Friday, October 13, 2017

Drastic situations require Drastic measures!

(A  life incident of an Indian mommy who had to resort to drastic action when reasoning failed. Instead of judging right or wrong, I narrate her plight) 

Meena picked up the phone with a sigh, "Yes Mummyji! Arun will be there to pick you at the airport. No, please do not buy any crackers on the way. We do not burst them anymore." 

Her in-laws were expected after two years at her new house. Her mother-in-law had a distance control on lots of things they did in the house. Every festival was preceded with a call outlining what she had to do. Each event, 'skype-evidenced' to see if all instructions were followed to the hilt. It was more than a decade she was married to Arun but her mother in law maintained the "We do it this way, What would you know?" stance. According to her, Meena was from a lower caste and that was an irreparable flaw. She apparently had not forgiven her son for mixing his genes in an "impure" way. 

When Meena looked at her two kids, she saw only brilliance, simplicity and humility in them, but she knew her mother-in-law would never admit that. 

Her husband's transfer had allowed Meena to retain her sanity in face of laced prejudice of her in law's elderly folk. They kept moving city to city and sometimes even states. For her husband,  too, it helped as he did not have to take a stand for a nuclear family. 

"Have you brought in the ingredients I asked for making pickles? I will make them and go for my children to last you an entire year." her reverie was cut through by this sharp reminder on the other side. 

"Yes I have." was her dull admission.

 Meena was sure, she missed out quite some instructions in her distracted state. Two years she had lived with her in-laws and knew, no matter what she would do, somewhere a flaw will leap through. Her husband had not the courage to confront for he was raised to not do so. He found a diplomatic solution by accepting a Promotion that raised the salary but required constant transfers. The salary and perks were so good, it seemed practical for all. Arun did invest for his parents heavily. He was their only son. 

She did not interfere in that zone as their combined income met their needs and more. She was an environment conscious person. She inculcated simple tastes and needs for her family. This moving lifestyle did give her the autonomy she required. She was the Queen more or less. She could teach her kids what she wished. No one meddled in her household. Skype interactions can be handled. Family gatherings were during weddings and important occasions wherein they met under other people's roof and maintained civility. Few barbs may fly on her choice of clothes and stuff but nothing more.  

She sat looking around and counted all the issues her mother - in- law will extensively frown upon. She wondered ways to cope, avoid and skirt some. 

For starters, she did not have a full time servant! A top servant yes but no one who stayed around the whole day. Meena could not stand the situation where someone lurked around. She cooked their meals fresh and herself. She believed in Cooking with love thing. She had learned in her Spiritual workshops, she attended. For her, a family that worked together, learned to appreciate each other and also pitch in with each other. It helped learn the dignity of work!  Top servant came and went. No interference, no dependence. 

Her ma in law needed 24×7 needed an attendant. 

Stand off! For sure! 

She had grown a penchant for Gardening and Composting. She was lucky to set up her own Garden. She grew quite some herbs, vegetables and even was experimenting with cross planting.  She had compost bins out on the house terrace, where she held her Gardening workshops. Her newly sprouting beauties lay there. Any other folks, went "Wow",  over the teas sprinkled with aromatic herbs. Not her Mother- in- law. She would be furious to know about her expeditions with "Dirt". Peasants and servants did that. 

Well, she thought she could hardly hide the massive lifestyle she had created for her and her family. Her husband loved the Garden beaming with new discoveries, flowers, fruits. They had managed to find best sit - outs and Swings one sat on and sipped healthy brews. She was invited to give talks on Composting and Growing plants. Her children proudly hanged out with friends showing them around. 

Her ma - in- law will have a fit! She could do nothing about it.  She could not possibly shift her thriving Garden. She decided to be silent and let the criticism recede on its own. If she heard it silently her mummyji will slide to find another thing to pick on and prick. The "Bahu" is so full of them, there is always abundance in that area. 

Food was one area she had attained mastery. Her load will increase with so many preparations. No spice for father- in- law as he had Cardiac and lung  issues. Few vegetables were off for mummyji and as for her, they foursome ate whatever was there lovingly. 

Another big issue, loomed larger on her head was the "Cracker" zone literally and figuratively. She had discussed this with Arun five years back and had decided to not burst crackers anymore. She knew each one was responsible for environment and she must do her bit. Her kids were never introduced to crackers as part of Celebrations! 

Her mummyji had clucked clucked on it but being away could not do much. Her Daddyji like Arun took the "No Confrontation" attitude. Anything for peace! 

She was willing to endure low caste digs, bad householder remarks but this one thing she was not willing to compromise! 

She had no help from her husband who was meeting his parents after few years. He was unlikely to be pleased with any skirmishes at all. 

She sighed, hoped there would not be any. How she wished she could freeze or disappear these few days. She must get on though as best as she could. When Power struggle is on... It is on! 

The Door Bell rang. 

"Dada Dadi camnmnmee..! " chortled the kids who had gone down to play. They returned with their Grandparents and Arun in Tow. She touched their feet. She could already see her mummyji assessing her turf. She took a deep breath and went inside to fetch refreshments. 

" Daadaji not here, come and sit in the Garden. We just bought new swings. Mom will bring chamomile tea for you", Zesha pulled his Grandpa into the Garden. 

