Episode 38 – When I Grow Up by Pratha Shetty

As dads we are constantly looking for content that marshals the cause of equality through gender or otherwise. When we received a mail from Pratha Shetty we were so excited about her book because we realised that such a deep and complicated topic need to be inculcated at a very young age. This is what her book tries to do.

The beauty of When I Grow Up is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be given ONLY to a girl child but we insist that every boy also reads it to comprehend the concept of achievement.

Children need to realise and accept the fact that achievement has nothing to do with gender at all. We want today’s kids to look at achievement as a human thing and nothing else. If you endeavour and are passionate about something then go ahead and make it happen.

This is where parenting comes into focus, we need to help our children realise their hunger and drive to achieve something in life and we must provide the guiding light on a dark road.

Peter Pop and Nadir Pop spoke intensely with Pratha on the role of men and women in our society and what we all need to do, to give courage not just to our children but to each other. This episode is just not about gender equality but about hope for the future generation.

When I Group Up is available on Amazon Notionpress

Episode 37 – Parenting in Bollywood Films – Hindi Medium

Films are a great source of entertainment, more so, every Bollywood films. And a lot of times you learn a thing or two about the society. You can relate to the story or the characters in the film.

Something similar happened to us when we watched the Bollywood film HINDI MEDIUM where a couple from old Delhi (Chandani Chowk), India aspire to give their daughter the best school education and do unimaginable things to get her there, even if it means stooping really low, literally.

The film stars the late actor Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar as the disgruntled parents. They are also supported by veteran actor Amrita Singh, and character actor Deepak Dobriyal.

We discussed the role of the parents in the film and the journey they go on to secure the admission of their only daughter. The film opens with establishing the fact that with every new generation the level of modernity keeps rising, which is great for human evolution but not everyone embraces modern fixes.

Here are some of the things that we could really relate to:

Iss des mein angrezi zaban nahin hain, class hai

TRANSLATION – “In this country English is not a language but a class”.

It’s amazing how much this holds true in our society, especially with the National Education Policy updated last month. It’s a classic struggle of Hindi speaking parents and English speaking parents. We also discuss the importance of knowing local languages in your own country.

  • How every parent is concerned about mosquitoes in their child’s lives. It’s almost as if they’ve found a fix to Coronavirus
  • Parents made sanitizing a thing before we were hit by COVID-19
  • If a child goes to a government/public school she will not learn anything and the “elite” class of the society will judge them and will not befriend their daughter.
  • The things you have to do to secure the admission for your child and yes parents fo to weird lengths to make it happen. Of course the film exaggerates a tad too much but the stuff they do in the first half of the film is spot on.
  • Consultant scene is very true. The kind of pressure they put on parents is ridiculous. We know parents who have done this, not just prepping up the child but also the parents as to how to talk in an interview. It’s absurd.
  • We also had a conversation on how school boards prefer professional parents as opposed to “small business owners” and it’s kind of absurd to think like that and these parents resort to donations, fake jobs and all sorts of other illicit fixes just to get their kid into that school
  • The biggest aspect that we took away from the film is that this entire school admission situation creates visible issues between husband and wife and it can in certain cases cause problems in the relationship simply because both of them are not on the same page.
  • The end of the film brings up something very thought-provoking about the English language

The movie is available to stream on Amazon Prime

If you have an interesting story or a great film recommendation either Indian or international then please do write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com . We would also be happy to receive your feedback and suggestions on the podcast.

Episode 36 – National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 – Bright future for India?

The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a massive update to India’s education policy. The last time a new education policy was brought into effect was back in 1986 before India’s economy was liberalised. That’s the broad framework on which our current education system rests on.

5 years in the making, it went through multiple drafts before the cabinet approved it on 29th August 2020. It seems that it has left the country divided on various fronts but the most talked about aspect is the medium of instruction, which we have discussed at length in this episode.

The NEP 2020 seems like a robust document and they have said all the right things but we will only be able to tell if it worked once it has been implemented in the year 2030. Yep! we have to wait for another 10 years for it to come into effect.

Peter Pop and Nadir Pop hand picked a few interesting points in the 60 odd page document and discussed it on the episode.

  • The most crucial and important one is the medium of instruction in home/state/local language apart from English only
  • Recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student
  • No hard separation between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. in
  • The change from the current 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system
  • Emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-exams
  • Creativity and critical thinking to encourage logical decision-making and innovation; ethics and human & Constitutional values like empathy, respect for others, cleanliness, courtesy, democratic spirit, spirit of service
  • Extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for Divyang students, and educational planning and management;
  • Life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience
  • A pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of under 30:1 will be ensured at the level of each school; areas having large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students will aim for a PTR of under 25:1.
  • Educators to significantly reduce the weight of school bags and textbooks.
  • Discourage dropouts

Peter Pop and Nadir Pop have a though-provoking discussion on the above pointers and also tried to answer some basic questions through the lens of a parent

  • Will affect us as parents considering we have toddlers at our homes?
  • Will lead to our kids will not having the stress and anxiety of exams?
  • Will this put less pressure on us for our kids to perform? Will we still chase marks because clearly the policy has completely watered it down
  • What about extra classes? Music, arts, sports, etc. Will these gaps be filled with the new regime?
  • Do we have something to look forward to?

