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Sutli bomb: Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi

This petite looking, a small structured girl is the right synonym of the Sutli Bomb(Jute twine bomb).

Nandita Pranajape Joshi

She is a powerhouse of endurance and strength.

Once a patient of sciatica, backache, irritable bowel syndrome , permanent asthma, several health issues, poor lifestyle-induced diseases to an Ironman Podium Finisher.

Here is the story of Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi, a 36 years old, mother of a five-year-old girl, Kolhapur based Gynaecologist and infertility specialist.

As Nandita shares her story,

National level lawn tennis player 

I had a beautiful childhood. There was a strict rule in my house that we siblings need to learn one art and one sport. I chose badminton but shifted to lawn tennis soon.

With the winner’s trophy for Lawn Tennis

I was pretty good at it (collars up) 

I represented Maharashtra thrice and played till nationals. 

Back then, participation in tournaments was a simple affair with non-branded clothing or shoes. I am from Sangli, Maharashtra, a small laid back town, and sports were all about strict training under my father’s supervision. Our relationship during the training was not like father and daughter but as a coach and a trainee, hence there was no mercy.

 Marriage, children and hectic work hours 

Children will always do the opposite of what their parents will tell them, and I was no exception. I did my medicine even when my parents asked me not to. Both my parents are doctors, and they knew the long working hours in the profession. 

I completed my MBBS from Aurangabad and DGO too.

I got married in 2010, and my daughter Nabha was born in 2015.

Nabha was eight months old when I joined back to work. 

Due to stressful work hours, an infant at home, and erratic work schedule, I developed a lot of lifestyle-related diseases. As the medical facility was easily accessible to me, I would do MRIs even for a minute symptom at the drop of a hat. I was in a persistent unhealthy phase. A childhood sports enthusiast was now under medicines and constant fatigue.

The push

All thanks to my brother, who pushed and pursed me to get back on track. With a lot of reluctance, I joined lawn tennis again, my lost love. But lost love doesn’t find existence in the present; hence I shifted to running.

I could not even finish 400 meters in 35 minutes or so. I was huffing and panting all the time. 

My brother made me do a 10K in some event, which I finished in 1.40 hours and slept off for two days. I cursed him with all my heart.

Being a doctor myself, I sensed my alarming physical state. I had to take charge and got into systematic training.

Races and training

A structured training plan helped me get back to my earlier fit and good form quickly. I took great care of my diet, as well. In 2016 I did my first Kolahpur half marathon. 

Things were going fine until I met with an accident. 

I traveled to Spain for a conference where I had a terrible fall. MRI showed ligament tear, and I was completely bedridden.

All my hard work came to a standstill. I had to start from scratch now.

At this point, a friend who was not allowed to travel on her own for the event registered me to the Belgaum Triathlon (sprint distance- 750 m swim,20 km cycle, 5 km Run).

I had no idea about triathlon, I followed the racecourse, and to my surprise stood 3rd! I was utterly clueless.

By now, I had started loving the entire endurance training and registered for Kolhapur Triathlon, Olympic distance(1.5 km Swim,40 km Cycle,10 km Run), and stood 2nd. 

Then came Goa Ironman, first-ever Ironman 70.3 (1.9 km Swim,90 km Cycle,21.1 km Run)event in India, and I enthusiastically registered for it.

I had never cycled 90 km ever before the race, and I seriously doubted my capability.

Podium finisher at Goa Ironman 70.3

Swimming is my strongest point as I have learned swimming in the river, but it was a tough course to tackle even then.

I was utterly exhausted in the last lap when I heard my husband and daughter cheering me, “why are you walking? Run! You are in the second position. Go run to the finish line”.

I was pumped up immediately and finished 2nd in my age category.

Training in a small town and Maharashtra flood hero

It is a challenging affair. I have to be very careful on the route, the hour of the day, and the company during my training. I was advised to dress up like a boy to avoid eve-teasing.

My training gear is either half or full-sleeves t-shirt and long tights.

There is always a lot of questions from the society and even peer group regarding my training. 

At one point, I started doubting myself on my competency to manage my family, especially my child, and focussing more on the training. 

I shared my concern with my husband, and he assured me of going by what I think is right.

As a woman, you have to prove your worth always, and it is pressurising. 

During the Kolhapur floods in 2019, I promptly took charge to rescue the trapped people and saved 50 lives. My name flashed in all newspapers, and since then, there are no questions raised on my training or races.

Personal growth

Endurance sports require strict discipline, hard work, and a tough mind. It sharpens your thought process and decision-making ability. 

After strenuous training and long work hours, I used to get irritated and vent out my anger on Nabha. With a systematic approach towards the training, I could manage my mood swings as well and developed self-awareness.

The field of Embryology and fertility requires precision, accuracy, empathy, attention to detail, emotional strength, and patience, and endurance training enabled me to acquire all these traits.

says, Nandita

I can tackle stereotyping with much grace and confidence. These things don’t bother me anymore.

Want to represent India at the Global Platform

Does hunger continue?

Of course! It will. It has just begun. I aim to work for better stamina and much better timing in all my races.

India lacks pro-athletes in international tournaments; I wish to represent India at the global platform.

Be fearless and independent. Nabha wants me to be the next Lucy Charles, and I’ll put all my efforts into being the best one from India.

Note to my daughter, nabha
Nandita and Nabha

Note to all the mothers.

Extract one hour for yourself for your mental and physical well-being. Each one of us is unique and fighting a battle of their own.Comparison is the worst enemy for growth. Do not compare yourself to anyone, it spills a beautiful relationship called friendship.

If you are happy, you’ll keep your family happy.

