Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The joy of real togetherness!

“Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” - Fred Rogers

 In a society, where technology rules most households and daily schedules are demarcated by minutes instead of hours, many of them complain about stress, lack of family togetherness and leisure time. In most households, parents work full time, so are busy throughout the week and children are too busy with school work and extracurricular classes. Some children hop from one tuition to  another leaving maybe weekends to connect with the family. 
The little free time that most families get is spent in front of TV, or on other gadgets like laptops, palmtops, phone etc… With all these they are not still relaxing but engaged in a cognitive process. People can wile away time in front of TV and still not come relaxed due to the constant flash of images, storing information, about the characters in the serial drama, movies, plots, themes , news etc. Even connecting with fellow humans is through digital world in the form of whatsapp, skype, facetime and emoticons etc. No wonder there is a lack of real communication, relationships, people feel more stressed, are always busy, pine for leisure time  and lifestyle diseases are on the rise.

“Real togetherness” to me is not while we are connected through digital world where we exchange emoticons and feel like robots,  but while each one of us connect in person, ,share our feelings,  communicate and feel our relationships through our senses. Communicating  face to face, playing interactive games offline, division of family labor like doing simple chores like cooking, cleaning, eating together, family outings like shopping,  going on nature trails have cathartic effect on us and brings a family  or a community together. It relaxes and brings out our senses and emotions to the fore and works like a security blanket is what i feel.

For instance, going outdoors into a lawn or a nature walk will give an opportunity to breathe in fresh air and experience life outside the technological world. It gets our limbs into exercise in a fun way.

The nature walk need not be a complicated one to a faraway forest reserve or waterfall and can be a simple one with a walk into your nearby wooded neighborhood park or if time permits to a wooded getaway or a farm  nearby. It would be interesting with so much to observe, explore and even record. If we are accompanied with kids, it would be a pleasure to see them use their senses and limbs. They will be able to hear, smell, feel and see things  in real, all they have seen in digital world. Imagine a child chasing a colorful butterfly, smelling the dewy grass, running their fingers over the mossy carpet of green growth, climbing trees, lazing under the canopy of a tree and weaving their dreams, watching the different shapes, textures and colors in front of their eyes. And if we are still, we get to hear and see wonderful sights and sounds in nature.

Nature walks, apart from bringing the family together helps develop a keener sense of observation in kids. It makes them inquisitive and helps them to communicate better and question the natural happenings. Their eyes get exposed to the beauty and helps bring out the creativity in them by expressing their thoughts through sketching, painting, writing etc. Apart from learning and having fun, nature walks with family helps bond with the family as a unit and helps build life skills by keeping close to the family and not wandering away, following simple rules laid by the parents, being responsible, exploring their skills by observations, simple survival skills, helping, trust building, problem solving if need be.

Walking together, touching and laughing together, having fun observing the kids so immersed in the above activities during nature walk like chasing a colorful butterfly , climbing trees etc, ,…it  would be a pleasure to see , feel  and experience all this. This is my idea of “real togetherness” with family.

Or even if this is not possible where time crunch and traffic snarls put off most outings, then bringing nature into home is another idea of “real togetherness”. At a time, when space is a premium and “lung spaces” are not around our vicinity and if we live in apartments then nature walks nearby could be a luxury.

We can still build our own mini, micro or nano gardens in our balcony or window sill. We can grow small plants , micro greens in butter tubs, biscuit tins and involve our children too which helps form bonds and relationships with the plants and experience all sorts of emotions and builds values. These little green journeys apart from bringing the family togetherness are nothing short of sensory carnivals.

Mixing and potting the soil together, sowing seeds, identifying them, watering them and watching the growth together as a family while having evening snacks or tea around the little nano garden brings a family together.


Also during morning times, the stillness of the early morning would enable to take in the glimpses of enchantment and enjoy the little things like the morning sunlight filtering through the dew that lingers, the small seed that you sowed the other day which starts to germinate with a promise,  the little insects like ants, bees, beetles which are at work, the ethereal scents of the plants which seem more generous in offering topics for conversation in the family and  they super charge you to handle the challenges of the day.

These are a few simple costless acts which can help build “real togetherness” with family, connect with nature and break us from getting addicted to the digital world. 

                                             (organic tomatoes from my  balcony garden) 

Embedding a lovely video from Kissanpur, please don't miss the below video.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Farmer's Dasara, anybody?

