Canadian Winters with Scary Freezing Rains

Freezing Rain

While beautiful to look at, freezing rain is one of the most hazardous types of winter precipitation. Accumulations of a tenth of an inch of freezing rain may not sound significant, but is more than enough to break a few branches on the trees, bring down power lines (and cause power outages), and cause sleet on road surfaces.

During the scary freezing rain, the entire area is paved in a sheet of ice at about minus ten degrees Celsius.  This is hazardous, especially  for the morning commuters, resulting in many accidents on the roads and highways.  The drivers of the cars parked in the open find it difficult to even open their car’s doors as they either slip on the glass surfaced floor or the doors are jammed by the freezing ice.  These drivers first have to scrape off the ice from the doors and windshields and then drive on glass like roads.


The public transport is also affected as the drivers are extra cautious and driving slow on the icy roads.  It is compounded by many non-functioning traffic lights due to power outages.  The street cars (trams) are delayed due to ice forming on overhead power lines.  The trains are delayed, mostly due to failure of the signalling systems.  In effect, most people on a  freezing rain day reach their offices late.

Over a hundred flights are cancelled and many delayed due to the freezing rain.  The landing and taxiing surfaces have to be cleared of the ice regularly, causing major delays.  The de-icing activity has to be carried out on all aircrafts prior to take-off, contributing to further delay.

The problem of ice forming over the wings and tail of the aircrafts is a major concern as it adversely affects the performance of the aircraft, especially at take-off due to reduced lift. This ice has to be removed and the airports in Canada are equipped with deicers. These are vehicles that spray a mixture of a glycol and water, heated and sprayed under pressure, to remove ice and snow on the aircraft surfaces.

What causes the dreaded freezing rains?


Freezing rain develops as falling snow encounters a layer of warm air deep enough for the snow to completely melt and become rain. As the rain continues to fall, it passes through a thin layer of cold air just above the surface and cools to a temperature below freezing point. However, the drops themselves do not freeze, but remain in liquid state due to a phenomena called supercooling.  When the supercooled drops strike the frozen ground (power lines, or tree branches), they instantly freeze, forming a thin film of ice.

The freezing rain drops on hitting a tree branch or a power line condenses around it as these objects are at a much lower temperature than the supercooled rain drops.  As they accumulate, the weight of the tree branch or the power line keeps increasing.  Once this weight crosses the strength of the material, it snaps and falls on the ground.  In case of a snow fall, the snowflakes even if they accumulate on trees and power lines, tend to slide off them due to their own weight.

The freezing rain leave streets under a layer of ice in the morning and results in the closure of many schools, colleges and universities.  The students are always very pleased with these ‘natural’ holidays.

Freezing Rain11111

Many customers experience power outages due to downed power lines or due to tree branches falling on power lines.  The crews of the power companies work overtime round the clock to ensure speedy restoration of power.

Police services and radio/TV channels warn motorists to slow down due to ice. It is expected of drivers to treat all lighted intersections without power as all-way stop signs.  That means any vehicle approaching a failed signal must come to a halt and the vehicle which halted first leaves first.  The emergency services always work at full efficiency to cater for many road accidents and to assist drivers who spin off the road.

Environment Canada gives sufficient warnings- generally a week – about the impending freezing rain.  Various TV and Radio News channels cover it in full details and warns the citizens to be careful and suggest preventive actions.  As soon as the rains stop, the salter trucks of the city spread salt on the roads and sidewalks to facilitate melting of the sleet that form on the surfaces.

How does salt act as an ice melter? All icy surfaces have a thin layer of water. When salt (Sodium Chloride – NaCl) applied to such surfaces, starts to dissolve. This ionises the salt into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. These ions, in turn, react with water molecules and form hydrated ions (charged ions joined to water molecules).

This process gives off heat, because hydrates are more stable than the individual ions. The emitted energy then melts microscopic parts of the ice surface. When an automobile drives over the ice, the pressure helps force the salt into the ice and more of this hydration occurs.

