Sunday, March 29, 2015

Soul Sister

It seems like a time from another age when I met Prachi. I was 14 and our class 9 session had just started. I entered a brand new class and my friends pointed out to this new girl who was sitting on a bench taking down the schedule from the time-table.

I had seen this girl before the same morning. My tempo had passed her house and her parents spoke to the driver for her ‘admission’ in our vehicle. Without any hesitation, I went to her bench and introduced myself. I sat next to her and helped her note down the schedule.

I must have taken her phone no. as well, because I called her the very same day to ask for, guess what – the time table for the next day! That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and I am so glad I remember the details.

I already had a best friend at that time. And somehow adding another one to the list didn’t seem feasible. But I remember Prachi being on my side always. We sat one behind the other in class and shared notes, jokes and everything in between. I had a crush on this boy in the same class. Every now and then I would ask Prachi if he was looking at me and she would check. At the risk of being killed after writing this, I think, I think, maybe she was my b%$#H!

We were in the same tempo as well. So she knew more than everyone else. Since my surname was Punjabi, boys from my class use to tease me with it. Once they posted a label behind the vehicle saying ‘Punjab ka tempo’. Another time they came to play holi and it was the weirdest scene. And Prachi, she was there witnessing the drama, feeding everything in her memory to torture me later with it.

We even had a tiny crush on a boy who use to pass by our tempo every single day. Since he was a stranger, we named him Strawberry. Ah, those days!

Unfortunately, within two years we changed our school. She made new friends, I made a few as well. But somehow our friendship stuck. I remember being jealous of the new friends too. I remember how tight we were even at that time because of a certain phase. She met with an accident and had her leg plastered. Even in that state, she walked around her colony to look for a boy’s house that I was hunting! Only a bestie would do something like that.

After a gap of two years, we entered graduation and got back together again. Her friends and my friends became OUR friends. We became a close knit group and remain together even now.

College was a wonderful time. Her father picked us every morning and my driver took us back in the afternoon. So the tempo and school trend continued and we were always together. Unless we sneaked out for our respective dates, we were inseparable…

Even after graduation we didn’t leave each other’s side. I mean it was not intentional. It just happened that we started freelancing for the same newspaper, went to the same MBA coaching, filled out the same forms for Post-graduation; oh, there is too much history to write here!

I remember crying my heart out in front of her. I remember laughing till a little pee came out. I remember talking endlessly on phone. I remember her watch me blush. I remember seeing her cough before every exam. I remember her falling in love. I remember her break-up. And I remember her get married after sharing hundreds of emails on prospective grooms..

We’ve shared every bit of information that could possibly be shared between friends. We’ve stood by each other in times of need. We’ve pulled each other’s leg. We’ve bunked classes. We’ve been together, then apart, then together, then apart…we’ve done it all. But strangely enough, we have never EVER fought.

As I write this, I feel how amazing our relationship has been. And now, she is going to have a precious bundle of joy come to her life. I wish her all the happiness in the world. We haven’t met since four years now and it’s torturous. It is the longest I can remember since we were 14…

I miss you my love!

From Left to right - Her friends and my friends becoming OUR friends(2004) - L, R, ME, PRACHI, Y

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blogging Nostalgia

Eight years ago my cousin asked me to start a blog. Even though I had finished my MBA just around that time, I had no clue what a blog was. Yes, the Indian education system is to be blamed!

Anyway, I thought I’ll write whatever comes to my mind. And so I wrote about books and movies and love and life. It was a wonderful time. I was not afraid of being judged. I had no stat counters to track if my blog was popular or not. There were no blogging communities. There was just a simple diary like structure on a public domain and somehow we managed to meet other bloggers.

The only awards we had back then were created by bloggers themselves. We tagged each other and put the other on a pedestal. The interviews were self-created. It was just like filling a scrap book and it was fun.

Time changed. I stumbled upon contests 2.5 years back and fell in love with them. My second or third contest participation won me a first prize of Rs. 10,000 voucher on Snapdeal. I literally had tears in my eyes!
You see, I live a humble life of a home-maker. My vocational writing is all I have. That is a choice I have made and absolutely stand by it. I have friends who love my writing, but seeing yourself being appreciated on a national platform is a thrilling experience on its own.

