5 Popular Getaways to Visit This Summer Holidays

The eagerly awaited summer holidays are here. You have a solid two months at your disposal to have a good time and recharge your batteries until June, when schools reopen.
Here is a list of places you can visit. They are not too far from Bengaluru and make great destinations for a great short getaway or a day trip.
Let us begin. Buckle your seatbelts for the fun ride.
Nandi Hills: Located a handy 35 km from Bengaluru and at 4500 ft above sea level, Nandi Hills are an ideal getaway if you want to experience spirituality, nature, history - all in one place. The ancient stone temples perched on the top of the hill inspire awe and devotion, while a mere sight of 'Tipu's Drop' where prisoners were pushed down as a punishment, makes your jaws drop. The well-looked after botanical gardens soothes your soul. The restaurant 'Mayura', located on the edge of the cliff, offers a panoramic view of the landscape all the way to Bengaluru.
Mysuru: If any place in India qualifies for a visit based on a single criterion, Mysuru would be a natural choice. This cultural capital of Karnataka ranks in the list of top 5 cleanest cities in India. The palace and temple circuits provide a glimpse of the royal past, while the well-stocked Zoo keeps you engaged on a lazy afternoon. Brindavan Gardens is a favourite with tourists and film folk alike. Mysuru enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year. The pleasant ride along the expressway connecting Bengaluru and Mysuru is one more reason for you to plan a trip.
Mangaluru: Zoom along the verdant agricultural heartland of karnataka, negotiate the winding ride down the green Shiradi Ghat. Mangaluru is home to a number of religious and ethnic communities with each one of them boasting of a dish that is fit for an emperor. Drinking plenty of tender coconut water to keep yourself hydrated is recommended for the non-natives. Beaches are clean and unspoilt with a few of them offering boat rides and adventure sports. Take time to visit the nature park Pilikula Nisargadhama which is home to big cats, reptiles, and exotic plants.
Coorg: Land in Madikeri and head to Dubare, the elephant-capturing and training camp, followed by a trip to Nagarahole National Park which offers you a chance to go on wildlife safaris. Talakaveri is where the River Kaveri originates. Abbey Falls, a small but scenic waterfall, is a short distance away from Madikeri. The Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple serves the spiritual needs of the enterprising Tibetan community in exile in India.
Shivamogga: Located 275 km from Bangalore, the city boasts of wide, good roads, and well maintained public parks. Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary is a place of tranquility with the river Tunga flowing gently by and is dotted with half submerged trees, upon which our feathered friends from all over the world have built their nests. Gajanur village is an interesting place for its elephant training camp. Tyavarekoppa Lion and Tiger Safari is a great experience.
Needless to say, traveling in a group makes for great fun. Pick up the phone and call up family and friends.
We wish you a happy and safe journey. Have a great time. You can share your experience with us when the school reopens in June.

Sports: Why it is as Important as Academics

Human body is not designed to be idle and the more active life one leads, the more are the chances of the body cooperating with you as you age.
In fact, doctors warn that a seemingly harmless activity like being stationary in one place is extremely harmful to our health.
In many western countries, the practice of being seated while working is discouraged. Instead, employees stand on their feet as they work. They are also encouraged to take short and energetic walks around the office at regular intervals.
Most children today follow sedentary lifestyles. The reasons are many and range from lack of open spaces and playgrounds to an overemphasis on academics.
Consider the ill-effects of such a lifestyle:
      Lack of fresh air hinders our ability to think clearly.
      Deficiency of vitamin D (the Sun is a source) makes our bone brittle.
      Absence of physical activity weakens our lungs and makes us not only vulnerable to respiratory diseases, but also makes breathing at high altitudes a real chore.
But, the most worrying part is prevalence of obesity in children, which puts them at a great risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The solution?
An active lifestyle, spending more time outdoors, and taking part in sports and physical activities.
Should Sports be given much more prominence in schools than is being done now, at least in our country?
Absolutely. Purpose of education is to prepare the children to face the real world.
Sports helps children to take on the challenges life has to offer confidently, by being:
      A great leveller: In sports, only your ability to perform counts. A student can find his/her calling in sports, even if they are not academically exceptional.
      A great unifier: Watch a cricket match, preferably between India and Pakistan, in a public place. All distinctions are erased, and all barriers are broken down.
      A great teacher: You discover the virtues of teamwork. It helps you discover the qualities you did not know you possessed. It brings out the best in you.
      A great philosopher:Sports teaches you to stay humble and rooted. It teaches you not to gloat over your own successes, and also not be bogged down by temporary setbacks.
      A great discipliner:Inculcating great discipline is essential to leading a successful life - both personal and professional. Sports teaches us to lead a disciplined life.
Sports also teaches us the value of effective communication, and selflessness.
Sports is a complete package of life lessons,  a great combination of the physical and cerebral. 
One sets out to strengthen the body through sports, and sports rewards you with a bonus in return - mental toughness, the best quality of all.