The ice-cream makers of the pre-refrigerator days employed the same principle (freezing point depression). The ice and salt mixture ensured that the temperature was well below the freezing mark (zero degrees C), even though the ice melted.  Dry Ice or solid carbon di oxide was also used as a more sophisticated alternative. That begs the question why is solid carbon-di-oxide (CO2)  called dry ice? This is because the solid carbon di oxide on being heated does not melt into liquid and instead changes directly into the gaseous state by a process called sublimation.

Canadian Snowstorm

Snowstorms result in accumulating snow on the roads resulting in hazardous driving conditions. Municipal authorities are mostly responsible for ensuring that the roadways, back lanes, sidewalks, active transportation trails and designated park pathways are cleared of snow the earliest. These are maintained in such a manner so as to provide safe and accessible operating conditions for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians; reduce the hazards of icy road conditions; and facilitate the handling of emergencies by Police, Fire and Ambulance Services during winter.

Snow Storm

Salters are sent out at the start of the storm when snowfalls do not exceed 8 cm (3″) and plows are sent to clear the roads when the snow on the roads is accumulating faster than the salt can melt it away (when snowfall exceeds 8 cm.) High traffic speed and volume roads are cleared first. Streets with less traffic volumes and lower speeds are cleared after the main roads to ensure that residents, and emergency service vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances can safely travel to hospitals, schools, work and residents can get to public transportation systems during or immediately after a snowfall.

Municipalities employ trucks for many horticultural activities during spring and summer. They are used for tree planting/ pruning/ cutting, watering (mounted with a water tank), grass cutting (mounted on a tractor), landscaping, etc. By fall, these vehicles (trucks and tractors) are fitted with a light dosser blade in the front and a salt dispenser mounted on to the body. The trucks are used for plowing the roads and the tractors for the walkways. They doze the snow away in the front while spreading salt from the back. Highway construction/ maintenance companies also modify their trucks for snow plowing. These trucks travel at about 100 kmph on the highways plowing the snow.

Approximately 150 kilogram of salt per Canadian is spread on the roads each year to make them safe for travel in winter. In Ontario the salt comes from the world’s largest salt mine located on the Eastern shore of Lake Huron in Goderich.

How does salt act as an ice melter? There is a thin layer of water on all icy surfaces. When salt (Sodium Chloride NaCl) is applied to such surfaces, salt starts to dissolve. This ionises the salt into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. These ions, in turn, react with water molecules and form hydrated ions (charged ions joined to water molecules.) This process gives off heat. That energy then melts microscopic parts of the ice surface. When an automobile drives over the ice, the pressure helps force the salt into the ice and more of this hydration occurs.

The ice-cream makers of the per-refrigerator era employed the same principle (freezing point depression.) The ice and salt mixture ensured that the temperature was well below the freezing mark (0 degrees C), though the ice melted.

Environment Canada has recognised that salt has adverse impacts on wildlife, plants, water and soil, and in 2001 considered adding it to the country’s list of the most toxic substances. Instead, in 2004, the government instituted a voluntary code of practices to encourage municipalities and others to use the deicer more sparingly, while maintaining highway safety. But with the vast amount of salt used, huge quantities are still polluting soil and water. It noted that after winter thaws, there were spikes in the amount of salt in streams with those taking runoff from the main highways having approximately double the concentration of the pollutant than watercourses nearby that don’t take storm water from the roads. Environment Canada says it is currently reviewing whether the voluntary practices code has led to any reduction in the amount of salt being spread on roads.

How Canada reduces use of salt for deicing?

Pre-wetting is the process of spraying the road surface with a liquid de-icing agent (salt brine) before spreading the salt on the roadway. A salt brine solution is spread on the roads before any expected freezing temperatures. The liquid starts to work before the precipitation starts to freeze. It acts like a barrier between the road and the snow/ice, so that it doesn’t stick to the road and cause slippery conditions. If no precipitation happens, brine stays on the road and last for several days. Pre-wetting results in less salt being spread, saving money and minimising threat to the environment. Wet salt clings to the road instead of bouncing off or being swept off by traffic.

