Welcome to Masala Chai!!
Who we are:
As experts from the field of child development, three of us are deeply dedicated to the scientific study of childhood and family life focussing primarily, but not exclusively, on issues related to Indian society and culture. Two of us (Nandita Chaudhary and Pooja Bhargava) have doctoral degrees in Child Development, and long-standing careers in teaching and research about childhood in India, with several scientific and popular publications to our credit. Reshu Tomar is a post-graduate in the same field with a wide ranging field experience in research projects. We came together with Masala Chai because we share a passion for observing, documenting and discussing our experiences with children and families. During the first two years of our blog, we received guidance from colleagues. friends and family who helped us to design the website as well as execute its plan. Their contribution to individual posts has been invaluable. We would like to acknowledge Shraddha Kapoor, Punya Pillai, Indu Kaura, Shashi Shukla, Sunil Chaudhary, Pankaj Asthana, Damini Tiwari, Sushmitha Sunder, Aatman Chaudhary, and Uday Chaudhary who helped shape our blog. We continue to reach out to them for advice.
Nandita Chaudhary, Ph. D.
After three decades plus as a university teacher (and about the same duration as a mother), I took early retirement from both assignments. The children grew up and Moved away, and so did I. I took early retirement from my university where I worked for over three decades. During my career, I have had the opportunity to learn from my teachers, colleagues, participants in research, my children and also my students. The exchange of ideas in the classroom always brought me great joy and excitement, and I miss the thrill of classroom debates. I was also fortunate to have studied abroad, which was followed by several exciting opportunities for international research, teaching and collaborations with some respected scholars in the field. These experiences added new perspectives to my work. As I read more about how Indian childhood was being discussed in academia and public life, I became increasingly engaged in promoting locally meaningful perspectives on childhood and social life in India. During this journey, I have explored, illustrated, discussed and debated the importance of looking at cultural strengths. There are numerous aspects of family and social life in India that have been ignored, misunderstood or misrepresented because local meanings were not accessible. There are also important exceptions to this trend which are valuable resources for social scientists. I believe that critical, culturally sensitive positions are the most favourable for a better understanding the cultural lives of children and families. You can find more information about me at: http://www.nanditachaudhary.com/
Pooja Bhargava, Ph. D.
Hi! I am Pooja, researcher at heart and currently a curious mom by profession. My enthusiasm to understand little people led me to earn my doctorate in Child Development. During my educational and professional journey I have had wide-ranging experiences with children and adults across ages and cultures. My involvement in international research assignments initiated a deep interest in cultural differences related to childhood and family life. My relationship with our two daughters has compelled me further consolidate my thoughts and experiences. In this manner, the personal and professional aspects of my life have converged. Whenever we cross cultural boundaries, parenting issues become even more focused and we begin to review what we have learnt and practiced when we are faced with incongruity. My journey as an expat in Dubai has further fuelled this urge to discuss cultural practices, ideas and opinions about children. I sincerely hope these posts related to children in Indian families around the world are able to arouse and sustain interest among mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, teachers and anyone else who is concerned about children growing up in the 21st century!
Reshu Tomar Hasija (M. Sc., B. Ed.)
The first thing I’d like to say about myself is that I’m a mother. Further, I have always been curious about family life and community practices, taking the time to (informally) document what I see; something I now have the opportunity to fulfil with someone I love and care for. Yet my ethnographic inclination with others also sustains. I am thoroughly enjoying the enormous task of raising my child and learning about the way she thinks, reflects on, and speaks about life. My own ideas are constantly becoming refreshed in these interactions with her.
Spending time with people, learning about them and their lives has been a life-long passion. In this regard, India provides a wealth of opportunity. In the street, marketplace, in homes and farms, I am always alert to what is happening around me, whether I am at home, on a holiday or on an assignment. Also, documenting my experiences with descriptions and pictures is another important activity for me. In a sense, therefore, I have always been a researcher. I have a Bachelors’ degree in Education and Masters’ in Human Development and Childhood Studies from Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, after which I worked on several research projects, both national and international. It is during these assignments that I became aware of my latent desire for documenting people’s lives and I carry my training everywhere I go. The frozen moments in my camera are the pages in my diary as I go through life. As an illustration, I was recently at a local market in Gurugram where I encountered this group of lohars, Ironsmiths. I stopped what was doing to stay a while and chat with them about their lives, their work and family life. I made friends with some of the young girls playing as the adults went about their day. Such encounters keeps me grounded to the social world and understanding life from the perspective of the other person. Before I end, I wish to add that I am a proud Indian and strong believer in Hindu philosophy, science and ideology.