Monday, June 16, 2014

55 Fiction: I have a voice, Stop Now!

I am a part of nature. I have a purpose to my existence, like how you do.  You must understand that by killing me you are annihilating your race steadily. Without me, not just you but the entire ecosystem will be doomed. You aren't farsighted my friend. I am warning you today – Stop being greedy!



Monday, June 9, 2014

55 Fiction: I am a woman. No trespassing please!

Source: Internet Image care of Reuters photographer Finbarr O'Reilly
I strain my neck to catch my baba walk home against the backdrop of the simmering sunset. A sudden fear grips me as the sound of a marching force approaches my village. Before I can alert, men barge into our homes. My mom is brutally raped by three hungry militants.  I live in Kivu, Congo.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jo'burg in 2 days!

Jo'burg or Jozi as the natives would like to call it is city of contrasts. Johannesburg has a rich history dating back to thousands of years but the city got its real attention with discovery of gold. George Harrison was the man who stumbled upon the gold bearing reef which led to the gold rush with thousands of migrants thronging the city in search of wealthy prospects. It is believed that this man sold his claim for 10 pounds and left the city!

The Jo'burg CitySightSeeing Hop On- Hop Off tour is a great way to explore the downtown and learn the history of Jozi. They also offer combined tours of Soweto and Jo'burg city which is a worthy deal. Soweto is a township that provides housing to several blacks who were evicted during apartheid. The city had to bear the brunt of Apartheid and has been a witness to hatred, pain, and tears which is poignantly captured in the Apartheid Museum. A visit to the museum has left many in tears! It is indeed quite disturbing to know that the natives were treated inhumanely and were subjected to a grotesque livelihood.  The city tour covers the Apartheid Museum but be warned that a decent tour around the museum would take about 2-3 hours. Right now, there is a temporary exhibition of Nelson Mandela that takes you through his life history.

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" - Nelson Mandela

The quote beautifully summarizes the spirit of the freedom struggle in South Africa.

You can find more details about the City tour here. You get a discount when you book your tickets online.

Gandhi Square

The downtown depicts one side of Jo'burg while the sprawling suburbs of the city tell you a different story. Swanky cars, Glittery shopping malls, High-speed free ways, Fancy restaurants, Expensive apparel stores and Fashionable diamond outlets paint the burgeoning city!

After a tiring tour of the downtown, you can pamper yourself at one of the many plush up-market shopping areas. You can choose any one from the list that is close to your place of stay - Rose Bank, Melrose Arch or Sandton city. The Nelson Mandela Square is next to the Sandton city mall which boasts of a larger-than-life Nelson Mandela statue and is a quaint place to have a sumptuous evening meal.

What is an African city without wildlife? You can plan your Day 2 to visit one of the many private game lodges. Lion park is a famous wildlife conservation enclosure where you can drive through to meet and greet the lions. You can either do a self drive or book a guided game drive. You can also pet lion cubs. There are other similar private games within the vicinity of Jo'burg. I would recommend Lion Park as I have had great close viewing experience of lions and other animals. If you are with children, Jo'burg Zoo is another option but zoos aren't unique like the game drives. If you are visiting Jo'burg, I am sure a visit to the Kruger National Park is on the cards. In that case, you can give this a skip.

Cradle of Humankind is another prominent tourist destination which is a World heritage site depicting the journey of human species since evolution. If you are interested in science and curious about our origin, it is a place worth visiting provided you have time to juggle things!

View of the city from Carlton

Jo'burg also boasts of a couple of theme parks that makes to the top of popular tourist destinations but in my opinion, there isn't anything African in a theme park. Gold reef city is a theme park that is built over a closed gold mine. A tour down one of the mine shafts is possible but i believe it is currently not open to visitors.

Safety in Jo'burg is a huge concern for many travelers. There are many do's and don'ts that one must follow to not attract any untoward incidents. Just stick to the basics and am sure you will be safe. There are certain areas that are better avoided after sunset and venturing to such places can land you in trouble. By and large the city and its after-the-dark shopping malls are quite safe.

Things you shouldn't give a miss

  • An African meal - Try Moyo @ Melsrose arch or if you are the adventurous, try the shebeens in Soweto ( Exercise caution if you are visiting in the night, it is better to take a local along)
  • An evening meal at the Nelson Mandela Square/ Rose Bank 
  • A walk around the Downtown in daylight - haggle and shop at the roadside
  • A visit to the African Market in Rose Bank to get curios (open till 6 p.m)
  • The view from the Carlton center

Curios @ African Market

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recycle, Reuse and Reduce

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.
That's over one million plastic bags used per minute.


