My take on “Dangal”!

I am little nervous to talk about Dangal this time because I read amazing reviews before going to the movie. The movie is indeed good but it didn’t match my expectations somewhere. Aamir’s Haryanvi accent, body language, get up etc. made us forget who he is for a while. In fact during the movie, there is not a single time I was reminded of Aamir. On the 70mm screen, I was just seeing Mahavir Singh Phogat.

The movie was fast paced and gripping from the start but many times, it felt repetitive and in loops. Getting girls to wrestle in a society where they aren’t even allowed to wear pants or play any sports, was a brave step. The first half is all about Mr. Phogat training the girls to wrestle. The detailing of the movie is such that one could actually feel the pain and rigor that goes into preparing for national level competition. The girls are witty and punches at times bring a smile in between. When it comes to detailing, this movie successfully teaches the game of wrestling. How the game is played, how points are scored and strategies to play the game.

We debate a lot about parenting across the world. But we have a different style of parenting in India where parents decide a career, life in early years and most of the times, it turns out to be more fruitful for the child. In India, not every child has the privilege to decide a life for themselves and parents have limited means to support their dreams. So, parents decide their life and career based on their own experiences. That’s how parents are securing their child’s future. The basic principle is same. Parents want best for their child.

Geeta and Babita hated their father for being tough but it took few words from a friend (who was getting married at their age) made them realize what their father is trying to achieve. Mahavir nailed the emotions of a coach and a father. The scene where he comes to girls’ room and started pressing their leg (because he made them work so hard) brought tears to many eyes. It was emotional indeed. That’s another strong pull to the movie – the strong relationship between father and daughter in a patriarchal society. This movie is a dedication to all fathers who believed in their daughters and gave her every opportunity to grow and flourish by going against the usual norms of the society. There are many fathers like that in India and that is how our girls are doing well in every sphere. The fact that the movie is much talked about and people are going to see, show that they are associating with the movie. And that clearly is a sign of changing mindset.

Sakshi Talwar was undoubtedly convincing in her role. Her acting skills were already proven in TV series but she nailed it as Mahavir’s wife. Though I feel her character could have been stronger. But she did complete justice to her part and left a mark in the movie.

In the second half when Geeta grows up and leaves for the national academy, her performance slips away due to lack of focus and discipline. For the first time, she saw a bigger world and had many temptations that she couldn’t succumb to.  She starts losing matches because she forgets her roots and success gets into her head. Again this plot is nothing new and was quite expected. But acting skills put a nice patch to this repetitive plot.  It’s the same story in a new package. And that’s why I felt that the story was weak.

While Geeta was playing her final matches, the dialogues from Mahavir reminded me of the movie “Chak De, India”. “Chak De” came 10 years ago. When “ChakDe” came, no one was talking about women sports and it was a cult movie. The movie was much talked about and it felt like it would change the women sports in the country. Nothing grand changed but at least it made people aware of the possibilities and the sporting culture in the country. It did spark the conversations. Dangal has a different charm but the message is same. Dangal will surely spark conversations around women sports, opportunities about girl child in society and sports other than cricket. Though I felt that the change is already happening. That’s why sometimes, Bollywood movie can be regressive.

No matter how regressive is the plot. These movies give us reasons to celebrate the birth of a girl child.

This review was originally published on Pravasi  – http://www.pravasiexpress.com/movie-review-dangal/

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5 helpful tips while traveling with young child

This was not the first time, I was traveling with young kids. But everytime one travels, there is a whole new experience. Last time, my younger one was six months old and she was traveling by air for the first time. The elder one was 2.5 years, old enough to understand the travel discomforts. But still when one starts crying, the other follows and then one and one becomes eleven. This time around, both the girls grew up older 18 months and 4 years and this age is much better compared to less than a year old babies.

One cannot have a perfect plan while traveling with kids but of course, personal experiences always help to get some guidance on how to prepare. So, here are my tips which I think would work.