I use to write for the local newspaper when I was in college. We use to get Rs. 150 for an article. My father swelled with pride whenever he saw my by-line in the paper. And now, every member of my family feels proud when I win a contest. Frankly, they have no idea what I am doing online. But whatever it is, they feel extremely elated.

This year, blogging has gone to a whole new level. We had to praise a product for a contest only about once in a while, but now, there are campaigns every single week. I sometimes wonder if they take away the real essence of blogging – which was writing in a diary on a public domain. I feel weird writing about something that I have never seen or used on my tiny space in this online world. Sometimes I feel embarrassed as well!

And then there are times when I feel that it is all about exploring your creative side. Whether writing for yourself or writing for a product, we need to be true to ourselves and give our best shot. I do just that. I soak myself into a topic for some time before actually writing for it. There are moments when words don’t flow, and then I just let it be. The voucher takes out all the regret actually!

Things change with time and only those who accept these changes learn and grow. The rewards in those simpler times were different than they are now. Compliments that made your day are hard to find. But that feeling of satisfaction, that is not lost. And until we remain true to ourselves, I am sure that feeling would not go.

P.S. I am not editing this post, because that is how I use to write once upon a time. Ah, nostalgia!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Chaat on a rainy day
Pakoras too on the same day
With a hot cup of chai
If you haven’t done it yet, please do try

A low fat dish that tastes absolutely divine
A big chunk of chocolate, that’s absolutely mine
A scoop of ice-cream, a cup of pudding
A strong cup of coffee – ah, the joy it brings.

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

Waking up next to him each and every morning
Tight hugs and a little bit of kissing
Him teasing me, doing playful things
Keeping me on the ground, yet giving me wings.

Being treated like a princess
Being a girlfriend first and then the missus
Traveling the world, sharing our life
Happiness is -  being his wife!

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

Jumping on a plane to go to a new destination
Even buying the tickets, making a reservation.
Reaching there and exploring the place
Brings me happiness, joy on my face

The stay in a hotel, eating great meals
Traveling the world – awesome it feels
Planning, budgeting – it all comes alive
Love the fun activities, the long drives.

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

Writing a poem in twenty minutes
Writing everything – love it to bits
Then getting praised – it’s like icing on the cake
Writing about the world – writing my take.

Blogging is close, love it too
Have made a life here, friends too.
Every word here gives me immense joy
It is my first love, then comes the Boy!

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

The smell of wet sand
Freshly washed land
The touch of winter
Being close to nature.

The summer rush
The wind’s hush
Love the breeze on the first day of spring
Love the joy and peace it brings.

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

The sight of freshly cut grass
Roses in a line – that’s a different class
And the dancing tress
Oh, the humming bees!

When birds chirp at a distance
When plants grow on the fence
Eating a fruit straight from a plant
I love the nature’s beautiful chant.

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

Being close to nature,
Going on an adventure
Laughing with my friends
Rebuilding relationships, making amends.

Eating what my heart desires
Shopping – it never tires!
Love life and its smallest joys
Love the calm, love the noise.

These are the things that give me absolute bliss
These are the things that give me happiness.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On Being Passionate

Have you ever been obsessed with something? I have. Always.

People call me a control freak. I get tagged as a planner. They tell me I am selfish. Then there are those who love these attributes in a positive light. They say I give it my all. They say I have determination and courage and optimism to move ahead even if it is not working out. I just say that I am passionate about things.

I go crazy about simple things like diet and exercise. So much so that I plan my daily activities around this. There are days I don’t want to meet my friends because that will come between my ‘schedule’. I refuse to meander away from important things. Trust me when I say that no amount of exercise and diet has helped me so far. But in 32 years, I have not given up. I believe that it does help me in some way even if it is not visible right now. And I believe that one day it will bring about a change. Where do I get that positivity from? - from my passion of never giving up.

When we go for a vacation, I plan everything to the T. People say that I am missing out on spontaneity. Now you tell me one thing – do things always happen as we plan? So when things don’t work out at times, spontaneity comes naturally. I leave margin for error in my plans!!

