Child, the mentor of every parent : Mallika, mine

I have been deferring writing for some time. Every day brings forth so much, worth penning an article a day. Lazy or I can say misplaced priorities, I must say about myself.

Yesterday was a very eventful and memorable day for me! All thanks to our lovely daughter Mallika. She was awarded the scholarship in school for her meritorious work and excellence in Music, through her middle-school, classes 6-8, at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, her school. Music is one of those intelligence that is not so common as maths and sciences, still we usually look down upon. Thankfully at our home, it is appreciated. The right brain enriches the left brain effectiveness and we invest significant time to facilitate the right.

Collecting the scholarship from eminent public servant, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra formerly Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of India

Here are a couple of favourite compositions of the school. The school has many a music album to its credit. Mallika features in the choir..

Yes, over the last six months there has been a concern with her performance in other subjects, especially Maths and Sciences. Mallika is brilliant there too, but interest and passion is lacking. I have been running with her a little more purposefully to infuse the passion. I always feel bad if one does not perform to ones potential. I am sure she would realize hers soon.

What made me introspect more is one more episode that happened last night. We have been talking to Mallika about a great opportunity in a fellowship, Counter Speech Fellowship, that aims to expose a very young mind to a variety of perspectives, especially in the world that is getting influenced by the proliferation of Social Media. We have been having talks with Mallika about her inclinations and engaging interactions over Social Media, both overt and covert, in the last few months. We felt, some of them are not only unproductive but energy sapping and rendering her ineffective.

It was Oct 31st, the last date to fill the form for the Scholarship and time 8pm. When we went through the form, we realized it demands introspection and expression of oneself, not only in words but also she has to design a poster. Mallika was revising for her weekly test scheduled this morning. We spoke to Mallika, whether she would still like to fill the long form for the fellowship. She said she wants to. I just spoke to her broadly about the purpose of the questions and went to my room. She filled the form and did everything to be submitted before she called me to show. I said, if she is happy, just submit. It was almost 11pm.

And this morning I saw a copy of the form that came my way from the fellowship office. When I went through, I felt so inspired by Mallika’s expression, I am still overwhelmed. CHILD IS A MENTOR OF PARENT, Mallika mine. I felt like expressing. Here insights into what our young darling is blossoming into.

What excites you about the Counter Speech Fellowship?

The mind of an adolescent is always a tumultuous one, the heart is one that is often unexpressed and the thoughts are always confused ones. Many feel alone, unsure and weak. Many around us , harm those weaker than themselves to feel powerful. Many seem to feel eyes judgemental eyes on them even in an empty corridor. We are surrounded by individuals who frequently use the term “depressed” to describe their state of mind. People think its a joke and that it is okay to put somebody under a term that is not a very friendly one, something that may be racist ,sexist ,casteist or any other term which makes one feel low and discouraged. A lot of our ideas are influenced by the internet, which may or may not be giving our thoughts the right shape and direction. One always feels the need to be guarded and protected.This is the time of discovering oneself and of self-realisation . People should realize that it is NOT okay to close your eyes and take it or see someone else take it. Your voice, can make a difference.

As I see it, the counter speech fellowship is an opportunity to voice my opinions and engage with others who are my age and who believe that these same set of problems should be tackled. I want to know more about Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Well being, Embracing Diversity, Safe Spaces Online and Violent Extremism and learn better ways of making people aware of these issues .
This is why the Counter speech fellowship excites me.

Have you held any leadership position at school or outside of it? Tell us about some life lessons from that experience.

Yes, I have held a leadership position before. I have been elected as the representative of my class at school (Sardar Patel Vidyalaya) quite a few times.
Something I learnt while I was a class representative was that, all people are very very different. We all have our own set of likes and dislikes. You cannot control somebody ( it makes them rebel) and you should not take such condescending behaviour either . Everybody’s idea of an ideal individual differs. It is important to respect other’s thoughts as well as have your own opinions which one should have the courage to express. This is what, in my opinion , can make us better. I also think that one can be a good leader only when one listens to other opinions and learns to accommodate others.

The themes for the 2017 Fellowship are: Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Wellbeing, Embracing Diversity, Creating Safe Spaces Online and Countering Violent Extremism. Tell us about a personal experience that makes you passionate about one or more of these themes.

I come from a modest middle class family. Ever since I was young, I have been taught to share, to include people , to always be open to learning. As a family we travel widely and try to experience and interact with new places and people.

