The real ‘Chyavanprash’ of life…. have you got it?!

The real chyavanprash of life. life enlivened! The 'dream it, do it' professor!!

The real chyavanprash of life. Life enlivened! The ‘dream it, do it’ professor!!

[This story, I had come across many a time – various adaptations with the essence being same. When I got a mail from my brother, Dr. parameswaran, yesterday, I thought why not I do my adaptation… Here it is]

When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the ‘Chyavanprash’ jar and 2 glasses of ‘Nimbu paani’.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty ‘Chyavanprash’ jar
And proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, if the jar was full?!
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two glasses of ‘nimbu paani’ from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things – family,
children, health, Friends, and Favorite passions –
Things that if every thing else was lost and only they remained, Your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else –The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ He continued,
there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play With your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

‘Take care of the golf balls first —
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest! is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the ‘Nimbu paani’ represented.

The professor smiled.
‘I’m glad you asked’.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of glasses of ‘Nimbu Paani’ with a friend.’

Please share this with other “Golf Balls”…
I just did……

[chyavanprash – it is an ayurvedic concoction for giving energy and vitality; Nimbu Paani is a refreshing lemonade]


A morning in an orphanage, Government Residential School, Rajpur Road, Dehradun

Government residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, Dehradun
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Government residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, Dehradun
Government residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, DehradunGovernment residential school, Rajpur road, Dehradun

Feb 15: having arrived early at 4am in dehradoon by the AC express, we checked into a hotel. Because it was going to be a long day, I crashed in the train the moment I entered and had my six hours of sound sleep. So when I entered the hotel with avneesh, I thought of taking my customary morning walk along with the camera. These early morning walks have always been a blessing for me in capturing the beautiful character of any city. Dehradun has given me those magical moments on my previous visits too when I captured the flurry of morning activities at the subash park on rajpur road.

The hotel that we checked in is a new one in every respect. Hotel is new built and this was the first time I am staying there. I moved out of the hotel at about 5:45 am and got onto the rajpur road. For a change, I started walking towards the clock tower, the other side of the road that I had never walked by. I crossed a shopping complex and a couple of crossings and was moving past a bus stand, and suddenly my eyes fell on a handful of kids who were playing an unusual game of dragging one of them on a broken y-shaped tree branch. It was rather unusual to see at 6am, young kids so active. I paused for a moment and noticed that it looked like a dilapidated bungalow in a large compound bereft of anything. I was impatient to be part of the action and quickly sneaked into the compound through the barbed-wire fence. I did not even bother to know what this building all about and where was I sneaking into.

The transport game with the y-twig

The transport game with the y-twig

As the children were taking turns to give one another the ride on their innovative vehicle made of a tree-branch, I started quickly capturing those precious moments. My action attracted a couple of more kids who from nowhere surrounded me to see what was I doing crawling on the ground. My camera caught their fascination. I noticed that these kids look like they stay here as they all looked groggy and just about out of their beds. They got to see me through the window of their rooms, capturing the boisterous threesome who were immersed in their transport activity and rushed out. In no time there were about fifteen kids, ages ranging between five to fifteen, asking me to click them too. I clicked a couple of snaps and started interacting with them.

I got to know that, the place is a government residential school, and most of the occupants are orphans from various places around Dehradun. By then about 30 kids surrounded me and that attracted a young matron too, who came to introduce the place. All this happening on the sprawling compound with a few trees and the environment was charged with energy. One of the students rushed in there with a long note pad and looked very purposeful. I asked him what is it about. In unison, every one said, ‘aaj ki khabarein’. It was his turn to share the news today and he had painstakingly scribbled on his notepad. I was taken in, and asked the boy ‘sunao’. He started reading, with some struggle to pronounce, today’s news that he had written for the morning assembly.

“Bus khayi mein giri, do ki maut, pandrah ghayal”
“Uttar Pradesh mein chunav ki doosri Khadi shanti poorvakh Samapth ..”

The news of today

The News of today

He went on to share a few more headlines and then I started asking them a little more details about each of the khabars, trying to probe how much interest do they take beyond the headlines. They looked at each other and laughed, and said “itnahi’. I thought, one thing is for sure, these young kids are better than our well-to-do college kids, who hardly bother to open any newspaper!!

Then I puzzled them with a few riddles based on “Mallika’s story about milkman and his two measures, 5 litre and 3 Litre.” They were mesmerized by the questions and slowly in 15-20 minutes they caught on to the puzzles and they opened up. They were saying, “Ganith itna badhiya ho sakta hai. Humko aisa kyon nahin padhathe!!”

