Sunday, April 20, 2014

Theatre Gold!

Summer’s here and so are summer camps!  Two years, when I first began exploring the summer camp scene in our neighbourhood, I so wished I could enroll my then five year old into one of the summer activities held at Rangashankara but couldn’t as the minimum stipulated age was seven. This year however, there was no doubt that Abhay was getting on board the Summer Express 2014! If we could, we would have enrolled him into all the workshops that he was eligible for, but alas, with vacation plans already made much before the announcement of the Summer Express schedule, we could only do the workshops in April. We enrolled Abhay into a five day workshop called “Theatre Gold” conducted by Padmavathi Rao (a.k.a Pinty akka), a summer express veteran, a gifted story teller and a writer-director of plays for children. Essentially meant for children of the age group of seven to nine years, the endeavour of this workshop was to introduce the children to the theatre, identify the common and not so common sources to draw inspiration from, and recognize if not fully understand the process of onstage and off stage activities involved. This year’s theme for “Theatre Gold” being ‘values’,  each parent was asked to scrawl out a proverb or a saying that best reflected the values they hoped to imbibe in their kids which, was then mounted on a chart board for “Pinty akka” to weave them into her interaction with the kids.  

Each day, the kids worked around the theme along with Pinty-akka and her team who tried to convey the essence of their parents’ messages and helped them understand and develop their own value based sayings, while throwing light on various aspects of performing on stage. The kids were also involved in constructing and creating their own props, through origami and papier machie with the help of organic materials and home made glue. On the last day yesterday, the kids put up a small presentation comprising of a series of 30-second acts/skits in groups of threes, with the plot, dialogues and delivery all managed by the kids themselves! 
Abhay enjoyed the workshop and was in fact begging for more! We as parents were delighted and felt relieved that the workshop was more process oriented than result oriented. On a personal note, I happened to reconnect with an old schoolmate after almost two decades, whose son happen to attend the same workshop. Overall, it was a one-of a kind workshop that Abhay will always remember …..all thanks to Pinty Akka and team and not to forget her  personalized bookmarks for all the summer express travellers!! J

So celebrating Abhay’s first Summer Express adventure, I had him read “School Play” by Susan Nees, a part of illustrated Early chapter books brought out as the Branches series by Scholastic as to help Early readers transition into chapter books.
This particular story is a part of Missy’s Super-Duper- Royal-Deluxe series. Missy loves to be on stage and dreams of being a big star, so famous that she doesn’t have to go to school. Her mother ferrets out the reason she is reluctant to go to school – her class is putting up a play and she doesn’t get a big part, in fact not even a speaking part! Despite all her pleadings and protests, Missy is sent to school where she is annoyed to find nothing going right for her – from her school report being shot down by the teacher to her music teacher chiding for singing too loud…it’s just not Missy’s super deluxe day! To add to this, she discovers to have forgotten her lunch and is forced to eat her school lunch made of bruzzels sprouts! To her dismay…all her classmates talk about is the play …and their substantial parts with dialogues, colourful costumes and music. So Missy decides to take the matter into her hands and slightly tweaks her dialogue-less role and dull costume and adds some much needed sparkle to the play, while also helping a fellow performer with his dialogues that ultimately saves the play in a super-duper-royal deluxe way!  We loved the realistic portrayal of the issues that confront a primary school kid and particularly the call outs that represents her confused yet determined mind! Though the story has a usual ending, this Early chapter book aided with apt illustrations takes the young reader through various facets of putting up a performance, including music, costumes, props, dialogue prompts, settings and of course team work! So there’s lot more to theatre than what we see on stage ….which hopefully Abhay was able to identify through one of his first workshops at the Summer Express! Here’s hoping he gets on the summer express next year too!! J
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The wonderful vacation!

