The pitter-patter of raindrops bring back memories of making paper boats, jumping in the puddle, taking a warm bath after getting drenched in the rain and of course relishing all the bhajiyas (fritters) in the world with a hot cup of chai. But hey, we forgot the most exciting part of this season – the rainbows and the greenery. It’s almost magical, isn’t it? As beautiful as the monsoon season is, lately it has been a cause of destruction and loss!
The coming of rains is always associated with prosperity, joy, and growth. Yet, in the past few years, it has been a cause of immense worry. The 2006 Mumbai floods, the Kedarnath tragedy, and the very recent cloudburst in Dharamshala – are just few of the instances. Curious to what led to the monsoon season being a cause of panic now-a-days?
If y’all are thinking, it is US, human beings: You’ve nailed it. While man was progressing, he completely forgot and abandoned nature. We took our resources for granted and never thoroughly sat down and understand the repercussions of our actions. Though there is a brighter side to this: It is not too late!
We are no climate change experts but here are some things all of us can do to avoid the further depletion of resources and thereby, climate change; so we can go back to enjoying rains and all other seasons to their fullest! And the best part is that these changes and practices are easily possible in the comfort of our homes.
Discard the paper: Yes, y’all read that right… but not completely! (Got y’all there!) Repurpose old clothes, tablecloths to use as kitchen towels, napkins instead of using paper tissues or paper towels.
Let’s compost: Did y’all know half of our waste in the trash can be composted? There are several ways by which we can get started. We can either start at our own home or through the the city municipality compost programs that allow residents to throw fruit and vegetable scarps in the green bin for yard cuttings.
Pull the plug: Don’t worry this isn’t what y’all are thinking. But it is definitely something all of us can and must do as a step towards a better tomorrow. Therefore, we must habitually unplug electronic devices once they are used as quarter of all residential energy comes from devices on idle power mode that is- sleeping mode which costs about $19 billion in electricity bills. (Imagine the money we’d save!)
Last but not the least –
Obsess over water usage: Want to help cities save energy and become more resilient in the face of natural calamities? Pay attention to water management. Reuse, reduce, and recycle water at all times. This is the most detrimental aspect to reverse climate change.
We are sure that if we do our bit, there is nothing stopping us. The only way to ensure that we enjoy our bhajiyas in any season for the years to come is by changing our ways and thinking about the nature too!
Light up the sky,
With a blink of an eye.
You say bye,
I say hi!
Unparallel thoughts always lead
To parallel roads.
My roads were in line.
Sweet or sour,
My memories glow
In a flow.
Every hit makes me fit.
I don’t know where to go
Yet, I want to flow.
I want both, the moon and the stars
To fill mystery
With some good history.
– By Arsalan Shaikh – G12 Science Student at Claylab
The uniqueness of our planet has been discussed for ages. Earth has been serving all kinds of life-forms since its very conception. It simply didn’t sustain life but in fact evolved over the years. Amongst the various life-forms, we, humans were given the most superior position in the ecosystem. We were given the onus to take care of this planet through our capabilities, mind power, and intelligence. The planet trusted us to be its guardian. The question is – are we doing the needful to live up to the responsibility endowed on us? Over the years, we have seen a steady decline of our beloved planet and yet, we haven’t really cared much about it. The supposedly, emotionally intelligent species is failing to understand the planet’s needs and requirements. Mother Nature has been kind to all of us in our tough times; now it is our chance to serve our highest responsibility and take care of our Earth.
This cannot be an event that is honoured or celebrated once a year on the 5th of June. Much like our planet, we have to be a conscious as global citizens. However, this might be a big responsibility to tackle all at once. Hence, we bring ya’ll a few things we all can do towards a better quality of life. These aren’t some complicated concepts but simple acts we can take up consciously to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our planet.
Low-flow showers: Well… do not be surprised but a ten minute shower uses up to 35 litres of water whereas, a bucket uses 50 litres… We just saved 15 litres of water by just being informed and educated about our appliances.
