Episode 52 – Games People Play – Lalit Parmar – Hasbro India

As kids we played a lot of games and I just don’t mean outdoor games but also indoor ones. Peter was telling me that “When growing up my uncles and aunts were avid Scrabble players. The games got really competitive and they would play with a dictionary in case anyone cheated. As I got older, I become part of these games and enjoyed them. This helped me develop my vocabulary unknowingly.”

I had a huge collection of G.I. JOEs and HE-MAN action figures and conjured up some crazy imaginative worlds within the confines of my home. But the one that really challenged me and my imagination was Monopoly. This game has broken friendships and family ties more than diplomatic breakdowns between countries.

On this episode we talk to Lalit Parmar who heads the marketing division at Hasbro India. He is currently responsible for driving brand-building initiatives for Hasbro Franchise, Partner and Emerging brands in India. 

Peter, Lalit and I spoke about various topics on gaming, toys, board games, parenting and of course Monopoly. We discussed, at length, what it was like being in lockdown and bonding with the family. Lalit also spoke avidly about learning and development of children via playtime and toys and how Hasbro is evolving in this digital-first age.

Go ahead and listen to the episode and tell us what was the one game that makes you feel nostalgic. Were you also a sore loser when it came to Monopoly :D? Do you have memories of playing board games with your family? Let us know and you can write to us with your stories, feedback and comments on popsinapod@gmail.com

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Episode 51 – Paternity Leave needs to be normalised

Recently the Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli was in the news for all the right non-cricketing reasons. His wife, famous actor and producer, Anushka Sharma is in her final trimester and Virat has requested the BCCI (the cricketing body in India) for a paternity leave.

To start off with, it’s a great move. Virat Kohli is looked up to by a billion people and apart from his cricketing repertoire, he also endorses a number of brands, making him one of the most marketable sportsperson in India, if not the world. But this time around, unwittingly, he has endorsed the most important entity by far… fatherhood

It is high time that we normalize fatherhood and the subsequent responsibilities. And who better than Virat Kohli to spread that message.

Although, surprisingly, people have been giving him flak online. Majority of them are saying “country before child” because when M.S. Dhoni’s (another illustrious cricketer and captain) wife was about to deliver in 2015, he did not apply for paternity leave as he was in Australia for the World Cup and the masses hailed him as a hero.

This subject got us thinking and we decided to dedicate an entire episode on paternity leave and what’s it like for to-be-fathers to make use of it today.

Go ahead and listen to the episode and tell us your views on the subject. Did you experience something while applying for paternity leave? Did you find it blissful to be with your new born and wife during those days? Would you want to increase the duration of paternity leave? Did you feel insecure when on paternity leave? We would love to hear/read your views.

Please write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com

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35 book recommendations for kids between 5 to 10 years


This is a guest post from Sabiha Ghiasi. You can read more from her here

We have an almost 4 year old! The last time I wrote about what she was reading, she was a wee little one with the attention span of a spoon. She may have that of a spatula now but I believe attention spans are like stomachs; they grow if you keep on feeding them.

This blog post is a list of book recommendations to transition from picture books to chapter ones. You will find a list of books for 5 to 10 year olds below!

Through Ghiasireads, I’m lucky to have conversations on books for adults and kids of diverse ages. So, this piece is well crowd-sourced and researched too. If you’re looking for reading material for your child or gifting options for this age group, here it goes:

Classic books for kids

Aesop’s Fables illustrated by Don Daily was recently gifted to us and it’s timeless collection of short stories; a book recommendation for a 7 to 8 year old.

Another collectible is the Beauty and the Beast (or any of the Grimm brothers’ tales) beautifully handcrafted pop-up book by Robert Sabuda.

Matilda; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; The BFG, James and The Giant Peach,
and what have you. No kid’s bookshelf is complete without the magic of Roald Dahl. You cannot go wrong with a Dahl when it comes to books for children between 6 to 7 years!

Green Eggs and Ham? The Cat in the Hat? Oh, the Places You’ll Go!? The answer is Dr Seuss; another author to read to your 5 year old!

Move aside, Peppa. The cutest pig for decades has been Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith. This author is a go-to for other animal-related reading.

Book series for kids that last a lifetime

I had a childhood without Enid Blyton but it’s not one I’ll risk for my daughter. The Famous Five series, to begin with, is an often repeated book recommendation for a 7 year old. Along with The Secret Seven series, this one grows with your child so it promises a few years of engagement. But if you’re in a hurry, The Faraway Series is a book recommendation for a 5 year old.

We also have our eyes on the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell but it’s a book series to read to, or by, an 8 year old at least.

