Friday, December 30, 2011

Enough about Pirates Already

Isn't it time that children's books and cartoon shows about pirates were stopped? Why does the world continue to romanticize murderers and plunderers?

Talk of a pirate to a child, and her eyes twinkle with delight. Most kids think a pirate's costume is fun. Kids' TV channels have shows about pirates singing and dancing about their treasures.

How do you reconcile that with the stories of people held hostage by Somali pirates for months? Or that of the old French lady who was kidnapped by pirates from her holiday home in Kenya, who later died? Or that of the four sailors killed by pirates at sea recently? How can we see stories of such horror on one TV channel and cartoon shows glorifying pirates on another and feel everything is fine?
If I never see a pirate-related show on TV or merchandise in stores, it will be too soon. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Birds of Orchard

Yesterday, after a very long time, I found myself at Orchard Road. I was alone, walking from Center Point to Orchard MRT, taking in the sights and sounds of Singapore's main shopping street, decked up like a bride for the festive season. The main street had blue and white lights strung overhead every few meters and the shopping malls had their own golden colored lights. Though it was drizzling, there were people everywhere, some families with kids posing for pictures, some teens laughing loudly as only teens do for reasons known only to them, and some old couples trudging along. Traffic was heavy and as usual noisy.

Amid all this, I became aware of a noise rising above all the human-made noises -literally. Above my head, on the tall trees lining the street, were thousands (had to be thousands) of birds chirping away, calling in the end of their day. The noise was deafening, drowning even the sound of traffic. Hear for yourself.

Who were they calling? Their partners? Kids? Or their friends? What were they saying? Goodnight friends goodnight friends? Or come here come here I have a good spot here? Why was Singapore's brightest and busiest high- (and low-) fashion street their home and not the nearby Botanic Gardens? Why do these birds continue to bless us preoccupied and indifferent creatures with their presence, adapting kindly to the pollution, lights and noise we can't stop making?

I really would like to know.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Preschool ARCS

Being a second-time mom after a gap of 14 years has made me pay attention to many things I missed the first time. For example, I don't recall much of how Atreya learned to read and write as a young child, primarily because I was quite a hands-off mom the first time around.

This time with Aloka, I am totally involved, so much so that I get quite anxious when I think of all that she has to learn. Just a few weeks back, I was quite cross that English language had to have lowercase and uppercase letters (unlike Hindi), something that had never occurred to me in all these years. It's another matter that she picked up the uppercase symbols with no help from me by just playing some spelling games on the iPad.

Another difference in me as a second-time mom is that I have been immersed in Instructional Design for several years and can't help but look at every thing through the lens of ID. This article is a result of a day filled with writing about ARCS in a proposal and an evening spent working with Aloka on numbers and words.

Keller described three strategies of gaining attention: perceptual arousal, inquiry arousal and variability.

To get Aloka's attention, I use variability of media the most. A session on numbers typically involves number magnets that she can move around and paper/pencil to practice writing. I also have a few number matching games downloaded on the iPad, but she outgrew them pretty fast. For reading and writing, we have puzzles, iPad games, activity books and the good old paper and pencil. If I see her losing interest, I often just change the medium.

Another technique that works very well for both of us is humor. It's a sure shot way to get back her flagging attention. So, if she writes a letter or number that is not as straight as it should be, I ask her if it's about to fall because another naughty number tripped it. Or when she had trouble distinguishing between 13 and 30, I told her that thirty has the "tea" sound and when she serves tea to her guests, she must remember to put the saucer under the cup- the saucer being the number 0. Now every time she writes 20 or 30, we make slurping sounds and have a laugh.

According to Keller, there are three strategies of making content relevant to learners: goal orientation, motive matching and familiarity.

Fortunately for me, Aloka is driven in many areas of her life by competitiveness towards a particular friend called Medha. The way she dresses, prefers her hair tied, eats her food, plays games- it's all done with the sole intent of doing them better than Medha. Now, her goals and motives for learning are also aligned to that goal- do better than Medha! The best part of it all, I didn't have to devise this strategy- she came up with it herself.


The three strategies described by Keller to make learners confident are learning requirements, success opportunities and personal control.  

The strategy I use frequently with Aloka is opportunity for success. Giving her stuff she is good at every now and then, and not just at the beginning, works wonders. When she is struggling with her d's and b's, I switch to her favorites like t's and f's for a while. Reminding her of her past success also works very well- so I often show her old worksheets she had done and talk about how well she had done yesterday.

Keller described three strategies of increasing the element of satisfaction. These are intrinsic reinforcement, extrinsic rewards and equity.

No rocket science here- extrinsic rewards are what work with Aloka. Of course, the type of rewards I use are based on my understanding of her. She craves for my approval, so simple words of appreciation and a hand shake after each victory is all that is needed most of the time. Sometimes, I call Atreya or Mallika to show how well Aloka has written something. And the age old "stars" never fail- she is a sucker for stars.

An aside: One would think that everyone would know that kids need approval/rewards but its not so. I recently downloaded a spelling app on my iPad, in which a picture of an object is shown and you drag and drop appropriate letters to spell the object's name. To my surprise, all that happens after you have correctly spelled a word is that the next arrow gets enabled. No music, no sound, no visual change! Aloka played that game twice before ignoring it completely, although it seemed to be of the right level of difficulty for her. On the other hand, a much simpler game, in which she had to click on a letter that was being pronounced, had her attention for a long time and she still gets back to it every now and then. The difference? The letters in the second game had little arms and feet that danced and moved if she got it right- the reward you see! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Queen-Sized Spa Experience

The year was August 2007. I was just done with National Day Parade- exhausted after months of hard work compounded by weakness from a very low hemoglobin count. Vasanta, Shalini and I, three BFFs at that time, had planned a short trip to Chiang Mai starting August 10, the day after the National Day.

The first thing we did upon reaching the hotel in Chiang Mai was to look for a spa. We chose a beautiful place within walking distance from the hotel. Inside, I went for what they called a Queen Spa, a three-hour extravaganza- after all, I deserved a treat after working so hard for the last six months. It was the most expensive offering they had, but quite reasonable as compared to Singapore.

The room I was taken to was breathtaking- fragrant and royal. Soft music was playing. There were tropical flowers in several vases around the room. And the best part was an attached outdoor bath area, which was private but gave the sense of openness. As I lay down on the soft bed, wider than the usual narrow spa bed, I let out a sigh- it was time for a relaxing 3-hour experience. I couldn't wait for the masseuse to knead away the fatigue from my tired body.

