The Essence of Eid

I have always been celebrating Eid ever since I was a child.  My parents made it a point to celebrate it every year so that I had an exposure to being part of two religious communities. Every year my father would go to the mosque in the morning and after his return my parents would give me Eidi, which is a tradition for elders to give the children some money on Eid morning. Then we would either celebrate the day by having lunch with my paternal cousins or have a small lunch at home with all the traditional Eid sweets. This year however I got to celebrate the festival with my paternal family who celebrate this day with great gusto and excitement. Finally, the day arrived, and I had a marvellous time. With food being cooked and served every two minutes and the fun I had with my cousins, I could easily say that was the best part was the day. However, it was a different sense that made my Eid better. It was the undeniable sense of community that was there. The sense of community is unfortunately something I as a child living in Delhi have never experienced. Everybody in the tiny town got together to celebrate, even those who weren’t Muslim. Everyone decorated and ate together and there was a sense of everyone being together and happy, even if it was only for one day. All anger is forgotten, and a sense of fraternity is created.

That is the true essence of Eid.

 

My Trip to Agra

I recently travelled to Agra on a school trip and I visited two of Agra’s famous sites Taj Mahal and the Agra fort.

The Taj Mahal

It goes without saying that the Taj Mahal can easily be one of the most beautiful and famous Indian monument. Its beauty and grandness are something that can make anyone gasp with wonder, but what made me the most interested was the story behind this building. This monument is not a palace or castle, but a tomb built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. The queen, when alive, had been given many names but the one that stuck was Mumtaz mahal meaning “beloved ornament of the palace”.  She was his chief queen as she gave the king 14 children out of which Aurangzeb became the king. Her dying wish was to have a unique structure to be built-in her memory and thus the Taj Mahal was made.  This story was a familiar one to me as I had been told this story many times as a child and it remains one of the best stories I have ever heard of.

The Agra fort.

The Agra fort was built by Akbar the great, the most famous Mughal king. This for has many sections with rooms that were used by four generation of Mughal kings. Each room has been preserved and kept clean for tourists to visit and each room has grand chandeliers preserved and thousands of painting put up for display. My favourite room was king Shah Jahan’s prison. Now if you haven’t heard of the tale behind this room let me tell. Aurangzeb was very eager to become king and soon after the Taj was built he couldn’t wait till his father died to become king, so he went to war with his older brothers, killed them all, imprisoned his father and became king. Shah Jahan’s prison was much grander than any average prison. He was after all, of royal blood. His “prison” consisted of a bedroom with a balcony facing the Taj, a bathroom, a garden with a fountain, a room full of glass mirrors and a large part of the fort where he could roam around freely. Then nearly eight years after Shah Jahan was imprisoned, the king passed away looking at his beloved Taj Mahal.

My trip to Agra was an eye-opening experience. I saw and learnt things I will never forget. Hope you liked my short write-up!

My Father’s Childhood Tales

  When I was visiting my grandma during my holidays, I was told some interesting stories about my father when he was a child. I had already heard that my dad was a naughty child but this time I got to hear some of his childhood tales! These stories have been told to me ever since I was five years old and everytime I hear them, it is like I am hearing about a new person all together! 

 Never mess with a monkey

 When my father was living in Gorakhpur, his friend and him decided to do the best thing two kids could do when they are bored, they decided to kidnap a baby monkey to keep as a pet. Considering the two were no more than five-year olds, they did not think about the consequences at all. The place was filled with monkeys, so one day my dad and his friends crept up behind a group of monkeys and scared them away and left one baby monkey cornered. The two were proud of their accomplishment but that feeling quickly fizzled out when they saw that one of the biggest monkeys had been standing behind them the whole while and she was not happy. My father’s friend quickly ran away leaving my dad to face the music. By the time my dad was rescued from the monkey’s clutches he had been badly beaten up, but the monkey was nothing compared to my grandmother when she found out about what had happened. She scolded my dad for acting careless and doing such a pointless and dangerous thing. To this date this story has been told to me so many times and I have also learnt an important lesson, think before you act and never mess with a monkey!

The unfortunate blade eater.