A living snow fence is a barrier created by plants, shrubs and trees to reduce snow blown across roads. Planting trees and shrubs is not only more attractive and more environmentally friendly than building a wood fence, but also more convenient than putting up and taking down traditional snow fences. Snow fences force wind to go around and through the fence. This causes the wind to lose energy and speed. As the speed of the wind slows, the snow forms a drift before or behind the snow fence. How much snow a fence traps depends on the height of the fence and the amount of snow that falls. Manufactured snow fences are installed next to roadways that experience lots of blowing snow.

Another effective snow fence is standing corn in the corn fields all along the roads. Each year in late summer, participating farmers leave a swath of standing corn (six to 12 rows wide), parallel to the road and about 20 meters from the road. Farmers are compensated for this.

Delayed flights during and after a snowstorm is common in Canada. Salt can never be used on an aircraft due to its high corrosion properties. The delay is mostly due to the de-icing activity carried out on all aircraft prior to take-off.

The problem of ice or snow forming over the wings and tail of the aircraft is a major concern as it adversely affects the performance of the aircraft, especially at take-off as the lift may be reduced. This ice has to be removed and the airports in Canada are equipped with deicers. These are vehicles that spray a mixture of a glycol and water, heated and sprayed under pressure to remove ice and snow on the aircraft surfaces.

While it removes ice and snow, deicing fluid has a limited ability to prevent further ice from forming. If winter precipitation is falling, such as snow, freezing rain or sleet, anti-icing fluid is applied after the deicing process is complete. This fluid is of a higher concentration of glycol than deicing fluid. It has a freezing point well below zero degrees Celsius and therefore is able to prevent the precipitation that falls into it from freezing on the aircraft’s surface. Anti-icing fluid also has an additive that thickens it more than deicing fluid to help it stick to aircraft surfaces as it speeds down the runway during takeoff.


Canadians are fond of a good disaster, especially if it has ice, water, or snow in it. You thought the national flag was about a leaf, didn’t you? Look harder. It’s where someone got axed in the snow.” —Margaret Atwood, in Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, 1995

Hats Off

In the Indian Army, everyone, irrespective of their rank are expected to salute a dead body, whether it is of a fallen soldier who may be junior in rank, a civilian – why even if he is the enemy.  This is the image taken after the Kargil War of 1999 where the Pakistani soldiers are collecting the dead bodies of their fallen soldiers.  Note that every Indian soldier is saluting the enemy fallen soldiers, even though they killed many of their comrades.

Our Regiment once had the Quarter Guard – main guard room – located near the road frequented by civilian traffic.  Whenever a funeral procession passed by, the Regimental Guard ‘Presented Arms‘ and  offered a ‘General salute‘ to honour the dead.

It is a cliché in Indian movies when the police arrive at a scene of death, the inspector on realising that someone is dead, is shown removing his cap as a mark of respect.   Does the Police manuals lay down such an act?

It is rare to see the Police personnel saluting the dead anywhere.  Why they do not even remove their caps as depicted in the movies.  From where did this ‘Cap Off’ tradition begin?

History of removing headgear as a mark of respect can be traced back to the days of the knights, wearing helmets that covered their heads.  They lifted their visors to show their faces to their monarchs. superiors and friends as a sign of respect.  They used their right hand to lift their visors to show that it did not hold a weapon as most soldiers were right handed.

This practice quickly caught on.  Later, the helmet or hat became a part of the soldier’s uniform and thus it began to be thought to be disrespectful to take it off.  It is a lot dangerous to take off a helmet in battle with gunfire and other shrapnel flying around.  The salute with the right hand now replaced the gesture of lifting the visor or removing the headgear.