The masseuse started talking softly, asking me about Singapore. She then asked me in her soft voice if the pressure of her hands was OK. I said it was perfect. Suddenly, she wasn't speaking so softly. Her voice sounded loud and somewhat demanding. I turned back to look at her and was quite surprised to hear her say "Time for a shower"! I looked at the clock on the wall and was shocked to see that three hours were up! I had slept through the entire period!

Mind you, I didn't just doze off as many people do during a massage. I was knocked out as if unconscious and have no recollection of anything at all, not even turning over, in that 3-hour period.

So that was my first and only Queen Spa experience...more like queen-size experience since the only thing I remember is lying down on the large comfortable bed! I sometimes wonder if the masseuse realized I was fast asleep and decided to take a snooze herself. If she did, who would blame her?

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thinking of cooking something yummy for my kids tomorrow. Does it mean I am getting my mojo back?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not being greedy

If I give up all expectations of how my life should be, of how I should be spending my time, and of how I should be feeling, then its ok. The people I love are safe and healthy, the kids I am responsible for are in front of my eyes, and I am able to smile with them and be their parent.

I don't ask for more. Not yet.

As I lay in my Atreya

Oh how wonderful life is,
Yet I see it only for its frailties.

Oh how eternal time is,
Yet I think only of death.

Oh the goodness of the common man,
Yet I remain a cynic.

Ah the multitude of Gods,
Yet I see only one.

(Atreya wrote this as a reflection of my life state, after we had talked extensively over a few of my lowest days.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Karthik!

When challenged to go around the world in the shortest possible time, Karthik diligently went around the world, across oceans and mountains and deserts, facing cold and hunger and deprivation. Ganesh, his brother, walked in a circle around his parents and claimed he had circled the world because they were his world. He won.

This Karthik here so wishes she had been as smart as Ganesh. I am tired and still such a long way from home.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Role Reversal

About 15 years ago, I had a conversation that aroused my curiousity and made a great impact on me. I was talking to an English woman who was visiting NIIT in relation to a project. She was sharing how her mother had recently fallen ill and this had caused a complete role reversal in her relationship with her mother. From a situation where she would depend on her mother for many things, including physical and emotional care, she was now having to provide that back to her. She was sharing that this role reversal was very difficult for her because suddenly she felt she had no one to go to for her troubles.

Upon hearing her speak, I remember thinking that I was far far off from such a role reversal. My dependence on my parents, for emotional and physical support, was only increasing each year. Later, I would now and again stop and check if the role reversal had finally happened for me. Honestly speaking, it didn't and even today I depend more on my mom than she on me.

But yesterday, a role reversal happened. Not between me and my mother as for that woman, but between Atreya, my son, and me.

While talking to him about my day, suddenly I stopped talking and started listening to him. He was talking about the Middle Way and how it worked for him in resolving his crisis. And he related his experience to my situation and explained how I could apply it help myself. For over an hour, I heard him and understood him and believed him.

Yesterday, my son stopped being someone looking towards me for all answers. Yesterday, I stopped being someone who had to have answers for all her children's questions.

This role reversal is liberating and exhilarating!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This Mother Hen

If there is any lesson
From this passage through fire
It is this- simple and crude;

This Mother Hen
Will do anything
To take care of her brood.

So what the heck
Cluck cluck!

Note: Lack of rhyme in the last part is deliberate, in order to be polite on this family friendly blog. Please replace heck with the appropriate word mentally.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I Wrote What I Wrote

In the last few days, I have been tempted many times to pull down my previous post (Universe I beseech you). It is a sad post. When I first wrote it, I didn't think anyone would even notice I wrote it, but Atta did and his comment generated more interest (I think).

I don't know what people reading it are thinking, but I hope it's not pity. I didn't write it to generate pity or to even seek understanding. I write because writing makes me happy. When I am feeling happy, writing makes me happier, and when I am sad, like I have been in the last few weeks, writing about it makes it a wee bit bearable by concretizing what seems infinitely unbearable.

The other reason I wrote it and kept it was because I have always wanted my blog to be an  honest account about myself. The only time I have stopped myself from expressing myself honestly is when my emotions of anger and disrespect could have hurt vulnerable people. So, that pained post in a way was necessary to share because it is an integral part of my story and this blog's.

Everyone sees me as a strong woman. And why not? I have faced tough challenges in life and come out a winner. But that doesn't mean I haven't suffered or continue to suffer every now and then. That doesn't mean that having once gotten over a crisis, I live a charmed life now. In fact. I believe I suffer more than usual because I enjoy life more than usual. The higher the mountain, the steeper the fall.

Right now I am there, at the bottom, thoroughly bruised by the fall. I will continue to write as I pick myself up and climb all the way back up, or even higher. Perhaps this journey will generate hope and positivity. That would be my redemption for writing that last post. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Universe I beseech you

What is the purpose of it all? What is the meaning of life? What is this fruitless search and quest for happiness when it is so evanescent and false? Who are we fooling? Is there anything called a "happy life"? What am I teaching my kids? What am I raising them for? For entering this pathetic cycle of unhappiness? How will they get out of it if I can't? How will they manage this pain if I can't?

Oh someone elevate me from this abyss...oh someone pull me out. UNIVERSE....I beseech you....I beseech you....don't desert me like this....elevate me....elevate me!

I feel stripped....stripped of all raw nerves on the edge of the and fragile and hurting. Give me some cover. Give me some protection....give me some hope. UNIVERSE I beseech you....I beseech you. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Real World!

Aloka's question to me at the vet's: "Mom, is Anakin's doctor a dog or a human being?" 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Unforgettable Galee!

It was one of those great evenings when mom, Atta and I were having our dinner together. We eat together at the table only when mom is visiting. Mom and I were ribbing Atta about a girl he had befriended while taking Anakin out on his evenings walks. The two would meet and talk under the pretext of walking their dogs.

Mom was warning Atta about him getting distracted by all this girl nonsense when his A-levels were so close. So typically mom! With food in her mouth, mom tried to say "Mein usko phone karke bolungi ke aaj kutta leke na aye" (I will call her up and ask her not to bring her dog for a walk tonight). But the food in her mouth made it sound as if she had said "Mein usko phone karke bolungi ke aaj-chutta le ke na aye".

