Thursday, 21 April 2016

It is Planet Earth’s birthday today…. Let’s celebrate by belonging to it.

Earth is the only planet with chocolates and children! That is because it is blessed with life- insects, trees, birds, animals and especially humans. Humans are searching for life forms on other planets and in this search have forgotten to take care of what we already have- Planet Earth, a living breathing planet that has water and air and food.

But many people have woken up to face the reality about the kind of world we want to leave for our children and grandchildren and have initiated a day on which we can remember and acknowledge the importance of this wonderful planet and strive to treasure and save it. The world now marks Earth Day to make the human race realize the importance of the Mother Earth. Earth Day is celebrated every year on the 22nd of April. In 1970, a senator from Wisconsin, USA, Gaylord Nelson first conceived of this day.

More than just remembering or acknowledging the wonder of Planet Earth on this special day it is important we teach our kids and ourselves to ‘belong’ to this planet. And to do that we have to fall in love with Planet Earth, because when we love something, we bond with it, treasure it and it belongs to us. And we never have to be told to take care of something that belongs to us!
Its time to fall in love with Planet Earth and belong to it. Its time to help our children experience its wonders, instead of always putting the responsibility of saving it on them. How can our children save something that they have not experienced or understood the importance of?

Its time to take our kids on walks…not in malls all the time but once in a while in a park, on the beach and places where they can breathe pure unadulterated oxygen! Try a nighttime walk, help your child hear the sounds during a day-time walk and a night-time walk. Take a magnifying glass along for your walk in the park and see how your little explorer loves to look at leaves and insects with the magnifying glass. Next time try taking tinted magnifying glasses (available easily in all  toy stores) and see how your child will giggle and wonder at how green leaves look red or the blue sky looks green.

Sleep on the grass and look at the clouds passing by and play a game of finding object shapes in the clouds. At night look at the sky and try to look for star clusters. All these activities will help children fall in love with nature and help them understand that birds and insects and animals and trees are an integral part of our environment. They will not look at insects as ‘eek’ something to scream about or dirt and mud as ‘yucky’, they will be able to feel different textures in nature and this stimulation is extremely healthy for their emotional development and brain development. After all the 5 senses are the main route to stimulating our brain synapses.

When our children stop going outdoors they are left out of the nourishment that nature can provide for their emotional development. Nature Deficit Disorder, is a term coined by Richard  Louv  in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, he refers to a growing trend around the world wherein  children are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.

Technology is something that children have already fallen in love with, and that is why you will notice how fiercely they protect their tech gadgets and tech use time. Because they have a bond with it, it belongs to them. Let us use technology to help them experience and fall in love with nature and when they do, ensure that they get real life nature experiences too.

I have given below a list of apps that you can use to help your child fall in love with Planet Earth (these are from and this site has a fantastic collection of apps). Have a fun Earth Day.
·         Lorax- this app recounts  a favourite Dr Seuss story by the same name in which Lorax tries to save Truffula forest from the hands of a factory owner. The story serves as an ecological warning and is suitable for age 3 to 6 years
·         Earth Primer- an interactive science book, in this app kids can create volcanoes and sculpt mountains.
·         WWF Together- this all is from the World Wildlife Fund and has origami instructions for each animal introduced. (free)
·         The Yuckies- a series of two FREE books teaching kids about environment. The stories use muck, goop and mischief to teach kids why it is important and how to keep our environment clean. The series is designed for 5-8 year olds.
·         Toca Nature- (is my personal favourite as it helps kids and adults understand the impact of ecological changes) this is an open-ended app for kids of all ages. Kids can make changes in the natural environment and watch how other elements change correspondingly. For example, by adding trees, kids will be able to see the animal distribution changes over time, water circulation changes too.
·         WilderQuest - is a free app by National Parks and Wildlife. Through the lenses of the device, kids experience the virtual reality of the wild nature, watching animals moving close by, be so near to the plants that they will feel they can smell them and touch them. It is great way to experience the nature when you cannot go out.
·         Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: Lions-  from National Wildlife Federation (NWF), it is the first of the series of Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures. Kids follow Ricky Raccoon to visit Lars the Lion and experience a lion’s life in the jungle. With built-in games being integral part of the story, it is a great learning app for kids age 4 to 7.
·         Audubon Birds- it is an encyclopedia on birds from Audubon Institute, who has been working on ecosystems, with focus on birds and other wildlife, for decades. There are many nice features in the app. The best is the search function. You can search a bird by color, shape, name, location, song pattern, etc. A great app to keep handy when being in the park.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Suicides and Celebrations