1)      Don’t carry a huge cabin baby baggage – Most of the parents do this mistake. In anticipation, they will end up filling up the baby bag. But that helps in providing peace to the mind. At the time of crisis, it is very hard to find the right thing in the heap of things. Even if you have everything set in bag organizer, still traveling light would help much better.

This is the mistake we did. We had carried everything from their favorite snack to toys, downloaded their favorite music and what not. But not everything helps.

2)      Carry an extra pair of dresses – Even though we had carried two extra pairs but still that wasn’t enough. Because kids usually vomit in an airplane and if you don’t manage the damage well, there could a huge issue. Carrying extra t-shirts, big towels, and dry tissues always help during their vomit spree or unending shout, shrill and cry.

3)      Carrying their favorite Cartoon/Music -Though it is a bit of an effort to download their favorite music and cartoon but trust me it’s all worth it. 10-15mins of distraction in watching tv is a huge relief to parents. Don’t hand over the phone for 2 hours because that will have an adverse impact on their health. They will not be only physically but mentally tired as well. And use this tool as the last weapon of distraction because once the kids get the phone, they are relatively quieter and everyone in the plane is happy andin peace.

4)      Find friends in plane – This may not be always possible but chances are higher that parents with same age kids are traveling in a plane. It is in mutual interest to exchange few words as parents are in the same boat. It is lot easier for two kids to attract each other’s attention than elders. If you are really lucky then kids may gel well, and the entire journey becomes smooth. And that experience would be like attaining Nirvana.

5)      Don’t lose patience/get angry on kids –  Parents have to understand that traveling by air is very stressful for kids. This restricts their movement for hours. The only thing parents can do is be sympathetic and provide adequate support. When they are being cranky, screaming and shouting, be patient and try new methods to distract them. I noticed that at times, parents feel embarrassed because of their kids’ behavior. And that adds more pressure on them. Parents should shamelessly ignore other passengers’ response because there is hardly parents can do to help their kids.

The above points are based on my personal experiences. And I am not saying that I travel effortlessly but our problems have come down significantly.

Try above and share your experiences.

Is there any ‘best’ Parenting Technique?

Here’s our first guest post by a dear friend who is a first time mother and just joined back post maternity leave. She has shared her thoughts about Parenting Technique that most new mothers are worried about. Read and enjoy. Don’t forget to share or comment if you like the post.

Parenting technique, really!! Is there one…??

Frankly, before being a first-time parent, I searched for keywords “parenting”, “best parenting technique” etc. quite often and with lots of curiosity, wide and with hopeful eyes. Any guidance meant world to me!

Now, after 6 months of having the baby, parenting an infant to a toddler, I realized, ‘Parenting’ is all about you. What you feel is the best for your baby! The way you deal your life, the way you always thought a child should be brought up. It’s your best personality that you show to your dearest one! Being informed is one thing but following a ‘technique’ is quite impossible. Maybe because having a complete trust and conviction is something that we should have while bringing up a ‘life’ into a ‘person’. The maximum trust is hence only on what you practice, and, which turns up good for your child. Following a ‘path’ can’t make your child an Einstein, a Jackson or a Mother Teressa…certainly, not an Ambani!!!  Because your practice will have a reaction, that precious reaction of your child – acceptance or rejection and that is because every child is different!

Bringing up a child is a gradual process and knowingly/unknowingly we infuse most part of ‘us’ in our child. The part which is not genetically transferred but behavioral transfer.  

Our parents brought us up with the best behavior that they could. However, even if they didn’t want, we end up getting their weakness, screaming, yelling, lies, careless, impatience etc. because that’s easy to be picked up, not always, though! 

The best philosophy and most practical one I have been through is “Practice what you want your child to be, not preach. A child learns more from the action than speech!”

If you want your child to study, study with them, tell them what fun it is to learn new things.  If you consistently see their lack of interest, gauge their interest and follow it. 

So, give wings to your child. Let them be themselves. My mantra is – I want to enjoy her childhood as much as she does. Life doesn’t give you same phase of life twice.  Live it and LIVE it to the fullest! I don’t remember my childhood, so maybe I can recreate my memories of growing up with her.

