Being the youngest sibling

My younger son was mad at me-

"You could have taken ME out of your tummy FIRST!"

"I wanted to be a big brother, but now I will ALWAYS be the younger 

"Put Bhaiya (big brother) back into your tummy and get ME out first." he demanded.

I said, "Your honor! Being your mom I enjoy some influence but I 
cannot decide the sequence of my babies."

Disappointed, he asked, "Okay, so in how many years can I catch up to Bhaiya (big brother)?"

"Never hon, for he will always be two years ahead of you. When you 
grow, he grows as well," I explained.

It was a bitter realization for my little munchkin that age is one area where he could not compete and win. His big brother was a born winner (literally) in this contest.

Being the youngest sibling myself I could identify with my kid’s feelings. To be born first gives some advantage to the older siblings, although being the littlest in the family undoubtedly has its benefits.


So what does it mean to be the youngest?

  1. The elder siblings consider you as one of their standby entertainment sources. When they are bored, you are an easy target for playing pranks, picking up a fight or teasing.
  2. You think that to be a whistle-blower is one of your duties towards your parents, and you are super good at it. It is virtually impossible for the elder siblings to keep any secrets from you, the little devil, and this is one of the reasons that you are your parent’s favorite.
  3. You end up with excellent negotiation skills as the elder siblings use you to put forward their requests in front of the parents. Whether it is a demand for a dog or to go out for movies or even stay late for the night, they know who they need to use as their bait to influence the powerheads/parents. I remember doing it for my sisters and more often than not, I did not disappoint them.
  4. Being the youngest, you have few pictures of your childhood. By the time you came into this world, your parents lose interest in capturing the baby’s firsts or just about anything in photos. You cherish your childhood photos that even have a part of your face in them.
  5. You become an errand person for the others in the family-‘Go fetch an apple from the fridge.’ ‘Get me a bowl from the kitchen, or a cup of water and so on….’,and this task delegation never ends. I was an  ‘in-house courier service’ for my family with no real money as salary. Good news that now the youngest can enjoy some free time with the advent of errand outsourcing apps. (
  6. You end up being responsible. It is because your elder siblings have already made some crazy mistakes, landed in trouble and you tend to learn from their mistakes.
  7. You enjoy more freedom and trust from your parents, partly because you are more responsible but mainly because they are tired of putting restrictions. By the time it is your turn, parents mellow down, and nothing surprises them anymore.
  8. You are the last one to be born in the family and the last one to leave home for better opportunities. It means that you are also bound to deal with your parent’s empty nest syndrome. When it the time for you to leave your parents are confronted with the reality that their house will be truly empty now.
  9. You become used to your elder siblings looking out for you. It makes you dependent and relaxed as someone always has your back.
  10. You are exposed to things sooner than your friends. Thanks to your older siblings you’ve already taken a peek at the TV shows/movies and learned some swearing words that many of your peers did not.
  11. You realize that your identity to the world is just not you, but as someone’s younger sister or brother. The teachers in school know you like that, so do the neighbors and the society in general. So you find it challenging to establish your individuality.
  12. You will always be a baby of the family. People think twice before giving you responsibilities as you always remain little in their eyes.
  13. It is difficult for you to establish your fashion sense amidst the constant supply of hands me down from your older siblings.
  14. There are always too many people telling you dos and don’t as they care about you. This overwhelming mentoring turns you into a cautious person and also may sometimes confuse you in decision making.

Though each of the birth order comes with its own pros and cons, being the youngest is not bad at all! I loved it (most of the times) being cuddled and always having someone to count on. That is my take and someday I hope my little boy would realize this too as he finds a best friend in his big bro.

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You can do anything you set your mind to, even pick-up a dead mouse

Our move to the house is officially complete. We still have few more boxes to open, but the big chunk of the arranging the house is now accomplished.

Pantry and kitchen were the first rooms that I laid out after the move. I stocked the pantry with best of what my family likes- organic pancake flour mix, savory snacks and chocolate chip cookies, oblivious that are abode was invaded by the tiny, squeaky creatures who shared the same love for food.

