Friday, 29 December 2017

Striking a India-London Balance

How free and democratic a country is usually judged by the contents appearing in its newspapers or its news channels. Does its media espouse free speech and free thinking? Are the articles and write ups in the newspapers a reflection of a modern and progressive society?

While on a holiday in Dubai even as I marvelled at the extraordinary transformation of a desert into an international city, I could not help wondering if only their newspapers looked as classy as their skyscrapers! One look at their newspapers and you knew mundane and basic information camouflaged as news and reports! Where was the incisive analysis, in-depth researched reports that are so blatantly conspicuous in Indian newspapers? Certainly, Dubai is no place for free thinkers and creative artists, they can look up to the 'Incredible India' for inspiration!

It is incredible that while I am in London I still reach out to the Times of India, The Hindu, The Deccan Chronicle or The Indian Express for adding new words to my existing reserve of vocabulary. Indian media is astonishingly vibrant with news anchors often displaying their command over the English language through flamboyant utterances and judicious choice of words. Many a debate is organised with unparalleled passion and intensity. Animated and profound conversations take place with some of the best minds of the country. Bulky newspapers with detailed analysis, thought provoking pieces along with humorous observations while stimulating the mornings are actually a reflection of the umpteen issues that are confronting India. Before I know I am left fondly reminiscing about my country!

With memories flooding my mind, I step out of my new home in London only to be greeted by its astounding scenery. The awe inspiring architecture and infrastructure are testimonies to London's amazing engineering and I instantly forget all about India. That's how I strike a India-London balance!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Outgrowing Cars

Outgrowing cars never had a stop in my journey of life which I carefully choose to sprinkle with beautiful experiences, memories and adventures. Negative ones do come in the way to distract and divert the route from the most desired destination, sometimes even marring the beautiful trip. What is supposed to be a smooth ride now turns out to be jolty, jerky and even creepy with potholes, pits and steeps to manoeuvre through! It took me the ‘Car-Free Sunday’ initiative and my own environment-conscientiousness to let go of our tiny Zen car that would usually put me into a zen-like state often sending me into raptures of ecstasy and liberation!!! 


Nevertheless, in London, outgrowing cars comes naturally. Well-planned pavements on either side of the road along with an amazing public transport system eliminate the need for cars. Strolling along the broad stretches of pathways while feasting your eyes on the natural beauty and inhaling fresh doses of oxygen makes walking an exercise in joy and freedom!!!

Friday, 29 September 2017

It’s Kindness And Not Alcohol That Matters For Bonding

(This article in no way denounces alcohol consumers, it is just to highlight that human values like kindness, open mindedness empathy, sensitivity are often put on a back burner in the process of bonding and making relationships. It is usual to give undue importance to appearances and be carried away by the superficial attitudes at display) !

What on Earth shall I wear for the birthday party? Shall I sport my usual trousers paired with a formal shirt? Will I look outdated and uncool and will people form opinions about me based on the outfit I am wearing? What if I am labelled a misfit? An ultimate party embarrassment? Will I cut a sorry figure and be a bad example for my daughter? Why do I have poor sartorial judgement? These were some questions that swarmed my consciousness as I got ready to attend a neighbour’s child birthday party just two months after I landed in London.

New to London, I was yet to explore the myriad shops and malls adorning the city like beautiful accessories complementing a woman’s looks. I continued donning the apparels bought from India which were simply party-contrary. Even going to the nearest grocery store saw me reaching out for a formal dress. My wardrobe would warm the hearts of the office goers, offering them an array of formal wear to pick. Whereas I myself would be dejected at the sight of a drab me in an official suit.

‘It has only been a couple of months since my arrival here and I am not sure about any shops offering quality products along with great deals. It will take one more month to get familiar with everything in London. The host will understand me especially when both of us share similar roots deep down in India’, I reassured myself while my toddler made funny faces at me mocking my confusion.

