Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Natures Lap

The precious baby 
Our joy was boundless when Rayyan, my first born came into our lives. By ours I mean my whole family, not just the parents. His father was away at the time of his birth, but my own family made it up to him and me. The last time there was a baby at home was more than 18 years ago when my youngest sister was born. Rayyan was treated like a prized, delicate and loved child who needed protection from the harsh world. Every time he wet himself, pooped or cried for milk, I could see chaos around me with nearly 2-3 people rushing to set things right for him. I remember how everyone went overboard with his care other than me. To be honest I was kind of getting irritated by the fuss being made over the baby. But the big army of 2 aunts, 1 uncle, grandma and grandpa overwhelmed and smothered me to do as they wished. Finally what counted was that they loved him more than anything else in whole world.  What more can a Mom ask for?
Rayyan had low resistance to diseases. Any change in routine would make him feverish, get cough and cold or give him running stools. He was slow in gaining weight. My family took it upon themselves to protect him from the germs and bacteria which lay in wait to get him. So he did not get to play much outdoor games, eat street food or play in dirty water. I knew this was wrong, but then there was nothing much I could do. No one bothered to take my advice. Leave alone his drinking water, even the water he bathed was boiled and cooled. Every time he went out, one of my family members would escort him. He spent long hours playing with Lego toys, watching cartoons or painting. Though he loved cycling, he was never given the freedom to go out all alone. He had to go circles around our home even as someone kept an eye on him from terrace.
Indoor games, drawing and watching television
were part of his life
It was quite tough for me to deal with this situation as I firmly believe in keeping children close to nature which will give a boost to their immunity. The more we protect our children, the weaker their body will be to fight invading diseases. It was also important that Rayyan be given his own space and independence. To make up for his smothered life I used to take Rayyan for long walks in the evenings or occasionally in the morning. When Farheena entered our lives 4 years later, she became a part of the walks where the kids were allowed to touch and feel nature.
Initially I thought the fuss my family made would be over once there is another kid at home or when he grows up a bit. How wrong was I? Farheena’s entry into our lives had no effect on my family. As days passed and Rayyan was nearly 10, he was still treated like a baby and not allowed any independence. 
When I was confused about the upbringing of my children, there was a turning point in my life where I had to take a major decision. I had two choices in front of me. Stay in Bangalore and live with my family to adjust my lifestyle to their choices, or move out and go to my native village Byndoor to lead an independent life. As I sat pondering over what step to take, Rayyan was watching television, an activity which kept his boredom away. I wanted to know how many cartoons he could watch if left undisturbed. When the third cartoon started without Rayyan moving from his seat, I made my decision. It was quite tough decision to make but I finally broke free from the bondages of my family. Both my children were very close to all my family members and I was sure that they would miss them. But then it was high time that I took control of my own life and made my own decisions.
So off we went to the coastal village to live a life close to nature. After his first day in school, Rayyan could not stop talking about how active and strong the kids in his school were. These were the kids who played in fields, swam the rivers and ate fresh food. There were much stronger than the kids I had seen in Rayyan’s previous school. Without much physical activities, Rayyan looked so small compared to his classmates. I assured Rayyan that with proper physical activities and freedom to roam in the nature, he would catch up with his peers.
To make my children more active physically and mentally, I got rid of the TV. They could have fun on computer but TV was a big no. Both the kids spending nearly 5 hours in front of the idiot box was not acceptable to me. I knew we would miss it for a few days but then would get adjusted to the life without TV.
If you think life was dull and boring in Byndoor for my kids, you are in for a surprise. Our days were filled with fun, adventures, games and weekly visits to the beach. To make it more entertaining, I gathered a group of children from my neighborhood to join us on picnics, games and parties.
Fun time on Someshwara Beach

From being a protected child, Rayyan blossomed to be the responsible person. He started helping me in housework and shopping.  I had to be prepared for the chicks, kitten or fish Rayyan would bring back to keep as pet. In his new found freedom, Rayyan started exploring the town and its surroundings early in the morning on his bicycle. His immunity started improving and I could see the change in him. Earlier, every year he had to miss some monthly tests or exams due to his illness. Now he was maintaining 100% attendance in his school and setting record for perfect attendance.

Though initially Rayyan was accompanying me for his outings, he slowly weaned off and started to find a group of children who could join him on long hikes to the nearby mountains and to swim in the sea. Finally he started wandering off alone at times on his bicycle because there were not many children who could match his stamina and enthusiasm for long rides. His stamina was building up so much that he could beat most of the experienced swimmers at the local pond.
Our brood of Chicks
An Injured crow treated by Rayyan.

