by Rajee

My Beautiful memories of Early childhood in South India in 1980s

in Life Style

The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain hovering over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves. #globalite Rajee revisits her #happyspot #lifestylewednesday

I am capturing my memory from my early childhood, it made me feel pleasant every time it crossed my mind. I know, one day my son will read and love, as I had always loved hearing stories from my mother and father about their childhood time.

The village was ‘Nangur’ near Seerkazhi few kilometers from the beach town Poompuhar (TamilNadu\South India). Now I found out, the village is known by the name ‘ThiruNangur’ the heritage place for Hindu God Vishnu. My early childhood was spent there, I started and did my schooling until 4th grade [“Naalan glass” as we kids called :)]. My father was a Math teacher in the government high school there. I remember, it was the most beautiful place I had ever lived in my childhood(may be the whole life?). The village was very remote. It was crowded with coconut trees and beautiful green farmlands. I remember walking through the only paved ‘Thar’ road in the village (everything else was dirt road), which ran through three ponds of the village(called “Thiruparkadal”) and endless rice fields. The ponds were protected by the coconut trees lined up around them. I can still feel the chillness of breeze in my memory that came from the waving rice plants, when we walked through this almost deserted road. As a child, I literally felt in love for the beauty of the waving rice plants with their unique “shhh” sound from the breeze.

There was town bus or Seerkazhi bus that came through the road in some long intervals. Once in a while, there were one or two farmers walking with a towel tied around their head. Some women carried hay in their head to feed cows back at their home. Sometimes, some men or women looking fresh who have just taken bath in the pond, were walking back home with their half dried still dripping towels hanging in their shoulders. Those were the once in a while human interventions of the otherwise very calm road. I remember, I was curious to walk more or just be there for some extra some time to be in part of the loneliness of nature.

We lived in a big house, it was called ‘chettiyar veedu’ by the neighbors. it was beautifully constructed with “Mutham”, “Thaazvaram”, “pin kattu”, “dark room”, a “well” in the backyard and lot of trees in the backyard. There were snakes, bamboo trees, “Nandhiya vattai” tree, “Poosani” tree and lots of flower plants my mom planted. I loved the rustling sound of Bamboo trees, when there was a breeze. When there were strong winds, the bamboo trees bent to the earth and came back (going up and down, like it was their dance to the wind) and they scratched(or hugged?) one another and created a breaking sound. Whether it was breeze or strong wind, the sound of bamboo trees was very much soothing and perfect for the late afternoons. I wondered how much they could really bend without breaking apart. I also liked the leaves of the bamboo trees, they were in a pretty light green always glowing in the mid morning Sun. After the trees, there were the endless muddy farmlands as far as my eyes could see. There were small hills (probably man made) in between the lands. The farmers used the hills to temporarily store their harvested rice crops and the hay.

I loved the house. There was a big “voonjal” (swing) in the front yard. Although I loved the look of it, I didn’t like it much because it made me feel dizzy . The floor was mosaic and smooth and it was slippery whenever my mom washed it with water in a bucket and broom every Friday.

In the middle of the house, there was “Mutham” (I think I can call it as “Moon roof” ?). It was constructed with steel bars laid out in crosses. So in rainy days, I enjoyed watching/playing with the rain falling inside our house. But more than that the days with the moon in the sky were my most favorites. It was mesmerizing for me to watch the moon shining its rays inside our house in the dark nights.

My mom fetched water from the Keni (Well) for all the household uses. We also drank that water from the “Keni”l. It was deep and wide. There was a steel bar running across at the top. It helped to hold the rope while fetching water. The heavy rain seasons were exciting for one part. Because, at that time, the water line will come up to the top of the “keni”. We could fetch water with a bowl in our hand. My brother who is 2 years elder to me (I remember, I felt very much affection to him, even when there was a hard sibling rivalry) used to make cars using the mud he makes around the keni. Someone was telling, he would become an engineer in the future. Which he probably took to his mind and became a mechanical engineer later. (He currently works as a Software Architect, destiny of most graduates in India for the past two decades.)

