exams, Family, India

My girl!

These are not easy times…neither me, your father or brother have gone through such times at your age! The pandemic has made sure that you have not seen your school for the past 2 years and you have not seen your school friends in person for the past 2 years as well! There have been no in-person birthday parties, no sports day, no annual day, less in-person exams, no school bus rides, no bus gossips and no in-person fights… 😉 There have been a lot of “no”, “no” and more “no” and “virtual”, “virtual” and “virtual” the past 2 years…..

But I love the way all of you children have taken the pandemic in your stride. You have adapted to virtual classes, virtual birthday parties, virtual art classes, online exams and virtual meetups. You have been in touch with everyone and have a gala time even though virtually! I love you all the more for this!! 🙂

The ICSE boards suddenly decided to change the pattern of exam to two semesters at the last minute and you all adapted very well. All along, ICSE was only focused on “keywords” and now, MCQs popped up at the last minute. All the children adjusted very well and as parents we could only sit in awe and admire the children for their adjustment!

Today the 10th grade ICSE Semester 1 results were declared and I just love your scores. Congratulations for achieving such awesome marks(even though you could have done a tad bit better!! 😉 😉 (After all, I am an Indian mother and I have to expect the perfect scores in any exam, don’t I? 😉 ;))

You have undergone a lot more this academic year in addition to the pandemic. You had a nasty bout of physical sickness in October that had to get you hospitalized for 2 days. You sailed through it all with your giggly and joyful self(in sharp contrast to your brother! ;)) You appeared for Grade 10 semester 1 physical exams and had a good time in November and December(or did I have good time dropping you and picking you from school? 😉 ;))

At 5 ft 3 inches you are the shortest in a family of tallies!! 🙂 Yet, you don’t care about that either and are just happy with yourself!! 🙂 You have a sweet mind of your own and we have our regular mother – daughter fights!! 🙂 We always agree to disagree and have never ending dramas and arguments. If there is one person who never agrees with me in the house – it has to be you!! 🙂 Yet, it is never in a bad taste and I am always surprised how the youngest person in the house never agrees with me… 😉 🙂

It is also always amusing that you are my sharpest food critic as well! You have your own dressing sense and we both can never agree on clothing attire for you. We have been having attire battles from the time you were in grade 2!! 🙂

You have been teaching me the meaning of acronyms such as “smh”, “idrk”, “yeet” and more…:) sometimes, I feel like I am in a Greek land !! 🙂

Yet, you are one of two people who follow my InfoSec teachings diligently. You do not put your picture anywhere, use a safe and private browser and do not get carried away by social media sharing ! 🙂 You know all the nitty gritty details about OTP, Single Sign on, and other basic InfoSec concepts. You also know that CISSP is a leading InfoSec certification! 🙂 You dreamt of becoming a white hat hacker though that might have changed by now.

Whatever, you wish to be -be,my Girl! 🙂 The world is your oyster!! And I will always be there for you!! 🙂

Now, let us get started for Semester 2 exams of Grade 10!! 😉

Love,

Amma, Daddy and Anna!

college, IIT, India, Musings

Should we feel proud of Indians being successful abroad?

From the day Parag Agarwal became the CEO of Twitter, my timeline has various thoughts on whether we should feel proud of Indians being successful abroad or not.

While, everybody was pouring their thoughts out on the same topic – I knew it was time for me to empty my thoughts on this too! 🙂

I just had only one thought when Parag Agarwal was crowned CEO of Twitter – “PROUD”! 🙂 Why?

Because:

  1. It is an ode to the highly criticized Indian education system and being super successful after getting through it (Parag Agarwal did his schooling, college education in India)
  2. It is an ode to our higher institutions of learning(IIT in this case, but most colleges in India are goo too)
  3. It is an ode to successfully transitioning to the US college system from the Indian college system(yes, almost everybody does it, but still doing it is a great deal)
  4. Getting ahead in one’s own country and one’s own organization and surviving all the office politics is hard enough and to do it in a foreign country is no easy job
  5. The fact is, that individuals from India are highly respected all around the world and I am really proud of that! 🙂 After all, isn’t that the aim of all who are leaving India – to shine brightly in a foreign country such that the home country is proud?

What do you think? Isn’t it amazing that Indians are super successful abroad?

India, Musings

Indian luxury! :)

Most think the Western world is a land of luxury but India has its own hidden luxury particularly for women! 🙂 When I stepped into India after a long stint, I had forgotten about this type of luxury! In fact, this type of luxury had taken more forms too! 🙂

Yes, I am talking about the maids and other helps of India! 🙂 These are various helps in India without whom the Indian home engines will grind to a stop!