You are often been asked- ‘What would you change/do if you go back to your past?’ I feel, with my girl, I am just re-living my childhood. Got a second chance to be or do what I couldn’t or maybe did! To create memories….memories for life!

About blogger  – Neeti Verma

I work as an Environment Auditor for since past 6 years. My experience involves conducting audits against various international environment -based standards for forestry, conflict free wood, gems and metals,  indoor air quality etc. I am a new mother who wish to share and learn experiences of all of the lively Moms out there.

What’s the Best Time to Have a Baby? – Ask yourself these 10 questions

There is a lot of debate around what is the right age and time to give first birth. And the truth is – 

There is no right time to get pregnant!!

I would like to kick off this article with Indra Nooyi’s comment on the question “Why women can’t have it all?”. And she said that biological clock and career clock are in total conflict. They go hand in hand and women have to find a right balance.

No one can tell you when is the right time to become a mother. This is a very personal decision but of course, with my little research and asking few people around, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself in order to get some clarity:

1)    Am I happy with my career progression so far?

Smart women know where their career is heading. They generally have a goal in their mind. And at every stage, one evaluates whether I am on right track or do I need to push myself more? After about 7-8 years of experience, you have kind of made a mark for yourself in the industry and you have enough proof to showcase the good work. It’s not a bad time to take a break and focus on family life for a while. Of course, that doesn’t mean quitting the job but just being less aggressive on career goals.

2)    What am I planning to achieve in next 5 years? (personal goals)

This is again a very personal question because everyone has their own path of achieving success whether personal or professional. If one have clarity on the goals for next 5 years then she is in a better position to plan a family. If goals are too aggressive then may wait till you are happy with yourself.

3)    Am I happy in my relationships?

Ask yourself if you are happy with your current relationships. If your future looks bright and stable, go for it.

4)    Is my partner ready to have a child?

Some men just freak out in the name of being a father. They are just not happy with all the frills that come along – losing the wife to the child, changing diapers, waking up at nights and always being available for the child. It’s better to discuss with the partner if he is happy to have a child and ready to share the burden of bringing up a child. His consent is important no matter how much you want to have a child. And vice versa.


5)    Are we financially stable? Or do we have enough savings?

The money would never be enough. Wants are endless. But as mature individuals, evaluate the overall expenses to judge if you are happy to raise a child without any financial stress. I think this is very important because, at times, there are fights in a family because of the financial burden of raising a child. Before child, two people are contributing to the household income and therefore disposal income is high. Now one person is working and there is an additional member of the family to take care. For some families, it is a huge shift and it takes a while for them to adjust.


6)    Am I healthy?

Women need to be healthy to produce healthy babies. Blood pressure, sugar are some of the common diseases that are seen these days. It’s best to have a child when the body is healthy.


7)    What is my age?

We all know that with age, the body doesn’t function as smooth as when we are young. It is good to have a baby early than later. Another important aspect is that after childbirth, body retracts much faster when you are young. That means women who are worried about losing their body curve after pregnancy should plan to give birth at a younger age. With good diet and exercise, there are higher chances that you can get back to your pre-pregnancy weight much faster. But if you still have question on right age – read this.


8)    Do you have a motherly feeling when you see a baby/toddler?

I think this could be a sign on whether you would like to have your own child. Looking at other people’s baby/child evokes a strong feeling of love. If you are experiencing something like that, rest assured you are ready to have a child.


9)    Are you happy to sacrifice your Social life for few years?

Having a child is a commitment for life. The young baby needs a lot of time. At times, new mothers don’t even get time to pee peacefully. Meeting with friends, dinner outings etc. can be thing of the past. You won’t even realize because you are so busy with the newborn. But social life does take a backseat after child’s birth.

Child comes first


10)    Why do you want to have your own child?

