Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homeschooling in India

When Pali came back from the US, deserted and heart broken, she had only solace in her eight year son Ved. Pali was fighting her battle with the family for a few years and finally terminated her relation with Rishi’s father for life. It wasn’t easy for her but what became more difficult is to ensure a good future for her child. India has grown since she had left after her marriage. People are more open, more accepting and more vocal. It seemed, it wouldn’t be difficult for Pali to live single in the small flat that she had inherited from her parents. The challenge came when she had to look for the schools for her son. No school was readily accepting the child who came in between the session. A countable few who did wanted a huge donation. After days of pleading every possible school she knew of, Pali decided to take it no more.

Homeschooling is a common concept in the US. With so many resources, and community support you are never alone if you are homeschooling your child. In India, it might sound a new concept but who can forget the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo who were homeschooled and propagated the true concept of homeschooling!

Pali decided to homeschool her son. She had had a Montessori training after she got her degree in Major. Even though, that would mean nothing, but she decided to pull up her socks to go about the bestpossible ways to educate her son with the best kind of resources while still at home. She had a few basics to be answered before that though.

How it works in India?

There is no separate syllabus for homeschooling children. The parents solely decide on that. Some follow regular board syllabus and others design their own curriculum by referring to syllabi of different boards.

In 2009, a new education law was passed that mandated compulsory school attendance. This law (Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 – RTE) did not address home education options, or alternative forms of education. The RTE was designed to assure that the poor children would not be deprived of an education. But at the same time it did not intent to force school attendance when parents want to homeschool their children.

Can a homeschooler join regular classes ever?

On reaching Class 10, or whenever the parents feel their children are ready, can take the board exam privately by registering with the National Institute of Open Schooling or International General Certificate of Secondary Education. The degree is acceptable all over the world.

What about the expenses?

The cost of homeschooling varies on what and how the child learns. At times it may exceed the expense of regular schools. Apart from routine requirements like books, CDs, learning and fun kits, one also needs to pay for extra classes as and when required.
After getting into it, Pali had only one area of concern – Rishi’s social networking skills. So, she decided to join the homeschoolers community both online and offline. She also got her son enrolled for the guitar classes, something he had great interest in. She decided to work harder and worked on the possible flaws of the board curriculum that crammed the children. She went for her own that was more stretchable, practical oriented and fun to learn.
And, Pali never looked back after that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Tribute to Bob Dylan

Not a day goes by without hearing or remembering at least one of his songs. Bob Dylan, one of the most successful artist and songwriter of the century, has had an overwhelming presence on me. Innumerable hits over the past forty years and his songs are still so relevant and popular.

Bob Dylan's lyrics can't be beaten. The phrasings are subtly beautiful and still pertinent today. It isn't just the songs and the performance – he is clearly somebody who has a real sense of purpose and conviction. He stood up for the cause he believed in and this got him turned into the "voice of a generation".

As I got older I became more interested in Dylan's mythology. Dylan's magnaminous mythology is a matter of perspective that changes over the years, as you grow, as you become wiser. You get to discover this fascinating human every day in a new way. He is an endless mystery.

How else would you explain the phrasing of 'Blowing' in the wind..."!!

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

(C) Bob Dylan

Photo Credit: DG

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bunions and Heel Spur: Two painful feet conditions

The two terrible feet conditions that people often suffer from are heel spur and bunions. Both are inexpressibly painful and are persistent so much so that it becomes hard to get rid of them. 

Calcaneal spur, commonly known as heel spur, is the in-growth of the calcaneal (heel bone) mostly due to deposit of calcium. Bunion is a foot condition where the big toe bends towards the second toe forming a sharp bony prominence. Pains, from mild to severe, are caused by the inflammation and the bone pressing against the shoe.  Bunions are more common in women and are caused by a number of reasons, including wearing shoes that are too tight, years of abnormal motion, poor foot mechanics, bone deformities, flat feet and arthritis. However, common to both feet conditions are our body weight. Obese people are more prone and it’s generally reported that being overweight is an aggravating factor.

 Symptoms of heel spur:
Excessive continuing pain on putting your heel flat
On slow and less walking it decreases temporarily
On fast walking, jumping, carrying weights the pain increases


Stretching exercises
Losing body weight
Wearing shoes that have cushions, heel cradle and heel cup all over and absorb shocks
R.I.C.E therapy

Symptoms of bunions:

Moderate to severe pain on walking
Bony growth of the big toe
Big toe bent towards the other toes
Both feet usually affected


Choose shoes with roomy toe box, cushioned cradle and padding all over to accommodate the bony prominence.
Losing body weight
R.I.C.E therapy
Surgery is an option when conservative treatment fails and you have chronic pains.

What is  RICE-(M)?

R – Relative Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
M – Motion

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When you goof up with your words

Jack, my friend in another forum, had written about foot-in-the-mouth disease where people, as a matter of fact all of us, goof up with words. However, it isn't a headline when I mess up with words. But when famous people do they certainly cannot undo it! It gets written in the pages of history. Here are some infamous quotes from famous people:

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body," -- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

This one is senseless:

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air & water that are doing it." -- Al Gore, Vice President

And this one, very gross:

"We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people." -- Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I Admire Sachin Tendulkar

We all are aware of the legendary feat of Sachin Tendulkar. He has enthralled his fans all over the world with many great cricketing moments for 15 long years. The superlative innings are carved in the history of cricket. Having said this, I look up to the man for many other reasons that make him a person of great human values.

His untainted career and personal life

This is something hard to believe! He has always been in the limelight but for all the right reasons on earth. Never, can I remember that he is in the news for anything wrong or anything not so cricket. It certainly takes a lot of discipline and dedication to do that.

Modesty, humility, being down to earth, deeply rooted

I have always had this on my mind while watching him play and grow. Be it on field or off field, he has been an exemplary persona right from his building years. Never have I come across as an angry or seething Tendulkar who is puking words or snapping at the fellow players. Does that mean that he hasn’t been criticised ever? We all know how raw and bitter the game of cricket can be. So, Sachin too had his days when he was met scathing criticism for not being in performing form. But the great man of composure that he is, he has never lost his cool. He has dealt with the life’s untoward hassles with grace and maturity.

Carrying the legacy of Tendulkar family

He is a complete family person. In order to shine out in professional life the role of family is very important. Tendulkar family is one of the few families of India that still lives and thinks the same way as it used to, before and the after the birth of the master blaster on field. The values and morality that have been instilled in young Sachin is the legacy of the Tendulkar family, and I am sure he is passing that on to his children as well. I salute the whole family (the members of which are good names in their respective fields) for having being such a support all through his career.

Discipline, dedication, self-restraint

Discipline is something that makes or breaks a man, and Sachin has been an epitome of discipline. This has been reflected in the way he has carried himself all these years. His sense of time and punctually is something worth cultivating.  I am deeply moved by his self-control, restraint, and ascetic discipline.

Non-publicized charity

Sachin Tendulkar has an income more than many of us put together and the amount of charity he does is a matter of mere speculation since he loves to stay away from publicizing it. This makes him even greater human.

Intrinsic strength

Sachin has dealt with the hurdles and the life’s odds with composure and poise. He too had his days when he was heavily critiqued for his bad patch and also, more recently, in an incident recently when a major political party in Maharashtra wanted him to blabber its words. Sachin, on the contrary, resolved the matter with an off field communicating excellence that’s hard to beat.

Kudos to this man who is my favourite cricketer not merely due to his cricketing ability but also for being a man of stupendous stature as a person.

Image: cricketclub