Another series that comes highly recommended for kids who are learning and improving their reading – between 7 to 10 year olds – is Amelia Fang by Laura Ellen Anderson.

We love Chris Van Dusen thanks to Circus Ship and cannot wait to get our hands on this series he has illustrated: Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo. This is another book recommendation for a 5 to 6 year old.

Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary are two classic series written in the ’50s for kids between 6 to 11 years but they promise to grow with the child.



Books for kids by Indian authors

Don’t mind me finding Panchatantra a bit dogmatic but some books are timeless like The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond; it’s a good way to introduce this author to a 7 year old.

Another book for a 7 to 8 year old is The Mystery of The Secret Hair Oil Formula by Asha Nehemiah. This author writes funny prose.

Taranauts by Roopa Pai is an adventure series of books recommended for 8 to 10 year olds.

Grandma’s Bag of Stories, The Gopi Diaries and The Magic Drum and Other Favourite Stories by Sudha Murthy are book and series recommendations for kids between 7 to 10 years!

Adult authors who write books for kids

Am I even a “book blogger” if I don’t shove my favourite authors on my kid? Nope. I plan to start young. Alexander McCall Smith has authored Akimbo: The Elephants, The Lions and The Crocodile Man; Marvellous Mix-ups; and Explosive Adventures, among others for 6 to 8 year olds. I recently gifted one of these and received great feedback!

When it comes to Neil Gaiman, do not expect a straightforward kid’s book, but definitely one that’s exciting and mysterious: Coraline and Fortunately,The Milk are on my TBR for her!

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey is a wonderful graphic novel series I love myself. It also comes highly recommended as reading for kids between 7 to 10 years.

JK Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a book for 8 year olds and above. Featured here because obviously she wrote the Harry Potter series for adults!

Empowering books for little girls

Girl power ahoy! Hilde cracks the case by Hilde Sysiak and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke are two series of books recommended for kids between 5 to 10 years.

Speaking of badass princesses, Olivia by Ian Falconer and The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale are also highly recommended books for children 7 years and above.

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls 1 and 2 are books recommended for kids 6 years and above.

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke and Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro are two other book series I recommend for kids older than 6 years.



I hope you enjoy the suggestions above and find them helpful to raise a reader or encourage a loved child to unleash their imagination through reading.

Episode 50 – Entrepreneur Parents – Aswani Chaitanya – Timios

We have hit 50 episodes in just under a year! And what a to celebrate it, we got a really cool dad to talk about his entrepreneurial journey into starting a kids health food company. Especially after spending 15 odd years in the USA and UK working with top brands like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank.

We are talking to Aswani Chaitanya, founder and CEO of Timios

You can imagine how intriguing it was for us to find, when he went from banking to a health food entrepreneur. Like all interesting personalities he had a wonderful story to tell.

It all started with a parent’s unconditional love towards their children and how they would do everything in their power to ensure the child gets what he/she deserves.

For a gentleman who is on his way to becoming a force to reckon with in the FMCG sector… hates shopping.

Listen to Aswani’s fascinating story of how he started Timios

If you have a great story to share, please do write to us at popsinapod@gmail.com. We will also be happy to receive any feedback that you might have about the podcast. You can also follow us on the social platforms below

Episode 49 – Parenting in Bollywood Films – Angrezi Medium

We are back with another episode of Parenting in Bollywood films. This time we are talking about Angrezi Medium, the last released feature film of actor Irrfan Khan

Irrfan plays Champak Bansal, the single parent to teenage daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan). Tarika wants to go abroad to study in London, UK and the movie is about this journey and everything it entails.

Nadir Pop and Peter Pop discuss the following points about the movie

  • The pressure on a parent of sending the child abroad either by peers, society or the child
  • The aspect of Single parenting
  • Children and their want for freedom.
  • Children’s attitude towards their parents.

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think. If you have any ideas and suggestions for us then please feel free to write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com or you can follow us on the below social media handles.

Episode 48 – Engaging Kids – Books

This is the final episode of ENGAGING KIDS and we conclude it with Books. It was a fun month. We met some really interesting parents and we heard some great perspectives on toys, play time and screen time and we end it on our personal favourite books.

Once again we bring in Aloka Gambhir, a mom of two boys, instagram influencer and a lactation consultant. She shares with us her anecdotes and experiences on books and her children

Aloka has been an avid reader since her childhood and she definitely wanted her kids to be surrounded by books as well. We had such a lovely conversation with her on multiple topics – picture books, books based on interests, bonding time and books being a great source of knowledge.