I froze. I couldn't believe my ears- what she had just said sounded like a distorted version of a filthy Hindi word referring to the female anatomy! That's not the kind of language I expect from mom, but then she is most unpredictable. I gave her a glare and soon realized that she was not even aware of what she had said. It just sounded like it did because she was chewing her food as she said it. So, I decided to ignore it and went on eating my dinner. Just then, after a gap of about 20 seconds, Atta asks "What is chutta"? I burst out laughing.

Mom was horrified that anyone could think she would use such language. She insisted that she had not said it, but both Atta and I had heard it so there was no escaping. We probably laughed about it for the next 10-15 minutes, much to mom's chagrin.

But that was not all. For the rest of mom's stay, Atta would make it a point to remind her daily of what she had said and mom never stopped getting flustered about it. When she left, I am sure she was happy to see the end of this story finally.

Today, I saw an FB comment from grandson to grandma reminding her of the incident. Poor mom, there is not going to be any end to this unforgettable story about the unforgettable galee! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Clear Requirements!

The other day, Aloka says to me "Mom I want to eat junk". Thinking perhaps that she meant she wanted a snack, I asked her if she would like to eat an orange. Her response- "No. Oranges are healthy. I want to eat junk"!

I really do underestimate this little peanut. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Everything is growing
Wild and green
Grass, trees, weeds...
Everywhere I look
A sort of madness
Rejoicing in green!

Everywhere, everything, everyplace
...but my heart.

(I wrote this long back in India, but it rang so true today that I had to type it here. While there is no real monsoon season in Singapore, it is raining today and almost every afternoon. Everything is really green. And the heart is really not.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Being Brave

Usually fearless, I am surprised to see myself afraid to look deeper into what really matters to me. I am surprised to see myself just skimming the surface, flinching and moving on. This unwillingness to confront myself is more upsetting than the situation that is causing it. This lack of self-directed honestly is more unsettling than the lack of any other thing in my life today. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Outside Looking In!

We all live in a bubble of perceptions- perceptions others have about us. I was lucky enough to be in a situation that allowed me to step outside the bubble and observe what others thought of me. Some of what I saw broke my heart, some vindicated my own beliefs while some of it surprised me. This is what I found.

Some people think I am vulnerable and need to be protected, others think I am brave enough to handle any situation. Some think I am grounded and know what I am doing, while others think I fumble my way through life. Some think I am very good at my work, but  there are a few that think my skills are overrated. Some think I work very hard, but some others think I am laid back. Some think I am truly concerned with others, while others are convinced that I am self absorbed. Some believe I hold people together, while others think I break them apart. Some think I am vindictive, while others believe I am forgiving and kind. Some think I am foolish enough to allow people to use me, while others think I use people to my gain. Really! No kidding!

Major life lesson happened. Perceptions that exist about me are certainly based on my actions and behavior but only to a degree- they are significantly clouded by the perceiver's life views and experiences. People judge others on a scale that has weights of the their own values and attitudes on one side. I can control or influence that as much as I can the weather.

Now when my kids ask me why they are misunderstood, I know what to say to them. Instead of being concerned with what others think, and wanting to be understood and appreciated, what is worth doing is focusing on and refining what sits on our scale- our own principles and values. What is worth doing in knowing what we want to be and working hard being that in all honesty.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The games we play!

About seven or eight years ago, my father called me from Dharamshala and said "Puja, tu mummy ko samjha. Sara din games khelti rehti hai." Translated, it meant I should drive some sense into my mother and make her to stop playing computer games all day long. I only laughed and mock scolded my mom, but honestly, even that was like the pot calling the kettle black.

The fact is that obsessive game playing is in our blood and goes back generations. My grandma's day wouldn't be complete until she completed her daily crossword. A conversation with her would usually include a couple of crossword clues she hadn't been able to crack. I actually feel sad that Sudoku showed up in our lives only after she had passed away. A maths teacher herself, and a very good one too, I am sure she would have been as crazy about Sudoku as her daughter and granddaughters are today. (Actually, that's not all correct- I suddenly got over Sudoku after playing it nonstop as I flew half way across the world last year). 

Coming back to my mother's current obsession (though calling it current is rather odd cause she has been at it for at least 3 years) is a game called the Letter Linker. All day long you can hear a strange tuk-tuk sound as she joins connected letters to make words. Just when you think mom is watching TV, or painting, or reading a book, the tuk-tuk would tell you otherwise. 

Different people react to it differently. Once at an airport somewhere in Asia (Kota Kinabalu perhaps), mom was playing while I sat next to her. Suddenly I felt an urge to look back- and there were 3-4 people bending over and intently watching her play the game! One of them, a young boy, later sat by mom to play with her and mom was happy about it. She is not so happy when Atreya sits with her to play. He forces her to try the most ridiculous letter combinations, which 99.99% of the times are incorrect, words like ETAN, MALIN, SHOPA, FATIR and what not. It frustrates her no end and usually ends up in my pulling Atreya out of her room after her screams...Puja isko yahan se lejaaa...can't be ignored anymore. 

Last week, mom called me over to help her find the last 4 words in one of the boards. Last 4 words! Of 187 words! She had been playing that same board for the last 67 minutes, diligently finding the hidden jewels, and had already found 183 of them! 

I am also quite a word game freak- that should explain her request for help. But I play in a timed mode. My SCRAMBLE board on iphone is programmed to end in 120 seconds. What thrills me is finding as many words as I can in 2 minutes and the maximum I have ever found are 61 words in a board that had 108 words. Once the time is up, I casually look for the words I didn't find, but don't care too much, because the fact is that even if I knew all the words that were on the board, 2 minutes wouldn't be long enough to hunt them down. 

What is quite fascinating is that this difference between mother and daughter spills over in real life too. She is disciplined, diligent and patient. For example, she never missing her morning walks, come what may. She is often seen holding an umbrella and walking in the cold rain in the hills of Khanyara for a simple reason that it was time for her daily walk. She does her pranayam daily and takes her vitamins and other pills regularly. And when she starts watching a show on TV, she usually watches it to the end even if it's not the most interesting show. 

I, on the other hand, am impatient and undisciplined, progressing in life through sparks of creativity and bursts of energy amid quiet periods. I only take the medicines when symptoms remind me to, often even forgetting my daily asthma preventive puff. I have an on now, off now affair with vitamins. I only form of exercise I can handle is dancing because the music and steps are different each time. I don't have the patience to sit through a TV show (except Law and Order) and often watch 2-3 shows at the same time, switching between channels. 

