Manipulation

Weekend Projects

fad-diet

I have learnt it the hard way that a new fad diet in the market with a flashy punch line “Lose 5 pounds in a week” will not work and neither will the electronic gadgets causing perspiration. However, the exceptional desire to achieve the dream size has clouded my judgement every now and then. The infomercials are contrived with great conviction and appeal to many like me.

Today, I hit the gym or the road for a long jog and try to control my diet to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

I am covered pretty well under my company health insurance and that has been sufficient until now. To be honest, it was only a couple of years into my job that I realized, I was paying my medical bills that my company can fully reimburse. Thankfully, none of the bills were too heavy. But, I saw a pattern that as my colleagues progressed to a higher position, stress levels resulted in hailing one or the other health problems. High blood pressure being the common denominator.

When I shared my observation with my financial agent, he suggested me to buy a health care plan that would take care of me not only during my old age, but also during the premium period. Fear is a powerful motivator and an equally powerful manipulator. To reduce the lurking stress, I was sold to the idea of insurance.

Sojhi

Sojhi, Weekend Projects

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Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) offers a comprehensive Gurmat based curriculum called Sojhi; in the Panjabi language ‘Sojhi’ means ‘insight’. The Curriculum is oriented around the goal of developing insights to inspire a Gurū-centered life. *

ZERO! I have zero experience in teaching.

It’s a daunting task to teach a class of primary 6 students when you have ZERO class management skills. As the D-day is approaching near so is my fear to face the mischievous boys and girls. If teaching my parents how to work with WhatsApp and Facebook counts a little, I might say I have the bare bones under my belt.

Teachers Training Programme!

I am under the weather. The incessant cough pretty much dug up tunnels in my throat. I have just finished one full course of medicines, but there is no respite from this saga. Honey, lemon and oranges do provide the much-needed Vitamin C, but relief is nowhere to be seen. Despite the slight fever, I managed to reach my venue just in time for the session. I was given a name tag that I glued to my jeans, a sky blue folder to maintain my notes and a table number where I will be seated.

I self served a cup of hot tea and relished the fruit cake. The tea had a perfect blend of spices that instantly calmed my sore throat. I was packed with energy and excited to meet all the volunteers, particularly those seated at my table. SS, JS, JK, AK, RK and MK. Three amateurs and three veterans-a perfect blend. I had barely grasped everyones name that the squeaking sound of microphone grabbed our attention.

Session Begins!

We all recited our prayer (moolmantra). Thanked the almighty for giving us this chance to serve our community.

Next in line was a game. Dumb Charade!

Our challenge was to form a circle in chronological order of our birth day and month in under 5 minutes. We struggled, whispered, laughed and finally formed a circle from January to December. Besides a few hiccups, it was a perfect start of the day. Memorable birthdays were 1st January-New Year, 1st April-Fools Day and 13th April-Vaisakhi.

We were all bubbling with energy and were ready for some serious stuff.

Ms Nandini**, a professional storyteller, gave us some insights on story telling. I had never paid much attention to this art form until today. The subtle changes in the posture, modulation of voice and pace, expressions, eye contact, visual aids, etc., painted a different perspective each time she dramatized. It was worth a try to internalize the story before we presented it to our students.

We will be sharing several stories with our students in due course of time, but this session was my favorite. I must practice this art!

We quickly went through our curriculum for the year and yes, all sessions included a story that must be shared with the students.

Lunch is served!

Oh man, it was delicious.

Garlic and butter naan, jeera rice, mixed raita (tomatoes, cucumber and onion mixed in yogurt), dal (lentils), paneer capsicum and gobi aloo (cauliflower and potatoes). Even though I was sure that spices will trigger my cough but I couldn’t resist the temptation to eat the curries.

Rasmalai (dessert), was delicious and, trust me, all of us wanted a second serving.

Our next guest was Mdm, Heng Yee (MOE).

She gave us the golden key to be a good teacher:

  1. Build the Bond
  2. Motivate
  3. Discipline

Without a bond you cannot motivate and without motivation you cannot discipline. All three must be followed in the same order. You cannot inspire a child unless you’ve built a strong bond. Once the bond has been established, you can motivate him or her to accomplish the goals. And only after you have met the two rules comes the game of discipline.

Four decades of experience and the crux was right in front of us. It might seem to be just three principles, but the struggle is inevitable.

The session concluded and we were handed our files for our class scheduled next Sunday.

After a light snacks and tea, I headed home.