What we have realised is that books are something will not go out of style, no matter how much evolution you see in technology, even though it means “picking up” an audiobook. It might seem like a shortcut but at least her kids are getting engaged.

We also discussed favourite books and how kids love going back to certain books for various reasons – characters, colours, shapes, rhyme, rhythm and so many other reasons to back to same book. Not necessarily great for us adults but hey kids love it and if they love then who are we to get bothered

Aloka also brought up something very fascinating about “interests” and “mood” that really got us thinking.

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think. If you have any ideas and suggestions for us then please feel free to write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com or you can follow us on the below social media handle.

Episode 47 – Engaging Kids – Online Content

Engaging kids Online content screen time Nadir Kanthawala Peter Kotikalapudi Vaishali Sudan Sharma Natasha Kini pops in a pod
Engaging kids Online content with Vaishali Sudan Sharma and Natasha Kini | Pops In A Pod

Screen time has dominated conversations in the recent past every time parents get together. Even on Pops In A Pod, somehow our discussions veer off on a tangent and we end up talking about screen time. So we decided to dedicate an entire episode on it, by calling it Online Content… but really it’s all about screen time

This is the third instalment of our mini series ENGAGING KIDS. The previous two were on Play time and Music. And this time around too we’ve got two very enterprising moms. Vaishali Sudan Sharma, a marketing professional and mom of a 6-year-old boy (she has already made an appearance in the Music episode). And Natasha Kini, a communication specialist and mom to a 4-year-old son. Both talk about their experiences and their kids’ as well.

Engaging Kids – Online Content aka Screen Time

Youtube seems to be the staple platform for all parents and kids; whether as a virtual babysitter, an entertainer or a make-shift teacher. But there are many other platforms that are doing a similar job, especially Netflix Kids and Khan Academy to name a few.

Another interesting point that came in this discussion was the kind of exposure the kids have at home as well. It makes a big difference if you live in a joint family or a nuclear family. In a joint family the child can make different connections with multiple family members and also there is a high chance of other kids living in the house

Parents are clear that passive viewing needs to be come down and the kids need to be exposed to more content other than just cartoons e.g. animal shows, sports and even learning videos.

What we have come to realise is that no child/toddler can escape screen time. It is well-integrated in our society and the faster parents realise, that this is the new normal, the better it is for everyone. I don’t think anybody would be ok with their children stuck to the screens but let’s take a long hard look at yourselves. Can we do without our devices? Can we work without our devices? Can we socialise without our devices? Some of us can’t even go to the loo without a device.

Now imagine your kid, who is looking at you every single minute of the day (thanks to this lockdown) on your device. They want a piece of that action too, and we do everything in our power to keep them away from it. Isn’t it hypocritical? Wouldn’t it be strange if they DON’T know how to use the basics of a phone or a laptop? Let’s not forget they too are modern tools of knowledge and not just passive viewing screens

Listen to the episode and let us know on what side of the fence do you belong to?

If you have some interesting stories to share with us then please write to us on popsinapod.com or you can follow us on the below social media handle.

Episode 46 – Engaging Kids – MUSIC

We continue with our ENGAGING KIDS theme for the month of October and in the second part of the series we will discuss music and it’s influence on kids. For this episode once again we are joined by Dr. Wilona Annunciation and along with her we also invited Vaishali Sudan Sharma, a marketing professional and a mother to a 6-year-old son.

Episode 46 – Engaging Kids – MUSIC

We got two very interesting perspectives on the consumption of music by today’s kids. Vaishali talks extensively about her son’s school and how it majorly contributed and affected his way of thinking as far as music was concerned. Going a Waldorf based school, the thinking is clearly very different.

Dr. Wilona on the other hand talks about how new technology has penetrated our day-to-day life and taking over the child’s entertainment space. And we are not talking about screens. New tech has definitely changed the way kids learn amd consume music or any other content for that matter.

Just like the previous episode Engaging Kids – Play Time in this episode as well gender-neutral parenting did come up and we love the fact that modern age parents are not just encouraging of it but also highly accepting.

There are many other aspects of music that were discussed in this episode. So go ahead have a listen and let us know what you took away from it.

If you have some interesting stories to share with us then please write to us on popsinapod.com or you can follow us on the below social media handle.

Episode 45 – Engaging Kids – Play Time

One of the biggest challenges that parents have faced, is engaging their kids. And it has become more pronounced during this pandemic, especially with work-from-home, house work and online schooling. All of this bundled up in a not-so-fun package, especially for us parents.

This month, we have produced a four-part series with the theme ENGAGING KIDS. The episodes will be divided on the topics of
1. Play time
2. Music
3. Online content
4. Books

In the first part of the series we are joined by two moms – Alok Gambhir and Dr. Wilona Annunciation.