The Significance of Easter

Easter celebrates resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is also known as Pasch, or Resurrection Sunday.
According to the New Testament, the resurrection occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Easter takes place on a Sunday, after the 40-day period called Lent. Lent is referred to as a time of fasting, but participants focus more on giving up one significant indulgence. Holy Week is celebrated during the week leading up to Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday, continues on to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then finally, Easter Sunday.
The name Easter is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and the dawn known as Eostre or Eastre, who was honoured at pagan festivals celebrating the arrival of spring.
Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny are the two symbols of Easter. Both the egg and hare (actually an egg-laying rabbit according to folklore) symbolize fertility and therefore, life itself. In the olden days, dyed chicken eggs were used, but have been substituted by eggs made from chocolate in the modern times.
Easter is not celebrated on a specific day. It usually falls between March 22nd and April 25th. It is supposed to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon following March 21st.
Interesting Easter Facts:
      In medieval times, churches held an egg throwing festival. The game would start with the priest throwing a hard-boiled egg to one of the choirboys, which would then be tossed from one choirboy to the next. The person who was in possession of the egg when the clock struck 12 would be declared the winner and could keep the egg.
      The custom of giving eggs at Easter started with Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, for whom the egg was a symbol of life.
      Decorating Easter eggs was traditionally a symbol of the empty tomb. This tradition is called Pysanka. Christians believe that Easter eggs symbolize new life and resurrection.
      Lilies are a flower often associated with Easter (Easter Lilies).
      Wearing new clothing on Easter is said to bring good luck for the coming year.
      In some European countries Easter fires are lit. They are said to represent fertility.
      The Easter egg hunt is an outdoor game played with decorated eggs, real hard-boiled ones or artificial, filled with or made of chocolate candies. They are then  hidden in various places for children to find.
Easter is a time for fun, Easter is a time for happiness, Easter is a time for blessings, and Easter is all about love and hope.
Mount Litera Zee School wishes you and your family a Happy Easter!

Good Friday: A day of commemoration

Good Friday is about commemorating the final hours of Jesus Christ's life, his crucifixion, and death on the cross.
The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including Jesus' return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus washing his disciples' feet, and Jesus' last supper on Maundy Thursday.
It is an important event in Christianity as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus Christ’s life and the commemoration of this very important day holds great significance for Christians.
It is also known variously as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday.
In India, it is a gazetted holiday.
How it is observed
On Good Friday, Christians attend special church services. They also pray throughout the day. People also fast or abstain from eating meat on this day. Parades or open air plays to portray the last days and hours of Jesus' life are also held in many parts of India.
      Good Friday is a day of sadness. Churches are empty and dark and services are held in the afternoon.
      The day being a solemn one, church is not decorated on this day, and the altar is bare.
      There is no Eucharist (the ceremony commemorating the Last Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed) present in the church.
      A bitter drink prepared from leaves, vinegar, and other ingredients is served at many churches and this everyone can taste it after the service.
      A life-sized cross is placed at the center of the altar and parishioners pass it by and kiss or touch it if they choose.
      Christians can eat only one full meal and two smaller ones during the day.
Good Friday
There are many theories trying to explain why the day has come to be known as ‘Good’ Friday as it does not have anything even remotely resembling good, as Jesus Christ was tortured and crucified on this day.
      One explanation is that ‘good’ simply means pious or holy.
      The other is that it is a corruption of ‘God’ Friday.
The first explanation has been endorsed by no less an authority than The Oxford English Dictionary.
Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS) wishes you a very ‘Good Friday!’
May Joy and Happiness accompany every one of you always!

