively you can anoint the Candle with Essential oils and/or herbs that will add to the Cleansing power of the Candle.
The Colours
Pink: Love, Romance and creating friendly vibrations with people. Pink is the softest and mushiest color in all shades. So any shade of Pink will do. Light it up and send loving wishes to the special person in your life. Use in a pair of two for special rendez-vous.
Blue : Peace, healing and Cooling of frayed energies. Whenever you sense discordant vibrations, it is a good practice to light up a blue Candle and pray for stabilising them.
Yellow: Memory, Will power and Determination. Students will benefit if they meditate under the aura of a yellow Candle.
Green: Prosperity and fertility. In order to invite money energy and opportunities that bring abundance, Meditate with a Green Candle to attract wealth.
Orange: Confidence, Courage and Stress release are areas which needs this colour
Red: Active Energy boosts and Passion are areas where red lends its much required energy.
Purple:Communicating to Higher forces deepens with the focused field of this vibrant colour.
Using candles can be pleasing. If you focus, they communicate a lot about your intent and how likely are you to manifest your heart's desire. I share some pointers and messages that the Candles convey. However, there are factors such as quality of wicks used, the wind in the room etc. Assuming all of the above variables are stable, observing your candle can be fruitful.

*If the candle crackles upon lighting, the forces are working on overcoming the obstacles in the way. Be patient.
*If the Candle emits black fumes, negative energies are being escorted away.
*If it emits white fumes, there is opposing forces to your desire. They need additional prayers.
*If the candle flame is towards you, your prayers will be answered and you will meet with success and if flame is away from you, it warns of testing times and calls for perseverance
*A weak flame points to heavier work in your Manifestation and that extra work is needed in fulfilling your wishes. Results will be slow in coming. Patience and Tenacity is required.
Every tool given to us has a message. Ask the Candles you light to connect you to Source and Make you a Clear Channel that wishes for Higher Good of all involved.
May the Candle you light illuminate your path and fulfill all your wishes.
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Sonnal Pardiwala.