Cloth/Cane bags: Yes, this is an advice repeatedly given by governments and yet, we haven’t been able to change it. So, here’s the most common and helpful tip towards a greener planet.
Use containers: The easiest way to make a direct impact is via changing the way we store our food. Instead of one use plastic containers or zip-pouches, invest in Tupperware, metal or glass containers that are reusable. They are not only environment friendly but also keep perishable items fresh for a longer time.
Commute via public transport/Car-pooling: Pandemic being an exception, we must always opt for public transport or share our ride with our friends/colleagues. This directly leads to a reduction in the emission of harmful gases and usage of fuel. This is a cost effective solution as well.
Carry water bottles: Instead of purchasing mineral water every time we step out. We must make an aware decision by carrying our own bottles and refilling them through filters. The plastic used for mineral water bottles are of the cheapest quality and are non-biodegradable.
Buy less: Over the years, we have become hoarders. Where in the early stages of evolution man was always moving with absolutely no baggage; now we buy things we don’t need from the money might not have. This directly leads to an increase in the amount of eventual waste. Save time, money as well as the planet!
The list is a never-ending one. But let’s make these small changes for starters? Not just for the textbooks, but let us sincerely practice Reuse, Reduce and Recycle. Our Earth needs us now, more than ever!
It is no secret that life has drastically changed post the pandemic. Truth be told, we all know that it will take a while for things to go back to normal. All spheres of life have been impacted by the pandemic; some being positive and the others not so much. Apart from the millions of lives lost due to the virus, it has also taken away the social aspect of human life. Human beings are primarily social animals. Though, we have accustomed ourselves to do so through a screen, inherently we aren’t designed for the same over a long period of time. One of the most affected sectors due to the pandemic is the education sector.
Schools and colleges not only enable children to learn and grow but give them memories and opportunities of a lifetime. It is the first place where children form independent relationships and opinions. Apart from the education aspect, an educational institution plays a critical role in the overall development of a child. The pandemic has robbed away the social benefits of being a part of a school/college. But in these trying times we must remember that we ought to make the best of what we have. Of course it is a challenging situation, but hey, it is not the end of the world and we have the boon of social media.
We can understand the plight of today’s kids and teachers who are coping with this change of learning virtually. Keeping that in mind, here are 5 tips to make virtual learning fun and easy for all children and teachers out there!
- Form clubs: The idea of clubs isn’t new. Prior to the pandemic, various types of clubs like – book club, dance club, movie club and so on… were an integral part of school system. Well… this could be continued virtually as well. Children can create their own clubs and have activities for the same. This will not only act as a stress buster from all the virtual learning but also give all of them an opportunity to interact and stay in touch with their peers.
- Lunch breaks: One of the most exciting times during school is the recess. During this break they love to meet and chat with their friends and classmates. This tradition could very well be continued virtually where the children should be allowed to interact and eat their food while chatting and catching up with peers. This will allow them to build relationships beyond commonality of simply being classmates.
- Music: It has the power to change moods in a second. This one is a small but significant step towards making virtual learning fun. Teachers could start the day with a song. It could be a favourite song of each student on different days. This could change the atmosphere of the class and take the monotony away.
- Talent shows: The most thrilling times in school were annual gatherings and talent shows. These should be continued as virtual shows as well, this will help the kid to broaden his/her horizon and showcase his/her talents. The inclusion and exhibition of extracurricular activities help children to express themselves.
- Games and quizzes: Education is also about being in touch with all the latest happenings in the world. Usually, school competitions motivate kids to do so. This activity could be an effective tool in terms of providing a wholesome education without boredom. It would encourage them to go beyond books and they will look forward to attending virtual learning.
We understand that it will never be the same, but come on; this is something, isn’t it? Desperate times call for desperate measures. We all need to just try to make the best of what we have in hand.