It is not happening elsewhere, it is happening in your home. Although we know that the use of plastic is detrimental to our environment, we are unmindful of the plastic bag that we carry back home from our shopping. why? People give importance to issues that have an immediate impact on their lifestyle. Unfortunately the use of plastic does not fall in that category. The tangible impact of plastic use in our everyday life will not be witnessed by you, but by your children. Don't you want to leave a greener environment for your children?

Plastic pollution affects humans. Period. If you thought, plastic is only choking the marine world and destructing the fauna then, you are completely mistaken. Chemicals used in the manufacture of plastic are toxic. While on one hand we struggle to practice sustainable waste management measures, on the other even a successful composting has the danger of injecting the toxic materials into our food chain. We shouldn't forget the ecology lessons thought in school, what affects a fish will eventually affect humans.

We need to act. And, act now. Reduce the use of plastics and it has to begin in our homes.


Somethings I do and I suggest you consider doing:

1) Carry a reusable cloth bag for your grocery shopping
2) Buy products that are packaged in boxes/glass bottles rather than plastic containers/bottles
3) Avoid frozen foods. Two-way benefit, you not only avoid the use of plastic as most frozen foods are packed in them, you will also get to eat nutritious fresh produce.
4) I avoid straws as much as possible.
5) I do have a few bio-degradable plastic bags at home for the need of the hour situations. I reuse them.
6) Avoid drinking aerated drinks/juices that come in plastic bottles. Two-way benefit, Health and environment

I believe once as an individual we become aware of the consequences of our plastic usage, the measures to curtail our usage will follow suit.

I am sure there are several other ways to reduce the usage of plastic in our homes. Please do share your ideas and spread the awareness to create a plastic-free world!

PS: I was inspired by the work of Chennai Trekking Club in creating awareness and initiating the Chennai Coastal Cleanup drive. Sitting far away from Chennai, I decided to do my part by writing and spreading awareness.

If you are in Chennai and want to be a part of the cleanup drive. Click here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting: Affirmative Toddler Transactions Helps In Shaping A Confident Adult

After a long time, here is a post from the world of psychology :-)

Do you have a toddler at home? As much as you are excited about the fact that your little baby is now up and running, you must also be exhausted at keeping pace with your toddler's incessant energy.

So what does being in the age group 1-3 years mean?

According to Erikson's Psycho-social model, the stage is known as Autonomy Vs Shame:

  • The child's universe expands beyond the mother - the primary care taker. The child understands that its universe includes different other things and develops a sense of curiosity.
  • It is at this stage the child begins to explore its environment.
  • The child develops a feeling of self-control and a sense of independence
  • Successful development at this stage, leads to autonomy and self-confidence.

During this stage, you will see your child wanting to do everything on their own. Adults at home are on their toes preventing the child from exploring as they fear the child might get hurt. Is it the right thing to do? How should we handle their enthusiasm? Let us understand how does a child develop a sense of control and independence at this stage? - Exploration and Achievement.

The child feels a sense of accomplishment when it climbs the sofa on its own. Have you seen the smile on the child's face when it does something naughty as we call it? To the child, he/she has done something incredible by carrying an household article from one room to another. It is natural for a child to meddle with things, carry articles, dump them in corners, climb over stools/tables/beds at this age. The child gains a feeling of self-control by experimenting with the objects in its world. When a child achieves its target it builds their self-confidence. If the child is not allowed to experiment then, the child develops a sense of doubt on its own abilities and feels ashamed.

What do we need to do as a parent?

  • Stop stopping the child from experimenting. Let the child explore its environment. By preventing, the child experiences self-doubt and grows into adult who lacks confidence in his abilities.
  • I am often asked the question, "How can I let my child play with electric socket knowing that it would dangerous?" I often see parents being over-cautious and stopping the child from doing anything. Be cautious but not restrained.
  • Ensure that dangerous objects are not within the child's reach.
  • Create an environment for the child to explore at home. It could be a small corner/room filled with objects that the child can meddle with. The objects need not necessarily be toys. 
  • Be around when the child is practicing to climb. 
  • If the actions your child attempts are too dangerous, distract the child but don't say NO to the child.
  • A bump here and there is a part of growing up, don't get anxious. 
  • Finally, it is the right age to get your child toys that help in development of motor skills.
It is seen that many adults who lack confidence have had protective parenting in their childhood. Nothing to take away from the parents, they did what they believed was best for the child. But now we know that by being overly protective we hinder the child's natural development process. Developing a sense of autonomy and good self-worth is essential to take on challenges ahead in life. 

Allow your child to explore, stay calm and smile with your child.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The voice of a common man!