So, when mom asked me to help her find the last 4 words on the board, I told her to call Atreya instead. She would have more luck with him! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The New

Right across from our condominium is a popular park called the Bishan Park. One of  the reasons I bought this apartment was its proximity to the park. When we first moved here a couple of years back, mom was visiting and she would do her morning walks in the park. Aloka and I would often join her to walk with her or to stop by the sandpit in the kid's area in the park. Aloka loved to play in the sand and slide down the bumpy slides. Soon it became our routine to go there on weekends. We loved to stop by the lotus pond in the park...where else would you see pink lotuses blooming in the middle of the crowded city!

A few months later, we saw notices all around that the park would be closed soon for renovations. At first it didn't bother me- the parts they closed first were further away and we still had access to the kid's area. Then one day, the swings and slides were taken down and our beloved sandpit was cordoned off.  I don't know who was more heart broken, Aloka or I. Sadly, it spelled the end of our wonderful weekend ritual.

In our bid to find alternate spots of entertainment, we started going further out towards Peirce Reservoir. To get there, we had to pass by the park, which was in progressive stages of destruction. There were tin sheet barriers hiding most of the mess from the public, but one could see uprooted trees, muddy paths and some ugly construction. The lotus pond looked dry and dead, and the green grass trampled by the huge road-rollers and cranes. It all seemed so unnecessary and destructive.

Then a month ago, some of the barriers got taken down. We started to see the new version of the park, which included a narrow river channel connected on one side to the Peirce reservoir and on the other to the Kallang river, new grass and trees planted along the side of the channel, a couple of beautiful wooden bridges, some very comfortable looking seats facing the channel, and wonder of wonders...a new and colorful children's playground! Standing on the bridge, when the light is right, you can see small brown-black fish holding up against the current to let the smaller creatures/insects into their mouths. Just the other day, the channel had filled up after the rains and it looked like a river! And there is wildlife that was never there before. I once saw a bright blue kingfisher flitting across the boulders and at another time a large turtle sunbathing on one.

The official park opening is still a month or so away, but we are all so excited. We walk through the park often, crossing any barrier that can be crossed to a take a peek, oohing and aahing at the new features, and planning future picnics. Mom is particularly enchanted by the creepers growing wildly on the stone walls around the channel. She points to them and talks about them each time we pass by, which is like 5 times a week!

It's true that sometimes it is necessary to destroy a good thing to create something better and more beautiful. It's a lesson I learned twice this year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Annual Happiness Tax

The rush of water
In the khudd
Welcomes me noisily
So much noise, incessant
Come here Puja, COME HERE.
No way Sir! I am happy to say hello from afar!

Last morning, we stopped by- Amma, Atreya and I
Tired and hot after our long morning trek.
The water was icy
I dipped my feet till I couldn’t bear the blue pain
Amma, ever the teacher anatomist,
explained about noxious stimuli and nerves in the human body. 

She was the one who started it- the horseplay
Then left before we could drench her proper,
Atreya and I couldn't (or wouldn't) stop 
Hysterical with laughter
Surprised at each other’s boldness
And oblivious to everyone else.

He was pressed down against the boulder
His head half submerged in icy water
Held down by his loving (!) mother
His leg locked around my neck
Till I was down too
Shrieking as the cold water drenched my back.

Dad looked on at us from the veranda
Sipping his hot tea
Shaking his head (disapproving or disbelieving?)
When we waved and shouted,
Although for him it wasn't something new
Not the first time he was seeing us lose our minds near that spot 

We left shivering and giggling
The khudd looked back at us
Somehow a little less noisy
A little less demanding
And why not? 
Had we not just paid it our annual happiness tax? 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Little Peanut on Skates

It's been a month since Aloka completed her Level 1 inline skating classes. Now she skates 2-3 times a week downstairs. She has learned to go around in circles, push herself up the slopes near the pool and control herself from careening out of control on the way down. What she still likes the best is being admired by people!

Here is a short video of her going around the fountain outside the clubhouse.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No Words of Love

No words of love
are more precious
than the ones you never spoke.

And no endearment
than the quiet darkening of your eyes when we met.

No vows, no promises
were ever as resolute
as your refusal to make any.

And no goodbye
as cruel
as the kind words you greet me with...everyday.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Open Adoption

When I told a colleague/friend that I was going to take Aloka to meet her birth family last year, there was a stunned silence. Then she asked politely "Are you sure it's the best thing to do?" I have a feeling what she wanted to say was "Are you out of your mind, you crazy woman!"

No, I am not out of my mind and yes it's the right thing to do- for me and Aloka. By the time Aloka arrived in Singapore, about two months after I had legally adopted her, I had decided that this will be an open adoption. But those two months were tough. I agonized over the issue and struggled with my own confused and mixed emotions of attachment, jealousy, insecurity and what not. I worried about the complications that could arise from contact. I read as much as I could find on issues related to adoption, but everything I read amplified my doubts. Finally, it was a simple question that helped me decide. Would I be able to tell a lie to Aloka for several years? The answer was actually quite easy. No. I could not use a lie to build a family. I could not lie to a little girl in her foundational years and expect her to trust me or anyone for the rest of her life. So, the decision was made.

It is said that there are many ways to lie, but there is only one way to tell the truth. Sounds simple, but how do you tell the truth to an infant? I used a bit of what I had had read and a bit of my own intuition here and started talking about mommies and babies when Aloka was about a year old. I used a lot of different opportunities to talk about it, be it a pregnant woman walking on the road, small kittens in the car park, or a book with children and their parents. By the time Aloka was two years old, talking about two mommies was nothing new. We often talked about how she didn't come from my tummy like Atta did, but was in my heart forever. Honestly, talking to her while she was so young helped me a lot too. I figured out the vocabulary that I wanted to use and got over my hesitation about discussing certain issues. But I knew that these words meant nothing unless Aloka actually met her birth family and saw them for real. Thus the decision to see them in Aug 2010. And the experience was amazing (more about that another time).

Now, ask Aloka how many mommies she has and she will promptly tell you "Two" and will go on to name them. Sometimes, she gets carried away and cites five mommies, including Mallika, Atta and Anakin. Lately, witchy aunty also has developed two mothers and is as lucky as Aloka for having two mummies who love her so much!

