A good morning indeed


It was a pleasant sunny morning, just like Bangalore mornings are wont to be during the early days of summer in the first week of March. There I was, taking my usual brisk morning walk on the jogging track of the integrated township I stayed in absorbing the usual morning sights and sounds which comprised mostly of well-groomed canine friends being walked by their masters, the regular joggers with their iPod earplugs and workout music, the elderly couples (and a few solitary old men and women with lazy spouses who didn’t join them) and the overweight couples who lived an otherwise sedentary lifestyle due to their ‘desk jobs’.

And then, I noticed her, right near the entry gate of the township. A little girl, Tanya, not more than 8 yrs old, walking briskly towards the gate with what looked like a thermos flask and a few plastic cups. I remembered having seen this girl when her parents introduced themselves to me a few days ago, when they newly moved into the apartment opposite mine. If memory served me right, both her parents Raghav and Indira had recently moved to Bangalore, both of them having taken a transfer in their respective jobs, and accompanied by Raghav’s old father, Venu.

Tanya reached the gate accompanied by her grandfather Venu, and immediately set down at least three separate cups on the footpath just outside the entry gate. She then went on to carefully pour out milk from the thermos flask into the cups. And as if by magic, three cute little puppies appeared from behind the large plastic waste disposal container kept outside the gate. The puppies, hungry as they were, immediately started lapping up the milk that Tanya had poured out. She then went on to put her hand into the small jute bag that her grandfather had carried, took out one of the few biscuit packets in there, opened up one of them and started lining up the biscuits on the footpath for the puppies.

In this day and age, where most of us don’t even have time to even absorb, let alone enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around us, this small gesture of the little girl warmed my heart quite a bit. Venu, who noticed me taking in this entire scene soon greeted me and came up to me. ‘Good morning!’ he said cheerfully.

Wishing him back, I expressed my appreciation at what Tanya was doing. Proud of his grand-daughter, Venu said, ‘Oh, this is nothing. You should see the smiles on the faces of Tanya’s young students after their English classes.’

‘English classes!’ But then, she is hardly eight years old. Who does she take classes for?’ I asked.

Venu smiled ‘Oh, her mother Indira managed to convince the domestic help and the some of the housekeeping and security personnel to send their kids for basic English classes conducted by Tanya. She doesn’t teach them much, other than just the alphabets and basic spoken English.’

Impressed by the initiative, I asked him, ‘Wow, that is something! At her age, I was busy running around open grounds, playing with my friends and busy reading comics.’

‘She does all that and more. It’s just that she makes it a point to spend at least two hours of her free time every day to help out others in some small way or the other. In fact, this whole milk and biscuit routine for the puppies started only yesterday when she noticed the puppies squealing in hunger when her school bus stopped outside the gates to drop her off’ he said.

‘I guess all the values that my wife and me imbibed in Raghav when he was young, and all the good work that Indira’s parents put into her upbringing have been hard-wired into little Tanya. Genetics and DNA do have their benefits, as she is displaying right now’ he proudly said.

‘Come Tanya, we have to get back home. Your school bus will be here in 45 minutes and you still have to bathe and have your breakfast’ he called out to her.

‘Sure grandpa! Now that these puppies have had their breakfast and milk, I can have mine as well’ Tanya jumped up and came running to her grandpa.

Walking back, I was left thinking if only more grandparents and parents nowadays spent more time teaching their young ones to be as considerate of other humans and all living beings in general, the world and its future would be that much more happier and secure.

It truly was a good morning!

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This post has been written for the Housing.Com blog campaign conducted in association with IndiBlogger.

A Search & Rescue operation


Jon had one of the toughest jobs in the world, as part of the Search & Rescue team manning the trekking slopes in the Kulu Manali area. Despite warnings asking tourists not to wander from well known trekking paths and to always have a local guide accompanying them, there invariably would be a few unnecessarily adventurous groups which would disregard these warnings and end up in trouble.

