All of us have some desire to learn something new or a passion we would like to pursue. But often we make excuses – “Wheres the time”, “It’s too late to start learning now” or “I wish I could but I just don’t know how to start”. While this is going on in our head, we have that one internal voice that still tries to tell us that “you can do it”
Aunty Jo, as we fondly call her, is an inspiration for all of us who have trouble listening to that internal voice. A life long learner, she makes sure to follow her passions and make the most of her day. What makes this more special is she is also an alumna from my school Apostolic Carmel High School
So without further ado, here’s our conversation with Mrs. Josephine Swami and some wonderful advice for us all.
Tell us something about yourself and your family?
I was lucky to be born in the early 50s which had its own charm. Seeing the drastic changes on all fronts was an awesome learning experience, be it family life, children’s upbringing, the concept of vacations, education or communication.
Having three brothers as siblings, I was at an advantage where my father was concerned as I was the only daughter. He was my friend, philosopher, and guide. It was from him that I learnt a very important lesson in life… most people die using only 10% of their brains and I promised my father that I would use all the 100%. My mother as a home maker learned how to stretch with one person’s earnings and six mouths to feed. Had a fantastic school life in one of the best schools in Bandra – Apostolic Carmel Convent. Graduating and getting a job made one feel grown up since it gave you financial security.
Met my dream man and the two of us created a master piece called our daughter and bringing her up the way we wanted to, was a unique experience. Life was not a bed of roses but the three of us learnt to find happiness in everything we did, enjoyed every moment of our lives doing things our way.
Then our darling daughter met her prince charming and we were left with a void in our lives.
Then death came knocking at our door and called my husband. It was a sad moment in my life but logic prevailed and I celebrated his life with me rather than mourn his death. It was difficult for society to accept this fact but I live my life on my terms.
Then once more I experienced great joy in my life – the birth of my granddaughter. It was a wonderful experience holding the new born in my arms. Today she is the center of my universe.
What is your routine like on a normal day?
The radio was something I have always loved. My nine to five job did not permit me to enjoy this pleasure. Every morning I put on the radio listen to FM Rainbow, send a request song for my granddaughter while I continue with my household work of reading the newspaper, cleaning, cooking, watering the plants and an hour is spent on one of my hobbies…. knitting, candle making, chocolate making or making a 3D Jelly cake . Lunch has to be by 11.30 latest since I have to go swimming by 2 pm. This is a fun time since the group is made up of ladies of all ages and varied interests. Evenings are for shopping, keeping up with friends, a visit to the church or on the internet and updating my internet skills. An hour in front of the television and dinner completes my day.
You have been enjoying your retirement by pursuing activities that you always wanted to do. Tell us something about them.
Nobody ever told me that I was allowed to enjoy doing the things I loved doing and still earn a living. Besides time was a constraint. Once I retired, I had both the time and the money to spend on my hobbies. I started off by attending various workshops on Terrace gardening and the art of growing fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs on your window sill. I set up my own garden and enjoy every moment.
Candles always fascinated me from childhood since we saw them in different shapes and sizes at the Bandra fair which was the biggest annual event for anybody living in Bandra. But with the changing times, candles too had changed. Learning to make designer and aroma candles was an achievement. Giving them out as gifts is a fulfilling experience.
Chocolates are an all time favorite and enjoyed by people of all ages. Making newer varieties gives me a lot of pleasure.
I learnt to make 3D Jelly cakes and they are beautiful to look at and yummy to eat.
Yes and now I have joined an online blogging course Learn Blogging in 100 days and will soon have my own blog.
What are your recommendations on hobbies that parents should try to inculcate in their children that would help in an overall development?
Parents always want to give the best to their children. Today you just have to look around and you have a large number of hobby activities being conducted. Parents should understand what hobbies would make their child happy rather than make it a prestige issue sending their children for a particular hobby class in the vicinity. Hobbies that help in the overall development and inculcate a sense of value in the child. Some hobbies like reading will never die. Encouraging and inculcating reading habits in a child does help in the overall development of the child.
Parents should get rid of the mindset that certain hobbies are only for girls or for boys. I still have to see a mother letting her tiny son into the kitchen when she is baking or for that matter cooking but look around and the best chefs universally are male. Agreed?
Hobbies which include the involvement of the parents with the child is, in my opinion, the ultimate hobby. Parents are prepared to spend on the most expensive toys for their children but quality time with parents is what children of today lack.
Do you think children born in the internet age need to be taught differently as their level of exposure is exponentially higher than ours at the same age?
Today’s children have been exposed to a lot many things at a very early age. Earlier generations left all the teaching to the schools and let the children enjoy their childhood playing. Today’s parents have been exposed to EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING METHODS and are aware that the maximum growth of the child’s brains is in the first five years.
The Internet has greatly helped parents to get enough teaching material to cater to the needs of the children. Not only the children who are born in the internet age that need to be taught differently but the parents of these children need to constantly upgrade their skills so that they can be there for their children. Yes, every day brings something new on the internet so parents too should understand that LEARNING IS A CONTINUOUS PROCESS.