This and that

Check-checkmate

Check-checkmate

Udharet asmana atmanam na atmanam avasadayet I

Atma eva hi atmanah bandhuh atma eva ripu atmanah II sloka 5”

 

उद्धरेत  आस्माना आत्मानं न आत्मानं अवसादयेत्  ।

आत्मा एव हि आत्मनः बन्धुः आत्मा एव रिपुः  आत्मनः ।। श्लोक ५

Translation:

“Let a man raise himself by his own self; let him not debase himself. For he is himself his friend and foe.”

 

One is oneself responsible for one’s distinction or debasement. The contributions that others make in these respects are secondary. It is but usual that one complains that one’s enemy has done havoc to one. But no one can hurt without oneself contributing to it. It is possible for a sadhaka (aspirant) to avail himself of a wrong done to him by his enemy for self – purification. Because of misunderstanding and maladjustment man paves the way for self-debasement. And by doing so, he becomes his own enemy. On the other hand, by right understanding and right conduct he elevates himself and thereby becomes his own friend.  One is one’s own arch friend or arch foe. The person who understands this fact; learns an invaluable lesson for life. 

No one courts enmity; friendship alone is sought by all. But one needs to learn to be victorious over self, first.

 

This particular shloka from Bhagwad Geeta always conjures the image of a chess board in my mind. I never really connected to or understood this shloka in its real essence, though is used be repeated very often by my dad during our growing up years. It was one of his favourite shloka. Similarly, chess also was one game I preferred to stay away from, a game my dad excelled at and challenged all his progeny to learn and master.

In retrospect today I can make the connection between the Shloka and the crafty game; both are very individual and pass on the same message to the person playing the game of chess or to the person living the shloka. A game of chess is a very individually uplifting game and tells the player every time that he/she is the sole reason for upliftment or down fall.

The whole Game of chess vests and depends on the King, protecting the king and defeating the opponent King. The king himself has very restricted mobility, yet is the most cherished piece on the board,  the sole piece on which the life and death of the game depends, it is either check or check mate depending on the King. The human nature is also much the same; heart is the king; cocooned and nestled inside the deepest recess of the human anatomy. Surrounded and protected by a plethora of other organs, playing the visibly useful role. The heart only responds if the owner is willing to listen! Else it rhythmically beats and the person is alive only as long as the heart continues to beat, any other organ collapses; life continues. The heart stops, it is game over.

The second most powerful piece on the board is the Queen; the maker or the breaker of the game, she moves with ease deftness and dexterity all over the board. She commands and marshals the other forces and aligns them in a way that she protects the King and also leads the king towards victory, step by step, listening to the king and acting in accordance to the wishes of the king. Same is the mind, the upliftment of the person or the curse which brings the downfall of the person. Mind works the way the owner controls it, controlled by heart it never goes wrong or strays but independent and dominated by its own will and by the other acting forces, external and internal, the mind plays great havoc and in no time reduces the human being to cinders. The heart is a mute spectator watching life slip away, step by step, leading up to death and decay.

Only if the Queen is balanced and powerful can the king be protected and work well with the other forces in the kingdom; march ahead and defeat the opponent. Similarly, if the mind is in the right place, well balanced the person leads a successful life in control of all the other senses. The emotions, reactions, aspirations and ambitions are balanced and lead the individual towards a victorious content filled life winning against the enemies within. And, this person successfully defeats the opponents or contenders in the outside world also.

The rest of the pieces and powers on the chess board help the queen dually, give power to the queen and also save the king from the opponent forces. The queen in turn takes their help and smoothly marshals her forces and defeats the opponent bringing victory and cheer to the king. Likewise, if one has overcome ones vices and effectively reign in the cantering mind, then the silenced mind listens to the heart. Such a person ultimately walks the path of contentment and fulfilment, unconcerned by the adversaries and competition of the world. The mind thinks with clarity and is in competition with no one on the outside. It is at peace within and without.

Thus, the person is responsible for one’s own upliftment and one’s own downfall. Till we do not overcome our own vices and convert those to virtues the chances of winning over any outside agent become negligible. The competition is always from within and the victory begins first with the victory over self and then transcends to victory over others.

