Teaching the Importance of Saving

What is the best form of social work done till date by you? You have fed a hungry stomach, you have taught a child in need, you have given some clothes to poor, you have also helped some financially…..Yes, there is rarely a person who has not done one or all of the above. The satisfaction of helping a fellow human in need is not comparable to any other.

 

We always come across views which state that instead of helping with money make people self-reliant, let them earn on their own and be self-sufficient. We all know the merit of being self-sufficient but can seldom contribute in good measure to achieve this. But there are several organizations and people selflessly doing just that making people self-sufficient and empowered.

 

However, how many are really devoting time to look at letting this income last. They earn and they spend and there is hardly any penny saved for another day. I came across this inspiring venture by MetLife Foundation and Sesame Workshop in India (SWI); they are trying to make sure everyone saves little by little. SWI is also behind the hugely successful initiative of Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Indian adaptation of Sesame Street), which has kids glued to their infotainment segment and episodes. The new initiative is again an Indian adaptation of the global programme “Dream, Save, Do: Financial Empowerment for Families”. This is a unique global initiative on financial inclusion and empowerment for children in the age group of 3-8 years and their caregivers. The initiative has an apt and catchy name:

“Sapna, Bachat, Udaan: Aarthik Bal, Har Parivar ka Haq.”

 

Various Workshops are conducted at Harsh Vihar, Shahdara, New Delhi.  SWI assembles young inquisitive minds and engage them for Mobile Community Viewings(MCVs). SWI has converted a vegetable cart into a mobile TV, which travels to each street of the selected area calling out for children to watch educational and entertaining videos on financial literacy. The kids gather around the TV for the MCV.

 

The event is followed by workshops. During the workshops, facilitators engage children in activities like making your own piggy bank and other activities related to saving and sharing.

 

 

  • The MCVs and workshops aim to improve the knowledge, language and strategies on financial literacy thereby increasing the dialogue between parents and children
  • These activities provide valuable knowledge about financial literacy and help both the parents and children to inculcate the concepts of sharing, saving, delayed gratification
  • Partners of SWI will reach 50,000 children during the course of the project; currently they are starting the workshops with 5000 children

children-with-their-gullaks-attending-workshops-at-the-sapna-bachat-udaan-programme

 

Financial Security is a major concern area for economically weaker sections. In case of any emergency they are caught completely unawares and the struggle begins for them. Because of this initiative SWI and Metlife are not aiming for immediate smiles but long term gains for the families.

 

The all too familiar Muppets from Galli Galli Sim Sim are used in presentations. Children can identify with those immediately and have already started to fill up their gullaks.

 

The childhood friend our own piggy bank which we have always used for splurging on chocolates and toys. The money saved which we thought is for buying many more is the key for fulfilling the basic requirements of these children and their families. Next time when you put a coin in your gullak  say a little prayer for these little angels. May they find enough for an emergency and may hey never need to use it for this purpose.

 

You can get involved with this mission and contribute in your own way too. Visit http://www.sesameworkshopindia.org/press-releases/sesame-workshop-and-metlife-foundation-launch-sapna-bachat-udaan-a-financial-empowerment-programme-for-families-in-jharkhand/ for more details and volunteering tips. Help a cause in bringing about the change.

 

Other useful links:

http://www.sesameworkshopindia.org/

https://www.metlife.com/metlife-foundation/index.html

 

 

 

 

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In the Light of Darkness

In the Light of Darkness…the title of the book says it all…does it not? A story of hope and beauty…reminding us of the cycle of a beautiful day after a dark dark night…..a cycle that ensures positivity wins.

Radhika’s book lives up to the Title and by the end of the book you know…no matter how down or out you feel…there will be a brighter tomorrow and no matter how insignificant words of our well-wishers seem…they have an inspiring and beautiful note for you.

I have read the author’s work previously and know her strength lies in painting the pictures beautifully before your eyes. Her descriptions and narratives make you feel that you are watching a movie and can actually see the setting. I loved the scenic Bydore and feel I am just back from a vacation after being a witness to a series of events. On this note I would like to suggest her to delve a little more on the how the characters look…though looks, I know are superficial, but that would just complete a movie in my mind.