He started raising chickens but unfortunately they were not food for him but friends. Soon even I fell in love with his chicks. He became so lively and enthusiastic in the company of the animals.
The dirty water, exposure to germs or eating street food occasionally did not make Rayyan sick or weak as my family feared. His outdoor life made him strong and his healthy body could resist diseases on its own. I cannot recall when I have last taken Rayyan to a doctor for medication and he is the same kid who used to be sick for nearly 100 days every year.
Rolling in Dirt and Plunging into various sports

Rayyan enjoying diving and swimming

Rayyan enjoying his freedom in the lap of nature
      My own experience tells me that immunity can be built only when we allow our children to grow in natures lap. The fresh air, organic food and exercise are required to build a strong immune system. A lazy child who spends time in front of TV gorging on chips and soft drinks can never have strong immunity, not even if you give him/her high suppliments of energy drinks or vitamins.
Today, back in Bangalore, we do own a TV but my children are not interested in getting the cable connection. We watch selected program through internet TV. Rayyan has joined various cycling groups and events taking place around Bangalore. He is the only fit and healthy member of our family who has kept his weight under control and also he is only person in the family who does not need any pills or syrups to keep diseases away. Rayyan did not change his lifestyle after leaving Byndoor. He travels to his college and everywhere around Bangalore on his Bicycle. He also managed to survive the endurance ride to Mysore.It keeps him healthy and fit, moreover he is doing good to both the environment and my purse.

Rayyan's Active Life in Bangalore today..
Off road cycling events

Winning slow cycling race held at Decathlon
Conquering rough terrains

Celebrating Life ..

PS: Do not read if you hate Narcissism 

It is time to reflect back on my life today, as I celebrate my birthday. Has life been worth living? Yes off course! Unlike a few years ago, today I take pride in who I am and what I have done with myself. There are no more regrets in my life regarding where I went wrong. Today, I happily wish myself “Happy Birthday” and add “May you have many more” because there is so much in life to look forward to.
 ‘Be a woman of substance. Be a real woman. It is difficult to break down a real woman because she will learn from her mistakes, gather her strength from her struggle and overcome the obstacles courageously.’ – Unknown.
So true are those words when I connect them to myself, because, today I stand here on my feet, strong, unbroken, wise with the lessons life has taught me and gathering strength from my experience withcancer, bringing up special needs child and social, communal restrictions.
If you ask me to make a list women of who have stood against all odds to emerge triumphant from group of the women I know; the list would grow inexhaustibly like Hanuman's tail.  My life has been touched by many such ladies who have made a big difference to the course of my life.
At the same time I feel compelled to pat my own back, because I am one of those women who have refused to be tied down by any kind of bondage.

I have overcome the hurdles thrown at me like caste, culture, marriage, gender discrimination, disability, III stage infiltrating breast cancer, special needs child and many more to stand strong and confident today, ready to fly. I have not been the person who has aspired to touch the sky but always felt inspired to go beyond the limits of the sky.
Many eyebrows would be raised as they would consider it sheer narcissism by a simple woman who considers herself an achiever in the world of women who have made a place for themselves in the field of science, technology, arts and politics. What do I do? I blog, earn some income through freelance writing in addition to doing online counseling and mentoring students at Banjara Academy. Not many people consider me to be an ambitious achiever. But for me, this means a lot, as I know how tough it has been for 'me' to be where I am today.

 Even when people say they admire me or respect me, I notice an odd trend in them and feel it is all for the wrong reason. Most of them respect me and applaud me for surviving cancer, when they should be applauding my doctor for having done a great job on me. Did I have a choice of not fighting bravely against cancer? If I did not fight against the demon than I would have died at a young age of 29 leaving behind two small kids aged 1 and 5 years, motherless. Besides, I did not fight for someone else. I fought cancer and survived because I was greedy for life, I wanted to be with my kids, I wanted to live and achieve something before calling it an end. I wanted to reach for the skies before being shut in a grave forever. There, I was totally selfish and greedy, but people respect and applaud me for being a survivor for 17 years now, even as they sideline my real achievements.

Some say it is the attitude with which I have fought cancer that is inspirational to them. I was talking to a friend and mentioned to her how people consider my surviving cancer or bringing up a special needs daughter to be inspirational for them. What have ‘I’ actually done? Nothing much! I had to fight cancer and survive and I did. I could not give up on my daughter, so I love and care for her like any mother would. What is inspirational about me?
What my friend said when she answered my question rang a bell in my mind. She said what happened to me was just life and how I handled it, or precisely how I reacted to it was inspirational. It was not letting things pull me down, instead use it as a spring board to soar higher than I would have in normal situations.