"Daadi for you there will be Allspice tea with no sugar but meethi tulsi", Younger Ishaan too imitated his elder sister. 

"Both of you, let them sit for a while and relax! " Arun interjected as he came back after putting the suitcases away. He had one small bag with him. 

Yes Daadi has brought stuff for all of you", smiling their Grandma opened the bag. 

Next ten minutes went in Ooohhh! Ahhhh! as clothes for all four tumbled out. Crayons and Clay,toys and Games,  shaving device for Arun and casseroles for Her kitchenette. 

"Best is saved for the last. Here are crackers for you little ones. Deafen the entire building away" 

Suddenly there was an uncomfortable silence. The delight on kids'  face withered. They looked at their mom. Grandpa too sombered out. Arun distinctly shifted gaze to the sofa tapestry. Her mummyji looked at her directly and pointedly. Meena had to be diplomatic. 

"Easy " said a voice inside her! 

" Mummyji, We do not burst Crackers", Meena stated this simply. 

"Our children do not celebrate? " 

That was a Dig. She stole a glance at Arun who briefly gave an apologetic stare. 

We all are hungry, let us just have lunch. Zesha, pack this carefully will you? " She got up with the tea cups and snacks that were left uneaten. 

Arun automatically picked up few plates and followed her in the kitchen. 

She has made a servant out of my Arun", sailed in her mummyji's lament. Her Daddyji woefully whispered "Don't start  now please. We have just come to enjoy and relax not find faults" 

"Your problem is you cannot see what I see. My son should have chosen much better" 

Voices trailed away. 

Meena kept the cups in the sink. Automatically turned to the Flour kneading. She hated when both set of parents came. Arun's folks made her uncomfortable and Her folks made Arun feel despair. She remembered the same words her father had said six months back "Our daughter should have chosen better" 

She had kept silent then, today Arun did. They had stopped expecting each other to defend the other. Both knew how powerless they were in front of their own parents. Her father too maintained, she was far more educated than Arun and could have made a great Career. She may have been out of job market but she was employed well through her workshops and talks. Working from home according to her father was a Self Delusional activity. He too took digs at him and Arun let it pass. Initially they fought over no defense stance. Gradually they understood their weaknesses and accepted. Apologised at best. 

They were happiest when they were foursome and friends flitted in and out. 

Visit of either set of parents was a nightmare. 

Arun took the plates and lay them on the table. 

"So you learned this job too. Amazing Arun! " came another dig! 

She continued serving Chapattis while family ate. Arun veered the conversation to relatives and upcoming events. For a while, she was forgotten. 

Afternoon was a silent time as they slept. 

Evening the kids refused to listen and took their Grandparents in the garden. By the looks her Father- in- law seemed pleased by the Peaceful Environment. 

Arun and his Dad sat chatting. Her mummyji however seemed Grim. 

"Does all this muck not get in the house and make it dirty? You do not even have a person to clean continuously? " another question

" It is not muck Daadiji, it is Compost. We get rich healthy fruits, flowers and vegetables from it. See... " Zesha enthusiastically corrected! 

Meena smiled. Zesha had picked up her pride. 

You can buy all that from the Organic market, why waste time and place growing? " came the deliberate feigned query. 

Oh Daadi you know, only what grows in your backyard is 100% organic rest all is fake! " supplied Ishaan with a conspiratorial wink at his grandma. 

Grandma was cornered. 

And how many shall you grow? " 

" One person at a time, Few veggies at a time!"  chorused the kids. 

Kids had keenly picked up her Workshops that happened right there. 

Meena was proud. Inadvertently her children were fighting her battle. Without knowing the Consequences. 

Grandma's temper was rising. She shifted gears. 

So can I make pickles here in your garden. Is there enough light and heat? " 

" Sure Daadi but what you want to make Choonda or Murabba? " Ishaan asked. 

That got a furrow on her head. 

"What is the Difference Ishu? ", asked Daadaji. He was amazed at the kids. 

Zesha supplied" One is what you make in the sun's light,  another on the artificial gas! Mom you know which is which... " 

" Oh God no! " Meena wanted to not be part of this conversation. 

Thankfully Arun entered just at the time. 

Dad, I have fixed your appointment tomorrow morning with the Cardiac Specialist. He wants few tests" 

That had a worried look crease mummyji's face. 

"Tests? Why?? " 

" Here,  Doctors test to be sure. Nothing to worry. Chill ma!", Arun assured. 

"Daddy, let us make Rangoli. I will remove flowers from the fridge" Zesha hurried away. 

Arun had discovered his artistic side and indulged kids in making patterns with flowers. They lit up Diyas and prayed. Even Grandpa made a pattern or two. Grandma, too, cannot be excused. The whole house looked divine. Arun was happy with his parents and kids enjoying together. 

"Won't these flowers cause garbage and add to garbage? " mummyji asked the kids. The loaded emphasis on" garbage" was purposeful. 

No daadi, we will add them in compost. We give back to Earth what we take" Ishaan offered innocently. The sarcasm bit lost on the little one. 

"Come on kids, time for Crackers. Arun, you will show kids how to leave a rocket? Your dad was an expert! " Mummyji went in her room to bring a bagful. 

The Glow from kids' face again dimmed. They looked at Meena. She knew, she had to take a stand. 

