Sunday, March 12

The Space Battle of the Colgate Whiz Kids vs Green Monster Aliens

Hello Readers,

This is our first participation in the #Colgate Magical Stories. We were approached and invited by Blogadda and Colgate to register and participate in this exciting story activity contest.

Amidst my daughter´s final exams, this came as a refreshing creative outlet. We received the Colgate Magic Space Adventure Kit on March 7th and were given 8 days to come up with an exciting story. This was a fun learning experience for both my daughter and me. We played and discussed the story plot, did our own research and came up something exciting for  you.

A quick brief about my 7 year old daughter, Nadine - Her favourite subject in school is Science. She wants to be a Scientist when she grows up. Her favourite Television show is Project Mc2 which is about a group of really smart girls who are passionate about science and technology. The girls secretly work undercover as female government operatives to save the world. The inspiration behind the story comes from her love for science, the TV show Project Mc2 and her endless imagination. I bring to life her story with my writing prowess as a blogger. And, this is our mother-daughter team effort at its best.

Thank You Colgate for this amazing Magical Space Adventure kit. My daughter loved the kit and literally jumped and shrieked in excitement when the courier delivered the kit. We enjoyed the entire experience thoroughly and a big Thank You from the bottom of our hearts.


Nadine arranging the Colgate Magical Space Adventure Kit


Thank You, Colgate - I loved it! 

Happy Reading and hope you enjoy our story!

............................................................................................................................................

  The Space Battle of the Colgate Whiz Kids vs Green Monster Aliens

One dark, stormy night, a mysterious octagonal jet black object hovered silently around the Himalayan mountains. It seemed like it was looking hard for something. Suddenly, there was a neon blue laser light that emerged from space, and it flashed right onto the mysterious UFO. A small door slid open from the front of the UFO and out came a giant green monstrous looking creature followed by several other minion green creatures. The giant and minion creatures looked alike except for their size. They had a large head with a conical skull and creepy looking, elongated eyes with a bony body.


The Aliens land on Planet Earth via UFO 

´Master Zuff! We have reached our final destination. The Homo Sapiens call it ´The Great Himalayas´. We can collect our final random sample here before investigating the chances of the survival of Alien life, right here on Planet Earth´, said Minion Kym.

´We have collected random samples of all forms of life existing on Earth from all over the world.  From the Grand Canyon to the Pyramids of Giza to the Burj Khalifa to the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Great Wall of China to the Amazon Forests and more!  What a wonderful journey it has been! Finally we are here in the Incredibly beautiful land of India. I love this planet already and especially India. When we invade this planet, we shall make India, the alien headquarters of the entire Universe. What a grand majestic view of the Himalayas! One of the most breathtaking views, I have seen so far´, said Master Zuff in admiration.

They collected the sample and went back into the Alien Space Shuttle. Inside the shuttle, was a flurry of hectic activity. The investigations of the samples had already begun inside the shuttle laboratory. All the minion aliens got to work in their tiny white lab coats, studying every minute form of life with microscopic detail. It was increasingly becoming evident that Planet Earth was just perfect for the survival of Alien Life. The plans for an Earth attack and invasion were already being charted out. The Alien Space Shuttle slowly started rotating to gentle levitation as it lifted from the ground, to swiftly take a diagonal spin and dart off into the Milky Way.

That same fateful night, two bright Indian kids Rohan and Neha were on their way to NASA on a secret mission. They took special permission from their schools for 3 months. Everyone thought they were going to collect the NASA prize they won for their project on ´Possibility of Human Life on Mars´ and a world wide trip as the bumper prize. But, this was all a cover-up to hide their real mission.

Once, Rohan and Neha reached the headquarters of NASA in Washington, they were briefed about the dangerous situation that Planet Earth was about to face with India, at the forefront of a sinister Alien attack. Rohan and Neha knew they had to save Mother Earth and India at any cost.

They enquired about the recent UFO sightings on Earth and were given all the traces of the Aliens found at the locations they landed. Rohan and Neha, along with the senior scientists of the world, brainstormed about the possible solutions to stop this catastrophe.

´We have to find a way to not just stop the Aliens but also destroy them once and for all,´ said a determined Rohan.