Game of Life

Game of Life

As kids, the most popular game at home was Snakes and Ladders. Most of the games used to be for two players or four; Chinese checkers was the only game for 6 people. Snakes and Ladders could be played by any number; we simply improvised with the chess pieces if the players exceeded four. Apart for this, the other reason why we played snakes and ladders was that we were always more than one inching our way to the top, neck to neck, and the others used to be way below, praying that a snake bite us and we slip down to join them! It was more a play of human emotions all the time and it was weird and different to see friends become enemies, pray for their loss and be happy when a third person won, instead of the contending winners. As we grew up, studies took precedence, most of the school friends went different ways and in our busy lifestyle Snakes and ladders was lost and forgotten.

Things took a different turn after my second one, our darling daughter came along. Contrary to her brother, she loves board games of all kinds and she insists that the whole family sit and play! And to our dismay she was not an avid television fan either. Even if we did put her in front of the idiot box, she would barely sit for 10 minutes, even her favourite shows, she wanted one of us to sit and watch with her and she would be explaining the story!! None of us could endure the story of Thomas the Engine, or Oswald or Cee-Bee Bees on a consistent level. Very soon we were taking turns sitting with her and gradually we all started dreading our turn! So a new game almost every week became the new escape route for us, and that is how snakes and Ladders got reintroduced into my life.

She and I used to play for hours and she would be happy winning always, and since I was her only opponent I used to allow her to win, it made her happy and I had a chance to sneak in a few other quick chores, multi-tasking was a feasible option for me only if she won! She used to play with her brother and dad at times and both of them also quickly devised a way to let her win. They soon escaped seeking umbrage of repeated loss or that they were no match against her expertise. She grew up never being able to accept defeat and also overconfident that this was her winning game, she was victorious always.

My daughter’s sand castle crumbled when she began playing with her granny. My mother in law is a very ‘play it fair’ always, kind of a person. She plays to win, be it her grandchild or anyone else, and unlike us she was their putting her life into the game. This became a kind of a tug of war for my daughter and a deja’vu scenario for me. The first time my daughter lost she took it sportingly and hid her shock well in front of her granny; she came and cried her heart out to me saying, “Granny cheats!! She is not a good person, she does not know that in snakes and Ladders I am the only winner, she won I don’t know how!”…it was a stream of epithets and wails, engulfed by abysmal sadness due to her first ever defeat! This instance set me thinking, and I knew I could not approach my mother – in-law and ask her to lose! After all it was a child, her favourite grandchild she was playing against. And even if I did convince and coax my mother in law, what after that? How is my daughter ever going to learn to accept defeat? Is she ever going to learn to lose or will she grow up with the illusion that winning is her birth right?

Somewhere along the line I had made a mistake; in my lethargy and escapist attitude I had passed on something which my daughter may have to suffer with for the rest of her life! I was unable to really pacify my little one that day, just hugged her and kept thinking what my next course of action should be. She obviously did not go back to playing snakes and ladders with her granny, not in that trip, and in a way I was glad. It gave me a respite and time to think.

We sat down to play after a short hiatus and this time I was conscious about many things, my alertness, honesty in playing the game, win or lose accept both with equanimity, her spirit and attitude to the game! Marshalling my defences and strengths we proceeded; and at every step I started talking to her, if a snake bite her she immediately looked at me askance that would I overlook like I used to, and it broke my heart not to. But I was smilingly firm and gave her a new story for every ladder and every snake! A ladder came when she was honest, able to compete, play fair, not feel jealous, and think that this is a game and every game is to learn, enjoy, win some, and lose some too! She lost to granny and she did not like it, and similarly I lose every time I will also feel sad and may never play with anyone again! And a snake bite was when she was getting angry, ready to cry because I was winning, she wanting an extra turn so she could win or even she teasing me if she was on 98 somewhere and I was miserably stuck at some stupid 10 or so, a snake if she could not cheer my previous win and so on and so forth.

It took time, few very patient, long drawn, exceedingly intense games before it finally dawned to her that she had to learn to play, enjoy the game, win or lose a game; any game had a lesson and was fun if the lesson was learnt.

She plays all games with the same ease and grit now, to win always, but willing to roll  a quarter over to the winning side and congratulate the opponent too! Snakes and Ladders had arrived with a bang in my house, teaching my daughter and I a game of life!:)

You are the one

Last month I visited a remote village outside of Ghaziabad, UP to conduct puja. We, the other volunteer and I were delayed, trying to find our way and by the time we reached there a small group of people were already waiting for us. 

