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Archive for January, 2013

“Because it’s summer and the memories are just waiting to happen.”

–          Anonymous

A few nights ago, while flicking through the music channels, I heard a singer crooning about a nostalgic summer and I couldn’t resist walking down the memory lane myself.  While growing up, summer holidays were the best times of my life. It not only brought me deliverance from school but even my parents took a break from their usual parenting rules and allowed me to run wild with the neighbourhood kids.

Unlike the wired generation, being a child of the 20th century, my childhood days weren’t influenced mightily by technology.  Most kids from my generation had a lot of things to be grateful for, especially the simpler joys of childhood. We did not grow up with iPods or mobiles or the net, cocooning ourselves indoors with electronic entertainment. On the other hand, summer holidays usually saw the neighbourhood kids playing together and having some memorable times.

It is amazing how for someone who can hardly remember what happened a week ago, I can still vividly recollect the sights and smells of those summers long gone by. During the day, the heat was at its scorching best but we paid no heed to it; instead we spent the days in lazy languor on the cool verandahs playing games and usually up to some mischief.

We gorged on summer fruits – cool cucumbers and water-melons and drank greedily glasses of cold water from the earthen pitchers that sat on wet sand which helped retain the cold.  Occasionally, we used to raid ice from one or two houses that had a fridge, quite a novelty then and plead with our mothers to make us some cold drinks.

But yet the heat never saw us indoors.  As dusk fell, we swarmed to the streets, playing hopscotch or riding our bikes; the usually deserted back streets filled with our raucous laughter and shrieks of delight.

Our world was still safe then so even our customarily over-protective parents never said no to the summer fever that typically gripped us once schools closed and let us run amok in the neighbourhood streets.

Summer holidays still come around but now as a parent, I groan at the mention of it.  Especially when both parents work full-time and have no other family support, there comes the question of who is going to look after the kids during the holidays.  With holidays usually spent visiting family and friends overseas, there is often very little leave to spare to take care of kids during school holidays.

Furthermore, I don’t remember my parents ever organising a play date for me, but now as parents, we are also responsible for keeping the children occupied during the school holidays and personally I don’t think I fit this added responsibility well into my already juggling act of parenthood, career and running a group.

Children too groan when school holidays come around, atleast in my household.  My kids were adamant this year that they would no longer go to vacation care. Despite the various interesting programs on offer, they wanted a true break from their usual routines of being dropped at 9 and picked up at 6.

So now I have kids at home lost to the world of television or computer games, showing no will or drive to get away from the couch.  They pay no attention to what goes around them and unless I run away with the iPad charger or the pantry runs dry, I don’t think my absence will be noted.  With all extra-curricular programs put on hold during school holidays, they are at the mercy of their technological devices.  Gone are the days of an apple a day, the latest adage is an apple app a day. My only consolation is that both my kids are avid readers, so they spend some portion of their holidays devouring books as well.

Twenty years down the track, if my daughter were to write about her nostalgic summers, I wonder if she would find anything remotely glorifying about her summers to write about.  Maybe she would boast about her ability of watching re-runs of her favourite teen programs or the way she cleverly manages to drown my nagging with the incessant drone of the television or perhaps the number of levels she gets upto on the various mind-numbing apps she plays on the iPad.

But truth be told, I think I forfeit the right to complain.  There are prices to pay when we decide to be full-time working parents and one of them is not being around to give them the kind of holiday the kids deserve and enjoy.  Also the society today has changed drastically to what we had as kids; as a result, even in small communities we hesitate to send the kids unaccompanied anywhere, let alone play outdoors on their own unsupervised.

My only consolation is that today’s children, lost in their world of technological haze will never get to know what they are missing and perhaps ideas of Utopian childhood summers are only ours and never theirs, in the first place.

Weekly Advertiser: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/2013/01/24/the-saga-of-summer/

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A clean slate

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”
– G.K.Chesteron

I used to look forward to my first day at school after the summer holidays. Everything had a fresh and new look – the uniforms, the books, the bags and even the same old me with batteries recharged. Excitement and anticipation of the new school year would overwhelm me and I used to vow to turn over a new leaf and stick to the resolutions I had taken. Everything lasted for about a week – the newness still lingered but not my resolve. School became yet another stale run-of-the-mill activity.

With the onset of the new year, I am always taken back to my memories of first day of the school year. The difference is that I am no longer a carefree school girl; nor can I play truant at this school of life that extends well beyond 9 to 4.

Even before I realise, the past year has gone by in a wink. The Christmas break that I had longed for has come and gone. The countdown is over and the clock has been wound back.

Another year has begun – a time meant for new beginnings, fresh starts and New Year resolutions or so the legend says. This year I saw my kids getting swept up by the celebrations of the New Year though not fully understanding the significance of it. How easy it is to be at an impressionable age and be caught up in the moment allowing oneself to be enveloped with infectious energy?

Somewhere along the way in an effort to appear more rational and grownup, most of us have steered clear of clichéd resolutions and frivolous hype associated with New Year. But in doing so, we seem to have lost our faith in new beginnings and fresh starts; our attitudes more attuned to the banality of everyday life with change seen as an uneasy intrusion.

Perhaps for most of us, New Year starts and stops with the eve, the fireworks and the TV specials being the culmination of the entire event. When the sparks dissipate in the skies and the furore of the crowds die, so does our faith in ourselves and our capacity to turn over a new leaf. We resign ourselves to life’s hamster wheel of routine and monotony burying our hopes and dreams in a shroud of ennui and apprehension. Our optimism for the coming year is coloured more by the failings and mishaps of the previous year(s) leaving us with a jaded and acquiescent outlook not just of the New Year but rather of life.

Perhaps it is time to let ourselves be more vulnerable and open to the winds of change, squashing any voices of doubt or fear that surface within or around us. Any day should do for us to embrace an opportunity to better ourselves, so why not we seize the new year, mould it to our expectations and enjoy the promises that it has to offer?

However, let’s not forget the secret ingredient – our attitude. When the transformation relies only on external elements and influences with self far removed from it, all resolutions and changes become superficial, going up in smoke within a few weeks. Armed with the right outlook and resolve, we can relive the magic of the New Year every day.

To us and to this New Year……..

Weekly Advertiser: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/2013/01/09/cleaning-the-slate-for-year-of-opportunities/

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