Mummyji, we don't do that anymore. I did request you not to buy them" 

"Now we have! " 

" I cannot help that but no We will not burst them".

"Arun,Can your wife explain why our childrem should be deprived of Fun? " 

Arun braced for a full blown catastrophe now. There was war of wills and he did not know where to stand. 

Meena took a deep breath" Mummyji, why should we equate fun with crackers. Were we not having fun just now, all of us? Is being together and enjoying each other's company not fun? Is only shouting, screaming hoarse fun? In a moment all crackers are gone in the air thickly polluted!  " 

" So what will happen if we burst crackers a few, others are doing it anyways! " 

" Our Supreme Court has taken Cognisance of this evil and banned its sale. We are making irreversible damage when we take in that black emission. We cannot reverse the damage" Meena answered exasperated. 

"All our lives we have burst them, nothing happened " 

" Mummyji, have you ever checked the accident cases during Diwali, the rise in Asthma, Bronchial issues? " 

"I will be supervising them, Arun and your father-in-law will be there! Do you doubt us? Will we not take care?  Just because there are accidents, will you stop travelling? " 

" Mummyji travelling is a necessity, Bursting Crackers  is a choice! " 

" What will my children do, while others burst Crackers, they will mourn in the house! Just like your side people do? " 

This was getting personal. Daddyji rose up and went in his room. He looked red faced. Her children were witness to this shameful struggle on an auspicious Day. 

Just now they are actually losing fun by seeing us argue. Please let us drop this" Arun interjected gently behind her. 

Meena felt the pressure of giving in. It was so easy to just let her go with children and have her so called "Fun" She was a mother and she had values to teach and principles to adhere too. 

"She wants to control everyone with her activism. What will you alone do by not bursting crackers? Whole world is doing it! "

Meena ushered the kids in their room. Arun brought a glass of water for both. 

You have upset even your father- in - law. We came from Delhi to enjoy in Mumbai so we can atleast burst crackers here but you had to thwart me! " 

Meena knew when Gears were changed

Is it possible mummyji that dad's weak lungs could be the reason of Constant pollution your city and my city faces? We feel, what is one day crackers but they do leave a long lasting impact on each one's health and longevity? " 

" So now you are blaming me for everything.What about all the money I spent on them? What you know value of money? You saw money after you married my son! "

"Where will that money be? In smoke. Not only crackers but their leftovers cause more smoke while disposing!" 

"Don't burst them next time but this batch I will... Zesha, Ishu come... We will see, how your mother stops us. If you do not want us Arun, you should have send us back at the airport. I can leave just now...!"

Ultimatums!

"No mom, Dad's appointment is there, you cannot leave. His pressure has increased already! "  a visibly upset Arun returned from his dad's room. 

Why will it not increase, some respect we got. Tell him to come in the fresh Air and enjoy with us. He will feel better" 

Her mom- in - law began collecting the Cracker's bag. She went in the kitchen. 

"Zesha! Where do you keep your Candles? Help me out here" 

Zesha and Ishaan looked perplexed. 

Meena stood there. She could give in to end it. She felt humiliated and hurt. There her children were standing looking at the Human drama unfolding. Either ways she was standing stripped in front of her children. 

Her stand of #SayNotoCrackers was for good reason. Her children and next generation needed it. 

No amount of reasoning will work, she knew. 

She took a decision in a split second. Confrontation was anyways on. It can get no worse. 

She picked up the Bag and went to the terrace. She had a drum full of water to tend to plants. She dumped all the crackers in them. Zesha and Ishaan followed mutely. 

Her mother- in- law stood transfixed with anger. Cold, white anger. 

"You left me no choice, Whether you burst them or put them in the water. The waste is similar. I will not have my children take even a slimmer chance of accident. No matter what adult supervision is there, they happen and hurt for a lifetime " 

She came to the living room and started the TV. 

The Lung Care Department 's Head was urging people" Is bursting crackers the only way to enjoy Diwali?  Let us pledge to create a better Longevity. By bursting Crackers, you just reduce your longevity" outlining the harmful effects Delhi suffered last year. 

Only if each one of us Understood! Not only this but every Diwali will be Happy and Healthy Diwali for all! 

Sonnal Pardiwala.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Karva Chauth - Gifts of Love.