P.S: Nandita is also a great cook and a sculptor. She’s been making eco-friendly Ganpati idol for the last eight years at her home.

Snail-paced cyclist to a Podium finisher: Ritu Kudal

Small town to the city of dreams

Snail-paced cyclist to an Ironman finisher

Determination is the second name of Ritu Kudal, a Mumbai based 41-year-old mother of two beautiful girls. 

Bahu(bride)
To a babe !

Pallu (veil)clad Marwari to a girl in running shorts.

Ritu has quite a few finisher medals in her kitty like Dubai 70.3 (1.9kms swim, 90kms bike, 21.1 run) 2020; Kolhapur 70.3, 2019(Podium); Hyderabad 2018(Olympic Distance-1.5kms swim,40kms cycling, and 10kms run), Full marathon 2017, countless half marathons, 10km and 25kms pacer.

Let’s read Ritu’s story in her narration.

How and why?

I studied in Udaipur and was into sports right from childhood. Kho-Kho and running were my favorite sports; I have even played until the state level. I was selected for national and had to travel to Nepal for the race; my mother was in doubt. Firstly coming from a Marwahi community, there was a stigma for girls to participate in sports, and secondly, pursuing sports was not a serious discussion. Even I was unsure, so I left where I started and continued to study further.

Soon I was married, but I am glad that my parents respected my opinion to find an educated match for me. 

I came to Mumbai after marriage and continued to pursue my Charted Accountant course. My husband, Tarun being a CA himself, helped me in the completion of the course. 

I carried on with my duty as a dedicated housewife and managing children.

When my elder one was six-months-old, just to come out of boredom, I started to learn swimming. The oldest student was in the swimming class was 60 years old.

There is no age to learn anything new

First lesson
Ritu with her family

It was during the Ganpati celebration when I was sitting in the pandal, holding my second child in my lap when my elder daughter’s gymnastics instructor uttered under his breath that I look like a Ganpati. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror, and he was not wrong. What had I done to myself? With a chubby body and bulging belly, I surely looked like Ganpati.

Do not neglect yourself after childbirth. Your body needs a lot of attention.

Second lesson

I developed hypothyroidism as well.

I started walking and mild exercising until one-day, I met someone who had completed his half marathon. I was shocked by the distance he covered when I was struggling to walk even a 5K. When my younger one was six -months old, I ran my first 10K Pinkathon race in 2013 and finished in 1.02hrs.

It is always challenging to take the first step but dare to take it, and it’ll make all the difference. 

Third lesson

There was no looking back then. I did the Goa marathon, Kundalika river. Marathon, Stara Hill run and, after four years in 2017, ran my first full marathon with systematic planning and training.

The race moment

My first Triathlon was Hyderabad 2018, Olympic Distance. I chose to race here to test waters, and surprisingly, I stood 4th in my age category. Next was Kolhapur 2019 70.3, and the (OWS )open water swim came into existence. Ah! to face the fear of open water and then to swim through that distance was a tough task. I trained hard and was a podium finisher at the race.

Dubai 70.3 was announced by now, and after talking to Tarun, I registered. A race that I can never forget.

Podium at Kolhapur 70.3

My coach Viv Menon and swim coach Ashutosh left no stone unturned to turn me into a beast by gruelling training plans. My day started very early, and after preparing the breakfast and packing my kid’s tiffin boxes, I used to head for my training. There were days when my body gave up, and my legs ached, but I had a massive target in front of me, and I didn’t pause.

Before the race day, I packed my bike, learned how to mend the puncture, made my mind to travel alone. Yes, it was my first international travel on my own. It was a great accomplishment to get the visa stamped, issue a new SIM card, and manage everything on my own. 

After the trial swim, I was down with a cough, cold and high fever. I panicked as my body was too weak to face a tough race ahead. 

On race day, my swim went well, but due to coughing I had gulped a lot of seawater, I started vomiting while cycling. My left side of the body was almost frozen, and I had severe pain. I was tensed not because of my state, but what if something happens to me? I have children back home.

My mind could not register a DNF (Did Not Finish), and I pushed myself hard to the finish line.

Dubai 70.3

The glimpse of the India flag at the finish line, the sense of victory and achievement took away all my pains, aches, fever, and anxiety.  It was a moment of pride and triumph.

You have to put effort on your own to achieve the impossible.

Fourth lesson

Gratitude

Mom, you can do it

I am very grateful to my parents, who ensured that I get a proper education. I can’t thank my coach Viv Menon, Ashutosh, enough, who pushed me hard and beyond my limits.

Most importantly, I could have never done any of my races without Tarun. Whenever I step out for a competition, I always ask Tarun to put his hand on my head. It fills me with immense confidence and trust. That cheer from my kids,” Mom, you can do it!” kept ringing in my ears all through my racecourse.

Is the hunger over?

No, the hunger to chase the impossible will never get over. Once I was back from Dubai 70.3, I enrolled for the Goa swimathon for 5K. My coach asked me, “are you ready to fail, Ritu?” I replied, “it’s not about failing or timing, but I want to test myself.” I am glad I took a plunge and finished the 5K swim.

Dare to dream and have the courage to chase your dreams. What seems impossible now will become a reality soon. 

Ritu’s mantra

Learnings from being a Badass mommy

Getting married or having kids is no reason to stop you from achieving your dreams. Never stop learning, never stop dreaming, and be happy for yourself and on your own.

Dream Believe Chase Achieve 

concludes Ritu

15 years itch

“Slap”
another, “slap.”
and, one more!

The child standing in the corner is stunned, hard-faced and cold
but the mother, the mother, is hard and cold too.

Why was the child punished?
He wasn’t fast enough to finish his meal or some other unsubstantial reason.

