Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lessons for Life

Today, i learnt something very important. and i've realised that when something is important, i tend to write it in my diary but then look for it here. So it makes sense to post it here too, right?

Today, i learnt that there are a few things, about 5-10 things, that are the core of your personality. They make you "you". These are usually, though not necessarily, small things.. Like you have to have a cell phone on silent. You cant stand the ring of a cell phone. Its not funny. There is a reason to a supposedly small thing too. It is important to understand , identify, and acknowledge those core things, and then to not compromise on them, no matter what.

We compromise on these things for various reasons - relationships, marriage, career, money, friends, social norms.. whatever. But just dont do it. Because if you do it, then you end up with a an unexplained frustration that you will never understand. It is this that will make you "successful but not happy." And once that harmony is lost, you will not be able to get it back because you wont be able to tell what you are missing.

As we grow up, we are taught to get out of touch with ourselves. Children are always so clear about what they want and what they do not want. Ask any adult, and they wont be half as certain. hell, they wont be one tenth as certain. While it wont help to stay so defined on EVERYTHING, its extremely, extremely important to stay in touch with the 5-10 things that make you the core you. Even if they are small and inconsequential to others.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


बीन्धें कुछ पल,
चोरी करें पतंगे
और उड़ायें दूर तक
औरों के आकाश में
कुछ औरों की पतंगें

अपने ख्याल
न इतने आज़ाद हैं
न इतने हलके

पतंगें बनाने का काम
कवी ही सम्हालते हैं हमारे गाँव में
रोटी कमाने का काम
हमारा है।
और पतंगबाजी का शौक भी।

लोगों के मन के आकाशपर
कवियों की बनायीं पतंगें
उड़ाते हैं हम
आपस में
करते हैं पतंगबाजी भी
जुमलों के मांजे से

कवी भी
अपनी ही पतंगें उड़ाते हैं
अपने ही मन के आकाश में
करती हैं पतंगबाजी
उनकी ही उलझी सोचें
चोट खाए जज़्बात
उनके ही सीने से चिपटकर ॥

बस एक ही बात है
जो समझ नहीं आती
उनकी पतंगें
एहसास के मांजे पर तैरती
इतनी दूर कैसे जाती हैं?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Innovation in Education - Lab in Box, India

Once in a while, one comes across an innovation that one truly wants to write about. Today, i also had the added pleasure of understanding the innovation from the innovator himself - Dr. Jaijit Bhattacharya.

Like all developing countries, India has familiar problems in the education sector, particularly the rural education sector:
1. Poor Content.
2. Poor Infrastructure (including, and especially, power)
3. High Dropout ratio
4. Connectivity

If you have seen Entangled,(or if you have read Rapunzel), you know that Rapunzel spent her whole life in a tower - high up. No friends, no meeting people, no interaction with the rest of the world. EXCEPT.. that one tiny window, which lets in air and light.. and .. the promise of the lanterns.

Imagine living a life in a tower like that - WITHOUT THE WINDOW. You have little idea of what children outside your tower know. Even fewer chances to do "exploratory learning" . Remote, rural India is a little like that. Children rarely know how other children live, think, learn.

So what exactly is Lab in Box?

Its a shipping container, hermetically sealed, which draws its own power , is connected, and is fitted with computers. These computers are the little lanterns (metaphorically speaking, of course)

Put simply, its an 8 * 40 ft. classroom that can be carried on the chassis of a truck, in a ship, on a train, airlifted by a helicopter.. basically, any which way, can be placed anywhere, and provides instant classroom facilities. OR a computer lab. Whichever way you like it. Multiple containers can be put together to create a portable school anywhere.

WHICH means, that suddenly, its possible to open a window absolutely anywhere, for all children, but most of all , for children in remote areas. If Mohamed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain will be taken to Mohamed. If the children cannot come to metros where there is good infrastructure, clean, all weather classrooms and an opportunity to interact with other children, we will take the well equipped classroom to them.