Maids –

The maid in India is primarily supposed to come in only for cleaning, but does various other things too. In cities like Bangalore, the maids will give a lending hand to everything in the house like dusting, cutting vegetables, a little bit of cooking, doing the dishes, putting the dishes away, sweeping, mopping, making tea and many, many more chores. Since the maids will be from a poor financial background, the people who employ them will also help them in any way they can(like paying for their children’s education, paying for the vaccination and more)

Cooks –

We do not need to order food from outside all the time when one tired is cooking at home in India. Cooks will come and make the dishes that you require them to make. Some of them will in fact buy the things for you and make them at home for you! 🙂 They can make rotis, sabjis, rice, grind the idli -dosa batter for you and more. This ensures that you eat healthy home food all the time! 🙂

Drivers –

Do you not feel like driving in the crazy Indian traffic? Just hire a driver…:) There are experienced drivers who know the ins and outs of the city and can take you wherever you want to go.

Gardeners –

While the above three people are required in most homes in India, a gardener might be needed only in case of an independent house and if there is a necessity.

All these people are a blessing to many an Indian household and life would not be the same without them. The Western thought is always to do the chores on their own and since manual labor is expensive, machines are employed to get the same effect. The Indian luxury though is a world apart! and is easily affordable too 🙂

Upon our return to India, I was initially amazed by the availability of so much of help and was trying to do things on my own. But I soon caved in and cannot do with my maid today! 🙂 The lockdown of 2020 in India(when maids and other help were not allowed) showed that we could do our work if needed be(the American habits were still residing in us! :)) but I have embraced the Indian luxury and cannot live without it today!

P.S. I only have a maid, I like to drive and don’t mind the minimal daily cooking! 🙂

This post is the 9th post for BlogchatterHalfMarathon

Family, Festivals, India, Parenting

Joint family system vs Nuclear family system – which is better?

India is one of the few countries which has a unique family system – the ‘joint family system’. In a joint family system, it is not only the parents who stay with their grown children and their spouse but there may be other members of the family living together as well. There might be two or three generations of a single paternal or maternal lineage living together. There might be a single family head or a group of elderly family members under whose direction the family might thrive. In a joint family system – food, career, religious regulations, responsibilities, finances might all be shared.

The nuclear family came into existence under the Western influence in India. The nuclear family consists only of the mother, father and the children. Once the children grow up, they will embark on their own independent journey. In a nuclear family, the roles and responsibilities might be shared by the husband and wife.

While many think the joint family system is dead in India, it is not. The bigger cities might not see it as much but the joint family system still exists.

Advantages and disadvantages of a joint family system:

The advantages of a joint family system will definitely be the ability to live together with anybody. Caring and sharing might be the motto behind all joint family systems. Trying to live with one’s own family members might not be easy all the time. But the people in a joint family system have definitely mastered it! 🙂 Learning to let go of certain things, adjusting to each other’s personalities, sharing the financial responsibilities are some of the advantages of a joint family system.

Children will be moulded better by learning to live with everybody. Adults will also get the companionship that they will miss in their old age. There might also be more events and celebrations at home. Children might learn the authentic way to celebrate religious festivals rather than Google it! 🙂 In addition, child care and taking care of elderly will not be given to organisations and will be managed in the family only.

The disadvantages of a joint family system might be the same as the advantage of a joint family system(what an irony! :))

No one might be constantly be able to live with everybody all the time and one will feel like they need some “me” time and “alone time”! There is also a possibility that you might be able to take any independent decisions and act on it instantly.

Advantages and disadvantages of a nuclear family:

The advantages of a nuclear family might be:

  1. the ability to take independent decisions and act on it instantly without asking anybody
  2. Not having to manage too many personal relationships
  3. Just the freedom of doing things your own way
  4. Not having to listen to anybody! 🙂

The disadvantages of nuclear family might be a little more different than other reasons. In a nuclear family, in many instances, the financial responsibility might fall solely on the husband’s shoulders. Thus, running a family, managing the household and the children has to be done only by 2 people (which is not an easy task) The husband -wife duo have to run to other people(baby sitters, day care centres, maids, cooks) to smoothly run their life.

So, which is good for whom? That just depends on each person and each husband-wife duo. If they are not comfortable in a joint family setting, it is better they manage alone and brave it all.

However, man being a social animal and we from India loving family and celebration – it is quite a possibility that most Indians cannot live away and alone all the time! 🙂 and they will live in a bit of both families combined together…:)

This post is the seventh post for the BlogchatterHalfMarathon

India, Musings, US

Which is your favorite cuisine?