I apologized for the delay and started the puja, before and after the every session I ask a few relevant questions like when was their last sitting, or how is their meditation going on, do they have any doubts regarding the practice and so on and so forth. I followed the same path here also but the responses I got were all very different from the usual anticipated ones. In addition to answering my questions with utmost brevity all of them cited some other problem or ailment of theirs in great detail. By the time I came to the 6th or 7th person I was kind of feeling low and eager to see a young chirpy smiling face. These women and men alike were all middle aged and could only complain and crib about their life’s inconveniences. I did not know when next I would visit this place and so I certainly was incapacitated as far as helping them in any way was concerned. The feeling of helplessness was settling in and I was slumping in my chair praying for some young face, and soon.

It is true that when you fervently wish for something to happen even the God’s conspire to make it a reality. And the next two that sat in front of me were a mother and her daughter! I must have really smiled for the first time that day, out of sheer relief. So, I started talking to the daughter, asked her name and what she wanted to do and this is the small conversation we had, her mother butting in at the right places:

Me, “Namastey, what’s your name? ”

Mother, “Archana, she is studying Law! She wants to become an advocate!”

Me, looking at the daughter, “Really! That’s great! Become an advocate and do what?”

Archana, “Do something for my country, do good”

Me, “Wow! That is really cool, so you have a plan in place? I mean you wish to do something for the country, so where are you going to begin? Country is huge! ”

Mother, “She will start from here; her native place, she will start here madam! Then she will go to the city and then country!”

The daughter nodded in agreement and I was kind of beginning to have fun, finally. So, I continued, “So, to start from here also you need to be aware of the problems they are having and the wrong things that are happening in your vicinity, right?”

Again before the daughter could open her online casino mouth the mother said, ‘No, no, she knows nothing! She is busy studying always; in fact she comes here for weekends, stays with her aunt!’

I probably had a very visibly puzzled look by now because the daughter softly said, ‘No, I think I will try and correct the things that I can correct at home first, then village, and then from there probably try and bring a change and serve the nation!’

This answer pleased me and I was happy that she was narrowing it down and thinking about where and how she could bring a change. I just had to push her a little more and probably I would get the answer I was angling for from the start of this conversation.

 I said, “Wow! Good, so home is the first place you think needs to be changed is it?”

Mother, ‘Home? What is wrong at home? And what do you want to change at home?!

And before the girl could begin to explain, the mother declared, “You change yourself first! Set things right with you, your time table, dreams and goals! The rest will fall in place. Change should begin with the concerned person, right sister?”

I was too speechless with the quick reaction and exchange, but the sweet and wise girl thought for a moment and said, “Yes, sister. What my mum says is correct. I will first change and then only can I think of brining a change, here or anywhere. You please start meditation.”

I had my answer; I smiled and started the puja with a smile on my face. A few simple exchanges and both, mother and daughter had hit some home truths on realising dreams and where change should really begin from.

Globally, the youth today is full of energy, enthusiasm and fire with the burning desire to bring the change. The path nevertheless is totally hazy and they are too impatient to wait, think and chalk out the path in the first place. They have envisioned a grandiose dream and are totally in the dark as to how to realise the dream. Frustration, anger sets in fast and they become aggressive blaming the system, parents and everything else. The famous quote of Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see” is forgotten or never understood in its totality.

To close this, here is another clipping sent by a friend of mine, another true anecdote with the same message.

 WORDS FOR TEENAGERS

Northland College Principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth, “Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘what can we do, where can we go?”

My answer to this is. “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, study your lessons, visit the sick, and after you have finished, read a book, your town does not owe you any recreational facilities, your parents do not owe you fun.

The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that now one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a back bone not a wish bone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It is too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now, and that somebody is you!”

 

 

My daughter says so…

My daughter says so…

My nine years old is very argumentative, wants a reason, logic and a viable ground to work with; it can be any topic from maintaining her time-table to the reason why I learn music at my age! There are innumerable incidents in our daily life and I can easily write a book narrating her thought process and logical conclusions. Every anecdote has some learning for me and I realised that I may have imparted very little of me to the kids whereas my learning from them has been unimaginable!

Their innocent, incessant cross questioning and maddeningly hair splitting examination of every word I utter has forced me to be vigilant and weigh my words with utmost care and caution; resultantly loose talk is out of the way completely in my house! It is full of intelligent humour, and quizzical play with words and topics.

Here I am citing the latest anecdote. We are going to music class together; my daughter and I. she is an amazing singer more like a child prodigy and I am just the opposite. To be brutally honest, I really don’t know why I am still in the class, because my vocal chords still seem to be the same and my voice worse than ever. During my courtship days, I used to confidently sing for my husband and he used to never tire singing my praises and the crystal clear quality of my voice. And I always used to think I am a good singer, just in need of a little practice and of course a good tutor for formal training!