This is more of a soul searching question. You just have to give a thought on whether you want to have your own child or you want to adopt. There are many kids in this world who are looking for a suitable home and good parents. In order to be a parent, one doesn’t need to give birth to a child. So, have a good thought and then decide.

Please don’t have a child just because all your friends/colleagues are giving birth. Everyone is in their own time zones (of life). Don’t get pressurized by your family too. Nobody but you who will have to commit, taking care of your child. There would be tough days, tougher and some days will be even crazier than that. You should be prepared (or at least willing) to take to take on those challenges.

Things to Look Out For When Hiring a FDW (Maid/Helper)

As working women, our lives are highly dependent on helpers/maid. Most of the helpers(FDW) hired are not fully trained. Helpers/FDW from Indonesia and Philippines get some training in their own country (based on my conversations from my own helper) but helpers from other countries don’t even get the basic training. From example- Fresh helpers coming in from North India are not trained. Most of the times, they don’t even know what they are supposed to do because agents who have lured them, don’t give them much idea about the work.

I have had my share of troubles with the helpers/maids. But still, we managed to complete the contract with our helpers(FDW).


Here are few tips when you are looking to hire a helper:-

1)    Avoid agents/middlemen if possible:


Unless you are in desperate need, take your time to look for helpers on your own. The best source of finding for a helper contact would be Facebook groups. Post your requirements in various groups and someone will definitely respond to the message. Either they would know the helper or at least their helper would know someone who would be keen to work. It is much better to use your network. That would save around $1500 -$2000 that agents usually charge.
The only advantage of going through the agent is because agents offer you replacements with some replacement fee but that cost is also not low. Also, it also lowers your intent to adjust with the helper because, at the back of your mind, you still have the option to change her.


2)    Direct apply for the maid’s visa:


The direct hire procedure is very simple. One doesn’t need a middleman to do the process. One can go to MOM website, log in from your sing Pass, fill the details of the helper and follow the instructions. After submitting the form, it takes 2-5 working days for approval. Download the form I,e IPA letter and send it to your maid(waiting in her hometown). While maid is coming to Singapore, she must have three things with her – IPA letter, Insurance paper, and her passport. For Insurance, one can call up, NTUC agent and request for Insurance.(Get the call-in numbers online). The process is ultra simple and takes a couple of hours to get the insurance.


3)    Maid’s SIP:


As soon as the helper/FDW comes in, within two working days she has to go for SIP (Settling In Program). Again, search for SIP training and register online. Ideally, this should be done before helper lands in Singapore because getting last minute slot could be difficult. There are two centers where this training is conducted. Whichever center is closer to your house, please take the helper to that location. Please make sure that your helper has minimum 8 years of qualifications else she won’t allow the helper to appear in the training program. There are some fees attached to it which employer has to pay. Also, SIP training is only for first-time helpers. Helpers those who have already worked here for few months/years are exempted from this training.
If you the first time employer, you have to go for Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP). This is a 3hour online program that will help understand your role and responsibilities as an employer of a foreign domestic worker (FDW).And this is a mandatory training.


4)    Hire experienced FDW:


I would suggest one should look for experienced maid compared to new maids. As in both the cases, there is advantages/disadvantages but the cost of training the new maid is high. Also, first few months are very tough for the new helpers as they are homesick, strange to live in someone else’s house, no friends etc. On top of that employer’s are trying hard to train her so that she is up to the speed. Because of this situation, there are higher chances that helpers leave within six months. All the time, effort and money are wasted. Alternatively, with an experienced helper, challenges are different. She is already aware of the environment, has some friends around, knows the kind of work she is supposed to do etc. So, it is a lot easier to train her. As long as you have clear set of house rules and she understands her work, chances are the helper will adjust in the family faster.


5)    Background Check:


In case you have decided to go with an experienced helper, you must ask for last employer’s contact. Some helpers have a genuine reason to quit but most of them fool around for no reason. They work for few months and then start looking for change for a higher salary or because of her own bad behavior. Most of the employers don’t do this as of now. And because of that, hiring is just an estimated guess. If you do talk to the last employer, most of the times, if the helper hasn’t completed the contract, they will talk ill about her but use your wisdom to make a decision. The challenges in the new house may not be same for the maid. This should be a trend moving forward in order to filter the bad helpers.