You can read the complete document here

Episode 33 – Selecting Schools

Choosing a school for your kid is a dreaded experience nowadays. There is no comfort in seeing your child grow up to go to school one day. It’s more of a race, it’s the biggest thing that you will have to do as a parent and just thinking of that destroys whatever little joy there is about your child starting out at school. And that’s just the beginning.

Once school actually starts, that’s a different ball game altogether.

In today’s episode we speak with another father, a very good childhood friend of Nadir Pop, Yusuf Lokhandwala. They were in nursery together and graduated from the same school, today at a young age of 36 are parents and discussing what it’s like selecting a decent school for our kids.

Yusuf brought up multiple factors for selecting a school for his son. This included vicinity, school board, legacy, future prospects and of course the quality of education itself.

Nadir Pop shared his horrendous experience with my ex-school which he thought would have been a perfect fit for his daughter but he was proved horribly wrong. And this experience forced Nadir Pop and the wife to consider international board.

Peter Pop shared his experience of signing up his son for a potential school for his son the day he turned ONE year old!

Many more stories on school selection on today’s episode. Listen to it here:

Episode 32 – Pre-School Education – In conversation with Jeetu Karsan, CEO Safari Kid India

In this episode we discuss the importance of pre-school with the CEO of Safari Kid India, Jeetu Karsan. He has over 20 years of experience across the fields of IT, advertising and education. Jeetu is an avid writer on various subjects ranging from education, business to parenting. But above all he is a dad to a 13 year old daughter and an 8 year old son.

Jeetu’s parenting life was the much needed impetus for him to get into the education sector. He was made to choose between his job and marriage, so he quit advertising and took up teaching. And that is when he met somebody from the education sector who started the organisation called Safari Kid in the US and since then there was no looking back.

This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time, he was unhappy with his daughter’s education. She had some learning disabilities and the school couldn’t figure it out and that’s what made his resolve even stronger that children need attention early in their lives, and trusting the right pre-school becomes a priority for all parents.

They started small and didn’t realise which way it will go but wanted to give the best to the kids. After the opening of the first school, things started moving faster than expected, confidence was building and more centres opened up.

Even though choosing the right pre-school is critical, bringing up kids is a partnership between parents and school. The parents have to be involved and you can’t just outsource children to a school and hope they’ll transform into upstanding human beings. And that is why Safari Kid has an open door policy where the parents can come and talk to the relationship manager or the teachers. The core philosophy is that every child is different and that is why their teaching methodology is customised for every student. You can listen to more about this conversation in the episode at the time code 12:06

We also spoke about online learning, Jeetu confidently said that it is not bad, infact WHO also says that up to one hour of screen learning is fine. He continues by stating that we can’t do without gadgets anymore. The fabric of the society has changed, the kids are becoming gadget-ready and it’s very much here to stay. Everything is driven by tech, it has become a part of our lives. He made us realise that this episode recording wouldn’t have been possible without the rise of technology.

In the future AI is going to play an important part but human values will still stand the test of time. Problem solving, EQ and creativity will always be the cornerstone of people that’s what makes us different and that is why it is so important for children to embrace this combination of tech and human values. Listen more on this here 20:14

Ages 0 to 6 is is vital for kids development, the brain grows upto 85% and they will adapt quickly and pick up things. This is the time we must do everything in our power to help the child to embrace learning and that is where a good pre-school comes in. Once the foundation is set it becomes easier for children to gain momentum in higher classes.

Listen to the entire episode to get more details on the foundation of pre-school and online learning in the times of pandemic.

If you have a story to tell then write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com . We would also be happy to receive your feedback and suggestions on the podcast.

Safari Kid (Kido) is one of the fastest-growing preschool brands in the world with presence in USA, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and India. Their research-based nursery approach ensures that each Safari Kid is at least one (if not two) grade levels ahead of their peers when they leave for primary school.

Episode 18 – Expert Speak during Lockdown Pt. 2

This is the final half of the two part series of ‘Expert speak’. Last week we were in conversation with Mrs. Swati Deepak to who is a counsellor and psychotherapist and specialises in parenting. And this week we got a psychologist Mrs. Shobhika Jaju who specialises in children.