When I joined I thought I would soon improve and my teacher would definitely appreciate my hard work. But with the passage of time truth showed its ugly face and I knew that I was simply kidding myself. For some strange reason I continued to go and never thought of quitting. It is such a contrasting scene in the class, once ma’am asked us to sing a particular Raga and the teacher complimented her saying, “It is the teacher’s good fortune and good karma that they get a chance to teach such and gifted natural and exemplary student.” I was all smiles and feeling very proud when she smiling added, “Sharanya, you don’t feel bad, whatever you lack and can never achieve; God has bestowed on your daughter in a double doze!!”

I said nothing; simply smiled. My daughter chipped in on my behalf saying, “No ma’am, Mama wants to sings only for Her Master. She wants me to become a famous singer.” I was very grateful for her support and congratulated myself on raising such a loyal, devoted child, my good fortune and blessings of Almighty.

Recently, because of unprecedented guesting / hosting I was too over worked and decided to skip a few classes. The first 2 classes the teacher did not ask about my whereabouts and my daughter also never bothered to find out why I was not accompanying her. Third class the teacher asked her and she very innocently replied, “She just dropped me off and returned ma’am, don’t know why!!”

When she told me I didn’t know what to say!! What would the teacher think? I was returning from her door step the last 3 classes!! God!! This silly girl, she could have lied or made some excuses on my behalf!!

And as fate would have it I could not go for the next class either. But I carefully coached my girl and told her to ma’am, in case she asked, that I was unwell. That is why I am not attending the class.

I eagerly waited for her return that day, totally restless and praying that she would not mess up. The minute she returned I asked her if ma’am had enquired. She was very upset and took off like a rocket saying, “Please give me a complete reason next time!! What exactly has happened to you? I don’t know!”

I asked, “what exactly occurred, baby? What did ma’am ask?”

Daughter, “She asked me why you did not come and like you said I told her that you were unwell!”

I , “Then?”

“Then what! She asked what exactly happened to you! And I don’t know what is wrong with you, so what could I say?”

“Then, What did you say?”

All I could say was, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but I heard her taking an appointment with the doctor now and I know that she is going to a doctor in a while, and she continued very sweetly, Please give full details next!! I hate lyingL”

I felt very bad for her and totally ashamed that I was uselessly forcing her to lie. What was a casual habit for me, making excuses, became a grave lie for her and could not cope with it! I apologised to her and promised myself that I would never repeat anything like this again.

That incident actually brought a change in me; I am regular for class, no excuses. I practice at home with my darling and I have challenged myself that I will surely force the teacher to compliment my voice too, someday in the near futureJ. And my daughter loves my spirit and encourages me!

The change these little incidents have made in my life, the learning I receive from children, their innocence and purity is very humbling always.

Bad ad! Mostly..

Ads these days…

These days every house is infested with television and the 1000 odd channels that come with this biggest vice! Of these, half the channels are for children and what is worse is that they are full of advertisements. The influence of these advertisements on our children is appalling. They seem to know every new product that is launched.

The message these ads pass are totally misleading, in bad taste or send a whole assortment of undisciplined signals to the viewers. The biggest dupe master, I have already mentioned this in my health drinks hub, is the Bournvita health drink and its’ ridiculous claims. The others to join the club are Fairness Cream ads, Shampoo advertisements featuring renowned figures, dishwashing bars, detergents and after wash for clothes, I can go on and on; the list is endless. Advertisements are exaggerated and need to be understood and treated after removing the garnish and spice!

The kids and adults alike are so keyed in into these ads that we have gotten into the habit of indulging just for the heck of it! Let us give this new brand a shot, a beginner’s try and see if we like this product or not! There is no silver lining in this abysmal dark gloomy cloud of advertisement menace. To top it, some ads get away teaching bad manners too! The kids bribe the grandparents and get things done or in another ad the child is asked to share a chocolate and the child starts to whine and cry! The mother and the granny both console the cheeky, impudent child and get another bar of chocolate! The casino ad‘s tag line is “Let’s have some sweets moments together”! What in the heaven’s name are we trying to teach or impart to our children with such ads? They can get away with anything! There is one more where the mother is standing at the child’s beck and call and the child is playing ‘Emperor’, ordering the menu of choice for dinner! Goodness! Absolute blasphemy, these ads are!