Aloka is not yet four-years old. I am not a fool to think that there will be no confusing emotions in her when is older and no deeper questions about her birth family and the circumstances around her adoption. There will be. But that confusion will not be compounded by secrecy and lies. That I am sure of....and happy about.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Little Princess

Before our Lhasa trip, Swati asked me what she should get for Aloka as a gift. Considering Aloka's current obsessions, I told her to get any piece of clothing that is shimmering and flashy and girly- the kind of stuff she would NEVER buy for her own daughter if she had one (because that's the kind of thing I can never get myself to buy for Aloka)! Under no circumstances should she buy anything remotely sophisticated or elegant, or reflecting her own good taste!

So Swati bought her a princess dress straight out of a fairy tale. Pink and orange, shiny and shimmery, satin and gauze, lacy and flowy! To top it, she also bought a pink fuzzy crown.

Aloka fell in love with the dress the moment she saw it. Every other day she begs me to let her wear it to school. When that doesn't work, she insists on wearing it at home after school and on weekends. And every time she puts it on, she tells me how much she loves Swati, whom she has never ever met!

Here is my little princess in her Made in China, Bought in US, Worn in Singapore princess dress.


Saturday Lunch

Is there a bigger joy than cooking great tasting food for people you love?

I learned about potato croquettes watching a show called David Rocco's Dolce Vita. Atta and I fell in love with this dish the first time I made it about 3 years ago. I made croquettes today for lunch for mummy, Atta and of course Aloka, who is the newest good food connoisseur in our house.

Boil potatoes. Cool down before mashing. Must be a dry mash.

Parmesan and mozzarella are the key ingredients.

Add Parmesan and salt/pepper to potato mix. Taste to make sure enough salt.

Aloka loves to eat this mixture uncooked. I just add some olive oil for her. 

 Fresh parsley is the best. I have also sometimes used parsley flakes from a bottle.
Chop and mix into the potato mix.

 Mozzarella for filling, egg and bread crumbs before frying.Fresh mozzarella (packed in water) is the best. My mom keeps reminding me not to get too dependent on these fancy ingredients. So I think paneer should also do!

Take a bit of the potato mix and flatten it on your palm.Add mozzarella or paneer inside. Too much will break the skin. Too little will be lost. So figure out the right amount by hit and trial! Close it up making sure it doesn't break.

Dip in beaten egg.

Roll in bread crumbs. 

And fry in extra virgin olive oil. Oil must be very hot before starting to fry.  

Looking yummy! Made about 12 of them. 

Atta and mom enjoying.

Aloka refused to leave her TV, so she ate alone.

 This is what the inside looks like. The mozzarella inside melts a bit and becomes stringy.

Check out the original recipe here:

Friday, September 2, 2011

It is your lineman speaking sir!

One blistering summer afternoon, my sister received a call. The conversation was carried out in Hindi/Haryanvi.

"Hello is it the Bali's residence?" asked a voice with a heavy country bumpkin accent.
My sister, Anuradha Bali, replied "Yes it is. Who is speaking?".
"Can I speak to your daughter please?".
"Who is speaking?"
"I am your telephone lineman speaking. Please put your daughter on the line."
"What? Why do you want to speak to my daughter?"
"I want to talk to her, not you. Please give her the phone right now."
"Give her the phone? Why should I? Speak to me. Who the hell do you think you are? How dare you talk like this?"

Anyone familiar with Indian telephone linemen would understand why my sister was livid with this preposterous demand. Just then there was laughter on the other side and a familiar voice asked my sister to relax and chill. It was my brother Arun. He was up to his old telephone accent tricks.

Soon after that, I was holidaying at my mother's in Dharamshala. I had asked my team to contact me for any urgent work. My sister's teenage daughter (the same one who was the target of the lecherous fake linesman) also happened to be visiting. While I was sitting in the garden, the home phone rang and my niece picked it up.

"Helloow! May I speak to Puuuuja  please", said a voice in a heavy American drawl.
"Helloow! No sir, you may not speak to Puuuja please", replied my (by now) wise niece in a copycat American drawl.
"Is this Puuuuja An-aand's residence?"
"Arun mamu, cut it out. I know it's you."
There was a pause. "Sorry, this is Chris calling from Singapore. I am looking for Puuuja An-aand."
"Yes yes, I know who you are. Will you cut it out? You can't fool us anymore with your fake accents Arun mamu!"
"Err...I am calling from Knowledge Platform in Singapore. I was told this was Puuuja's number".

At this time, my niece realized that this was the real thing, not her uncle bluffing her. So, she ran to me and gave me the phone without a word. Unaware of what had happened, I talked to Chris normally, neither did he bring it up. I can only imagine what he must have thought though of my crazy family! I wonder if he caught on to the fact that Arun mamu referred to the serious Arun Anand that headed our India office!

Today, I received a call on my land line around the time I was expecting a call from my brother. The young man on the other side asked me about the problem I was facing with my Microsoft Windows computer. Since I had no such problem, I immediately went on high alert. Honestly, I spent the next 3-4 minutes on the phone just figuring out how Arun could put on that distinctly Bengali accent. So busy I was analyzing his voice and looking for that chink in his armor that I didn't really listen to what the guy was saying. Well, as it turned out, it was not Arun after all. It was some poor call center guy who got a very abrupt "I am busy, call later" response from me once I figured out I had NOT been fooled. I am sure I would have handled the call very differently had I not been so busy playing the voice detective.

The lesson here is that once you have a brother/uncle who fakes accents and fools you a few times (he once fooled me into thinking he was a reporter wanting to interview me just because I was the granddaughter-in-law of the famous cartoonist Shankar Pillai, which I was), you become slightly unstable, suspicious and dangerous on the phone.

Friends, please call the Anand/Bali family members at your own risk. Not only is there a crazy guy faking accents, there is a whole bunch of us paranoid freaks doubting every word you say! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Who are you...who who who who!

I have a very small viewership on my blog but I still find blog statistics very fascinating. Every time I put up a new post, I watch the stats every once in a while for a few days. They never cease to surprise and delight me.

Some interesting insights. Looking at the All Time stats, my biggest set of visitors/readers are from India, followed by Singapore and the US. Pakistan also figures in the top 10 countries. This is not surprising because I have close connections with people from these countries. When I publicize my posts on Facebook or Linkedin, most of my connections in these networks are from these 3-4 countries. But what fascinates me is the presence of countries like Malaysia, UK, France, Canada, Australia and...wait for it...Russia in the list!