I am no foodie but do give into extravagant taste drives once in a while… 🙂 Having said that, my tongue was led into an international expedition 25 years ago when I stepped into the USA! 🙂

I think India itself had limited choices then and I was not exposed to all the International delights! 🙂 Having a better half who loved to explore different tastes and cuisine, I soon learned to appreciate the different types of food! 🙂

These are some of the cuisines that I have tried :

South Indian cuisine 🙂 –

South Indian food is cumbersome to make and is definitely delicious when made with a deft hand! 🙂 (which I don’t have 😉 ;)) Idli, Dosa, the Pongals, Idiyappams, Puttus, the biriyanis, the kulambhus, the sweets and savories are just a small number of dishes that will take your tongue on an amazing journey!! 🙂

Mexican –

Mexican food is definitely cooked differently from Indian food and is much less tedious to do it too. I do love the Soft tacos, Tacos, Chalupas, Taquitos, Burritos, Nachos,  Enchiladas, Fajitas, Quesadillas and more! 🙂

Chinese –

I know two versions of Chinese cuisine – one is American Chinese and one is Indian Chinese! 🙂 Chinese cuisine involves soups, noodles, chow mein, lo mein, orange chicken and more. I have not been a regular consumer of Chinese food , but suffice it to say, that I appreciated it as well.

Italian –

Maybe, the one cuisine that I really had a tough time getting used to was Italian cuisine than any other cuisine because of the lesser amount of spices used. Pasta, Pizza, Lasagna, Pasta salad are what come to my mind right away.. 🙂

Thai –

It has been quite a while since I have had pure Thai cuisine, but loved the Pad Thai, Green curry, Red curry – all of which are sure tingle anybody’s taste buds.

American cuisine –

American cuisine might be a melting pot of different cuisines, but the Mac and cheese, bagels, waffles, fries, burgers, cheeseburgers, chilis, clam chowder, fried chicken and other dishes do give your taste buds a party! 🙂

From all the cuisines that I have tried – which have I loved the most? I think I would be slightly more partial to the South Indian foods and Mexican foods more than other cuisines just because of the taste! (though I have loved all of them and learned to appreciate all types of food)

Which is your favorite cuisine? Is it different from the ones listed above? Do drop your answers in the comments below! 🙂

Have a nice day! 🙂

This post is the fifth post for the BlogchatterHalfMarathon

college, IIT, India

2nd year at IIT, Roorkee – A Mother’s perspective

And just like that we are done with the 2nd year at IIT, Roorkee too! 🙂 Like last year, I would like to reiterate that I am not studying in IIT, Roorkee 🙂 but my son is…. you can read my last year’s post here

July 2020 and beyond:

The pandemic struck in 2020 and India went through a grueling lockdown from March 2020 to June 2020. Once June 2020 arrived, hopes were high for a return to normal life. Could schools re-open, could colleges re-open and could people return to work? Unfortunately though, the virus was just getting started! 😦 From June 2020 to October 2020, India’s first wave was crushing everybody and with no vaccine then, it was not wise to re-open anything. Nobody understood the cycle of the virus as none of us had ever lived through a pandemic.

IIIrd semester at IIT-R:

IIT-R decided to physically reopen the college in July 2020, but had to scale back the plans as the virus was raging all over India. Online classes became the only way that classes could move forward. IITs have students from all financial backgrounds and from all over India(even North East India) It was quite unfair to assume that everyone would have a stable laptop with an even better Internet connection! Many had left their laptops in their rooms in Roorkee, in March 2020 when they left for their mid-semester break! (inclusive of us! :()

Surveys were conducted to assess the situation and how many had good devices through which they could attend classes. When it was felt that all students could attend online classes, remote learning started. The initial hiccups were there and everyone missed campus life and campus learning. All yearned to go back and do a normal living(which has not been possible even till today!:()

The staff and students slowly got used to this new way of learning. Mid-term exams had to be scrapped as most were figuring out the logistics of conducting exams. Those courses that had lab components were pushed to the next semester(in the hope that colleges would reopen atleast by January 2021….which could also not happen) Videos were shown of the lab experiments and students could understand it that way. Quizzes, tutorial sheets and presentations were introduced to grade the students.

There was hope that ‘R’ land could re-open at some point of time in the New Year and students could physically give their end term exams. January 2021 came and went but B.Tech 2nd year students could only give online exams.

Overall, the third semester was a learning experience for both the students and staff of IIT-R. All of them had to get used to this new way of studying and assessing the students. The third semester was not a gruelling experience academically but it was an uncertain one thinking that the college would reopen soon.

IVth semester at IIT-R:

The fourth semester at IIT-R started in February 2021 running almost a month behind. IIT-R battled pandemic chaos in its own environment.

In January 2021, when COVID cases had ebbed, few Master’s and Ph.d students were asked to come back to campus. A small set of COVID cases were detected in campus which soon swelled to a nearly 100 cases! Testing, isolation and treatment is not very easy in R-land. Many staff and students were impacted and the second wave was becoming more difficult for everybody. The second wave was touching more people and conducting the fourth semester was not an easy one.