That fateful night, our pantry stuff was carelessly nibbled by the mice. I was angry at the mayhem that these buggers created. So I did what the situation demanded. I called the pest control. The company left me with mouse traps after a casual demo of how to apply peanut butter on the traps to attract the rodent. Apparently, these mice are drawn to peanut butter like Winnie the Poo to honey.

My hubby and I set the traps and waited for the catch.

Day 1 morning: Bingo!! We caught one mouse.

Disposing it off was easy! My hubby wore plastic bags like gloves and neatly put the dead mouse into another bag and threw it.

Day 2 and 3 Caught two more mice and my husband tossed the dead rodents like a pro.

Day 4 Caught one more, but this time my hubby did not throw it . He gave me a look. The look that said it was my turn to get hands dirty. It wasn’t as if I had to do bungee jumping or something insanely scary like skydiving, but I felt squeamish at the sight of the mouse.

My hubby said, ‘You’ve dissected mice in Biology, so throwing a dead mouse is a piece of cake!’

‘Eeewwwuuu! I can’t even look straight at the dead rodent.’

‘Just pick the whole thing up and throw it in a bag.’

After my hubby left for work, I was left alone to deal with my fears. After a deep exhale, I gave a ninja glance at the lifeless mouse, while  murmuring ‘It’s a piece of cake, it’s a piece of cake!’ ‘It’s not a dead mouse, but just a piece of cake.’ 

Clouded by my thoughts, I wrapped my hands in a plastic grocery bag.  I doubled the bag in my other hand to be extra cautious to not touch the mouse. Then I stood as far as possible from the target, and then bent over and stretched my arm to grab the trap along with the entangled mouse barely holding it with my thumb and finger. I threw the dead into the bag and secured it with many knots. I am grateful to the yoga practice that helped me in taking this perfect warrior stance against my enemy- the fear.

13160107913_cc41ae8f48_z‘Phew!’ I took a deep sigh of relief and did a victory dance to celebrate my act of valor. I washed my hands multiple times and then collapsed onto a couch like a doctor celebrating the success post a complicated surgical operation. That morning instead of tea I had a big glass of wine. (Well, wine part is a bit of a stretch, but I sure felt drunk over my success.)

Hence proved I can do anything I put my mind to, even pick up the dead mice.

So, can you!

Photo credit: CJ Isherwood via / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: symphony of love via / CC BY-SA

I am busy syndrome

I’ve been ignoring my blog for last few weeks.

Somewhere down the lane I ran out of ideas and then I lost the vibe to write. But let truth  be told that the creativity emerges when you show-up regularly, not the other way round, the lazy way I just described ‘I ran out of ideas so I stopped writing!’

But I could not show up as ‘I’ve been keeping very busy’, another excuse I tell for not doing some work. ‘I am busy’,  is a convenient excuse as it frees me from the guilt trap about ignoring my work (writing in this case). I am busy and I cannot take time out to write. It is that simple. Right? Also, if writing is my passion, it should come naturally to me but it does not.

Until recently when I reflected on the ‘I am busy’ syndrome, I realized that we tend to wear the ‘I am busy’ status as a badge of honor. As a mom if I have idle time then I feel that I am not spending enough time in taking care of my children. In reality idle time is good, it means that I rock as a mom! It implies that I am good at time management skills and I can take time to go out for dinner and pedicure. Basically smell the roses on way to motherhood.

‘I am busy’ is a facade, a lie that I tell myself and others when in reality I am not able to manage my time and my chores are all over the place. With this new found wisdom, I decided to do the housekeeping of the chores that are carelessly scattered all over the place keeping me occupied and less productive.  I tidied my chores neatly organizing them so that I can do them in less time.

After the realization and some effort on my part to focus on the task at hand,  I decided to show up today and start writing after weeks. After all ninety percent of success is just showing up. If I keep at it regularly, hope is that my neurons would have to give in and ideas will emerge to create something readable for my readers.

If any of you ever feel like hiding in bed, hope this little piece of writing inspires you to get out and show-up.


Finding humor in spring allergies


Spring is here, and ‘Achoo’ is nothing but my body’s way of saying, ‘Hello Spring!’

