A loud cheer for 118 Indian Participants in Rio Olympics

By | Sports | No Comments

India olympic blog

I know a lot of us have been enthusiastically keeping ourself abreast with updates/ news of the performance of the Indian contingent at Rio. As usual, there has been some success, many failures, rare surprises, alot of disappointment, a little hope and all those missed chances.

We’ve sent 118 boys and girls – sports persons who have put in years of hard work, slogged and lumbered against a lot of hardship, faced every possible adversity, and despite it all, trained, practised and persisted. It is not an easy job being a sports person in India when most odds are stacked against your success and triumph.

For starters, very few Indian families encourage or actively facilitate their children to pursue sports. A typical Indian family would rather have their children become lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. rather than make a career in sports. Conventional careers are still the preferred choice in most Indian homes as they are viewed as safe, secure and dependable. Sports is pursued only as a means to an end – to secure admissions in the perfect university, to get a government job or for more banal reasons- to keep active and stay fit. Ergo- children who have a natural flair, inherent talent or general proclivity to a particular sport are dissuaded from pursuing their passion or looking at sport as a tangible career prospect.

Then, it is the catastrophic affect that mainstream education has on these budding sportspersons- rote learning, mental syllabuses, endless exams, mind- boggling subjects, take a toll on a budding sports persons ability to hone, practise and single mindedly focus on improving their skills. Years spent balancing the rigour of academics and the demands of pursuing a sport, would make the strongest of us buckle and falter. The road more frequently traveled definitely looks safer and easier.

If that wasn’t enough, the journey of pursuing a sport professionally in India only begins with an inherent talent for the game – it requires the right opportunities, lucky chances and serendipitous coincidences – finding the best trainers and coaches, obtaining sponsors, hours of hardwork, withstanding injuries, setback and failure, financial crunches and a zillion personal sacrafices. Add to that, sports infrastructure in our country is far from noteworthy and most sports bodies are riddled with politics, corruption and nepotism- integrity,, independence and transparency always shortchanged.

So, as Indians, we should care less about the golds, silvers and bronzes and how the medal tally stacks up- those elusive medals may or may not come! Irrespective of the outcome, we should cheer, applaud, honour and respect each and every one of those 118 boys and girls for competing, risking, fighting, persisting and attempting to be Champions against all odds.

By Localowls Guest Blogger,  Sameera Khanna Vasudeva  – A tiger mum in conflict, a contrarian at heart, and some old and dusty legal degrees in her closet. Her favourite quote is ‘We can all dance if we find the music that we love.’

For the love of Baking

By | Culinary | No Comments

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Walking on a dark, splashy, muddy, wet rainy Mumbai afternoon, lovely aroma of freshly baked bread wafts in from an inviting glass door. Small bells tinkle as I walk into “By the Way” the quaint Parisian Café in the midst of the hustle bustle of busy Gamdevi and breathe in evocative smells of warm cakes and fresh bread that mingles with loads of laughter from a group of ladies happily chatting over the warm mugs of coffee.

An elegant and chic woman in her early 60’s, with a beautiful smile, gets up and welcomes me. Her lovely turquoise stone necklace catches my attention as does her smile which crinkles up her eyes and lights up the entire café. Ladies and gents, meet Purveen Dubash, the in-house bakery teacher at Seva Sadan. Purveen is the magician who transforms dull ingredients into exotic dishes.

Purveen is a retired  English language teacher from the renowned Jai Hind College. In keeping with her passion for baking she now conducts the Homestyle Baking class for moms, teenagers and working professionals.

So how did an English Teacher start teaching Baking at Seva Sadan? 

Purveen: One day, I was walking across Grant Road and came across this marvelous institute. I approached Azmina Patanwala, the amazing woman who tirelessly works all year round  managing vocational classes at the institute, I shared my keen interest in conducting a baking class for the students. Being a kindred soul, she also thought it was a good idea and without further ado, immediately provided me with this platform. This could not have been done without the active support and encouragement from Mrs. Guddi Advani, the President of Seva Sadan Society who sanctioned and initialised this new vocation class with a separate room, a modern oven, refrigerator and other tools and equipment which have been the key to these successful baking courses.

localowls cooking blog 2But why baking? Why not simple cooking? 

Purveen: Because baking is creative. Also, I want to break the myth amongst Indian women that baking is a tougher task! Whereas, if you look at it, baking is much easier and less time consuming. It needs one of the easiest setups, and it doesn’t require many exotic ingredients either. One can easily convert the daily staples like flour, eggs, yeast, and easily available ingredients including fruits, spices and flavours into beautiful dishes like pies, tarts, cupcakes or even a tasty pizza. For years, I have admired the art of baking and am passionate about introducing the western art of baking fused with Indian traditions and core ingredients, in our kitchens.

Tell us about the unique entrée. 

Purveen: I have always admired the American style of baking. As a result, my entrée are fusion of baking items with an Indian twist, further making it easier for my students to replicate the dish at home. The entree for class constitutes  mouth-watering Italian recipes, crispy bread recipes, homestyle pies & tarts, savory croissants and a variety of puffed pastries, muffins, and sweet desserts.