The world sees her as a heartless, cruel mother with no love for her child. She should not be a mother in the first place.

Who is this mother?

This mother was ME.
And the child was Sid.

What was the reason for this behavior? Sharing my experience here,

The month of June holds a special place in my life. It is a month of my birthday as well as my first child Sid was born on 22nd June.

I was so thrilled when I knew that I am pregnant that I went announcing it to everyone. I took my pregnancy as the most precious thing. I talked to my baby, heard Garbh Sanskar, went to pre-natal classes(sometimes), and did what it took to make my pregnancy look like a most sought after event.

With advancing pregnancy, my need to be loved, been taken care of, and nurtured increased. There was a significant gap here.

After the water bag bursting, terrible labor pain, and finally, a C-Sec Sid was delivered. When I held him in my arms, I had all the love for him. I promised to raise him to the best of my ability. I promised to give what it takes to be his shadow until he is on his own. I was oozing with first-time motherhood syndrome.

We were a riot

Sid and I made an excellent company. We played, laughed, ran, danced, and did everything together. I loved singing and dancing to him so that he eats one bite (he has been a troublesome eater). Everything was beautiful. I was enjoying my motherhood, and I had no time for anything else. Then came his stage of running around and throwing a little more tantrums. I was exhausted. With no significant help at home, Sid took my lot of time and energy.

Sid The Kid


I tried to get back to work, attempted a lot of gig things, but things didn’t work. Sid demanded more from me. The pressure to get back to work and contribute to the household was immense; I kept trying but in vain. I was frustrated, not understanding and accepting that the child needed me more than anything else. With no one to share, talk, or discuss my feelings, I aimed my negative feelings anger to the soft target- my baby. I was wild, angry, screaming, adamant, violent, and a very very bad mother.

Sid turns fifteen on 22nd June, and it took me 15 years to confess about my behavior back then.
It took me 15 years to admit that every moment I felt like a bad mother.
It took me 15 years to work on myself – still working.
It took me 15 years to realize and understand that neglecting postpartum depression is a disaster.
It took me 15 years to build up both physically and mentally.
It’ll take me several years more to move out of the guilt for being so harsh on my child.

If you have any pent up emotions, then speak up, talk it out, write it, it helps a lot. Unaddressed and unexpressed feelings will only lead you to depression and anxiety and can take a nasty turn, too, read here. Don’t do it, please!

We evolve with our children.

Thank you, my baby, for my Sid, to make me realize my weakness and strengths, and thank you for making me a Mom.

Admit and confess to your children because we love them a lot and will always do. Happy motherhood.

Do listen while you tuck your kid a little too much in you

If you wish to share your guilt and just want to be heard then reach out to any of the means as below:

Don’t let your children dream

Yes, you read it correctly.

Why?

Please don’t let your children dream success, name, fame, followers, money, luxury, or anything that gives them instant gratification. Dreams that foster ego give them a false identity, short term fame, and acquired credit does more damage than good to their personality.

Each child is born with lots of imagination and creativity; don’t tame their childhood.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children, and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

Think about it.

Name and fame

The high- achiever feeling

The short term fame that children are aiming these days is not just dangerous but extremely hampering their growth too.

Youtube subscribers, Instagram followers, pinned at Pinterest, are just a few examples of a false ego boost. They feel the burnout very soon.

Each parent wants to see their child succeed, and if he/she brings them fame, then it boosts the parent’s ego as well, isn’t it? ‘ 

Recognition at school, medals dangling, certificates in hand, scholars badge on the blazer, wow! It looks amazing. There is no argument that the child has worked hard for all the accolades, but I am very sorry to counter-argue this statement.

Ask yourself. After so much of recognition, are you or your child prepared to face any failures?

Do they hang out with friends regularly?

Do they go out and sweat and play?

Do they have bruised knees to understand how it feels?

Are you raising them as dainty girls and rough boys only?

Aren’t you silently happy about the fame they bring to you?

If more answers are yes, then your child is in serious trouble.

Life is not flowery as you’ve made for them.

Young children are writing books /novels and sitting in closed rooms, in front of their tabs and typing for hours and days while they should be getting burned in the sun and playing outside.

Young girls are posting videos with suggestive poses while they should be exhibiting innocence.

Boys are learning abusive languages from online games.

And there are any more examples.

Who is at fault?

Our children are not at fault.

We parents make a mistake here. Our children are watching us every moment. If they see power, money, luxury with no discomfort, they’ll start aiming for such life because they are far from reality. 

How to enable them to make wiser decisions?

Let them fight their own battle. Please enable them to earn respect and followers from their sincere effort. Make them participate in an online essay or story writing competitions and win accolades, rather than you helping in vanity pub.  

Push them to chase the finish line in sweat and dirt. Let them fall, roll in the mud, and come back home with soiled clothes than perfectly clean uniforms.

What’s a good dream?

Yes, they do!

Children should be encouraged to dream of happiness, love, and empathy.

Make then chase butterflies, run in the wild, take those untrodden trails, play in the sun, lets their knees get bruised, let them sweat, play with strays, laugh loud, be as free a bird in the sky.

Make them share their knowledge, allow them to volunteer, and let them gain recognition by their humility. Involve them in gardening. Let them see the beauty of a growing plant from a seed. Read autobiographies. Watch cartoons and roll on the floor laughing with them.

Go out, go out, I beg of you.

And taste the beauty of the wild.

Behold the miracle of the earth

With all the wonder of a child.

 ~ Unknown

Run and chase in the wild

Children will see what we show them. Our dreams considerably influence them.

We have to show them magic and then believe in theirs.

