Cooking with Dad

My wife was at a conference. The kids and I were thinking of what to do and we decided to cook together. The girls came up with a menu and we had a great time cooking together.

The best part was when I put them both down to sleep. I asked each of them separately what their favorite part of the day was. They both said it was the cooking. That made my day.

This is what we cooked

http://foodydoody.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/fancy-schmancy-mac-n-cheese-aka-a-great-evening-with-my-girls/

4th grade Volleyball – are we Tiger parents?

Our older child signed up for Volleyball in the last couple of months (she is in 4th grade). We are pulling her out of the team for the next season and looking for another team for her. The reasons?
1. The team was all over the place – it had kids of all ages and abilities – boys and girls from 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade.
2. The coaching was too passive. The coach pretty much took a hands-off attitude to coaching while the game was on.
3. There was no discipline in the squad. Before a game, instead of doing drills, kids could be caught running around, doing cartwheels and playing basketball (with a volleyball).
We lost every single game in the season this far. The sad thing is that we could have won at least a couple with a little aggressive/focused coaching. While we didn’t put our child in for competitive reasons, it would be nice and motivating if they had won a couple of games.
The thing is that our girl actually seems to be enjoying it and seems to have an aptitude for it but we are pulling her out and searching for another team for her. Are we being the typical “must succeed” Asian parent?

Image courtesy http://www.diabetes24-7.com

Diwali celebration 2010

Celebrating Diwali with our friends and family is a tradition we started many years back. What started as a pot luck gathering for close friends has grown to where we don’t host the event at home any more. This year we had over 165 people celebrating with us at a hotel ballroom we had rented out.

Our kids and their parents really put their heart into this. Songs and dances were practiced for weeks before the celebration. And what a celebration it was, we had aarti, followed by classical and Bollywood dances along with a number of vocal performances.

Seeing the effort that goes into our celebration every year and how much kids look forward to it year on year makes me think that this is definitely one thing we are doing right.

A couple of days after our Diwali celebration, in a school writing assignment, my daughter wrote an article on Diwali and how she really enjoys it and looks forward to it year on year. Now, she couldn’t quite remember what we celebrate on Diwali, but that is something we can work on. The important thing is that there is a piece of her heritage that she enjoys and embraces.

Do you have a piece of your heritage that you are codifying and trying to pass on to your children. Would love to hear about it.

Here’s wishing you peace, health, prosperity and sanity.

Freedom of expression

With the uproar over the “Ground Zero” Muslim center and “Burn a Koran Day”, I can’t recall when in recent history (in the US) there was a time that tolerance for other cultures and beliefs was tested as much.

The fact that a group can propose to build a religious center close to a hallowed area with full support of the mayor of that city is in itself a testament to the strength of our beliefs. The same is true of the Florida pastor wanting to burn Korans. While there is a lot of opposition to what he wants to do, there really isn’t any doubt in anybody’s mind that he has the right to do it.

In most any other place in the world the situation wouldn’t have come to this. Depending on the views of the powers that be, groups not falling in line would have been shut down a long time back.  Not in America though. The freedoms that we have are being sorely tested but still stand.

The problem is not that we have these freedoms but that abusing them is so easy. The highly polarized social and political environment makes it easy to vilify those not agreeing with you. The louder you are, the more attention you get. In this shock-value, media frenzy driven culture, it pays to be obnoxious.

As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Do we really want a society where you can be taken to task for just expressing your point of view? Is despotism what we are after? Or, do we pause, think, consider the other party’s point of view, before we open our mouths?

In both the “Ground Zero Muslim Center” and the “Burn the Koran” controversies, perhaps it would have been a good idea for people to consider the wisdom of their actions before doing/proposing anything. Is media attention what they are after? If so, we can do better than to encourage the media frenzy.

We are citizens of a free society. To preserve our freedom we need to have personal responsibility and wisdom. Both are sadly lacking.

Raising Brats?

Going to stores these days is getting to be a stressful experience. Both my kids, especially my older one, want me to buy something for them every time we are out. When I ask her who will pay for whatever it is that is her object of desire, she looks at me as if I’m an idiot, and says you, of course.
This is something that bothers me a lot. Are we raising kids who have no sense for the value of money? Bringing up kids in the US I am just painfully aware of how privileged an upbringing our kids have. For the most part they have nothing to worry about – toys, clothes, food and holidays appear by magic. School work (compared to what those of us who grew up in other parts of the world had to deal with) is a breeze. Their life seems to be one big vacation. And yet, these same kids will have to grow up and fend for themselves later in life. Some of us may be lucky enough where our kids wouldn’t have to worry about working a day in their lives but that is not the majority.
Are we raising our kids right? Are they tough enough? Can they compete globally or will kids from China and India eat them for lunch when they are older?