Today was one such day when a group of 16 engineering students from NIT Warangal had gone missing. Their bus driver called up the local Police Control room to report that they had gone missing sometime between the previous evening at 3 PM and midnight when they were expected to come to the place where he was waiting for them at the Town Square.

Upon being questioned further, he also mentioned that they did not have a local guide with them nor did the group have any experienced trekkers in their midst. These were just young kids, most of whom had never even trekked before.

Jon and a couple of his team mates in the S&R team quickly swung into action. They reached the spot where the bus driver had dropped off the group and split up in three directions. Using the trail left behind by the group in terms of tell tale signs such as broken twigs, scraped branches of trees, footprints in the wet mud, Jon managed to get on the trail of the group. He immediately called up the rest of his group using his Asus Zen Phone which always managed to patch up to a reliable mobile network even in the remotest of trekking trials and the three of them started following the trail.

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Although it was getting dark and it would soon be impossible to spot some of the signs left behind by the group, Jon didn’t worry. His phone had the patented PixelMaster technology in the camera which was capable of capturing 400% more light for photos and videos in low light environments. This enabled him to take pictures on his phone without using the flash and thereby conserving his battery. Whenever he suspected that there was a sign left behind by the group, he would take a pic on his phone without the flash, and the awesome technology would ensure that the image was captured in great detail which allowed the group to stay on the trail despite the fact that it was quite dark by now.

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Further, the fact that the wind was slowly getting nippier meant that the team had to put on their gloves and warm clothing to continue with their operation through the night. It was good that their ZenPhones had the GloveTouch feature as well which meant that they could operate their phones’ touch screens even though they had their gloves on. Truly the Asus ZenPhone was equipped like no other phone of the day was and proved to be a life changer in Jon’s line of work.

After following the trail for more than six hours, the team finally caught up with the amateur trekking group which was holed up in a small cave on the trail. A couple of the young girls in the group had suffered from severe breathlessness due to the lack of adequate oxygen in the high altitude air, and as if this weren’t enough, three people had also sprained their ankle slipping in the wet mud on the trail. When they saw Jon and his team, they were relieved as they were completely lost and scared due to their experiences.

Jon and team called up their colleagues and requested for immediate medical assistance to the injured members in the group and thus ended yet another busy day in office for the Search & Rescue team, ably assisted by the Asus ZenPhone with its state of the art technological features.

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This post has been written for the Asus ZenPhone blogging contest hosted by Indiblogger.

Securing her future


As soon as the initial euphoria of having a child wears out, one of the first things that hits all new parents nowadays is the fact that going forward a steady stream of expenditure has to be taken care of. Starting with settling the medical bills of the maternity home where the child was born, and moving on to the insanely expensive initial vaccination shots, each and every thing involving the new born child is expensive nowadays and even the most well off middle class family will have to surely start planning its finances. And that requires more than just a bit of financial discipline.

As if this was not enough, all of us parents nowadays want our children to have the ‘best childhood’ they possibly can even if it means spending more money that they currently possess. In fact I know of parents who do some of the most counter-intuitive things professionally to ensure their financial well-being. Why else would mothers of 3 month old children leave behind their infants at their in-laws or parents place and go aboard for a 18 month onsite assignment without any fly-backs. I mean, how can any mother bring herself to leave behind her nursing infant for such a long duration of time just to earn more money to secure her child’s financial freedom. But then, I personally know of more than one set of parents who have taken similar decisions. Such are the times we live in, where parents make all sorts of sacrifices to ensure that their children have a financially secure future.

In this backdrop, when Blogadda in collaboration with HDFC Life announced a blogging contest where we, as parents had to list down five special gifts that we wanted to gift our child with for a secure future, I immediately knew that this was going to be a golden chance for me to pen down my thoughts on this particular topic and share it with the rest of the blogging community.

The following are my selection of five special gifts that I would like to gift my two year old daughter (in no particular order).

