Let me be ME

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:

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

Stretch-marked Mommy

“Ma’am, may I please ask you something” he dropped a text hesitantly
“Go ahead, please,” I replied.
In most humble tone, he asked, “ma’am that picture you posted on the Instagram story………..”
And,
Before he said anything ahead, I knew what it was about!
I respected his approach and listened to him patiently, and then with all the courtesy ended the exchange of messages.

Why am I mentioning this conversation?


Because there is a big misconception between fitness and six-pack abs. Ok, fitness and a super toned body to make it simpler.


Fitness is a state of mind.
Fitness is a life long journey and not a temporary goal. The results you want to achieve takes dedication, discipline, and, most importantly, consistency. Pushing yourself out every single day, wearing your running shoes, and hitting out for a run or a workout is the toughest thing a mind can do.


Each one has a different fitness goal too. For me, fitness is to stay active and build up the much-needed stamina, which I almost lost after two kids.
Each body is different and comes from a separate gene pool too.


I gained much more than the average weight in both my pregnancies. I had pregnancy-induced hypothyroidism and excessive water retention as well. As the skin stretched too much, I got return gift for life- stretch marks all over my tummy, inner arms, thighs, breasts, butts basically all over the body other than the face, Phew! That was some respite.


My sincere fitness journey started in 2015 when I was called as a “FAT SLUT” in my running group.


I am really grateful for naming me as it only made me push harder every single time and going much higher than what my body and mind could ever imagine.


The conversation at the beginning of the blog is in context to a post on Instagram where my loose belly is visible.https://www.instagram.com/momthyname/
The gentleman questioned me that even though I work out a lot, have an athletic physique, but still, why do I have a loose tummy?
Honestly, I didn’t feel awkward, I was calm and patient in listening to all the advice given. But didn’t give any explanation.


My thighs have celluloid, and my tummy has sagged a lot with that little tiny bulge.
So, should I hide it or feel ashamed about it?
No, not at all.
I don’t hide my stretch-marked loose baby tummy, but I proudly flaunt it. I have no shame in exposing my return gift.

Plank and the fall of the tummy 🙂


When I get into a plank position, my belly hangs, but I still do it.
When I get into squats, the celluloid of my inner thighs bulge out, but I still do it.
And I shall continue lifting those heavyweights, hang on bars, run long distances and plank longer.


I am surrounded by fantastic motivation that I am in total awe of these everyday fighters who are defying the stereotypes.


I know a new mom who works out every single day and holds her baby in her arms as the weight for squats.
I know heavyweight people who have completed their triathlons out of sheer determination.
I know many heavy females who are podium finishers in cycling and swimming and would leave the leaner ones far behind.
I know single mothers who have made their mark on the fitness journey while raising their children and also looking after their mental health.
I know of couples working out together and pushing each other irrespective of age and situation.


My running and ironman forum is filled with stories of extreme mental strength, and the body type doesn’t play any role there.


I didn’t feel the need to reply to the gentleman about his worry, query, and advice on my stretch-marked loose tummy because I knew that he has also correlated fitness with a body type.


My one hour of daily workout and the sweat all over my body is my way of meditation, it is my burnout, and it is a constant reminder to my mind to never ever give up.


So, all you beautiful mommies, your stretch marks are gorgeous, your loose belly is terrific, and you don’t need a corset to even it out. Your cellulite has nothing to with your inner beauty.


If at any point someone attempts to body-shame you, then remember, you have a middle finger!!


Give me a high five, “stretch-marked mommies”.

Staying fit is a happy state of mind

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 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.

If you love the woman in your life, then surely gift her a pair of running shoes, and she’ll be thankful to you throughout her life.

Running is joy

By gifting her pair of shoes, you are not just giving her good health but a lot more.
Encourage and motivate her to take her first step towards fitness.
Running not just keeps your body in shape but your mind as well. The steps that you take say a lot about your determination, your will power to buzz off the alarm and move out of your comfort zone, your grit to beat any climate and be out in the open to run.
I come across several women who constantly grudge, “I can’t run,” and my reply to them is, “then walk,” but start.
As per the evolutionary history of humans, we are meant to run, jump, crawl, and be active. It is the life that we have started living has made us depressed, anxious, and above all, away from nature.
We have chosen a lifestyle of luxury and flamboyancy; hence hardships don’t come to us quickly. Our health is a clear reflection of our lifestyle. Bigger houses, bigger cars, luxurious holidays, name games, the race to chase the extraordinary, and to be on the top takes a toll on relationships, health, and self.
You can empower her to lead a life of her choice.
You can enable her to discover herself in ways she never imagined.
She will understand her body well.
She will be inclined to lead a healthy life. The woman is the powerhouse of the family. She will, in turn, teach the same habits to all family members.
So much positivity!

Why to your woman?

The happiness at the finish line: Age? Does it even matter?

A woman’s body deteriorates much faster than a male body. Cases of depression are more prevalent in women than in men. Our hormones are disastrous. Research and various journals have proved that exercise boosts mental health.
I am in total awe of females who cross the finish line despite various factors that pull them down, be it age, physical disability, personal issues, or even ailments.
Running reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, and uterine cancer. Even if you have arthritis or joint pain, start with brisk walking and then graduate to running at your own pace and comfort.
Running also keeps the monthly woes at bay. Your body toughens to deal with the pain and discomfort. Check this link for what little I add to my daily regime,https://www.instagram.com/momthyname/
Following a routine, religiously makes you focused and determined. You will look forward to that wind on your face. You’ll also have a lot of “ME” time.