The only good ad I have chanced upon lately is that of an Insurance company. The father encourages the child to say ‘Thank You’ to the help at home. It teaches the basic values and etiquettes to the kid helping him/her to grow up to be a good human being. My congratulations and thanks to this ad team. Why can’t we have more of these and do away with all those? Even though I am loathe to agreeing that the chocolate is irresistible, but if a good deed is done by doing away with such irrelevant advertising, I am all for giving up eating chocolates! In fact, I resist buying my daughter that chocolate from the time I set eyes on that foolish ad!

 

Writing for kids- Challenging?

Writing for kids- Challenging?

Really challenging

The present generation is a very smart and discerning brood. Boredom sets in within the blink of an eye and interest levels come and go at light speed. They want everything to be done in a jiffy, toddlers to adolescents alike. With studies, they can barely wait to finish a chapter, the last few sums remain unsolved forever, yet they are over confident and feel that they know everything like the back of their palm. Forget studies, even enjoyment and fun are in a very hurried state. They rush from one game to the other, one puzzle takes two extra minutes and they lose interest. They read a thriller backwards! They want to know the end first and then read the whole book. What exactly should we write about, so that the children stay interested, is maybe the million dollar question to be asked.

Secondly, Television plays the biggest truant and is the toughest competitor in a child’s world. Everything revolves around the television, everything is available on the television, and everything is taught on and learnt through the very same television these days. With this menace holding the centre stage every other form of recreation, learning and entertainment has the fear of falling short of expectations. Parents are so tired of seeing their children becoming couch potatoes, they are encouraging them to go out and play, any physical sport to expend their energies or they enroll them into some extra-curricular class to keep the child busy, occupied and away from the darn television sets.

Last but not the least, the area of interest is so diverse these days that to be able to write for children it becomes imperative that you really know children and what their likes and dislikes are. Picturesque books are accepted for one segment and yet another will want an educational kind, or maybe a science fiction. The parents may be keen to see their children read the mythological tales, the books and comic strips they grew up reading. It requires great imagination and creativity on the part of the author to correctly cater to their recreational needs. Moreover, the parents will want to see some morals and learning in each tale, otherwise the book holds no appeal or value for them. The affect needs to be positive; and also appeal to the child and parent both! It needs to something different, unique, not belonging to the mundane world. It must engage the fantasies of the child and yet and keep the child and the parent happy and satisfied. The writer will definitely have to have a very lucid imagination and enter deftly into the child’s world and be the child and the parent in the same breath. The book must have a world which can be drawn in the mind of the child; a very impossible thing for an adult to conjure; not to forget the persisting enigma.

your book being read!

Few tips to overcome the challenges

In the above scheme of events and happenings the habit of reading itself is fast becoming obsolete. The genre of parents’ that encourage reading or the children who are avid readers are in the antique segment verging on the extinct levels. With the scales dipping heavily in the author’s disfavor, it is definitely a challenge writing for kid’s these days. The readers are a mere handful ;to write something which keeps them enraptured, interested and longing to continue to read is a Himalayan task. Most of the fiction available in the market today are a onetime read and throw kind. If the author is being repeated it is purely because of suspense or a gripping mystery yet to be solved and being carried over in a sequel. These books are devoid of any value learning and offer out and out entertainment alone. How to keep the curiosity juices flowing and also add some value and learning with every new reading is a tricky task.

Am sharing the few tricks of the trade to stay on course and also win the race with self confidence and persistent efforts. There is a very famous saying, ‘Monkey see monkey do’, and this is exactly what the writer may have to do for sometime in order to become the next J.K.Rowling. First pick the age group that interests or tickles your writer’s instincts; it maybe in the age group of 2 to 6 or 7 to13 or even 13 to18, whichever is ideal to the writer’s comfort level. Writing styles for all the three age groups varies accordingly; from the content, design outlay to the pictures in the book. Once you have picked your group of interest, spend as much time as possible with them, observe them, their interest, mannerisms and the flow of conversation in that group. Peruse the successful books in that genre and try and summarize the common thread in all these books. This abets in inspiring the writer and a surge of ideas come. The writer also fathoms the fiction and non-fiction group and with which the writer is more comfortable. If any extra skills need to be honed for this purpose then that should be the next step for the writer to be. Since parents are the ones who buy the books for their children it is advisable to be conversant with the interest of the parents also. Some are very articulate about what they want their offspring to read and possess as a collection. This tit bit information enhances the chances of success for the writer. A writer may wish to rewind and dwell upon his/her childhood days and analyze what piqued their curiosity at that age. And what changes have occurred from then to now, the same fairy tale yet with robotic clothes maybe! Don’t allow a few rejections to bog you down. It is a big world and each receives their share of the sunshine.