Meanwhile an elderly gentleman, their yoga teacher, arrived on his two-wheeler. Quickly all of them formed five lines, standing spaced out, one behind the other, for their morning exercise and yoga. They followed it up with a few songs, initiated by the elderly gentleman.. It was a wonderful forty-five minutes observing, participating and listening to their activities. I went on goading them to sing one song after another, while recording their renditions.. Here they are …

The Musical morning

The Musical morning

Once their music session got over, they were asked to quickly freshen up and assemble for their breakfast. The cook took me to the kitchen and I was surprised to see a couple of young students at the gas stove making parathas. I joined them to make a few parathas. I am very good at making them. I shared with them how I learnt it when I was twenty. My parathas and rotis automatically become circular as I keep rotating and spreading the dough with the ‘belan’. They were surprised at the felicity with which I made those parathas. I was told that the parathas are for elderly kids, class 9 and beyond who go to attend another school and return only by late evening. In this school, the classes go upto class 8.

Breaking the fast

Breaking the fast

As I went out, I saw the children washing their hands and getting their plates ready. A couple of the children are already in their positions to distribute the rotis and kichdi, their usual breakfast. It is amazing to see how each one takes care of himself and also the younger ones who are sitting next to them. Each one is respected and facilitated. As the distribution of the food got over, every one folded their hands to offer prayers in multiple languages including in English. It was very touching to hear them sing. Then they went on to finish their breakfast.

After their breakfast, each one carried his plate and glass, washed them and placed them back in their respective location. They took responsibility of every thing that was expected of them. They all behaved beyond their age!

cleaning their plates

cleaning their plates

Quickly they all vanished into their locker rooms to open their trunks and pull out their uniforms to wear. The next fifteen minutes were frenzied with everyone trying to look his best. Also they helped one another. I went about capturing their activities with my camera, oblivious to them. They were inured as they expected me to be clicking.

By the time I came out of their locker rooms, their makeshift classrooms were getting reconfigured. Their dining hall got converted into three classrooms facing different directions. I could witness more classrooms emerging with more boards appearing from nowhere, all arranged by the young kids themselves. They were discussing, debating and placing them and replacing them. It was a great way to devolve responsibilities. No adult was around and everything looked automated.

Once they all were ready with their classrooms, bags to attend the school, all of them insisted on taking a group photo. Quite a few were fighting grab the camera to click the snaps with me in the frame.

The group photo

The group photo

In those three hours, I experienced the world of these lovely youngsters who owned the place, belonged to one another and made their world as beautiful as it can be. I walked away immensely satisfied about my morning, making friends out of every one in that ‘lively’ old mansion!

Find the WINNER in your child – The Indore session with parents

It was wonderful to see a packed auditorium with parents who are keen to help their children excel. With a variety of questions in their mind, challenges with children varying  –

  • only interested in TV, computer and video games
  • Not keen to study or
  • Does not want to
  • Fighting siblings
  • does not enjoy reading
  • wants to play all the time
  • studies only during the exam
  • Helping to be good in English (at times by kinder garden)
  • Maths is boring for him, how to help..
  • Getting ready for competition (concern even when admitting child in nursery)
  • Does not indulge in any sports
  • Does not eat
  • Too much of anger, how to help

The concerns went on and on.  The three hour of interaction helped every one find answers to their concerns and the way they would like to help the child, themselves and their families.  Here are a couple of coverages of the event. I shall soon put up the videos of the session.

For a clear, readable version, kindly click on the following clips and see it on my FLICKR stream in the original sizes.

The coverage of the session in Dainik Bhaskar

The coverage of the session in Dainik Bhaskar

The prelude to the programme

The prelude to the programme

Every child is Unique

Every child is unique

Every child is unique

Every child is unique and we as parents and facilitators need to realize it, work towards understanding and facilitating the child to realize the potential.

This is one of the cartoons that I came across the net and found to be very apt. Thanks to the creator and those who shared and floated on the net.

Facilitating your child to be a winner and a leader… creating an environment

You have a winner, leader in your child

You have a winner, leader in your child

You have a winner, leader in your child

Wonderful Mentor’s day

Starting with waking up at 4:30am and rushing to the station pillion riding on a 2-wheeler early morning at 5am, it was a great beginning for an exciting day that was in store for me. It started pouring mid-way to station. Drenched, entered the station, bought the ticket from Durg to Raipur, an hour away. By the time train left at 6:25, I was reasonably dry and noticed young boys and girls entering the train. In a while, four of them joined my cubicle and started discussing about their subjects. Realized that they were engineering grads discussion digital electronics. On inquiring, found out that they were second year students from NIT Raipur. I borrowed the book and browsed through, as I was not able to really figure out Karnaugh Map etc that I studied way back in 1986, a good quarter century ago! It was fun interacting with the youngsters. I realized that half of the train was heading to NIT Raipur from Bhilai!!