All of us at Claylab constantly strive to make our classes exciting. Besides academics we try to include as many activities as possible. We create an interactive session for everyone to be comfortable with the process. The most important aspect of our virtual learning and teaching sessions is our counselling sessions with our students. This helps us to identify and address any issue faced by the children. We hope to give our best and enable our children with all the tools required for the real world.
New Year, new challenges… that is what we thought when 2021 began. Three months into the year and we realized nothing is changing anytime soon. We are in another year for sure but the challenges remain the same. The pandemic tamed our minds last year but this year it is here to kick us in our gut. The second wave as many like to call it; was sudden, mutated and if that wasn’t enough, deadlier than before. Governments are at a loss in terms of the course of action hereon. Economies are struggling, people are being laid off, young kids are succumbing to depression; it is a choke block situation. Though the things do not look very promising, here’s a thought – all great comedies come out of tragedies.
The concept of humour arises from an incident/situation gone completely wrong. Humour is not independent of loss but is coping mechanism towards acceptance. When things do not pan out as planned every individual has two choices: 1. to mull over the situation, stress about it and wait for things to get better or 2. Understand that this is beyond my control, make fun of it and think about the next step. The second wave of pandemic puts us exactly in this premise, where we have two choices; either we give up or simply watch it as a spectator and understand that there is only this much we can control. Hence, the first step to survive the second wave of the pandemic is to understand that this situation is greater than us. So don’t forget to laugh a little louder!
All of us go through highs and lows in life. Some days are great and the others not so much; but the amazing part is – nothing is permanent. No feeling or emotion lasts forever. It is easy to give up on a situation and feel sorry for yourself but it takes immense courage to stand tall in an adverse situation and fight it. Though things may not look up right now, they soon will.
Remember: Hope is a good thing, maybe best of the things and no good thing ever dies. – Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption).
Last but not the least, let us strive to be better human beings and learn the art of gratitude. When a calamity occurs on a large scale like the Covid-19, it is often to teach humanity a thing or two. Though we are the most gifted species on the planet, there is no end to our greed and to satisfy it we disrupt nature by our actions. Times like these are here to remind us to count our blessings and be grateful for everything that we took for granted so far. Let’s stop cussing and sulking about things that we don’t have!
Lastly: ‘Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.’ – Rainer Maria Rilke
If you allow yourself to imagine what 30 years from today is going to be like, give yourself a minute…. You can’t. At least not as well as you would have thought you could have, two years ago.
2020 A.D. taught all of us that no matter how hard we try and how accurate we think we will be, there is always going to be an element of absolute uncertainty when it comes to our world and more importantly, our lives. Truth be told, the best analysts hadn’t been able to predict the immense impacts on our lives, when nature struck back. The best business people couldn’t help but watch as bottom-lines no longer mattered when lives were on the line. And most importantly, our conviction in how “invincible” we are as a race, was thrown out of the window …. In the matter of a few long weeks.
While we are not here to bash at the species we all belong to, none of us can deny calling these spades… well, spades. That said, the resilience of human kind also came through last year, as most of us turned to finally cleaning out otherwise ignored corners of our houses; attempting to get back in shape and of course, creating one too many #dalgona coffees. More bathroom-singers (and dancers) than ever before, decided to leave their bathrooms behind and a mask-glove combination became the new “key to my lock”.
We saw kindness from strangers and the real faces of those, once most revered. The year gave us a chance to hit pause and reset like never before, all while sharing the common fear for a virus which by itself, isn’t even alive!
A lot of us were also brought to a binding halt in activities we considered a part of our identities. Frontline workers finally began getting the recognition they had always deserved and we were all made to revisit what we considered “essential”.
Then of course, has come 2021 where all over the world, people seem to be chasing what they deem a “new normal” – and yet so many of us are hoping this “new” is as close to the “old” as it gets. While all of us wait and watch to see how things pan out, if nothing else, let this blog be a reminder to you that:
Though the pandemic is not over yet, we’ve come far as a global community, to stand together and that is worth loving and celebrating.