By the 20th century, hats were pretty much worn by everyone in the West when they went outdoors, as it kept the sun off in the summer and kept the head warm in the winter.  In addition to this, in the cities there was an amazing amount of industrial dirt and grime and the hats were good for keeping the dirt off the head and out of the hair.

Men’s hats are easily removed, but women’s hats with ribbons, bows, flowers and other decorations can be quite a task to remove, especially if they are anchored with hatpins, messing up their hairdos. Hence, only the men were expected to remove their hats as a mark of respect.  Proper hat etiquette defines that while removing the hat, the lining should never show, for obvious reasons.  One must always hold the hat in such a way that the outside is all that is visible.

Men generally ‘tipped’ their hats, or removed them, in the presence of women as a sign of good manners and respect. This developed into removing one’s hat when indoors as a sign of respect and trust.  When entering a home or a building, a hat was generally removed immediately upon entering.

From this originated the expression ‘Hats Off’ normally used when you wish to show your admiration for someone.  Hence it was a ‘male only‘ expression.

There is another tradition regarding hats that when men put something on their hatband, it is generally placed on the left side.  Anything on a woman’s hatband is usually placed on the right side.  Is it because men generally commence walking with their left foot and women with their right?

Orators generally removed their hats while speaking–even when outdoors, for the audience to observe their facial expressions.  In theaters and while in a church, the hats are removed once the gentlemen took their seats, mainly as a consideration for those sitting behind.

Today many wear baseball caps as a fashion statement with some believing it to be cool to wear it backwards.  It is a good etiquette to remove such caps while indoors as there is absolutely no purpose to keeping it on; not even to cover up a bald spot or your badly kept hair.  So, Hats Off to all those who keep wearing their hats all the time, even while indoors.

The general rule for wearing a cap is to find one with a good fit. It should feel snug on your head to avoid falling off, but never so tight that it gives you a headache or reduces blood circulation.  Ensure that you always keep your cap clean.
Unless the visor is obstructing your view do not wear a cap backwards. Only toddlers wear it sideways.
A plain cap is any day better than a graffiti-laden lid.
In high-humidity environs or if you sweat a lot or plan on being in the sun, choose a cap made of a breathable fabric. In cold opt for warmer material such as wool or suede.

Is This a Propaganda?


Great to read.  This was taking rounds in the social media and I have received it over and over from my enthusiastic friends.  Nothing wrong to feel that one’s motherland is great (I proudly proclaim that I am “Made in India”).

Like all those who proudly forwarded this image to me, I also fully believed it while in India, especially when it came from our social and religious leaders.  One always thought that the clergy would speak the truth, at least while standing in the pulpit of the church.  The case with other religions must also be the same.

My perceptions underwent a sea change after landing in Canada and especially after our daughter graduated from high school and our niece graduated from the Toronto University as a chemical engineer.

Once I heard a bishop of our church sermonising that marriages and divorce take place in the West like drinking a cup of tea.  The reality is that the bride and the groom have to bear the expenses of the wedding (cheapest I ever attended would have cost them over $50,000).  That is why they do not throw money at anything and everything like it happens in an India wedding.  Who cares, it is my dad’s money (baap ka paisa).  A divorce would also cost a similar amount or may be even more.  That must be the reasons for many a live-in relationships.

Like all other religious leaders, our bishops have a very narrow perspective about the West.  They all come here only to pocket the dollars and they go back home and tell a totally different story.  Recently I asked a 70 year old bishop from our church visiting here as to whether he is not affected by jet lag.  I have a terrible time for a week after I go through the ordeal of 16 hours of flying and resetting of my biological clock after every journey home and back.  Jet lag or no jet lag, he seemed interested only in the dollars he could extract, otherwise I do not see any reason for the frequent visits of our bishops here.  They do not want to go visiting our brethren in Nigeria or Uganda – the exchange rate is not Rs 60 to a Dollar.  They do not want to visit the soldiers defending the nation in the borders as there is hardly any money and also they are scared.