Sharing some links for reference read,

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-trenches/201106/the-child-performer
  2. https://www.insider.com/youtuber-top-career-choice-for-us-kids-teens-2019-8
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/food-thought/201310/the-ugly-side-child-fame-jonbenet-corey-feldman
This beautiful childhood

Corona Scare: Letter to my boys

Dear Sid and Abhi, 01/01/2035

It is so satisfying to see both of you grow up and going ahead in your life, at your own pace, and liking, I feel happy for you. I wish you both only happiness and nothing more.

We have come a long way together. From a time where I wanted to disown you for your irrational behavior during the teenage phase to loving you both beyond everything else. We put through all, and now I see both of you towering me on either side.

No one gets a comfortable life, and each one faces his/her share of ups and downs. As you were growing up you shared some of your experiences with me and hid some odd episodes. And that’s absolutely fine as each one has a way of expression and I totally respect it. Well, I did the same too.

In this letter, I want to talk to you about the catastrophe the entire world went through almost a decade back.

I am unsure if both of you remember about the epidemic or not. I believe Sid will surely do. 

It was a tough time, my boys.

Let me narrate what I was going through that time as now you boys are big enough to understand my erratic behavior back then.

So, it is the year 2020. Abhi, you are 10, and Sid, you are 14 when the epidemic of Corona Virus hit the world and brought everything to a standstill.

The first quarter has just begun, and my excitement is at its peak. I have reasons to feel excited. New projects are coming my way. I have ventured into cycle tourism, and I am in conversations with venture capitalists, partnering organizations, and branding. I got back to work after a long gap, and I was making advances taking one step a time. Things are shaping up, and I was very hopeful that my enterprise will take off. I was working on not just one but two projects in parallel. I am also looking forward to spending a month of your summer beak in hills volunteering at a rural school. Additionally, a beautiful long hike with Sid.

Sounds super exciting? I am almost sitting on the edge of the chair and jumping with lots of excitement.

It’s March, and I am working on the financial year closure. The news of some type of virus borne disease has started spreading. It took no time to spread all over the globe. It is called a Corona virus. It originated from China and passed on around the world through people traveling and carrying the virus with them. This virus is no more restricted to a city, but it is all over the world now. It is a contagious disease; hence the government ordered a lockdown. 

Lockdown means when we are confined in our flats and not allowed to move out at all. All offices, shopping malls, schools are shut. Flights and trains are closed too. We are not allowed to even access the garden of our society.

I heard my parents talk about black-out during war time and they had to shut all the lights and hide in the pits to avoid any bombs getting dropped. I never understood how it would be , but now I can.

The entire world is jolted, and the lockdown is observed all across the globe.

I am anxious, scared, and very suspicious of everything around. I look at each person as a carrier of the virus. I am hyper at everything.

It is almost a month that you boys have not stepped out of the house. Daddy and I have moved out once or twice to get the basic necessities. We are locked in our own home. It is called house arrest.

The new assignments that made me excited do not exist anymore. My mails are turning a deaf ear everywhere. 

At this moment, I must get an additional income, but everything fell facedown.

People who I thought were my well-wishers all this while have turned a cold shoulder on me. I reached out to every single person I know, but trust me, my boys, there was no help from anyone. I was aggressively applying for jobs, but I didn’t get any response.

I wondered if Corona has taken a complete toll on my career path too.

I am scared of everything. I definitely fake in front of you and try not to show my worries, but at times, you catch me sobbing for no reason. I am sorry, boys, I could not fake smartly.

I used to be awake almost all through the night, either watching the ceiling or just lying blank. This lockdown appeared to be forever, and the predictions for the world economy said that the world will face a significant recession.

My anxiety levels were high. I found myself getting sad for no reason, I was crying every now and then, and I was sluggish with mood swings too. 

It was getting tough for me to manage myself. I had to buckle up. Hence, I started working on mindfulness.

I decided on two things; first, I will get into my usual high energy exercising without a miss, and I will not stop trying for new projects. Hard work never goes waste, it may take time or a very long time but it does bears fruits.

I am really grateful that you boys were so cooperative during that time.

The entire episode left a lot of life-changing learnings, and I want to share those with both of you. Hope you will imply them in your life too:

  • Get an education that gives you enough for your survival 
  • Learn to save
  • Value relationships than things
  • Don’t chase power, fame or money but chase butterflies, climb those mountains and bathe in the free-flowing river
  • Don’t fill your closets with watches, clothes or shoes but fill your heart with love and warmth
  • You need very few people in your life who matter to you so don’t go on obliging everyone around
  • Choose a hobby that keeps you occupied 
  • Play a sport and master it too
  • Love your body and worship it.
  • Learn to cook
  • Help anyone and everyone in whichever way possible
  • Be grateful always

We have battled the tough time together, and I love you for your patience. Not even once you grumbled for not playing your sport or moving out of the house. Thank you, my boys. You are my warriors.

Love you forever,

Mom.

Day one: Corona Virus Housearrest

Day one for Corona curfew completed.

I was mentally prepared for huge bouts of fights, tantrums, myself getting hyper, and I had visualized everything beforehand, which made me face the calamity in a better way(warlike preparation)

On the contrary to what I thought, I was calmer, patient, screamed less and was less irritable. I could work for a long hour and manage my time very well.

Life is peaceful

Now that the boys are home, I can take calls whenever possible and don’t have to restrict my work hours as per their school and extra curriculum classes. I don’t have to carry my laptop and sit outside their classes to finish my work.

Life is peaceful.

I would confess that day one of the house arrest boys had a lot of screen time in comparison to the allotted time-slot, but they have come into the holiday mode unwary to face final exams in the next few days. 