Anyone who is grappling with debilitating spring allergies would understand what I am talking about. But my dear allergic friends, do you know that there is a lighter side of having allergies–

You are grateful for two nostrils

One of your nostrils is almost clogged, and you realize how thankful you are for having two of them. At night, you roll over in the bed to open up each of those nostrils at a time, as you try to force some air through them.

You can truly feel it

While the people around you rejoice the spring, you in the real sense are the only one to feel this season from inside out. So don’t let the nonallergic kinds make you feel less important in any way.

Never-ending blessings

“Bless you”! It is what people say, when you sneeze. Every spring I accumulate thousands of blessings enough to get me through the year, and then I refill my blessings in the next spring. How cool is that!

You get to meet your type

How exciting it is to see another person going through the same allergic hell as you! When you go to a party with swollen red eyes, sniffling nose and then the moment you see someone else with the same symptoms, it is as if there is an instant connection between the two souls.

You start your Spring Fashion line…..of handkerchiefs

Tired of always carrying the boring white tissues, try using the colorful handkerchiefs. They help to keep the earth green and also make you in tune with spring fashion.

You got the power

The moment when you feel that the sneeze is coming and you have a look on your face to welcome it, and others around you become quiet waiting for it to pass by, but then it never comes. This quiet pre-sneeze face has the power to silence everyone around you.

Remember to warn people

When you go for your haircut or your eyebrows make sure you inform them ahead of time either verbally or by making the pre-sneeze face so that they are better prepared and you do not end up losing one of your brows over a sudden sneeze.

You can get away without shaking hands

People do not want to shake your hand full of tissue crud, so for once enjoy keeping your hands in your pockets while greeting people.

You can scatter the crowd

If you are in a party or a fiesta surrounded by a crowd you do not want, let your allergies take over and see the crowd disperse giving you some wanted space.

You wonder about the reality of drought

With the spring kicking in, your eyes and nose turn into oceans of water that refuse to stop, and you wonder if drought is for real?

You find your true love

The person who loves you with a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and with all that gooey stuff inside of you, is your true love.

Amongst all the sniffling and sneezing life goes on and spring comes and passes us by. Don’t let these allergies take better off you. Find your humor and happy sneezing!

Photo credit: paterjt via / CC BY-NC-ND


7 ways your children can accidently injure you



No, I am not going back to the medieval times nor is this my halloween costume! It is my new mom suit that would keep me safe from any future mom injuries. Believe me; little kids can be dangerous!

As much as you focus on children safety, you need to give some attention to keeping your bodies protected from these mini loaded weapons. I am a tad late to opt for the armored suit, but I have learned a lesson after enduring multiple accidental mom injuries. The sudden movements and head turn of the little ones can result in several accidental parental boo boos. Here is how-

Sleeping with an acrobat

Sleeping with your little one is a double edged sword. You enjoy the snuggles and the cheat days of co-sleeping when you can take in the smell of your baby’s hair like the fragrance of a new car. It is one of the most pleasurable moments but also dangerous one too.


A sleeping child on a bed is always on the move like an acrobat. (Ours were!) While you hold on to the edge of the bed, your little monster overtakes the entire bed. As if this is not enough, one kick to your chin or a belly punch by those moving fists and feet make you want to scream with your guts out. But you do not, for the fear (and bountiful love in your heart) of waking up your sweet angel.

The micro swords

NEVER fail to trim those soft, harmless looking nails of your sweet pea. These nails disguised as micro swords are super dangerous! A scratch from their nails burns like a paper cut and can even harm your eyes. So, disarm your cute ninja’s nail weapon by regular clipping.

The magical hug moment

You adore the commercials wherein a kid runs towards an adult, waiting with an open arms, resulting into a perfect lovable hug. (Awww! Priceless moment!) What you do not know is that this perfect hug or nose to nose kisses requires some choreography moves. If not done right the tiny head of your preschooler might end up feeling like a massive jab underneath your belly, or your nose (whatever comes in their way).

Movie nights

Prepare for the consequences of watching the movies/TV shows like Kung Fu Panda and Ninja Go . The children might feel inspired by these shows, so wear your helmet and safety goggles for few days after watching the flick. Even better keep a shield at an arm’s reach to protect yourself from the moving objects coming at you.