In case 38% doctors in the US are Indians, what are the Chinese doing?  Selling Chow Mein?  In October 2011, the Toronto Star reported the case of a taxi driver who performed an emergency delivery on an Air India flight from New Delhi to Toronto, turning a passenger cabin into a birthing room within minutes and improvising with makeshift instruments.  For 25 years this man worked as a paediatrician in India, treating thousands of children, saving many lives.

There are at least 7,500 internationally trained doctors in Ontario, Canada but fewer than 200 can get residency spots because they have to compete with young Canadians.  The internationally trained doctors have to re-certify and also pass the licensing examination like the Canadian graduates.  The pass percentage of Canadian graduates is pretty high and that of internationally trained doctors abysmally low, as the Canadian graduates are more familiar with the language and the system.  Similar is the case with most health related professions like the pharmacists and nurses.

My wife Marina once said that the main reason that she managed to qualify the pharmacist licensing examination here is that she accepted that she did not know the system and the language and she started to relearn from scratch.  She completed her pharmacy graduation an year after our marriage and did not work in India and this she says did not set in any practices (good or bad) in her.  Thus it was easier to restart and relearn.

I attended the graduation ceremony of our niece at the Toronto University where the top 10 graduates from each discipline was called on to the stage and were handed over the degree.  A vast majority of those who came on to the stage were of Oriental origin.  Similar was the case when our daughter graduated from her high school.

Our son attends “Gifted Children“ programme in high school where all students with a superior ability to grasp concepts and make connections are segregated and put into a separate class.  The segregation is done after they complete grade 4.  In his class also it is about 70% children with Oriental origin.  Two of our nieces who graduated from medical schools in US said that the situation there is not any different.

NASA for sure will never divulge the nationality or demography of its scientists as would be the case with ISRO – they will never give out a state-wise list of their scientists.  Racial profiling of the employees is considered unethical in North America and no company or institution will ever do it as it may attract many a legal battles.

While opening the Adobe Photoshop recently, the opening screen froze on my computer for a minute.  The screen had the names of all those who developed the software and no Indian name figured.  Either all those Indians working there are Syrian Christians with English names or Indians who adopted English names.  People of Oriental Origins have an English Adopted name as their names would be unpronounceable.

A Note that Dissonates, Once Again


Our friend Suresh Nellikode invited me to watch Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Malayalam movie ‘Pinneyum‘ on September 13, 2016 at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).  I grew up watching classics of Adoor- Swayamvaram, Kodiyettam, Elipathayam and Mathilukal – which remain in my memory.  In all these movies I was impressed with the use of natural sounds with minimum background score, unlike many Indian movies.

In his latest venture ‘Pinneyum’ (Once Again), he has captured the natural sounds and used it to convey the time and the environment to the viewer.  Was it that effective like his earlier attempts?  Has Adoor done justice to the natural sounds which obviously changed with the times in Kerala’s rural background spanning a timeline of over 17 years?

The first time I left Kerala was to join Sainik School Amaravathinagar, Thamizh Nadu in 1971 at the age of nine.  Every year I came home for the summer vacations.  During this homecoming, I could not make out any changes to the ambient sounds of nature.  The wind created music, caressing the paddy fields downhill through the tapioca and pineapple cultivation uphill to our home.  A few notes changed with the swaying of the coconut trees and the tropical fruit trees – tamarind, bread fruit, jack fruit – that grew abundantly in our homestead.  The air had the aroma of the flowers in bloom or the fruits that had ripened. The road in front of our home had scant traffic with a few cars and the hourly bus service, only connection to Kottayam town.

Only one or two homes in the village, of those who could afford,  had a telephone and a car.  Obviously we could not afford either.  Even a wall clock and radio were rarities.  We had a wall clock, a mechanical pendulum one, which struck once every half hour and the number of hours at the hour.  This striking sound was a break from the sounds of nature – from the birds’ chirping and calls and the shrill cries of the crickets and the flying lizards – an evolutionary link between lizards and birds – which flew from one palm tree to another in search of insects.  Every household in the village reared cows, goats, chicken and ducks.  Their moos, bleats, rooster’s crowing and hens’ songs – filled the air all through the day.