Decking up my daughter with all the finery while I chose a humble outfit for myself made me happy for her. Her excitement made me smile and forget my anxieties at least momentarily. My daughter can embrace new surroundings and absolute strangers with ease. She gets along with new faces as though she has known them for ages! Whereas I think the other one is an alien from a different planet altogether. However, sharing my life with my daughter has rubbed some of her qualities onto me. As I behaved with my hosts like how my daughter would, little did I know of a problem awaiting me like a lion waiting to pounce on its prey!

Birthday celebrations in India are ubiquitous and I have never been unfamiliar to the excitement and euphoria surrounding any party accompanied by its usual cacophony and colour! However, little did I know that alcohol and non-vegetarian food would pose a moral dilemma for me. Not a meat eater and a staunch teetotaller, I began to wonder if I was being a spoilsport and started blaming myself for being such a ‘party-dampener’. Having never known the smell of alcohol let alone consume it, I was clueless of my next move.

Everybody around me was comfortably sipping and enjoying the drink while I looked like a cat on a hot tin roof dithering and confused. Do I join the gang and booze away to chatter and freedom like the others did? Freedom from restrictions and thoughts that stopped me from enjoying the party, freedom from self-doubts and negativity that held me back from realising what I can actually be. Can this glass of what several people consider as elixir also be an antidote to whatever invisible force that was holding me back and pushing me behind from doing what my heart desired. ‘Gel in, Vidya, the voice in my head screamed. ‘Grab the glass, you will feel welcomed. 

I wanted to feel welcome and didn’t intend to be a party embarrassment. As I stood there without a glass in my hand and not indulging in any non-vegetarian fare, I was not taking any moral high ground and making judgements on those who thoroughly relished their moments. I respected their choice to be and do what they believed in just like how I felt about my own beliefs and decisions. My own family members and friends drank and made merry and I have accepted them wholeheartedly. I have also seen a couple of them losing their lives to cases like ‘hyper-drunken mania’. So, can’t life situations reciprocate my earlier acts of kindness? Why should I be rejected for upholding my convictions?

As I dithered, a sudden flash of awakening struck the deepest point of my being. What guarantee do I have that I will be accepted by them just because I decide to flaunt the intoxicating solution in my hand and then clanging the glass amidst boisterous cheers? So, I decided to live my beliefs and values that I have so far been adhering to. Deciding to say no to drinks and a non-veg menu, I wore my attitude on my sleeve, to be true to myself and yet be comfortable. Instead of choosing alcohol that I was unfamiliar with, I choose kindness, courtesy, joy and laughter to bond. Presto, it worked! And I learnt my important lesson. It’s not alcohol that is needed for bonding, rather it is universal human values like kindness, love, respect, confidence and compassion which the society recognises and values!

If you are honest, kind and enjoy chatting as well as relating with people while being comfortable and confident in your own self, you have indeed arrived and been accepted! More important than sharing a drink with a fellow party attender is the kindness and joy you exude in another’s presence that matters. The fact that you welcome and rejoice his/her company is not just reassurance for the other person but is in fact the only essential for bonding and making relationships!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Kids Definitely Lighten You!

Feeling stressed out, depressed, lazy and dull? In need of some counselling and looking for a therapist? Stop worrying and start spending time with kids especially toddlers and you will be surprised at their uncanny ability to calm your nerves and lighten you. Initially the naughty kids may give you a tough time but as you get familiar with their tricks and pranks, chances of you getting smarter and outwitting them are higher.

Kids hate self-absorbed adults. Adults immersed in their own activities oblivious to the happenings in their surroundings are loathed. Displaying a cold and stiff demeanour is a big no. Rather, children would like you to be light, enthusiastic, crazy and witty like them.

Get both your hands dirty as you play with your kids making sand castles, prepare to get drenched in the splash pool, drop your inhibitions as you dance and waltz to some music that only kids can enjoy (the ones that play incessantly on Baby TV and Disney TV channels) while you don't see a reason to get excited. Summon all your courage to exert your voice cords as you learn to sing and even begin to enjoy the rhymes your kids croon. Subsequently, you see yourself dropping the heaviness of the world and beginning to enjoy life with child-like excitement and glee. In the company of children, adults lighten up and brighten up with new vigour, wit and humour. All the more reason to be a parent!