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Values

Given that both my wife and me have been born and brought up in a middle class family, family and societal values played an important part of our growing up years. Basic values such as respect for elders, respect for teachers, being polite to others, being considerate of people around us, sharing with people who are less fortunate than us, were inculcated in us at a very young age. And we have found that these values have held us in good stead in our lives so far and have provided nothing but happiness and contentment all these years. It shall therefore be our endeavor to ensure that our little daughter also learns and inculcates these values at a young age, and the sooner they become a habit for her, the better it will be for her future.

Courage

In today’s day and age every girl must be empowered with enough courage of mind and mental fortitude to deal with the variety of situations that she will likely encounter through her life. Although it is humanly impossible to visualize of every possible situation and teach her specific strategies to overcome them, the fact remains that all these situations can be overcome by her if she has one important ingredient, courage.

By courage, I am referring to the ability of the mind to stay calm and composed despite the situation so that it is able to work out possible alternatives, select the most optimum one given the circumstances prevailing and to take necessary steps to face the situation. This is an important gift that I would like my daughter to have as a life skill.

Open Mind

Today’s world is filled with people who belong to different cultures, who speak different languages, who believe in different ideologies, who look different from each other and in such a multi-cultural world, it is of paramount importance that children develop open-mindedness at a very young age. Given that most children in cities nowadays are exposed to a mish-mash of various cultures, they need to learn to absorb the good features of all that they experience so that they are enriched by them. This is possible only when they are taught to be open-minded to everything around them.

Patience

Philosopher, writer, composer, Jean Jacques Rosseau famously said “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” and he couldn’t have been truer. While most of us know that it takes time for our actions, our deeds to bear just rewards, we all tend to be impatient in our wait for these rewards to come to us, and as a consequence end up being cynical or pessimistic in our attitude towards life.

Both my wife and me will strive to teach our daughter that patience is probably the most important virtue that bind together all her other virtues in life. We will try and teach her to put in her best efforts at whatever she wants to do and then be patient enough for the rewards to manifest themselves to her in an appropriate manner.

Financial Security

While the rest of the gifts are mostly behavioral and personality related, the fact remains that financial security is probably the most important material gift that we can give our daughter. In this day and age, when everything keeps getting more and more costly by the day, it is imperative that we secure her financial future to enable her to pursue her dreams with confidence that she will not run out of finances while doing so.

And it is in this regard that HDFC Life with its innovative and easy to understand children’s financial plans, aptly titled Young Star Children’s Plans comes into the picture. While the basic plan itself assures a lump sum amount on the maturity of a plan, add-on benefits such as Accelerated Benefits, Maturity Benefit and Double Benefit provide additional benefits which parents can think about, discuss with the company’s financial advisors and opt for if they are interested.

HDFC’s Young Star Super Premium and Young Star Super II ULIP schemes are designed specifically to accumulate wealth for your child’s future by investing in market linked financial instruments which enable you to make money based on the market movements. More details are available at this link and this link. It is clearly visible that the company has made a number of plans to cater to all categories of people and is more than willing to work with all parents to help them choose a plan that matches their requirements appropriately.

In summary, I am more than sure that armed with the gifts of a good value system, a courageous nature, an open mind, a patient disposition and the financial security offered by HDFC Life children’s insurance plans, my daughter will go on to have an awesome future where all her dreams will be fulfilled.

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This post is a part of the 1001 Gifts Activity by HDFC Life in association with BlogAdda.

I saw, I learnt


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Now this is not something that I am proud of, but yes, I am a smoker. And as all smokers in India go, we have this dirty habit of throwing smoking related garbage right next to the shop we buy our cigarettes from.

Step 1, buy the cigarette packet. Step 2, remove the plastic wrapping and throw it on the ground. Step 3, remove the crimp of the shiny paper inside and throw it on the ground. Step 4, start smoking. Step 5, stub small bits of ash wherever your wrist is at that point in time. Step 6, at the end of the cigarette, throw it on the ground, stamp it there itself.

The above paragraph is standard modus operandi for almost all the smokers I know of.

That being said, being married to somebody who is a little more socially conscious of her actions, and who takes care to ensure that she does not add to the already littered streets of Indian cities has changed me a lot.