There are days I have visitors from countries like Ukraine, Columbia and the Philippines. Germany also features sometimes. I am sure this is the traffic from Linkedin groups, where I sometimes announce a work-related post. I know that this should not surprise me- the reach of the Internet and these networking sites is after all well known. But thinking of this reach in the context of my blog is always surprising and delightful.

When I announce a new post, I expect a surge in traffic. True enough it happens. Many factors decide the amount of traffic flow- the place where I announce (FB or Linkedin), the title of the post (never underestimate the power of the title), and of course the content. Sometimes people like the post and share it in their networks, which multiplies the traffic coming into the site. However, once the novelty of the announcement is over, the numbers trickle down and stop. But what amazes me is that on some days, the traffic just peaks by itself. I sometimes wake up to find 100s of site visits on old posts without any trigger from my side.

Finally, onto the source of traffic. The biggest source of traffic to my site is from my son's blog Heaven in the Backyard!  I am not sure what that means really, but I would assume that people visiting his blog click on the link to my blog (he has listed my blog as one of his favorite blogs). Who are these people who go from a teen's blog to his mother's? Fascinating, isn't it?

I have read that these stats are far from accurate and different blogs have different ways to define things like page views. Also, a hit doesn't necessarily mean a read. Still, these statistics give an insight into the visitors/readers like nothing else does. When I look at these stats, I think of the hundreds of people who are reading or have read my posts and wonder what they think. Are they people who know me personally? Are they strangers? When they come to the site for a work-related article, do they check out the others too? How many are interested in my Buddhism-related posts? Are many of them returning readers? How many are ex-colleagues checking out how I am doing? How many find my posts useful to them in one way or another?

Enough questions to keep me engaged for a long long time! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A year of great loss....and greater gains!

This last year has been a year of great loss for me.

First, I quit my job. It wasn't just another job. I had invested my blood and sweat in it for 10 years, going through some very hard times, but also doing some of the best work of my life. I was very proud of the company and my contribution to it, and unknowingly made it part of my identity. It was not just about the work, which I enjoyed immensely. I cared for many people who worked with me and leaving the job meant leaving those people, and in less than reliable hands. No wonder that leaving this job was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I lost a part of my identity as a result.

Around the same time I quit my job, I became aware of another loss. Some people I used to trust and believe in implicitly turned out to be...well....not worthy of it. Just using these words sounds vindictive but I had/have no anger against them. Initially I was shocked and very hurt. Later, I was able to look inwards and realized that my failure to see the truth was not a result of just their deception, but of my foolishness too. In a way, I was as manipulative as them. They didn't want to show and I didn't want to see. As a result of this episode, I don't think I will ever be able to trust anyone completely, including my own gut feel about people. I lost my innocence in a way.

The third loss was of a very good friend of many years. She and I were almost like family, meeting often and spending a lot of time together. I could count on her to make my weekends special. We saw many movies together and discovered and sampled many new eateries. My kids were very fond of her too. Sometime last year, I sensed her withdrawing from me, until one day I realized that she wasn't a part of my life anymore. I tried to reach out to her, but then decided to give her the space she needed and let her be. I haven't figured out this one, but it is a big loss of companionship.

But it has not been all bad. There have been some extraordinary gains too!

I rediscovered a long lost friend from my IIT days. I met her last year after 17 years and it was as if we had never parted. The truth is that both of us have changed a lot since our younger days and perhaps this was the best time to meet because we changed in similar ways. She and I speak on phone often, and it is like talking to a soul sister. We "get" each other- each other's pain, loneliness, courage and the quest for happiness. Friendships take years to nurture and grow, and here I am, given a gift of a great friend without doing anything for it!

I also rediscovered another friend, someone I had known for many years, but then not really. Suddenly she is a big part of my life and my day is not complete until I chat with her on IM or FB. I realize that she and I are very different, like chalk and cheese- she is as practical as I am dreamy and as WYSIWYG as I am convoluted.  But we are good for each other. Having her on the other side of the computer is like having a solid wall supporting me all the time- I feel safe and loved. I, in turn, have great affection and respect for her. Our newly found friendship has given me lots of reasons to laugh, travel and have a great time together. How lucky am I!

Last but not the least, this year I discovered my voice. After years of wanting to write, but not ever being sure about what, I suddenly have a voice that knows what to say. This voice is not compartmentalized. It has many dimensions. It can talk about many things, from Instructional Design to motherhood to Buddhism, and in any tone, from honest from the heart one, to self deprecatingly and casual. I have always known that a good voice is a combination of good thoughts and good expression. One without the other is incomplete. I am not sure what others think but to me, at this stage in my life, my voice feels complete and boy does it want to talk! I love writing like nothing else and cherish this gift every minute.

If I had to lose all that to gain all this, it was well worth it! 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yesterday I asked Aloka what she wanted to breakfast. She thought a bit and then asked for a scrambled egg. Lost in my thoughts, I made a fried egg instead. Sunny side up, her usual favorite. When I offered her the plate, she looked at it and shaking her head said "I asked for a scrambled egg". I apologized and said "Come on, I made a mistake, eat it up, I know you like it". But the little lady firmly repeated "But I asked for a scrambled egg" and looked at me calmly.

Looking at her, I didn't see a nearly four-years old being difficult. I saw myself at a restaurant being served something I didn't ask for. What would be my reaction? The same, the very same. Was her reaction fair and reasonable? Absolutely. Was she a spoiled brat? Was I?

So I scrambled back to the kitchen and made a scrambled egg for the most special customer of mommy's kitchen!  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make copies of this post and forward to 100 friends....or else!

I haven't ever understood the concept of chain mails and why they are propagated. My earliest memories of chain mails date back to my childhood - we used to get letters in the mailbox containing some prayers and instructions on how to copy the letter and mail to x number of people. They would typically have a nasty warning at the end about what would happen if the chain mail was discontinued (bad luck, money loss, loss of dear ones etc). I remember being uncomfortable, almost scared, with these threats but don't recall following the instructions out of fear.

