There’s an assortment of toys lying at various corners of my apartment. From soft toys to remote-controlled gadgets suitable for his age group, the soon to turn three-year-old cherishes every single purchase. Until a certain point, his favorite play items were pieces of paper, empty cartons, and discarded boxes. His next favorite became the huge collection of soft toys that were mostly accumulated as gifts. But the preferences shifted at every phase of growing up.
However, if there’s any toy set that has maintained the consistency of being his favorite for a year now, it will have to the plastic kitchen set meant for kids in the age group of 2 – 5 years. Other than the fact that we get to eat some delicious items cooked by him, this set also has a high sentimental value for him. It was gifted to my son on his second birthday by our cook who saved up money so that she could give him a gift.
Today is India’s 72nd Independence Day. Decades back, there were ample opportunities to move out and make a more developed country my home. But I chose to stay back for reasons close to my heart. Despite the number of years, it pains to see that my motherland is still shackled by quite a few regressive thoughts and practices. My son and his kitchen set are not mere toys in our household. They stand for our thoughts in trying to bring a change in the tiniest of ways, It is our way to break the taboo associated with gender stereotyping or casteism.
My husband and I have always grabbed the slightest of opportunities to travel to the unexplored destinations. During our first road trip from Mysore (Karnataka, India) to Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu, India), we were exhausted after traveling for nine hours. As we got down near the reception, this is the first sight that greeted us beyond which lay the cloud embraced hills.
The row of flower pots arranged symmetrically added to the beauty of the place. During our three days stay there, we realized that almost everything about the resort followed an alignment in the pattern of rows. The planning of cottages or placing of chairs and flower pots were evidence to our conclusion.
At times, I wish I knew how to arrange my life into a neat and symmetrical pattern of rows since chaos seems to be a permanent guest here.
This picture was clicked at Munnar, Kerala (India). As a married couple, this was the first hill station we had traveled together embarking on the first of many travel journeys that followed suit. Driving down from Mysore, it took us eleven hours to reach this beautiful town in Kerala yet the scenic beauty was enough to rejuvenate our soul. The field in this picture was the grazing ground for the animals but during the tiffin break, it also served as the play ground for the school kids on the opposite side of the road. The field was surrounded by houses, schools, offices and a research laboratory beyond which started the hills. We stood mesmerized by the rare and peaceful co-existence of nature and civilization.
Despite loving hills and mountains, I have always had a major fear of heights. In 2009, I had been freshly recruited as a Branch Manager for one of India’s topmost private banks. Along with another twenty-three campus recruits from different B-schools in the country, we were sent for a month-long training program at the Bank’s training center in Khandala (Maharashtra). Over the weekend, few of us started planning short trips to the nearby cities of Pune, Lavasa, Lonavala, Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. After a daylong tour at Mahabaleshwar, the last destination was an age-old temple post which we had planned to return back to our center. Just adjacent to this temple, we located a cliff that provided an amazing view of the surrounding. Confident of my unwillingness to climb the cliff, the team had begun retracing their steps when the gutsy wind swept my hair over my face, giving me a hitherto unknown strength. Along with my friends, I climbed the cliff to a safe zone near its edge by letting go of all my inhibitions. As I stood there breathing in the beauty of nature, the feeling was that of an achiever. I still say that I have never felt so liberated even till today.
My 69-year-old father used to be an avid footballer in his youth. Despite circumstantial constraints, he managed to make it to the District team before recurring asthma attacks forced him to quit the game forever. Ever since my toddler started preschool three months back, he has developed an extreme fondness for the game of football. On observing this, my father has started taking a renewed interest in playing this game with my son. I realize that this playtime is one of the strongest bonds between a grandfather and his grandson where the older generation passes on his experience, love, and learnings of the game to the future generation.