Video Games

Stay 15 feet away from the children playing console video games. KEEP DISTANCE else you will end up getting smacked into your face with the remote they pretend to be using as a sword or boxing fists.

Dangling Distractions

The dangling shiny things are like an open invitation for the kids to grab them into their tight grip that is difficult to let go.  I have been guilty of doing this to my mom when I was a cute little harmless baby or so she thought before I grabbed her sparkling earrings and pulled them towards me. She had to get her ear lobe stitched. (I am sorry mom!)

Hot liquid

Imagine you are enjoying a me moment with a cup of chai and suddenly you are hit by a storm, soaking your dress in the hot liquid. It takes you few moments to realize that the storm was caused by your munchkin’s ball that suddenly came to you with the voice that followed, “Mommy catch!”

That is the moment you realize that your reflexes are not up to par, and you think of enrolling yourselves in one of the martial arts classes (along with your kid) to tune up your reflexes. After all, you need to be ready to dodge, catch and duck at the right times.

Do these injuries hurt? Oh hell yes! But the resilience to get through those painful moments depends considerably on who/what caused the injury. In this case these accidents are caused by your innocent babies so you take them in a stride, and wear them as parental badges of honor. You tend to be quiet about these incidents also because somewhere you are guilty of not taking proper caution to prevent them.

My two cents, get a mommy armor suit and enjoy a safe parenthood!


Photo credit: Mark Turnauckas via / CC BY

Photo credit: madmrmox via / CC BY

Photo credit:: Roxana Soare (


Life in a Comfort zone: Happy or just Comfortable?

If you are anyway like me, you are guilty of becoming comfortable in not so comfortable situations. The reason being: we resist change. We become used to a routine, living in a certain way and then when change knocks at our door, we freak out. We refuse to open the door and embrace the new. We cling to our comfort zones for as long as we can until our inside voice or the outside circumstances push us enough to dive into the change.

The latest turn of  events in my life is the proof of my response to change- Our landlord declared that she wants to sell the house we are living in, and my reaction was- “AAAAGH! This can’t be happening! I’ve got comfortable in this house, and I do not want the pain of house search, the move, and then the re-settling.

I moped on the situation for over a week until I talked myself out of it and realized that this is a great opportunity to find a house with a bigger closet, and no scorpions. For long I had kept section of my wardrobe packed in a suitcase, and finding a new place with a bigger closet is the chance for those suffocated clothes to taste fresh air .

The metamorphosis of my inner dialogue turned me into being enthusiastic about finding a new abode.

Inner dialogues are an intrinsic part of our everyday life. These conversations either push us to adapt to change or convince us that we are comfortable in our existing situations, be it about hitting the gym, trying a new craft, changing food habits, wake up/sleep routine, starting a business and so on. More often than not, the voice of comfort wins the argument.

Moreover, if you reflect on our status quo, you would realize that you are NOT all that happy being in the so called comfort zone. Take for example any of these everyday life situations-

Inside voice: Hey, you! 
You've been sitting comfortably on that chair for an extensive time, 
following the same daily routine of waking up in the morning and sipping on your coffee. Why don't you get your act together and join your 
buddies for the 5:00 am run?

Nah! I am good. I am not out of shape, so why take extra pain to get up 
early and change my routine. I am comfortable!

But won't you miss the morning fresh air, the cardio, and the 
socializing? You might not need the coffee after all.

Shush! Mind you I am not indolent, I have a long day ahead!


Inside voice: Hey listen! You have been in this dysfunctional 
relationship for so long.Isn't it time to get out of the rut and give 
yourself another chance?

I am used to it now! Known evil is better than the unknown!

But, you would never find out what is in store for you, until you leave 
this familiar territory.

I am good. I have spent years with this person. I am used to this 
person now.


Inside voice: You've been slogging for years doing this 
office job. You have to stay late, miss on the family times, and it's   been long since you've taken a vacation. Isn't it time to say quits to  your workplace and find something that is a better fit?

Not really! This job is working for me. I have loans to pay off, and thisjob gives me a good salary. I know how the system works here and people 
respect me. It is not always that I have to do late nights or miss on thefamily occasions. 

But don't you want to learn something new? You might like that better. 