Around this season of the year, although I am present physically here, my mind is loitering around Mysore and Mylapore, two places where I have made a few pleasant memories during Navaratri. I have  subscribed to pages of these places so that I get updated with pictures and news of the buzz happening there. 

It was interesting to note in the Mysooru Dasara news feed, that this year The mysore Dasara apart from the regular features of Horticulture exhibition, kavi goshti, consumer exhibition, sports and concerts will celebrate the farmers too in a unique way. There will be a series of plays, events , music shows and films especially for Karnataka Farmers. Apart from entertaining, There will be interactions, counseling talks to stop farmers suicide and help them to overcome the problems

Pic courtesy: google images
Infact, this year’s Dussehra launched at Chamundi hills was not by a VIP but by a progressive farmer 67 year old Puttiah. His speech at the inaugural was  inspiring and he surely is a role model for all the farmers.( and other professionals too)

His advice to farmers is that they should look at constant income, adopting inclusive farming by cultivating short term, medium term and long term crop besides venturing into diary farming for daily income. He says he has prospered through daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly ,half yearly and yearly earnings.

For his daily income, he relies on selling milk, for weekly income he sells vegetables, quarterly by harvesting coconut, half-yearly by selling pulses and after an year, he earns through harvesting sugarcane, turmeric and other yearly crops. This way, he has ensured constant flow of income to the family and also gets returns through animal farming.

It’s energizing to note that this son of a bonded labourer has sensibly prospered from a 4 acre land to a 40 acre land without taking loans.

His message to fellow farmers — “Adopt inclusive farming, don’t lose hope and be brave to face the uncertainties. Suicide is not the solution to your problems.”

 Hope this message reaches the farmers , for it is really heart wrenching to read the sad news of their suicide almost daily . I think this message could apply not just to farmers but all those people who lose hope

Coming to the Dasara festivities, apart from street plays , films, talks related to the farmers, This dussehra will also host games like Running in the Mud (Kesaru Gadde), stone lifting competition, running while carrying fertilizer bags, running with a water filled pot etc…

So unique! This Mysore dasara must be motivating and encouraging to the farmers!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I too had a dream - an inspiring book

I needed a condensed milk can to bake a cake and so went to the supermarket to buy one. Normally would have picked up the Nestle brand for this is the one I grew up with and more popular especially with condensed milk. But this time, I picked the Amul brand and the reason for my change of mind is a fantabulous inspiring book that I finished reading recently “ I too had a dream”.

The book is an auto biography of Verghese kurien. The man behind the Amul brand and fondly called “The father of White revolution”. The book talks about the trials, struggles that Dr, Kurien had to go through for taking up the cause of Indian diary farmers,consumers and co-operative societies.

Dr. Verghese Kurien a science and engineering graduate from Madras University Who was more interested in making metallurgical Engineering a career but was sent to USA on an Indian Government grant to study Diary engineering. He was least interested in making Diary field as a career but on return to India he was sent to Kaira in Gujarat as part of Government bond for 3 years. How a reluctant Dr. Kurien inspired by Tribhuvandas Patel , a community leader went to stay on in Kaira a backward village,built the AMUL empire and was responsible for  founding IRMA is the story.

The book is less on his personal life and more on his professional life, his struggles with the bureaucrats and politicians for the cause of farming. It’s amazing how a single man could stand against giants like Nestle,  the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and fight the system, get maligned by the press for no wrong deed and take home a paltry sum as salary. He deserves all the awards and accolades for committing to the country’s welfare. He truly is an institution.

The book has many orientations on leadership, management and people power, the book is a must read for everyone who wants India to be self sufficient.

Especially now when the whole world is gearing towards a digital world and catching fancy terms like globalization and liberalization which is pretty abysmal. We are already facing a huge threat of environmental degradation, food shortage, electronic garbage etc…Organic vocations like farming,weaving, pottery etc. are facing crisis. There is a large scale migration of the rural population towards cities.

The responsibility before society is to encourage the rural economy by supporting Indian farmers, weavers and artisans thus indirectly contributing towards a sustainable and balanced environment and help them in marketing their products to the outer world. We need visionaries like Dr. Kurien

This was a borrowed book i read, i am now adding this book to my library. 

P.S : Another late night or early morning post, posted at 1.02a.m