How productive you are while staying at home, isn’t what is making you a hero. The fact that you are staying home, is.
As Murphy’s Law says, in life, more often than not, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Might as well get used to it and make the most of what we can.
This is why, we hope you remember to find little things to keep you anchored: Your morning coffee. The chirping of birds outside. The chance to walk in large empty spaces in nature like gardens or isolated hill tops. Art – of any kind… because sure, there are a LOT of things to bring us down – 2021 or not, but it’s up to each of us to decide: Do I still have a second to stop and smell the roses?
We certainly hope you do.
One of the greatest gifts humans have is their ability to adapt to change. It would be fair to say that 2020 challenged this ability of ours and pushed us into an unknown territory. We were hit by Covid-19 from all directions possible; people lost loved ones, some lost jobs and all of us at some point lost our mind. We had to change quickly and drastically. The scariest part was the realisation that the changes were not a temporary adjustment but the new normal. Though every sector of the society is dealing with the after effects of the virus, the education sector had to transform itself right from scratch. Both, the students and the teachers had to unlearn all formal training with respect to learning and teaching. Let us not forget that the pandemic came right in the middle of the competitive exams. Schools were shut and 285 million young learners in India were left clueless in terms of what is next!
Initially, only a handful of private schools could adopt online teaching methods. But their counterparts, on the other hand, were completely shut down for not having access to e-learning solutions. But over the period of time the government and institutions together came up with means to digitalise the entire learning and teaching process. Open-source digital learning solutions and Learning management software helped teachers conduct classes online; one of the greatest examples is the DIKSHA platform. It has helped to integrate the Indian education system across various states. Though these changes took some time they equipped the stakeholders in the education sector with the latest technological tools.
On most days we cannot understand this but the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. India is trying to digitalise itself for the past decade but the pandemic pushed us to fasten that process and upgrade our knowledge and skills. The chalk-talk teaching model was transformed to one driven with technology. Often the chalk-talk teaching has limitations in terms of being creative or for that matter explaining concepts with ease. But with technology the content is interactive, less tedious and more importantly, engaging. The Indian education system is the most diverse and largest in the world. Therefore, it is essential to establish quality assurance mechanisms that will ensure consistent and standard e-learning platforms for both, students and teachers across the country.
The new normal of the education system has empowered teachers by equipping them with all the necessary tools to make learning fun and interesting. It has also helped the students to express themselves clearly and without much hesitation. A student who would be uncomfortable expressing himself in a physical classroom is now able to state his doubts without much ado in a virtual class. Of course, we are all missing out on some physical interaction and students did have a tough time initially, grappling with the new system but guess what… We are getting there!
This is why we at Claylab constantly try to assist our students to get the best education irrespective of the situation; via using audio-visual tools, models, one on one counselling sessions and more. Having said that, we also recognise that academics is just a small part education, which is so much more. This is why we attempt to provide our students with all the necessary tools to develop their personality… for Pandemic or not, the show must go on!
Together we are, forever we’ll be,
Why be afraid
When everything can be sought out easily.
One day we’ll surely taste victory!
Life is a gift,
Obviously there will be twists.
So let’s accept the challenge and overcome it.
Let us collect our hope together,
Bring our hands closer to our heart,
Convincing ourselves that it is just a small part.
Dream higher and hope that the future will be bright,
Bestow us with never-ending joy which will turn out to be right.
Why go out in search of pleasure,
Stay home, our families are a treasure.
The smile that they bring on our face,
One that can never be erased.
The leisure that they provide,
Will always stay in our heart
They’ll always be our guide.
At the end of the day family is all we’ve got,
To look after each other,
To comfort each other,
That everything will be fine,
And one day this lost country would be mine!