“I don’t hate you but I would remove your life support to charge my phone.”…

This is a joke that I read in a daily newspaper that shocked me. How can someone joke about something like this? Have we lost all emotions that we just end up making everything a joke? And then it struck me that the fine lines that divide our emotions have been corroded and when there are no lines it leads to chaos. Our emotional world is in chaos, we are unable to feel, sympathize, or empathize. One of the most important things that define us from other animals is our ability to empathize and sadly today we have reached a stage where we have to help our young ones and ourselves ‘learn about empathy’.

Everything is about the latest tweet, the latest joke to share on whatsapp, joke about husbands and wives, children, political parties, our prime minister, everything can be joked about and in the same manner. So no lines again. We have forgotten how to care, respect we only know how to expect.

We don’t have emotional ties any longer. We have more than 3000 friends on Facebook, we ‘share’ with friends on whatsapp but we have actually distanced ourselves and there is no one that actually knows us, understands us, we are unable to share our true feelings with anyone.

A recent suicide again rocked this country, a young actress, just 24 years old, Pratyusha Banerjee. The young Balika Vadhu, everyone’s favorite. Abused by her boyfriend both physically and emotionally. Who was she able to reach out to? No one. Everyone knew she had problems but she was not able to get help in time. Because emotional problems are not considered a problem. We have to deal with them on our own. It’s our own private emotional sewage that has no dumping ground. We collect it and then one day drown in our own emotional sewage. That is exactly what happened with this young girl. Who was her community?

We all need a community around us, people who will know us, our nature, accept us for our good and bad and be our emotional sewage release.  But today we have distanced ourselves from our family and community and created a cloud family and community on Facebook, twitter, and whatsapp.

My blog title says suicides and celebrations because when we have nothing to celebrate we get depressed and drown in our emotional sewage. Its time we have emotional celebrations not just physical ones.  All religions have abstinence, when communities come together to feel sorrow together. Happy festivals, festivals that talk about hope, new beginnings. These are the cleansers of our emotional sewage.

Today festivals and celebrations are about hoarding, buying, showing off. Its time to revisit celebrations and festivals and understand the true meaning of each and during those times connect with your family, community and feel a oneness, a spiritual release and you will realize that you feel emotionally lighter and happier.

Gudi Padwa is celebrated as Ugadi also and it is a celebration of spring, of new beginnings, of a new harvest. Celebrate the meaning behind the festival and you will feel an emotional happiness that helps you feel free and rejuvenated. Celebrate it emotionally, not what the ads in the newspapers want you to do- buy a house, buy gold. That is materialistic celebrations. Spend time with your family and community or just yourself. What ever makes you happy. But during festivals and celebrations seek happiness, embrace it with both hands.

This Gudi Padwa start a new chapter in your lives, have a person that you can vent to, a person you can confide in, a person you can share with. This person can be your emotional buddy, this is your new beginning. An emotional buddy has to be non judgmental, so choose wisely.

We go to a doctor if we have a physical problem, we call a plumber when the water is stuck in the sink. Then  why do we feel it is bad to go to an emotional counselor? So is our smartness only limited to using smart phones but we think it is not so smart to seek help for emotional issues?

Accept that you are depressed and then take responsibility for the same and seek help before it is too late. A recent survey conducted by Podar Institute of Education revealed that 70% of all adults above the age of 15 are depressed. Think, we are living in the most successful era of the human world, we have everything at our disposal, and yet we are losing the most important battle because our emotions are not strong.

On Gudi Padwa a Gudi is hoisted outside each house as a celebration of victory. This Gudi Padwa hoist a Gudi outside your house as your emotional victory, cleanse your emotions and your house. Get rid of emotional demons to be victorious. Clean your emotional sewage so that you don’t drown in it like so many youth who are committing suicide.  Happy Gudi Padwa.