Once my father was playing with a sharpener with my aunt. My aunt was a young one year old, so she just watched my dad use a screwdriver to open the sharpener. My aunt was a curious baby, so she did the first thing she could think of and she swallowed the blade of the sharpener! My father panicked and ran to my grandpa who in turn ran to the doctor. The doctor told my grandparents and my father that there were only two ways to get rid of the blade, one was via surgery and one option was to keep feeding my aunt bananas till the blade came out the natural route, and thus began the great banana fest! My aunt was fed bananas day after day and every time she used the bathroom my grandpa would see if the blade had come out. Luckily on the fourth day the glistening blade had come out and my aunt was unharmed. So, any time you play with sharp objects, make sure you keep it away from any curious (and hungry) children!

The laddoo eaters.

 Whenever there was a festival or function in my dad’s school there would always be sweets kept for people to snack on. The best sweet would obviously be the delicious laddoos, a special delicacy of India. My dad and his friend were both very hungry that day, so they decided to steal some laddoos to eat during the function. Alas! The window next to which the sweets were kept was far beyond any of their reach, so they decided to climb on top of each other to reach the treasure waiting for them on top! Just as my dad, who was standing on top of his friend’ shoulders, grabbed one of the sweets, he was pulled down by his mother who had caught sight of the two thieves and dragged them to their respective fathers. The rest, they say, is history!

A Visit to the Doctor

My eyes are red and closed tight,

My knees are shaking and my face is white,

As I sit on the cold seat, I think

Oh dear I’m surely dead meat!

The doctor approaches, his teeth a shiny gleam.

He walks a little closer. I utter a scream

There it was, a needle as sharp as a knife

I tremble. my body drained of its life

The needle was inches from my skin

And there it went, smoothly in

I scream and shout with all my might,

I must have made quite a sight

Three seconds later the doctor says ” All done!”

His face as red as the  afternoon sun

He cries “Now time for the second one!”

What’s Perfect Anyways?

 

 “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind”

When I first read this quote, I was an immature fifth grader and these words meant nothing to me. It was only when I experienced tough situations of my own did I understand the meaning of this quote. Some people feel that this quote only implies to people with ‘unusual problems’ like Auggie, from the book where this quote comes from. However, I disagree. This quote not only means being kind to people who others force you to believe need sympathy but anyone or anything. Kindness to me is like a medicine, people say they do not want it but inside they know that they need it. The choice between being right and being wrong for the sake of being “kind” is a choice no person can make easily, but being right and hurting someone’s feelings can also make you feel ten times worse than being wrong but kind. That is why I believe that this quote is one that can make a difference in the way people behave.

An example can be if there is a certain child who is from an underprivileged background and he/she has joined a school. The child is less clever and cannot read as well as the other students who come from privileged backgrounds. Initially during classes, the child is getting lower marks compared to others. In this situation the teacher has two ways to approach the child and give him/her the feedback. The teacher can either tell the child in the same way he/she tells other students, writing a strict note to the parents with the truth written in clear words ‘Your child is unable to perform properly etc.’, which is the ‘right’ way. Or he/she could take the “kind” approach and give the child a gentle and empathetic feedback and let the child know what he/she needs to do better without making the child feel bad. The reason here is a simple one, the child is less experienced than the other students who come from privileged backgrounds, thus initially he/she has difficulty in scoring higher marks or doing as good as the other students. Thus, the approach, I feel, should be the kind one in this case.

Another example of a situation which would be better if people were kind would be from the book ‘Fish in a Tree’, which is about a girl who is dyslexic and is treated like an outsider because of this by the students and teachers alike, causing her to start feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. Only one teacher and student pair are kind to her and notice the true artist that is hidden behind the taunted girl.

“I come with no wrapping or fancy bows.

I am who I am, from my head to my toes.

I tend to get loud when speaking my mind.

Even a little crazy sometimes

Mistakes are human or so that’s what they say.

Well, tell me what’s perfect anyways?”