Fighting cancer was easier when I was dealing with it myself, but it was tough losing my Mom, Sister and friends to the same disease that I survived. Dealing with the guilt of surviving something others have lost their lives to, is another hurdle I have jumped over. 

I was born a second girl child with a prominent club foot. It was tough walking with my right foot fully twisted and looking upwards. But it could never hold me from competing in sports or running long distances. I had never been able to consider myself a handicapped person, at least not until I tried to apply for drivers license. This is when my disability finally caught up with me at the age of 47 years, where I was asked to get certificate from Doctor ensuring that I have enough strength in
my leg to hit roads on a two wheeler. I was kind of surprised when I heard it, as I have almost totally forgotten that I have a disability. LOL.The dialogue between me and lady inspector went something like this:
Inspector : Do you have any problem in your leg?
Me: No. I just have a club foot.
Inspector: You mean you have disability?
Me: What? Is club foot a disability? It has not behaved like one so far.
Inspector: You mean, it does not bother you?
Me: No way. I have even carried my daughter until she was ten years old.
Inspector: Unfortunately, here I have to follow a protocol. You will have to undergo certain procedure before I can give you permission for the license. 

Being torn between what I want and
my loved ones want from me is tough
Though I was living in a village until a few months ago, where you cannot tell one woman from other when they belong to my community, I have made a mark for myself. Yes, I did walk around there totally covered with my black robe, where only my eyes were visible. I was commonly addressed as ‘Bibi’ when I visited offices, hospitals or any public place. The darkness is strong enough to overwhelm people and swallow them whole like a python.  I haven’t allowed the shadow of my cloak to overshadow me, I have found light and shone my colors through it. It may have swallowed many people like me, but I have escaped it clutches and I have discovered the real me. It is hard, it is dangerous and it takes a lot to hurt your own people, especially when you love them. I have felt torn between what I want to be and want my loved ones want me to be, not just once but many times. Finally, I am listening more to what I want to be rather than being what others expect me to be.

 It is tough to question what everyone around you believes in. I do not like be censored or dictated. I had the courage to stand up and say what I really am. Not until you are there will you know how it feels to be an ugly duckling among the chickens. 

After passing the milestone of 40 years, I have taken life with great enthusiasm. Instead of regretting about giving up my studies, I have completed my graduation and bravely shifted to a city like Bangalore. From a small depleted house, sitting in my small room, where my tall brother cannot stretch himself, I have reached out to the world and stretched myself far enough, nearly touching the skies. I have fallen down only to get up with more vehemence. 
When everything was fading away in my life, I picked up the leftovers and started to prepare a new dish to relish. I reached up and caught the rainbow of my dream – pursuing my education again at the age of 43, even with big obstacles strewn on my path, I am living my dream. At the moment I am further pursuing my ambition of completing my P.G. which is running smoothly so far. I have completed my first year of M.S. in counseling and psychotherapy and I am quite excited about the second year right now. I feel so relieved and happy to know that I am pursuing my dream. It is not easy at my age to sit down like a school kid, prepare notes and study for the exams. What with children, house work and my health issues distracting me. But I did. I studied hard enough to score first class passing marks in my graduation, and, the jewel in the crown was my scoring 92% marks in Psychology. It is something when you do that with your chemo brain. My brain is not what it used to be in school days, where I could memorize pages within hours.

I have never allowed anyone to treat mydaughter differently or without respect. I have been strong and fought to get her the love and respect she deserves. No one dares to fool around or mess with her. Bringing out this kind of behavior from people who were not used to it is something I have achieved.

 I have learned everything about internet and computers, surrounded by the walls of my room. All the help I got, was an instruction how to switch on a computer. Today, I am kind of computer repair person. I can almost fix my computer all by myself, install windows, create pages on web and win blogging contests.

