Eating More From The Earth

In February 2017 whilst backpacking in Thailand is when we (I and my wife, Deepika) met this wonderful and inspiring couple who are raw vegans for over 15 years.

We were staying in a hostel and for two consecutive days while having breakfast, we observed this couple eating one full watermelon each.

They had cut the watermelon in two halves and were scooping it with a spoon. On, the second day, I couldn’t resist myself and so we walked over to them and politely asked, “what’s up with the watermelons? We have been watching you eat only this for your breakfast.”

And hence started a conversation for more than an hour listening to stories of healing, the impact of cooked food, life without medicines, the body has the power to heal itself…

We were completely immersed in the conversation and when it ended, we were pumped, inspired and overwhelmed with lots of new information which made complete sense to both of us.

But the habit of eating healthy has never been an easy road. Disciplining the tongue is a challenging task as it can be easily tempted by the two strong senses of our body – taste and smell. 

We returned back home and slowly started to eat more raw food but it lasted for a shorter duration like the shelf life of a banana.

Our two strong senses (taste & smell) were hell-bent in distracting us from the new goal and we eventually surrendered to the temptations and cravings. But the conversation, it’s meaning, the impact, the transformation, all these were still lingering in our minds and at times we would take some conscious effort to choose what we eat but we were failing to build it as a healthy habit in our daily lifestyle.

Deepika would still choose healthier options while eating and I sucked bad time in changing my habit until recently four months back (March 2019) we had our first baby. And I decided to change my eating lifestyle understanding that we as parents are the bigger role models for our children.

Since 6th June 2019, it’s been over two months now that I have been eating only raw fruits and vegetables for my breakfast and now I have started to realize that I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body.

The journey so far is great. And most importantly it’s the way I feel while eating a fruit or a vegetable. Raw food is far more satisfying and satiating than eating junk or cooked food. I can sense the feeling while I place the food on my tongue and raw food always feel more relaxing and soothing for my body. 

If you want to understand what I’m trying to share above, you can feel it for yourself by being mindful and present of how you feel and the way your body reacts immediately after you consume your favorite fruit and while eating your favorite junk.

So to take my journey one step closer and to experience and understand what transformations and beautiful changes will take place, I have decided to completely move from cooked to uncooked and from mother’s prepared dishes to mother nature’s variety of choices. 

Cheers Son! – Too early is it?

YOU ARE MY I LOVE YOU

I am your parent, you are my child,

I am your quiet place, you are my wild.

I am your calm face, you are my giggle.

I am your wait, you are my wiggle,

I am your finish line, you are my race.

I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace.

I am your lullaby, you are my peekaboo.

I am your goodnight kiss,

You are my I Love You.

– Maryann K. Cusimano

There many poems, quotes and stories describing the beauty of the relationship between a child and a parent. But I couldn’t feel the words until I recently experienced similar emotions. And though my son is only two and a half months old, for the first time I felt a connection as strong as a current

My son held my fingers tightly, I was moved. It was for the first time I had experienced those tiny little fingers holding my index finger.

My son holding my fingers
Pic Courtesy – Deepika Jain

I sensed as though he was wanting to create a strong connection. And I felt a sudden surge in my emotions and the tears of love swelled up my eyes.

It was a feeling of intense love. And I bent over to whisper in his ears, “I love you, my dear son.”

I looked at him with pride and he was looking back at me with his big gleaming eyes as if he understood what I had just said and was waiting to hear more. So I said to him,

You are one amongst the rest of millions of other babies in the world, son. And I want to help you realize that it’s completely okay to be a part of the crowd. You don’t have to have the pressure of becoming an icon or be financially successful or the pressure of standing out. But I want you to live life happily and positively. Living life with happiness is a rare gift that only a few have mastered and received and only a few can inspire, teach and share the wisdom. 

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Pic Courtesy – Deepika Jain

I promise son, that I will guide and support you but eventually you will have to make your own decisions. You will be responsible for your life and I want you to sculpt it the way your heart and soul guides you.

Your mother and I had promised that we allow you to see the world with your own eyes rather than adjusting your lens every time so as you only see what we can see. We promised that we would love you in a way that sets you free rather than caging you with our expectations. 

We promised that we would not mount any pressure of full filling our expectations or make you feel guilty about it. We decided to have you and to take complete responsibility for you. A decision that you weren’t aware of, else you might have negotiated. Wouldn’t you, lil champ?

Just as I was talking, he let out long vowel sounds like “oo” ee” “aa” and frantically started to throw his legs in the air. I don’t know if he even understood a word of what I said, but his reaction seemed like he thoroughly enjoyed the talk.

Isn’t My Son Just Like Me?

We were all standing, anxiously waiting for almost five hours to hear the good news. Restlessly walking up and down the corridor of the hospital, at times pressing our ears to the doors of the labor room, expecting to hear the cry of the little angel.