My Profile

It is extremely difficult to describe about oneself in just about 1200 words, justifying my stance to  leave the profile box empty. Writing about oneself is akin to a write-up - well-researched, informative with substantial data and content. The profile box rejected my profile at one stroke of a brush announcing my content was too huge to be entered. Therefore, I decided to publish my profile as a blog, as it will enable my readers to know me up front and up close. Moreover, it would strengthen the bond between me and my readers if they are provided sufficient insights about the writer of the blog they take time to read.

With a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and a PG Diploma in Journalism, I have worked for corporate companies with experience in writing/editing product reviews, newsletters, technical content, newsletters, press releases for publication on websites. My educational degrees are closely linked to my interests in reading, writing, researching and in the field of social sciences. I also enjoy travelling and exploring as well as listening to music. A loving and caring mother of an adorable daughter, serving and bonding with my family everyday keeps me busy and content. For instant mood-relief, I travel, explore, meet new people and learn. They energize and motivate me like nothing else!

My exposure, travel and experience with people of diverse backgrounds during the early years of my life thanks to my dad’s job in the government that kept us transferred to different parts of India had in fact instilled in me a passion to travel, explore, learn and grow. Values of tolerance, respect and love for diversity seeped into me naturally. A self-driven person, I also cherish qualities such as integrity, empathy, compassion, ethics, responsibility and ownership.

I have been writing since my school days. My first short writing piece appeared in a local children’s magazine while I was in my 5th grade followed by a poem and a few articles in high school. College again saw me write for a newspaper and I continued to explore my creative instincts through freelancing articles for newspapers and blogging. My blog ‘A View From Home’ was started in 2010 and it consists of contents published in newspapers along with articles on serious and mundane topics ranging from politics, cinema, parenting and subjects that inspire me. The blog also features a few inspiring and motivating videos as well as posts that were written on my Facebook page with further elaboration and more information.

Having born and raised in India, I gradually acquired a deep understanding of the country right from her history, culture, spirituality, music, movies to her cities buzzing as much for their exuberance as for their idiosyncrasy. The resulting impressions reflect in the articles in my blog. Now in London, I live with my husband and a daughter savouring every bit of our life here. Therefore, it may not be surprising to find a few musings about my new home that is London and my first impressions along with experiences about living in this city of diverse ethnicities and multi-cultures as people of different nationalities and religions blend seamlessly and live in harmony. Harmony in diversity is exemplified rather remarkably in London as people go about their daily grind enthusiastically while respecting the traditions and beliefs of people that are different from theirs. While the early birds jog the city to life as they sprint across the Thames river welcoming the day and its bounties, the workaholics are excited about another day in the office brimming with opportunities, challenges, luck and growth! As for leisure enthusiasts, an another day of adventure, novelty and experience beckon them while they look forward to unwrap life’surprises.

‘A View From Home’ is a collection of my musings and reflections recorded and written at home even as I wonder about a suitable topic that would be riveting, informative, empowering, entertaining and inspiring all at the same time! It is a homemaker’s refreshing take on subjects that are both light and serious. A housewife’s perspective is the last one that is sought for, yet it is the most insightful, refreshing and thoughtful out of all, which reflects a certain depth, experience and wisdom unique only to a homemaker!

Getting Life Lessons From My Daughter

After three years of spending time with my kid, although many times I have felt the stress of raising her, exasperation at her endless pranks and guilt pangs following some strong rebukes by me, some of life's greatest and valuable lessons were learnt in the process of parenting. Credit goes to my daughter for effecting an incredible transformation in me. As I enjoy motherhood, a moment of epiphany dawns on me that all that one should do for overcoming negative habits and traits is to become a parent. How easy!

