Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Lockdown Effect: The Gamechanger!

There is an immense polarity in this world- to every negative, there's a positive! Every downslope has an uphill. Every sad news has a positive news. Every white has a black. Every darkness has a light. Every rudeness has a kindness. This is what lockdown taught me. How to make the best of what you have. 

I had developed the habit of always hankering for more- being greedy about more clothes, more gadgets, more perfumes, more slippers, more shoes, more food, more stock in the fridge, more of so many goods and items. However, just living quietly indoors for so long has resulted in me giving more and asking for less. I always thought what else can I offer? More help to my mother, more help to my father, more reading habit, more work in the house, more cooking, more cleaning, more organisation, more systematic living. Few things that I learned were developing my skills and the mantra- more you give, more you get is so true.

Every morning beginning the day with some Yoga, cooking breakfast for the family, starting online classes for children, making them well-versed with new concepts and ideas, introducing them to new English words and grammar rules, laying the table for lunch, eating together, reading during the day, walking with the family in the evening, making chapatis for dinner, eating and watching television together are some of the few ways in which I feel I connected with my parents. Occasionally we visited my grandfather's place where I also met my uncle and his kids. Spending time with cousins who are otherwise busy was a fun practice.

This phase of Corona virus and its aftermath has resulted in increased family camaraderie and wellbeing in the family. As we spend more time with each other, we also got more time to spend on ourselves- develop our own reading and writing skills. I have to thank God for helping me turn this pandemic as a 'boon in disguise' where I learnt to place my priorities right, for the family and for myself. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Apsaras or Yoginis

My recent school trip with Yoga students to Ranchi in the state of Jharkhand that was carved out of southern Bihar in 2000 was indeed a memorable one. It once again took me down memory lane when I had travelled alone for work to Simla to report on 'unusual winter' in North India. I remembered how my cameraperson Manoj was a huge support when I shivered under my leather boots from 8 a.m. till almost 9 p.m. doing LIVE OBs (Outdoor Broadcasts) from the Town Hall and the Mall. I stayed up all night in the room at Naldera (where the golf course was) as somebody told me a man-eater visits the area every night. Then I also remembered how I almost slipped while going to the public toilet as the snow was melting and the passage was very narrow. Then of course the best part was the gift (Khadi jacket) I bought for my mother from the local Khadi Gramodyog and some souvenirs for colleagues and friends.

This trip was way better as I had the company of another male colleague who was managing most of the trip. I only had to hang around with little ones, trying to fend for themselves and partially succeeding in the process. Each one seemed like a mini-adult with their own suitcases and belongings and managing everything in the hotel room from calling the housekeeping to get the room cleaned, to making tea for everyone, to practising Yoga intermittently to even waking up at 5 a.m. for the early Yoga competition. Hats off to them for such Yoga Ninjas, something I never was as a child. Frankly speaking, my Tittibhasana was so poor at 9 while now, at 39, it is better and my knees are more straight than ever while in the pose. The inspiration comes from the girls. Briefly my 'Virabhadras' (my little warriors) even became media students clicking multiple photographs, taking slow-mo videos and modelling for the camera. As I wrote my diary at night, one of them innocently asked, "Ma'am, do you share your secrets with your diary? Who do you share your secrets with?" and I had to answer, "No way. I share my secrets only with God." There were many such incidents based on my interaction with the kids that left me thinking about my philosophy of life and inspiring me to rethink the way I have been living so far.

Then came the D-Day and the event unfolded with cultural programmes, musical chants, religious and wise sermons and a splash of colour. It all went smoothly where we got some selfies clicked with the budding Yoga stars like Anushka Karmakar who bent their bodies with agility and flexibility. Our girls were no less with immaculate precision, unflinching dedication and sharp focus in each of their performances.

However, Yoga here was done as a sport and girls were dressed more like Apsaras than Yoginis, at least a few of them. What intrigued me was the way in which girls bent like gymnasts and danced like acrobats, too. Yoga, of course, is much more, as I later had a long conversation with a local school staff who was a Christian and asked me, "Is Yoga for the body or for the mind?" It was yet another enlightening interaction with the gentleman, who later became my Facebook friend (:))!
Thanks & Regards
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All in all, a brilliant 'learning experience'!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

My First 'Win' As A School Teacher

I hadn't tasted victory since school or maybe since college days. The recent turn of events got me flabbergasted. I didn't know how to react when my Yoga team was announced the winner of Under-17 Girls' Yoga Championship; especially when the girls' names were announced for clinching various titles across Athletic Yoga and Rhythmic Yoga categories. My first four Yoga girls will go down my memory lane as the ones who taught me how the younger ones can make you feel proud and raise your stature in public- I owe it to you girls for making me feel happy and contented at the same time. 