Aloka Gambhir is a fairly popular figure in the mom influencer circle and used to consult new mums on lactation and baby wearing, she is always a very avid reader. She is a mother of two boys aged 8 and 5.5. Dr. Wilona Annunciation is a practicing Psychiatrist who has worked with kids and geriatrics alike. She is a mother to a 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son.

Before we start our conversation with the lovely ladies, Peter Pop and Nadir Pop share what play time looks like at our homes both pre and post COVID.

We asked pretty open questions to Aloka and Wilona

  1. When it comes to play time how do your kids engage, especially with toys?
  2. Did you, as a parent do anything to introduce them to specific play or toys or was it just organic?
  3. Screen time (no matter how much we try to avoid it, it always shows up in conversation)
  4. Have you seen any behaviourial change in the kids in relation to what and how they play?(We asked this question specifically to Dr. Wilona)

The responses as expected were varied, deeply personal and brought a smile on our faces. Aloka, especially, on how her youngest seeks inspiration from the house help and does his best to imitate them at home. It’s just a really wonderful learning curve for these young kids.

Dr. Wilona stressed about the importance of physical and outdoor activities that help her kids develop and how there was a change in approach as COVID hit.

Go ahead give the episode a whirl and let us know if you would like to share any such experiences. Next week in Part 2, Dr. Wilona will be back with Vaishali Sharma, another mom influencer to discuss Music

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Podcast Recommendations

Today is International Podcast Day and both Pops spend a part of their day listening to podcasts on various topics. Here are a few podcasts that they recommend.

Nadir Pop’s pick

SERIAL My very first podcast experience and something that I’ll never forget. A heady blend of mystery, investigation and human element. It’s just all so gripping. Praise-worthy production scale and so well researched.

The Seen and the Unseen Is a weekly podcast hosted by Amit Varma, a seasoned journalist. It gives you a glimpse into what India was, what India is and what India has the potential to become. A long format podcast that can really get you to think about this beloved country of ours.

DUST Is a sci-fi podcast that truly paved the road for me to listen to fiction. I have always connected podcasts to non-fiction formats but with DUST’s world-class production and seminal storytelling, it takes you to multiple worlds, literally. Note- Crazy score with that mesmerizing voice over

TED Radio Hour The best interview based podcast, in my opinion. I love the fact that they get at least 3-4 guests per episode to give you a multi-angle view of a single topic. The simplicity of the subjects that they select is the biggest draw. And it’s from the house of TED so content is top notch, rest assured

The History of Philosophy I was very intrigued with philosophy as a subject and there is just so much to read. So I turned to podcasts and this gem turns up. Right from the pre-Socrates to the modern age philosophers, it’s just so calming, listening to not just what people thought of life, but how they tried to live it. The host Peter Adamson speaks in such a measured tone it’s almost like you are having a conversation with him

Peter Pops’s picks

Andy Social Australian musician Andy Dowling interviews people from all walks of life. The chats are quite detailed which make it a good listen during a run/walk. I am featured on Episode 196

Dumb and Dumbest A daily podcast (I have no idea how they do it) focused on the music business. Hosted by consultant Matt Bacon, Music Publicist Curtis Dewar and Social Media expert Keith Chachkes

History in 5 songs with Martin Popoff Author Martin Popoff is a human encylopedia on rock and heavy metal music. He packs in a lot of trivia in a short time (Averages episode is 20 minutes). You will look at your favourite rock/heavy metal artist with different eyes after listening to just one episode.

Tales of the Trade A podcast featuring Dubai’s pioneers & the stories behind their companies and communities. Host Chirag Desai goes through many aspects of their entrepreneurial journey. Latest season of the podcast is focusing on how companies and their people are coping post the lockdown due to the global pandemic.

The Origin of Things A short-format podcast hosted by Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck delves into the history brands and companies. Told in a dramatized manner with some creative liberty, you are always left guessing who the story is about till the last minute.

So what are you favourites?

POPS IN A POD is a parenting podcast from a dad’s perspective. It is hosted by two firs time dads Nadir Kanthawala and Peter Kotikalapudi. If you have an interesting parenting story to tell, then please do write to us on popsinapod@gmail.com

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Linktree – http://linktr.ee/popsinapod

Nadir currently leads the Business Development division at a digital agency. Prior to this he spent just over a decade in TV and digital video production – producing, directing, developing content and writing.  www.linkedin.com/in/nadir-kanthawala-47249814/

Peter is a marketing guy. He has a decade experience with companies ranging from startups to public listed companies. http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterkotikalapudi