Thursday, December 18, 2014

How the holidays you plan can make you the best parents ever?

One of the most precious gifts you can give your child is that of experiencing a new place. It is the gift of travel, of exploring the world. In fact, I firmly believe that it helps a great deal in making your child open-minded, impartial to languages, cuisines and culture different from your own. I was lucky enough to have parents who believed in the same. Hence, every year during winter vacations I would find myself in a new city or town, assimilating something I hadn't before.

Vacations with children are unlike any you take with adults. A child looks at things differently than you do. There is an enthusiasm to know, to ask and then ask again some more. And why not because that’s when they are taking in life for the first time, absorbing everything around them as part of gradually growing up. Hence, you need to ensure that there are items in your itinerary that appeals to them at many different levels. As a parent, I think, you need to take vacations as an important aspect of satisfying the curiosity of your child. It’s as important as any other activity during their formative years.

In my inexpert opinion, outdoor activities are one of the best aspects of vacations for kids. With safety and security in cities at doldrums, you might have ended up limiting, perhaps subconsciously, the time your child spends outdoors. And nobody can blame you for that. And maybe that is why a vacation could be the much needed break for your child and possibly for you too. An escape from the classrooms or the electronic gadget-centric routines. Swimming, spending a day at the beach building sand castles, fishing, going on a cruise or a nature’s walk along beautiful trails lined with trees and flowers are the many things that come to my mind. And then there is also the ever so popular activity of taking your child to the zoo or the amusement park nearby. A jungle resort or a safari where they can see animals from close quarters, I think, is something your child would definitely cherish for a long time. I still remember the time when I has seen the Red Fort or the Taj Mahal for the first time. Thus, a holiday with some amount of history is another you can plan for your child.

I also feel that you could inculcate reading habits in your child during vacations. Sitting by the beach or the porch of your resort at a hill station, you could teach your child the perks of reading while soaking in the sun and breathing in fresh air. I remember reading the Nancy Drew or the Famous Five series on most of my vacations. In fact, for every vacation I would get a new set of books. Something you could think about incorporating? I know I will in the future for my kid.

One of my fondest memories of childhood is that of the picnics with my parents and our family friends. We would drive to some beautiful locale, which is almost at every curve of the hilly road in Meghalaya, and while the parents cooked, talked and enjoyed themselves, there would be games organized by the older kids for the rest of the kiddie gang. All in all, everyone, adults and children included, had a great time during those picnics. So, I think an outing of a similar kind is very good for children. It helps them fit in, enjoy with their friends or even better, make new friends at times.

I think every step, every outing could be used an opportunity to teach something new to your child. And by that I don’t mean that it has to be tedious. I think every vacation needs to be planned in a manner that it ends up fostering a new quality, a good one, in your child. A well-traveled person, an adult or even a child, is after all one step closer to an ideal human being. And moreover if you plan your holidays keeping the interests of your children in mind as well as ensuring them a lot of fun, you are definitely going to end up in the parents hall of fame in their eyes.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Amsterdam..

I have always wanted to visit Europe. Truth be told the continent has always fascinated me. And even for the reluctant traveler in me, Europe has been right up there in my must visit list, and it still is. Opportunity presented itself in the form of a work assignment for S in Germany this year and I grabbed it with both hands. I followed him there within 2 months of his posting and we traveled, whenever possible, to tick places of interest off my wish list.

Amsterdam was one, which I must admit, we almost missed out on due to dollops of lethargy that we have in abundance as a couple. But fortunately better sense prevailed and we hopped on an ICE that whizzed us away to the Venice of the North.

Beautiful. Mesmerizing. Magical. I don’t really know what adjectives I need to use to describe it. All I can say is that as we walked through the streets and cruised through the canals we fell in love with the city.

The first thing we did after reaching Amsterdam was a cruise through the canals. Tulips everywhere, it was the end of April and I loved it. As the boat maneuvered through waterways lined with boathouses, I couldn't help but wish to live in one. We were there only for a day with our return tickets booked for that very night. So with no time to spare we set off on our journey to discover Amsterdam.