No waiting time

It’s a universal “myth” that women spend a lot of time in shopping and other stuff which men find useless. So, if your woman is a runner, then she’ll not look for sale on shoes or branded stuff, but surely she’ll splurge on food supplements, running accessories, and a good sunscreen. Hence, you need not accompany her and wait in the shopping malls . Hurray! Isn’t that amazing?

Give her the wind she needs

Running is liberating. I’ve heard so many people telling me that we love your “shortie-shorts.” Trust me when I first started running in shorts, I felt very embarrassed. I was conscious about my celluloid thighs, stretch marks, and heavy bottom. Now, after years into running, I gladly run in my shorts and sports bra. I am not even bothered about my loose stretch-marked tummy.
Running transforms you; it builds up your self-confidence and enables you to stands tall, defying all odds.
Breaking the stereotypes doesn’t come easy, but then your mental strength gives you enough courage to go ahead like a dart.
You run for yourself and not for anyone else. You run for your freedom. You run for your happiness.
At some point in life, we all feel burdened, stressed, and depressed too. Seeking sympathy from someone may or may not give you the relief, but your running shoes will surely do. When you run, you release excess energy from your body and also breathe in the fresh air. It’s a meditative state when you breathe out negativity and breathe in positivity.
Give your woman the wind to fly freely.

Just run,

You not be a marathoner or be a fast pacer to run; just wear your shoes, shut off that alarm, wear your jazzy running attire, hold your head firm with a chip up and adorn that beautiful smile to take the first step towards- YOURSELF

I love you for you love yourself

Motherhood dare

My dear teen,
You know you are so terribly annoying
That you are dragging me into a phase where I’ve never been.
I am recording, registering and downloading every episode,
In my drive, iCloud and memory with code.
I will take full revenge in this life-time
B’coz, you know Karma will come up sometime.
I will come to your house with a grumpy face
I will not talk or smile and will sit in one place.
I will throw my footwear and clothes everywhere
And mind if you ask me to keep in place
I will scream, roll my eyes, bang the door, and make a disgusting face.
I will leave the bathroom wet and towel on the bed
Dare you question me
Coz I’ll hiss without a miss.
I’ll put all types of demands
And maa Kasam if you deny
I’ll create such a ruckus
That I’ll drive you mad
Once the dinner is cooked
I’ll ask you to order food
Food that I like
Be it pizza or jalebi with malai
You are testing my limits and patience
But god forbid if it crosses my tolerance.
Then it’ll be only Tsunami and earthquake
So behave yourself for heaven’s sake.
No, I don’t want to say,” I love you, darling.”
C’coz currently you are terribly annoying
Karma, my dear boy, Karma
Wait and watch
Wait and watch
For your mom will turn into a witch
I’ll wail and grin as I grow old
And poor boy-your teen will come forth multifold
Revenge…I smell revenge….
Hu..hu..ha..ha..he..he.

No, I am not running

Ignorance is bliss when we are into unwanted arguments, but definitely doesn’t hold good when it comes to our health.


With few triathlons and marathons lined up all through 2019, I was in my all-time high of ignoring the pain, swelling and persistently strained IT band .
When I enrolled for triathlon, I was in full enthusiasm and awe of that finish line, but I never knew what’s in store.
Relentless practice, the guilt of missing out on any workout, conscious eating, backbreaking work, and discipline was the training part, but the significant component to take care was – time management.

With boys grades declining in each term, teenage catching up, workload increasing bringing in not-so-much needed stress and anxiety, I was in a zombie zone. Ice packs, signoflam was the love of my life.


I kept ignoring everything.

Standard Charted Singapore Marathon 2019

I understood the gravity of the situation when I finished my Standard Charted Singapore Marathon on 30th November 2019. After the mandatory posing with the finishers medal, it was time to walk to the metro station to board a train for my hotel.
It was the longest and most painful walk of about a kilometer after finishing the half marathon.
I was in a hurry to reach the hotel as Sid was attempting his first 10K the next morning, and he was waiting for me in the hotel.
I was sore, limping, and had a swollen knee when I reached the hotel.
As ever, my lover came to my rescue, and I can’t thank her enough, my dear Ibrufen
Sid triumphantly finished his 10K, and we flew back.
I was in so much pain that I had to ask for wheelchair assistance at the airport.


SCSM was the last race of 2019, and the final phase of my ignorance as well.
I started with my physiotherapy regularly. I slowed down majorly. Listened to the advice given by my coach, followed the prescription, obeyed every instruction like a good student.


Came 2020 and the first race of the year also the most awaited one which was happening in my city, TMM(Tata Mumbai Marathon). I did not run.
I collected the bib, didn’t calibrate it.


I saw the finishers pic of my fellow runners. I went through all the zeal and happy faces on social media. But, I did not run

I am often questioned on why I am walking and not running? Why am I not doing deadlifts in the gym? Why am I not lifting heavier weights? I always get a lump in my throat to reply- I can’t.


I cried out of my misery, my pain, my inability, and above all, my ignorance. But, I did not run.


I am still on rehab, signoflam, cold compressions, guided exercises, posture correction is a part of the routine.
It hurts, it pains, it’s frustrating, it’s killing, but I am not running.


Injuries are a part of the life of an athlete, but listening to your body comes first.

My coach said,

“if you have to run fast, go slow”


It is said that God resides in each body, then the body is our temple, worship with all your devotion.

Hold, wait, breathe. P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E

My recovery may take months, or I don’t even know how long but the journey right from the injury to ignorance till recovery is teaching me lessons of life which no textbook ever taught me.
Patience
Hold on
Breathe in
And
Rise like a phoenix

Love yourself and your body the most, this is the only thing that will stay with you forever.

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

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