I am 43 and from a Gujarati Household. From a young age we are introduced to the Art of Fasting. Fasting for a "Good Husband", Fasting for "Good Health", Fasting for getting a "Son", Fasting for Defeating Fate. 
As children, we were part conditioned to believe an unbreakable connection of fasting and dsired results. We feebly questioned it too,  but the women folk elder to us frowned so seriously that we dithered a bit but complied nonetheless. 
We grew up on a diet of Steady Fasting. 
Then I did the Unthinkable (for my parents)! Married a Man from a Parsee Community,  where "Fasting" was an Alien Concept. If anything, they ate at every juncture. Birth, Marriage, Navjote, Death. Food was an inevitable element in their lives. They rever Food. Alternatively, I also learned their Art of Praying to deal with inevitabilities of life. They prayed simply and expected Gods to bless without having to twist and turn in the tummy zone. Their restraint as far as to refrain from eating Non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was a Huge Sacrifice for a Parsee person! 
No one expected me to Fast here. So Karva Chauth was a distant event in my life, happening in newspapers and Movies. Religion never came between the two of us. We enjoyed and Celebrated Everything. So did our two kids. They learned to recite prayers of both faiths and delicacies from both sides were devoured happily. 
The Childhood Conditioning is strong though. At a critical juncture of grave medical Condition of my Husband's brush with Death, it surfaced. It was "Sankashta Chaturthi". The fourth day post full moon is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Moon. I began that fasting, on that day. After a long struggle with Death and a financial upheaval, we swam to steady shores. This Fasting now remained in my psyche. I follow it sincerely ever since. No elaborate rituals. It is a quiet day as usual, with fast broken after sighting the moon. 
This year, I jested that I dedicate the routine fast to you dear husband. It is the "Karva of Chauth". 
Left it at that. Of course my kids wanted to know what it was and why it was such a debatable issue. We gave our humorous as well as serious takes on the day. 
Since it was a Sunday, I decided to literally rest. Work was hectic so this day came in as a Boon on a Holiday. I requested my husband to fend for himself and the children. Three boys feasted on a nearby hotel delivery. I slept deeply the entire afternoon. 
When I did get up, it was to few pleasant surprises. A glass of Lassi waiting, an apple cut and a cup of tea followed. 
Still basking in the pampering, I was presented with a detailed dinner plan by husband dear. 
"I am making your favourite Rice and Aloo Sabji since you prefer homemade food at the breaking of a fast..." 
" Wow!" at not having to cook while I was wee bit tired and weak. 
My husband while eating confessed, 
I thought, I will fast with you since it is Karva Chauth. I went in the kitchen in the morning to make tea and saw the biscuits. That's it. I could hold the hunger no more! I brought it out and ate it. So the next best thing I did was to "Cook for you, your favourite food!"  
Is love not about celebrating and caring for each other in this intimate way? Fasting is not a part of his psyche. Caring is! 
To cook for me, when I have not eaten the full day and keep things ready for me forms his highest offering. Offering love and care takes many forms in our lives. Instead of linking guilt and compulsion, if we allow each one to express care the best way he or she could, would this world not have love more and compunction less? 
What he could not express in staying hungry for me, he expressed in doing what best he could. Remember what I like to eat, cook that very thing with tender love and thoughts. 
This I believe was my best Chauth ever Karva or Otherwise! 
-Sonnal Pardiwala 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

#JuniorFinanceWiz: Money in my Family

#JuniorFinanceWiz

Having dealt with lack of money in childhood and immediate years post-marriage, it was most important to hand over a balanced money perspective to both my Children aged 16 and 11.

It took a while to get the hang that money is not evil and it needs intelligent planning to keep it, and keep it growing. It was also essential to hand over a philosophy of Enjoying the Benefits money could bring your way in terms of goods and products one can buy and enjoy. The financial circumstances were a bit different at each child's arrival and growth period. They were a part of all our financial discussions and endeavours. They were a part of our Financial problem solving. A decade-and-half long exercise in building money consciousness was our monthly trip to supermarkets. The comparing of products in relation to their price, quality, utility, offers and discounts were happily arrived at together. It was impinged naturally why a certain product was not chosen. Reasons, as to some stuff already being there, avoiding wastage, a better offer or a deal. They learned that saving money did not entail deprivation but rather, the best value for money invested. As #Homeschooling parents kids were with us in work place witness to Hard work and Dedication we put in to earn our Wealth. They witnessed the Distribution of Monthly expenses and debates on why a certain service needed adding or deleting.

A working mother needs efficient gadgets which will allow work pressures to ease. So, time and again money was invested in the latest as the need arose. For Clothes and essential necessities, we discouraged "brand consciousness" which helped reduce excessive outgoings on a single product.

However, a utility as a smart phone was enlisted in for all four individuals as a lot of learning happened through Google aunty and Blogging, Youtubing happened on our electronic friends. So we are a mix of "No-Brands but happy gadgets",for they serve a purpose. Another important participation was when we went #Banking and #Saving. Initially, when we saved, we went in for Fixed Deposits in each member's name. All four of us know what is being saved, where and why. All of us know when each deposit shall mature and if we will reinvest, continue or Use it for a certain commitment. So, if one of us hesitates at the last minute while buying a certain thing we wanted, the kids will frown affectionately and say "We saved for it, we deserve it." It is our Mantra now.

Kids have their money fundamentals firmly in place and ask for only what they know can be accommodated. No sense of entitlement of "You have to" or "You do not spend on us" complaints. The Elder one, barely 16 already began earning through blogging, has steady gift vouchers for his and family's expenses.

The younger one too looks up to creating an Earnable skill to collect his valuable currency notes. Money is not something on which we argue as a family. We earn, we value, we invest together so we can say to each other "We saved for it, We deserve it!"

-Sonnal Pardiwala

Monday, September 25, 2017

Upgrade Your Lifestyle with Easy & Simple Steps

We live in Urban spaces which translates into Pigeon Holes for rooms, competing needs, hurried days!

We still need to make style statements with the choices we make while doing up our homes.