Simply believe in yourself. As any wise person would say and believe, ‘For a willing heart even the impossible becomes possible.’ Similarly, for a person who wishes to write for children; writes in a way that the children relate to the author and the books are read and collected too, Harry Potter is the biggest example. So, success as a children’s book writer is still virtuosity, challenging though it may be. But again, what is the fun in achieving without a few challenges on the road to success, right?

Fat? am I really?

Fat? am I really?

Then-

Like everyone else I also used to try and stay thin or shed the excess weight, I thought I had gained. My better half is also on the round side, so both of us have left nothing to chance. You name it and we have tried it. He keeps experimenting with Yoga, then regularly going to the gymnasium for exercising, try Atkinson’s diet, leave smoking, alcohol for 3month tenure, totally avoid carbohydrate intake, I am forgetting what else he has tried. Unfortunately, the result has always been the same. He loses barely 5-10 kilos then he relaxes and is in no time fighting the battle of bulge again. This has been so for the last 16 years of my married life. These days he is battling with himself to get a surgery done or joining the VLCC slimming program. Apart for the smoking and alcohol, which I luckily don’t indulge in, even I have participated in the rest of the mad regime along with my better half.

As a child I used to be very chubby; not just chubby, I almost bordered on obesity. My mother could barely carry me for 8-10 minutes at a stretch. After that her arm used swell and she would be forced to put me down. When we used to visit or meet someone new, the visitors always used to guess my age wrong. When I was 6 months I used to look almost 9-10 months and weighed about 12kilos already! I was born some 4-25kgs and looked a 2+ month baby on that day. As I grew up I realized that I was doomed to be a fat, no, a pleasantly plump woman. This never bothered me though. I used happily eat clarified butter and luxuriate in rich food. Growing up to be a fat woman was a long way ahead and I was not going to spoil my childhood trying to lose weight. During my growing up years I used to fall sick, lose weight, then eat like glutton become round again. Looking thin was a mere dream for me. I did put in a lot of effort to stay just that, nice and chubby, till I got married.

Fat me

chubby baby

now

Then, I had to undergo two surgeries; both my kids are C-section babies. Both the times I put on a lot of weight (10-15 kilos) and both times, by the time the kids completed their first year I was back to my usual weight, the nice and chubby kinds. So, magically I stayed pretty much on the bordering fat side of my weighing machine. Don’t know where and how my excess fat disappeared and how all the clarified butter melted. This is for the entire tense women who are desperately becoming anorexic. I am glad I retained my curves, because curves suit us, well-endowed is what we look because of these curves and small bulgesJ. And till date, I am 43 today, I am not fat. I think of myself as being correct!, having the right curves ,a little more endowed than the rest of the woman , maybe, but very satisfactorily thin and nice. So, being a healthy child and being doomed to obesity is a myth proven by my firsthand experience.

In case, the reader feels that, I am freak, fluke lucky case, I will attach my daughter’s pictures too. She also was a very – very heavy, healthy baby, and she was never sick. Today she is eight and has naturally lost all her puppy fat. She looks healthy radiant and lovely. She will turn 8 in a few months and looks a picture of perfect health. She has not an extra ounce of fat etc., and yet is round and very appealing.

Looking thin or fat has more to do with the bone structure of the individual, and less to do with the mass of the individual. Look at any movie star, if she or he has a narrow long face, that person automatically looks thin or rather never looks fat. A person with a round face will naturally look round, how can you look anything but round if you have that bone structure? Even if you fast, you may faint and need to be hospitalized but you will still look round. My elder sister and I are the same height, she weighs more than me and I always end up being asked to shed a few kilos, and she on the other hand is forever asked to put on a few kilos. She has a broad bone structure and a long face, I am a perfect round. Whatever we both do these basics cannot be changed. I find it very amusing now, earlier it was insulting.

In India thin is not in, curvaceous women are more appealing than the stick thin genre. As for the men, I can only say what my husband repeatedly tells me, ‘As long as I am able to look down and see my toes, I am comfortably healthy, beyond that I am fat!’ So gentlemen, please keeping your toes in sight, always.