Holi: The Festival of Colours and Hope

We, Indians, need no particular reason to celebrate.
Indian Cricket team winning world cup, or even a wedding in the neighbourhood can get people dancing on the streets to the beats of latest tunes from Bollywood.
Holi provides the ideal setting for a large scale and joyous celebrations we are so fond of. The festival of colours is a spring celebration of love, fun, and colours, and is celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the world with sizeable Indian diaspora.
Holi is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima. The festival date varies from year to year as it is based on the Hindu calendar.
Like Christmas and Diwali, Holi is celebrated across religious, ethnic and linguistic lines.
The celebrations typically begin the night before Holi. A bonfire (Holika Dahan) is lit around which people gather to sing, dance and party.
The next day,  participants splash colours at each other with coloured powder and water. Water fights break out using water guns and balloons filled with colour water.
Large groups of people with drums and other musical instruments roam the streets, singing and dancing, and inviting more people to join them in the revelry.
Everyone is welcome.
Friends, strangers, rich or poor, all wear the same colour on this day. It’s a big happy family, divided by circumstances, but united by the colours of Holi.
There is more to Holi than revelry and splashing of colours.
      Holi, like all festivals, is a symbol of  victory of good over evil. It signifies the arrival of spring, and end of winter. (traditionally, the two seasons represent new hope and lethargy, respectively).
      It is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where differences are forgotten, family ties are strengthened, bonds of friendship are renewed, and even bridges with enemies are built.
      It is also a time of thanksgiving for a good harvest and to take a pledge to protect environment that nourishes and looks after us.
      The bonfire or the Holika Dahan also signifies forgetting the unpleasant aspects of the past and making a fresh beginning.
Finally, to ensure a safe and joyous Holi, use protective eye gear and safe colour powder.
Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS) wishes you a bright, colourful and joyful Holi!

The Need for Value-based Approach in the Education Sector

Education sector has remained largely stagnant and predictable in its approach to the imparting of knowledge for some time now. The newer approaches and proliferation of technological tools in the field of education has necessitated a rethink on the part of most schools, where there currently exists a top-down approach, with a centralized decision-making regime.
In the light of new developments, a realignment of the organizational structure and dismantling of the hierarchical or process-oriented model, that is basically authoritarian in nature and tends to stifle creativity, may be desirable. It is no longer sufficient to concentrate on why we do what we do. The new approach may have to lay more emphasis on walking the talk.
The value-based model may have the answers to address the limitations of the existing model, especially in the light of changes in society. A change in economic conditions and a corresponding rise in aspiration levels calls for a major change in our approach to education. Decentralization of authority and decision-making power may well be the answers we have been looking for where,
      Top level management provides information of instruction and guidance to subordinates.
      Subordinates in turn provide necessary instructions to the manager about achieving the goals and solving problems at work place.
It stands to reason that, a two way communication provides a greater chance of being able to contribute solutions to a problem more expeditiously and also help smoothen the rough edges in the overall performance levels.
When a change in style of management and approach to work is complemented by a set of values and principles that are non-negotiable and inviolable, then that organization may have moved closer to creating an ideal framework that provides answers to most of the challenges faced by the current system. Let us look at the components that make up a value-based model.
The characteristics of a value-based model
      Flexibility: A structure that is highly adaptive and flexible to accommodate for an environment which is constantly changing and evolving with time.
      Tasks and role are less rigidly defined:People are empowered and encouraged to think out of the box and be able to take charge as per the requirement.
      Multidirectional Communication: People are encouraged to speak their mind and contribute to the betterment of an idea with their own thoughts and ideas.
      Work for greater good: Ignore personal ambitions and contribute to the overall success.
      Integrity at all cost: Do good even when no one is looking. Do your work diligently and conscientiously, and rewards will follow.
      A strong sense of personal conviction:To be guided solely by what is right.
      Going beyond the call of duty:To walk that extra mile in all things you do.
      Add value beyond what is expected: Not be compelled to stay within the parameters defined in order to add value to the task, but also making sure that the brief is not exceeded.
      Under promise and over deliver:In other words, letting your work speak for you.
The task of overhauling the current system and adopting a value-based system is formidable and requires sufficient time as well as a cohesive strategy. A strategy where initial focus is on desired and sustainable outcomes and improvising depending on the outcome.
Naturally, teachers and educators have a significant role to play in ushering in the new system, because any system - old or new - can only be effective, if the right people have been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing it on the ground.
The value-based system allows teachers to be creative in their thinking and innovative in their approach. They have the freedom to attempt new methods. The incentive to succeed is also greater.
And the idea of an empowered and rejuvenated teaching community augurs well for our education system.
Given the advantages and gains of the value-based approach, it deserves to be given a serious consideration from all the stakeholders.