6)     Interviewing the helpers:


This is very crucial part of maid hiring process. While interviewing, employers generally gave them an overview of the tasks that needs to be done. For example – you will have to take care of cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids etc. generally, most of the interviews last for less than 30mins. And that seems to be a problem. When you have almost finalized the helper, give the details of the work that she has to do, let her know the basic house rules, where she will sleep, what would be her sleeping hours, how big is the house etc? She should have some idea of what she is getting into so that there are no shocks/surprises when she comes to your house. In case you are looking for tips on questions to ask- check this out

In order to get more tips and information, please drop me a note by filling in the form below.

Are You Ready For a Second Baby? Things to consider….

If someone would have asked this question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t know what to say. The first born is just so special that it is already a lot to occupy your mind. For the first child, there are many unknown factors that parents are trying to figure out and that is the reason there is a lot of time and attention that goes to the first one.

First time parents are always worried about their child’s developmental milestones. I remember an incident when me and husband went to the doctor for a regular growth check.We requested the doctor to check her left leg at least 3 times because as parents we were concerned that she doesn’t put both her feet on the floor (she was barely 6mns).The doctor smiled and asked “are you first time parent?” and we said “yes”! And that incident amuses me because now she runs faster than bullet.

The pressure of handling a child comes down when she/he turns 2. Parents get some room to think about second one. During my second pregnancy, I noticed that many pregnant women in hospital who came for their regular check were accompanied by pre-teens . That amazed me. And I was little worried – Did I plan little early? It was too late to ask that question. But for other women who are planning for a second child, you must ask yourself following questions. Remember everyone is in their own timezone!

Why do I want a second baby?

This should be clear in your head. It is very expensive to raise a child in today’s times. That shouldn’t deter anyone to plan another baby because resources can always be shared. But the question is why do you want another baby? Is it because you are looking for a company for the elder one? Is it because you want to be a parent again because elder one is already in school? Is it because you desired to have a different gender and now again you want to try for a baby boy or girl? Clarifying these questions are important because that will determine the time on when you want to have the baby.

When do I want a baby?

To my earlier question, why will determine when? If you are looking for company for your first child, it’s better to plan sooner than later. Because kids generally want to play with similar age group. Another advantage of having a second baby sooner is because all the baby stuff can still be used like stroller, baby cradle, baby tub etc. From financial perspective, it totally makes sense. But in case you just want to be a parent again only when elder one is completely independent then that also works because then elder child becomes more of your helping hand. Also, raising second baby is lot easier because you don’t have to juggle between the kids. You can give your maximum time and attention to the younger child without being worried about the elder one.

What is my support mechanism?

In case you decide to go for a second baby sooner, it is important to evaluate your support system. Because one needs a lot of help when the babies are younger. There are situations that are tough to handle like – a cranky toddler and a crying baby, toddlers and baby falling sick together, chances of baby catching virus from toddler, watching out toddler if he/she doesn’t stifle the baby, managing toddler’s tantrums while your baby needs utmost attention. Trust me it is not easy. Make sure you have enough help at home to manage because raising two young kids can be a traumatic experience. If the age gap is longer than your elder turns out to be a strong support system. Elder one is more than excited for the baby and they are old enough to understand and help the mother.

How am I going to split my time?

This is again a question when you are planning a baby sooner. Each child needs mother’s attention. No matter how much love a child gets from other members of the family but he/she will still crave for mother’s attention. So, it’s important to know that if your elder one is still young, you should have sufficient time with him/her. If mother is working then it becomes very challenging because whatever time is left after coming back home, it is very hard to split equally.Also, given that the mother is already tired from day’s work.

Do I want to continue to work?