After an adventurous ride, got to Indus World School, Raipur and was delighted to see the excitement among the young students who are waiting to treat their mentors on the occasion of Teacher’s day. The whole day then on was full of surprises with children and mentors singing songs together, the mentors dancing to the music selected by the children, an audio visual of all the mentors with an interesting backgournd music, all the way cheered by students and mentors alike.

In the afternoon, all mentors were treated to a surprise lunch at Magneto mall and it was a gala affair worth witnessing with groups of mentors running around the food joints around the court to get their favourite dishes, but eventually every one grabbing from every other plate. They almost tasted all that the food court had to offer! They were no better than kids!

The final stretch of one hour in the electronic games arena witnessed a complete pell-mell with every mentor trying to play every game and a few hard fought competitions too. Children if were around would have chuckled all the way and may even shared that ‘we are better’!

Raj, the principal, acknowledged every one by giving away token appreciation to one and all for contributing to the journey of the school. Finally Raj took pains to see me off at the airport.

To my utter surprise, I watched Kiranji, founder of SPICMACAY and a couple of more elderly volunteers entering the security area ahead of me. They too were surprised by my arrival. I admire this gentleman, Kiranji, who has given his precious life for the cause of spreading culture among the youth along with the band of dedicated volunteers. They were heading back from Chattisgarh state convention, that I missed by a couple of hours. Kiranji shared with me the developments and how the whole state – Governor, CM and ministers all laid red carpet for SPICMACAY and the promise that the future holds.. I loved the interaction, as Kiranji emphasised that we will have to grow 10 folds this year and only way to do it is to push state governments to work towards reaching out at least 5000 government schools this year. I was taken in by the enthusiasm and the passion of this 60 year young gentleman.

While standing in the queue to get out of the waiting lounge to board the flight, I noticed a very familiar face being checked by the security. I smiled at him and he too acknowledged. Once he collected his hand baggage, he walked towards me and I confessed to him that he was very familiar and wanted to know whether he is Mr. Binayak Sen, the civil liberty activist. He said ‘yes’. I was humbled by this gentleman walking all the way and asking me who I was and what I was in Raipur for, just because I smiled at him from a good fifteen feet. We had a short chat as he was heading to Kolkata and my flight to Delhi was boarding. He shared his contact details with a promise that we will be in touch with.

On reaching Delhi, I paid my humble tribute to my gurus, Kiranji and other elders by dropping them at their respective stations and homes and felt very good about my small contribution to the cause of mentors this day.

I want to say a big thanks to all mentors in my life, gurus, teachers in various schools and mentors, young and old, each one has contributed to what I am today. Love you all. mmmmch..

Mesmerizing Spelling Beeeeeeeeeesss – “I can’t express my feelings in words” !!

I see each to be more than a hardworking and exploring Bee. One after another, each walked on to the center, eagerly waiting for the master to ask him or her to spell out a pronounced word. With a quizzical expression on their face, they went on to question the master – can you pronounce the word please, can you use it in a sentence please, is there a different pronunciation please, what is the root of the origin of this word please, can you once again pronounce it please…… This cycle goes on for a couple of more times while each Bee explores, imagines and writes the spelling on hand and visualizes… and goes on to ask whether it has its root in such and such language, which means such and such…. finally conjures the word. Honestly speaking, most of the words being asked, are complete strangers to me…clairsentience, foggara, zoanthropy , rupicolous, keeshond, issei…

Finally Sukanya Roy won by spelling out two words consecutively, ‘periscii’ and ‘cymotrichous’…

After awarding the trophy –

Presenter – How do you feel winning the competition?
Sukanya – I can’t put my feelings in words!!
Presenter – You have been spelling words through the night, you can’t spell your feeling in words!!

Final moments of the championship –

Her interview on the FOX NEWS; The interview could have been made more interesting by the interviewer if only he had asked about the languages she got insights about, what went into the preparation….

In the nationals, Sukanya was running along with 275 winners from regional rounds, of which 41 advanced to semifinal round. They had to score well in three rounds a written test, and two rounds of spelling on stage yesterday.

I came across an interesting blog started by parents of 2009 winner Kavya, to help other aspirants. Kavya’s parents blog

Kavya’s parents say that, six years of hard-work paid off. Hats off to these young contestants who have strived for this day with single-minded purposefulness.

I wonder – isn’t it too early to push a child into such a journey!! Are we, parents, trying to realize our aspirations through children by putting them into such a taxing grind.

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