I make excel sheets, I write down notes and I’m always calculating in my head. Yes, this does have a downside. It leads to stress when things deviate from their normal course of action. But I have learnt to deal with stress and not let it get into my head.

I was in 12th standard when this class-mate, from a family of astrologers, came to me. She looked at my hand and said I had no Luck line. She said that I will have total control over my life and things will happen like the way I want them to. I did not know what it meant then. I know now.

And frankly, I am very happy that God has given me the ability to work hard and achieve results without destiny coming in between. When I win something, people call me lucky. But do you know how much I obsess over a topic? When a contest comes around, I think about it for days before writing for it. If there is something related to a ‘Lucky Draw’, I just give my name and forget about it. Sometimes I do win, because no matter what the luck line says, I always take my chances.

I want to tell the world that we are what we are because of the things that drive us. You need to be crazy about what you love. It can be something as mundane as gardening and watching a seed grow into a beautiful plant. But find your passion. Put your mind into positive things and watch your life become better.

Right now, I’m obsessing over a writing project and loving it!! What about you?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Moving Forward With Optimism

Life is full of ups and downs. Happiness follows sadness and vice-versa. Some people get over that gloom quickly. Others tend to linger on and in turn miss the joyous moments as well.

I am the former types. Although I get stressed extremely quickly, I come out of it as easily. I have over-working tear glands. Whenever I am depressed, I start to cry. In 32 years I haven’t been able to control this emotion one bit. Sometimes I cry so much that it begins to make me worry. I tell myself how things can be so bad that I’m crying so much!

When I don’t get answers from within, I look outside. I’m happy to say that I have an unbelievable set of friends who not only sense that I am depressed, but also find ways to make me happy.

I remember this one time a few years ago when I was feeling completely disillusioned in life. I was giving it my all yet I was getting nothing in return. When success doesn’t follow hard-work, it is extremely painful. No matter what you tell yourself and how much previous gyaan you have, getting up after falling doesn’t seem to come naturally.

So ya, my friends sensed that I was not feeling too good and asked me to meet. I told them that I wanted to be lonely. But they did not listen to that. I love it when my friends force me to come out of my shell, it makes me feel free. So after much deliberation, I agreed to meet.

Obviously I put on a brave front when I met them. You can’t be a cry baby in front of the world. Even if they are your closest friends, you cannot keep talking about your problems. I think that just increases you problems and worsens the situations.

They know that I’m happy doing that. So none of them mentioned ‘how I was feeling’. They just went around doing their business and we had our regular chit-chat. In between our session we talked about life’s miseries and how people get over them.

With good laughter, deep thoughts, and amazing food, we ended our evening. It was a great day and I felt rejuvenated. I started to look at solutions rather than thinking too much about my problems. And that was the first step to achieving my goals.

I always tell people around me that loneliness is not the solution. Some people like to be left alone when they are sad. I don’t think you get ideas and motivation from being alone. You need to surround yourself with people you love, people who understand you and can make you feel optimistic.

I’m glad I have those people in my life. #together with them I feel alive and optimistic always!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Changing for the better

Life has taught us how to adapt to changes right from childhood. When we were kids, the only change that we were scared of was moving from one class to another. You know, we could lose friends in the process. And great teachers.

Growing up meant changing schools and colleges. The first day was always a challenge in a new place. You had to blend with a group of people who had a well-established friendship and who saw you as an outsider. But I always worked my charm around and successfully made new friends!

But the charm can always fade, and so, moving to a new place always made me scared. Me and the Boy started our married life in one apartment. We were new to the city and just knew a few of his bachelor friends. I had no clue what I had got myself into. Frankly, I had just lived in one city for the first 25 years of my life, this was an extremely new thing for me. But I had faith in us, and I knew it would all be fine.

After the initial few days we started to make friends in the building. They were all very different people and I didn’t know if I would get along. They were from different parts of India and had varied lifestyles. But that’s exactly what I had learned from changes in class, school and college – that you eventually start to like the differences and find rare gems in people. If we start to judge, we would never make friends.

And so I mingled around without trying to criticise anyone in my head.  Very soon I found that we had extremely loving neighbours who soon became our friends. I even found my best friend there whom I cherish from the bottom of my heart.