India is gearing for elections 2014 and is witnessing one of the greatest political drama unfolding. I pity the common man, who is considered the most powerful at the moment. He has to make the right choice from the lesser of the evils over a cloud of allegations. Tough job indeed.

The political scenario has changed ever since the Aam Adami Party has contested the Delhi Elections. Indians are so desperate for clean politics that anybody who promises to bring the much needed change is looked up to as a savior. Humanity no longer functions on the basis of Trust, which is a pity. Unfortunately, it is not possible to have all the checks and balances before a common man can conclude - "He is clean". A cloud of doubt hovers around always. When trust evades humanity, deceit is all that is left over. It is not only the deceit of the political class over the common man, it is also the deceit of the common man over himself.

The games the politicians play to retain or gain power is unimaginable. Power corrupts the soul. I wonder, if they even take a minute to introspect what this race for power is all about and if they feel justified with their own reasons. The events that unfold everyday, only gives me a feeling, there is none I can trust to power. The country needs a leader with Integrity!

Arvind Kejriwal needs to do more groundwork, before he jumps the gun. He comes across as a man who is in a hurry to clean up the system, which is older than him. I am not sure if its his urgency or his temperament that is demeaning his name. It is indeed a move that we need to welcome, someone has taken the step forward to jump into politics and do the dirty job of cleaning, which most of us, educated Indians, shy away from.  One also needs to understand, "cleaning the system" can't and shouldn't be the only reason to form a party. I am yet to understand what is the vision of AAP for India. There is a long way to go for this man and his party and we the citizens shouldn't be overwhelmed by the wave of anti-corruption emotion. In today's scenario, with no basic trust in society, people raise all kinds of concerns that further muddles the mind. I, only hope this man's intentions are clean and he is not a pawn in the political game.

A party in power should seek votes by highlighting its achievements, whereas we have a  party in governance that seeks vote by promising us it would do more in its next term. A party that highlights that there are six bills in the waiting. Again, a party that is capitalizing on the anti-corruption movement and promising to tackle corruption with these bills. A party in power for 10 years couldn't pass these bills is telling the common man it would so in its next term. What is the party's vision for India's future? I can name a few bills in waiting FDI, Food security, etc. This party's vision for India is in passing bills. In India, it is the implementation of laws that takes a beating and it is not the lack of regulations. Apart from that the Government has to answer for the plethora of scams to its name. I agree, they are allegations as the Government sees it; in a world of deceit, this is all we can expect. Allegations proven or otherwise, the Government still needs to address the Nation on how such baseless accusations can be made. There are several records that hint towards irregularities. Let us put aside the debate of how heinous the crime is.

The national opposition party does not come with great record of achievements to its name. It is a party that has been looked upon as a party that would communalize the country; a party that would only represent only religion of India. India has been fighting the elections on the communal-secular front for years. Many years of education has done nothing to keep the forces of religion, caste and community out of our elections. If the Governing party was a truly secular party, shouldn't it have in its 60 years of rule, made the country truly secular and ceased to appease minority of the country in the name of vote bank politics. The opposition party has a term of 5 years to its name in Governance with a few scams; at least no series of scams that rocked the nation. In its 5 years, India was not stagnated by communal violence as was expected. Today, the opposition party is seeking votes, not highlighting its past tenure, aware that people's memory are short-lived, but seeking votes based on the performance of one man's governance in a state for three terms. Narendra Modi does come with his own baggage of Gujarat riots. His baggage also includes his many achievements as the Chief Minister of the state - 1MW solar power plant, E-services to Gram Panchayat, Rural electrification and more. The question remains to be answered - would this party leverage the goods delivered to Gujarat to the Nation or would it divide India?  The party in its campaigns, aggressively is pushing a growth agenda for India, which is conspicuously absent in others. Would the party walk the talk?

As vigilant citizens, we have risen high and made our Government and political leaders listen to our cry! Yes, we have succeeded in communicating that we our fed up of feigning ignorance to national looting that occurs. Have they heard it loud and clear? Would they try a new trick to satiate their hunger for power? Only General Elections 2014 and another 5 years of Governance will give us the answer. But, am sure our vigilance can keep away communal forces, scams and mis-governance. I am bit disappointed that common man has no provisions to oust Governments before the 5 year period, on valid reasons.

Development is only answer the common man is seeking!

We have been mislead and will be mislead; it is up to us to tear the mask of deceit and rebuild trust.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My new hobby!

Crystal stone 

Wooden bead

Crystal beads chain

Paper quilled Jumki's (My Favorites)

Paper quilled ear-ring