Book Review: The Detox Diet

A diet book? This seems different though.

With food therapy it targets the root causes for ailments which seem chronic.Read a detailed review at Women’s Web.

The Detox Diet By Shonali Sabherwal Gives The Reader Many Simple Hacks to A Healthier Lifestyle

 

Open UP: #118 – Talking to an Indian Air Force fighter pilot

Talk To Tiger

talk to tiger pilot.jpgDue to security reasons, I cannot share his name of picture with you but here are the excerpts of a fighter pilot from the Indian Air Force talking to Tiger! Happy Independence Day!

What drives you?
Craving to excel in any Job at hand. While deciding to chose a profession, I wanted the one which had best mix of all good things like ‘Izzat’, glamour adventure…

Why Indian Air Force?
A quote……..”When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

What the most thrilling thing you have done?
Flew over the Himalayas in the year 1999 knowing that Pakistanis wouldn’t dare to escalate the conflict because we were there to take them on.

Top five things one should do to become a fighter pilot.
While there is no success…

View original post 122 more words

The Story of A Suicide

story of a suicideFor reasons best known to her, our neighbour, a divorcee, hung herself leaving her eight year old son in the custody of her parents. The little child estranged from his father is now without a mother too.

I had often spoken against those who chose the easy way out and committed suicide but after facing a bout of depression not long ago when I too felt defeated, unloved, scared, helpless and hopeless, my views have altered somewhat.

A feeling of incompetence, frustration, unaddressed problems all contribute to a depressed mental state which may lead an individual to take the extreme step of suicide.

The Story Of A Suicide, a book by Sriram Ayer looks into this feeling of helplessness through the story of four youngsters Hari, Charu, Mani and Sam connected to each other through friendship, love, passion, deceit and vengeance.

Each of them has some issues and challenges to face and are susceptible to give in to their troubles seeking a release from pain. Mani struggles with performance in a language which is alien to his humble upbringing. Unable to cope with academic pressures he attempts suicide but is saved at the nick of time.

Sam feels jilted by his successive girlfriends. After his first girlfriend rejects him he feels dejected but soon recovers from his melancholy. His second friend Charu, does not reciprocate physically as much as he desired.  A computer fanatic he directs his feelings in plotting revenge on unsuspecting Charu. He hacks into all devices and social accounts of Charu and hatches a plan to shame her through the world of internet.

Charu, a strong girl who speaks her mind finds herself being stalked after a hate rant on social media. Though scared and confused she seeks help with her teacher and cyber crime investigator.

Hari dealing with his sexuality and childhood trauma is unable to express his pain to his parents. He finds love and compassion with Mani. His secret is disclosed in an ugly fashion publicly when instead of Charu the hacked devices of Charu record Hari and Mani in physical intimacy.

In all the heart breaks and repercussions of the public video, Hari succumbs to depression and ends his life.

I could relate to Charu more easily as far as her thought process goes though I found her public rant on social media quite foolish and rash.

A story told in simple language brings out the perceived and real pains of the characters and gives a voice to the youth who face constant comparisons, expectations, peer pressure, intolerance, abuse, relationship demands, sexual choices, job pressures and conflicting family values.

The story though aims to highlight the many challenges that the youth faces today but I would have preferred if the story touched in more detail with issues which each character faces. The story has for major part  addressed only the stigma attached to the gay relationships.

My Take:

After reading the story, I realized how important it is to openly ponder over traumatic, stressful and depressive situations. The feelings and emotions need to be freely discussed with relevant people instead of being bottled inside.

I am a mother to a teenage daughter and it would be my naïvety to believe that in a growing up stage my daughter will never be touched by any of such stressful situations. If I had to suggest the youngsters who have already stepped into the rat race of big bad world, I would tell them to open up…seek advice from elders, from help forums, teachers.

But it is the family which needs to learn the lesson first. Usually the first ever pressure on youth comes from family. Expectations, family pride, constant reminder of ‘what the people will say’ takes a toll on the young mind who is all eager to step into an adult world with dreams and aspirations. Such pressures weigh them down and may push them to break down. The onus are on us, the parents, to see what makes our child happy and gently guide them on right path.

It is us who have to make them believe that we are open to addressing their agony, that we are there to protect them but if the need arises we can reprimand them for a misstep. Rebuking often would however never work. We don’t want them to turn rebellious but have faith in us.

‘Practice what you preach’ and the youth will respect and follow and we might just help a few misguided youngsters to live life instead of snuffing it out in desperation.

Book Review: She

 Book: She

Genre: Fiction

Author: Santosh Avvanavar

SheI was travelling when this book was delivered at home. Accustomed to think novel as a at least 200 pages thick, I was surprised to see this booklet thinner than a travel guide!

The story it seemed was based in Kolkata, precisely where I had travelled to on an assignment. My expectations for the story had slightly gone down a bit due to the size of the book and I took my own sweet time to start reading the book.

Inspired by the song by RabindraNath Tagore ‘Ekla Cholo Re’ the story is about the society’s behaviour towards the LGBT community.

It is the story of Kusum who born a boy, prefers to indulge in activities more popular with girls. The father, though a doctor is ashamed of his child’s choice of activities and all hell breaks loose when father discovers the sexual inclinations of the child.

Kusum, falls in love with the son of another doctor, Dr Banerjee,  a friend of father. Both set of parents are horrified and Dr Banerjee shifts his son to some other city. The boys, all grown up meet again after few years and rekindle their relationship. However the societal norms and pressures make the lovers decide that  Kusum undergo a sex-change procedure and become a ‘proper’ female for the relationship to continue. But even after the successful sex-change procedure, the fear of ostracism from the society gets to the lover and he succumbs to his family demands of marrying another woman.

The author has tried to draw attention towards our behaviour as a whole towards the gay, lesbian and trans-genders which is far from empathy. We still consider gay relationships inappropriate and look down upon such alliances. The trans-genders are still not accepted in the normal society and the LGBT community is fighting for their place in the regular social thread of society, just like the protagonist of the story.

After reading the story, I realised that busy with my own everyday life and small problems, even I never gave thought to needs of people who are not defined as ‘he’ or ‘she’ in the society.

The story is an attempt to open up your eye but I wish there was more body to the story and the characters were developed in detail with the agony of the characters, the reaction of parents and the final decision of Kusum to go ahead in the world alone were defined properly. It seems like a hurriedly told story or more like an excerpt. The issue of acceptance of LGBT community is huge and the story does no justice in taking it up.

A great effort but a very short story. Decide for yourself….

Also read on:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1601143494

Devdutt Patnaik’s “My Gita”

Book: My Gita

Author: Devdutt Patnaik

Publishers: Rupa Publications

Genre: Non fiction/ philosophy

My GitaDevdutt Patnaik is a master story-teller no doubt. He narrates mythological stories in easy and simple to understand words with apt and crisp illustrations along with the text. The two books “Jaya” and “Sita” that I read, showcase his amusing takes on mythological stories.

With a limited knowledge of Gita and its verses, I wanted to read Devdutt Patnaik’s  version. I finally could lay my hands on his recent offering “My Gita”. After reading the first few pages I realised that keeping in mind to not ruffle any feathers of vigilante moral brigade of the country, he has titled the book as “My Gita” and reasoned that it is not the translation of much revered original text but his understanding of the most popular book of Hindus. “Let my Gita inform your Gita” he says.

He has attempted to simplify by not writing it in sequence as the original book but has reorganised it according to themes. The book is divided into eighteen themes like the concept of rebirth (Atma), our deeds and their reaction (Karma), our conduct (Dharma) similar to the eighteen chapters of The Gita. The book also has a brief history to understand the timeline when the original text was written. Citing examples from other beliefs and faiths, namely Jainism and Buddhism, the author has brought out difference in meaning of words like soul and atma, moksha and nirvana.

The Abrahmic and Greek concepts have also been cross-referenced throughout to emphasise on different thought processes like the concept of rebirth and gaining knowledge rather than changing the world and placing one’s value in the achievements of the lifetime.

I, for one, had a peek within. I learnt that my “fear of losing opportunities, fear of achievement, fear of abandonment is all because of lack of conceptual clarity” I need to believe in myself and have more faith and realize that I too make the world meaningful, then I could be free of all worries because lack of faith results in hopelessness and rage…..That I can only control what I do but not other person’s reaction to my action or the outcome of my efforts and I must just act to best of my capabilities without expectations… nishkama karma.

Author has paraphrased the verses in simpler words to let each person understand as per his or her own capacity.  So in a way Devdutt Patnaik’s Gita has managed to inform ‘my’ Gita.

