Tears …

Like a little drop of morning dew on young green leaves, tears can be beautiful. They can be a sign of deep love for one another. They are shed in joy and happiness.

Like the few drops of rain falling on the parched land, tears can bring out pain. They can be a sign of deep anguish and loss. They are shed in sorrow and grief.

Like the flow of water pouring out of a punctured balloon, tears can be pressure and emotion released. They can be a sign of deep hurt and feelings. They are shed when we feel wronged.

But tears are not always shed….

Like the water rising in the cracks of the canyon, tears are held back, by fear, by shame, by our insecurity.

Like the shimmer of the placid ice lake, tears can be just glazed eyes, hiding our emotions, protecting us from public glare

But when tears are truly shed, they are pearls from our eyes, …..

Not to be wasted on emotions that are shallow Not to cry for people who don’t matter, for judgements that are not relevant.

To be shed in abundance, and with gusto, and with free flow, ….

For the love and loss of dear ones, for happiness and grief that knows no bounds.

Tears are so beautiful, so precious … like those basra pearls, to be treasured, to be reserved, for special people, and special moments ….

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A Suitable Boy

Many years ago, or maybe even today, parents plan, even worry, about what to teach their daughters to make them more “marriagable”. Cooking, stitching, manages the households, loves kids, very ‘adjusting nature’, takes care of her parents (a suggestion that she will do the same of her in-laws) are things that I heard to describe girls I met 20+ years ago…going through the Indian arranged marriage circus.

Some things have changed for sure. Parents are talking about their daughter’s education, her job, her career aspirations….so that’s a change.

But a brief exchange of messages with a friend got me thinking…..as the world around changes, as the role of partners in a marriage evolve, as women begin to make more conscious choices about the man they want to marry, are we preparing our sons for marriage ? Are we ensuring they remain eligible ?

Should a man in the “marriage market” 10 years from now also be able to cook, stitch, like kids, manage the household ?

Is this what I should be teaching my son? I hope not. And I hope no parent is thinking like this about their daughter either.

Men, and Women, should learn to appreciate each other, accept each other. They should be more empathetic, more willing to adjust. They should learn to enjoy the greys of life together, laugh and cry together. Men will need to accept that in many ways, women are no different from them. And in many ways, can never be like them. This is a dichotomy that men have to learn to appreciate.

A Suitable Boy shall be one who is not just a Man, but also willing to step into the shoes of a Woman. A Suitable Boy will perhaps be one who is willing to make the same effort for a successful marriage that he expects his spouse to make. A Suitable Boy will be one who is willing to make the same career sacrifices that he expects his wife to make.

A Suitable Boy will be one who is not looking for a spouse, but a partner. A Suitable Boy will be one who understands that this is a 50-50 partnership, not a 51-49 !

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Choose to Challenge ….. my interpretation…

Choose to Challenge……the theme of the 2021 International Women’s Day, got me thinking. What does this mean, atleast to me. There are 2 underlying concepts that I picked out from this phrase

CHOOSE … means Women should get a choice.

A choice of what they study : i have a relative, a brilliant woman in school who was not allowed to do medicine (she got admission) because it would make it more difficult for her parents to find a boy for marriage !

A choice of what they do in life : “hamare ghar ki bahu tho naukri nahin kad thi hain”. How many women have heard this statement, in modern India. Does anyone say this for their son’s after marraige ?

A choice of whom to marry, or even whether to marry : we still see it in movies and read it in the newspaper, but pretend it is distant and does not happen any longer. Yet all around, women are prevented from marrying of their choice….”the boy is too poor”, “the boy is not of our caste”, “the boy is not of our religion”, ….

A choice to take a break when they want : working men want 4 weeks holidays at work, the weekend off, the younger generation talks of work-life balance, but has anyone thought that a home maker should also have a day off ? She also needs work-life balance ?

And there are so many more types of choices that Women should get, but dont. Has the time come for Men to ask themselves whether Women have a real choice to Choose ? And the women need to ask themselves….if you want to Choose, are you fighting for the choices you deserve to get ?

CHALLENGE …. is a word that can be interpreted in many ways. In traditional societies, a challenge is seen as rude, as insolent. In 21st century India, many bosses, many fathers, many leaders don’t want to be challenged….they dont like it. Maybe the fear of being challenged comes from insecurity, from being afraid that one cant defend one’s position, from the change that the challenge can bring about. And that is what this Women’s day is all about. Its about Change. Its about questioning the status quo. Its about asking why.