After a two week stay at “Shristi”, his grandparents’ farm at Dharmasthala, Abhay is back and so is Onestoryaday! J  Unlike the last two years, this time around however, Abhay only stayed for a fortnight, as opposed to a month. Well….. we found that two weeks is an ideal timeframe - for a city kid to enjoy a quiet country life, for his slowly aging grandparents, and for his parents whose lives don’t seem the same without the constant chatter of their seven year old! While Abhay did miss his parents at times, he seemed to have had a time of his life being the boss of “Shristi” – his grandfather ever ready to act as per his bidding, including driving him to a nearby town for his daily quota of chocobar ice cream, his grandmother devising fun ways and means to engage him, even in the darkest hours (quite literally as they survived without electricity for over two days owing to torrential rains!), that included an interactive game revolving around naming places from their ending sounds!!  Phew!....keeping kids engaged during holidays is no easy task and making an extraordinarily entertaining game from ordinary things lying around, is truly an art! Thanks to Abhay's Sannaji..... whenever Abhay feels that there is nothing to do, it's  Atlas Anthakshari  to the rescue!!!:-)
Today as Abhay returned to Bangalore, recalling some of  the memorable  moments of his vacation at Shristi, I read "The Wonderful Vacation" a National Book Trust publication by Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal and illustrated by Hakim Gulam Mohammad. It was winter vacation and the three siblings, Sushil, Sunita and Sagar felt bored sitting at home. Any suggestion of indoor play or outdoor play by their domestic help or their gardener were met with jaded responses. Sagar hits upon an idea as their gardener's further suggestion to make a bouquet out of the garden flowers ... to gift the bouquet to a place where it will be welcomed and loved - an old age home that was located to close to their house. As they visited the old aged home and delighted the inmates with their home made bouquets, the children were surprised to find the inmates content with their bare minimum existence and hardly any entertainment. Touched by the seniors' warmth, the children decide to put up a performance of a play with the assistance of a theatre enthusiast friend and the people of the neighbourhood who also make a charity show out of it, with funds going into buying the old age home a  tape recorder. Suddenly, the children are bursting with ideas and put their heart and soul into creating, experimenting and improvising so as to make the show a grand success.  So it was a turnaround of sorts with what seemed like a dull vacation transformed into a wonderful vacation, with a little bit of imagination, creativity and community spirit. With illustrations inspired from the art of papier machie, this is a touching value based story that seems like a throwback to the times when we were growing up!   So with an open mind and a little imagination....."there's nothing to do" can always turn into "there's so much to do'........isn't it?? .

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy holidays!

Summer is here and so are summer vacations! With most schools closed for two months starting this weekend, you can almost feel the holiday euphoria in the air!  Bye-bye to school work, homework and the frenzied mornings and hello to summer sports, camps, summer travel, unstructured play sans curfew and lazy mornings! Seriously... I envy our kids who can take a two month from their regular schedule and so wish we could do the same! Well.... that's what adulthood means! Right???

Like every year, this year too Abhay will spend some part of his vacation at "Shristi", his grandparents farm at Dharmasthala. We are already at Shristi where Abhay will spend his next two weeks after which he's back in Bangalore. Abhay's first day was as action packed as if it were a summer camp of sorts -Sanna-ajji in charge of nature exploration, reading, arts and crafts and dishing out his favourite food and Sanna Ajja  in charge of pet and outdoor play, getting him to eat his favourite food and of course responsible for what might become a daily hazard..... retrieving his origami flying plane from the coconut tree! 

So as a start I read "Holidays have come"  by Rabindranath Tagore and illustrations by Partha Sengupta. Originally published by National Book Trust in Bengali titled "Chutti", this story has been translated into English by a panel of eminent literateurs overseen by Tagore himself. 

Although I picked up this book for its title, (and it's author of course) it's got nothing to do with holidays in that sense.  I am not sure if Abhay fully understood the depth of this story, but the perceptive and poignant narration make it a delight to read. This is a story of the rebellious fourteen year old Phatik Chakravorti who is sent off with his uncle in Kolkotta. A village lad that he is, Phatik feels unwelcome in his uncle's house and is unable to cope with the regimented school life in the city, he then starts to miss his mother, brother and his carefree life in the village. He pleads with his uncle to send him back when his uncle asks him to wait till his holidays. An unpleasant incident at his uncle's house has Phatik trying to escape to his hometown. But as he gets stuck in the storm, he falls terribly ill and the police locate him and bring him back to his uncle's house. Phatik's condition gets serious and his mother is brought in. Phatik who longed to go back home during the holidays, hears his mother's voice and says that holidays have indeed come! I love the author's insightful take on early adolescence and particularly the confused mind of the fourteen year old Phatik, who is many things rolled into one- a rebel, a bully, an affectionate but non-demonstrative brother, nervous student, an unwelcome guest eager to please his exacting aunt and a doting son sorely missing his mother! Ideal for kids aged six and above, this is a moving story of a boy too old to be pampered but too young to understand the hard realities of life! Anyway, on this reflective note.... I take a two week break from blogging on Onestoryaday (a much needed one!) and here's wishing everyone, including Abhay a very happy summer holidays! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Ultimate Shape Game!!!