The beauty of the book is the intertwined lives of the characters, the way they stand with each other at all times and the beautiful words that narrate all of the above. I wished I had friends like the protagonists have in the book. Friends who stand by you, grow with you, argue with you yet ensure you get the best out of life. Even the supporting characters in the book have a way of making a positive lasting impression on your mind.

A few lines about the cover. It is so apt for this story…the sapling, the lock which also looks like a mug…the blue gate and the moss over it…. while reading the book, I turned over to the cover page many times to marvel over, how it conveys so much!

Writing reviews is not just my thing…..I am scared I will give out the story or would be critical…or give unnecessary inputs….but this book made me write one so you can imagine how good it is….Go ahead and soak in this beauty….The story is slightly predictable…yes…but the way it is worded and written makes it for a compelling read.  Do grab your copy and fall in love….get the light in your dark corners…

You can get your copy at:

http://www.amazon.in/Light-Darkness-Radhika-Maira-Tabrez/dp/9385854178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472788595&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+light+of+darkness

 

 

 

Letter from an Ordinary Mother

Office Canteen
14-Aug-2016

Dear Perfecummy,
Hope this letter finds you in the pink of your holiday project’s cover. I know I have taken too long to write to you and my sincere apologies for the delay. I know the late submission may cost me grade A from your side but please consider this effort as my earnest one and give me extra bonus if possible for neat handwriting. I know I know this is typed on a lousy laptop and not a Mac book, but still I used MS word and should be given credit for being at least not too technologically challenged.
You keep giving me tips on parenting and I swear I try to apply them. In fact, I try to learn from you by observing you too. Well only last PTM when you sat ahead of me for a good 45 minutes and discussed best practices for learning vocabulary, math tables and scoring well in NTSTE. I took mental note of what all can be discussed when my turn came. But alas when it was my turn the teacher started with “ this boy is the naughtiest one…he is never on is seat…look at his handwriting…he speaks in Hindi….he….” needless to say by the time she finished her 5 minute monologue, I just glared at my son. Both husband and I promised to “work on him” and left. Of course later just outside the classroom while my boy took off with his friends chasing them and being playful; husband and I did not waste time on blaming each other for another red faced PTM. Husband was also quick to point out how impeccably dressed you and your brood were while we looked as we were in the society park for leisure.
When I surveyed the class projects displayed I could see a well bound pink file artistically and tastefully done and immediately knew it was yours. My own attempt after being up all night was not only pale but the sheets were also not found together. God knows what happened in transit, it looked better when I made it.
I remember the last time we met and you advised me to get my son for Cricket coaching in the evening, guitar in the afternoon and tuitions in the slot left in between. I did try that and it worked for a total of two days. On day 3 my son was back to Doremon in afternoon, society kabaddi in evening and homework done in the car next morning while going to school. I so wish I had children who listened to me! I mean how do you manage to do it? I really admire the way you manage this. The discipline and manners your children show is impeccable. I remember the last birthday party where my own was pushing, shoving and fighting to poke finger in the perfectly made cake and running amok for the return gift. While I saw your children sitting nicely at tables eating and accepting anything with a polite thank you.
You yourself are yummy mummy while your children are new age “Shravan Kumars”. How I wish I can be like you….I want you to write a book which delineates these steps in detail. If I have the next child (you advise me a lot on the benefits of having at least two children); I shall certainly start him/her on steps written by you.
Hoping things are great at the Sports Academy and the Spell Bee Club. Waiting for your letter with tips you so generously give always.
Your (trying to be) friend,
Averagummy
P.S.: Could you WhatsApp me Class work of 11 Aug and also the Unit Test Dates?

Bam-Booz-eled

Beep-Beep…buzzed the cellphone! She jumped at the opportunity to break away from the conversation which was borderline heated…. she was about to enter into a big argument with the husband on placement of Water Pitcher as per Vastu….

The message on the phone, a forward; turned out to be a well-timed one.

Whiskey is for drinking; Water is for fighting over! – Mark twain

With renewed energy about her fight over water, she went over to him and said how beneficial it would be to place water in north-east side.

‘It gets morning sun’s rays that lead ….’

Beep-Beep….it was his phone this time…

‘Hey listen to this:

Whiskey is for drinking; Water is for fighting over!

Such great words. Let’s actually get more whiskey for us. Water we can keep anywhere…in any case it may lead to a fight. I will be back soon.’

