Saturday, February 24, 2018

"Not yet" ready for bed??

One of the many fall-outs of having a long gap between your two kids ( my older one and little one are almost nine years apart) is that the early parenthood phase never seem to end! Just as you get a breather from the 'feeding-nappy-changing-toilet training-putting to bed routine', you've landed yourself into an if it were a punishment for your dithering or an afterthought on the second child issue ( at least it was for me!) :-)
I had come to realise this all the more since I had been without hired help last month and it seemed as if I would wrap up one work shift during the day to get into an evening shift of toilet-training-feeding-bathing - putting my little one to bed!! Phew....!!

Of course the exhaustion aside, my husband and I did try to turn around the chores into fun times to share with our little one, with on and off success, even making us wonder if we really needed help with our two and half year old.  But that said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't relieved when our nanny finally showed up!:-)

So the bedtime reading routine with my little one is like a shopping sale, where you can't get a discount with buying just one's always "buy two and get 30% off and buy three and get 40% off"! So you can't get off by reading just one book, it has to be either three or more! 

The last book always happens to be Tulika's bi-lingual "Not yet"  by Nandana Dev Sen and pictures by Niloufer Wadia, the Kannada translation being "Eegale Beda" that  we both relate to, with translation by Bageshree. This book beautifully illustrates the sprightly unwillingness of a little girl who is "not yet" ready for bed! As her mother (totally identify with you, woman!) goads her little one into the bedtime routine of drinking  milk-cleaning up-changing-brushing teeth,   a routine that almost seem never ending.......but the little girl is busy in her imaginary animal world where she joins with her favourite animals from flying with the birds to diving in with the whale, from tickling the giraffes to playing tag with the crocodile, from singing in chorus with the rhinos to swinging with the is nothing but an animal circus at bedtime! Finally as she wears herself out and wears her mother down, she is tucked into bed with her favourite animal blanket to keep her company. The narrative and illustrations are brilliantly woven together to bring out a charming bedtime tale for toddlers!  Finally, an Indian bedtime book that can truly rival with numerous western publications, when it comes to the bedtime business!!

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Zoo time in December!

Like many, we are on our annual year end vacation and like every year, we are at my parents' farm "Shristi" at Dharmasthala for a combined celebration of new year's eve and my father's birthday!

Like every year, this year too we managed to squeeze in a visit to the nearest city, Mangaluru, with a mandatory stop at one of its beaches and another one at the local zoo, which has in a way become a tradition of our annual December vacation. 

While it’s important to discover the new and explore the hitherto unchartered experiences, I feel it is also reassuring to slip into familiar patterns or revisit known experiences at regular intervals so as to understand the value of what we have and how we have evolved! 

Anyway, for my little one, the highlight of this trip has been receiving her mother’s undivided attention. With courts on vacation, and the office shut and no clients to disturb, I guess I almost made up for my near absence during the previous weeks, on account of work. As we are at an end of our vacation, and are soon to get back on the work mode, I now feel weaning her off would be the first challenge of the new year!!!! 

Anyway, another memorable feature of this trip for my little one has been a visit to the Pilikula Biological park near Mangaluru. While this is not the first time we have visited the park, it is the first time that my toddler took notice of the animals she saw in the zoo. A truly well maintained zoo, with a great variety of animals that can be viewed within a short distance range (with the hippo treating us to a spectacle of 180 degrees wide open mouth and tigers allowing for the closest view ever!)  and a battery operated vehicle to take the visitors around, Pilikula Biological park is a must visit spot in Mangaluru. 

As a follow up to the visit to Pilikula Biological park, we read Tulika's latest offering for toddlers " Im going to the zoo" by Narendra Jain and illustrated by Alakrita Amaya and the Kannada translated by Nayana Kashyap, which makes a delightful read for young children. With age guideline mentioned as two and above,  it didn't take long for this book be the new favourite of my little one.  Narrated in first person by a little girl on her trip the zoo as she saunters around the animal shelters, wide eyed with fascination at the long trunk of the elephant, ferocious growl of the lion or the sky high neck of the giraffe, or the green-blue colours of the parrots,  or the water-borne giant hippo  or grass eating one horned wonder of a rhino... there's no reason for not to love the zoo!!! Simple verses accompanied by colourful and playful yet realistic illustrations, this book is a must have for the toddler library! advertised by Tulika " Tots like it lots" 

So as we look back on the year that has gone by and reassess our lives, and look forward to the coming year, here's to the pleasantly familiar and excitingly new in 2018.... a very happy new year everyone! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Aadya goes to playgroup!

I wouldn’t say that parenting a second child is easier than the first time around but you are certainly a lot more laid back the second time around, given the many ‘been there and done that’ instances that you come across as your little one grows through the usual milestones. What had earlier caused a storm in the household would hardly cause a flutter now; What appeared to be a mountain earlier is not even mole hill now; Similarly, the things that you fussed over your older one, don’t appear to fuss-worthy with your little one;  Of course, there may be many first-time issues with your younger one that you’ve never encountered before,  but wizened up over your parenting years, you know that you gotta do what you gotta  to do and there is no point in stressing too much over it… ultimately “The Kids are all Right”!!!