Today, steps 2 and 3 involve looking for the closest trash can near the shop and throwing the paper there. Steps 4, 5 and 6 involve actually standing near the trash can and smoking so that I can dispose of the ash as close to the trash can as possible. Yes, most of the trash cans stink, but this again ensures that I don’t spend too much time smoking the cigarette. Benefits in more than one way, right 😀

The fact that I have a 2 yr old daughter as well makes me all the more aware of how I dispose of my garbage nowadays. Both my wife and me have taught her that all garbage needs to be thrown only in trash cans. Both of us believe that a cleaner and more aware child makes for a more cleaner India tomorrow.

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I am sharing what ‘<strong>I Saw and I Learnt</strong>’ at <a title=”The Best Community of Indian Bloggers” href=”http://www.blogadda.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>BlogAdda.com</a> in association with <a title=”Do Right! ” href=”http://www.doright.in&#8221; target=”_blank”>DoRight.in</a>

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This post won a INR 500 voucher as it was one of the first twenty posts for this particular competition.

All that matters is….determination


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Back in Jan’2003, I had it all, I had graduated with decent marks in B’Com from Bangalore University, I was working as an Staff Accountant in one of the Big 5 Consulting Firms (yes, it used to be the Big 5 then), I was earning a decent sum of money (as much as a 2.5 yr work exp graduate would earn in those days), in a nutshell life was good.

And then on 30-Jan-2003, I was called by my Manager into his cubicle. He gently broke the news that the new firm which had taken over mine had come up with new rules regarding graduates. We all had to compulsorily take up the Chartered Accountancy course and clear the same if we wanted to continue working. That sentence pretty much spelt the death knell for me as far as my job was concerned. I took 5 mins, thought through the issue and conveyed my decision to my Manager, I would quit. Cut to end of day, 30-Jan-2003, I walked out of the office of my first employer for the last time.

There I was, on my Kinetic Honda, without a job, not knowing what I was going to do from the next day onwards, both my parents retired and living off their retirement savings, my only source of income run dry.

To say that the next few days were terrible would be an understatement. Words cannot describe the despair that I went through at that point in time. As if this weren’t enough, none of my colleagues from my first job even bothered to call me, check on what I was doing, send me a mail, nothing. I am quite sure all of them were not so busy that they completely forgot that I even existed. As if losing a job weren’t enough, it was almost like I had lost almost every single friend that I ever had, given the amount of time, energy and efforts that I had expended in keeping these friendships active over the last 2.5 yrs.

Cut to 2013, I have just completed my 7th year of professional experience after my MBA at IIM Indore. I am now happily married with a 2 yr old daughter. My parents still live off their retirement savings, but at least now they are not worried about what I am going to do with my life. So what changed? How did I cope with those first few weeks of Feb-2003? What kept me going?

Looking back today, I guess (or actually I am sure) that the only thing that kept me going was sheer grit and determination. The fact that I was 23 yrs old, of prime age to be earning and supporting my parents as an only child, the motivation that I had the rest of my life to do something useful with it, these are the things that kept me going. While my parents were a pillar of support (both financially and just in terms of being there), the fact remains that this was one battle which I had to fight all alone. Of the very few people who were with me at that time, one cousin and two childhood friends were sturdy rocks whom I could lean upon. They provided me with that occasional outlet when I could actually discuss my fears, tribulations, misgivings with them. They patiently listened to me and kept motivating me by telling me that I had ‘it’ in me to come over this situation successfully.

Those few months in early 2003, I really and truly learnt that all that matters is how determined you are to succeed, how much do you really want all that you have dreamt about. If there is enough determination, then a person will figure out the best way to achieve all that he wants to, no two ways about it.

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This post is written as a part of ‘<a href=”http://blog.blogadda.com/2013/06/25/all-that-matters-inktalks-2013-kochi-contest&#8221; title=”All That Matters Contest” target=”_blank”>All that Matters</a>’ contest at BlogAdda.com in association with <a href=”http://www.inktalks.com/&#8221; title=”INK Talks 2013″ target=”_blank”>INK Talks 2013</a>.

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