Here are a mix of ways, we put up a home that is at once livable and elicits a "Wow" and extra enquiries as to,

"How do you do it?"
"Where can we get the same? "

1. A Green space - We live a busy lifestyle and so we need a green space in the house to De-stress and Relax. No matter, how less the space in your house is, create a Garden of fresh plants. Vertical gardening is an option. You do not need to spend a bomb. Make a shelf with Bamboo sticks. It will be easy on your pocket and give an earthy, forest like look to your Garden space.


A Cane Swing if the space allows it is all you need to sip your Green Tea and Mull over the Day's events.

2. Earthen Cookware - Being exposed to pollution and junk food, eating Healthy is definitely a must. Cooking in Earthen cookware, retains all the micronutrients of your food. Other than making a Style statement, you would also be making a Health statement.
3. Let go of Clutter - We had a sofa set, dining table and TV unit taking up all the space in the living room. What we needed was a tough decision to sell it off and go minimalist. A foldable Sofa that can be a Sofa, a divan when needed and sleepover bed. So easy to move around that it frees up the floor space giving enough walking and cleaning space. 


3. Foldable Utilities - A small house needs foldable utilities which should serve the needs and yet be put away when not in use. Foldable Clothes Rack. The Balcony is supposed to be an aesthetic spot from where one gets a peek of the inside world as well as from where you can get a relaxed spot to sit and unwind. It should not be a forced go to place to hang your personal knick knacks for all to see.

A Foldable writing desk, one can take to bed for completing assignments and put away when not in use.


4. Invest in Air Fresheners - Burning Incenses and Aroma oils have been great ways to enliven the living space. Somehow they are relegated to religious rituals or special times.

We deal with unhealthy, unpleasant odours that emanate from various places in our pigeon hole houses and we need instant solutions. We are hardly likely to take our incense sticks to Washrooms where a certain smell makes our nose wrinkle between uses. Especially on a Day when guests use it once too often. At times, dirty laundry or unwashed dishes piling up would send a stench that is enough to give you a Headache.

It becomes well nigh impossible to work your way through that muck without feeling a little ill and resentful. Many an argument ensues as to whose job it is to mend the dirty pile or who is the cause!

The top servant visits once a day but stench seems to be a permanent companion. My Go to Air Freshener has been Ambi Pur. It helps me #SkipTheSmell in moments.

On hurried days, when unwashed pile of clothes or dishes have to be left back, I spray the Citrus Ambi Pur. I do come back to a Sensible house and it lets me work through the mess with one less foe to conquer.

After cleaning the house, post mopping, a spray and a whiff goes a long way in improving the quality of space in which you can sink into and read a book or watch your favorite show.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Drop your comments and let me know what you think.

By Sonnal Pardiwala


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Home Schooling - Is it An Option in India?

Lately, these statements have become frequent!

Schools teach nothing nowadays!

Schools have become money minting machines!

They want our money but not the responsibility of our children's safety!
Recent incidents of violence and Murder in Schools have made parents sit up and question a system well entrenched in our psyche.

They are in unison considering, "Do their children really need 'School' to meet their future Goals?"

As a Homeschooling family we asked these queries half a decade back and opted out of school!

We homeschooled our two kids who were in seventh grade and second grade back then.

Today, my elder one is gearing up for Grade 12 and again reconsidering 'not pursuing' further studies in the conservative sense. He finds College a colossal squandering of Resources!

As parents we are again in the "Rethinking phase" We will innovate like we did. We love Challenges.

My younger one is happily home learning. Infact, he is in the sixth grade chronologically but he takes up Eighth Grade Academics and is doing a fab job of it.

Do we as parents teach them?

Far too lazy we are!

They fend for themselves, sit in all our Lectures of various subjects we undertake. More the whole life is a platform for learning.

They study, debate, attempt papers, cook with us, clean with us, fight and make up with us. They learn from every fibre of life.

Their shining and purposeful lives are a far cry from lofty claims of just "getting educated".

So, naturally when there is turmoil, parents who are exploring this path connect to us and many like us who made homeschooling as a way of life.
We as a family attend to it as frequently as we can but sometimes it does get Repetitive for us. So I am putting down regular queries and see if it helps.

What is Homeschooling? Is it allowed in India?

Homeschooling is when your child is no longer enrolled in any school and opts to stay at home to learn. Allow? Like whose permission can we ask?

We need our own permission to step down from our deep conditioning of a system that is not serving many needs. We need to give ourselves and our Children the freedom to loosen the Shackles which are no longer needed. We do not need permission, we need a Decision.

Related Article: On The Threshold Of Homelearning- Being Unconventional or Being Natural?

Do you think, I should homeschool my child?

That is a personal Call each family must take after careful deliberations of Goals, needs and desires.

How should I start Homeschooling? What do I teach my children?

If you consider homeschooling, I suggest go on a quarterly sabbatical. Do nothing academic for three months. Enjoy the freedom this new Decision brings. Just let loose. You will be surprised to  Discover lots of faulty "musts", "shoulds" that you have held and can happily let go. Besides the break with tiffin, uniform ironing, homework, tests and all of that will be absent! Also, the competition, hurry, comparison would rarely raise its ugly head. What fun! Think about it.
As to what to start teaching? Pick what is important to you and interesting to your child. These days, resources on internet and bookstores are tons, use them creatively.

Related Article: The U-Turn and Unlearning

Where do I register for homeschooling?