I have never been this active, never felt so alive, and certainly never so energetic and enthusiastic in all my life. My life before my daughter was born was characterised by inertia and nonchalance in everything that I did. Enter she, my lethargy was magically replaced with childlike exuberance and I discovered a definite purpose. A purpose that never existed before now shone brightly like sun's sharp rays on a bitterly cold winter afternoon. Her innocence rubs onto me like smiles that spread rapidly, her enthusiasm fills my heart with a joy never known before and her intelligence coupled with ingenious wit instils in me a vigour and energy so profound to express. I still remember the sleepless nights I endured soon after my delivery, it made me take stock of the situation followed by some lessons in sleep management. First my daughter gives me lessons in sleep management, next in stress and anger management equipping me with strong life skills thereby preparing me for the challenges of life!

Very soon I started to see myself leading a disciplined life with only about 5 to 6 hours of sleep and spending the rest of the hours in teaching her, playing with her and taking her to some of her favourite parks as well as doing the mundane household chores. As I multi-task and juggle roles with confidence, I thank my daughter for making me stronger!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Are Babies Smarter Than Adults

Toddlers and babies never cease to surprise us. It completely stupefies me when my 2.10 year-old daughter can relate to abstract emotions like, love, boredom and aversion to name a few with a maturity that only adults'possess. When she constantly cribs that she needs some kind of recreation to overcome her boredom, I am left wondering if she has understood and internalized an emotion as abstract as boredom! However, soon, I realize that babies and kids are blessed with higher IQ's than an average adult! Below is a researched article indicating that babies and kids are way smarter than us! 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Why London Is Dear To Its Immigrants!

London with its several immigrants coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds is indisputably an international and a multicultural city. For several immigrants from middle east and Africa fleeing violence and revolutions, London is their home of hope, joy and peace. As varied and diverse the immigrants are as many different and compelling reasons they may have for migrating to London. Nevertheless, for every migrant, London spurs her growth with rich opportunities and learning experiences. As immigrants, they are here to soak in its culture and experience as well as to learn and grow. For a few others, it is a respite from their mundane and mediocre existence, an escape from their seemingly endless drudgery back home, a monotonous routine, a reprieve from their country’s poor politics and a staggering economy as well as societal restrictions and pressures.

According to ‘The Migration Observatory’, London has the highest migrant population in the UK. At least 3.2 million people are born outside the country. For immigrants from developing countries, London is a land of fortune with opportunities to explore their talents and challenges testing their potential. It is here that they pick up the broken and torn threads of their lives to stitch them together. Gradually, they feel the city growing on them even as they learn and grow in confidence and self-assurance, glad they are far away from the stress and pressures of their homelands, their native states that caused untold misery, a political system that made their lives an endless struggle and put them in a seemingly eternal state of anxiety and depression.

Now an air of contentment dawns over them as they no longer have to battle insecurities and fears.  A smile lights up their faces as they relax and realise that their children are now in a safer world with a world of opportunities beckoning them.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Romancing Thames

Whenever homesickness threatens to drown me into a sea of memories, longing and nostalgia, a walk on the banks of the Thames river which is so close to where I stay, and a look at its stunning vastness and breath-taking beauty lifts my plunging moods almost instantly. Memories of my familiar world are now replaced with scenes of beauty, awe, wonder and inspiration. I am embraced in warm hugs exuding love, kindness and comfort. Cocooned and feeling secure in its welcoming embrace, I make it a point to go with the flow, constantly being reminded that Thames simply keeps gushing and flowing no matter how rough the tide is.
            ‘Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;  Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will. Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still.’

                                                               William Wordsworth

Quotes like the above one about Thames abound in English poetry. While studying English back home in India during college, I remember how much our curriculum revolved around luminaries like Tennyson, Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and other romantic poets who weaved magic in their poetry. Invariably, the Thames river formed the backdrop of their poems influencing and inspiring them to create works of wonder and leaving the posterity in awe of them forever. As I kept appreciating their poems, never ever did I have a thought let alone a vision of strolling along the banks of the Thames river and listening to the soft rustles of its waves.