Though author has tried best to simplify, but the book is not an ordinary read to breeze through. With lot of philosophy involved, at times I got little confused and my attention was lost and that is the reason that the book needs to be understood in an un-hurried way. Those who have read the original verses of the The Gita may not completely agree with the author’s ideas.

Though I find it easier and faster to read stories in English but somehow for this book I wished it was in native language Hindi to feel closer to and understand the words deha, atma, samvad, vivad, yoga, viyog, dharma etc.

And yet I would read this book again at much slower pace to understand author’s viewpoint properly.

बार बार वही घाव……

बार बार वही घाव,

कभी शब्दों से किया आघात,

लबों को सी कर किये कभी वार…..

7 Things That Define Freedom For Women This Independence Day….

This article has been published at HuffingtonPost India titled “An Independence Day for Women”

I am one of those fortunate few who was born to loving and educated parents who did not find it a burden to raise two daughters when everybody around them was hoping they would plan another pregnancy to beget a male child; who sent their girls for higher education and made them engineers; who let their daughters choose their life-partners irrespective of religion or community; who taught them to stand up against any injustice; who did not believe in paying dowry for ensuring their daughter’s safety and respect….

But for the majority of women, the time stands still…. Honour-killings still happen, female-feticides still snuff out the innocent life, education is still denied, wife’s consent to sex is still disregarded, courts refuse to discuss marital rape issues, people in power still blame women for the crimes against them, forgetting that a nun or the five-year-olds do not behave in a way to entice or lure the rapists, lawyers defend the molesters to dodge punishments….

My daughter is growing up in today’s world. Soon she will be old enough, refusing to be chaperoned at all times… She would want to see the world and explore all opportunities before settling down in a career or selecting her partner. Even if I as a parent grant her all the liberty, will the so-called moral guardians of the society let her be?

After 68 years of Independence, shouldn’t women be free of the tyrannical male and his rules? What does it really mean for us, the women, on this 69th Independence Day of our country?

I believe true independence would be when all women have FREEDOM from:

  • Being aborted…when birth of a girl child is also considered a blessing and brings equal joy to parents…when people stop wishing for birth of their ‘heir’ …that would be freedom.
  • Being judged for clothes they wear…all girls in skirts or shorts are not ‘asking for it’. They are not immoral. If men looked in the eye when speaking to a woman and not stare at her chest or bare legs….that would be freedom!
  • Being attacked or punished for thwarting advances of a lusting perverted man… women are not sex toys…when a girl or a woman steps out of her home without the fear of being attacked by acid, being raped or beaten for refusing sex….that would be freedom!
  • Being killed for falling in love…. When caste, religion, language, community are no longer hindrances in choosing a life partner…when no woman is prescribed death for marrying outside community… that would mean  liberation for women.
  • Being banned from religious places for having periods. Puberty is a gift from the Gods to women to nurture future life…it is neither their shame, nor punishment and definitely not anything impure.
  • Being denied higher education. When every little girl can dream to become a teacher, a pilot, doctor, engineer…when people stop assigning kitchen and four walls of a house as the only domain of women…when women can opine about financial and other matters at every home… that would bring freedom.
  • Being punished for Dowry… When ‘Arranged Marriages’ will do away with dowry…when all that a marriage ceremony would mean blessings and love only…when the mother-in-law, being a woman herself, will stand by her daughter-in-law at every step in her new beginnings…when brides won’t be burned or forced to commit suicides…that day would be a free day.

When women will not be the birds with clipped wings, but kites soaring in sky with gay abandon into the winds of change….that would truly be the INDEPENDENCE DAY!!

 

Smart Gadgets: How much is enough?

When I was a two-year old, all I worried was about a cloth-stuffed doll with a red frock handmade by my grandmother and my blue blanket more than anything else. At three, for my first pencil…. I do not remember any of this but that is what my mother tells me!

My mother still laments how I let, the first black and white camera that my parents had, slip from my hand into the Arabian Sea. My parents were visiting Goa with a two-and-a-half-year old me. My mother tired of carrying me around, put me down near a rock at the ferry point and entrusted me with the camera for a minute or so. By the time she decided to hold the camera again, it was already drowning in the sea!!

Our home did not have a television till I was in sixth grade in school….there was one big ‘Bush’ radio though and a ‘Philips’ LP player and we were not allowed to play with the knobs and needle of the radio and player!!