The next thing you know these chain mails are on email. These mails typically contain either hoaxes (remember the killer spider in toilets!) or chicken soup for the soul type of text, and right at the end, the same old threats, just more polished and cloaked. "You owe it to your country to forward this to 10 of your friends." or "Send it to 8 people and wait for a surprise gift within 2 days" or  "Send this to 7 wonderful women in your life....and don't forget to include the sender of this mail!" What the f***! Not only do you want me to send to 10 people, but I must route it back to you too!

At first, I would open these forwards and check them out, deleting them only when I came across those cheesy instructions to forward. Soon, I would just delete any forwards that anyone sent. My poor mom learned her lesson the hard way. Now she forwards only the very interesting/funny/useful ones and writes a brief in the subject line so I will at least read it. 

The latest is Facebook. People have these status updates that are supposed to tug at your heart strings...about disabled kids, about cancer, about soldiers, about all kinds of illnesses. They always end with "Put this on your status (for 1 hour or 1 day) if you care". Listen, I care for most of these issues, but do not think putting these status updates will do anything positive. People who are affected by these issues live with them every minute and don't need reminders, and those who are not yet affected will not suddenly become kinder or more generous or sensitive because they have added some text in their FB status. 

I will copy a friend's status if I like it (and do it often) and I will certainly forward a useful/important mail to my close friends and family, but do I really need someone to tell me to do it? Surely I can think for myself and decide what I need to do with my resources. Or am I a moron who doesn't know what to put on her status or what to send to 10 wonderful whatevers unless you tell me to?

The real question is who gains anything from such chain mails or status updates? Whose agenda is this? Or is there no agenda but a human need? What human needs do such tactics meet that even though the medium of communication has changed so drastically, these tactics have remained almost unchanged? If you figure this out, please tell me.

In addition to telling me, you must let at least 10 most wonderful jackasses in your friends' circle. Of course, remember to keep yourself in the loop too. Only 3% of people will do it. Are you one of them? Do it - you owe it to your sacred country. Otherwise, everyone will know that you don't really...whatever. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lessons from a Webinar

I recently had the chance to present a topic of my choice via webex to a group of people more or less unknown to me. I had never met any one of them before and had spoken on phone to only one of them. I had a vague idea of their backgrounds and guessed that a topic on content structures would interest them. I would have liked to know more about the participants but the situation didn't allow it.

To prepare for the presentation, I worked hard on my PowerPoint deck, looked for examples and fine tuned the content, went through a few webinars and youtube videos on how to make webinars interactive, pottered around with webex (even trying a test webex session with Atreya and Akhila), timed myself, wrote down my talking notes, added interactions every 2-3 slides, and practiced my presentation. Following the best practices I had read, I added my picture on the first slide and also created a loop to keep the participants hooked while we waited for the rest to join in.

My biggest worries were about technical hassles during the presentation. Would the annotations work? Would I hear the people talk clearly if they asked a question? My trial version of webex gave me trouble with "raising hands" so I fretted over that too.

But the problem I faced was of a totally different nature. Never having met my audience, and not even being sure of their background, it was like I was giving my presentation with a blindfold on. Having been a classroom trainer, I am equipped to detect audience mood and level of perception, but I do that with my eyes. With a blindfold on, and with the audience as if sitting in pitch dark, my skill was useless. Webex interactivity gave me some idea of how the audience was perceiving the content, but it could not change the fact that I didn't know the people I was talking to. At the end, I didn't come out feeling I had accomplished what I had set to achieve as a trainer.

The lesson I learned was most basic. No rocket science here. Whatever the situation, whatever the purpose, I have to know my audience better when facilitating a webinar. The virtual environment will naturally create this wall between the presenter and the audience, but that wall need not and should not be totally opaque.

In retrospect, what could I have done to make it a better experience for myself and for them? I could have known more about them before the session started, such as what they do in their jobs, what they understand about the content I am presenting, and what interests them. I would have insisted on seeing their profiles (job role, location, picture if possible) before the session even if it was difficult to convince them to give this information to me. I could have simplified the presentation a bit (had I known that the audience wasn't that familiar with the content and jargon) and could have planned for more time for quizzes (essentially reducing the content). It's one thing to time yourself in a practice session and another to time yourself in the real presentation. I could have helped myself by adding timers on slides reminding me how fast/slow I need to go. Finally, I could have been less in love with the content myself and gotten less carried away with the intricacies and nuances of what I was talking about. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Here is a very nice article. My thoughts exactly when I decided to leave my last company. Reinventing the company in a hurry just to sell it and make quick bucks just doesn't appeal to me. Great companies are built on loftier goals and ideals. Maybe I am old fashioned but so be it.

A quote from the article: We too often ignore the men and women who have built companies that provide livelihoods for their employees while we fawn over self-help gurus offering four-hour short cuts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deconstructing Content Structures


Over years of designing learning content, one of the things I have become good at is structuring content quickly. I had a lot of practice doing this because in addition to creating outlines for courses we were commissioned to develop, I also created draft structures or outlines when writing proposals. It was a self-prescribed must do for all proposals I wrote because it enabled me to make sense of the limited information (manuals, or PPT decks) that we were provided by the client at that stage. Under the circumstances defined by time pressure, limited resources, and no access to SMEs, I had to develop my own methods to quickly understand and structure whatever information I had. These methods were intuitive and I never really had a chance to deconstruct them.

Recently, I had the occasion to revisit the concept of content structures. I came across a great article about different types of content structures (the eLearning Coach) and it got me thinking of the types of structures I have used most frequently. Of the 10 types listed in the article, five caught my attention. In this piece, I share my thoughts about these. 

  • Order of Importance
  • Inherent Structures
  • Sequential
  • Simple to Complex
  • Subordinate to Higher

    Order of Importance

    When the content is essentially flat and there is no hierarchical relationship between concepts, then you can use the structure to highlight the relative importance of the different content pieces. Beginning with the most important piece of content at the start is smart because learner attention is at its maximum at the start, and at its least towards the end (learner fatigue, also somewhat linked to Design Fatigue!). By presenting the content in a certain order, you also send a subliminal message of what the organization considers most and least important.  For example, in a fraud awareness course we developed for a bank, the first type of fraud discussed was Identity Fraud, followed by Documentation Fraud and ending with Internet Fraud. Why did the SME and designer agree to start with Identity fraud? Was it because it was considered the most serious of all types of fraud? Or was it posing a current threat? Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that by placing Identity Fraud at the start, the bank sent a message about the topic's importance. 

