Friday, July 24, 2015

A box of books & a simple way you can help!

Hello there! I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve finally got my sliver of time at the laptop while the little boy’s out on a car ride with his dad.

So picking up where we left off last week, let me just fill you up on an update on the books for underprivileged children project. I’ve been talking to people around, thinking things over. And this is what’s come out of this week’s think through and brainstorming: a name for the project and a small tweak.


Image credit: Image Fiesta

The tweak is this: If you remember, last week I’d mentioned that I’m trying to set up a reading room in my garage; a place where underprivileged kids can assemble five times a week, for an hour or two to read and flip through storybooks. But because I live at a military base where there are a myriad of rules and regulations, and an equally long list of do’s and don’ts, the ‘reading room’ terminology may just drag the whole project down.

So, instead, I’d like to shape this idea into a more portable, more doable project. Instead of a reading room, this will be a box of books. A wooden box filled with gently used children’s books, which will be brought out every weekend for an hour or two for all those kids who’d like to step into the world of stories. There’ll also be a storytelling session or two, and art workshops every other weekend (all for Free!).

Image credit: Scholastic

And this brings us to the name for the project: Box of Books! Three little words that roll out the story of what this initiative is all about. A weekend treat. A box filled with stories. Magic worlds within the covers of a books. A portable library.  

Whatd’ya think?

And I’ll be very grateful for any of you, who donate their gently-used children’s books and magazines to fill up this box. Storybooks, picture books, alphabet books, children’s magazines and travel magazines are all welcome and will find a place in the box and in the hands of eager little children.


Please mail be at chandanabanerjee30@gmail.com or reach me at my Facebook page, if you’d like to send a few books over.
Thank you!

#booksforkids #bookbox #boxofbooks



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Books, kids and a call for help!

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been thinking of ways to help others. With my time, resources and ideas. With a portion of my finances.

And the whole thing, this embryo of an idea has blossomed into a little project. A project to make a tiny bit of difference to the lives of the children in a locality in Adampur, Punjab. For now, let me lay out Part A of this project.

I am starting a Reading Room for underprivileged children right in my garage. With books that I have bought and with books that I hope you will be able to send over. Used books. Well-loved books. New books. Books that your children have loved and read and thumbed through several times. Books that have been gathering dust on your shelf. Books that may land up in the junk some day. Books that you may want to buy and send over for these kids (I can send a list).


I’m looking for storybooks and picture books. In English and Hindi. Second-hand encyclopedias and comic books. Amar Chitra Kathas, Champak and Chandama magazines. Old issues of travel magazines (Outlook Traveller, Lonely Planet, to name a few). All of these will be very welcome in this little reading room.

The children who’ll come here will be anywhere between 5 years of age to 13 years of age. All of these are children who go to schools but do not have the spare cash to spend on storybooks – a world that’s still elusive and out-of-reach for them. Their mothers work as domestic helps and their fathers as gardeners, rickshaw drivers, laborers.

The Reading Room will be open for 5 days a week, an hour in the evenings on school days, and more hours over the weekends and school holidays. It’ll be a place where they can look at bright storybooks and thumb through stories. We’ll also have art and theatre workshops in the Reading Room during school holidays.
But for right now, we are looking for books to place on the shelves of the reading room.

Image credit: Bernie's Book Bank

If you’d like to help (and I hope you will!), this is what you can do:

Send us picture books and storybooks that your kids have outgrown

Send us second-hand encyclopedias and atlases

Send us comic books (like Amar Chitra Katha) and children’s magazines (Champak, Chandamama)

Buy a few new children’s books (I can provide a list if you like) and send it over

Gift a children’s magazine subscription

Send us your old issues if travel magazines

Help spread the word by texting/emailing/telling your friends about this Reading Room project.

*Reading material can be in English or Hindi.

Please email me at chandanabanerjee30@gmail.com if you want to help send books for this Reading Room.
If you want to reach me on Facebook, please head over here.

#readingroom #donatebook #booksforkids #bookbank


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hello! I'm coming up for air...

Hello! How have you been? It’s been months since I’ve been able to hop onto the blog. Life happened. I’ve been toiling away at another job, a job that’s rewarding but all-consuming and often exhausting. It’s been chipping away at my own reserves of patience and vibrance, getting me to push my own boundaries and buttons.

Warning: This is may turn out to be a rant, a much needed one. 



The active and adorable toddler at play...

After months of giving it my all with hardly any time to come up for air, to replenish my ‘well’, I’m wondering how to fit my own passions and aspirations into this rigorous 24 x 7 schedule of taking care of an active 2-year-old on almost a single-parenting position (I say almost because while I have a wonderful husband, his work defending the boundaries of the nation keeps him away from home most of the time).

Pegged back into the ancient role of the one who stays back in the cave, gathering food and looking after the children while the man goes out to hunt, I’m torn between what I need to give of myself to this phase of life and what I want to do. While I’m grateful for each day with my son, I’m also feeling all bound up with the needs and nature of a toddler who always and always needs to be in the same orbit as his mum, clinging to her pyjamas, tugging at her arm, howling away to be picked up, and waking up crying from his nap/sleep when I nip off for a few minutes to attend to another short task. And he howls even harder if I even think of getting a babysitter for a couple of hours, so I can get some work done.

All along I’ve known this – I need to replenish my reserves and nourish my own interests so I can be a better mother. I guess there might be others who can be the most cheerful moms without refueling themselves, but I surely need a healthy dose of time for myself to function well, to give my best to my family, to be a the person I’m supposed to be.

But strangely, between the grueling schedule of my husband’s work and my toddler’s need to have his mother beside him ALL the time, there’s nothing left for me. Not even a stray scrap of time. Just stolen moments, from here and there to read a book or glance at the many e-courses I’ve signed up for.

There are days when I’m ready to explode, to disintegrate into a million pieces, to fade into oblivion. Then there are days when I’m able to reign in all that yearning to write and study and nurture myself with just a beacon of hope that someday soon I’ll get some time to be. That someday I’ll get back to an active writing life, one hour at a time. That someday I’ll re-launch my health coaching business. That someday I’ll be able to go to the bathroom without an audience. That someday I’ll be able to cook a meal without someone howling near my knees. That someday I can wake up early in the morning to do yoga and write my blog without a 1-foot tall person scrambling up from his sleep and crying for me.

But within this chaotic phase, within the span of early motherhood, this is what I’ve been able to fit in, one tiny bit at a time:

I’ve been reading a LOT. Fiction and non-fiction. Children's books and my own books. 

I’ve been doing coloring pages for grown-ups. It’s been therapeutic and lovely to be indulging my love for colors.

I’ve been studying online sitting next to my napping toddler.

I’ve been gardening with my toddler, planting veggies and tending to indoor plants.

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot (with a lot of tugging at my pyjamas and bouts of howling).

I’ve been dreaming of ways to fit in microvolunteering and helping those around me.

What have the past months been like for you?


#motherhood #toddler
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