I have attended various workshops on a variety of topics and am interested in the performing arts (I am trained Bharatanatyam dancer, a Carnatic music vocalist and a theatre person).

All my experiences have given me memories which I will cherish forever. But would it have been as memorable if it weren’t for the people? Would it possible to learn so many new things from new places and to gather such experiences randomly?
The beauty of life is in differences. In different cultures, traditions, thoughts , ideas and lives. Differences make our life more exciting , they give us something new to learn, to behold, to try , to explore.
It is funny , that one would feel more at home with their warm and friendly neighbour than a relative who appears to be cold. Relations are made not pre-decided. Diversity should be celebrated. A canvas is more beautiful when it has many colours. 🙂

————-
What a clarity in the young mind. So much we can facilitate to help her blossom. I shall commit more of myself to facilitate both Mallika and Svwara, along with Indira. God bless every young mind. Love.

Will add videos to this, as and when I find time.

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Cultural resonance – Manjari Sinha ji covers SPANDAN in her Statesman column

Manjari Sinha
| 02 June, 2016

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The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) celebrated Africa Day on 26 May at the Azad Bhavan Auditorium. The theme India-Africa: Bound Together highlighted Africa’s diversity, success, economic potential and cultural resonance with India. The celebration comprised a panel discussion, a week-long exhibition of African costumes, paintings and artefacts, a food festival of Afican cuisine and a cultural programme.

The cultural programme opened with lively songs by the Capital City Minstrels, New Delhi, but the talented troupe from the Kingdom of Lesotho stole the show with the multi-talented African ensemble Likakapa Africa, which literally means The Legends or Crème de la crème. The lively performances by the renowned ensemble were a blend of Famo Music, Afro-Jazz, Hip Hop; that established an instant rapport with the audience. Unable to resist the vibrant rhythm and the contagious zest of the African music and dance, many were seen whistling and dancing in front of the stage.

Likakapa had two major Famo artists Rabots’o le Semanyane and Lebohang Lets’ohla, who led most of the songs backed by Tom Rakoti, the Afro-Jazz artist, and Molibeli Mokake who was both a Hip-Hop performer and a Rapper. The ensemble presented the unique stylistic music and dance, commonly seen in the streets of major towns and villages of Lesotho.

The Spandan-World Dance Evening at the India Habitat Centre the same evening, was the enthusiastic culmination of  a month long Festival of the Performing Arts and an ambitious exhibition of dance photographs, curated by R Srinivasan in the open spaces of the Habitat World on the occasion of the World Dance Day. 

 Celebrating the infinite potential in umpteen varieties of dance forms, Spandan showcased a spectacular melange of dance forms from Indian classical dances like Odissi by Arushi Mudgal, Bharatanatyam by Suhail Bhan and Kathak by Irina from Russia to contemporary dance by Neha Sharma of Sadhya, Jazz by Danceworx, Hip-Hop by the Quake Crew, Flow Art by Eshna Kutty, Tajik dance by Naseeba from Tajikistan and a mesmerising Folk Fusion by Nitisha Nanda from Banjara. The over-packed Stein Auditorium resounded with thunderous applause at the end of this extravaganza of dance, conceived by R Srinivasan of Spandan, created by Indira Ganesh and anchored by their 13-year-old talented daughter Mallika. 

Humkadam-2016 by Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio.

Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio presented Navagraha for their annual event Humkadam-2016, at the Epicentre. Based on the Hindu astrological science that says the nine celestial bodies, or Navagrahas, affect our character with their typical characteristics, when close to us, Rachana most imaginatively conceived and choreographed Navagraha, incorporating the entire repertoire of Kathak  through different groups of students portraying different Grahas, according to the characteristics of these Grahas matching the maturity or the age group of her students.

Opening with Navagraha Stuti, an ode to the nine celestial bodies, the programme started with the youngest age group, the twinkling stars, in “Jagmag deep jale…” with the basic Hastakas and simple Tode Tukde based on Sargam.

Navagraha took off with Brihaspati, the Graha for knowledge and longevity, with Guru Vandana. Venus, that stands for the feminine grace, was presented next, by a young adult batch dressed like delicate “Abhisarika Nayikas” on Shyam Kalyan Bandish “Sundar sej sanvar ke…”, interspersed with  Aamad, Tode, Tukde, Parans and Chakkardars…et al.