I will have to spend time in creating my reputation in the new workplace.I have a secure job and I am not comfortable leaving it.
Inside Voice:Hey listen you! Are you excited about your move to a new 
city? You will  see new landscapes, and make new friends.

Not really, I like it here! I have my friend circle, so what if that 
circle is empty most of the times. I know the people and places around 
here. I am settled.

But you are not a tree! You can move. You might end up liking the new 
place better. You might make stronger bonds, find great 
neighbors and get to try new adventures.

Leave me alone. I feel like being depressed about leaving this place. I 
just do.

Another great recent example is that of my friend who continued in his unfulfilled and dry job for decades, on the pretext of  security and comfort. Then one day he was let go which suddenly freed him from his illusionary comfort. Little he could do to shield himself from the change he’d been resisting for years! After the initial phase of discomfort of finding a job, he is now happy in his newly created comfort zone.


It is the fear of unknown that holds us back in taking risks and trying new horizons. On the contrary it is also true that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush. So what should you do? Stick to the familiar or take risk and try new avenues.

The answer lies in asking the question- Are you happy or just comfortable? If you are not happy, you know that it is time to test new waters. After all,  ‘a bird in the hand is good, but a bird in the bush might sing.’


Photo credit: Wiertz Sébastien via / CC BY-NC-ND


Hello woman, are you fair, wheatish or dark?

“Do not wear purple. It makes you look dark,” so they told me.

But today, purple is my favorite color.

The above two lines sum up my journey.

Chocolate, caramel, honey, cinnamon, and wheat! I am not stating the ice-cream flavors, but shades of brown skins that prevail in India.

And I am wheatish or maybe somewhere in between honey and wheatish!

Wheatish, in India, refers to the people who are not fair. The word ‘fair’ is not be confused with righteousness, but fair in this context alludes to the skin tone that is multiple shades lighter than wheatish.

Shadeism or colorism, whatever name you give to this prejudice, it does not matter. The important fact is India’s obsession with fairness though not new is still quite prevalent. Parents and relatives of the girls with dark complexion are often consumed with the anxiety of finding a suitable groom, and inadvertently transfer their insecurities to the child.  The girl gets humiliated every time the society favors the light skinned.

No one deserves to get hurt for their color. No one! Period.
The big companies feed off these deep-rooted insecurities and blatantly promote their skin whitening products. They even rope in big celebrities who endorse the idea that becoming light skinned brings success in life!

We all know how superficial these claims are? Granted that because of the deep ingrained fundamental that ‘fair is beautiful,’ the light skinned people are favored by the unintelligent, but promoting the concept that fair skin alone can get you success is preposterous.

Get over it people!

The Matrimonial advertisements in the Indian newspapers further aggrandize the fair color. A typical ad for ‘brides wanted’ reads, ‘Wanted a fair, slim, beautiful and convent educated girl for our son.’ Any sane person would know that for a marriage to be successful you need a connection at the emotional level and not at the skin gradient level.

Bollywood Cinema that prefers to star milky white complexion women does little to abate this unfair bias towards white complexion.

I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, with movements like ‘Dark is beautiful’ ( There is a gradual shift in the mentality, and the new generations are not deeply prejudiced by the skin color driven beauty meter. But something that has been part of the society for decades would take years to change, and cliché as it may sound, ‘the change begins with us.’

This month of March is especial!  Women’s history month, Woman’s day all fall in March. What better way to celebrate than to appreciate the beauty in each one of us-

' I am beautiful NOT like YOU... I am beautiful like ME.'

(This was posted by one of my friends on social media, and it strikes a perfect chord with this article.)

Photo credit: Sidpicky via / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Rajesh_India via / CC BY-NC-ND



The day I found a genie in the bottle…

As a teen I enjoyed watching the comedy TV series, ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ in which an astronaut finds a genie in the bottle. The genie granted him wishes. Golly! I was amazed at all the things the genie could do in a blink of an eye.

And with most of my days filled with the busy parenting routine, I’ve often wished to have my very own genie,  and then one bright, chirpy Phoenix morning it happened—

Amongst the lather and the dirty dishes,

In my sink, I found a genie in the bottle.

Kazoom! I opened the stopper to release

the tiny bewitched thing.

The genie bowed and said, “My master, I reckon,

you need to rest. Please allow me to do my best.”

In disbelief, I rubbed my eyes,

but there she was, right in front of me!

I sat before the fireplace, curled up with a cup of tea.

And, took out a dusty thin book that begged me to read,

and don’t know when, but I fell asleep.

When I woke up the house was sparkling clean,

the dishes were done, so was the laun-dary

nicely folded and kept in the dresser,

all within my arms reach.

The dinner was on the stove, just the way I like it

curry and basmati rice, and the naan on the side,

salad beautifully arranged, and a big glass of red wine.

Genie said she would do my pedicure too

as my toes possess a yellow hue.

I asked, “Dear, can I keep you, forever?”

I believe I might have begged,

for I had added

“Please and pretty please,” too.

Genie said,“Master, allow me to leave.

I have to serve others who

await a sigh of relief."

I thought of the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters

fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and

grandparents too,

all who desire a little respite

from their daily grind of might.

“Genie," I said, "You have a big job to do,"

"So, I let you free."

With those words, the bewitched thing

that awesome, helpful thing

faded into the air.

Friends, be on a lookout for the enchanted beings in the form of neighbors, friends, relatives who come into your lives at the most difficult times to give you respite and help to refill your everyday life cups.


Why to play ‘The Game of Life’ with your children? And the dialogue with my inner voice

Last weekend, I played ‘The game of Life’, one of the oldest American board games, with my children and their friends. It was my first time playing this game, so my eight years old taught me the rules of Life. It was a sweet moment wherein my child was teaching me the ropes of life.:-)

He said-

The winner of the Life is the person who has the maximum money in the end.

What! Hell no! How can riches alone be the yardstick to decide the winner or the loser of life! My kids need to learn better.

Overpowered by thoughts and the parent instinct to share my 2 cents on life, I stated—

“This is all wrong!”

My inside voice warned me, “Spoiler Alert! This is just a game”, but at that moment I chose to ignore it. After all, kids develop their perspectives through games and observation. So I had to do the right thing by sharing my wisdom.

Continuing with my lecture, I said, “In reality, money is necessary to live a comfortable life, but it cannot be a measure of a successful life. The true measure is happiness, and the relationships built along the way. It is easier to keep a score of money than to count your blessings, so the reason this game uses money as the winning goal.”

Giving advise took some weight off my chest, and we started the game.

I was impressed the way this game mapped the entire life on a linear coarse.The players take turns spinning the wheel, and they move ahead the number of spaces indicated on the wheel. In the start of the game, the players have to select between the college path or the career path. I was satisfied to know that my kid had already discovered that choosing the college path meant delaying the payday rewards for later in life. Pretty cool and mature, I thought! But, my satisfaction was short lived! Despite his understanding, he chose the ‘Career path.’ The voice inside me said, “Studies comes first! Do not bypass college. Choose college <pretty please!>, and career will follow, kiddo!” This time, I pinched myself on time to not let these words out of my mouth, and we continued the game…in peace.

The  ‘stop’ sign where the life changing events happen. This one says ‘Get married’, and the player adds one more peg to their car.


Throughout the game I was charmed to see the little kids make choices based on their personalities, and their rationale.

My six-year-old stopped in the space to buy a house. He had a choice between a luxury apartment or the beach hut. My son chose the luxury apartment. He said, “Beach hut would be messy.”

Later my kiddo had to choose between two career cards, Doctor or a Teacher. He chose the profession of Teacher. His reason, “It pays more to be a Doctor.”

Career Cards

My inside voice started talking again, Son, Ask yourself twice before deciding. Is this the profession you want to embrace? Will it inspire you enough to wake up every morning and start your day?

“Shut up, will you!” I calmed my inner voice. “Keep your thoughts to yourself as this is just a game.”

Coming back to the game, the play also introduced kids to the business of lawsuit. My son got a card—Sue someone for squashing your tomatoes, and receive 50K!

img_3808He asked, “What does lawsuit mean?”. Once I explained, he was hesitant to sue any player. Then he said, “Mommy, can I please sue you?”’