Needless to say; most often than not Technology is a boon:

  • One gets less time to fight
  • People read the same quotation and don’t have to share silly jokes between themselves
  • Each one sees a situation with their own perspective; and lastly
  • You can stock up on your Whiskey

A Different Independence Day

This year’s independence day was such a charm. Morning it was Flag Hoisting in the residential complex and entertaining patriotic performances by the talented kids. I also participated in a Treasure Hunt I could not crack but it gave a good workout with all the running around. When I was home after the workout I looked up the last date of SALE to kill the evening time. But in time a newly made but great friend reminded me of better things to do.

A cool and compassionate gang from the society had decided to join the RobinHood Army Gurgaon Chapter in their drive to complete #Mission500K. #Mission500K is a drive to feed half a million people a meal better than they have daily; both in India and Pakistan. Since last full week the enthusiastic Robins had managed to gather, not only staples and cookies but toys and clothes in abundance from the generous donors of our complex. All I had to do was just be there for the distribution.

So there were packets equivalent to a single meal for a family all neatly, hygienically packed. We had Rice, Wheat Flour, Semolina, Lentils, Rajma and Chholey and also Ghee, Oil. For the little ones we had Chocolates, Milk, Biscuits and Juices etc. We closed on a strategy of how to go about it and started. First time on any such drive I was just hoping the process is smooth and quick.

As we neared the first cluster and our caravan stopped, I saw anxious faces. Some making a beeline in anticipation others just curious of what is going to happen next. As the expert “Robins” briefed them about our intent, I saw people cautiously yet earnestly trying to be the part of the mission. Enthusiastic little ones were the first to come up and easiest to manage. They queued up and accepted the biscuits and juices with excitement and gratitude. The faces lit up on first sip and the brightness never left till the time I was a witness. The adults when handed over a packet smiled, a manageable lot and disciplined to my surprise.

We covered 3 to 4 clusters and I could collect positivity from each place. In fact the drive and supplies ended too quick and I wanted the evening to be longer!

A meal that we take for granted; a meal our children so many times turn down as distasteful or ordinary, a meal prepared and left on the table, that we forgo just to eat out….the worth of such meals we do not understand…and on the other side when that very meal is received by a person in need, the experience through theirs is entirely enriching. Next time around I have leant to value all my meals  and if I have surplus, I am not waiting for it to become leftover, just to be thrown away. I am taking it to a person who will value it. What a “take away”(pun intended) 🙂

You can get going by joining the Robinhood Army Gurgaon Chapter here: https://www.facebook.com/RHA-Gurgaon-Chapter-1693576714194379/

And read about Robinhood Army here: http://robinhoodarmy.com/

Mission500K: http://robinhoodarmy.com/mission500k/

The Book-Shelf

Today I heard Yug tell his mother about Kindle. It appears now there is a new book which is a computer book and Yug is gifting it to Shakuntala.

‘Mummy…you are always reading or writing. So Kindle is perfect for you. You can store so many books and read them at your convenience. All your collection is getting old and pages are now yellow.’

‘I am careful to dust the book shelf each day Yug. But pages will go yellow with time.’ Shakuntala responded to the yellow pages remark adding emphases on the last word considering her own age.

‘Exactly!… The book shelf! It occupies a lot of space in your room and Kindle will just be at your bed side. Why not replace the Book shelf space with a new TV console?’

‘Ah! So Yug you want a new TV! Say that beta. Why replace my beloved book Shelf? We can shift it to some other place.’ Shakuntala said eyeing me with pride.

‘No Ma! It has become old. Look at the worn out sides. The paint and varnish do nothing to make it look jazzy. Look at those blue stains all over it. It does not match with the interiors of MY home at all.’

‘Let me think about it’ Shakuntala said meekly. She had lost interest in the topic when he mentioned MY home. After her husband’s demise she had to move in with her son and being the ardent book lover (I hope she loved me equally too!) I am the only piece of furniture she got from her old place.