If you have never been to remote, rural India.. it will be difficult to understand the importance of something as simple as a classroom. But if you have been to any remote area anywhere, and seen the infrastructure there.. then you will know what we are talking about. :-)

The applications of something as simple and powerful as this, are too many to be listed here.. so lets do it differently.. what are the various applications that you can think of, of this product?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Childhood Sexual Abuse for boys

I have a son. And i am very scared. Because, while abuse with girls is easier to acknowledge and talk about, abuse of boys is still pushed under the carpet, as if it never happened.. as parents, we do not know how to make sure we know when something is not right with our boy, the signs to watch out for in a male child, and of course, not enough people know what to do.
For personal reasons, i'd declined an invitation to join April as the Childhood Sexual Awareness month, but this is an important subject that needs talking.

What IS sexual abuse of a male child?
Same as a female child - any unnecessary and unacceptable touch / conversation around the private parts / sexual prowess of a young child. This starts right at birth - all aunties looking at and commenting on the "size" of a little infant boy - all in jest, of course. The nanny touching his private parts just a little bit longer than necessary... As male children grow, they are under increased threat, not just from aunties and maids, but also from other, older boys (or boys of the same age). Unlike females, privacy in a male washroom is minimal and allows for "peeking" and "comparing". There are other "games" that all male children may not enjoy, but are forced into.

If my child appears unimpacted, is it still abuse?
Yes. Children do not immediately react to abusive memories or incidents. It only shows up as emotional response or behavioral response many years later. make no mistake about it - the impact of sexual abuse is long lasting and sometimes severe. in most cases, it impacts the ability to trust and emotionally connect with others - especially of the other gender.

How to tell if my child is impacted?
This is where i draw a blank. I can tell you for girls, because most victims i worked with were girls. A boy may get more aggressive, or way more withdrawn. They may become socially rude, or they may become terribly moody. At any rate, they are likely to become anti social and talk less. If your child is talking lesser to you, that is cause for concern. If its not sexual abuse, it could be bullying, or anything else.. i would investigate as soon as a male child withdraws. Beyond that, i would really like to know from other therapists working on the subject.

Open Communication Channel
There is, however, one thing that cannot be overstated - NOTHING ELSE can tell you if your child is being abused. ONLY YOUR CHILD can tell you that. its so discreet that no one else gets to know. Which is why, the single MOST IMPORTANT Prevention and correction mechanism is to have an OPEN COMMUNICATION CHANNEL with your child.
Ask HIM if he ate. Ask him if he took a bath. Ask HIM if he reached school on time. NOT his caretaker, not his teacher, not his day care. Only the child. He may be only 2 and unable to talk, he may lie in the beginning and make things up. But thats ok. He is getting the confidence that you care about his activities and his feelings, and that you take his word for it. Which is the second most important thing. Always, his word is trusted more than any other word. Even if you know it to be an explicit lie, trust it and act as if you trust it. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Let me explain why this is crucial. When he comes to you, if ever, with the confession of abuse, the one thing that he cannot bear to hear is "You're making this up. Of course Uncle Binny would never do such a thing. We've known him for years! " He needs to know, BEFORE he comes to you, that he will be explicitly trusted. no matter what his age.

Here are some links that i found useful:
Sexual Abuse of Boys
Living Well website has a lot of resources.

And of course, this post by Monica that started it all.

Do visit the CSA blog - i think its fantastic work!

someone stole my content!

Yes, its finally happened.. someone stole my content and published it under their name, with no trackback, acknowledgement, nothing. Even tho it was jus Amrita Pritam poetry and my opinion on some pieces.. it feels bad.. when we share our most personal favorite, and someone just rips it off and makes away.. one feels not nice at all.. :-( PS: i m not linking to that site deliverately bcs i dont want to send them even more traffic.. but if u can help, pls email me at