And after five hours of impatience at 2:14 a.m, the nurse finally walked out of the room with an announcement, “It’s a baby boy”.

Baby Photography

 

It was for about 3-5 minutes that she allowed us to hold him before taking him back into the labor room. And immediately after she left, the comparison notes started.

– His ears and toes are big like his grandfather.

– His face resembles his uncle.

– No No, he looks more like his mom.

– His grandmother had the same big eyes.

And I was standing there, hoping someone would say that, “he looks like his dad”. I was a little angry, jealous and surprised thinking how could my own production not have even one similarity of his dad.

It’s a proud moment for most of the parents to find any similar physical or behavioral attributes in their child. And finally, after a few days, my wife said, “He sleeps just like you, like a log”. And the moment she compared him with me, I lit up, feeling more proud of both of us.

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I think wives usually enjoy breaking the joyous moments of their husband’s and so my wife quickly adds, “When he would grow a little older, he will start to express himself better. His originality would start to appear. He would like to taste his own freedom. And there would be a difference in opinions.

So are you ready to accept the differences as much as the similarities? Would you still be as proud and happy of him as he grows?”

I was in the mood to just enjoy and play and wasn’t expecting my wife to throw such serious questions at me, but the question did get me thinking.

And when I went to bed that night I kissed my little boy and my wife and whispered in her ears, “By the way did I tell you, his lips are just as perfect as yours”.

Parenting – The New School Grandfather

Once a small chubby baby had now grown into a sweet little three-year-old girl, Dia. As she grew there was this one thing that she couldn’t let go of, a habit that’s a nightmare for many early parents.

Dia wasn’t ready to let go of her feeding bottle and start using glasses instead.

Her parents were trying tooth and nail to inculcate the habit of drinking milk or water in a glass but all their efforts went in vain. Until one summer vacation, her grandfather had come to visit her.

On the third day of his visit, while watching cricket in the living room, he all of a sudden heard her daughter-in-law irritatingly convincing Dia to hold a glass of milk and to drink from it. He realized what was happening and thought of a trick to help both his grand-daughter and her daughter-in-law from the everyday drama.

He gently smiled, slowly got up from the sofa and slipped into the kitchen. He picked up Dia’s feeding bottle and dropped it on the floor and it broke.

He walked into the room, holding the broken pieces of feeding bottle and politely requested her grand-daughter saying, “Beta, while bringing this bottle to you, it slipped from my hand and it broke. Can you please manage to drink your milk in the glass today? Your grandfather is extremely sorry. I promise to buy you another bottle tomorrow”

For Dia her grand-dad meant the whole world to him. She wouldn’t dream of being upset or furious with him, because who else would buy her tons of chocolates and toys. So she readily accepted the glass and drank the milk.

As promised, the next day the grandfather went to the supermarket to buy the feeding bottle but instead of one, he bought four.

And for the next four days, he would daily show Dia a new feeding bottle and then pretend that it slipped from his hands and broke. He would again request her to drink the milk in the glass and promise to buy another the next day.

Until the fifth day, surprisingly Dia made no fuss about the bottle but instead just sipped the milk from her glass.

Her mother was shocked and amazed as she was expecting her daughter to throw tantrums and was prepared with all the tools, techniques and words to frighten her to adapt to the changes in habit with age.

But she was at a loss for words on seeing her daughter happily drinking the milk from her glass. But she knew how the magic worked. And the magician was none other than Dia’s favorite and loving grandfather.

She thanked her father-in-law for teaching her to combat challenging situations with a different approach so that she can now practice teaching her daughter in a fun way rather than using the old school principles of scolding, frightening, thrashing and punishing.

 

 

Only Those Who Have Lost Can Tell – Thoughts at a Funeral

I am not sure if God decides the birth and death of a person. And there is no proof so as to prove who decides the fate of a being. But every time when someone passes away, God is accused, criticized and questioned. And it’s OK to ask answers from the one whom you trust and have complete faith in.

So, as I walk into the room, running my eyes around, trying to spot the nearest and dearest ones of the young man who died from a heart attack. I notice a breathless elderly woman resting her head on the coffin with her eyes red and dry. She must have cried her heart out and looked tired and pale.

Standing in the room looking at the stationary body covered in a white shirt and veshti with a glittering gold bracelet in his hand, I’m wondering, “Oh man where are you now? I know you are lying here but where have you gone? It’s your mother crying profusely in pain. Have you already begun a new life, a new family and a new journey?”

My thoughts were distracted by a sudden outburst of cry as few other relatives of her had arrived to console her but her pain and complaint only multiplied.

“Oh Lord Krishna, for all that devotion and prayers we sung in praise of you, is this how you reward your loyal ones? Did you not have any mercy in taking away my son while I’m still alive? What wrong did I do to receive a punishment so severe and merciless?”

More than the grief of the death it was the state of a mother that I had seen for the first time. My heart wrenched and ached, watching the mother shift from various expressions of deep pain and sorrow.

