Sponsored

Hello, Can you hear me?

microphone-2001751_640.png

 

  Have you ever wondered how it would feel if you could hear nothing? Not the chirping birds, the whoosh of the wind as it rustles through your hair, your favourite music track or those squealing peals of laughter of your little one, as they splash around in the pool. How would your life be without these sounds? Or worse yet, not knowing what these sounds were. I shudder to imagine a life like that. 

 

I’d like to start with two questions for all of you reading this.

  • How many of you have had an eye test done?
  • How many of you have ever had a hearing screening done?

 

Even without counting your answers, I can almost blindly (forgive the pun!) say that the number of people who’ve had eye tests far outnumber the ones who’ve had a hearing test/screening done. Have you ever thought why that is the case? I mean, after all ‘hearing’ is one of those five key senses that a human being has. So then, why is it not given the same level of importance as say, sight, smell, touch etc.?

 

While there is no correct answer to this, the very ugly truth is that loss of hearing or deafness is something that is very real and affects millions of people all around the world. Over 300 million of us in fact, if a WHO report is to be believed. And almost 11% - around 32 million - of them are children. A quick look at the stats will tell us that almost 1 billion young people - i.e. between the ages of 12 - 35 years-  are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds. Yes, it’ll serve all of us well to remember that the next time we play that bass-heavy song at an ear-shattering decibel on our headphones or watch a movie with the volume turned up high.

 

But here’s the part that is not all doom and gloom. Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through prevention. In fact, about 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable - but yet, it exists. And that’s where we need to act. Now, before we go into some detail about all this, let me tell you why I’m going on about hearing loss.

 

Recently - on #WorldHearingDay to be precise - I was invited along with a select few other bloggers to attend an event organised by Cochlear India, who are pioneers in the field of cochlear implants for hearing-impaired people.  And surprisingly, the organisers wanted me to bring my 4-year-old son along too.

 

Now, I have to confess - I didn’t think it was a good idea. Mainly because little kids are as unpredictable as the famed English weather. They can be bright and cheery one moment; and dark and moody the next. And not to mention the potential ‘storm’ that they could unleash.

 

But do you know why I decided to take him along? No, it wasn’t because he’d get to meet the famous Aussie pacer, Brett Lee. In fact, on seeing Brett, he loudly asked - ‘Who’s that boy?’. See, that’s another reason why I didn’t want to take him - they have no filter. But more on that in another post.

 

The reason that I took him along directly from school was because of this little nagging feeling that I had in the back of my head. Yes, about his hearing. Now, if you’re a parent, I am certain that you’ll agree with me when I say that ‘we’ve often wondered if our kids have ears for decorative purposes’.  While the smart parent in me had the inkling that he was merely pretending, the slightly overly concerned parent side of mine wondered if he had some hearing disability. So, I was keen to also get a hearing screening for him done by a professional. Plus, I also had the chance to meet Brett Lee - I mean, any cricket fan worth their salt wouldn’t give up an opportunity like that.

 

For those of you who’re wondering, Brett is the Cochlear’s First Global Hearing Ambassador. In fact, you can watch his message right here:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2sae-MUlW8%20[/embed]

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the hearing screening. My 4-year old is notorious for running out of the chair when his paediatrician just wants to check his chest for congestion. So yes, I was a little bit nervous. But what amazed me was not just how professional the technicians who did the test were, but also how relatively stress-free and simple the whole thing was. In fact, I think the test took less than 10 minutes and the results were promising. Well, promising in the sense that my 4yo had perfect hearing. So apparently he just had selective hearing when his parents called him for something ?

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="4600,4599"]

 

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when I saw the results. In fact, I think had it not been a public place, I may have done a little happy dance. But then I thought: shouldn’t this be done when the kids are younger, say within the first year of birth? I realised that I’ve never actually heard my son’s doctor (or any one for that matter) recommend a hearing test for newborns. It would make a world of sense to do it right at the start of their lives. And as I sat there thinking about this, the organisers brought in someone who would confirm these thoughts of mine.

 

 

The lovely girl here is Komal, who is 8 years old, is a cochlear implant recipient. Her implant is the new Kanso™ - dubbed to be the smartest, most discreet innovation in the field of cochlear implants to date. 

 

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="large" display="sliderauto" ids="4602,4603,4604,4605"]

 

In fact, Kanso™ is so small and discrete that one of my fellow bloggers, Vidya Sury, who was offered the chance to try and ‘detect’ the unit, was unable to locate it without Komal pointing it out to her.

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="4606,4607"]

 

There was something that Komal (and her mother) mentioned that really stood out for me. It was that the loss of hearing is often not just a loss of sound. It also means a reduced ability to converse and speak. That’s something that I would have never associated with hearing loss. Often after an implant, it takes a certain amount speech therapy to get the person communicating effectively. So, it makes sense to do the screening as early as possible and ascertain if there is a hearing loss.

 

The simple truth is that hearing loss can be caused by a number of things - genetic causes, complications at birth, infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, use of particular drugs, ageing, exposure to excessive noise and so on. Some of these may be well outside out control and sometimes there’s no way to ascertain it. But there is certainly one thing we all can do.