The first day at this two-day Yoga tournament was one of curiosity, diffidence and trepidation. Curiosity because I had never viewed Yoga as a 'competitive' act. I always practised it as a spiritual and a therapeutic balm to soothe my mind and nerves when in anxiety or distress. So the word 'Yoga competition' got me all anxious about how was this event going to turn out. Diffidence because this was the first time I had trained the Yoga team, although not to my satisfaction as my 'Yoga sessions' with the kids were often interspersed with dialogue, chat, discussion and lots of fun and laughter. I was keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they will be able to perform their best with full confidence. I was actually very excited to see the confidence in the girls. Trepidation in me was due to the fierce competition that existed at this event with lot of new comers showcasing their talent with finesse, skill, flexibility and expertise. Young boys and girls bent their bodies like rubber dolls and the older ones jumped around like Tarzans-in-the-making! My heart skipped a beat when Aastha Singh was doing Uttanapada Asana and the chief referee would not stop his stop-watch. It felt like the longest Uttanapad Asana at 45 degrees!! Whoa, Aastha cracked it!!

However, once the girls finished their performance in the evening, I was a bit satisfied with the kind of training I had imparted (although I felt girls pretty much trained themselves and were quite self-disciplined). I gave them all a huge hug and after a quick chat with their parents wrapped up for the day, ready for the next morning’s event of Rhythmic Yoga.

On the second day it was Pragya Sharma’s event and other girls Elisha Singh, Parnika Shukla and Aastha Singh soon came along to lend a helping hand. After the usual girly decking up in the small room allotted to us, we all got ready for the dancing spirit. Performers from Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad and Jhansi were present. I was surprised and saddened not to see any participation from Uttarakhand, considering there are such great Yogis in and around Haridwar and Rishikesh and the hills in general. Pragya’s performance was good but could have been better. Anyway, the event soon came to an end as special guests and principals of various schools started arriving for the closing ceremony.

The Yogic dance-tunes that played reminded me of my ‘Yoga Group Dance’ on the Archies 1969 original ‘Sugar, Sugar’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9nE2spOw_owhere we had even created a Yoga-Television (YTV) in the end. The resplendent performances by school kids were finally followed by the moment that just took me aback.

The girls’ parents were waiting with baited breath to hear the results as were all of us. Gradually, the winners were announced and there was loud cheer and lots of shouting. I was surprised to hear Pragya’s result, nevertheless elated that she was not going to be left behind for the Nationals where the entire team would be going to Ranchi for the mega-event. A great photo session followed with final goodbyes with the trainers, coaches and teachers.

It was a moment for me to get to know the girls better and peek into their sportsman spirit. While Elisha was a very active girl cautious about not ever hurting her teacher (so unlike her elder sister Elishiba who was always the mischief-monger), Parnika was like the ‘obedient junior’ to others and Aastha and Pragya led the pack, Aastha leading by example and never giving up on asanas (always challenging herself to try new ones instead of dwelling on the oes she was comfortable with) and Pragya being the ‘vocal’ leader of the group. It was a super evening, something to be always cherished!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

मोह - पाश

एक ओर से झोंका आया
भंवर जाल की तरह
माया का जंजाल
मोह - पाश का मायाजाल

आकांक्षाएं आकाश  छूती हुई
सपने फिर से मंडराते हुए
माया का जाल है
अथवा मोह - पाश जीवन का ?

विश्वविजेता जैसा अनुभव
रंगों भरी एक दुनिया
हिमालयों को छूने का जज़्बा
मोह - पाश का छल

अथक परिश्रम करने का हौसला
सब कुछ पा लेना  एक सांस में
एक ही क्षण में  समा जाना
यही है, यही है मोह - पाश ??