Why Homestyle baking? 

Purveen:  The baking class seeks to initiate homestyle baking as I believe that the passion for food lies in the taste, and once the students are confident, they can build their presentation skills.

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How often does the class take place? 

Purveen: The master class takes place at regular interval, and we hold both eggless and regular baking class. The course is a fun introduction to the beautiful art of baking, which I will like all to witness!

With these lovely words, Purveen went back to join her class, who had finished kneading the dough and were ready to shape them into beautiful croissants. I was happy to wait and taste the lovely, warm, crisp, flaky, golden pieces of little heaven and figure out which days of the week worked for me join the two-week course!

For details of the class and to register, please click here: http://bit.ly/21bDzpg

story telling

We all have stories to tell, but what matters is how you tell them.

By | Language, Life Improvement | No Comments

Most people get hooked on to Soap Operas on TV but my daughter is hooked on to me telling her stories, which are made interesting with moving gestures and voice modulations.

A good storyteller takes the listener on a journey with the listener’s eyes glued, mouth open and mind tingling with imagination. Stories (without props or pictures) make characters, settings, situations and actions come alive.

A story has immense power and importance in the overall development of a child. It helps develops the mental thinking faculty with the ability of helping with any behavioral concerns. Stories are inspiring & inclusive while building on experiences to help handle adverse situations.

I have been telling tales to my daughter from the time she was 6 months old. At that time, story time was during sleep hours and mostly about the stars and moons. As she grew older, I started including fairies, frogs, creatures and live sounds to my  tales. Then, when, she turned 2 it was the Grimm’s Fairy tales along with the other classics.

Once, she turned 5, we started twisting  Grimm’s Fairy tales from the original.  As an example, in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, we twisted the tale by making Snow White a wise person who did not accept apples from strangers or making step-mother truthful & nice as she accepted that Snow white was the fairest of all. We relive the stories and stretch them out for weeks.  Once we continued ”My Childhood Tales” for a month! The nightly story sessions are also very useful to help the child understand and put in context various events and emotions they have experienced during the day at their home, school, bus or play.  This further helps build long lasting memories.

After my daughter turned 7, I started telling her stories of bravery and courage. I started incorporating challenges, along with Secret Passages that change each time to include special experiences. Some recent stories are on saints, mythology, fables, and folklores. We also include true stories which are are biographies of people in our family and people we know. These stories give meaning to life and help us discover ourselves.
Story-telling is now a much cherished daily ritual, where we sit cushioned in our special corner, light a candle and the story unfolds. This is the time when we connect, we meditate, we are surrounded by a ray of hope, belief, truth and love through stories. Thus, raising a happier, healthier and wiser child.

By, Localowls – Art of Story Telling Expert – Geetanjali Kaul

For learning the Oral Art of Storytelling  to make an impact on your Child’s development, please contact Geetanjali at: http://www.localowls.com/experts/secret-passages#the-heart-and-craft-of-a-storyteller Read More

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Pink is NOT for Girls

By | General, Life Improvement | One Comment

6 years ago on a Jet Airways flight from Kolkata to Mumbai, my son, then all of six, turned down a gift from the stewardess. Deeply embarrassed, I apologized to the stewardess and cajoled my child into accepting the water bottle she was holding out for him. My embarrassment quickly turned to horror when he cried out, “It is pink!” How could my child conform to such gender stereotypes? He had watched me fix a fuse; change a light bulb and his father lay the table a hundred times yet he held the notion that certain colours are gender specific. Back home, I raided his toy basket. It had close to 200 dinky toys, a dozen balls, half a dozen cricket bats, building blocks, and a handful of superhero figures that were all male. To be fair to myself, I hadn’t bought any of those toys. All were gifts from indulgent grandparents and doting aunts and uncles.  I looked up his storybooks. Each one of them had male protagonists. Even “Kipper, the dog”, was male! I checked his wardrobe to find neatly folded t-shirts and shorts in all colours but pink or purple. I was in a real quandary because unwittingly I had fallen into the same trap that I had vowed to steer clear of.
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Exam preparation and revision tips

By | Academics | No Comments

We are approaching the most stressful time of the year for most Indian parents wherein our children will be taking their annual school/college exams shortly.

In this high stress time period for all of us, along with ensuring that our children are physically and mentally healthy, how else can we help our children prepare for the exams?

Lets help them with planning their study and revision schedule. Some insights which will help you make your child’s study period more effective:

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Dealing with Examination Stress

By | General | No Comments

While how well our children will do in the upcoming exams is a big worry for most parents, a bigger source for worry is the stress our children are under during the annual examinations, which may have an impact on their adult life forever. In fact a study found out that most Indian adults get nightmares in March… can you guess why? It’s because while they were growing up, they got little or highly disturbed sleep especially in their adolescent years in March – which was, no doubt, the time for the final exams! Read More

Your Christmas To Do List

By | General | No Comments

Christmas is only a week away and the festivities around us have begun. Christmas trees are being setup, Santa Clauses are roaming the streets, and parties are being planned. Here is a list of things you can do to spend some quality time with your family this season!

1. Christmas Camp
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