 

And that is to get ourselves (and our family, especially kids) a hearing screening done at the earliest. 

 

Now, that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

I pledge for school bus safety. Do you?

I pledge for school bus safety. Do you?
When you become a parent, there’s an invisible agreement thrust into your hands beckoning you to sign it. An agreement that no matter what, we will worry about anything and everything when it comes to our children. Most of all, their safety when they’re away from us.A sponsored post, but on a topic that is close to every parent's heart and one that is the need of the hour.

To Parents, I say : #DoYourHomework

To Parents, I say : #DoYourHomework
As parents, there's a question that we should be asking ourselves - Are we on the same page with our kids? What if they want to be something else than what we want them to be?A sponsored post, but something that will surely resonate with you, if you're a parent or planning to be one.

A speaker or two

ID-100215206.jpg

“We need this!” I said, my eyes dreamily glazing over the shiny black rectangular contours of the Home Theatre system that was on display. “I don’t think so. Plus we should look online for better deals.” exclaimed my wife, tugging at my hand, trying to steer me away from the electronic wonderland that I had stumbled upon. I tried to resist, but followers of my blog will know that my wife knows Karate and can be rather persuasive with her ‘holds’.

“You know what?” I said, desperately racking my brains for an apt sentence that would swing the game in my favour, “Remember how you’ve always complained that we don’t have good speakers at home. And that the one that we have, has wires running all over the place?"

She stopped in her tracks, and I took this as a signal to go on. “Well, if we buy this, we can stream music directly from our iPod to OUR (yes, I used the word OUR) home-theatre system, without the need for messy wires. And it has seven wireless speakers too. Just imagine!”. I smiled as I delivered the sentence that I knew would convince her.

We both stood there for a few minutes - me trying to visualise this state-of-the-art home theatre system at home and watching my favourite movies in complete surround sound and digital sound, my wife thinking about all the music she could play loudly on the new system.

Half-an-hour later, we walked out of the store, with a receipt for a hefty amount and our hearts filled with the excitement of having ticked off something from my technology bucket list and the joy of times to come.

A few days later,

My wife and I stared lovingly at the set of speakers that we had wall-mounted. As a self-proclaimed technical expert, I had opted to do all the installation myself and apart from a few minor blisters and bruises, I had managed to get everything done. Bursting with excitement, I called out to my wife and sat her down right in the middle of the sofa, in the spot where I had decided would be acoustically perfect.

And then I switched on the system and attempted to connect my iPod ‘wirelessly’ to the home theatre. Now, I am a geek and a proud one at that. As the seconds soon transformed into minutes and then longer minutes, I heard my wife clear her throat. I looked over my shoulder at her. With a smile on her face, she held out the ‘How-To’ guide that had been included in the box.

“No!” I exclaimed, turning back and fervently trying to make the connection work. Behind me, I could hear my wife typing something on her phone. Trying to ignore her, I restarted both the system and my iPod. After another 30 minutes had passed with no visible results, my wife tapped me on my shoulder. “I think you should call the experts.” she stated, as I turned around.

“Oh! And before I forget, here is something.” she said, handing me her phone. She had opened up a search site in her browser and had entered the search string - Speakers under Rs. 1000. “We should have just done this, you know. You and your fancy gadgets!” she exclaimed with a smirk on her face, as she walked away.

I merely nodded, as I always did.


 

This is a sponsored post, but the opinions and views are mine.

Photo by Freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

Hail-a-cab in Bangalore

ID-10047051.jpg

There is absolutely no joy in being stranded in a somewhat alien city in the early hours of the morning. And it is considerably worse when you've been left in the lurch after a delayed fourteen-hour flight from Europe and you have a little one in tow. We had just taken the big step to relocate to Bangalore from London and since we were 'new' in town, we had requested the lovely folks at the serviced apartments that we would be staying at, to arrange a pick up for us from the airport. So large suitcases in hand and a really cranky infant in our arms, my wife and I waited outside the International Airport waiting for the driver to call. Alas, the call never came and we were left rather high and dry. Fortunately, my wife had the presence of mind to jot down the address of our serviced apartment, and we were able to take advantage of the hassle-free Bangalore cab services that were on offer at the airport.

Having a couple of free days before my wife had to begin work, we decided that it would be a good idea to explore the city.  After all, the delightful Garden City had plenty of opportunities for both families and couples alike, to unwind. Or so said the various reviews. But we were in a predicament. Having had a bad experience with the cab service hired by the serviced apartment personnel, we decided to harness technology effectively and search the internet for the best cab service in Bangalore. Within minutes, we had numerous options at our disposal and we swiftly managed to hire a cab and take in the sights of this magnificent city.

Fast forward to the present.