The evenings marked prayer time and as one strolled along the road, one heard readings from the Bible, hymns and devotional songs – both from the Hindu and Christian homes.  The nocturnal music of the nature was very much different with the owls, insects and dogs pitching in with their parts.

The artificial sounds that one heard once in a while was from the Chenda (drums) of the announcer who came along the road to announce the release of a new movie in the village talkies – a thatched theater.  The temples and churches hired the Mike Set (Public Address system) and the Chenda Melam (ensemble of drums ) only on the annual festival days.  A Gramophone was a vital element of the mike set.  Luckily in those days the songs lasted only three minutes as one side of the gramophone record could only hold as much.

The early eighties brought prosperity to our village due to the increased salary of government employees, higher prices for the cash crops and spices the village produced and many seeking employment in foreign lands, mainly in the Gulf countries.  Our eldest brother moved to Sultanate of Oman.

The natural music I was used to during my annual vacations started to be corrupted by the artificial ones.  With every passing year, the changes were audible.

That was when the first Television came into our home beaming the national channel Doordarshan.  On Saturdays they telecasted a Malayalam movie and all the neighbours congregated at our home.  Our eldest brother brought in a digital electronic clock which chimed its musical notes every fifteen minutes.  Now the old mechanical clock got pushed away on to the wall of the side room and its Japanese cousin took its place of pride in the family room.  We also got a telephone connection and the metallic ringing sound of the rotor dial telephone also added to the milieu.

Exorbitant labour costs, pests and  crop diseases turned the village to rubber plantations.  Most tropical fruit trees were cut, tapioca and pineapple cultivation discarded – all to make way for the rubber trees.  The herbal plants which grew abundantly became extinct.  Many species of birds and the flying lizards disappeared as they could neither nest among the rubber trees nor could find any food.  Rice cultivation disappeared too being uneconomical.  Thus Kerala turned into a consumer state.

The traffic on the roads kept increasing manifold with new varieties of automobiles – from motorbikes to large trucks.  The Churches and Temples procured their own Mike Sets and the competition to please their Gods with highest possible decibel levels all through day and night commenced.  Thus the natural sounds now gave way for more synthetic tones.  The noise of the wind passing through the rubber trees was no more music to the ears.  Why, even the aroma in the air had disappeared.

The nineties marked the opening of the Indian economy and with it came telephones and televisions in every homes in the village.  The rotor dial telephone made way for their electronic avatars.  Cable Television came in without any government controls or regulations and in the absence of any red-tape, each and every home joined the cable yugam in a matter of few weeks.  This resulted in the many channels reaching the homes and families getting closeted indoors glued to the television.

With the turn of the century, cows, goats and fowls disappeared from the cow-sheds and pens.  Every house had a car parked in the porch.  The era of Bible reading and hymn singing evenings ended as everyone got fixated to the tear jerking serials various channels beamed with vengeance to each other and to humanity.

This aspect of changing sounds was missing in Adoors ‘Pinneyum’ with the story-line spanning about 17 years.  He, well known as a perfectionist in the art of movie making, has captured even the minutest sounds like the coconut leaf dangling in the temple rubbing the shoulders of the actors.  It is a puzzle as to how Adoor failed to capture the changing sounds to depict the timeline in his movie.

Responsible Dreaming-


The response received on the blog “Dreams, Aims and Goals” has been overwhelming and I thank all my ‘followers’ for it.

Veteran Major General Raj Mehta, our instructor at the National Defence Academy (NDA), after reading the above piece, made an observation about ‘responsible dreaming’.   General Mehta remarked “I would term your take as advice for ‘responsible dreaming’ with the clear intent of achieving that dream. Failure to do so would make you irresponsible and someone not quite at ease with herself/himself. Dreams carry the liability of achievement and on a time line; so dream right”. I, to some extent, endorse General Mehta’s views on responsible dreaming.