There were many students from my father’s school came for tuition to my father in the evening. Many of them were from more interior parts of the village. There would be no street light to walk back to their home. So my father let them stay with us in the night. What a wonderful time for that age! I really enjoyed the presence of all Annas at our home. They were funny and after tuition my father used to tell them interesting stories and talked funny and there were loads of laughter and cheer during the nights they stayed. They packed their dinner and brought extra box to share their special dinners with me and my anna (brother). I was excited to share the food my mom cooked. I think they really loved my brother. It might be because he is the boy of their favorite teacher and he was in the age group to play with them, he was few years younger to them though. They taught my brother some funny songs rather naughty interpretation of some advertisements came in Radio.

After tuition and dinner we all slept in the “mottai maadi” (open terrace). It was an extended part at the front and it was not laid out as the roof of the house. I think it was constructed for the purpose of drying grains. And every time we slept there, my father asked all of us to count stars and it lead to fun. There were loads of giggling and someone or the other would say something and my father would make funny comments about the counting made. I remember, how it surprised me as a kid to know for the first time, there are countless (you meant seriously?) stars in the sky. That triggered my interest for looking at the stars and every time I looked at it, I found there was something more interesting about them.

I remember my father to say he was not strict with collecting fees for the tuition, as some students were really from very poor families. He said some were also coming for the fun evening . At the end of the tuition, my father asked everyone to say “Time is Gold”, and even reciting it for a specific number of times was their punishment sometimes. Anyway, I now understood the roots of my fascination for stars and love for green nature. They were seeded upon me by my parents with their enthusiasm and taste for nature and my father’s fun filled relationship with his students. Lovable memories for me.

[Image Credits: Sastha Prakash]

by Rajee

How much are we (parents) connected to our children ?

in Kids, Mindfulness

Rajee calls on parents to re-evaluate their relationship with their children – all parents love their children, but are they connected enough for children to feel safe to express feelings of embarrassment, sadness, anger and fear?  Are parents connected enough for children to not feel judged or criticized even in their shameful, silly, scary moments? #mindfulness #kids

I might have been six or seven years old. I had a friend at my next door. We lived in a village. Everything was individual houses in the long quiet street. My friend had cousins and so we were 3 or 4 girls playing always.

It was the day, I visited my friend’s house and I heard lot of noise from laughing and screaming from their room. I entered the room, I noticed there was a man playing with my friends. May be there were 3 or 4 kids, could have been boys and girls.

At first I hesitated, but then the amount of fun they had right in front my eyes pulled me like a magic force to join their fun. Kids could not know such a fun person could well be an evil to them, I was just a little kid who could not resist from playing and fun.

I didn’t know it was going to make a scar in my young mind and haunt me later at my adolescents.

I know now I was fortunate, it could have been worse or a nightmare that many innocent kids had(have) been experiencing around the world.

We were playing for a little while, I remember I was so happy, laughing and excited and my brain was fully engaged in the excitement. But all my excitement came to an abrupt stop when I realized the man’s hand had reached me in a place that was awkward. As soon as I realized it, I got up immediately, feeling violated, shameful, sad, scared, I walked straight to my house without further word or look to anybody or anything. I was confused and I didn’t understand what happened, but I knew that should not have happened. He was a child abuser. I came to my home and locked myself in the security of four walls of my home, I was so scared. I did not go out to play for 2 or 3 days until I was very sure that he had left. I remember my mom was curious about me imprisoned myself in the home like a chicken incubating eggs (that’s my mom’s term). I heard my mom talking to herself aloud, “Why is she always inside the house and not getting outside and playing”. With whole respect and my heart full of love to my dear mom who sacrificed her life for her kids and always puts the kids ahead of her own preferences, I was uncomfortable with the tone she was using, it was her usual teasing voice with bit curiosity.

I was this little kid who was embarrassed talking about the thing happened to me. I was shy(?) to my own mom from whom I always found warmth. I didn’t know what she would say, I was frightened by the experience. I kind of felt secured keeping it to myself , I couldn’t go running crying to my mom and hug her and knowing deep in my mind, she was going to soothe me and give me the safety and assurance I needed very much at that point in time. I wish I did that and It might have wiped that shameful(just as I remembered in later life) experience out of my budding mind like the rain clearing the writing from a chalk board.