Having been in Bangalore for almost two years now, there are two things that I fear more than anything else - the dreaded traffic and trying to find a parking spot. I've lived in many metropolitan cities over the past three decades, but there is something about the chock-a-block traffic here that makes even the mere thought of taking the car out, quite painful. But that's where the taxi service in Bangalore comes handy. I've stayed in a fair few Indian cities and I must admit that booking a reliable cab service has by far been the most hassle-free here. Of course, it helps that providers are trying their best to woo potential clients with competitive offers. Though there are the challenges about safety, particularly for women, I'd say that the general experience with taxi services has been pretty reliable so far.

And if I'm honest, even though I'm no longer an 'outsider', I would still rather book a cab here rather than take the car. It's just so much easier and less-stressful. And with technology at your fingertips, it's easy-peasy.


 

Is it the same situation in your city? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

Image courtesy : Taxi Sign by digitalart at Freedigitalphotos.net
This is a sponsored post. But the views are mine.

 

 

A fresh change

Change2.png

  Change is often inevitable and surprising. It can gently knock you off-balance and demand that you cope with it. Or it can lift you completely out of your comfort zone and put you in situations where you have to make decisions that can potentially alter your life as you know it. But sometimes, change can also be the best thing to happen to you. And I say that with all the authority of someone, who fought change and eventually gave into it, only to discover a new me.

 

The year was 2012, 

I had everything that a person in their late-twenties could want - a loving wife and partner, a baby on the way,  good-paying job, decent career prospects and well-settled abroad. A change from all of this was perhaps the last thing on my mind. But life has its share of curve balls that it often throws at you, to keep you on your toes. And so it did.

 

Fast forward to a year later,

Nothing could have prepared me for what the following year would bring. We ended up relocating to India. One reason was to be closer to family and for our son to grow up amidst his grand parents, relatives and cousins. The other was because my wife was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to head her department in India. Yes, we were well-settled in London, but a part of me had started to feel the monotony of the corporate world.  So we opted for the change.

If you had asked me back then, I would have told you that I was optimistic about the whole move. It was pretty much a win-win situation for us. But I'd be lying, if I said that there weren't a few nagging feelings, gnawing at the back of my mind - of self-doubt; of lack of confidence; of whether I would be able to fit in; of whether I would find a role that I loved doing. Such thoughts sped through my brain like an express train with no halts in sight.

But somewhere deep down, I found the optimism to look up. And keep going on.

 

Seven months later,

My wife was now the primary breadwinner of our little family. She was extremely happy with her career prospects. Our son had coped much better than we'd anticipated and was as mischievous and naughty as 20-month old kids generally are.

As for me, I was career-less, a stay-at-home dad and somewhat a stigma to society. For, in our largely patriarchal society,  not only was my wife the sole wage-earner of the family -  a fact that was perhaps akin to blasphemy -, but I was a stay-at-home father. That was something practically unheard of in the community. Needless to say, I was considered a rebel by many, and a social outcast.

Over the next few months, I faced plenty of intrusive questions. Most of them went along the lines of "So, what do you do all day at home? or Don't you feel wrong to be babysitting all day?". Of course, a few were far more personal; some even questioning my very existence as a man. Yes, society can be rather cruel when it wants to be. Eventually, I started to shy away from any kind of public gathering.

Just to be clear - my so-called 'joblessness' was not entirely by choice. Circumstances paved the way, and I found myself losing hope and looking elsewhere. But I trudged ahead, with whatever little optimism  I had left, expectant that I would find something that I was good at, that would give me time to spend with my family and of course pay the bills to an extend. And that's when I started to write.

Writing and Blogging opened up a world of opportunities for me. What originally started as a diary to jot down my musings about fatherhood, parenting and tales about my daily interaction with my son, soon blossomed into an almost full-time role. I started to write short stories and longer pieces of fiction, articles for magazines, ghost writing for websites and even some freelance designing.

Where society had failed me, I found support not just from my immediate family, but a virtual family of fellow writers and freelance bloggers. And the best part of it all, was that I had quality time to spend with my son. To watch him grow. To learn valuable lessons with him. To be there for his major and minor milestones. To be there for my wife. To be a complete family man.

No, I won't lie and tell you that everything was easy or that it was smooth sailing. I'm still a heretic, when it comes to the way our society thinks. Of course, it helps somewhat that I'm no longer termed as a 'stay-at-home' dad but rather a 'work-from-home' one. And it helps that I've been published on a few sites, have won a few writing competitions, earn somewhat enough money occasionally to be able to pitch in and pay the bills and do my bit for society.

 

And today, as I continue working on the manuscript of my first full length novel, while still finding plenty of time to spend with my wife and play the silliest of games with my little one, I can only say - Change is a good thing. It gives you the chance to alter your life, start anew, be a better person, take risks and most of all, gives you a shot at doing what you want.

 

Of course, the next thing on the cards is a house of our own. One where I have a dedicated writing room with a small library, my faithful laptop and a window from which I can see the world go by. And that's perhaps where Housing.com will help me look up and change my life further. So see, change is a good thing.

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FXdCjk505w[/embed]

 

And for everyone who is reading this, all I can say is :

Make a change, take a risk - however small that might be. And #StartANewLife.

 

Image courtesy : Self. Created on Photoshop