Joel Stein’s Article

By now I am sure many of you would have read Joel Stein’s Blog at Time (For those of you who haven’t, here is a link http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html). Most of my Indian friends who read it have been quite upset by the language and the article’s very racist tone. The author and the publication both claim that the piece is satirical but satire by its very definition means “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.”. Whether or not the article satisfies the criteria for a satire is moot. As can be expected there has been a fair amount of backlash to the article, links to some of commenting on the piece are below

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kal-penn/the-hilarious-xenophobia_b_634264.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shiwani-srivastava/joel-steins-beef-with-ind_b_633988.html

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/07/13/parikh.stein.rebuttal/index.html

I personally found the article in equal parts racist, informative and entertaining, and would encourage anybody who hasn’t read the piece to read it with an open mind. While it clearly is a rant against Indian immigration (especially in New Jersey), there are lessons that immigrants would be wise to learn. For me, three points stood out

  • If you are immigrating to a different culture, assimilate. Keeping to your own kind, while the easy way out, creates isolation (read “ghettoes” like Edison, NJ) and ill will. Unless you are assimilated, you will be picked on. And assimilation includes political representation.
  • Change is hard. The “old way” of life is changing for a lot of people, not just in the US but elsewhere. Understand that the backlash may be not because you are of a different color or culture but because people are insecure and are looking for answers ( or someone to blame) while the world they have known for generations has collapsed around them.
  • Immigrants are an easy target. In these uncertain times, it is easy to blame the loss of jobs and the collapse of certain sectors (e.g. manufacturing and mining) on immigrants. Politicians, TV hosts and rabble rousers love to do that. Regular folks are easy targets for such messages. It is very easy to forget that other than Native Americans, just about everyone in the US is an immigrant.

I believe that as offensive as this article may have been, Mr. Stein probably vocalized thoughts that many people feel but do not express. At the very least it should give immigrants something to think about. 

What do you think?

Do kids read books any more?

We launched Alisha’s World late last year. The first book, “New Beginnings and Other Stories” (shameless plug – that you can buy at http://www.alishasworld.com and at http://www.amazon.com/Alishas-World-Beginnings-Other-Stories/dp/061533041X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277692102&sr=8-3). The theme and the stories really resonated with educators and kids.

As we work on the next book, we are starting to bounce ideas on how best to launch it. Do kids read paper books any more? Would an electronic version be better? An electronic version will definitely be a lot easier logistically for us but will kids read a story on a computer?

Let us know your thoughts.

This blog is active again, with a changed focus

Folks

This blog is active again. The focus is on Alisha’s World and its topics of interest. Welcome again!

Moving to a different location

Folks

I am moving the blog to http://www.fordesiparents.com/Blogs.asp. Please look for my posts there.

Sanjiv

Last post in 2009 – lessons learned

As the year comes to a close, one tends to sit back and reflect on the year gone by (a light work week also helps).

To me, as far as the kids go, there were three big lessons learned this past year.

#1 – Empathy – Our kids lead busy lives: school, homework, activities, play time. What was happening was that our kids were often cranky, whiny, uncooperative and we would come down hard on them. What we were forgetting was that these are still very young kids that get tired easily and hence cranky, like the rest of us. Cutting the kids some slack and empathizing with their situation has paid off handsomely. There are a lot fewer frayed nerves in the house and everyone seems happier.

#2 – Consistency in behavior – I am terrible at this. My wife on the other hand, is exceptionally good. Our kids know what they can expect when she says something. With me on the other hand, thye know that if they whine/cajole/complain enough I will sometimes give in. I need to work on this.

#3 – You can teach all you want but you need to live what you teach – This is a cliche but couldn’t be more true. Things that are important to us : being honest, compassionate, patient human beings are best passed on if we ourselves as parents live that way. This point was brought home to me on more than one occasion by my older daughter when she caught me doing something that I have taught her not to do e.g. yelling when angry or frustrated. A positive example of this in our lives is that our kids seem very comfortable in their dual Indian American identity much as we, their parents, are. There is no discomfort in wearing Indian clothes, taking Indian food to lunch etc.

Anyway, enough pontification. I hope you are enjoying your time with your friends and family. Have a wonderful New Year and I will speak with you in 2010.