´You are right, Rohan! No more dangerous plots to destroy Humans and invade Planet Earth.´, agreed Neha.´But, how do we destroy them?´

´Neha, after the careful study of the Alien tracing, we have discovered that the aliens are extremely susceptible to Hydrated Silica. Here´s the plan - We will go to the Alien Planet which is the same distance as the moon in a month´s time from now. We will attack them right there on their home turf. We can make and carry our own Space weapons, the Colgate Space Battle Guns. They will be loaded with the Colgate Toothpaste which is made of the potent Hydrated Silica. Upon contact, the Aliens will be instantly hit and killed on the spot. But, that is not the end of our mission. We will study the Alien planet to evaluate the alternative possibility of human life there as well.´, said Rohan

´That is a great plan, Rohan. I will call our Prime Minister Modi and update him of our plan. He will be so proud of our work for the world and the country. ´said Neha excitedly.

In that one month, Rohan and Neha, along with a team handpicked by NASA all across the world, started their training. They were briefed about the mission of the secret project and trained on the various aspects of the project. NASA trained the Colgate Whiz Kids to be astronauts. Rohan and Neha learnt how to work without gravity in space. They made their own Space weapons - Colgate Space Battle Guns, loaded with Colgate Toothpaste as the deadly ammunition.


Space Launch - 11 Member Team take off on their Secret Mission 

The Space Launch began a month later. Rohan and Neha, along with 9 other team members, were given heavy space suits which weighed 127 kgs with 13 layers of material. In no time, they moved out of the Earth´s orbit and headed straight to the Alien Planet.

They reached their final destination in around 3 days. Rohan and Neha did their first Space Walk and they were excited as hell to be doing so.


An excited Rohan and Neha on their very first Space Walk

Ýayyyy, Neha! This is the moment I have been dreaming all my life. It has finally come true´, said Rohan in happiness.

Ýes, Rohan! And I have another dream which I think is about to come true too - Killing Aliens.´, chuckled Neha in glee.

The team finally arrived on the Alien Planet and got ready, taking their attack positions to start the ´Fast and Furious´ Space battle.


Neha attacks the Alien with the Colgate Space Battle Gun 

The Aliens were caught by surprise by the extra-terrestrial visitors. The Space Battle team from Planet Earth wasted no time and got down to duty, upto arrival. They shot and killed all the Aliens in sight with the very powerful Colgate Space Battle Guns. Within in no time, all the Aliens were destroyed. The team cheered and congratulated one another.  Rohan planted a red flag declaring victory over the Aliens.


Mission Completed - Rohan hoists the red flag of victory on the Alien Planet 


Finally, they collected random samples from the Alien Planet and headed back to Earth. They decided to come back to Space in Rover, the NASA space exploration vehicle to conduct further space surveys and studies.

´Neha! You were brilliant on the battle field. I have never seen you in action like this before.´, exclaimed a very impressed Rohan. 

´Hahahah! Thank you, Rohan! Let us take a Space Tour before we go back to Earth. Please!´, suggested Neha.

´That sounds like a wonderful plan´, agreed Rohan.


Space Tour - Sun, Mars, Saturn, Comet in sight

´Rohan! Wow, Look there´s Mars, the Red Planet. Do you know it has iron oxide on its surface?, she said.

They saw many wonderful sights together in Space. They saw Planet Saturn and Planet Venus, which rotated in the opposite direction compared to the other planets in Space.

´Neha! Look there´s a Comet. Did you know it heats up when close to the sun?´, asked Rohan.

But Neha was in her own world till Rohan shook her up.

´What are you dreaming now?, asked Rohan teasingly.

´I am dreaming of living one day on Planet Jupiter´, said Neha.

´Dream On, Neha! That´s where it all starts. You never know which dreams can come true.´, smiled Rohan proudly.

......

Hope you enjoyed the story! 

“I’m blogging my #ColgateMagicalstories at Blogadda in association with Colgate

Friday, March 10

Happiness is Free


Last Sunday, I took my daughter to my parent´s house as usual. She was all excited and raring to go because she wanted to play at the neighbourhood park close by.

Once we reached there, my mother served us some evening snacks. After which, my father, my daughter and I took a short brisk walk to the park. She was jumping and hopping on the sides of the road in sheer happiness. She kept teasing me along the way and vice versa. My father kept cautioning us that we were still on a busy road and to control ourselves till we get inside the park. Yeah..yeah! I stand as guilty as charged when sometimes  I behave even younger than my child in some situations. Somehow, she has the knack of bringing out the child in me.

Finally, we reached the park and my daughter ran towards the play area  and wasted no time in having fun there. She climbed up the slides and came swooshing down in shrieking delight. Then, she headed towards the monkey bars to live out her long cherished dream of being a monkey, swinging from one bar to the other.

