Blog Archives

I now live a tangible part of my life on social networks! How did this happen? Sep 5, 2012

I started the journey into social networking with the mandatory Orkut account ages ago, and then Facebook. These were purely a way to get back in touch with long lost friends. And to take online the conversations with the current friends circle that we cannot have face to face as our lives are too busy! Sharing photos, thoughts and experiences were a natural extension.

But things began to change when I started blogging. To promote by blog, I tentatively got myself a twitter handle. I remember asking Nupur how the hell this thing worked! I was rather at sea. And inside me somewhere, I had this notion that spending hours on social media was a retarded thing to do! Well, things have changed drastically in just a few months. I am very much that excited moron today! And proud to be one.

How did this happen, and why? For a person like me, who thinks a zillion thoughts a day, whose interests lie in many different directions and who yearns to share, listen, debate and interact, social media is nothing short of a blessing. By offsetting my blog with just two sites- Facebook and Twitter, I can achieve a mix of interactions that keep me invigorated, excited, curious about life and the world around me.

The real serious stuff that I feel strongly about goes on my blog. That is a form of self expression. The communication with my friends tends to happen directly or via FB. The fun stuff, posting pics of my kids, outings or travel, the conversations about daily events- all that good stuff is what FB is about for me. Yes, I do follow pages of social causes I identify with or organizations I find relevant, but that is a secondary activity and does not occupy much mindspace.

Twitter is where I assume my professional, intellectual (ha!) persona. It started with a deliberate positioning and I decided to follow media, organizations and individuals related to urbanism, planning and design. But over a period of time, it has changed to include a whole bunch of what I term ‘thinking, liberal’ people as well. I enjoy reading a wide range of opinions on diverse issues. I love the opportunity Twitter provides to get into a meaningful conversation or stay out of something you don’t agree with it. Or voice disagreement and dissent if that is required.

Occasionally, the boundaries between FB and Twitter do melt. Kids pics appear on Twitter via Instagram (another wonderful app). And links that I consider good for wider reading do get shared on FB, like the editorial by Ranjit Sabikhi I shared today morning.

On the whole, social networking helps me stay updated and connected, especially important for a flexi-worker like me. I work for a small organization and there are limited opportunities for physical networking as my children are young and I have chosen to spend time at home to be with them. With four standard windows open on the browser- Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress, I feel empowered and engaged. Loneliness and boredom keep away and that’s pretty much what constitutes happiness, for the most part.

Yes, I do find myself wondering if living a life via social networking will impact my real world relationships adversely. Up until now, the real and virtual worlds are complementing each other beautifully. But I am aware that there is a need for caution. When you get used to sharing too much, some private, intimate and vital aspects get short shrift, because they are unsharable. So yes, I do know I need to carve out a lion’s share of space in my mind for the real world experiences that must, ultimately, feed my world on the social networks!

Shopping with children is fun and instructive too- Aug 29, 2012

A quick trip to the supermarket with both kids in tow was the highlight of the day. I hadn’t been too chirpy all day and was on the verge of copping out, but Aadyaa insisted we go and Udai tagged along as well. Busybees that they are, both of them wanted to actively participate. Aadyaa clambered onto the shopping cart and I was supposed to pick stuff off the shelf and hand it to her and then she put things into the cart. We didn’t have a shopping list today, so Udai was running around finding the stuff I needed as and when I remembered it.

Fortunately, we know the layout of Needs Gourmet in Vatika City by now. So we know the cereals come first, then the jams and peanut butter stuff, then the namkeens, then the biscuits, then the boring stuff (aata, sugar, besan, dals, oil, etc), then soaps and cosmetics (which we never buy from here), then the noodles and pasta, then the drinks and finally the refrigerated stuff like cheese and butter. I was amazed to find Udai remembered where to get what from, even though he isn’t a regular on this jaunt since we shop mostly while he is in school.

What I love about shopping with the kids is how much they observe and their unending curiosity! Do we need this mumma, do we need that? Why can’t we buy that? Do you have enough money? Why have they packed so many packs in a bigger pack? When something is free with something else, what does it mean? Do we have this at home? Yes? then we don’t need to pick this up, right? And so on and so forth. (All those questions were actually asked today, not making this up!)

It is absolutely thrilling to pick stuff from the cart and put it on the billing counter. Aadyaa did all of that for me today. I keep wondering how excited they would be to see a standard Walmart type of set up where the moving conveyor belt system operates!

Udai also commented on how expensive he thought things are. He was genuinely shocked at the total and much amused by the length of the piece of paper that the little machine spat out, the bill! It set the stage for a discussion on food costs, why food must not be wasted, how processed food costs more and why it is good to buy as much as we need, not stock months and months ahead. On the ride back, he read every item on the bill aloud. His tone made it clear which were his favorites and which were of no interest to him.

Helping with the shopping means the kids know roughly what’s in stock, what ingredients are needed for what, etc. It also means they’ve picked up what they sort of like (the no junk food rule is sacrosanct at our place though, and exceptions can only be picked up by parents!). Consequently, they have a healthy interest in cooking and make good little sous chefs! Aadyaa helped out with the chicken tonight, for instance. To top it all, they love to eat what they bought and cooked, so mealtimes are effortless too 🙂 I wish I had taken a pic of Aadyaa gobbling up the chicken….

Wonderment and disappointment all mixed up: The Olympic spectacle- Aug 10, 2012

Udai watches the Olympics coverage for a short while every single day, he alogisde my grandmum they make an endearing sight! He is fascinated by the wide array of sporting disciplines he is discovering for the very first time. In the nation obsessed with cricket, we are still restricted to a few sports even from the spectatorship point of view. Tennis, golf, football pretty much does it beyond cricket.

I have caught glimpses of the Olympics as well. My favorites have always been gymnastics, diving, swimming and track events. The rest of it is by the way and I cannot really sit through a game of badminton or hockey if its on the telly.

In that sense, I think I have become jaded as I age. As a child, I watched sports or anything new in fact with total fascination. There were lots of questions and I remember my dad answering many queries about how scoring is done, why specific countries are so good at something (Gymnasts came from the USSR in our time. Period.) and others are not. Why this, how that..it went on. And many of the kids and adults around me were involved in the spectacle of the Olympics (or other similar sporting events) despite getting restricted coverage on Doordarshan!

Today, we live in a medal tally culture. I find Indians are interested only in the sports where we might stand a chance for a medal, no matter how slim the chance is- shooting, badminton, wrestling, boxing, tennis, hockey..that’s it. Considering how slim the chances are, it would probably make more sense to enjoy the Olympics for the spirit of good sport, as a way to celebrate what human bodies and minds can achieve- impossible speed, incredibly flexibility, wonderful grace, immense strength and the attributes of discipline, focus and utter dedication that a sportsperson must have.

Udai and me spoke about this and I feel bad that I missed this opportunity to follow the Olympics in detail. To search for new role models, to get inspired, to wonder, smile and learn together. I was too caught up in my life, else I could have given my child and myself a special experience. Maybe its not too late to ask him about what he thinks when he watches the Olympics everyday. Maybe its not too late for me to learn, through him.

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