Very soon the Boy’s HRA increased and we thought of moving into a new,better house. That’s when I felt awfully scared. My friends here were a group of four, I was the only one moving out. If they wanted, they didn’t need to venture out to entertain themselves. What if our plan to #StartANewLife ended up in making me depressed and lonely in a new apartment? What if the physical distance made us emotionally distant as well?

Usually I love my space, but I can’t live without friends. I need atleast one or two confidants around me who love me and understand me unconditionally. This was indeed a challenge which we just had to undertake. With a heavy heart and lots of emotional drama, I moved into a new building.

I wouldn’t say this transition was smooth. It took me a while to get use to living away from them. But in that space, I found my renewed love for writing. I started to write much more than before because I had more free time in hand. Misunderstanding between friends happened in that phase, but our roots were tough and we emerged stronger than before.

It has been four years since I moved into this new space. I can safely say that my friendships have become much stronger than before. This change was challenging like all other transformations. But in the end, it taught me so much and made me a better person.

It also made me love changes. Even if I move into a new city today, I know I make the best friends who will always have my back.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Holi Hai!

Holi day - Morning

We usually get up early. You know, because who starts to play Holi in the afternoon? You just have to start by 10. So we get up and grab something to eat which would give us instant energy. The rest of your calories you can get from ghujiyas, samosas and kachoris that you will be served all day!

Holi day - Mid Morning

We go in the wash room and apply oil in every part of the body so that the color comes out fast. I don't know the logic behind it. And frankly, I have never played Holi without applying oil, so I don't know if it is just an illogical tradition or it really works.

But festivals are about traditions. Some of them you follow without questioning. Just like eating ghujiya on Holi and no other day! Anyway, we then wear old clothes and basically get ready for the day.

Holi day - Late morning

We play songs, the Holi songs in particular. The same Rang Barse sounds totally boring on any other day. But on Holi, Ang se Ang Lagana is not cheap. I, for one, put on loud music as soon as I get up. My favorite is the Anu Malik number - Do me a favour, let's play holiiiii!! LOL!

We start with putting color on our close family members - parents, siblings, spouse, kids.. and then the party begins.

Holi day - Early afternoon

Me and the Boy, we have lived in the Middle East for 6 years now. Ever since we have been playing Holi here. Thankfully we have a building which is not particularly rigid about rules. So they give us a permission to mess up their pool side. Every year, some 20 of us gather at the same spot and play Holi like jokers. I am telling you, even my family members back in India don't play the kind of Holi we do.

Apart from the regular gulal, someone sneaks in some eggs and tomatoes. Someone would be nasty enough to get pakka colour from India. This year, however, we were saved from eggs and tomatoes because we told people that the manager of the building will not let us play next year if we make that mess again. Somehow it worked!

Holi day - Late Afternoon

Your patience is tested. You go in the bathroom and scrub yourself for hours only to look like a clean monkey. The bathroom is dirty. Your clothes need to be washed before you give them away. And well, you are dead tired. All that scrubbing and hot water makes you feel very, very sleepy. Not to forget, that thandai you had while playing Holi starts to show its true colours!

Anyway, I don't mind all this. Holi is one festival that I totally love. It really does make you forget everything in the world. I had a terrible pain since the last two days. So much so, that I could not even walk around for long. But this Holi, my pain has vanished!! You shed inhibitions and just go for things. You eat, drink, dance, and paint each other red, blue and green. Sometimes I don't even know the person I am putting colour on. But this is what Holi is, it lets you make friends easily.

Everyone should celebrate this festival. It really is a day when you can forget all past hate and renew your relationship. Here is a snapshot from our day. Be scared!

Dimple Chin, Rosy Lips!

The following post is written for a promotional activity for Pampers.

Babies are the cutest. When they smile, you forget everything in the world. It’s clich├ęd, but it’s true. Haven’t you tried for yourself – whenever you are near a baby, you try your best to make her/him happy. And God forbid if he starts to cry, you just try to find the mommy so that you can hand the baby over to her.

So what are the things that can make a little one giggle and show their innocence? For starters -  a peek-a-boo session. I think all babies are born with a liking to peek-a-boo. No matter who, a sure way to make a baby happy is peek-a-boo! We’ve all done it – from behind the curtain, from under a blanket, from behind a door, you name it. No matter how many times you repeat the same thing, a baby doesn’t stop laughing. Even when he gets tired he puts on his fake smile and makes you happy!

