Saturday, August 02, 2014

Cousins. Of all kinds.

Cousins. What's the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of 'Cousins'?

Family, extended family, childhood fun, games that you played.

I have a lot of first cousins and second cousins. And yeah, I understood the concept of second cousins while I was in school. A more helpful description is here,in case you didn't know - Courtesy - WikipediaWe share common ancestors, grand parents or great grand parents.

I grew up in a small town away from all my cousins. Most of my first cousins from both maternal and paternal sides, lived in villages and studied in rural schools in Hoblis or Talukas nearby their homes. In that sense, my siblings and I were the privileged lot who got a chance to study in the town's one and only Private English Medium School at that time. 

I rarely met them. It was only when we had some poojas at home. And may be when we attended marriages or functions outside of town or sometimes during summer and winter vacations.

When I look back at those years, the one thing I seemed to have problems with was that a majority of my first cousins were way too older than us. Some of them 10-14 years older than me. Blame both my parents for being the youngest in their families. We ended up being the youngest too :) So there was a huge gap in terms of relating to the phases in each one of our lives at the time. With some of them who were almost the same age as us, I remember having difficulty in sharing what's happening at our schools since they studied in a rural set up, and barely had any opportunities to explore extra curricular activities in sports or otherwise.

On the contrary, I was in touch with many of my second cousins who lived in the same town and studied with us. I remember discussing school stories with them through the noons over the weekends or during playtime. Also there were some of my older second cousins who I idolized and wanted to grow up to be like them. But again, they lived in Bangalore, a city which in itself passes on many things, which you can't relate to, coming from a small town. So I did face trouble on both sides of the spectrum.

Yes, there were all these constraints. But then, there were these high points as well. I remember spending so many nights on terraces in our villages homes, grandmas' homes, carrying mats and beddings. Watching stars through the night discussing the latest movies, songs and other useless things. And by 5 - 5 30 AM, when the weather became too cold to sleep on the terrace, we used to quickly run downstairs and then continue to sleep :)

I also remember relishing some home-made delicacies which our grand moms and mothers prepared for us during our vacations. My grand mom made this tamarind-salt-jaggery-jeera all crushed and made into little laddoos. Ah, so sour and tangy! One of my aunts made this awesome Beetroot Halwa. In fact I have never found it being made anywhere else and I wish more people made it, it's just so good. And those ice creams from the carts which you bought and ate together.

So, many years later when I started working and got hold of a mobile for myself I started calling some of them who also happened to have mobile phones/or were using emails, sometimes on their birthdays or wedding anniversaries. But still, I don't know birthdays of many of my first cousins.

2014. I feel the situation may not have entirely changed. But now I meet them more frequently and I do not let go of any opportunities I get to meet them and their children, in spite of living many miles away from them. 

Do you also have that cousin who talked too much, who spoke endlessly spinning stories, which you thought were not true? Or a cousin who didn't speak at all and sulked all the time? Or the one whom you avoided because of gossip and secrets slipping out of your circle? Or the one whom you idolized through your growing up years? Or the one in whom you confided in, more than with your own siblings? 

I remember reading this somewhere recently. ''A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost". And I think to myself. Indeed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mothers, A Tale of Three Generations.

July 2012, ah, it's been a really long time. Between then and now, I am a mother of going-to-be-two year old toddler. And being a mother is what has brought me back to blogging which I diligently used to do few years ago.

During my growing up years I learnt a lot of things about my paternal and maternal homes and the people around them. My grand dads on both sides had two wives. Both their first wives were long gone before I was even born and with them, my grand dads too. So I had both my maternal and paternal grand moms, who were the second wives. They lived with us through most of my growing up years and teenage life.

Both these women showed strong support and love to their children, but not so much to the ones who lived with me, my mom and dad. I kind of always wondered, why is that. Never got any answers to my questions back then.

Many years have since passed observing my own mother and I am now a mother myself. A few observations though, stay strongly with me even today. Few strong revelations about Mothers.

Mothers most often worry more about the children who are not in front of them or with them. Even if the ones in front of them may have worrying issues at hand. Even if the ones with them worry more about their parents than themselves.

Mothers are most often not reasonable, in their attitude or behaviors with their children. They have a long list of expectations as the children grow up and become adults. They all do. Some of them let go after a point, some of them never do.