Well, worrying is just mom’s job, and I am doing it to the best of my ability.

In between my workday, I did Hotwheels car racing, frowned at my teen, and failed miserably in threatening him to eat food in time. But we managed to have lunch together and talked a lot too.

I was able to shut my laptop at 6 pm ..and I was jumping in glee. I didn’t take any calls or read any emails after that.

I was also able to do my favorite stress reliever work- cleaning.

Yes, I love doing that. I cleaned my kitchen slab, the gas stove. Dusted, mopped, and made it all sparkling clean.

The kitchen is the power source of the house.

We work hard to have a full tummy.

Children look forward to- what’s special, mommy?

A hearty meal is always satisfying.

My dad always says, the heart of a home lies in the kitchen. I have somehow taken up this very seriously.

I want my kitchen not just clean but very clean and smelling good too.

Living in small apartments does not give many options to have the stuff of your choice in the kitchen, and we end up managing in whatever space we have. But even though I like my shelves and Tupperware neatly arranged.

I do not get an opportunity to arrange and clean my kitchen regularly; hence I used to call UrbanClap and similar local services for the cleaning. But in the end, I saw myself teaching them the nuances of cleaning and arranging stuff. At times I wonder I am in a wrong profession, housekeeping may be worked better for me.(self-praise is fantastic, ahem ahem)

I find arranging the stuff therapeutic. at some point I would like to extend this service to whosoever likes organized kitchen(trust me, I am not kidding )

The way I find my solace in running similarly, I find my happiness in arranged cupboards and cleaner kitchen.

This works !

The kitchen and bathroom are two places where bacteria multiples in large numbers. It is imperative to keep them extremely clean.

The food that we eat should be cooked in an extremely hygienic environment. It is not just a clean slab, but we need to clean our equipment also regularly like knives, cutlery, juicer, mixers, lighters.

Sharing a few pointers to clean up your kitchen promptly:

  • Clean the gas stove regularly
  • Dispose of the utensil cleaning scrub every week
  • Dispose of the wiping cloth every week (‘The mop head tested was found to contain more than eight million bacteria per 100 cm2.’https://kaivac.com/a_77-Floor-Health-and-Phasing-Out-the-Mop  Do not leave the mops wet throughout the night; instead, put them put in the open to dry and use it the next day.
  • Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water every time you use them. Discard cutting boards with deep scoring or gouges.
  • Change the kitchen towels regularly
  • Try not to follow the Indian tradition of using even the last bit of the old garment, get separate clothes for kitchen cleaning.
  • If you find cleaning as a cumbersome process, then take the help of your maid or family members. Make it fun by involving children as well.
Happiness is -cleaning the kitchen 🙂

To keep our family healthy, we need to keep our kitchens clean . with corona and cleanliness bug setting in a high tone, I am wondering it’ll be wardrobes or the fridge today?

What do you do to keep your kitchen germ free? Share some tips, and it’ll be useful to learn.

Jani Dushman: Sibling Rivalry

Whosoever said that having one child makes you a parent and having two you are a referee, was so correct.

Mommy, he is staring at me
Mommy, he is saying bad words to me
Mommy, he has taken my pen
Mommy, he is very selfish
Mommy, he is a dumbhead
Mommy, he thinks he knows everything
And it goes on!

The house is no more a lovely and peaceful place: fistfights, power play, teasing, bullying, nasty words, provoking, and then the blame game.
No matter how hard I try, I am always bad. The comments, “you favor big bro more than me,” or “he is young so no one will say anything to him” come dashing each time.
I am the youngest sibling of two elder brothers, and I’ve been tried and tested of all WWF moves, so it’s fun to watch a bit of my childhood but, it isn’t delightful, especially when heavens break loose at bedtime.
I completely disown them and even their sight is a sore to the eyes.
At times I wonder that I gave birth to two enemies who have come to this world to fight their animosity with each other than two loving siblings.

Abhi trying to push away Sid

Sibling rivalry is a natural behavior, and we, as parents, have to bear the brunt of it regularly. One child will always blame for favoring the other one.
Can we say that our right arm is better than the left or vice versa? But children don’t understand this, and at times more than anyone else, people around make us feel guilty.
Every child is different, and every family is different. Parents know the best how to handle their children. We may be wrong at times, but we are also graduating as parents and have our own set of learnings.
Sibling rivalry at one point is healthy, but when not appropriately addressed can lead to extreme results like hatred or jealously.

Sharing a few tactics which I adopt and keep tweaking them constantly, see what suits you the best:

Praise tactfully
The child who is doing well, be it in academics or extra curriculum, will surely crave praising be it in the social circle or from the family. It is also advisable to appreciate to build up the confidence and trust in your child. But you have to define your limits here. Like, “darling, your paintings are commendable, and we are very proud of you, but I was also wondering that why don’t we start with our evenings walks regularly?” (or any new habit which you think will benefit your child)
you are also allowed to ignore the accomplishments once in a while.
When the child points out that, “mom, you don’t even appreciate my work.”
You have to reply with a smile and hug, “dear, I definitely do, but if you are seeking appreciation each time, then I am not game. I want you to do stuff for your happiness and not to gain recognition. You are my child; I believe in your capabilities.”

Here it is crucial to involve the other sibling in all these conversations and give him/her constant attention.

Set boundaries (I fail here -majorly)

My boys get too much into a fist fight, throw, drag, punch mode. Many times it takes a nasty turn. They also get into the teasing-to-a-limit phase, where the other one gets wild and then becomes uncontrollable. Here I have to set boundaries not to use hands and legs to talk, or if the other person is not liking, then the tussle has to stop or total ban on the usage of few words.
Children need to be reminded continuously that one has to respect other persons tolerance limits. They forget it, miss it, do not register it, but they’ll remember it subconsciously(I can only remain hopeful-pun intended)

Do not get involved
When children fight, let them. Like I always tell me, boys, fight until the blood oozes, or if they start any argument in a public place, I suggest to “fight like hooligans, roll on the floor and get into a punch-me-hard game it’s much fun to watch then.”
If they come to you to sort the issue, then you must have a simple answer, “I didn’t ask you to start the fight, then why should I resolve”.
Be ready to hear harsh things after this.

Expectations vs reality
everyone loves a high performing, well mannered and above all a pleasing child. But each child is different, so if the other child doesn’t fit into what-the-society-demands, then be it. We expect both children to be cordial and work in unison, but the reality is different, accept it, and respect your child’s individuality. It would help if you corrected him/her subtly for the unruly behavior in the best possible way your child will understand.

respect your child’s individuality
Doing crazy things together is important

Lets-be-together-time
Involve children into a common activity which they like or as a family. Here I do not mean watching a movie or a seven-star holiday. An activity that involves conversation motivates each other and has lots of laughter. Go for short walks, cycle ride, play a game, go hiking on trails, do wall painting, activities that involve body movement.

There are several sub-tactics as well, which we keep trying and testing. We all want to raise happy children, and if we have to do that, then the base criterion is that we as parents should be happy first and emote that joy and happiness on our children.

लड़ते झगड़ते कब यूँ ही बड़े हो गये

पता ही नहीं कब बड़े हो गये

अब लगता है वो झगड़ना ही अच्छा था

रो लेते ,मार पीट कर लेते

फिर भी कोइ बुरा नहीं मानता था

भाई चिड़ाहकर और माँ प्यार से मना ही लेती थी

बचपन के वो झगड़ते ही अच्छे थे

रूठना मनाना हंसना रोना बस चलता रहता था

Happy parenting and chin up referees .
Boom bang…there is a battle on yet again.

Vietnam: Coffee and beyond

I was searching for a cycling trip, and as ever, my focus was on my favorite destination, Europe. But by the time I decided and finally made up my mind, it was already winters, and Europe was ruled out.

The extensive search began again for the best countries to travel in December. None other than south-east Asian countries reflected in my search.

My cycling friends suggested doing Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam.

And I was back in my exhaustive search. 

I was mailing to cycling touring companies, getting the best tour deals, searching for best deals on flights, AirBnB options, checking on reviews, bike hire, planning an itinerary. Phew! I was exhausted.

But finally, the plan was laid we were set of our trip, cycling in Vietnam

Excited as we board the flight

Day 1

With fewer flight options, we took a flight to Hanoi via Kolkata from Mumbai.

No one knew what was in store. Not even me, even though I had planned for the entire trip.

We reached Hanoi in the eve, and after a little glitch in coordinating with the pickup guy(as language was an issue), we were heading towards our stay.

We reached the small bylane, and our host leads us to our apartment.

With our host Thang

All the hotels and buildings in and around our stay were more vertical than horizontal, same as Hongkong. Our apartment had two rooms on each floor with three stories and a swirled staircase. We all captured one place each, luxury of staying in a condo than a hotel.

After a quick freshening up, we were out in search of food and beer. As we were walking around the street, we realized that we were staying in the central city, and we had lots of eating and drinking options.

The cosy Czech Bar
Happiness is BEER

We spotted a Czech bar and headed straight in without wasting much time.

Day 2

According to figures by the Ministry of Transport, there are 45 million registered motorcycles. For a country with a population of 96 million, that’s close to one bike for every two people. Hence our guide,Tom suggested we move out of the town and then start the ride.

All set for the ride

We reached our ride venue, assembled and checked our bikes, and were all set. The weather was terrific, and we traversed through beautiful small villages, rough patches, dirt roads, canopied trails, and places where you’ll not find tourists. We loved it. It was just our group that was riding on those beautiful trails.

We crossed Nin Bingh, did not go for the caves ride because it takes three hours for the tour, and we were running short on time. The ride around the mountains was breath-taking: beautiful, serene, and no traffic. 

Nin Bingh
All geared up

We carefully saw the banana and pineapple plantation.

Pineapple plantation

After a great riding day, we packed our bikes and cushioned ourselves in the van to ride back.

Day 3

We were up early and about for another riding day. Today we were to start our ride from the city and then move to the outskirts. While crossing the road, our guide was pretty impressed by our ability to crisscross the streets, after all, Mumbai traffic has taught us all!

We picked up the bikes from the cycle store and started our ride. We rode past the narrowest bridge I have ever seen, explicitly meant for two-wheelers. It rumbled, shook, and rattled as if it’ll breakdown any moment. I held my breath all through until I crossed it.

Resting after lots of Orange stealing from the farm
Crowded streets of Hanoi

We then rode across the periphery of the city, crossing the cabbage fields, talking to farmers (google translate came handy here), flower fields, stopping now and then for clicks or just soak in the beauty around. Weather played a significant role in making the ride favorable.

Sunflower fields behind
Chor chor.. Oranges Chor !!

Another fantastic riding day, and we were back with all smiles.

This eve we also went for a little stroll and watched the water puppet show. It’s just a 45mins show, and the artists clad in traditional dresses, playing traditional musical instruments narrate different scenes which are common in Vietnamese culture. Go for this show ONLY to experience the music. I booked the tickets in dance via Viator; you can choose your preferred timing and seating. Opt for the first row if possible to get you a clear and uninterrupted view.