Trouble ensued when she mounted atop the merry-go-round. She stood up on her seat while my father and I watched her. She held on to the main rod in the centre for grip while it moved. And as it moved, her finger got jammed in the main rod and she screamed like there was no tomorrow. We rushed immediately to console her as she cried uncontrollably in shock and fear. Alas, her happiness and excitement were short lived.

She couldn't muster courage to even look at her injured pinky finger. My father and I tried to pep her up and divert her attention. But, she was so sorrowfully focussed on her poor ´no longer pinkey´ blackened finger, fearing if she would get alright. When paranoia strikes a young child, all hell breaks loose, I tell you.

So, we rushed her into the closest auto rickshaw and took her to a medical clinic. The physician cleaned, disinfected and stuck a washable bandaid around her finger. He gave her a tetanus injection and asked her to go back to the park and play without a care.

However, this time when we headed to the park, my daughter´s spirits were already crushed. She was happy to be back at the park but the same excitement that she had when came in earlier was missing. She was sober, quiet and just a little bit sad about the state of her pinky finger.

I accompanied her around from one playground equipment to another. And finally, we decided to share a giant swing ride with another family. They were a young married couple with a son and daughter, both under six years.

As the fun ride progressed, I witnessed something that has touched me in a way I had never imagined. The family seemed to come from a modest background from a materialistic point of view. They did not seem to have much and it certainly didn´t seem to come in the way of their happiness. I saw pure joy and contentment in all of their faces. While the husband sat on the swing and gleefully enjoyed the ride, the wife exchanged loving glances at him time and again, while holding on tight to her two children. He remarked excitedly to her, "The same ride would have costed us Rs.40 at the exhibition. Here it is only Rs.5." He chuckled in glee as his wife joined him in their laughter of happiness. The sheer thought of saving Rs.35 was enough to bring such joy to the couple. The children seemed to have no care in the world, simply enjoying the ride.

The husband looked at me and asked me why my daughter was looking sad. I told him that she hurt her finger a while ago at the park and that incident was still playing on her mind. He then asked me if she was my sister and I said, "No! I am her mother." Both the husband and wife looked at each other in shock. They laughed again, together in unison, as the man said to his wife, "This is real life Santoor Mummy."

This ´short and sweet´ encounter with a family I never knew made me realise how simple it is to be happy. Like our choice for the outfit of the day, we just had to make up our minds and decide which mood to wear for the day. The best best would always be to choose happiness over sadness. Perhaps the feel of that old grey sweater is what you like.  Maybe its more comfortable. If you choose sadness over happiness today, it is completely up to you.

As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be"

Often, we see so many rich families who seem to have it all. Except for one thing - Happiness. In their pursuit of happiness, they go searching and knocking on every possible door. And here was a family that did not own much and they did not have to pursue happiness at all. They were contended, complete and genuinely happy about the littlest of things in life. That day, I learnt from this loving family of four that  "There is no path to Happiness. Happiness is THE path."

Walking on our way back home, I hugged my daughter and asked her if she was feeling any better. I assured her that her finger would be alright. To be patient and give it a few days. Then, I asked her if she noticed the family that sat next to us in the ride and realised anything.

I told her that I learnt something very important today from them. She looked at me point blank and asked me to explain. I told her,

´Wait until we hop onto the bed tonight. I have a story to share with a very important moral lesson -

´Happiness is Free. Pain is Costly´

(This post was published in mycity4kids - https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/happiness-is-free)

Wednesday, March 1

The Unbridled Bride Kicks The Golden Cage



“Oooohhh! You look sexy, girl”, said Monica.

Ramona sashayed around her bedroom in her pink sari, acknowledging her friend´s compliment with an all-knowing smile.

“What are girlfriends for?” said Ramona flashing a quick wink in Monica´s direction.

Ramona and Monica were friends, ever since they popped out of their mother´s womb. Well, not quite but almost close! They were friends from preschool to college till date. Their friendship stood the test of time and was as rock-solid as it could get.

However, they made different choices in their lives and took wholly separate life-paths. Monica got married at 21 years, in the typical arranged marriage way. If her mother had her way, she would have ´packed her off´ by 18-19 years. Ramona tried hard to convince Monica otherwise but she finally succumbed to family pressure. Monica was married into a joint family, became a stay-at-home mother and made her parents proud by respecting and upholding traditional family values.