Although still nervous, I have to prepare myself for the first challenge “Bonding with the Children and focussing on relationship”.

* Reference: http://www.sikhri.org/sojhi

**Nandini Nagpal: http://storytellingsingapore.com/book-a-teller/nandini-nagpal

One Day, I’ll be gone

Daily Prompts, Weekend Projects
Moody Harbour

A bird flies over harbour at dusk

One day, my parents will be gone.

One day, my siblings will be gone.

One day, I’ll be gone.

The order in which this will happen is unknown. But, the sudden realization was tearing my heart. If I am the first one to go, perhaps my life insurance can take care of my funeral arrangements. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone too much. It will be certainly hard for my parents, but I wish they will recover soon and find happiness in their daily lives.

The supposition of someone else leaving me was hard to swallow. I tried to shrug the thought and called my parents. We talk almost every day, but today was special. I didn’t want to stop my mother from quoting the same story the hundredth time. I wanted to talk to my father and hear him share some verses from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I didn’t want to hang up.

I broached the subject with my father and he laughed. It is preordained, my dear. One day, we all will be gone. We are all here, living, breathing in His will, the Almighty. Yes, we are. But the answer to the question, when are we going to die, is unknown. Perhaps the very reason we live our lives with hope and make plans for tomorrow.

Life has never stopped for anyone, my father said. He recounted an incident at the funeral home, where the delay in cremation activities was causing unrest among some of the guests. Not that they didn’t want to pay respects but they had other engagements for the day where they need to be.

There were too many questions racing through my brain. How do those who have contracted critical illness, who know that the days are numbered, live their lives? How does the knowledge of dying soon change one’s behavior? Does it change the behavior of those around them? How do they overcome the fear?

Then some deeper questions, is there anything constant or static?

Yes, indeed. It is the Almighty, who has been always there, is there and will be.

We are all in a reality show, choreographed, directed and managed by Him.

It sometimes grips me gravely. Well, that is a good thing my dear, my father said. That is why we remember Him, every day. You must never forget that.

It is a powerful realization, yet I know I will forget about everything tomorrow. I will be busy preparing my breakfast, working out at the gym, preparing reports at work, attending meetings, return home, have dinner and fall asleep. The cycle will be hard to break. But today, I want to thank everyone in my life for being there and thank the Almighty that I have yet another day to live and breathe in His Will.

Static

Guests

Guests, Weekend Projects

IMG_0106Approximately 50, yes, this is quite close to the number of first cousins I have. My paternal and maternal grandparents had 10 kids each. An average of two kids per family brings us to 40 and another 10, considering half of them have three kids, to a total of 50. Around 15 of us can get together at any family event especially weddings.

These days 15 guests is considered a sizeable gathering. Often I wonder, what was different back in my parent’s generation? Weren’t the ladies of the house overwhelmed when so many guests arrived? How did they manage? What was their secret? Weren’t then people demanding or finicky about food, health, cleanliness and other pleasures?

“Simple Lifestyle” my mother would say with great conviction. There was enough food to feed a guest or two anytime and left over was fed to the street dogs. Food was cooked on low flame for the entire day. It was so delicious that you could eat your fingers, but only one dish was served.

Guests were treated as family. There was no rule to bring expensive wine or wear a fancy dress. Nor was there any deadline for the guests to leave. If there was a wedding in the family the guests would stay for weeks. There was so much love.

What about kids? Were they all so well behaved? Of course not, we had our share of little monsters too. There was always  mango or lemon pickle to strike a deal and on some occasions Malai (cream of fresh milk) and jaggery would do the trick.

I am a bit nervous when it comes to cooking. I can cook a decent meal on a weekend, but barely have the strength to follow the routine all five days of the week. I choose to freeze my food instead. If I am unwell or don’t feel like cooking I eat at the KOPITIAM.

KOPITIAM—a traditional coffee shop for meals and beverages. You can find one every 500 meters in Singapore. Each KOPITIAM showcases a range of food stalls and beverages. I can eat there anytime. I love to bring my guests there too. It has more choices than I can cook and the colorful pyramids of ice desserts can handle any mercurial temperament. It’s convenient, cheap and I have more face time with my guests.

Perhaps, I can start small and invite someone who wouldn’t mind my cooking, even if I fail. How hard could that be? And I will tear this veil of fear forever.

Were you always good at cooking? How many guests did you invite when you cooked the first time? Was the food enough to feed all? Were they family, friends or strangers? Have you ever dreaded a huge gathering? How did you conquer your fears?