We squeezed in Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Rembrandt House Museum, and the Red Light District, Heineken Experience, Science Centre NEMO and toured the streets lined with beautiful houses and canals in one day. Not too bad I must say. Of-course, we missed out on Keukenhof, which was disappointing. But then there’s always a next time, right?

I think, for me, Amsterdam was all about its waterways. The canal cruises to be specific. At one point I remember the boat facing a number of bridges, all in a single line. It was as if the bridges aligned, all together in a queue, to greet the tourists. If I remember correctly we had taken the Blue Boat tours just after reaching since it was raining. This was the perfect way to begin, see the highlights, even those we wouldn't have time for later on in the day. It helped us gain some perspective about the city, especially since we were there just for a day. It helped us see every tourist attraction on the map at a glance and then decide how to go about exploring the city for the rest of the day.

Given a chance I’d go there again. There’s something alluring about Amsterdam that stays with you for a long, long time. And I must say, if you have the chance, do go and explore this beautiful European gem of a city. Trust me it will be truly worth it because for me it totally was.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How I cheated fear and got away with it

Fear of something or someone is a reality of life. Some people say they fear nothing. But to tell you the truth I don't believe them. Fear is always present, a semblance of it is always there in some form or the other. Sometimes it's the fear of being a failure or of disappointing someone. While at times it's about the heart, the fear of choosing the wrong person or of losing someone. Then there are those all time fears, of heights, water or the dark. But I think maybe a certain amount of fear is good. What do you say? Not too much though but just the right amount to nudge you towards overcoming it. But there are also those which you can certainly do without. Those paralyzing ones which I and even you as women feel often, which we might not show but think about every now and then. Those you could definitely do without.

Credit: Geralt
If you ask me what do I fear most, you and I would be here for a long, long time. So I guess it's best that I talk about one.

As a child, whom do you look up to? Your parents. As a child you know nothing in this world can hurt you. Why? Again because you have your parents with you. They are your pillars of strength, they are your superheros. And superheros don't grow old or get sick, right? Oh but they do and that's when you realize that the fear which you had so meticulously packed away in a can, stuffed in a box in your mind's attic has finally escaped. Suddenly you find yourself standing in the middle of thousands of unknown faces in a place where all the curtains are green and blue. You know there is a cacophony of noise but all you can hear is your heart beat, almost as if it's ready to jump out of that body of yours. Because those caring hands which have been guiding, caring and protecting you all through your life have fallen sick. Nothing makes sense, you feel shaken to your foundation. And that's when you are surrounded by one of the worst kind of fears ever.

This year I found myself there. Mom and Dad, they were both sick. I was there at the hospital with them. Scary doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. All I wanted to do was cry, my legs felt shaky and tears seemed eager to escape. But I couldn't. Whether it was Dad or Mom's biopsy, Mom's operations, those series of tests or the nights at the hospitals, I was petrified of them all. But I couldn't let them down, I just couldn't. So I went through each of the motions like they had done all through my life and still do. So I didn't cry, not in front of them at least. I kept it all hidden, put on a brave face. There was the risk that it could all blow up on my face. But was there any other way? No.

It was only during the lone walks to the pharmacy or canteen that I let my fears engulf me. I took the stairs instead of the lift because I wanted to be alone with it. Sometimes I stood in the stairwell and cried. I know it wasn't wise but that helped. There were those occasional stares but then after all it was a hospital so people let it pass. I wanted to deal with it myself, and I did for most part of it.

The risk of something going wrong was always there and that was far greater than the risk of losing my sanity. I feared, still fear, losing them both so I gave it my all. I stood guard. Of-course, not much was in my hands. But I did whatever I could. I looked fear in its eyes and vowed not to wince even a little in front of my parents. The ordeal lasted for over 3 months and I kept it all bottled up. You know they say it's not good to hold everything inside you, it causes more pain. But that was how I dealt with it. Not once did I let my shield down and I can say in a way I did rise above this fear. And I will every time I'm needed to.

I think the strength to overcome fears is always there. All you need to do is look. You need to face it, let it take over you, lure it out of hiding so that you can hold it by the neck and kick it out of your home, your heart. I did the same and I'm sure I'll repeat it again.


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