Inspite of that, classes went on almost normally and there was more structure to the classes. Having gone through one semester of online classes, both students and staff knew what to expect. Quizzes, presentations , tutorials were given and this semester was definitely more academically challenging than the third semester. You could finally feel the IIT heat every once in a while with the son screaming “stressed”! 🙂

Clubs and groups in IIT-R were also running online with new recruits and new activities.

Since the COVID second wave was affecting off-campus students and on- campus staff, the end-term exams for fourth semester was cancelled after a survey. Students were graded on their previous assignments and grading was tight! IITs were slowly learning the art of “continuous grading” instead of putting most weightage on the final exam(though most weightage was on the mid-term exam this time)

Overall, the fourth semester was a much more satisfying semester than the third one since many have accepted this new way of studying. It is quite a certainty that the next semester will definitely move ahead in the same way.

My feelings :

While, most of us were initially grumbling about this new reality that has been thrust on us, as a mother I felt content that my son was safe at home and did not get caught in the hostel in the 2020 lock down. Thoughts are always there about when he might be asked to go safely back, but I think that day is still a few months away.

Son though feels that he is missing a portion of his precious college life, but I am sure life will have a lot of good things in store for him for the future but for now though… we have to bow to the rules of the pandemic and stay safe!

Note: My son returned from IIT-R in March 2020 and has not returned back since then. Hopefully, the world will become safer for all us to return to the real normalcy soon!

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’ 

Musings

Writer woes

When I originally went through this post in my head, it was an absolute rant post! Now, thinking about it after a couple of days later, it is a much calmer post(hopefully! :))

I have been writing for the past 9 years, and there are several things that I have learnt over the years. Some of them have been nice but some of the them have downright been disgusting! (sorry for the language!)

Here is a list of things that I have learnt:

First and foremost is always the “pay” in the content writing field. Writing is such a beautiful thing and not everyone can do it (any genre is difficult and does take time) In spite of that, in the content writing industry, from what I have seen if you get paid 1 Re/word, it is a great thing! (I don’t know how this thing came about itself) There are people who pay 50 paise/word or even lesser!! And there are still some who will ask for “free writing” too!! I myself have been approached by many people to write for “free” for them. Now, these are not just startups but well established companies do it too(I have never understood the rationale behind this – if you can pay all other professions in a startup, why can’t you the pay the writers as well?)

The next thing that irks me is the way the content is freely attributed to somebody else. Initially, the articles written by me have my name on them but after a while, they get attributed to somebody else (why would somebody do that also, I have not understood)

The third thing that I always find annoying is when we are asked to write a sample writeup for every new company that we are applying(it is fine for newbie writers, I guess) There is so much of my content on the web, and I am still asked to provide a free write-up, why? And sometimes, after we submit the writeup, there is a deadly silence on the other end too!! (what? why?)

Yet another thing on my annoying list…. Many people think content can be churned like magic! 😦 No buddy, good content does not appear so quickly like that(which is why it is good to employ multiple writers or creators) Good quality content particularly in the technical field takes time(at least for me) I have to read, understand and then write(this is me, I am sure there are faster writers) For my Master’s degree program, in the US, we were asked to write several papers and we were given adequate time to finish all of them. I greatly appreciated that fact then and appreciate it even more now.

Last but not least, is the number of revisions that a writer is asked to do. While I have not been asked to revise my content frequently, after 9 years in the field, I unfortunately, cannot revise my content any more, once I have submitted it. I have as it is, revised, edited, re-edited and re-edited and cannot do it any more. Once I have submitted it, it is the best content there is 🙂 English or any language is a relative language and unless you are a perfect English teacher it is fine as it is. And with tools like Grammarly, anybody’s English is just perfect is my thought! 🙂

My experience:

My experience in the content field has overall been good. I have had interesting experiences here and there and fought to have my name redeemed in some articles(though I have left the others)

I have been paid well too and some of my articles have done very, very well. The key to an article doing well in my opinion is definitely the topic selection. If you are passionate about a topic, you will write it really, really well and it will show in your writing. On the other hand, if you do not feel a topic, you will not do well(quite interesting that I can write only on programming, Information security and privacy topics) If you write about a good topic and present it well, it should definitely raise a few eyebrows and get some extra clicks and will last long! 🙂

The silver lining to the poor pay and other disadvantages to the content writing field, is that the world cannot live without us writers !! 🙂

So, come on writers, write to your hearts content….the world is your oyster! 🙂

P.S: I have done my Master’s in the US, but I am currently a freelance writer in India and I am mostly talking only about organizations