Mothers in Indian society adore their sons more than their daughters, you'd think, and you are right. Until his wife, the daughter-in-law arrives. My father is the only son and the last child amongst the three of them. He never enjoyed any bias for being a son, which is great. But what was worse is the fact that he lost much of the love from his mother, after he got married and had children of his own. Suddenly one of the daughters became the dearest to my grand mom and she grew blind to everything else. There's not a single day which has passed by, without both my parents worrying about her.

In many Indian families including my own maternal and paternal homes, I have seen extreme bias towards one or more children. In the process the child who has received less attention than the others tends to get disconnected or detached. Thankfully, this part though hasn't come true for myself, yet.

My mother loves all of us in the same way and complains about all of us in the same way too. She may be a bit more tolerant to some of us, than the others. I can't say the same for both my grand mothers. My mother worries more about the children who live far away from her, including myself though the ones with her, near her, cater to almost everything she needs.

I wonder, I really wonder how things will go with me as a Mother and I have a son.

I have lived the first half of my life on my terms. Studied what I wanted, though my parents thought something else was better for me. Took up my first job where I wanted, though my parents were apprehensive, worried that I would be miles away from home. Chose the love of my life, though my parents were completely aghast with my decision and abhorred me for what seemed like the longest few days/months of my life.

They came around, I convinced them, they convinced me.

My father convinced me that studying in a particular college on a payment quota seat would mean that I would get recruited on-campus and stay closer home, though I strongly believed I should take up a free seat in a college far away without burdening him any further.

I convinced my teary eyed mother while boarding the train to Mumbai for my first job, that I would take care of myself in the 'underworld' city. And that she can sleep peacefully.

I convinced my parents that 'HE' shall be the one and only love of my life. 7 years on, they know what I felt when I told them. They know that I live that everyday.

I will let my son live the life on his terms. I am there to advise him when needed, protect him all along and value his opinions as he grows.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Toybank turns 8 and more!

The jump from turning 5 to 8 is indeed a huge one! Come August 2012, Toybank will complete 8 amazing years of making children happy in various cities and rural areas of India and children from Bhutan as well!

While the jump happened slowly in the background over the last 3 years, I was busy moving from one city to another in India and also found an opportunity to visit a country renowned to be 'Truly Asia' for it's culture and demographics!

My previous post talked about Toybank turning 5 and of it's newest chapters back then, Bangalore and Pune and their activities. Add Delhi, Hyderabad, UK and Bhutan to the list, and that's how much Toybank team has grown over the last 3 years! :)

Toybank had a huge gathering of its volunteers, supporters, board members, partners on 9th Jun this year and the event passed on a lot of happy vibes through the evening with all the stakeholders sharing their thoughts and experiences on working with Toybank.

Here's a cool gift I received from the team that day :)

This Summer I also managed to join the Delhi Photography Club and attended 2 amazing heritage photo walks with them, which has added a lot of variety to my weekends along with Toybank! :) Drop by on the blog's home page and take a look at some of the glimpses I managed to catch in Malaysia and India in the recent past!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Toybank turns 5!

Yes indeed! Toybank turned '5' on the 15th of August! And we are planning to make this 5th year anniversary a fantastic one. Here are some upcoming events in Pune and Bangalore!

Toybank Bangalore
Our last event in Bangalore was with kids at IAR summer camp in May. It's time to gear up for the next distribution event and this time in rural Karnataka - a first of its kind for Toybank Bangalore.

On the 6th of September 12 of our volunteers will be distributing toys to the kids from Govt. Higher Primary Secondary School in Siddarahalli village of Belur, Hassan district. Toybank is working with 2 other social welfare groups to bring in more cheer to the children during the event.

JoinUs2Help - will be sponsoring a parade drum and copy-writing books for the children.
Aakanksha - would also participate and engage the children in coloring, drawing and some craft activities.

We also had a toy collection drive in ANZ, Bangalore. The employee volunteers have collected the toys and they are now going to be wrapped and distributed very soon!

Please mail in at for any queries.

Toybank Pune
After the 1st toy distribution event in Pune with Gyanankur School, Toybank Pune is back in action!
Toybank donated 350 toys to 300+ kids and to the toy library of the school.

We have few events planned to celebrate the 5th year anniversary. But these have taken a set back due to the swine flu attack in Pune. A toy collection drive is planned in one of the societies and dates are being discussed with the management to arrange the drive. Also we are planning for a toy distribution event with one of the schools run by Akanksha with the help of PMC and other MNCs.