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My First Week as A School Teacher

My decision to become a school teacher was taken in a jiffy. It was not the result of a long drawn process. I always revered teachers teaching in High Schools but never thought I will become one. I believe teachers at this stage are the ones who create a true foundation for the little ones. It is in this stage that a child imbibes values, discipline, work culture, manners, etiquettes, habits which prove to be right or wrong in the long run in the 'school of life'.

My first day at Sheiling House School was one of trepidation. A lot of questions went around in my mind- how will students accept me? How will the new colleagues be? How will my new boss be? Will I be able to take on the new, more challenging role of shaping a new life? How will I manage young minds without myself ever having the practice of handling such a young age? Lo and behold, all the questions were answered in the first week as I slowly stepped into this new role with ease and grace.

Shakespeare's Day was celebrated on my day of joining on 23rd April where a student narrated my favourite speech - 'Friends, Romans, countrymen...' There were sonnets and other acts enacted on stage while the entire school became part of a quiz on Shakespeare. This was in the Special Assembly. Few days later SHS Nations were felicitated in yet another Special Assembly. Within the first week, an announcement was also made about 'CISCE Inter-School Football Tournament' being won by Sheilingites in the Under-17 category. Besides Special Assemblies, there was also a Class Assembly held and even the normal assembly where students of different classes queued up at a central lobby singing prayers, reading the news headlines, reading 'thought for the day' and even singing the School Anthem and the National Anthem.

As I stepped into take my first few classes, I got to know some familiar faces and drafted a plan as to how I will conduct my classes and divide the syllabus until Half-Yearlies and Final examinations. I browsed a few websites for good books to be prescribed for the library on the subject and also searched the CISCE website to download syllabi and specimen question papers of my subject- Mass Media and Communication. I even sat and typed some notes to get the students started on some bit of reading for the class assignments. In order to make the class interesting I took the students to the Computer Lab and introduced them to some designing and creative attributes of MS-Office. 

What truly made me feel like I'm a part of the School was 'substitution'- something I thoroughly enjoyed. First I was asked to substitute for Ms. Mody in Class VIII-A. I asked the students to write an 'Anchor Link' for a TV-show as I gave them a sample of one such format on TeachNext, the smart board. Next came my chance to substitute for Tanima Ma'am in Class VII-E where I had to ask them to write an essay on 'My Greatest Wish'. I shared some of my ideas, thoughts, quotes and words on 'wish' and asked them to write 200 words. It was fun minding these two classes as sometimes one even complained against their own classmates thinking I would find a solution if they complained. A small praise like 'a good boy' lit up faces of students and encouraged them to work harder and write smarter.

As I gradually took up jobs related to Campus News, Declamation, etc. I still sort of overcame my 'fear' and began liking the place much to my surprise. This is, of course, work in progress!!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

क्या है मेरा अस्तित्व?

 पिता की दुहिता लाडली
या गाँव की अल्हड़ निराली
या फिर प्रेमी की प्रेमिका ?
या फिर भाई की सेविका?

क्या है मेरा अस्तित्व
क्या है मेरी पहचान?

क्या हूँ मैं भगवान् की पुजारिन?
या फिर क्राइस्ट की दुलारिन
या फिर अल्लाह की काफ़िर
या फिर विज्ञान का ‘सिफ़र’

क्या है मेरा अस्तित्व
क्या है मेरी पहचान?

विध्वंसकों के लिए क्रूरता
महिलाओं के लिए वीरता
बालकों के लिए प्रेम-प्रतीक
अपराधियों के लिए जवाब सटीक

क्या है मेरा अस्तित्व
क्या है मेरी पहचान?

वो समझे मुझे बेवफ़ा
और ये मुझे मिसाल-ए-वफ़ा
वो समझे मुझे रौद्र अभिमानी
और ये मुझे करुणा-स्वाभिमानी

क्या है मेरा यौवन, क्या वृद्धावस्था
क्या है जीवन, क्या मूर्छावस्था
कौन है मित्र-कौन शत्रु मेरा
परिस्थितियों का खेल सारा

क्या है मेरा अस्तित्व
क्या है मेरी पहचान?

Friday, November 2, 2018

रात्रि का विश्राम

अंधकार की काली स्याही
बन जाती मेरा सिपाही
प्रकाश के ओज से दूर
शोर से स्वप्ना की ओर
रात्रि के चिर-विश्राम में
मन के शांत कोने में
सिमट जाते हैं वो पल
आवाज़ करते कल कल कल कल