And the earlier question will lead to this question – Do you plan to continue to work after the second child? This is very important decision of life because many women are not ready to give up their career because of personal life. And one should not, absolutely. In today’s world, technology has enabled women/parents to keep a close watch on their kids even when they are away. It is just a matter of time management and better planning. In case you are planning to quit the job, then it should be comparatively easier to manage.

Can we afford a bigger space?

One of the changes that I noticed soon after my second born was the need for the bigger space. Babies usually have their own needs like night feeding, being cranky at night, sleeping during day time etc. Also, there are tonnes of baby stuff, toddler things that needs to be stocked up. So, you need extra storage space. I remember when we moved recently, half of our luggage were all toys and baby stuff. And that is pretty normal when you have kids at home.

Age/Health?

Again this is something that all women should consider while giving birth. Usually doctors recommend that the first baby should be born before 30 years of age. But these days, working women are delaying their first born. Again, if first born is delayed then one should consider/plan for second born sooner than later.

These are some of the basic questions which I feel should be considered while you are planning for a second baby. If there are any other questions which you feel is vital, please drop them in comment. It would be useful for women those who are in planning stage.

Amazing hang out place for kids! ArtScience Museum Singapore

It was fantabulous to visit the ArtScience museum at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. School holidays are on and I have been cracking my head to bring her out. This was on my list for a long time.

Because of the school holidays, it was more crowded than expected. We stood in the queue to get our tickets. But I would suggest, it is better to book online as online ticket collection queue was shorter.

Soon we got our tix. The staff at the counter was friendly and polite. They showed us the way to proceed to the exhibition. I did ask Rhea if she wanted to go to the washroom as the toilet was right beside the ticketing counter. And I was not sure if we could come out once entered. (We can btw).

Gentleman at the entrance cautioned us that clicking picture with flash wasn’t allowed. So, one can take pictures, just don’t turn on the flash.  

As we entered there was a Q to enter in a small dark room. Inside the room, there was a spotlight and everyone sat around there. No one had a clue on what was coming. So, the crowd was looking around when a loud music started with light show. I felt that the floor was moving. But still not sure if it was. The gazillion lights were moving very fast on the screen. It felt like we were on a roller coaster ride in space. Some people felt dizzy and went out in the middle of the show. Rhea and I enjoyed the show till the end. It lasted for about 10mins. Then people moved on  to the next destination. Little ahead there was a big hall with bean bags lying on the floor. People were sitting and enjoying the soothing music and imaginary sea side. I took the below pic there.

ArtScience Museum Singapore

Next we went up the stairs. On top there was giant slide with colourful pictures and interactive light. Everyone including grown ups were enjoying the slide. Me and Rhea also plunged and landed on soft carpet. It was smooth and breezy.

We walked in to see there was a giant canvas with moving city on it. There were truckes/houses/ spaceships and what not. All of them were of different colors and but sizes are more or less same. The people were sitting around with their kids, colouring pictures on drawing sheets. Check this out –

                                          Digital Interactive Wall +ArtScienceMuseum Education 

One girl went to the printer like machine, input her design and then pressed a yellow button. She quickly ran and started staring at the wall as if she was locating something. I didn’t understand what’s going on. I asked a lady staff. And she explained that one has to color the drawing and then scan it and your drawing will start showing on the digital wall. Me and Rhea sat down and coloured few pictures. Rhea went and scanned hers. After few seconds, she was jumping with joy seeing her drawing come alive… It was exciting indeed. There were many other interesting digital activities like giant lit balls that kids were throwing at each others. Interactive floor, hotch – potch design maker and many more.

                                          Giant Lit Ball +ArtScienceMuseum Education 

Interactive Hotch-Potch Station
Interactive Floor -ArtScience Museum

Most exciting thing for Rhea was the slide. It was indeed a hit among kids as they were doing again and again. With other parents, I was enjoying the fun and laughter of the kids. One can easily spend 3-4 hours inside the museum and kids still don’t get bored.

Ticket Prices is as below :

ArtScience Museum Ticket Prices

DROP IN YOUR COMMENT TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

                                                  Giant Slide that I was talking about earlier