Please mail in at for any queries.

Join us in making the rest of the year an amazing one by reaching out to more kids with Toybank. Join Toybank on Facebook & Orkut and spread the word. Get instant updates about our events on Twitter!

You can also send in any suggestions and feedback to us on our website!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mystic Mahabaleshwar

We finally made a trip to Mahabaleshwar last month and here are the pics. It was a perfect day with a drizzle here and there and clouds all over the hills of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.

And yes we managed to pack a carton full of Mapro goodies on our way back!

Oh Yes! am alive and blogging!

I hate to realize it every time that it's been almost 6 months since my last post now!
I was caught up with a few things at work, home and Toybank. But none of these are any kind of excuses for not being in the scene.

In the past 2 weeks I was down with fever and cough, you know the kind of sad cough - I don't even remember having one of these in a long long time! I had sleepless nights in spite of taking all kinds of antibiotics, syrups, home-remedies and now homeopathy too. Don't you worry - I don't have 'the flu'. I am working from home for a couple of weeks now and hoping to get back to the work routine soon.

These days I mostly wait for weekends more than anything else to have some 'me' time. EPL's back with a new season! Though we haven't had the best start am sure things will get better very soon.

And yeah there was 24 to our rescue after we had finished watching Lost season 5. And now that we have successfully finished watching all the 7 seasons of 24 as well, all we can do is wait until January arrives for some action on the small screen! Meanwhile I was exposed to a sitcom - Frasier, a delightful show with unique characters! Hope I can munch on this for a while. We did try Entourage but somehow after 2 episodes I didn't crave to go back and watch more. May be will try it when we run out of all options some day :)

Alright too much of TV there! Let's move on. You know by now that Pune is on the world map for being a swine flu hot spot. All thanks to this, that in the past one month I did hear some really dumb and weird things people did because of the swine flu scare. Definitely the city was under a panic attack for the first couple of weeks after the first casualty. But with the media and newspapers taking swine flu out of all their headlines I must say that things are back to normal now.

I know I have been lazy in updating the blog. But I have been in action on Twitter though. You can catch me here!

3 cheers to 'me coming back to blogging'! Toybank updates will soon follow this post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Let's get started!

Here are some of the action points from yesterday's meeting in Pashan.

Toy collection will go on for a month's time in Panchvati which is home to many societies/apartments in Pashan. Arvind who runs One Life activities has offered Success Club as the toy storage space for the drive. And we already saw two bags of toys donated by yesterday :)

Everyone will send in their recommendations of any NGOs they have worked with in and around Pashan (and elsewhere in Pune). This'll help us during distribution of toys.

Initially our target will be to do one distribution per month depending on the toys collected and hence reach out to kids in Pune.

And guess what I was thrilled to see some special volunteers at the meeting. Around 6 kids joined us in the meeting yesterday :) . They are willing to be volunteers for the drive as soon as they are done with their exams!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Toy drive in Pashan, Pune

Volunteers in Pune - get ready to join us for toy drives in Panchvati, Pashan.
Toybank toy drives will be on in various buildings/societies in Panchvati.

We'll be collaborating with volunteers in Pashan and One Life to kick start this toy drive.
We have a meeting scheduled today at 2 PM.

Saturday, February 14, 2009
2 - 3 PM
One Life Activity Club,Near State Bank Nagar Society,Panchvati
Pashan Road

Here's the agenda for the meeting.

(1) Chalk out plans for toy drive in various buildings/societies in Pune .
(2) Discuss how we can get volunteers from Pune who can help us in collection, gift-wrapping and distribution with the help of One Life and also by spreading a word across all societies.
(3) Involve Volunteers from One Life in our distribution events and hence encourage inclusive play.
(4) Identify NGOs in and around Pashan so that distributions can happen in same area.
(5) Discuss on how we can schedule monthly or fortnightly meetings/follow ups.
(6) Discuss any other ways how we can collaborate with One Life to spread the message.

Please mail us at in case you have any queries.

Also there are toy drives happening in Juhu Vile Parle, Mumbai starting from 16th of February till 7th of March. Find out more here.

This is a toy collection and distribution drive set up all through JVPD Scheme, Mumbai. Students from the MBA Tech program from the Mukesh Patel Institute are initiating this Toy rally all through mid February and March. People living around these areas can fully support this activity if interested. Please write in to for more details.

Let us give back the right to a childhood!