Climate Change : Educating the Future Generations


Is climate change a real phenomenon?
Mother Earth, after billions of years of existence, is facing a do-or-die situation. Her future has never been under greater threat, than it is now.
Just take a look around you -  floods in europe, landslides in South America, droughts in North America, and bushfires in Australia are now far more frequent than they used to.
Closer home, some parts of India are facing acute water scarcity, while others are ravaged by floods - the most recent being the Chennai Floods of 2015.
Climate change is real and not a figment of imagination of scientists and environmentalists. Let us accept that unbridled human activity and penchant for extravagant lifestyles has led to rising global temperatures, damage to the ozone layer and unpredictability of seasons.
The disappearance of the sparrow, a common presence in our midst until a few years ago, can be directly attributed to climate change, triggered by destructive effects of increased human activity. 
The Chennai floods - and the Mumbai floods before that - were a direct result of human callousness. Acquiring of natural water bodies like tanks for building activity, clogging of storm water drains with plastic bags, and displaying scant regard for environment protection were just a few of the factors that forced nature’s hand, resulting in widespread devastation.
Thanks to sustained effort from a few dedicated individuals and organizations, there is greater awareness about climate change.
However, it is the young people who have the highest stakes in keeping our planet in good health. Our youth are energetic, aware, and proactive in their outlook. They realize individual measures, no matter how small, can create a great impact. The idea is to supplement the efforts of government with our own.
Our youngsters can go a step further, and with help from their parents, can implement the following basic measures at home, that could result in smaller carbon footprints (the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.) for their household:
      Use of LED lights which consume less energy than conventional lights.
      Switching off electrical equipments like fan and lights when not in use.
      Exploration of the options for rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling.
      Use of natural light and ventilation.
      Use of plumbing solutions that help reduce water wastage.
      Use of solar energy to light up homes and to cook food (Solar Cooker).
      Use of kitchen waste to grow vegetables at home.
      Use of public transport system, and carpooling to help reduce pollution.
      Disposal of waste (dry, wet, and e-waste) responsibly.
Children are in great position to spread the green message around and the cumulative efforts of the majority of the population can make a great difference.
Remember, no environmentally friendly action is insignificant.
We have only one planet to live in and ensuring good health of our planet is a collective responsibility of the present and future generations.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Lessons for Mankind

A diary is a record of events in a person’s life arranged in chronological order, usually by hand. It can also be a social commentary of the times they lived in or about their personal experience traveling around the world.
Earliest diaries belong to the Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures.
The person who keeps a diary is known as a diarist.
Perhaps the most famous diary keeper was the German teenager Anne Frank, who chronicled her life in hiding in The Diary of a Young Girl during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.
The Frank family who lived in Germany had to move to the Netherlands after losing the German citizenship. They were then forced to go into hiding to avoid being sent to the concentration camps by the Nazis.
They concealed themselves in some rooms behind the bookshelves in the building where Anne’s father Otto Frank worked. To pass the time, the young Anne took to writing, examining various issues such as her relationships with the rest of the family members, their persecution by the Nazis, and even her plans for the future, once they came out of hiding.
The diaries were published after the Franks, with the exception of Otto, perished at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Legacy of Anne Frank
Anne Frank, who kept up good cheer and spirits in the face of extreme adversities, has since become an icon and a symbol of hope for millions of people around the world. The diaries also serve to remind human beings of the past mistakes and how we can create a better future.
      It’s about survival: No matter how tough one’s circumstances are. One can survive against all odds if one is mentally tough.
      It’s about growing up: Young people often go through a crisis of identity growing up, but they also learn valuable lessons in the bargain.
      It’s about humanism: Prejudice is the greatest threat to humanity. Hatred for others based on differences things like ethnicity, religion has no place in a civilized society.
      It’s about hope: Never lose hope. Knowing well that their chances of escape were virtually nil does not stop Anne from planning for her future.
Should children be encouraged to keep a diary?
Yes, the exercise can benefit your child in the following ways.
      Self-Expression: Children benefit from learning to express themselves on a given topic. This ability is very important for personality development.
      Self-Help: Excellent written communication is a prerequisite for any job and regular writing can sharpen those skills in children without much intervention from adults.
      Self-Evaluation: Re-visiting an old entry gives children a chance to evaluate the thought process at the time and how it has evolved over a period of time to what it is now.
      Self-Correction: Children can correct the writing and also examine if they were right or wrong in coming to a particular conclusion at a given point in time.
      Self-Esteem: Ability to chronicle one’s feelings and thoughts clearly can make your children independent in thought and action, thus boosting their sense of self-worth.