– Aliza, student at Claylab
India… She is not just any country on the map. Whenever we think about India, we instinctively think about culture, heritage, colour, food, music, people and everything that signifies life. Though we are in the twenty first century, India possesses the unique quality of being absolutely timeless yet, evolving. Indeed, all countries are special but not all of them are as ancient as India. The beauty of that is: our countrymen discovered and practiced many techniques…or hacks (as the millennial call it) to life, long before other civilizations developed, or for that matter, even came into existence. One of the most marvellous techniques was the way we kept track of months and thereby, years – a practice that has been around from about 1000 BC. It has twelve months, much like our English calendar; but here’s the interesting part: it is based on twelve lunar months; i.e. twelve full cycles of phases of the moon. It comes as no surprise that this system is popularly known as the Ancient Indian Calendar.
As we approach month of March, which according to the Indian calendar are – Phalguna and Chaitra. (The Indian calendar is a tad bit different). Phalguna is the last month of the year and Chaitra is the first month of the year. Similar to the English calendar, the first month of the year is about welcoming and celebrating new beginnings. It commences from the twenty second of March. Chaitra is considered auspicious as it is believed that it was in this month that the creation of the universe began. It is associated with the coming of spring; the season when Earth comes to life again. The flowers begin to bloom, animals start to wake up from hibernation, farmers plant their seeds and temperatures slowly begin to rise.
The festival of colours, Holi is celebrated on a full moon day, six days prior to the New Year, welcoming the month of Chaitra. The first day of Chaitra is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Ugadi in Karnataka, the list is endless…Some other important festivals that people celebrate during this month are: Ram Navmi – celebrated on the ninth day of the month, Chaitra Navratri and Hanuman Jayanti that falls on the last day(full moon day) of Chaitra. Chaitra literally means spring. It refers to starting afresh and embracing all the newness the coming year brings. One of the most prominent festivals of this month is, Chaitra Navratri. An important facet of this festival is fasting. Hence, during this time people consume food items like: sago (sabudana), buckwheat, nuts, dry fruits, seasonal fruits etc.
Having said all of the above, it is just not us Indians who love this month. In the Roman calendar, March is the first month of the year as well. It marks the beginning of spring, much like our Indian system. It is a historically significant month as the eighth of March is celebrated as International Women’s day across the globe. It focuses on the rights of women and pays a tribute to women who are fighting every day for equality, justice and opportunity.
Isn’t our Indian calendar intriguing? Apart from India, several other South Asian, European and Islamic countries follow the Indian ancient calendar. It is great how we seek to know everything about the world and we must always keep learning and growing but it is fundamental to stay connected to our roots. As far as the month of March/Chaitra is concerned –
‘Springtime is the land of awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.’ – Lewis Grizzard
She feels depressed and low, like everyone else when an unfortunate situation occurs in life. Yet, rarely does she have someone to share her feelings with. All she needs to know in her times of despair is that she is not alone. There’s thousands of people, who are alone and just like her. And that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes.
And all I would want to say to her when a problem prolongs and remains unresolved is that talk to someone about it. Once she does that, she’ll feel absolutely relaxed and at ease. Always remember that if we control our thinking we could always make things better.
I wish she just sits with herself, does what she likes and when nothing helps I hope she talks to me. I hope she know I’m always with her. One hug and all her pain will cease to exist. A hug from me that will assure her that she is not alone in the family and that all of us exist because of her.
As I write this for her, I am very grateful to the day when she gave me birth, because she makes me proud every single day. It is because of her that I can achieve things. On that note, I would like to do something for her and that is, I would like to listen to her and help her achieve her goals throughout her life. She is the best the way she is because she inspires me, her daughter. I love her loads.
I just want her to remember: Mom you are never alone.
– Aliza, student at Claylab
Ludwig Feuerbach, a German philosopher, was the man who first coined the phrase ‘We are what we eat,’ during the turmoil of the German Revolution in 1848. Fast forward to the twenty first century, the entire narrative of health is around food. Today, both, mind and the body are of equal importance while determining how healthy a person is. After numerous researches, it has been observed that Feuerbach was indeed right! Our health, physical and mental, is largely influenced by the food we eat. The importance of food is known to mankind since time immemorial, but it is only recently that we have understood its impact.