As yet there is no legal body where you can register. You do not need to notify anybody. You simply opt out of school and choose not to send your child for any schooling. There are voluntary homeschoolers group all over India. You can look them up on Google.

Who will Discipline them, like school?

Are you talking of Obedience "Do as I say" or Discipline, "Be a Self Learner?"

Think carefully about what kind of Child you wish to send out. A child can be moulded how you want. If you feel school will do a better job, well, stick to the school. If you have faith in your abilities to Bond and Vibe with your child, only then Insource your child's Future. For I cannot reiterate enough. Opting out of School is a Choice with no outside influences. Do not follow it as a fad or Craze. It is serious Adventure which you as a family will undertake. If you do not derive satisfaction out of it, it is in Vain.

How much does it cost?

As much as you wish to spend. No more no less.

On the practical side, there will be no fees, no tuitions, uniform, no extra curricular activities and payments.

As humans but we wish to jump from one system to another. In that case, you will meet plenty of scamsters waiting to prey on your Anxieties. We are looking for a free approach to how we learn, what we learn, what we spend. Why hand over money to such Alternate Launderers.
Autonomy is the key. Spend on important stuff that gives the whole family  pleasure and sense of Control.

How will the Child Socialise if he /she does not go to school?

Hmmm! Child goes into the same bus, same class, same environment. At times is witness to cuss words, bullying, gang behaviour. Is that truly socialisation? In that case, why the social elements of school not present when the murder happened. The child must have called out for help. At least screamed once, scuffled once!

When the girl was raped, why did thr mother discover it only when the child reached home? Why did the socialised elements not reach out for protection or even reportage? The affected Girl must have gone through tremendous trauma through the day till she reached home?
Why did the socialising friends slap so hard that a child lost his hearing ability? This happened in the locked Washrooms or Attics of School but children did have certain part of day left to come home in last two cases?

Is discipline, education or literacy imparted in schools worth losing a 7 year old just like that? Why no friends accompanied him? What Socialisation are we still wishing to Materialise?
The child ridiculed for Menstrual stains died of mortification. Why did none of her social friends stand up for her and Call out the teacher?
Where or what kind of Socialisation are we looking for?
(That was a tirade of an angry mother. I have kids too and when one kid is hurt, It feels deep.)

On a lighter note, you as a parent can create healthy opportunities by enrolling your children for activities that interest them and can be supervised.

Since you have, homeschooled your children, can you teach mine?

No!

Your Goals are unique. Homeschooling is a self autonomous stance we take for self development. Have your flexible goals. Carve your own path. Create your own Paradise. Solve your own problems. Is life not about that? At key junctures, employ tutors to get through public exams.

How can my child appear for Grade 10/12 exams?

Your child can avail of various options. Foreign boards take External Candidates (At a fee), but yes, at age 14 your child can! Look up their website please.
NIOS also has an option to give grade 10/12 at the child's comfort and leisure. Look up their site. They have Centres around you for Guidance. Look up and Ask around!

Your State Boards too have Form No. 17 whereby your child can avail of suitable public Exams.

My kid did and scored 93.6%!

Related Article: Decision Validated, Yet The Journey Continues

Can we go back to school if we cannot adjust?

Yes. Under Right to Education your child cannot be denied Admission. They may take relevant entrance tests and ask you to begin a Grade lower, since certain competencies that school tests may need, may not be fulfilled by a non school going child. Schools of Foreign Boards too are willing to take in kids as they are open to children from all backgrounds as long as willingness to rules, instructions and fee structure are adhered to.

What will be their future? Will we deprive them?

That anxiety is normal when you embark on a path that is against the norm. Stay with it. It will dissipate with time. As you will swim forward, enjoy and create new pathways, you might be the one carrying the Homelearning torch forward to illuminate others fragile heart. There are as many solutions as problems. Point is to enjoy while resolving them and live to tell the tale.

Related Article: A Year Into Homeschooling and Finding Ourselves

This blog is a flip crisp responses to regular queries to homeschooling we encounter. Connect with us if you wish to know more or follow us on social media to see our day to day adventures. We sell possibilities of Freedom and Serendipity and we charge nothing.

Is that not a bonus?

Authors of Homeschoolers Brigade!

Sonnal Pardiwala (Mom)
Nozzer Pardiwalla (Dad)
Shahen Pardiwala (16 yrs old)
Shahaan Pardiwala (11 yrs old)

P. S. - If you have any further queries regarding homeschooling, or if you want to see an answer to a frequently asked question, please post it in the comments below and we would be glad to answer it. Thank you!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Formidable Foe called Kangana Ranaut

If you want to hold your breath this weekend and suck in the air with sheer gumption of it watch the 'One Woman Army' called Kangana Ranaut on the Aap Ki Adalat show with Rajat Sharma.

She has redefined what brazen Courage is made up of. Other guests that appear hence forth will have to match up with the sheer audacity and honesty she brought in this no holds barred interview.

This is how such shows should unfold instead of the diplomatically correct and politically ingratiating words that tepidly fall in 'Pakau' manner by some of them who do appear in this show.

She has earned her fearlessness by plunging into the depths of misery and truly asking “What do I have to lose anyways?"

Before I launch into a full fledged admiration love letter to this lady, let me admit to a memory that reminded me about the spark I had lost long long ago.

I remember being asked to resign from a well known educational institute simply because I had refused to find carpenters for doing up the reception area of the school. Being a counsellor, I thought it was definitely not a part of my skill set nor job requirements. It was appalling to see even senior well qualified counsellors on board bring them quotations from carpenters and deriving pride that theirs was considered. I refused politely but firmly earning me the wrath of the principal and HR! They told me to resign else they will not give me a good work experience certificate and it will ruin my Career. I needed the job, yes but more so my self esteem was at stake here. I was rated the best Counsellor in their yearly assessments and yet I was an eye sore for them. I had not complied to their unruly demands and they  had the power. 

Well, I dug in my heels and refused to resign too. I did tell them “My career is my responsibility alone and that they should make the rudest possible termination letter ever but I shall not resign.”

Phone calls went back and forth, explanations and arm twisting followed but I stood there without budging. I had the power of the truth with me and so it was. They had to find a clause that since I was temporary placement, they no longer needed my services and they did give me a work experience letter, describing the period of my term too. I have never used that experience letter ever. I did decide to chart out my own life on my terms and conditions and have a rollicking career as a teacher, blogger (my book made it to Limca Book of Records), spiritual healer and just an independent human who no longer puts her destiny in the hands of insecure, so called powerful people.

So with lots of awe in my heart and fierce glee, I watched Kangana dissect, devastate and destroy the Bollywood film industry’s ways and all of that she went through. She choked, she sobbed on few words. The eyes raw with agony yet glinted with steel. I will not break now and never is what they said.

What is she made up of?

To look at her flimsy frame, she appears so dainty and all of her 49 kgs. There is no bragging on her part. She accepts her frailties as easily as she flings logic at the people who set out to destroy her. She accepts that she was in love with Hrithik Roshan and it was so deep while it lasted but when he intended to close the chapter, she did. She expressed her hurt that he made public the most intimate details of their times in his bid to hurt and humiliate. 

She had all the silent anger at the writer and actor couple who threatened her with dire circumstances. I am sure they squirm in their plush sofas where they look at the delicate girl they intimidated. She did not once deny that she was not affected, not humiliated! She accepted all of it and put it out Raw out there for all to judge or indulge. She had a wizened philosophy too that "If my family or society is ruffled and hurt, It is ok for the time being. I will take it."   

Life has not been cakewalk for her. She admits it and nonchalantly takes it in her stride. She accepts her vulnerable part that loved and believed. She also does not hesitate to express the indignity she was put through at having her privacy invaded and family put through trauma. She sums it up so indignantly "If they put me, a successful actress through so much, imagine what they must be doing to girls with no clout or support?"

She met allegations head on elucidating her contribution and absolving what was not her piece of pie. 

She cooked up a storm that she did want to marry Hrithik Roshan and in his indecisiveness lost her 'other offers'. "I'm 30 and unmarried.",she gleefully and remorselessly throws in for audience to clap on. 

Such candour! 

You would not expect this from the likes of Alia Bhatt or Sonam Kapoor or Shraddha Kapoor, who being star kids are trained to drip artificial diplomacy. Their interviews are drab and induce headaches. In Kangana's words, 'pakau'.

I loved her quick dismissal of the case Hrithik filed as a "pakau case" even for the police. On hindsight, he did have the option to block and report instead of receiving 1000+ mails of unwanted attention. 

She waves Karan Johar's blog as 'waahiyat' which he wrote post the show down in his own show. She simply shrugs her 'Nepotism' remarks as counter observations to Karan's observation on her 'private low key social appearances'. Too true, that man could not take an opinion for an opinion. His spineless efforts at ridiculing her at an award show only lowers his image and repute. Even his sycophants are left helpless in the torrential criticism they get post participation in such nefarious activities. 

Still, Kangana is a true lady. Throughout the show, she called Karan's blog and ideologies 'waahiyat' but she did not use the 'below the belt' rude recourse to his sexuality to hurt or humiliate him. Everyone seems to be too eager to hit out at Karan where it will hurt the most, not Kangana. She is a Fair Foe! She stuck to her stance of not wanting a chance in his films with Ungli of Karan Johar, "...where I have only a ten minutes role is the worst film of my career! I don't want to be cast in his films" Candid, with dollops of self-deprecating humour. 

She rips apart the award functions as 'biggest fraud' and cheekily asks people to refrain from watching them. She elaborates happily how that whole thing is a sham and groupism things. How awards are exchanged for performances to avoid costs. 

Another thing she shares is the frightening revelation of the Head of Women Commission. If such is the scenario, it tells if how everything is 'bikau' and of no help to the common citizens. How money can twist those who people look to for help!

She admits to her climb upwards through "Queen" and "Tanu weds Manu" which probably gave her the lifeboat to swim in choppy waters such as these when you know people are out to put you in jail and have the support of money, power and such helpful agencies as 'the women commission'.

She has dealt with abuse, betrayal, deceit, intimidation, humiliation and public scandal with even a non-celebrity actor's claim of black magic! 

Her inimitable logic cannot be overlooked when she asks "Black Magic on him??? Who or why would anyone?"

Too true! All point to attempts at defaming a young girl who will not submit to your unruly stuff. An attempt to subjugate a spirit that cannot be tamed with threats. 

