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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.

A speaker or two

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“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

A fresh change

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  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.

 

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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

How to Improve your World Cup Gyaan

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’ll come as no surprise that World Cup madness is truly upon us. Whether you love or hate it, you are going to be bombarded with constant status updates, tweets, news flashes, advertisements and promotions involving anything and everything around cricket. And perhaps, if we are bit too honest, most of us love the game when our team - in this case, India - does well. And touch wood, after what can only be described as a miserable series in Australia, we seem to be finding our groove.  

But here’s a question. How may of you have friends who are from non-cricket playing nations? Probably quite a few of us, isn’t it? Especially so, since as a sport, Cricket is barely talked about outside the 12 odd-nations or so, that it finds takers in. However statistics state that it is perhaps the second-most-watched sport in the world. And predominantly due to the fan following in the subcontinent. Of course, those stats could go well down the drain if India get knocked out in the first round itself, as it so happened in 2007. But here is the thing - have you ever spared a thought about your friends from non-cricket playing nations who happen to be residing in India during the World Cup?

 

The funny thing is, nether had I. Until rather recently that is. During India’s opening match against Pakistan, we had a few friends over for lunch. They were South American and hence quite outside the ‘mileage’ of the sport and the World Cup. Now, while they were aware about the game, they could hardly differentiate Shahid Afridi from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And why would they? It wasn’t a sport that they watched or followed. And to be fair to them, even tennis champ Maria Sharapova did not know of cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, despite both of them being greats in their respective sporting fields. But more on that, some other day.

 

Our friends and we had a great discussion during the match. While I am neither a cricketing guru nor a World Cup expert, I was happy to offer them what ever little gyaan I possessed. So amidst questions such as “What’s Gully or Off-Break?” and “How many teams participate in the World Cup?” to “Who is that smart looking bloke and why is he raising his bat towards the sky?” , we had an enjoyable match.  Of course, it helped that India won too. But it was a question that one of my friends had asked, that made me really think about the topic. He had asked what the best way was to improve his cricket and World Cup knowledge.

 

The question was pretty simple enough, but it made me think about how a foreigner perhaps in a cricketing mad nation such as ours, where almost everyone has an opinion about the many facets of the game, and where our players are given God-like statuses in society.  Perhaps it is because most of us have grown up either playing, hearing, watching or reading about the game, that it comes as second nature to us. But not to them.

 

So in the spirit of the game and of being a true friend, I decided to give them a bit of a helping hand. Yes, in today’s day and age almost every bit of information is available for free on the internet. All it takes is a simple search. But instead, as a fan of the sport and a bibliophile by nature, I decided to do the best thing possible. I combined both the worlds in the hope that it would help them get acclimatised to the whole World Cup Madness going on now and help improve their gyaan about the game.

 

And how did I do that? Simple! I just put in the terms ‘cricket world cup books’  on to my favourite search engine and it led me to an amazing site with a great selection of books that ranged from biographies of cricketing legends - both Indian and International - to ones that explained every aspect of the game, from rules to fans and terminology to gossip.

 

Needless to say, we’re planning to watch the up coming India-West Indies match together, where I’ll be gifting them the books and we’ll have a much more ‘gyaan-filled’ conversation about the game.

 

P.S. If at all you were wondering who that ‘smart looking bloke’ that my friends were referring to, it was Virat Kohli. The boy sure knows how to turn a few heads. 

 


This is part of a sponsored campaign for AskMeBazaar.com. The opinions are mine
Image courtesy : freeimageslive.co.uk