“This is an outrage,” I thought. I teach my children to be kind and forgiving, while this game lets them sue. I signaled my thoughts to take a back seat.

The game ended when all the players reached the goal of retirement. Two of the children decided to retire in a  millionaire mansion, and the other two selected the countryside acres. And the reasons for the selections-

“I chose countryside because I like trees and mountains.”

“I need rooms for my whole family, so I will retire in millionaire mansion.”

“I want to be with my friend because I like him. I will go wherever he goes.”

This  board game took couple hours to finish, and introduced the children to real life events such as paying taxes, college debt, getting laid off from work, paying bank loans and collecting salaries on paydays. You may argue that all these events relate to some form of monetary exchanges, and also the real life does not follow the linear path this game follows, but what cannot be contested is the engrossment of the young minds, and the willingness to play by the rules even when life seems unfair.

Where I am concerned, the game lent me plenty of opportunities to have constructive dialogues with children, and also a sneak peek into their young minds. As a bonus, it taught me to keep my wisdom to myself, and patiently wait for the opportune time to share life lessons with my children. And most importantly, the board game gave me priceless moments with friends and family.

Readers, do you have a favorite board game that you like to play with your children?

Here are some links that share more information about this game-

India Diary-A short visit during Demonetization

Travel to India this December was out of ordinary. It was my baby cousin’s wedding; a milestone, the last wedding in my generation.

With the plan to be in India for a week for the wedding, I had packed rather splendidly for the gala ceremony- dresses with matching shoes and jewelry, make-up and gifts for the family. But, what I did not prepare for was the currency shortage that the country was grappling! And what I did not prepare for, left a lasting impression.

Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi had announced demonetization by taking off the old Rs 500, and Rs 1,000 notes out of circulation ( which were about 86% of the money supply by value) and introduced new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 bills. The common man had an option to either exchange or deposit the old notes into the banks, with some restrictions.

Ahead of my India travel, a couple of my friends in the US asked me if I could take some of their old bills of Rs500 and Rs1000 bills to India for exchange. Though the amount not much (ranging from $50 -100 Dollars), the NRIs did feel the pinch of India’s demonetization.

On my end too, the few Rs500 bills that I had saved to take a cab from the airport to the house were a trash now. Good thing my sister offered to pick me up at an oddly hour of 2:30 am from the New Delhi airport.

Next day in India’s capital city, Delhi, I walked passed a street vendor selling clothes. My eyes caught a beautiful skirt hanging on the wire, with an elephant motifs. It was love at first sight!! I talked to the vendor, and we agreed on the price. As I took out my credit card for the payment, the vendor said: “Behenji, mere pass machine nahi hai.” ( Sister, I do not have the card processing machine). I said, “Oh, lekin mere paas cash nahi hai.” (Sorry, but I do not have cash.) I just had the old bills of Rs 500 in my wallet which were useless for him. The vendor asked other fellow shopkeepers if they could help in processing the card, but none of his likes had the credit card machine.

Street shopping in India. This shot is from a different place as I could not capture the street vendor mentioned here. He was working out of a small tent.

Here I was willing to pay, and the merchant was eager to sell, but I did not have the new notes, and he did not have the card processing machine. What a heartbreaking situation it was! I felt the helplessness in the vendor’s inability to close the sale and take home bacon. I walked away with a heavy heart.

The following day when I mentioned my intention to exchange some of the old bills at the bank, I came to know that the exchange was no longer allowed. People could only deposit the old currency into the bank, and later withdraw a limited small cash in a day. But I was oblivious to the ordeal this transaction entails for the common man!

I saw over 100 people lined up outside the bank for the new currency withdrawal waiting in the queue for over two hours (much before the opening of the Bank). However, standing in line also did not ensure that they would receive the cash. Bank officials distributed tokens in limited numbers. Only the people with tokens could withdraw the cash.

After understanding the entire process, and with only a few days in India, I decided to make do with some conservative borrowing from my family. I also become conscious of the reason why the usually crowded markets were almost desolate. The ordinary man was unwilling to spend the precious cash on the casual shopping, the cash that took them hours to withdraw from the ATM.