Chilling at the night market after the water puppet show

We then chose to sit on the rooftop café and sip our coffees and also roam around the night market. The place was vibrant and lively. We loved the vibes around and spent almost entire eve here.

Day 4

It was a day to fly to a close-by island. We packed our backpack (as Veitjet Air allows only 7 kgs of handbag and you pay for everything else – that’s how low-cost airlines work) and headed to the airport. There are very few domestic airlines that fly between the islands; also, they are very poorly schedules and unorganized.

Off to Hoi An

But we had no choice, and with few glitches, we landed in HoiAn. Our host was excellent and very prompt in communication, and she also arranged a vehicle for the pick up at the airport. We enjoyed all these luxuries because Vietnam is not an expensive country to travel, and we were paying bills like a multi-millionaire in lakhs and billions. Uh, la la !

Our apartment was a beautiful two-floor bungalow and all to ourselves. While searching for lunch, we landed at a beachside restaurant with a breath-taking view. Vast, beautiful sea with lovely breeze made the environment all the more soothing. We had a heartfelt meal and were not at all keen to go anywhere else but just plonk ourselves on the couch.

The food and drinks- that’s all !
The beautiful sea

We somehow forced ourselves and landed on the cycle seats. We decided to explore the night and lantern market that day. It was a beautifully lit market with well-placed shops and neat lanes. 

I would suggest visiting the night market at HoiAn than Hanoi. 

Lantern Market- Hoi An

After exploring almost every lane and tasting the food and drinks, we rode back to our apartment.

It was a beautiful eve as we sat and chatted for a very long time and ended the day with a great spa.

Another amazing day 

Day 5

We took the day easy as the weather also demanded the same. We went for a stroll by the beach and had a sumptuous breakfast cooked at the apartment. We then got on to our bikes and, after a little discussion, decided to head towards the pottery village and coconut village. Knowing nothing about the route, we started riding. Our google map showed coconut village closeby, so we obeyed every direction instruction.

Cafe enroute coconut village

While on the way to the coconut village we saw a beautiful café and we stopped there to have a coffee. We chatted with the host and sipped our coffees. We then continued our ride in search of the coconut village. A lady midway guided us to the village, and we were there within no time. We hopped on the round boat and went an hour-long ride. The experience was terrific. A must-do when I Hoi An.

Making friends on the way

We had our lunch, which was the toughest part for me. Myself being the only vegetarian in the group found it challenging to remove chicken from the chicken fried rice and eat, but I had to as there was no other option. That’s how travel makes you learn and adjust to all types of situations.

Here and there, somewhere
Pottery Village

We strolled all through the town and were back to our apartment by evening to board the flight back to Hanoi.

Day 6

Cheers to not just one but many more rides to come

We planned for a short ride around the town but visited the local cycling shops instead. After a hitch start as there was an ATM fiasco that took time to get sorted, I left the situation as it is and headed for our destination. Another learning, struggle until you can else leave the issue and move ahead. We then walked around local markets and shops until it was time to leave for the airport.

The beautiful, mesmerizing, filled with laughter, secrets revealed, countless beers and so much chatter in this trip.

Our last lapse of the trip was here.

Day 7

Back to base

Back to the pavilion and reality.

Must do when in Vietnam:

  • You can land at Hanoi or HoChiMinh city; both are crowded and chaotic
  • Don’t expect clean and organized lanes. You’ll have a Bangkok and Mumbai feeling there
  • Do use google translate, and it helps a lot
  • People are amicable, sit with them, and talk. It’s a beautiful experience 
  • Leave the central city as soon as possible (if you are keen for main tourist attraction then visit water puppet show, night market and center of the town)
  • Look out for experience tours where they take you to local villages showing you the essence of a country. You can opt for walking or biking tours
  • Cave boat ride to Nin Bingh 
  • Halong Bay Cruise
  • Try egg coffee, coconut coffee and even other flavors of Vietnamese coffee
  • Eat local food, also if you are vegetarian like me do try the regional cuisines
  • Two days at each place is more than enough
  • You can club Myanmar and Combodia too
  • Check for hot air balloons over golden pagodas in Maynamaar
  • Hoi An has lots of high-end hotels as well so if you are keen for luxury can check those too
  • Shopping, eating is very cheap there so look out for pieces of stuff made out of bamboo
  • You can easily create a week’s trip in less than 60-65K, which will include your flight, stay, eating, shopping, and roaming around.

Useful sites

  • Skyscanner
  • Trip.com
  • Viator for local tickets
  • Airbnb for stay

Useful links for stay and local restaurants

Quote

Donate: coz’ someone needs it

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Giving is a gesture which one should have, and we must ensure to teach the same to our children as well.

Donation, be it in kind or otherwise, should be done generously and with all the positive feelings.

When I was young, I always used to ask my mother why the food which she cooks taste so yummy? 

Her reply was simple, “I pour my love into the food.”

Now that I am a mother, I understand what she meant then.

Although I don’t get much opportunity to cook and I not a great cook as well but whenever I do, my boys relish the food.

I can recall another similar thing from my younger days. My brothers and I were always instructed to ask for water for anyone who comes to the house. We never had housemaids to serve then. Several times, it used to get embarrassing for the parents because we used to insist the guest to have water even is they were unwilling.

We were also told always to bend down gracefully rather than a straight back, put a smile, and then serve.

Back then, like a stubborn teenager, I always thought that my parents are overdoing things. Now, when I try to tell the same things to my boys or practice on my own, I can understand the essence of that gesture.

When you give something to someone, you are transferring the energy from one body to the other. It also the transfer of emotions, feelings, and willingness.

Recently, we had a food grain donation drive in our building, and the organizers were seeking volunteers, especially children. Why children? Because I believe that children are the most innocent souls, and they can be molded, taught, or exposed to all good things easily.