I forgot that event 3 days later when I started to do my usual routine. But it haunted me many times in various forms in my adolescents. It judged my self-esteem and it became the starting point for confusions in my teenage years and opened the door to mild depression which I silently fought for almost 2 decades. Teenage years are tricky, if we don’t have anyone to go to and talk to about what we are feeling and thinking. I was always fighting within myself against myself. It impacted how I interacted/reacted with the outside world and sculpted me in many ways to where I am today.

Why didn’t I go to my parents when a terrible unusual experience hit my little self?

I think, I now know the answer for the question why I didn’t run to my parents telling them what happened? I loved them and I knew they loved me, but I missed the connection to my family. There was no one to go, I was afraid of the unknown consequences.

We need to educate our children about their own body and its functions and teach them the good touch/bad touch. There has been so much awareness among parents at this age. It is very good.

But what about the connection that the parents need to have with their children so that the their children would come to them in embarrassment or sad or anger or frightened and hug them and seeking comfort, having trust that they are not judged but empathized for whatever ugly/silly/pretty/bad/shameful/sad feeling they are experiencing ?

Are we (as parents) certain that our young child, teenager, grown up son or daughter would come to us seeking empathy when they experience any of those feelings without the fear of being judged/criticized/blamed/teased/the parent freaking out ?

Parents are the most loving people to their children (there will be exceptions), But do all parents have this connection/bond to their child? This is a question every parent should ask and find out themselves!

by Rajee

Toxin-Free Life Series : Part 5: Banishing plastics from home

in Ecofriendly

Can you imagine living without plastic?  Rajee is on a crusade to get rid of all toxins from her home.  In her Toxin Free Life Series, Rajee shares her step by step elimination of chemicals and toxins from her home.  #ecotuesday

My First step to banishing plastic from home was throwing away plastic liners from my Trash cans. This I wanted to do for a very long time anyway. I read this very useful article that talked about how we can handle household trash without plastic bags.

So I started to compost my veggies/Fruits in a separate basket. Glass/Wrappers/Plastic go to recycle. With this, I find that there is very little trash at home. I am having to empty the trash can only once in a month and because it is dry I don’t need plastic liners. What a great way to eliminate the need for the big/ fragrant plastic liners. Also It’s probably just me but I have always found the fresh artificial scent from the liners suffocating. So I have found great relief!RecycleCan

I remember a long time ago, I used to feel reluctant to occasionally walk carrying my small garbage can to empty it. But now I take a little walk and carry this big 11 gallon trash can to the community trash. I now don’t feel any embarrassment in walking with a trash can, but instead I find myself secretly happy that I am doing something different with a purpose and I don’t really care what others would think of me.

I currently keep meat/dairy/cooked rice in a small recycled plastic bag that we get from the store and dispose it to the community trash as soon as I can. This is something to get rid of eventually as I move toward a plastic free home. Even if you use plastic liners I will have to buy one without fragrance. Any Industrial product with fragrance has synthetic toxic chemicals on it. This includes our perfumes and deodorants.

The plastic bags we get from store are recycled bags and they carry less plastic than the common plastic bags sold in the store for some specific purpose. So if you need to use plastic bag and cannot avoid it, you can use these ones in place of the ones sold in the store.

Source: //www.quintamazatlan.com

Image Source: //www.quintamazatlan.com

I have to talk about my compost too. It was a nice idea and I liked the fact that I could use it as natural fertilizer for my plants in my organic garden.

I tried composting only once and buried the compost in my garden bed. Because the compost was half done, it would take some time to break down by bacteria and to release the nutrients to the soil. If you have a really good garden space, you can directly dump your veggies waste in your designated spot, so that you don’t have to do the compost inside your home.

Anyway I stopped doing it after that onetime, as I did mess something up with the procedure and so the compost started to smell. So I am putting this composting task aside just for now and I want to revisit it later.

I shall write more as I go.

by Rajee

Toxin-Free Life Series : Part 4: Vinegar as houshold cleaner

in Ecofriendly

I read this somewhere, “The typical American home contains 3-10 gallons of toxic household cleaning materials that can cause respiratory problems, eye irritation, endocrine system disruption, and cancer ”

As a part of my efforts to reduce household toxins, I started using Vinegar as an all purpose cleaner. I used the word “reduce”, because toxins are everywhere inside our home, in our furniture, carpet, cabinets, wall paint, you name it.

