When I was small I was always escaping health rules.

‘Don’t get up late. Going to sleep late is unhealthy!’ my father always shouted… and I invariably went to sleep late as I was reading fiction, over-slept and was forever reaching school late and getting a massive moral lecture from my Principal every day. I kept a diary and wrote down those lectures there and now they help me more than anything else.

‘Don’t forget to do your homework. Reading too many novels is unhealthy!’ shouted my teachers… and I read all the novels that I could get my hands on, even went out and paid a daily rent of 10 paise to get them and read them all. But I made it a point to let my homework get completed only as I sat in the school bus or during the zero period.

‘Don’t forget to eat all the boiled vegetables on your plate. Eating masala food is not essential for your growth!’ said my mother, and I loved mixing lots of masalas and ketchup and mint chutney and rolling the boiled stuff in them and then eating.

Why couldn’t the teachers have just said, ‘Read as much fiction as you want but remember to give your homework a creative touch!’ Why couldn’t my parents have given positive words to the benefits of getting up early and having vegetables and fruits?

Despite all the ‘don’t’ sentences in my early life, I was fairly healthy. There could be many reasons… and some could be my healthy disrespect to rules. But I guess one of them was my fondness for Chyawanprash. Well, not everyone goes for it, but with all my masala wrapped boiled veggies, I also gladly had my tablespoons of this thick and dark sweet thing that came in a completely different bottle than the one we get now.

No, I didn’t understand the list of ingredients given on the bottle… it was only years later that I started understanding the role of anti-oxidants and the way they counter the free radicals in the body to make us healthy and energetic. So let’s just say that the villainous free radicals were effectively countered by the ingredients in Chyawanprash and they managed to give my early years a bounce and creative verve that made me surge ahead… but that habit to despise ‘don’t’ laden sentences is still there.

My life as a kid, as I have mentioned, was chock full of lectures and lots of health rules. The funny part is that they all began with a ‘don’t’… and now when I go to a park, a museum, drive on the roads, or go to office I still see this ‘don’t’ hanging like an idiot and grinning at me.

Don’t cross the road here.
Don’t pee here.
Don’t click a picture here.
Don’t throw garbage here.
Don’t…

Come on, why can’t life have more positive action? Why can’t everyone say things like…
Throw the garbage here. (And keep a bin within reach)
Cross the road here. (And make sure there is a zebra crossing clearly marked)
Click your pictures from here. (And earmark places for camera enthusiasts)
Relieve yourself here. (And more conveniences for all)

Positive sentences can make a country happy… they can make us all follow rules without being coerced to do it. You know, I don’t feel like going to see a cricket match live in a stadium because I’m not allowed to take my pen, my notebook, and my camera inside. I went to see an IPL match at Ferozeshah stadium a couple of years back and the policeman on duty simply took my expensive Parker fountain pen and threw it unceremoniously in a bin full of pens. I stepped to it, retrieved my pen, and went back home. IPL lost one enthusiastic fan that day… and probably one lovely blog post too.

Healthy homes likewise will do better if they stop suffixing great rules with ‘don’t’ and simply say…

Sleep early and get up early too my dear
And they will be nothing much to fear! 

Or

Go ahead and sprinkle masala on fruits too
Fruits & veggies powerfully see you through!

I mean, say all this in prose if you cannot write rhymes, but kids love to be asked to do things… and generally don’t like to be told NOT TO DO things. See the difference?

So healthy homes are those where you ask kids TO DO things!

.

.

#ImmuneIndia

#ImmuneIndia

.

.

A healthy child makes a happy home
#ImmuneIndia

.

This post is a part of the Indiblogger prompt during Diwali 2014

.

.

.

Arvind Passey
20 October 2014