Today is her time, and she is getting her own back. She stands vindicated and redeemed. She does not need to justify but yet offers educational glimpse of a rotten system she has been plummeted into and emerged victorious. Wounded, scarred, yes, but not surrendering. 

Hrithik, Adhyayan Suman, Karan Johar, Aditya Pancholi may well heed the chimes of her glorious rise and slip into oblivion. They must learn their lessons and go 'no comments' for the rest of their lives! 

For all of this, she remains a grounded girl when she responds to a query of where she gets her fearlessness from! Why she is not on social media? She admits her lack of ability to deal with so many comments, opinions and people simultaneously. She is a 'One-on-One or One-on-few-people interactions' kind of person.

She simply puts "Ask what you will have to lose anyways?"

Her wisdom springs from fighting the pressure from her family to facing the threat to her family, to being blamed for the unrest to deal with pleas of ending it all by giving in. She has overcome her inner conflicts and demons and put forth a simple paradigm.

Hang in there with your talent, stand firm on your terra firma. Truth will reign. 

Her truth certainly shines and so do her eyes. They still have the painful acceptance that life is one long battle, inside and outside. Her naive hopes of being loved wholeheartedly are mercilessly crashed. Her thousand dreams of a cozy life mauled. She declares her painful depression and conquest too.

Does she ignite pity in you? 

Nope, only wow and awe. 

Her simplicity tugs at my heart strings and my patriotic self smiles when she asserts "I do not want Oscars. I am too content getting an award from my Honourable President!"

She stole my heart and earned my respect with that Graceful conclusion that her sights are having pretty boundaries set and she means them. 

Henceforth when she speaks the world will listen and trust for she subscribes to the fearless tribe of women who look the world in the eye and say gently "Do thy worst and I shall still prevail...!

-By Sonnal Pardiwala
*Writer claims no rights over the images used as they are screenshots taken from the Show. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eco Friendship - Walk The Talk!

We teach in schools about environmental issues and stuff. We talk of environmental degradation. Before every festival, we talk about pollution being caused by various things we do and use.
Every Ganesh festival is preceded with how we are polluting the water through immersions,how the garlands cause utter waste, how the noise irritates the ear drums.

Is there a different way we can enlist happiness and peace?

So asked my heart!

Then began the Search for ways to make it meaningful for my children.

I had heard about Eco friendly Ganesha idols. Digging deeper, I found out we could grow plants in it too. So, I placed my orders to a sculptor who moulds them lovingly at home. She suggested to avoid glitter, shimmer and gloss so the mud could dissolve easily.
There we had our Ganesha idol, adorable and awesome! Sometimes things are that simple and that difficult. I had searched high and low at all the commercial places where idols are made. Not one place had simplicity that I yearned for. The general tone was "Bigger the better, Shinier the sweetest"
It was possible though to get the most arresting and loving idol possible.
It was imperative my kids learn to bypass the "Herd mentality" and looked at Ganesha idol differently. He could be simple and It was possible to connect divinely. The heavy rituals were sidelined by us. Getting a Priest was another exercise in futility. Well! The practical side asked "If he says 4:30 is the auspicious time, turns up at 6%30 and says it is ok!!??? Why not be your own priest???
Decided! We invoked Lord Ganesha's energies deep from our hearts and asked him to stay with us for a day and half, forgive our mistakes and Accept the Ladoos, Garlands and love we had for him.

Next was the Decoration. If we speak of being Environment concerned then using plastic flowers and Thermocol casings make no sense. As my children candidly put in "It takes nearly 3000 years for it to decompose!"

So, we decided to give a Green look. From the nearby nursery that sells organic plants we brought the lawn grass plates and plants to surround the idol. With a little home made paper and home toys a little "Ganesha Farm house" was ready.

Our children did get the purpose of being Eco friendly in totality. We brought Him without much fanfare and noise but lots of love and anticipation. Every Single one who visited was filled with awe at the concept and some even resolved to Replicate the same next year!

The immersion was too well thought out. The motto was to not waste a single scrap and give back what we took.

Since our clay Ganpati had fertilisers too, we decided to grow a Guava tree in it.
The immersion was therapeutic to say the least. We put the idol in the tub, and poured water gently to melt it. Each one of us took turns in letting it melt under our hands. The heavenly mud rubbing on our Fingers, absorbing the negativity and oozing out Relaxed energy.

We were in no hurry! No sharing Tempo rides with all Ganesha idols of compound stacked away.

No handing him over to hurried, uncaring hands.

We had loving family hands gently dissolving the Idol and ever so affectionately bonding. The children, too, silently partook of the loving ritual.

We had bought the Guava tree beforehand. Our mom planted it in the mud pot. Next day the remnants of the mud water went in all our other plants. The tree stood tall and proud.
The deco plants gifted to family and the lawn grass in our work place. The Garlands went into our compost bin to fertilise the soil.

Not one thing wasted. Not a bit of pollution of any sort!

Children learned what it meant to be environment friendly in literal terms and not just giving lip service to such concepts.

Just putting up status on Saving Environment will not serve the cause!

Just criticising others or Government will not change anything.

Each one of us taking a step in the direction and doing our bit to raise awareness in the Gen next will do the trick.

Each one at a time!

                  
                     -Sonnal Pardiwala