Why am I remembering all this now? Because, aaj kal ke bacchhe are born into a household which has at least one big screen television, music system with radio, CD and cassette player(till few years back), another music system in an air-conditioned car and at least one mobile ( smart phone, these days) at home!!

I am not jealous…not at all. In fact I feel our childhood which was free of all these distractions was much much better and healthier than it is for kids of today. When I was a kid the teachers at school made me hold crayons and toys  for enhancing motor skills….

Today, many parents let their kids not only handle and use smart phones but also buy them costly I-pads and Tabs. The kids no more indulge in careless running around, getting hands dirty in soil, wait for their turn at the park swings or innovate some outlandish idea with pillows and sofa cushions at home!!

DSC_0300

Our neighbour’s son…a mere two-year old playing on smart phone

The kids today are more adept at handling a smart phone from a tender age of almost two than they are interested in holding a pencil.

Our neighbours’ son plays games and slides the screen of smart phone so easily without batting an eyelid….and I on the other hand could not even understand what the game was all about in first few minutes!!

When my daughter was born twelve years ago, we did not have a smart phone. This year my husband gifted me an advanced version of smart phone. I was of course excited but more than me, it was my daughter who was happy and itching to use the phone! We follow a rule at our home, that the person for whom some thing has been brought would be the first to use it and then the rest of the family would handle the item. Being busy with the mundane chores of the house while my husband switched the SIM-card from the old mobile set to the new smart phone, I allowed our daughter to ‘see’ the new phone first.

A good half hour later, when I was finished with loading the washing machine and boiling the milk, I handled the new phone for the first time. To my surprise, it already had my daughter’s image set as wall paper and ‘Talking Angela’ purring for attention!

It took me two days to understand all about the new phone and when I was not looking, my ‘tween’ daughter was creating, deleting, editing, uploading, downloading, shooting, recording, saving, filing away on it…. God knows what all!!

She finds time to watch animated movies on the You-Tube(Oh! Thank god for that!! And she has still not insisted on opening a Facebook account though her friends have it), plays ‘Mah-Jong Titans’, ‘Purble Place’ and many other games on the laptop, has a favourite site ‘Kizi.com’ for some internet games…. as far as my knowledge goes.

She is one of the toppers of her class but still I find it pretty frustrating to see her glued to these gadgets at home for, what I consider, a considerable  time. Our arguments  pretty much always revolve around this topic. She has quite a knack of sketching if she decides to draw one of the days, but the problem is that such days are far and few. She has a Synthesiser  which she has almost stopped playing since the day she discovered smart phone and laptop.

Personally, I am not comfortable allowing kids to spend time in front of televisions, laptops, gaming consoles, smartphones and all other ‘digital’ educational platforms.

I want my child to go out in sun, get wet in rain, smell the fresh wetness of rain drenched earth, see the flowers, birds, bees, play with friends, run wild, cycle, bruise herself, defend herself from a bully, read a paperback cover to cover, discover a pebble, a shell, a snail, watch the waves ebb, enjoy the setting sun, count the stars, draw patterns in sky, imagine different shapes of clouds, name the constellation overhead, feel the chill of the mountains, the gurgle of the river, the roar of the ocean and feel the wind in her hair…..

Nature has so many things to teach, if only we take our kids for such experiences during every school vacation. All the sciences, geography, sound… can be learnt practically out there….better than any artificial aid!! How would a child know the real sound of crashing wave on a rock, on a digital aid? How would a child know what to do if a real bee stings? How would a child see the little dewdrop shimmer on an early morning leaf on a digital aid? Isn’t the real experience better than the simulated one?

A limited exposure is of course necessary, but let us not thrust in their hands, the controls of gaming consoles, smart phones, laptops and other such mediums, just for our convenience, just for making them stay out of our hair….

Let us count with them on fingers, with matchstick, with butterflies….let us sing along with them all the rhymes and songs with animated facial expressions and see them grin ear to ear….let us make them fly kites of all shapes and sizes….. let us make them pick up stones, paper, grains to feel the weight….let us make them try holding on to the sand….let us show them how a seed germinates in the garden and how a flower blooms….. Let us give them the confidence to speak  and ask their doubts and not just stare at the screens without totally understanding… Let us be with them to teach and to play!

“This blogger contest is supported by Kid Social Shell, a unique digital parenting platform with 11 gaming-learning apps. Use it play 3D nursery rhymes, counting number games, shapes games, fun math worksheets, coloring games and more!”