Mercury was depicted with Sargams in Raga Yaman; Mangal Graha had Krishna Arjun Samvad with the dancers dressed in the energetic colour red; the Shani or Saturn had the impressive Malkauns Tarana; and Rahu-Ketu portrayed by twin sisters was applauded for their remarkable pirouettes. Surya and Chandra, the climax, were danced respectively by Rachna’s senior-most students. Surya had Pramelu, Paran and the impressive foot-work in the challenging Tala Dhamaar and Chandra was depicted through a Ghazal “Pighal raha hai Chaand…”, as an Abhinaya piece, completing Kathak in its entirety.  Rachana’s imaginative choreography was enhanced with the most appropriate music composed by Samiullah Khan.

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/voices/cultural-resonance/145968.html#xLvFAqpXhAYqO079.99

To every woman…..

WOMAN… … …

When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day…….

An angel came by and asked.“ Why spend so much time on her ?”.

TEJASA - The four women of substance of Ramayana - Kaikeyi, Sita, Soorpanaka, Mandodari

The lord answered. “ Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?”…..

she must function on all kinds of situations….,

she must be able to embrace several kids at the same time,

give a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart ,

she must do all this with only two hands,..“

She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day”…. …

THE ANGEL was impressed. ..“ Just two hands…..impossible !” ..

And this is the standard model ? ! ….“

The Angel came closer and touched the woman”……

.“ But you have made her so soft, Lord”…..

.“ She is soft”, said the Lord,

“ But I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome ”…

.“Can she think?” The Angel asked…

The Lord answered. “ Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate” …
.

The Angel touched her cheeks…..

“ Lord, it seems this creation is leaking ! You have put too many burdens on her. ” …

.“She is not leaking…it is a tear” The Lord corrected the Angel…

“ What’s it for?” Asked the Angel…..
.

The Lord said. “ Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride.”…

THIS made a big impression on the Angel,

“ Lord, you are genius. You thought of everything.

A woman is indeed marvellous !”…. …

.

Lord said.“ Indeed she is.

She has strength that amazes a man.

She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.

She holds happiness, love and opinions.

She smiles when she feels like screaming.

She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid.

She fights for what she believes in.

Her love is unconditional.

Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies

but she finds strength to get on with life.” ..

The Angel asked : So she is a perfect ?

The lord replied : No. She has just one drawback

“ She often forgets what she is worth”.

– “Unknown”

Inculcating the passion for reading, stoking imagination, building linguistic excellence

Our daughter, Svwara, yesterday came to me at night, when I came back home and said that she had a surprise for me. The games of surprise keep happening at our home, all the time. It is a way of enthusing one another.

Svwara said that she would read four books to me that night before she went to bed. “Wow!,” was my response. As this is the reverse of the usual exercise. Every night before she hits the bed she wants either Indira or me read four to five books, that she would select.

Here are a couple of books that she read to me that night. I wanted to record for this article.

Yes, she is able to recognize the letters of language, at times she may even write the letters that is a mirror image of the letter. This may happen till the age of six.

But, she reads every book verbatim, without knowing the words!! Its just like any other rhyme that she learnt. The entire book is a rhyme. She remembers every word and sentence there in. Simply because these books have been read umpteen number of times, as part of her ritual every night.

For a four-year-old, Svwara’s vocabulary and expression in the English is way beyond her years. Many an elder is startled at her ability to construct complex sentences with vocabulary that even I may not use. Her ability to imagine and draw a visual in a context of a story, is fascinating.

All these have happened because of one and only one activity since her childhood – reading that Indira has imbibed in her since Svwara’s infancy, more than me.

Our elder daughter, Mallika (12) who is a voracious reader herself, who finishes big tomes every week, is surprised at Svwara’s ability to articulate such complex thoughts with great felicity. Mallika has been a precocious child herself and now she is enamoured of Svwara’s.

The greatest gift each one of us can really bestow to any child is reading. Hope this journey is just a beginning of an exciting journey of discovering the world through books and much much more.

My Salutations to every woman…especially all those in my life!

Indira with Mallika and Svwara

My salutations to my mother, my sisters, my better half and my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, my two daughters who have always been around me, and to every woman in my life – in all phases of education, professional and passionate pursuits of performing arts and fine arts – each one contributing immensely in one way or other in my being what I am. I also salute the woman in every male, who contributed to what I am!

I pay my respects and tribute through this beautiful and touching poetry of Ms. Ashanti Holliday, that I found on the vast web! Thanks Ashanti!