Monica´s mother said to Ramona, “It is not good to stay single at your age. You will not find any decent boys left to marry. Also, think about your family´s reputation and your mother´s growing worries about your safety every day.”

Ramona was like an unbridled mare. She was the ´weird one´ wherever she went. Never fitting in wholly with any group that she hung out with! Yet, she was open-minded and tolerant of others. The same could not be said about the others though.

Ramona was sure what she wanted out of life. She had her own rules of the ‘right and wrong’ in her big fat Life Book. Everywhere she looked, it pained her immensely to see so much injustice and struggle around in the society. She saw unwilling, hapless and naive women forced to fit into the archaic patriarchal norm.

Women were told everywhere that they were not capable of doing this or that. Told they should wear this and not that! Told when to venture out and when not to! Told where to go and where not to! Told how to sit, stand and shit properly! Told the difference between the ‘good’ girl and the ‘bad’ girl! Always being told what she must do but never given the chance to speak her mind -loud and free. Let alone, live her life on her own terms! More often than not, Ramona discovered that women were the unfortunate victims in this highly regressive and suppressed society.

So, when people met Ramona, it pinched them to see such a strong and independent woman, living her life, without giving a damn for anyone around. She listened to people´s advice with a gracious smile, knowing which ones to retain and which ones to fling out of her dainty ear.
She was clear early on in her life, that marriage was not the top most priority for her. Her education and career were! Only then, could she sustain and look after her mother and Adi, her mentally challenged brother. Marriage, was something, that had to be on her terms or she wasn´t all too ´gung-ho´ about it.

“Ramona, it is high time you settle down and get married. I will not be with you for too long. It is my wish to see you as a bride and …..God willing, see my grand kids too.”, voiced her concerned mother.

Ramona´s father died when she was 12 years old, leaving behind her mother and Adi, her 8 year old mentally challenged brother. She grew up overnight, her soul laid bare open, to the harsh realities of the world. Ramona saw the struggle her mother had to endure as a young widow, struggling hard to make both the ends meet. She did everything in her capacity to make life easier for her mother. Take care of the home and Adi while excelling in her academics.

True to her heart, Ramona followed her calling in life - Law! She quickly rose up the ranks to become one of the city´s most prominent lawyers. It gave her immense satisfaction to bring that elusive justice that was long delayed, finally to many innocent victims. She saw way too many cases of dowry deaths, domestic violence, in-laws harassment etc., to bite the bullet, they call ´Arranged Marriage´.

And so, Ramona judiciously avoided jumping into the Arranged Marriage bandwagon, like it was some deadly social disease or plague. She understood that the institution wasn’t kind and accommodating of women with her temperament and in her situation. In fact, the wise, age-old institution of ´Arranged Marriage´ preys upon the weakness of women caught in her similar circumstances.

A fatherless daughter!

An old widowed mother!

A mentally handicapped brother!

It would hardly matter that she was a highly educated and successful professional lawyer. She was still a burden to be shouldered life-long. She was the perfect victim to exploit, monetarily and otherwise by any crooked groom party.

Despite its attractive perks of life-long respectability, honour, security, family support and commitment, the honey trappings and baggage that came dubiously along with ´Arranged Marriage´ were simply not worth it. She was no fool to walk with blinders on, straight into that golden cage. However, expensive its worth was! Her independence, her value and voice were far more priceless.

“Maa! I would love to but not at the cost of leaving Adi and you.” said Ramona.

Adi and her mother were not just her world but also her responsibility. There was no way; she was ever going to abandon them for the sake of marriage.

“I received a marriage proposal for you, recommended by my friend, Seema. The guy´s name is Ronav, a Harvard graduate and a successful entrepreneur. Seema says you both will make a match that is ´made in heaven´. The only problem is that he is a widower with two children.´, said her mother.”

“How is that a problem, Maa?” laughed Ramona.

”Well! It´s not, if you are okay with it. So, what should I respond?” asked her mother earnestly.

”Maa! I guess there´s no harm in meeting someone.” smiled Ramona.

Ramona and Ronav decided to meet up at a coffee shop. Ronav was a tall and handsome man, with a distinguished air of sophistication. He was courteous and friendly.

“At 35, How come you haven´t found any worthy man for yourself as yet?” asked Ronav.

“Mr.Ronav! If what you are really enquiring about is my past, if I am a virgin? Let me be straight up and say, I am not.” answered Ramona matter-of-factly.