Without even asking my boys, I enrolled their names. I explained to them about the drive. The organizers were collecting food grains to distribute in flood-affected areas of Maharashtra. Children were supposed to go and ask for a donation, receive it from open arms, and keep in the trolley. After the drive, the organizers told me that my boys did a fabulous job, and the younger one anyhow being a chirpy chatter did a great pitch too.

When I asked my boys about the experience, they were thrilled too.

I wasn’t aiming for a HUGE transformation but to instill a subtle feeling of humility.

One step at a time. That’s what parenting is all about, and we are continually growing and learning with our children.

At my recent IDBI half marathon on the expo day, there was an option to donate old shoes. I liked the idea and replicated the same at my workplace, and initiated a shoe donation drive. We collected shoes, then refurbished and repaired them. Once done, we packed them neatly in carry bags along with shoe size and donated in the nearby slums with the help of a local NGO.

It was an enthralling experience as children were very excited to get the shoes that too so beautifully packed and like new ones.

I also like the concept of Goonj, where the rules for donation are very well defined. They ask the donors to wash, iron, and fold the clothes adequately and then donate.

Donation is not about discarding the waste from your house and making it clean. It’s about making someone else privileged by what you think is not essential for you anymore now.

Donate a smile

Donate a gift

Donate your love

Donate your time

Donate your skills

And the gratification is immense.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ―Albert Einstein

Women- Pack your bags!

Travel, the word is quite a buzz these days.
And it comes in various forms.
Adventure, luxury, experience, exploration name it the way you want.
Nowadays, everyone loves to travel as can be seen in the status updates!
Each one has their way of traveling and exploring places.

But, I am precisely writing this piece to target women moreover moms.
I want to suggest, recommend, and tell each mom to pack their bags and move out.
Ok, now I’ll surely get lots of bashing from all categories here,
Men– “why just women?”
Husband: “bigad do hamari biwi ko”
Parents– “hum toh kabhie nahin gae”
Neighbors– “Look at her!”
Others– “Batao, Kaise Chali jaati hai” (this BATAO variety is amazing-humor intended)
Well! Whatever anyone says, I would still firmly say to pack your bags!

Why am I adamant on mommies to travel?

I feel motherhood is a very tedious job, and a mom is automatically the worst person in the house.
Mom is a creature who is checking, correcting, scolding, getting hyper on even small issues, and is found screaming most of the time. We are never good leave aside perfect in anything.
For instance,
Kids,
got bad grades
getting complaints from the school
fighting with other children
health being bad
not learning new hobbies
-Is always mommy’s fault.
With all this, we go on the guilt trip quickly.


Thus, to overcome all these I-am-not-at-all-worthy feeling, pack your bags.
Planning a trip for yourself will help you in lot many ways.

Let’s see how?

Know yourself more

You will explore the options for travel and will conclude on one which is closest to your liking. Here you will get a chance to know your liking as an individual and not a collective as a family.

Better decision-maker

You will choose a trip and then convince yourself that you are going to make it. You will also convince your family about your decision. Making a decision and then executing it makes you a great decision-maker. When you are on your own then taking quick decision during the trip also helps you building your skill as a decision maker.

While in Goa we had quite a few changes to make in our plan and we were able to do it without any hitch

Efficient manager

You will ensure that everything runs in the house the same way even when you are away. You would instruct your maids not to take any off, inform the grocery guy to deliver things whenever asked and many more such things. Like, I write down every single thing right from the menu to essential phone numbers for easy accessibility. My maids do not take any off when I am away, and children have a set of instructions to follow.

Financial planner

Working or not working, each woman has to manage her finances very well. When you travel on your own, you will use either a part of your salary or your pocket money, in either way you have to manage funds very well.
Like, I go frugal whenever I am planning a trip. I am a back-to-work-mom and unable to get to the mainstream. Hence my income is every restricted. I have to manage both my athletics training and travel expenses efficiently. Much before my travel dates, I stop my coffee at Starbucks, cut down majorly on eating out, look for Zomato discount options, and opt for early hours to watch a movie. I have not bought a new dress for months now(which is like Arghhhhh…) not even a single piece of new jewellery(BATAO!!!) I even have to cut down on my beauty parlour visits. Sound crazy? But I have to prioritise things-can’t help.

Making family members responsible

Each member of the family must have their share of responsibilities. Children and other family members often take us for granted when we are always around .Let the children learn to get up on their own for school, put their tiffin boxes in their bag, serve food from the kitchen than maid or mom giving them and many more.
Let them learn to manage things on their own and take small decisions too.

A better version of you

Once you are out and on your own, you learn a lot of things about yourself which in general you miss observing. For instance, in all my travels, I have realized that I love walking far and wide to explore. I also don’t like going to all world famous places instead I like walking in the countryside or not so known places. The famous places we have already seen either in books or on social media; hence, it doesn’t feel,” Wow! I am seeing this for the first time.”

At the leaning Tower of Pisa. No sooner I reached I saw myself moving out of the rush

Builds up confidence

Planning and executing everything by yourself immensely builds up confidence, which withers away in many women after a while. I have observed this mainly in homemakers, where dependency for each and everything is too high, and they keep seeking “time” from their partner which generally doesn’t happen thereby making them low on confidence and left out.

Dear mommies, imagine your smile when you’ll enter back home after your trip and with a head held high that you managed every minute planning for the journey on your own and not even airport or station pick and drop.

Lookup for destinations, book your tickets, apply for the Visa, pack your bag, book uber, wear the widest smile and off you go!

Need not be far and wide but GO


Adios Amigos !!!

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