I can’t believe that we’ve reached the end of the 30 books in 30 days challenge!!! Sorry for cliché …but it only feels like yesterday that I decided to post our reading experiences on a daily basis on Onestoryaday, in order to participate in the challenge hosted by friend and fellow blogger Bubbleink!  Reading everyday was given, but I was not sure if I could live up to my challenge of posting it every day on Onestoryaday! I guess it’s not just the reading but the sharing of our reading adventures with other like minded moms that made this experience most memorable. It not only brought all the reader moms onto a single platform, but enabled us to interact and exchange notes on each other’s reading experiences, all thanks to Bubble ink! Kudos to Bubbleink and her blogger friends for this wonderful initiative and the follow-up support! We loved the day-to-day reading prompts on wide ranging topics and issues we’d want our little ones to dwell on! At first, I read whatever I had on hand …without paying too much attention to the daily reading prompts posted by Bubbleink. Well, it only got tougher as everyone began reading on the lines of the day’s prompt, taking the challenge to the next level! So it’s not a surprise that in between work, routine home duties and Abhay’s final assessments, finding books that conform to Bubbleink’s pick of the day became our priority No.1! J
Thanks once again Bubbleink and team!
I guess today’s reading prompt is the easiest of all, our favourite book! I guess every kid's favourite keeps changing like the seasons and the current flavor of the season at out house is “The Shape Game” by someone who we've grown to really like and look forward to -  “Anthony Browne”, who was the  Children’s Laureate for 2009-11! Anthony Browne is someone who believes that picture books are for anybody at any age and not just books to be left behind as we grow older! This is so true as we parents seem to enjoy Anthony Browne 's books just as much as our seven year old! Most of his illustrations seem simple yet they convey a profound understanding of the world around us. In this story, a family of four comprising of mother, father and their two sons decide to visit an art museum to fulfill the mom’s birthday wish and it becomes an enriching experience for all them particularly the younger son (who is supposedly the author himself!). As they enter the museum, the dad and the older son seem unsure of how much fun this trip would be as the dad cannot figure out modern art. They browse through some of the famous paintings and the mom is shown engaging her sons with questions about what the paintings remind them of or to spot the differences between similar looking paintings, while the dad non-chalantly regales his jaded sons with some of wisecracking jokes.

But soon, dad find himself captivated by the beauty of some of the exhibits, especially a painting of a lion that he feels looks real, to which his sons cannot but suppress a giggle as they wonder how would their father react if a real lion springs out of the painting! J So that’s how the family spend the entire day admiring, imagining and reflecting on the paintings and art in the gallery while your little one vicariously lives through their amazing experience! Finally,  as they leave the gallery with high spirits, mom shows them the brilliant drawing game called the Shape Game….where the first player draws an abstract shape and each player thereafter adds his own shape to later give the shape a recognizable form! The author who is also a brilliant illustrator finally confesses that in a way, he has been playing the shape game ever since…..!!!!

Aided by spectacular illustrations of the gallery art and unique but realistic portrayal of the reactions and expressions of each family member, this is almost like a beautiful motion picture in front of your eyes ….only if you have the imagination to see it!  From the above....……it is an understatement to even term this books a-must read!!!  All I can say is ....go grab your copy today!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆಯ ಮಹತ್ವ!

ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆ ಮುಖ್ಯವೇ? ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಅದನ್ನು ಸಣ್ಣದರಲ್ಲೇ ಕಲಿಸಬೇಕೇ? ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಮುಂದೆ ಬರುವ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳಿಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ತಯಾರಾಗಿರಲಿ ಅಂತ ಹೇಳಿ ನಾವು ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಶ್, ಹಿಂದಿ, ಸ್ಪ್ಯಾನಿಶ್, ಫ್ರೆಂಚ್ ಎಲ್ಲ ಭಾಷೆಗಳನ್ನು ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಕಲಿಯಲಿ ಅಂತ ಬಯಸುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಆದರೆ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆ ಕಲಿಯಲಿ ಎಂದು ಅದೇ ತೀವ್ರತೆಯಿಂದ ಯೋಚಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆಯೇ? ನಾವು ಅಭಯನಿಗೆ ಎರಡನೇ ಭಾಷೆಯಾಗಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕೊಡಿಸಿದೆವು. ಬಹಳ ಜನ ಹಿಂದಿ ಯಾಕೆ ಕೊಡಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ ಅಂತ ಕೇಳಿದರು. ನನ್ನ ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ಗಂಡನ ಪ್ರಕಾರ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಲಿಯುವುದು ಬಹಳ ಮುಖ್ಯ. ನಾವು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ಎಲ್ಲ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಂಡಿರಬಹುದು. ಆದರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಮಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಿರದಿದ್ದರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಜ್ಞಾನ ಅಪೂರ್ಣ. ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲೇನಿದೆ ಅಂತ ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳದೆ ಬೇರೆಲ್ಲ ಕಡೆ ಏನಿದೆ ಅಂತ ಪೂರ್ತಿಯಾಗಿ ಅರಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಆಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಎಲ್ಲದಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ, ನಮ್ಮತನ ವ್ಯಕ್ತವಾಗುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾಷೆ ಬೇಕೇ ಬೇಕಲ್ಲವೇ?
ಇವತ್ತಿನ ಬ್ಲಾಗಿನ ವಿಷಯ "ರೀಡಿಂಗ್ ಇನ್ ನೇಟಿವ್ ಲ್ಯಾಂಗ್ವೇಜ್". ನಮ್ಮ ನೇಟಿವ್ ಲ್ಯಾಂಗ್ವೇಜ್ ಕನ್ನಡ. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ನಾನು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲೇ ಇಂದಿನ ಬ್ಲಾಗನ್ನು ಬರೆಯೋಣ ಅಂತ ಯೋಚನೆ ಮಾಡಿದೆ. ನಾನು ಮೆಂಬರಾಗಿ ಇರುವ ಗ್ರಂಥಾಲಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿಗುವ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳೆಲ್ಲಾ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುತ್ತವೆ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ನೆನ್ನೆ ಸಪ್ನ ಬುಕ್ ಹೌಸಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಬುಕ್ ಏಜೆನ್ಸಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿರುವ "ನೀತಿ ಕಥಾ ಮಾಲೆ" ಎಂಬ ಸರಣಿ ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳನ್ನ ಕೊಂಡು ತಂದೆ. ಕನ್ನಡದ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಕಥೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ ನೀತಿ ಇರಲೇ ಬೇಕು. ಪುಸ್ತಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಚಿಕ್ಕದಾದ ಆದರೆ ಸುಂದರವಾದ ಕಥೆಗಳು ಇವೆ. ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ನಾನು ಚಿಕ್ಕವಳಾಗಿದ್ದಾಗ ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೆ. ಒಂದು ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ನಾಯಿ ಕುದುರೆಗಳ ಲಾಯಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಅವುಗಳ ಮೇವು ತುಂಬಿಸುವ ಬಾನಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಲಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಕುದುರೆಗಳು ದಿನದ ಕೆಲಸ ಮುಗಿಸಿ ಬಂದಾಗ ಅವುಗಳಿಗೆ ತಿನ್ನಲು ಬಿಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಕುದುರೆಗಳು ಯಾಕೆ ಹೀಗೆ ಸಣ್ಣ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ತೋರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವೆ ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದರೂ ತನ್ನ ಹಠ ಬಿಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಕಡೆಗೆ ಯಜಮಾನ ಬಂದು ದೊಣ್ಣೆಯಿಂದ ನಾಯಿಗೆ ಬಾರಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಆವಾಗ ಅದು ನಾನು ಮೊದಲೇ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ನಡೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಿತ್ತು ಅಂತ ಹೇಳುತ್ತದೆ. ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊಲಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಒಂದು ಸಭೆ ಮಾಡಿ, "ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ನಮಗೆ ತೊಂದರೆ ಕೊಡುತ್ತಾರೆ, ಕೊಲ್ಲುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ನದಿಗೆ ಹಾರಿ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಬಿಡೋಣ" ಎಂದು ತೀರ್ಮಾನ ಮಾಡುತ್ತವೆ. ಹಾಗೆ ನದಿಯ ದಡಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದಾಗ ಬಿಸಿಲು ಕಾಯಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಕಪ್ಪೆಗಳು ಗಾಬರಿಯಾಗಿ ನದಿಗೆ ಜಿಗಿದು ಅವಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ. ಆಗ ಒಂದು ವಯಸ್ಸಾದ ಮೊಲ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಕೂಗಿ ಹೇಳುತ್ತದೆ - "ತಡೆಯಿರಿ. ಸಾಯುವ ಯೋಚನೆ ಬಿಡಿ. ನಮಗೆ ಹೆದರುವ ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳೂ ಇವೆಯೆಂದಾಯಿತು. ಅವುಗಳೇ ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳದಿದ್ದ ಮೇಲೆ ನಾವೇಕೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು"?
ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆ ಯಾವುದೇ ಆಗಿರಲಿ, ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಕಲಿಸಿ. ಅದು ಖಂಡಿತ ಅವರ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿತ್ವವನ್ನು ರೂಪಿಸುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಪಾತ್ರ ವಹಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ನಾನು ಕನ್ನಡದವಳಾಗಿ ಉಳಿದ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರಿಗೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತೇನೆ - "ಎಲ್ಲಾದರೂ ಇರು ಎಂತಾದರು ಇರು ಎಂದೆಂದಿಗೂ ನೀ ಕನ್ನಡವಾಗಿರು"