Ronav almost choked on his hot coffee, biting his tongue hard, while managing to keep a straight face.

“No, that is not what I was suggesting.” he stuttered. “You’re right! Your past is none of my business. Now, I am sorry! Anyway, I heard you have apprehensions about the Arranged Marriage system.”

“To be frank, I quite like the practical approach of the institution….towards love and marriage. It is not the Arranged Marriage system per se which I detest, as much as the people who unscrupulously exploit the institution to suit their benefit.”

“What do you mean, Ramona? You seem to be contradicting yourself?”

”The system of Arranged Marriage prides itself on the success rate of marriages in this country. But at what cost! On one hand, it equates all women to ´Goddess Lakshmi´ and gives them an honourable status in the society and a sense of security. On the other hand, it kills unborn babies, strips girls of all value and strength and deems them as a burden, squashes all their aspirations and dreams to make them believe that marriage is their ultimate end goal in life, glorify and respect them only when they serve their socially approved role, which is that of the eternal martyr.”, Ramona spoke animatedly.

“Hmmmm!” Ronav listened in rapture.

“But what I hate and detest the most is that they murder her entire identity in the garb of tradition bunkum, erase her past as if it were insignificant and never existed. It is barbaric murder, you know! They kill the parent-daughter relationship once she is married as if she ceases to be a daughter anymore.  Of course, she is compensated generously with her new found parents - her in-laws.”, she laughs sarcastically. “New found parents.. whose permission she must take to visit her biological parents. What´s the word for that?”

“Are you asking me?” asked Ronav. “Ahhh.. you mean ´Paraya Dhan’.”

“Oh! Yes! That´s the word – ‘Paraya Dhan’! It infuriates every existing cell in my body. Why that is the man continues to be the son life-long but a woman ceases to be a daughter post marriage? The f&%% society also has the gall to change a woman´s surname. The concept should be rebranded as ´Papaya Dhan´ because that´s what they make us, all women look like - ´Freaking Oddball Papayas.´” she fumed with rage.

Ronak laughed out loud, caricaturing in his head - Ramona, the Papaya! “I’m sorry, again!” he said, back to his poker face, listening to Lady RaRa´s rants.

“They exploit the fact that women make loving and patient caregivers. If so, why can´t we take care of our own parents first? Isn´t charity supposed to begin at home? And I, freaking don´t care about any ´Papaya Dhan´ philosophies! I remain my parent´s daughter forever. We talk so much about women´s rights but what about our duties as well, especially towards our parents? The Arranged Marriage system is so shamelessly skewed in favour of the man´s family that it is pathetic. Everyone gets to be smart and practical about their long-term future except the bride in question. I choose to be practical like all the other stakeholders in the arranged marriage business deal. We are in the 21st century, Dude and such asinine practises should be excreted out of the system´s backside”, said Ramona.

“Ramona, I must admit that I appreciate and love your honesty and thoughts. I am glad to note that we are very similar in our outlook and approach to life. I was just as apprehensive as you were before meeting you. I have two beautiful children –a 10 year old daughter and 7 year old son. My wife died last year after finally succumbing to cancer, leaving behind a huge void in all our lives. When my mother brought me your proposal, I was not sure. The last thing I want for my children is a gold digger mother. I want a nurturing mother for them and a woman who loves me enough to be my wife. In you, I see a strong yet sensitive lady who will make a wonderful mother and a great role model for both my daughter and son. I am sure they will love you just as much as I do. You have my word that your mother and brother are my own. If you agree, Lawyer Sahibaan, we can take some time to get know each other before arriving at a final verdict”, Ronav winked.

Six months later, Ramona and Ronav got engaged. Monica was eager to see Ramona as the traditional bride and couldn't wait to dance till the wee hours of the morning at their wedding.

 “Babe! No one outshines the bride on her own wedding day. Not even her best friend. My marriage, my rules and I party the hardest”, warned Ramona.

“Hey Bhagwan! Kuch toh sharam kar! At least on your wedding day, pretend to be the bashful bride, you weirdo!” quipped Monica.

Both the women rolled on the floor, hugged tight while laughing and crying out loud at the same time. It was Childhood once more!

(This short story has been published on mycity4kids - https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/the-unbridled-bride-who-kicked-the-golden-cage and on Women´s Web - http://www.womensweb.in/2017/03/the-unbridled-bride-kicks-the-golden-cage/)
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