Another interesting remark was from Deepthi, a medical student from the US. She says “Though I will say that some of my friends have become rather adrift following this ideal; and also as you get older it is hard to reconcile the reality of your experience with what you thought you were dreaming about.”

‘If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride’ goes the age old adage. This applies as well to your dreams which many a time become your wish. How does a wish differ from a dream?

A wish is generally momentary where as a dream is generally a long-term affair.  A wish may be a  fanciful thought, but a dream should be a burning desire.  A dream tends to be passionate with a sincere desire to achieve and a wish may get knocked off in a few seconds which one found an excuse to be unachievable.  Some dreams will surely turn into wishes, mostly based on parental/ environmental/ peer pressure.  Your dream would be something you want to achieve, come what may, least bothering about what one may say. The moment you give up on a dream, it has become a wish.

This in no way should deter you from dreaming. Everyone dreams, but many are reluctant to speak about them, mostly fearing rebuke from parents or out of sheer embarrassment that you may be made fun of. If Martin Luther King did not speak about his dream, you would have never heard of the world famous “I have a dream” speech.

Many  dreams are knocked out of your mind by the dream killers and idea crushers, who are in plenty around us. Let the disappointments you had from pursuing your previous dreams not deter you. Take these failures as stepping stones to success. Remember that in case you dream average, you will always get below average results. Self-confidence will always help you to achieve your dreams.

Dreams neither differentiate between sexes nor age groups. My friend CG Ramesh opined that the girls in India are more focused; they grab fleeting opportunities, have definite goals and visualize coherently how they want to achieve them. He feels that the boys generally drift along and settle for less than their potential because they do not want to stretch/sweat/toil for their dreams. I tend to disagree with this as I feel that boys generally do not discuss their dreams, perhaps because ‘Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus’.

A dream is a seed that is planted in your mind, in a soil of imagination, which you may nurture and grow into a tree, a bush, a small plant.  Most times, the seed may not even sprout. To nurture this seed you must become aware of your own abilities and inner strengths. Then you maximise these with your talents, the environment, and people around you. This needs you to prime your body, mind and spirit towards achieving the dream. Thus a dream or a part of it becomes your aim and you divide the aim into achievable goals based on a timeline.

Our aims must be a size or two bigger, like a child’s shoe and with our abilities, like the child’s feet, the aim will grow to fit into it. In case the shoe is too over sized, one can imagine the perils. This should never limit our dreams, but selecting the aims based on our dreams should invariably be limited or restricted by our particular context and environment. Our dreams are often restricted more by fear and imagination than by reality. Everyone has the potential to define a worthwhile aim, and most have the ability to achieve it. We need to raise the bar every time and push beyond perceived barriers.

Once you have defined an aim that emerged from your dream, consider whether the aim as defined is worth pursuing. Consider the odds that may be stacked against it and also the factors that are likely to affect you achieving the aim.

Now evaluate your aim to see how good the aim is driving you to achieve it. Have your passions been kindled by your aim? Has the aim given you some extra energy to pursue it? Are you willing to pay a price in case your aim is not achieved? If the answers to these questions are positive, you have defined your aim well, else redefine your aim or wait for your next dream to define another aim. Continue with this evaluation until you achieve your aim. You may have to redefine your aim, make a few corrections in the method of the pursuit or may have to shelve it altogether. Do not worry – the experience you gained in defining and pursuing your aim will always help you with your next endeavour.

Once you have zeroed down on to your aim, go full steam ahead towards achieving it. Always evaluate your progress to ensure that you are moving closer to your aim. Avoid any distractions that come in the way and this does not mean that you must not undertake other activities. In case you are satisfied with the progress you have made, you are doing well. You can always get some feedback from your friends, peers and family.

Remember that there are responsible dreamers and real dreamers. The responsible ones will always define an aim based on their dreams and the real ones will continue dreaming.   You have your dreams, but never get ‘married’ to them as a ‘divorce’ would be painful.