It’s nice to hear from someone who is not from Mumbai and of all the places that Shobhika Jaju, a practicing psychologist and mom to a two year old, could be from, it is Goa – the land of sun, sand and sea. She claims that Goa is the best place to be for your mental health, and it is in a much better position compared to the rest of India in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With respect with children, across age groups, are imitating the emotions and the coping pattern which parents are displaying at home. Working parents are spending a lot of time indoors now and the kids are not used to this new situation.

Everybody has a rhythm to life, including children and this whole coronavirus country-wide lockdown has evidently upset this rhythm and their little world has changed completely. And this is one of the major reasons why we are noticing mental health issues. Especially children, they are showing signs of anxiety, stress related symptoms and manifestations of those.

What was surprising to learn was that the above is not related to boredom only. It is high yes but that is secondary concern. The primary one is anxiety and that stems from change in routine and not having a choice to do things like – going down to play, playing with friends, school, socializing, etc. The freedom of choice is taken away from them.

There are clear signs of anxiety in children that we will notice – anger, irritability, argumentative, fight back, sleep difficulties, frequent crying, some form of self-harm, they might turn inwards sometimes, eating disorders, withdrawing from people and other connections.

As parents we need to be careful what sort of information we are exposing our children to, even if it’s simple and basic threats like “if you are naughty the cops will take you away”. In a situation like this it gets accentuated and the results will be somewhat unexpected. In case of my daughter, she refuses to go down because of the fear that cops will throw her in jail. Children are very receptive to information irrespective of the source.

As always, we also spoke about screen time and Shobhika said something very interesting, children now know that mobile phones are an integral part of our lives. We carry that device around no matter where we are, children know which phone belongs to whom. It is obvious that they will automatically demand because that is what they see around them. Professionally, she advices parents that a little of screen time is okay, because it is proving them some form of comfort. So randomly taking away the screen will be perceived as a threat.

The word that we have overused during this period is definitely “NO”. It’s already a part of our vocabulary as a parent but it has just been abused now.

Another thought-provoking episode on understanding your child’s mind during this tough period. Have a go at this episode and learn a little about a child’s psychology. Peter Pop and Nadir Pop , are going through our own new set of normalcies in terms of our respective kids.

If you want to know more about what Shobhika and her team does, visit Silver Linings

Episode 16 – Expert Speak during Lockdown

This is that episode where Peter Pop and Nadir Pop barely spoke because the two guests who shared the stage gave us such a thought-provoking perspective on the India lockdown that we are still pondering on a number of things.

We start the podcast with our first guest, Sudha Ravishankar who has been associated with KC College – Media Dept for close to 20 years. She shares her unique experience as a parent, but we’ll come to that in a bit.

Very lucidly Prof. Ravishankar highlights the chasm between different sections of the Indian society keep the Social Economic Categorisation as the marker. What it’s like being a privileged person vs. a middle class family vs. marginalized sections (house help, daily wage labourers, etc)

Everyone has their own quarantine and lockdown concerns to deal with. The salaried person wants to know if he/she will have their jobs or take deep cuts in their salaries. The daily wage person is trying to figure basic survival tactics. On the flip side corporates are doing their best to quell the concerns of the employees regarding salaries and businesspersons/households/factroy owners are putting in all the effort to ensure that daily wage persons get their dues.

But what really moved us was Prof Ravishakar’s deeply personal story, which involves her son’s Asperger’s Syndrome and how everyone is coping up during the lock down. I urge everyone to listen to her experience considering that she ended her conversation on a very positive note “We need to keep our mental faculties occupied and keep doing something to keep ourselves happy and work from home for the benefit of the organisation”

Dr. Swati Deepak, is a practicing psychotherapist and counsellor for over 20 years and she also conducts seminars in schools and colleges. She explains the effects of the lockdown on mental health and also shares valuable information for parents.

She breaks down the current situation into three parts:

  • Our current exposure to the various forms of media, especially the internet is changing our anxiety levels
  • We are locked indoors for a really long time, which is great if you have your entire family with you but there might be certain members who have different stressors and they might experience something that they are not used to
  • We have started appreciated our house helps much more now that we are doing daily chores all by ourselves and hopefully pass it down to our kids and not take things for granted and learn to respect basic and simple things

She also advised that this is the right time for parents to listen and not just talk or order their children but understand them and see what is going on in their minds.

News consumption needs to be brought down tremendously especially when you have children around because the kids can read you and understand that something is off.

Boundary blurring is very much real, especially for children – work time vs. personal time. Relaxing the screen time is absolutely fine but are you as a parent engaging with the child too or are you setting a timer.

She also spoke about creating a daily rhythm for the children, like start your day with household chores then move to playtime, screentime, etc. Then move to lunch, and some other activities and finally dinner and sleep. Because children need consistency, it cannot be dependent on the parents’ mood.

There were so many interesting aspects of the parent and child dynamic that she brought up in this episode. Listen to it to get a better understanding.

An eye-opening and thought-provoking episode to say the least. Have a listen and let us know what’s on your mind, is your kid driving you up the wall? Or are you the warrior who is managing it all?