I still remember the first day Shakuntala saw me at the expensive wooden showroom. Among all my friends, I was chosen by her. I am not a narcissist but I knew my worth then. Among all of us who were batch mates, I just knew I was better and I was made for bigger things.  I had the perfect look and a most enviable BMI for sure. I also thought I was, in your face handsome, nobody could have ignored me. Shakuntala could not ignore me either and I could not ignore her too. A charming smile and bespectacled intelligent eyes, she would love me like no other can! No sooner she set her eyes upon me and picked me out, she was smitten. I can tell that, I have had that effect on several people by now; but probably they were never too serious to pursue me; or Shakuntala and I were destined to be together forever. She admired me from side to side and convinced her husband that I am the best (not that it required much convincing!).

We were home and I was in her study room piled with books ranging from romance, mystery, horror, thriller…you name the genre and there would be book that I carefully carried! There was never a day when she did not come to me and dust me. Guests who came home were envious of me and the books that ornamented me. There are countless pictures in the family album with me as the handsome backdrop.

Young Yug used to climb up (making some of those books fall) and pretended to hide on the top shelves for avoiding milk. Shakuntala always knew where to look for him and got him down gently. Yug practiced his scribbling on my tall side walls, he accidentally hit me with his bat too while practicing his cricket shots. He loved keeping his small little books on the bottom most shelves and would lovingly sleep besides me reading.

Little Yug once admonished for spilling over ink on me stains of which never let me. Yug hiding all his playboys on the top most corners. I thought he was my friend! He is now thinking I am ugly and a burden. To him, perfectly lined books, memories of his boyhood; seemed little in comparison to LED!

Shakuntala walked up to me and started sorting the books. Had she given up on me?!

Suddenly I noticed she was crying…her hands trembled and she slowly collapsed among the heap of books with a sigh …!

Yes we were indeed …together forever….my solid teak put to use for her last …

 

 

Love in a Metro

‘Mom! I will look at her pictures.’ I said aloud and disconnected the call. Looking around I realized my voice had managed to penetrate the head phone wearing gentry of the crowded metro train. They smirked as if they knew about the picture I was talking about!

I am Raj… I know; the name makes you think I would be having girls falling all over me. It is the exact opposite! I am this fly on the wall who wants to fly, I want to Raj karo on hearts and remain a wannabe. By now I have come to terms with the fact that nobody notices me ever and names can be deceptive.

I opened my email; and the most beautiful girl stared me back from my phone. She had perfect black hair and large almond shaped eyes. I had had many photographs sent to me, but none had this effect …I was in love..Yes!

I read the details…staying in PG at Delhi. “I can actually go and meet her! I grabbed a seat at the next station and sat dreaming about my future.

‘Can you move a little?’ Said a sugary voice…I looked up and yes you guessed it; there she was photo girl. Looking resplendent busy typing away on her phone…her fingers so tender and long …… She looked so good in person!

I saw, how uncomfortable she was sandwiched between me and another chap absorbed on his phone refusing to budge. I got up and she smiled gratefully, this was the first time a girl looked at me like this. My heart missed a beat….. She looked so happy chatting away….Blushing in between. With her family looking for a match, I am sure one of her friends is pulling her leg. At each new station, I hoped she does not get down; while yours truly had already missed his station for his destination…

Suddenly she looked up and it appeared she needed to charge her phone. I handed over my power bank to her…

‘Sorry..’

‘You are looking for a phone charger?’

‘Yes! But…..You had to miss your seat for me too..’

‘Please you can use it…’ I smiled

‘Thanks.’ She looked relieved. She was now typing a little slow and looked sad. Her full of life eyes were now full of tears. I wanted to hug her and console her…. I could sense that my eyes were moist too… so this is how being in love felt…

Suddenly she turned to the guy next to her.

‘Please do not do this.’

‘But you have not told your family yet.’ He said crossly.

‘Come on now Ajay! Papa keeps sending emails to random guys… latest is Delhi boy…I will say no…I love you; how can you doubt that’ she broke into tears.

The guy kept a hand on her shoulder and took her in an embrace.

I deleted the mail on impulse, but I do not have the heart to empty the trash…

 

 

 

 

 

MAX – a J W Marriott Initiative

 Who drives you buying decision these days? In the madly active advertising world where children are constantly exposed to media, they invariably guide us into buying something as small as toothpaste and something as huge as the new SUV. They have an opinion and most often than not it holds value. It is not surprising then that our vacations are also dictated by them or at least have considerable focus on their requirements. I am a business traveler and at times prefer to take my son along to the new place. The maximum time unfortunately is spent watching television or at the pool. Some resorts do have kids areas but they are mere caricatures and do not do justice to the child’s energy levels.