Over the past few years, food scientists, chefs, have attempted to understand the connection between food and mental health. The nutritional value of what we eat and drink determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, hormones, skin and hair. Our body replaces millions of cells every day and this is done by using the food that we consume, hence, the emphasis on a well-balanced diet. It not only results in a healthy body but also makes us feel good. Eating right helps reduce the chance of chronic diseases thereby, improving the lifestyle and state of mind of an individual. Having said that, one rule does not fit all. Applying the commonly accepted recommendations such as, low sugar, low salt and consumption of a meal with most nutrients is advisable for all of us.
One of the important aspects of consumption is the quantity we eat but how we process the food is perhaps even more critical. This is known as the ‘brain-gut connection.’ There are thousands of sensors that our gut uses to process all the information from the food we eat. On the basis of that information our moods and feelings are regulated thereby, affecting all the body process like digestion, circulation and excretion. For instance, if we are having a great meal with a friend and suddenly we engage in some sort of an argument with them, we feel nauseous and giddy; we often label this feeling as a ‘pit in the stomach.’ An extension of the same could be severe stomach ache or indigestion. Even when we are eating by ourselves there is continuous internal dialogue that is active in our brain. We aren’t necessarily focused on the food we are eating and are distracted by the million thoughts playing in our head. This leads to indigestion and a ruining of the overall experience of a meal.
When we feel intense emotions such as anxiety, stress, our regular digestive process will be altered by hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol. Contrarily, if we have too much sugar the dopamine makes us lazy and unproductive, leading to severe lethargy and restlessness. Hence, it is often suggested that one must pay complete attention while consuming food as our gut sends the strongest messages to our brain’s emotional centres. We can do so by being more aware of all the little aspects of eating such as – smelling, chewing, seeing and swallowing. This is known as ‘mindful eating.’ Several trials indicated that people, who practiced this, reduced compulsive habits, improved self-control, diminished depressive symptoms and maintained a healthy body weight.
All we must remember is that what we eat and how we eat influences what we become. It is not just about satisfying hunger, but doing so with diligence and awareness.
We are indeed much more than just what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us be much more than what we are.
In the silence of the dark sky amidst the twinkling stars, I am grateful and looking forward to everything that this year has to offer. Firstly, I would pray that the year begin for all of us with our near and dear ones. I hope this year we will get to light up the skies on festivals, watch the sun rise, and set alongside our loved ones. Personally, I am looking forward to all the discoveries and inventions that might happen this year.
I am looking forward to all the inspirational stories of people hustling and making it big. Someone who probably struggled with basic access to the system will crack NEET exam, be an IAS officer or whatever he/she aspires to be. I hope that more women shatter the glass ceiling and make way for all those young women who dare to dream. Moreover, we as a race leave behind all our previous achievements and set a new benchmark for greatness and glory. A year where startups rule the world and young minds take over companies like Apple, Reliance and many more.
Apart from all these materialistic gains I dream of a year where people are charitable not for credit but for the sake of the greater good of humanity. Once we set on the path of compassion as a community, Sir Rabindranath Tagore will be pleased as he hoped for having an undivided world where the same stream flows everywhere and everyone gets the same water, and dead habits are just a myth. Our national anthem will be truly honoured if live by these principles in the coming year. I am positive that this year there will be a new awakening of consciousness and people will save the world and bring in peace and unity for everyone, and fulfill Kailash Satyarth dream of a happy and united world.
I wish that this year people learn to love and share. There will be fewer children on the streets suffering on a chilly night and nobody going hungry to bed. This year too, will have its share of hardships but truth will prevail. Much like the moon, there will be patches that are not so beautiful but it will also have its gleaming moonlight that will take the world towards enlightenment.
– Mariyam Mirza, student at Claylab