Episode 14 – Parents in Bollywood films

This week we did something different. A month in complete lockdown in Mumbai, India and four episodes on Coronavirus/COVID-19, we decided to take a departure and decided to delve into Bollywood films. One of the three most favoured indulgences for Indians, the other two being the sport of cricket and politics.

This episode is not another film analysis/critique podcast but instead we were looking at films from a very niche lens – parenting. And we intend to introduce more such episodes in the future too and try and keep things light and kicking.

We are joined by guest Alok Sharma, a film and TV writer, director, producer by profession. A serious connoisseur of comic books and practioner of the art, he recently co-founded his own comic book company called Indusverse and has released three comic books.

The films were selected to discus are distinct – Taare Zameen Par and Chhichhore. In addition to the parenting angle, both the films have a very strong focus on education and how both kids and parents deal with it.

Taare Zameen Par – A film about a child Ishaan who suffers from dyslexia and a result of which he is unable to cope with daily life, during his early childhood. Improvement in his life is made by teacher played by Aamir khan, who explains the problem to Ishaan’s parents.

For this film we discuss:

  1. Toxic parenting who refuse to recognise developmental learning disabilities in their children
  2. Middle class family thinking
  3. Education system and the teachers abilities to manage so many children and recognising their true talent
  4. Do you wish to live vicariously through your children and push them to do things you couldn’t in your childhood
  5. Punishment without understanding the situation
  6. Constantly comparing children with their own batch mates and other family kids
  7. Boarding school looked at as a punishment

Chhichhore – Anni (Shushant Singh) and Maya’s (Shraddha Kapoor) son attempts suicide after failing to do well in his engineering entrance exams and is in a critical condition. While in the hospital Anni tells him stories about his college friends and he starts to respond to treatment. Anni then calls his friends side and make his son understand how they turned winners from losers. Anni and Maya are divorced and are also co-parenting.

For this film we discuss:

  1. Pressure mounting on young teens preparing themselves for higher studies
  2. Concept of divorced parents form an Indian perspective
  3. If my father is something I want to beat him at his own game and carrying forward his name
  4. Work-life balance, with kids, without kids
  5. Kids obsession with death and morbidity
  6. Kids HAVE TO experience failure

Episode 7 – Warren Mendonsa – The Musician Dad

Photograph by Deepak Gopalkrishnan

(This is from Nadir Pop’s prespective)

When I was in college I remember attending the small and simple rock shows that used to happen in our city, Mumbai in India.

There was this band called Zero, these guys were young, strong, bordering brashness and knew the pulse of the crowd. But the member that really stood out, for me at least, was the lead guitarist, Warren Mendonsa.

That was around 17 years ago. We connect again, but this up close and as parents. Time can do wonderful things to people, the span doesn’t matter, but the point at which you meet is what matters.

Warren is this big, rotund man who looks like a regular bloke. His humility precedes him and at no point will you assume that he is a world-class musician, producer and composer.

Warren was sweet enough to give us some time and talk about his journey of being a parent and how is balances his life between creating music, being a dad, a husband and sometimes touring.

We spoke about his band Blackstratblues, their last 2 albums being inspired by his daughter. He goes on to say that being a parent changes his perspective even when it comes to creating music and having his daughter around kind of seeps into his creative process of making music.

Bedtime with The Beatles was something that Warren introduced us to where the musician called Jason Falkner takes Beatles songs and transforms them into lullabies. I think it’s quite genius. It’s great for kids clearly.

And another show that he introduced us to was Beat Bugs, a kids show which is based on The Beatles songs without the dodgy lyrics. I introduced it to my 3.5 year old daughter. She saw the first 5 mins, turns to me and enquires, almost offended, “Where is the bettle?” She was actually expecting the insect and when I said there aren’t any, she just dropped the phone and left.

Warren also truly believes that introducing musical instruments to young children is very beneficial.

The recording experience with Warren was a bit at the start. He was our first guest and we ended up talking amongst ourselves for a good 25 minutes and guess what we forgot to hit record! So we had to restart the entire conversation and it was all good.

Check out the latest Blackstratblues album

Episode 3 – The Planning Pt. 2

In this episode, Nadir Pop and Peter Pop reflect on the amount of effort that they put in with their respective wives to become parents. And the planning stage was tough, would be a colossal understatement.

As parents there are so many things that need to be thought through, especially in the world that we are living today.

  • Are we mentally prepared to have this child?
  • Are we financially stable to sustain our lives along with a new human being?
  • What sort of sacrifices do we need to make to adjust to this new parental life?
  • Are we compatible, from a medical standpoint to conceive a child?
  • If both of us are working then how are we balancing work and life?

Nadir Pop and Peter Pop tackle all these burning questions through their personal stories and anecdotes.