Last Sunday (March 06’ 2016) I attended a very interesting program launch by J W Marriott. They have come up with kid-centric vacation programs that aim at keeping children busy when you want to attend a business meeting, go shopping or just laze around at the pool side. Aptly titled MAX — to maximize the benefits of your vacation, it is an exclusive kids program, which aims to enrich the travel experiences of children through holistic activities that inspire and nurture. The program is available to guests staying at participating Marriott International hotels and resorts throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

MAX! is aimed at children from 5 to 13 years old and is founded on four activity pillars: Stay Active offers action-packed sessions, ranging from pool activities to dance lessons; Stay Curious encourages intellectual curiosity with activities such as cooking and arts-and-crafts; Go Explore will appeal to children’s sense of adventure; while Just Relax offers more tranquil pursuits. The four pillars are consistent throughout all offering properties; however the specific activities will be curated by each property, making the experience authentic to the location and culture.

 

The launch gave me a good understanding of how the trained staff will be closely and lovingly involved with our children. The whole setup was in keeping with the mood of the children and the educational aspect.

Children were having a blast playing mini golf, jumping in ball pool, coloring or just reading. The stipulated one hour stretched to almost three when children refused to leave with their parents! The launch function had a cake cutting session and some amazing kiddie snacks too!

The team had so thoughtfully arranged for surprise return gifts for all kids. They all looked so happy and this program sure looks like one to look out for when opting for a vacation with kids.

Namrata Chauhan

P.S. Please contact the hotel directly for details of the program.

 

 

 

Kids Culinaire – Sunday Februaruary 21

KC

Nehru Park was brought to life last Saturday and Sunday (20 and 21 Feb 2016) by kids of all ages; it was a food carnival – Kids Culinaire. Kids and food… mothers have this dreaded topic to discuss. So much so that our friends who are yet to be mothers smirk and steer clear of us when this debate surfaces.

‘Mine does not eat roti..’

‘Mine picks veggies from the pizza..’

‘Give him anything with ketchup…and he will eat!’

I was lucky to be representing Gurgaon Moms at the event organized by Pilcrow.  The theme was based on introducing healthy eating to kids. As the concept was kid centric I assumed it to be a place with a bouncy and swings; and a lecture on healthy eating… just the basics. I was actually in for a pleasant surprise.. I saw happy chirpy children yes… but in attendance were so many grandparents and parents and everyone was grinning from ear to ear, having a good time.

Many activities were put up for kids to participate and learn from. They had to complete 6 of them for a surprise gift from the “Treasure Island” stall. Children were running amok getting their little activity books stamped one by one completing interesting activities. They could do fishing activity, play snakes and ladders, feed animals, and arrange Jenga blocks…the list was never ending. They playfully revised their EVS lessons by knowing from live counters about milk, vegetables and fruits and protein. There was a kiosk for milking cow and once you milk it you got an ice cream as prize. Little ones queued up for this exiting experience. There was a fruit orchard with fruit plants and fruits where children were quizzed and won juices in return.

Mc Vities had put up a very interesting setup where traditional aata chakki was installed and children were given wheat grains to grind up and after the process was complete they earned a small packet of whole wheat biscuits. The Mc Vities healthy food court served sumptuous tasty treats and was a hit across all age groups.

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The Mc Vities Space

 

On the spot registration was in progress for demo classes by celebrity chefs. There were gift hampers for best dishes.

The demo that my son participated in was healthy salad making and he did everything on his own from chopping mixing garnishing to devouring it! He had a blast running around getting free ice cream, winning tokens for little contests and eating healthy, tasty meals.

 

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Salad Ready

He also planted and got home, a sapling and learnt all about compost and plant care.

Interesting vendor stall were available for parents too. The air fryers, flavored makhanas and personalized Nutella jars were my favorite.

The event was exceptionally well managed by Pilcrow …Kudos to them! I had a great time and my only regret was why I had not come yesterday and made the best of both the days.

Mommy Tip from the event: If Salad is made by them they will eat it. Just put and say – cheese