Sometimes I feel babies laugh just to make the adult stop acting like a joker! Like when we do that sneezing action – I really don’t understand what it is in that jerky motion that makes a toddler laugh. Even when we laugh out loud they think something is funny and so they should laugh along. If a kid could think at that age, I am sure he would think we are crazy! And oh, playing with the baby like a ball - I’ve seen babies roll with laughter when an adult takes one in his hands and makes him fly like a ball and catch him back. Frankly it makes my heart skip a beat, but somehow babies seem to enjoy it.

Babies find happiness in little things as well. When we put them in a bucket full of water, I think they can play there for hours. Or, when you give them a rattle. When they are tiny, even switching on the fan helps. I’ve seen that most kids get bored with their own toys. For them, the ultimate playground is the kitchen and the best toys are the utensils in the lower draws! They are even born with an OCD – haven’t you seen babies running around with a dusting cloth in their hands and cleaning everything in sight? I am sure you’ve snatched a broom from them as well!

But nothing makes a baby more happy than a good meal, a good-night’s sleep, and a clean, dry back side. After all, those are the only things babies do till a particular age. And they do need that to be perfect! Only when a baby is well-fed, well slept and absolutely dry can he enjoy the fun activities mentioned above.

Do you know of any other quirky things that make your baby happy?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Acts of Kindness,Hope for the future

Everyday we hear stories of pessimism, hate, regret, and general gloom. Our newspapers are filled with stories that make us look like a world full of negative people. Stories revolve around terrorism, rape, theft, bribery and the works.  Basically, we dig such stories. No one wants to hear happy tales. People take joy in someone else’s sorrow.

In such times when you hear stories of compassion, your heart fills with optimism. You realise that the world is not all that bad. You realise that it is only a fraction of people who make this world stink. There are a billion others who are trying to make this world a special, wonderful place. These are the people who give you hope for a brighter tomorrow. I know of several such people, trying to spread joy.

One of my aunts comes from a modest family. The husband works hard to make ends meet. They have saved hard earned money to educate their two sons. Only recently I came to know that no matter what, they give 10% of their annual household income to the needy. When I got to know about this gesture, I was filled with pride. And hope. How often do we come to know what is going on inside a person’s house?

I was browsing through my social media website recently. An Arabic woman had posted a video. In that clip, she was giving presents to her maid. The maid had no idea what the lady had got for her. She was literally howling with joy. Frankly, we just hear stories of how Arabic households exploit their help. This was indeed a ray of sunshine.

I know of a charitable organization that takes care of young boys who are abandoned by their parents. This place takes only 1 re. per day from anyone who wants to give. You give just 365 Rs. in a year, and they care of the rest. Thousands of people have joined hands with this organisation which is doing a really good job in bringing up these boys.  It was started by someone I know. There are people who sacrifice a big career to do something good for the world. Don’t they just inspire you to do the same?

I keep coming across random acts of kindness. I’ve seen my mother give her savings to anyone who needs it. The help in my house has bought everything from land to fridge to a gold chain by borrowing money from her. Sometimes, when she doesn’t need the money, she doesn't take the money back. I’ve learnt the same from her and so, I keep giving whenever I can.

These are stories selflessness. They fill you with hope for a brighter tomorrow. There is no better joy than giving someone else happiness. These are moments I look up to when I feel how terrible our world is.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Weighting Game

I was an extremely happy person till about a couple of years back – exercise wise. I sat on my couch all day long doing things on the laptop. I made a couple of meals. I read. I wrote. Sometimes I went out. And then I went to the gym for like half an hour.

That was good. After I came back from the gym I hogged on food like an elephant. I thought my body will start sucking on muscles if I didn’t eat that much.

Then I read the bad news – after coming from the gym, you should eat only like half the calories you burn. What a bummer! I think I was eating about ..umm.. 4 times!

That was not it. The smart phone pedometer started the trend of 10,000 steps in a day. Since my phone was in one place all day, it showed close to a 100 steps in a day. I was walking only 1%!!!