I had written this essay as a submission for a writing competition organized by Readomania. The article I wrote was also selected as the top ten most promising writeups and I also won a scholarship to a Writer’s Retreat. Noted author Siddartha Gigoo was also one of the judges and was part of the writers’ retreat.

https://www.readomania.com/story/whats-perfect-anyways

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Greek Holiday: Athens

I recently went to the country Greece for my summer holidays. I have always wanted to visit Greece after reading about it and devouring Greek mythology. I visited Athens and Santorini, two of the most popular place to go to in Greece, I would be happy to share my adventure with you!!
My trip started of when I landed in Athens at midnight. I was too excited to be asleep and my parents and grandmother were quite annoyed with my constant chatter. But our host was amused at my interest in greek history. I was delighted to see that our hotel was quite near the main city tourist spots. It was a wonderful location.
The next day we visited the main square of Athens Monasthiraki square. We, my parents,my grandmother , our host, Mr. Lampros and me, had a walking tour of the area near our home. We saw the roman market, ancient agora, the parliament house, the place where the great Socrates gave his speeches and many more places. It was amazing. I met my aunt who had come from USA and we went home.
The next day we went to the ancient temple of Apollo. The name is the temple of Apollo or the oracle of Delphi. Some quick history…he oracle of Delphi was the place where the god who could see the future, Apollo, would send his predictions down to earth and the person who received the messages, the priest, would then pass the prediction on to the mortals waiting to hear!
There was a lot of climbing after we finished the tour of the Delphi museum. The ancient Greeks built there temples way up hill. The same thing for the Parthenon which we were going to visit the next day. But in the end it was worth every bit of it. The view of the oracle was stunning and made me very happy. After a few (..thousand!) images me and my family were back in Athens to rest after this long journey.
You just cannot visit Athens without seeing the acropolis!! It is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel tower. That is what me and my family were going to do today! We headed off to the acropolis centre at around breakfast. After a quick bite at a local café, we ready to climb the acropolis hill. And as I mentioned earlier, there was a LOT OF CLIMBING!!! Me and my dad sprinted ahead and my mom and aunt were a couple of steps away. My grandma decided to stay back and watch us climb. Around an hour later me and my dad reached the top of the acropolis hill where the acropolis,
The Parthenon and main temple of Athena was situated. This was the best thing I had ever seen and all the climbing was quite worth it. I was thrilled at the sight of the beautiful remains of the ancient greek temples, I felt so happy and in a way satisfied because I knew that all the preparation and reading I had been doing on this acropolis was all true. The way back down was easy and all of us were very cheerful and decided to do some shopping in the acropolis museum. I bought a beautiful headband that looked exactly like a wreathe. We caught up with my grandma who had already started going through the museum and saw all the artefacts and extravaganza that the acropolis museum had for us. We all headed back after the museum to the hotel rest after this truly amazing day!!!

The Greedy King

The king sat on the table for a breakfast he liked most,

he ordered scramled eggs and ham with cherry jam on toast.

He also ordered six cakes to see what the baker bakes,

Then he added chocolate sauce and gave a little pause.

He walked to the garden wth the sun shining on his face,

But coz of the amount he ate, slowly weakened his pace.

Alas! He tripped and fell in a hole,

and as he hit his head he thought of food more and more!

Wonder by R.J.Palacio

Ever thought on how it would be like to have an extraordinary face? Maybe a few scars or a cut lip? In “Wonder”, you can see the world through the eyes of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.

August Pullman is a normal 11 year old boy who has a disease which causes him to have a abnormal face. In this story his parents decide to send him to school for the first time. August or Auggie ,as he commonly referred to as, quickly makes friends with a boy named Jack and a girl named Summer. Through the story we learn more about him and his life. I feel like R.J Palacio wrote this book in a wonderful and heartwarming way.

In life I feel you can also use this story as a motivation. I am sure you have in one point of life felt unsure of your appearance or if you are not ‘good’ enough. Than to that, I say if Auggie an extraordinary boy could do it..the why can’t you?

If you want to learn more about this story please buy this book. If I could rate this book Wonder I would give it a 10/10 for its lovely story and unforgettable characters.

The Lonely Lantern

“Said the solders to his men ‘lets go near the river’,
The war was on, blood was shed and masses would shiver,
To Mekong they went, tired they sat,
In the water went a lantern all lit,
It bobbed and swayed and dipped along,
It reminded the men of a beautiful song,
They thought of the days gone by,
When the mothers wail and the children cry,
War brings pain and misery all around,
Let the peace and happiness of this world abound.”