    Unfortunately, most designers and other stakeholders in the design process do not appreciate the power of this type of structure. For example, in many induction programs that I helped design, the HR team insisted on starting with History, Accolades and Organization Structure because these were considered important by them. No amount of persuasion would change this. The reality is that new recruits need to be reeled into the long induction programs by information that is most relevant and important to them and their initial high attention needs to be used to impart messages that require most alertness. Starting with boring historical information is a sure way to lose the advantage of high attention at the start of the program. Starting with Code of Conduct would be far better, but I have never managed to convince any HR manager to do this. 

    Inherent and Sequential Structures

    Sometimes, things have an inherent structure that you can't ignore. For example, human skin is made of the outermost epidermis, the mid layer of dermis and the inside layer of hypodermis. This is the skin's inherent order of "being". When teaching a student about parts of skin, it makes sense for the learning material to follow the naturally occurring structure of the skin, starting with the familiar outermost. Changing this order will only detract from the learning process.

    I came across such a content structure when creating an online training for bank staff about the five fair-dealing guidelines issued by MAS in 2009. These five guidelines are organized by MAS as Outcome 1 to Outcome 5. Regardless of which outcome is the most important for an organization, or the hardest to implement, or the easiest, or any other criteria, the naturally occurring inherent order of the guidelines (decided by MAS in this case) will lead the design of the learning material created to train employees on following them.

    The sequential structure is similar, except that it contains an inherent order of "doing". When teaching someone about a process or procedure, for example of how to manage risks, it's most effective to teach the process in the order in which it gets done. In this example, it would be identifying the risk, then measuring its severity, putting risk mitigation actions in place, and finally tracking progress. This is regardless of the fact that measuring the severity of the risk is the most complicated of all the topics listed and would benefit from the high learner attention present at the start. In short, we set aside all other criteria and use the naturally occurring order of "doing" for the most effective learning to occur. 

    As designers, if we detect an inherent or a sequential structure, our job of structuring is done to a large extent. These inherent structures of "being" and "doing" are good friends. 

    Simple to Complex

    This is an interesting type based on the theory of constructivism, which states that the learner is the architect of her own knowledge and uses existing schemas to build new ones. Applying this principle to content structures, one starts with the simplest (and sometimes the most familiar) concept and progresses to the more complex ones.

    I have used it in a particular project for a company where a new business objects application was replacing 11 existing applications for creating business analytics and reports.
    Keeping in mind the unavoidable resistance to change, I suggested using the first module to create a very simple report, highlighting how similar the new application was to the existing ones. As a result, only a fraction of the features available in the new application were used in the first module. The later modules progressively highlighted the more complex features of the new application. This structure was quite counter-intuitive to the architects of the new product, who needed a lot of convincing from my side to accept it.

    Point to note here is that the first module was not a pre-requisite to the later modules. Each module was complete in itself and didn’t depend on previous modules. We chose to structure the content in that particular way to reduce resistance to change, and to help learners learn faster by fitting the new application into their existing mental schemas.

    Subordinate to Higher

    In this type of structure, there is a hierarchical nature to the content. Some concepts must be learned before others can be grasped. For example, in a course on money laundering, learners can’t grasp the methods of preventing money laundering unless they are aware of the methods used by money launderers. Likewise, in a course on conducting training, learners must first know the characteristics of adult learners before they can comprehend specific presentation techniques used for training adults. Unlike the Simple to Complex structure, there are pre-requisites involved. This is not about using existing schema, but about imparting pre-requisite knowledge before the higher order knowledge can be understood and assimilated. 

    In Conclusion

    Having never before deconstructed my thought processes while designing content structures, this exercise of introspecting and reflecting on my choices for the structure chosen in a particular situation has been very satisfying. It has validated many of my decisions and also explained why I would sometimes come out of the structuring process feeling uncomfortable. Hope this will stir some thoughts in other designers and generate more food for thought. 

    Sunday, July 31, 2011


    Last night I had a nightmare after a long time, perhaps after 5 years. My nightmares are nothing like those one sees in movies or read about in books. I guess each person's nightmare is so personal that its hard to empathize with anyone else's.

    My nightmares are always about heights in one form or another. Sometimes I am  going up in rickety lifts, sometimes crossing abysses on shaky bridges, and sometimes just being at a height doing dangerous things. None of these ever end in my falling down. They end at the height of my terror (pun unintended at least by my conscious mind), just before I realize I am about to fall down. I guess that's the purpose of these nightmares, to take me to the peak of my terror. What happens next is not important.

    Sometimes, I am smarter than the nightmare. I see myself in one of those lifts and knowing what's coming, I wake myself up and stop the dream from proceeding. But that's rare. Most often, like last night, I play along without being aware of the danger right till the end, waking up only after the worst has happened. Once I wake up, I can't bear to close my eyes- the memory is so vivid and intense that only keeping my eyes open dilutes it.

    Last night, I found myself on this strange rickety contraption hanging in the air somehow. One of my kids was with me. And mom and dad. My kid was playing with a swing on that contraption when mom asked me to be careful because a hinge had come undone and the metal swing might fall down. I had this vision of the metal swing falling down from such a height and killing someone on the ground. So I grabbed the swing quite casually. The next vision I had was of the swing going overboard and taking me along with it because I was holding on to it, and then the whole platform (or whatever) coming down too. All this was a vision within the nightmare. I was still on the platform, crouching and shaking in fear of what might happen. That was when I woke myself up.

    Someone once told me that I dread heights and falling because height represents success and falling my fear of failure. I don't know about that. It could be true if it weren't for the fact that my first nightmare involving heights started when I was six or seven years old. What did I know about success and failure then?

    But certainly, at this stage in life, this nightmare surely highlights my insecurity about future, my deepest fears about how my actions and decisions will affect my kids and my mother. I can't deny that, and even if I don't appreciate the methods employed by it, I thank my mind for making me aware of these hidden fears that I harbor deep inside me. I can do something about them only if I am aware of them, innit?

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Some Questions and an Answer

    Why does Aloka skip, instead of walking?
    Why does she break out into a song, in the middle of talking?

    Why does she fling her arms around in joy?
    And when she sees me spying, suddenly becomes coy?

    Why is her laughter so infectious?
    Why does she jump up and down for no purpose?

    Why does she hug me so tight?
    And say things that make my head feel light?

    Why does she like to clamber on my back?
    Fling her legs around my neck?

    Why does she look at me with such happy eyes?
    Why not? It's her right. She is a child!