Now to get a view of the legendary river as soon as I wake up in the morning and have it as a companion while I stride my way to a nearby grocery store is a blessing as well as a source of mammoth inspiration and solace. Under the mesmerising beauty of the river, it is easy to get transported to an oasis of serenity, and connect instantly with a mystic stillness and a higher power! With the Thames river so near me, room for negative feelings like anxiety, boredom and depression simply don’t exist., In fact, those emotions are relegated and buried in the lowest realms of my subconscious left without the slightest chance of surfacing up. A look at the river empowers me with optimism and confidence to face the challenges as also the many vicissitudes of life. The gentle hushes of the waves while energising the mind and soothing it infuses it with incredible creativity, positivity and inspiration. Given all this, it is now easy to understand why so many poets of the 19th century sought refuge under the river’s benign gaze.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

My Daughter's Inimitable Pranks

Parents of toddlers would unanimously agree that not a single day passes without drama in their households. Embarrassing situations, anxious moments, clumsy scenarios are only to be expected for parents with bratty tots. The other day, I felt sheepish and embarrassed when my two year didn't even
display the slightest compunction to snub me, defy me and accuse me in front of my visitors. My
daughter is not the coy one who would sheepishly hide behind her mummy. She is one dare devil who catches you off guard with her pranks, gets dramatic and manipulative when you least expect it. She plays favourites far too often leaving me astounded. She yells, swears and throws tantrums at the drop of a hat. Yep, she is a prankster who loves to humour and annoy you! A drama queen that she is, she constantly explores infinite ways to grab your attention!

My guests thoroughly enjoyed the drama unfolding before them. My toddler's pranks coupled with her high-pitched singing of newly learnt rhymes, her 'sweetie-cutie' talks bowled them over with me
no where in the picture. They were even more entertained when they heard all the stories of how
frequently I would lose my temper at what she believed were her innocuous pranks and habits until this happened.

Out of the blue, my daughter, much to our consternation, pounced on their little son, pawing his chubby cheeks with her razor sharp nails leaving him a bundle of pain, dismay and unending sobs. My relative shuddered and pulled her son back. Taken aback, she interrogated me with the tone of an upright police officer, "Don't you trim her nails? I am sorry, she raises a hue and cry while getting her nails trimmed. I had planned to do it while she was asleep but just forgot". And suddenly, my guests lost all interest and got up to say it was time for them to return home. They looked at my daughter who winked with her trademark mischievous twinkle in her eyes!!!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Parental Abuse

Child abuse is a grave concern, which the world is trying hard to address. However, there is something called 'parental abuse' by toddlers which is hardly known. This involves slapping their moms/dads, pulling their hair, yelling at them. This open defiance is mainly indulged by toddlers like mine afflicted with 'terrible twos' syndrome. All efforts to deal with 'parental abuse' are nullified by these ingenious pranksters!

My childhood years were charaterized by the usual mischief, fun and excitement. I can
never recall an incident where I openly defied my parents and sweared at them though! As I watch
my toddler-daughter indulging in a range of tricks and pranks on me and her father as well as on her grandparents, multitude of questions arise in me. As I spend time with my mother, I try to jog her memory, prodding her to go down the memory lane to remember any incident involving me hitting her and yelling. She immediately responds with a big 'never'.

For a change, I trotted out the most favourite line that our parents and elders use. "Gone
are those days when young people held older ones in awe and respect". Elders back then inspired
fear and power, so much so that many youngsters feared to speak up in their presence! Voicing opinions were done in hushed tones and a hierarchy was established and maintained at all times. Any suggestion, plan was to go through several rounds of hearings and reviews by every family member before it was approved by the patriarch. Direct confrontation with the eldest and oldest family member was prohibited completely.

It is obvious that the older status quo is no longer applicable now. Children are now bold, strong and
confident. Thanks to their modern parents who give them the freedom and space to explore, share and learn. While I appreciate and endorse the new age parenting and strongly dislike our earlier formula of raising kids, I am still at a loss to correct my kid's aggressive behaviour. As seasoned parents, do you have any ideas for handling 'parental abuse'?