Choose to Challenge requires us all, men and women together, to ensure Women get the choices they deserve, atleast the same choices Men get. It means encouraging Women to exercise those choices, encouraging them to question the ‘choices’ their mother’s or sister’s had to make.

It means making Choice a driver of Change.

One Choice at a time, One question at a time, One Challenge at a time, Change shall occur

Happy Women’s Day….to both my men and women friends.

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An audio story for kids…a battle between dinos and animals

https://anchor.fm/neeraj-garg/episodes/When-the-olympics-are-set-in-sci-fi-future-eqp6nj

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Lil Bo Peep goes to Jupiter

https://anchor.fm/neeraj-garg/episodes/Another-part-in-Lil-Bo-Peeps-space-adventures-eoqtlu

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Lil Bo Peep goes to space

https://anchor.fm/neeraj-garg/episodes/Lil-Bo-Peep-goes-to-Space—-a-3-part-fun-series-eopgbm

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2021….there is hope

2020….a year like no other. When one thinks of uncertainty, one did not have 2020 in mind. We lived through extra ordinary times. COVID came as a shock, and an awakening to me, like it probably did to you. On the one hand, it reinforced how powerless we all are in the world. On the other hand, it showed how everyone can make a difference, whether small or big. I was fortunate to be working in a company (Eurofins) that played an active part in fighting the pandemic, in keeping people safe and healthy. I was fortunate that I got an opportunity to volunteer in our neighbourbood to help people feel more reassured during the trying times. And I was fortunate to get the support of family, friends and healthcare workers when I contracted COVID myself. And through all the months, I was humbled by the many stories of courage and sacrifice one read from all over the world, of how Drs, nurses, paramedics, scientists and simple human beings did their bit to extend a helping hand.

2020 was also a year in which two major health milestones were crossed for us as a family. Namita, recovering from her breast cancer was declared disease free. She had won the battle. Her enduring spirit through the journey was inspiring. I embarked on a journey to lose weight at the beginning of the year, and whilst it is a long journey, but am happy that I have set the clock back 20 years. Like every year, December marks the month of Mihir’s birthday celebrations. And as he turned 9, his curiosity and empathy continue to foster his similarity and his difference from us as parents. His sometimes simple statements and questions, reflect a maturity beyond his age.

The year ended with more twists ; a twisted ankle caused a tendon rupture which shall extend my work from home for 10 more weeks. Europe & the U.S. continue to see a resurgence of cases, and the UK is seeing a significant new mutation of the virus. But at the same time, India was closing the year with a record low number of fresh COVID cases, and the world was beginning to see the first round of vaccinations.

Definitely 2021 can only be better. I leave 2020 behind with a deep sense of gratitude. Thankful for what we have, thankful to family, friends and colleagues, with a realisation that we need to live each day to the fullest, for the future shall always be unknown.

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Conversations with a teenager

I had a long and intense discussion with a 13 year old today….and came out impressed, with what our youth today represent. The young woman, and I call her that with intent, had strong views, was willing to argue and defend them, and was not intimidated by questions around them. If there was a rebellious streak, it was only to not be shaken in her beliefs. We need this youth, because they are the future which can change our present. And if the present is a repetition of our past, it is only because I or you, were not like these teenagers. We were too willing to accept everything told to us.

In this conversation, there were some key messages I tried to convey, which I am sharing with you. I think they are relevant to other teenage kids, and also to me and you:

1. Being an adult is about accepting that we will have to do things that we dont always like

2. We are making decisions everyday in our life, some big and some small. Find time to reflect back on these decisions and learn from them

3. We have to be making mistakes in our decision making. Identify those mistakes and learn from them. If you can’t find any mistakes, it only means that you aren’t taking decisions or you are not reflecting on them enough

4. If you want the freedom and independence of an adult, you have to learn to bear the cost and consequences of being an adult.

5. You need to ask yourself constantly….” when was the last time you did something for the first time”….and if you can’t remember, you need to go out and seek new experiences.

6. Learn to present your thoughts and arguments in written form. Most battles will not be won by arguing verbally, but by the written word. And learn to do this with precision, and with brevity.

7. Reach out and talk to people to understand other’s points of view, and to learn. Listen to know more, and not to argue your own point better. Have an opinion, but don’t let it limit your ability to listen

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New Year Party at the Zoo

https://anchor.fm/neeraj-garg/episodes/New-Year-Party-at-the-Zoo-egj871

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Mr Freeze Boogie Woogie

https://anchor.fm/neeraj-garg/episodes/Mr-Freeze-Boogie-Woogie-egih5j

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