A Web of Fate …

Team name: Vijeta

Roohi sat sulking and whining in a corner watching her parents fight yet again. She had just been given an earful along with a ringing slap by Tara , her mother, for being stubborn.

Roohi was a healthy nine-year old daughter of Tara and Shekhar. Since she was a single child, she was the pampered princess of her father and a  notorious one at that, seeking attention through screaming and throwing tantrums. She, even at such a tender age, preened in front of the mirror and was rather very proud of her fair complexion looking down upon her lesser fair neighbourhood girls. She would frolic around in her frilly frocks and two long pigtail teasing and hitting other children in the gated society’s park of posh Mumbai suburb.

Why can you not just teach her to be little respectful while talking? Look how demanding she has become because of all your pampering!” Tara accused her husband Shekhar as usual.

Oh! Why can you not do the same? Look how you speak…Mothers are the first teachers of a child. Of course she will pick up what she sees!But you don’t have time for her….you are not at home to teach her manners.” retorted Shekhar.

Why, You sit here all day with your lofty dreams of being a best-selling author one day. Can you not pay a little attention towards her. I work all day to pay the bills and you expect me to be around her too? If we both sit at home where will the food come from Mr. Writer?” lashed out Tara.

The blames kept piling till all three were so tired that they slept off without dinner.

Eleven years ago,Tara and Shekhar  had come close to each other due to similar dreams of making it big in the publishing world. They were both passionate about travelling, writing and responsible journalism.

Shekhar Dutta, with an average height and fair complexion was an easy-going and soft-spoken man who always wore a smile on his face. His lean looks were more accentuated with his loose t-shirts, track pants, french beard and thin frame of spectacles. Post his marriage to Tara he had chosen to work as freelance writer so that he could work on a story of a political thriller.

Tara,  a tall and fair woman, however was a practical career oriented person and wanted to make it big as a media professional. She had joined a publishing house as an intern and later got absorbed as a staff member of the same firm. She was a no fuss woman who kept her hair short to avoid early morning delays and was always prim and properly dressed. She was an ambitious woman and loved the idea of power-dressing in formal and high heels. She did look intimidating to her juniors.

The idea of staying at home after Roohi was born did not appeal to Tara so the onus of taking care of the baby fell on Shekhar as he was already there at home. Shekhar did not mind at all the stay-at-home-dad tag.

After eleven years and many rejections from publishers, Shekhar had begun to become impatient and little frustrated.  Though he still wore a smile but now had developed a bald patch on perfectly round head. He had little success as a freelancer but he hung in there to keep his self-respect and to keep himself sane.

This elusive success had become the cause of bitterness and constant fights between Shekhar and Tara. But Shekhar, really hoped and prayed for a big story a dazzling idea to bring change in his status.

Next morning when Tara woke, she was surprised to see  a gloomy Shekhar sipping tea in the small balcony by the bedroom. She saw tears streaming down his eyes and immediately felt guilty for the earlier evening. She moved towards him and hugged him tight.

“I am sorry, Shekhar. I really am! I have felt responsible for Roohi’s deteriorating behavior since many days now and yesterday when you also reiterated the same, I lost my temper. I want to bring in some change in my schedule and have quality family time….I have missed out on it so much…I feel tired Shekhu.” sobbed Tara.

Shekhar folded her in his arms “ I too want some change Tara….I want a little success and I feel frustrated at not being there to pitch in financially. I will stop this futile dream from ruining our life and pick up a job may be!”

No, Shekhar…don’t please! You will succeed…just hang on.I know you are good at fiction, you will get some bright idea.”

Tara started fixing some breakfast. Everyone was hungry from the previous evening and Tara wanted to make it up for her outburst. A thought crossed her mind.

Shekhar, why don’t we take a break and go on a vacation somewhere outside Mumbai? After all that was all what poor Roohi asked for and it will be a much-needed change for us. Maybe you will come across some inspiration with fresh perspective when we travel. What say?

Shekhar warmed up to the idea…He needed a fresh outlook and a time away from home. Yes! they needed a change….They started planning a surprise for Roohi….a big long vacation!

Unknown to them……Fate too conspired  life changing itinerary for them. They knew not what was coming towards them…..

Read the next part of story at http://bhaktimotta.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/a-web-of-fate-2/

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.