Self compassion: Why it is important

Self compassion: Why it is important
We are moved by the pain of others, we feel the pain of others, we take the time and effort to comfort those in pain. That’s human nature.
Now, take time to think for yourself -- how would you respond if you were having a troublesome day or if things were not going the way you had planned them to be.
Will you offer the same amount of care to yourself?
Self-compassion is compassion for self -- kindness, care, and understanding directed towards ourselves when we make mistakes, or face a failure.
It is the acknowledgement of our own pain. It is an admission of the fact that we are after all human and that we will also encounter difficult situations.
It is not uncommon for many to reject the idea of self-compassion, believing that having compassion for self just leads to a practice of legitimizing poor behavior or engagement in unnecessary indulgences.
However, research on self-compassion has unearthed a wealth of evidence refuting that claim.
In fact, there are many benefits to practicing self-compassion.
Some tips for practicing self-compassion:
      Acknowledge your pain: Notice when you are hurting, and allow yourself to mourn the fact that you are not perfect. Resist the temptation to pretend like nothing is wrong or that your feelings don’t matter.
      Adopt a new perspective: View the world through the lens of a best friend or a person who cares deeply about you. When you’re tempted to be self-critical or judgmental, try to speak to yourself as someone who cares about you would. Think about what they might say to encourage and comfort you.
      Practice: Being self-compassionate is not an innate quality, and it may or may not have been a skill that we learned from our parents. But as adults, we can choose to practice this skill until it becomes a second nature to us. Take five minutes at the end of each day and write about the worst thing that happened to you during the day. Here is the twist. Pretend that you’re writing about it from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about you. Research shows that participants reported experiencing a greater sense of happiness after just one week practicing it. All it takes is a few caring moments a day, and they can work wonders.
So, what distinguishes people with self-compassion from those who don’t?
      They procrastinate less:Compared to those who try to use guilt, shame, or fear as motivators to complete a project or goal, the self-compassionate people spend less time dragging their feet when it comes time to performing a task.
      They re-engage after failure:They accept a perceived or real failure readily, but begin being caring towards themselves and therefore, are much more likely to get back on their feet much quicker and move on.
      They believe in being more accountable:Contrary to popular assumption, self-compassion does not relieve a person of the ownership of a problem. Rather, it actually serves to assist them to make a more realistic assessment of their own role in perpetuating the problem.

      They are open to feedback: They do not feel threatened by others’ feedback about them. This is because those who practice self-compassion are confident of their ability to take a negative feedback in their stride and go on to recover from its ill-effects.



Anger Management through Self-compassion


Your alarm did not go off and you are late for work. On the way to school, your child spills food on the uniform.
You did not have a good day at office and upon your return, you find the house is a complete mess. You are trying to complete some unfinished business and your laptop hangs in the middle of an important call.
Well, you’ve had it.  You are ready to burst into tears. Or snap someone’s head off, who chose this inopportune moment to cross your path.
Does the feeling of anger all-encompassing? How do you react? How is one supposed to react?
Did the intensity of your anger surprise you into thinking of silencing your anger?
Well, silencing your anger is not a good idea. It has been clinically proven that suppressing anger over long term is capable of damaging your heart, resulting in an eating disorder, and raising your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
In other words, anger is such a strong emotion that concealing or suppressing it will result in it manifesting itself in some other form.
Taking recourse to something like lashing out when you are angry works only in the short term at best. Its effectiveness and potency in dealing with the problem begins to reduce after a while.
Then what?
The real danger of silencing your anger is it could make you prone to acting in ways that are destructive to your self-esteem. Let’s see how.
      Every person is compassionate deep down, but in a fit of anger might react in an aggressive way. Once they cool down, their reaction is like, ‘what did I do just now?’
      If one has not defined self protective boundaries, then they are apt to be suppresses and trampled upon by others.
      Some people tend to shame themselves to get over a feeling of guilt by turning their anger against themselves so that they are at par with the other person.
      Some people do not even recognise they have a problem managing anger, thus effectively shutting themselves out from taking corrective measure.
Blame it on cortisol
When the focus is on the anger and not on the source of the anger, 2 things happen:
1.     We activate our brain’s fight, flight, or freeze system which begins to pump cortisol, or the stress hormone, into our body. This will prime us to fight, flight, or freeze, even if there is nobody or nothing to fight or run from. Having cortisol in our bodies for long periods of time can damage us physically and mentally.
2.     We miss the opportunity to gain insight on our anger.
So what’s the way out?
Treat yourself with compassion
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, acting with self-compassion holds the answer.
Dr. Neff says self-compassion has three components:
1.     Self-kindness: Be warm and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Recognize that being imperfect and failing is inevitable. It is far more better for you to treat yourself with kindness and gentleness, than anger and hate.
2.     Common humanity: means recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
3.     Mindfulness: allows us the space to hold our feelings in a way so that we can choose to act on them or not. Our feelings in mindfulness do not need to be suppressed or exaggerated. We can observe negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, without judgment.
Finally, developing a sense of forgiveness is a great help. When you have decided not to hold a grudge, you have allowed yourself to be rid of all negativity - and that can make a huge difference.