A Womans Worth

© Ashanti Holliday

She gave life. She is a wife.
She is a mother and she is a friend.
She is a sister a survivor to the end.

Appreciate her, we don’t dare.
Ask her worries, we don’t care.
Wipe away her tears, they are invisible as air.

She works cooks and clean.
She laughs, helps comfort, and hides her pain.
When you struggle she pulls you through

All this is she and what do we do?
Complain and create a mess.
Provide stress and leave her feeling depressed..
Push her away and ignore her advice.
Tell her she is nothing without thinking twice.

She was raped tortured and abused.
Told she was nothing and would always be used just for pleasure forget her pain.

She swallows her pride, put her feelings aside.
Does as you need in order for you to be free.
Ignores your ignorance and tolerates your flaws.
You call her Bitch, Slut, Hoe and Tramp
She answers with pride dignity and a complete loss of self.
You call her nothing.
I call her Strong, Smart, Sensual, Caring, Giving, Surviving, Tolerant and powerful
I call her WOMAN!

An eye opener for the young and old alike – CP’s Underground Services Tunnel

Delhi, in the wake of 2010 common wealth games, had to endure inconveniences at most of the places due to ongoing infrastructural projects. The next CWG is around the corner, a few of the projects are still long way from completion, even after four years. One of the locations that was seen dug all over was the Connaught Place, which is still some way from complete recovery.

I came across an article about the CP’s new wonder, an underground services tunnel! and that it was thrown open to the public to see for seven days before it got officially commissioned, claimed to be one of a kind gift to the city dwellers who frequent to CP, a hundred-year old shopping destination in the heart of the capital.

I was keen to take the family, especially kids. After a couple of attempts, finally managed to take three young, curious minds – Mallika, Nandu and Miku – along with the very young Svwara and family. The visit was an eye-opener not only to the young brigade, but also to all adults.

The underground service tunnel

The 1.8 km underground tunnel, two story tall and 30ft wide, runs all around CP, underneath the middle circle enclosing within, various ducts and pipelines, that service this bustling market place. It is a wonderful showcase of the urban planning and development that every city across the nation can easily follow. After Delhi Metro, that has become a standard for public transport in major cities, I see this will be a standard for services maintenance and delivery.

The engineers facilitating the young brigade and the old alike

When we descended through one of the gates into the tunnel, close to Palika Bazaar, we were greeted by a couple of Engineers from Shapoorji Pallonji, the executer of the project. They were very friendly and were encouraging questions and responding eagerly too.

Our discovery –

The multi-tiered structures that carry various electric and data cables to the entire CP network

There are 8-9 tiers of neatly organized conduits of wires going through the two story high tunnel.
a. High tension wires those carry load to the transformers etc
b. supply to the consumers from these transformers
c. The data cables that carry telephony and data
All these are cleanly organized, insulated and made sure that one does not interfere with the other. Data lines are located farthest from the high tension wires. Ample precautions have been taken so that under any eventuality, any accident can be responded to immediately. For a few of the ducts, water pipelines are laid, and for a few gas and hand held fire extinguishers are provided, based on the requirement. All handy and easily executable

Then there are larger pipelines, distinctly color coded –

The color coded pipelines that carry water for various purposes – RED, BLUE and GREEN; with safety valves

A. Red colored for the fire safety network. They carry water to the network of points, located all across CP so that any fire can be doused with those outlet and one need not depend or wait for fire-extinguishers to reach the spot through crowded markets. The response could be within a few seconds
B. The second set of pipelines, color coded, blue carry fresh municipal water to all the blocks, offices, houses and shops for regular usage
C. The third set of pipes, green, carry the rain water and such for recycling and dispersal, for watering the parks and green belts within CP…

The whole complex is monitored by a high-tech control unit which keeps track of temperature, pressure variations in order spot any malfunctioning, accordingly switches on or off the systems as and when need arises. Also it takes care of cooling and air-conditioning of the whole underground tunnel.

It was an eye-opener for me and the young brigade too. They were so enamoured of the complex that they wrote interesting feedbacks in the books placed there in.

All in all, it was a wonderful exercise for one and all..

Photo story series : Ma..Amma..Mutter…Moeder…Majka…Madre…Mom…Mother…


No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.
~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

 
 
 


The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

 
 
 

The pleasure of being a mother, holding the young one, Indira and Svwara
The pleasure of being a mother, holding the young one, Indira and Svwara

 
 
 

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