Mix white distilled vinegar with water and clean kitchen counter tops, sinks, bath tubs, bathroom sink, toilet, wooden floor and almost everything. I find the results to be great. The first time I felt comfortable handling food and utensils at my kitchen, free from my worries about chemical residue from cleaning.

Use vinegar and baking soda as house hold cleaners, we don’t need any other cleaners from the store. It was funny, the other day when I was walking next to the cleaning supplies aisle, my mind was going “Toxic”, “Toxic”. I was also thinking how the industries have been making more money using toxic synthetic ingredients in their products that are taxing everybody’s health. On second thoughts, that’s how it has been always isn’t? We first do something, later we figure out it was a mistake and then we try to change it . For example, “the invention of plastic”. So it’s all the side effect of being human isn’t :).

Anyway, some information about Vinegar, it is made from fermentation of carbohydrates and sugars from natural sources and as a surprise there is Vinegar made from synthetic sources too. Seems like our synthetic monster has made its way through everything we use in the current world including the ones that we believe are coming from natural sources. Who would think Vinegar is made from synthetic source?. I am planning to write about that in my future blog.

In the end, the responsibility is left to us, the individuals, to be aware and make an informed choice than assuming anything on market has been tested by somebody at some layer for all the health risks.

by Rajee

Toxin-Free Life Series: Part 2: Eco-Friendly Soap nuts for Laundry

in Ecofriendly

This is a continuation of my Toxin-Free Living series where I share my experience from my attempts to live a toxins free life.  Read Part 1 to know more about my motivation to do so.

I started using Soap Nut berries for Laundry and for the very first time I felt no residue in the clothes that came out of washer.  The wet clothes reminded me of my Grandma’s hand wash in the 1980s in a South Indian village using a soap bar that never made soap bubbles. They were farmers, imagine how dirty their clothes got.

Would the soap nuts give me a clean wash?  Even if they did not, I was ready to have a little dirt on the clothes rather than some toxic residue which the body cannot absorb.  But I found out that the soap nut berries did do a clean wash.  So far, I am happy with my experience using Soap Nut berries.

Soapnuts_WhitebgSome info on the soap nuts:

With Soap nuts no fabric softener is needed, as it softens the clothes. So we just need to throw 4 to 5 berries in a bag into the washer. That’s all.  We can reuse the berries until it disintegrates. Organic Soap nut berries are available on Amazon for 10$ (claims 100 loads). They are also available in some other online stores.

I came across a blog that has good information on soap nuts.  You can read it by clicking here.  Here’s another great article by Tips Bulletin.




[Image Credits: Sastha Prakash]

by Rajee

Toxin-Free Life Series: Part 1: My steps to a toxin free life

in Ecofriendly

I love nature and I have always had this thought in my mind to be eco-friendly and have been supportive to eco friendly life here and there, but I never went into it seriously until recently I got that motivation. We all have inspiring thoughts to come and go but not until we get the motivation, the driving force to actually do it, our thoughts are just going to stay as thoughts.

My motivation came from my son. It’s a mom’s attempt to get her child the healthy life of her dreams. I kept getting frustrated about the steady increase of people suffering with chronic diseases every year and how it is going to rise at an alarming rate in the coming years. I could not stand anybody making it a casual discussion about how a 2 year old got type 2 diabetes or a 5 year old getting a chemo for cancer. When did cancer become a common disease? I decided I have to do something about it. I have to do everything that are in my control to get my family a healthy life and leave the rest to the world we are living in.

There are 2 types of fears said in Buddhism. The fear about something that you cannot do anything about it.This type of fear is not helpful and it brings anxiety. The second type of fear is something that leads us to take some actions. I remember this guidance every time I stop and question myself, am I going too much into this, when the rest of my world appears to be casual about it?. Remembering this, helps me to hold my position. “I want to do something about it”.

So that’s how it started for me and I am in my early steps into my toxic free life, but I already feel good about the changes I have brought into our life. Thanks to my dear husband who is supporting and understanding the subject and my concerns and helping me and letting me bring changes into our lives. Also, I am happy to write my experience in this forum, Thanks to the creators for giving me the opportunity. In my next blogs, I will start writing about what I did and how I did and what was the difficulty I faced with the changes.