I traveled by train to my home city with Rs 1000 in my pocket, out of which I gave Rs 600 to the porter. I had a meager Rs 400 for my entire journey. Before demonetization, I never dared to travel within India with such a small cash in my pocket.

In the largely cash entrenched India economy, demonetization came with its inconveniences, and I got to live it during my short visit. The thing that caught my attention was that regardless of the hassles that the people were facing due to cash rationing, most of them shared a positive outlook about the Prime Minister’s bold move in hope to flush out the black money and the counterfeit notes; and in turn maneuver India towards more transparent and digitized payments.

The country where many people do not have bank accounts and everyday life revolves around cash, from groceries to the hospital bills, whether this courageous step from the Prime Minister Mr. Modi will have long-term economic benefits, only future will tell.

Where I am concerned, I was glad to be a passerby to this cash rationing and delighted to be able to make it to my cousin’s wedding, symbolic of passing the marital torch to the next generation to live happily-ever-after with her Prince charming.

Photo credit: LLudo via / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: foxypar4 via / CC BY

The Grand Plan to meet Santa

Note: After two weeks of India travel, I am trying to get back into the daily rhythm of life and prepare for the holidays.  

This is a re-post of my article from last year, as it is that time of the year again. This year also Santa plans to secretly deliver the presents to my children. Will he succeed or not, I will share with you in my next update.

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays my friends!

This Christmas, I wanted a picture of my kids with Santa, but the long lines were demotivating until I found my favorite store hosting one such event. That morning I promptly got the kids ready and shoved them in the car to be ahead of the crowd. While we waited in the queue to get clicked, I indulged the kids into Santa conversation. My older son pointed to the seated Santy and whispered-

“Mom, he is not a real Santa. The real Santa understands and speaks all languages of the world, while this one speaks only English.”

His hypothesis was convincing. Nevertheless, the kids were happy to get a picture with the human Santa.

While waiting for the photo print, we reminisced last Christmas when my little munchkin managed to get a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh in the sky — “the blinking red light in the sky is Rudolph’s nose!” he gleamed. <Absolutely made sense, after all Rudolph has a very shiny nose.>

But this Christmas, my older son had a Grand Plan, which was to take a picture with the real Santa (who lives in the North Pole), and then go for a ride in Santa’s sleigh.

I told my son that Santa wants little kids to sleep on time so that he could work his magic while they are in bed, but this kid was too adamant, so I decided to play along, secretly hoping that his plan fails.

The preparation for the big meeting began after dinner time-First of all; we sprinkled the reindeer food (oats with twinkling colored sugar) around the house so that Santa could see our house from the sky. Then we baked some soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies and kept it on the dinner table with a tall glass of milk. <Its no wonder that the jolly old fellow has a big belly from eating all those sugary cookies! > We decided to put a side of carrots also, just in case Santa was calorie conscious this season.

The highlight of the big game plan was to stay up late in the night to witness Santa. One established way to avoid sleep are the movies, so we watched an old classic ‘Jason and the Argonauts’. We were in awe to see the special effects, especially the army of skeletons. My son strived to stay awake and was restless to know about the time of Santa’s arrival. So we tracked Santa’s location using one of the smartphone applications. The Santa tracker application showed that Santa’s sleigh was in Canada and that there were still two and a half hours for his arrival to our house.

I have to admit that I was nervous about my son’s unyielding desire to meet Santa, as it meant that I would have to reveal the truth about St. Nick. Deep in my heart, I was not ready to spill the beans yet, as I enjoyed planning the whole clandestine affair and the element of joy it entailed.

To kill time we discussed how Santa could distribute presents all over the world so fast , and his likely use of magic or teleporting technique. As my kid’s eyes got heavy, our talks began to plummet. My son agreed to take a short nap after setting a two-hour alarm so that he is up on time to meet Santa.

To my relief my son fell asleep and I once again could enjoy being a secret Santa. My hubby switched off the alarm, and we all slept until my son woke us all up at five in the morning. He dashed towards the hung stockings and the wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. He called out for his little brother who was still in bed, and then both the kids ripped open the wrappings.

I videotaped my children’s excitement and was overflowed with gratitude for yet another opportunity to keep the magic alive.

Photo credit: Lars Tinner via / CC BY-NC-ND