The instinct to protect one’s own child is a strong intention of every mother across all species. And to experience the death of our children whilst we are still alive seems like breaking the natural order.

I could feel the suffering of the mother so strongly that’s because I’m going to be a father soon. And the thought and image of me standing at the coffin of my own child would be a cross to bear.

I know there is nothing anyone can do to help her except for a few comforting and consoling words. Because the pain and agony that she is going through is her own emotional journey which can never be experienced the same way by another.

And so the best I could do while standing there was pray for the departed soul and pray to Lord Krishna to give her more courage and strength to deal with the situation more spiritually.

Lao Tzu shared a thought-provoking quote which works miraculously and holds intense healing power if we understand the depth in his words, “Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

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You Are Beautiful. Please Don’t Say It To Anyone

Veera was a chirpy talkative girl. And she would often talk alone, answering her own questions about life, relationships, rituals, and her strong affinity with nature.

She would talk to strangers on the bus, sharing her dream of living on a top of a mountain in a small mud house.

Her friend was once surprised to see her talking to nature, appreciating its beauty and admiring with curiosity so as to how every species work in cohesion without any pride, ego or greed, unlike humans.

She could talk to anyone endlessly except with her parents. Every time she would try to share her feelings or dreams, they would often give her the same advice which did nothing but stop Veera from talking to her parents. And the advice would be, “Be sensible. You can’t always talk your heart out without thinking twice.”

And one weekend Veera was traveling to the mountains with a group of friendly strangers whom she had met on the bus.

It was the conspiration of the universe to help Veera meet those friendly strangers to comfort her to bring out the skeleton in her closet. 

A story that no one knew except for her mother and the best her mother could do was silence her. And that evening sitting on the rock alongside the river stream with her new friends, Veera wanted the hurtful past to flow like the water and she couldn’t hold herself from sharing the blemish past.

The skeleton in the closet.

Veera enjoyed and loved the company of her uncle, Manoj. He would play with Veera like a child, buy her chocolates and make her sit on his lap and tell her lots of beautiful stories. She always waited for him to visit her because no one was giving Veera the kind of love, care, and attention that she was generously getting from her uncle. 

Until one fine day, Veera was, as usual, sitting on her uncle’s lap when she felt something strange. The touch of her uncle on her arms and back sent a shiver down her spine. He sensed her discomfort and to calm her he immediately added, “you are my beautiful little doll and uncle will buy you more sweet chocolates and also the Barbie doll that you were asking for”.

Children are always taught and constantly reminded to learn to respect elders at home. To never argue or talk back. It’s often practiced with such great strictness that if a child ever disrespects he is severely punished and criticized.

It was this fear of Veera that encouraged his uncle to continue this sordid act of shame and disgust. He would take Veera into the bathroom, keep running the water and make love.

The poor little girl would scream in pain, her head spinning with fear of informing her parents or not understanding what was happening to her and scared to see herself bleed.

Veera was still very young and innocent to understand the physiology of her body and the changes taking place.

Manoj would heartlessly place his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming and to obstruct the sound of her scream from being heard.

The more silent she remained the more abuse Manoj would do. And after every act, he would comfort her by saying, “My princess! My doll. ! You are the most beautiful girl in this world. Uncle will bring you more chocolates and gifts next time. Please don’t tell it to anyone”.

It took immense courage for Veera to share her experience with her new friends who at the moment seemed to her like her family.

Just as she finished sharing her story her friends, they gave her power by sharing Alex Elle’s words – “You are not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.”

Child sexual Abuse eye-opening facts.

  • 90% of the children know the perpetrators, which makes it more difficult and traumatic for them. It’s usually someone within the family.
  • Boys are just as susceptible to sexual abuse as girls, if not more.
  • Of children who are sexually abused 20% are abused before the age of 8.
  • Child sexual abuse negatively and permanently affects the physical development of the child.
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

(Source: savethechildren.in)

I feel empowered to be able to write for a cause as the percentage of victims of child sexual abuse is on high rise and concerning the developmental impact, it has on the children.

In order to educate and bring more awareness to child sexual abuse I had an opportunity to attend an impactful and insightful campaign called ‘Aao baat karein‘ (Let’s start talking) successfully run by Parwarish, Delhi.

The aim of the campaign is to empower and eradicate child sexual abuse. In the last 10 months, they have successfully been able to conduct programs with 44000+ children empowering and educating them on the topic. 

If the story and the cause have melted your heart and you want to join and be a part of the campaign, you can do any one of the following:

  1. Provide Parwarish permission to conduct the ‘Aao baat karein’ program in your schools/institutions/communities.
  2. Contribute monetarily. Any Amount, the cost is Rs.50 per child. You can contribute on the link shared – https://letzchange.org/projects/aao-baat-karein-eradication-of-child-sexual-abuse-100000-children
  3. Connect Parwarish with donors/corporates.
  4. Share the message to create awareness and to have more people join in.