My blog is something I feel proud about. It is not easy to share your problems, miseries with the world. Some say, pouring my heart out on the blog can take away my pain. Only those who haven’t lost a breast, been worried about the future of their child, lost dear ones to cancer or suffered as me can say that. Easing pain is not that easy. Even if I write thousand of blogs and millions will read it, the problems and pain will stay. For me blogging is leaving behind a part of me for everyone to see, even when I am no longer here. When I was supposed to be quite and walk in shadows, I dared to go ahead and share a part of me with the whole world. I received a lot of flak for posting my personal details, pictures and other information on my blog, but I decided to live my life my own way. It is not tough when you are independent financially and healthy person. For me, being a rebel meant a great risk. I did not have a job that could support me, neither was I highly educated. I lived in  fear. The recurrence of cancer which looms on my head all the time. These restrictions were pulling me strongly towards the gutter where I could lie, rot and be lost without trace after a few years which I did not want to happen. That is when I decided to jump and check the depth of the well. I survived and found a new way of living. Today, I am free from the chains that I believed to have bound me. I have learned to appreciate my achievements and efforts. This is something I would pat my back for if I could just reach it….
When I win, or achieve something- it could be a small victory for me, but a great victory for those women who are lost in the shadows. My problems, my disabilities do hold me back; distract me when I sit down to write a blog, do my work or even when I am on the road, but I fight back and bring myself out of the cave.
There was a time when I was quite angry and hated myself, but now times have changed. I love, respect and appreciate myself, because I know for sure unless I do that, how will others love, respect or appreciate me?

I am a person who doesn't want to touch the sky but want to go beyond it. I want my soar to be limitless. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to prevent yourself from falling in love?

This Article is also published on TopYaps

Who would want to read an article that prevents you from falling in love? Love is what makes life beautiful; moreover you do not want to avoid falling in love for anything in the world. Most of the people often look forward to the magical moment when they will fall in love. Think it over once again. What is the real meaning of falling in love?
The warning alarm should be set off by the word ‘FALL’. Falling is described as an inevitable condition over which you have no control, often has drastic effects, cannot be reversed half way and makes you feel vulnerable. The English dictionary describes falling as coming down from a higher position to a lower one. Often the word fall is associated is disastrous happenings like, falling into a trap, falling ill or just the simple falling down. So, thread with precaution and be in a healthy relationship, love your partner and create a lovely life together based on mutual trust and respect. Don’t be in a hurry to find your ideal romantic dream and fall in love because in the wise words of Taylor Swift - "We should love, not fall in love, because everything that falls, gets broken." Here are the top ten ways that may succeed in preventing you from falling in love though I do not promise it.
 Identify the Emotion
Misled by an ideal state of romance created in your mind by books and movies, you may consider the emotions of being infatuated, physically attracted to another person or even sexual attraction to an ideal mate as falling in love. Identifying the emotion for what it is may take you away from falsely believing that you are falling in love.
Breathe and be calm
When you see a person and all of a sudden your heart starts pounding, blood circulation goes berserk, you feel giddy and nervous; calm yourself down and breathe. Don’t jump into conclusion that you have fallen in love. Off course it does mean that you like the person and prefer him/her as life partner. But it need not be that you have fallen in love and lost control over your emotions.
Stop the Obsession
Once you like a person and feel the pressure of emailing or texting him/her obsessively, stop yourself. Remember that obsessive pursuit of a person makes you lose your own dignity. Keep yourself engaged with activities to prevent someone invading your thoughts all the time.
Confess your feelings
No! I do not mean that you should run to the person and confess that you have fallen madly in love with him/her. I mean that you should talk about your feelings to someone you trust, who can be there for you if things go wrong. When you talk about your feelings, often you see the truth that the situation is under your control and you can do what you want, unlike what you believed earlier.
Don’t look for it
If you are a hopeless romantic and live just to fall in love, then you will keep looking around for opportunities to fall in love and even fall for strangers without knowing them well. Constantly thinking about love and romance creates an ideal love character in your mind, and you find it in the first most likely person you see. Don’t look for love, it will find you when the time is right.
It is about you
Often you tend to build parameters of an ideal lover and fall for those who meet those guidelines. Love and relationship in the long run is nothing about the other person at all. It is not about how they look, how much they earn or how romantic they are, but it is about how they make you feel about yourself.
Check out if you feel hurt
If it is love than you should have a pleasant feeling in your heart and not pain. Love does not hurt, but most often falling in love does. It could be consuming all your liveliness, focus, time and also your thinking power.
Ask yourself ‘do you want it?’
Remind yourself that falling in love will turn you into an obsessed, infatuated, insecure and deprived person which you may not want to be. Though thinking positively is good for you, check out the pros and cons truthfully when you think you may fall in love.
Fantasy and Reality
Riding on the wave that leads to the fantasy land of romance, may shut your eyes to reality. The high hormonal levels may force you to let your defense down, cross your boundaries and behave differently. Be aware and be awake. Distinguish your fantasy from reality which may give you a foothold, preventing the fall.
Agony and fear of losing a loved one

Know that once you fall in love you feel desperate attachment to another person which brings about the fear of losing the other person. You start going to through emotions of possessiveness, jealousy and as though you belong to the other person. Take control of yourself and remind yourself this is a passing phase of your life and this is not who you are. 


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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