But who walks 10,000 steps in a day? Really! Even if I walk 4 kms on the treadmill, which is a lot by the way, it is only around 5000 steps. The only days I walk 10,000 steps are when I am on a holiday in a European destination. And that is only because hiring a taxi is so expensive and to get other modes of public transport you do need to walk a bit.

All my notions about exercise and burning calories have changed drastically over the years. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong. There was a time when people said walking on the treadmill is good. Then when the elliptical came, they said treadmill causes joint pain and so we should use an indoor cycle or an elliptical for cardio.

Even Yoga has had its friends and foes. Some postures in Yoga cause back pain. So people with sensitive back like mine should take a lot of care while doing that. Certain breathing exercises in pranayama have repercussions on your ear and nose. Doing weights in the gym and using other machines can harm different parts of the body. Phew!! First you push yourself to exercise, and then you think of getting a trainer!

Someone rightly said, ‘Lose your weight, don’t lose your mind’. I lose my mind after every unsuccessful experiment. Then I get up and start again with another. That’s what I love about myself though.

Anyway, I’ve learnt two things from all this. One, some exercise is better than no exercise. So even if it is 5000 steps, it is better than a 100! And two, wrong exercise is better than no exercise – because you fall, you learn, you get up, and then you’re so proud of yourself!

So, how many steps did you take today? Tell, tell, and then drown yourself in a droplet of water. Or, whatever! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On The Road of Life

I started learning how to drive a car when I was 19. There was this school run by a family. They had cars with two sets of brake/clutch and accelerator – one was regular, the other was in front of the passenger seat.

This school got me a licence in the weirdest way. I was ecstatic. The day my classes ended, my driver came to pick me up. I sat on the driver’s seat and tried to work around the driving bit. I could do nothing!

So now I had a licence but couldn’t drive a normal vehicle with just one set of brake/clutch and accelerator. A few months later, we found this gentleman who came to our house and taught me how to drive in my own vehicle. Thanks to him, I was able to drive.

I was always a very darpok driver. The Boy was studying in my city, so it was me who took him around. He use to make fun of me when I use to let cycle and rikshawalas pass by me. I was sort of being considerate. You know, just because I was in a better mode of transport did not mean I ruled the road!

In a span of some 3-4 years, we had to change the clutch of the car 3 times. This was because I had difficulty in moving my foot from the clutch to the floor of the car. And so, I use to permanently keep my foot on the clutch. That’s when I realised how supportive my father was.

He never complained about taking the car to the garage every few months to change the clutch. I had weak muscles but that didn’t give me the privilege to ruin things often. But he never mentioned anything about it.

I was always afraid of driving on the road lest I would lose control but he was always confident that I would not have any problems. Thankfully, I never had an accident, except that one time.

I was driving to my MBA institute at 7 in the morning. The music was on and I was driving on an empty road. I am sure my speed wasn’t that much because I was always careful about that. As I was passing the Taj hotel in my city, someone from the other side of the road decided to take a right turn and enter the hotel gate without looking who was coming.

I tried my best to stop the car. But there was no time. I banged into the Indica cab’s left door. Even the road had my tire marks because the car screeched so badly.

A lot of people came down from the hotel to see what had happened. Thankfully, no one got hurt. My bumper was pushed back and that Indica’s left door was flattened. I locked my door and took a deep breath. Then I took out my phone and called my elder brother. I told him that there was a small accident and I wanted him to come.

The guard was sweet enough to tell me that everything is ok and I should go now. The cab driver was sort of hinting that it was my fault. I decided to stay in the car and say nothing.

Within a few minutes, my dad, my brother and a servant came to the spot. My father got pillows for me in the car!! My brother took my car home and dad dropped me to the college in his.

I broke down in front of my friends in the college. It wasn’t a bad situation, just that I was in shock. At around 11, we were having breakfast in the canteen. I received a call from my father. I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to drive for a long time now.

It was surprising to hear what he said next. He told me that the car was now in the garage and that it would be repaired soon. He said that I would be able to drive it again in max two days.

That made up for everything. I cannot forget my father’s words that day. He doesn’t say much, but his actions meant a lot. That day I became more confident and more self-reliant than ever.

Thank God for such fathers!