On the flipside though, you can also run the risk of taking some things a little too lightly as there is always a thin line between nonchalance and neglect. I suddenly realized that while Abhay’s first days of school were a big event, I don’t even remember Aadya’s first day of  her play-school.  It was only when we went for  Aadya’s  first school event, that it struck me that though it’s been close to six months since my little one started playschool, I don’t even have a post on the same on Onestoryaday

So to make up for all this lassitude and as its better late than never,  we revisited a book that we had read as she started school in June, one more gem from Kutoohala, “Goat goes to Playgroup” by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharatt, Perfect for toddlers starting pre-school/playgroup, this book is centered around the mischievous little goat who joins his other animal friends in the school playgroup. The character of the goat is mirrored on that naughty little kid in the class, who never seems to sit in the designated place during circle time, or mixes and messes up the water colours while painting, tries out dangerous stunts in the play ground and has accidents everywhere ( My little one is in this phase now!) 

A lovely book for the little ones, with playful illustrations to identify with and laugh over and simple one-liner verses to read and repeat, a perfect play-group book. My little one…you may be growing up sooner than we can keep up……but going down the same path the second time over makes it much more enjoyable and memorable than the first time! As you begin a new chapter in your life........enjoy the school days…those golden rule days!!  

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Utopia in Uttarakhand!!

We are on our annual Bharat Darshan tour, this time around the Northern State of Uttarakhand. Beginning from the banks of River Ganga at Haridwar and Hrishikesh to travelling up the winding roads to Mussoorie followed by a wildlife Safari at Jim Corbett national park and now for one last run-in with the clouds on the Gagar hill ranges at Nainital!

When traveling, it's hard to strike the right balance between engaging in hectic sight seeing expedition and indulging oneself with a relaxing holiday. When you've travelled so far from home (and the package costing you a pretty penny) might as well make the most of it.. and get your money's worth... while at the same time.. it's a vacation,after all.. and you should be allowed to put your feet up and get some R & R... isn't it? 
Well.... this has been a constant tussle through out our trip. But the key is to focus on the hits rather than the misses ( which I confess ... have always had trouble doing!) as for all you know.. the main take-aways from any trip are the experiences, memories and pictures of the highs and not the lows... and with time..the so called "lows" evoke just as much nostalgia as the highs!!! 

The highlight of this trip ( at least for me) has been visiting the Queen of hills - Mussoorie, which felt like a pilgrimage of sorts for a Ruskin Bond fan like me. Though we couldn't get to meet our favourite author, we did get to catch a glimpse of the hills with its mighty deodars, pine and walnut trees growing therefrom, the doon valley view, umpteen little streams lining the meandering roads and the myriad wild flower blossoms that always seem to find a place in his stories and his writings indeed do complete justice to the beautiful landscape that was before us, (of course, only if you ignore the touristy trappings like tourist vehicles mindlessly blaring their horns, garbage lying uncollected and tin sheds and hutments that have mushroomed at every nook and corner of Mussoorie that only seeks diminish its rich natural beauty). But thanks to our visit, we can now very well  relate to " Lal Tibba", Camel Back Road", "Wynberg-Allen school"  and many such places Ruskin Bond refers to in his stories.

We also got to visit the iconic Cambridge Book Depot and leave a note for our favourite author. The Cambridge Book Depot that was established in the year...... and located at Mall Road, Mussoorie, houses amongst others, a complete collection of all of Ruskin Bond's titles and is also the place where Ruskin Bond meets his fans every Saturday .....(Alas! He was not available this Saturday)

But curiosity got the better of me, we did make a trip to get a view of "Ivy Cottage" from the outside only to find a small little house perched high up, with a breathtaking view from its windows.... So excited was I that my husband had to literally hold me back from climbing up to his narrow staircase leading to his entrance and knock at his door!!

No worries.... as I guess like any author, or an artistic/creative personality, Ruskin Bond too is wary of letting strangers ( even fans) invade into his privacy, and is best met through his writings... and with this understanding, we did a Ruskin Bond special during our journey... each of us with a Ruskin Bond in hand!!!

"Roads to Mussoorie" was my companion as we drove from Hrishikesh to Dehradun and then up to the mountain ranges leading up to Ruskin Bond's "paradise regained"! A compilation of stories old and new revolving around his surroundings, all throwing light on historical, naturalist and societal perspective of Mussoorie then and now. A must read for anyone planning on a visit to Mussoorie.

 Amongst the other titles,  our favourite family read aloud was "Tigers for dinner - Tall tales by Jim Corbett's Khansama", most appropriate as we  visited Jim Corbett National park. 
A collection of about six spine chilling stories  about the various encounters with tigers, leopards, king cobras and other dangerous creatures during the tenure of Mehmoud as Jim Corbett's Khansama..... all narrated from his perspective.. and presented in a quintessentially Ruskin Bond style.  As Mehmoud dishes out his famous Kofta curry to lamb chops to quenching the summer heat with his succulent mango milkshakes, he regals little Ruskin Bond with interesting tales revolving around the jungle expeditions of the famous Jim Corbett and party, adding his own spice and masala to them! Packed with adventure, suspense and subtle humour, and aptly illustrated by Sunaina Coelho, reading this book almost makes up for not sighting any tigers during your jungle Safari!!!:-)))

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Happy Birthday Abhay-anna!

I guess this is the first time that Abhay has had to write an exam on his birthday and so there was nothing “Happy” about the first half of his birthday and this may not be the last time he would have an exam on his birthday as the month of September has always been the mid-term exam season for as long as I can remember….and that he has now come to encounter this in class six. Well…..what can I say…. Welcome to the real world buddy….. as no matter what …you gotta work when you gotta work!
Anyway, kids these days have a lot of expectations from their parents to make their birthdays special and  celebrating birthdays with cake and a few gifts followed by a quiet family dinner does not exactly quality as “special” anymore…all that’s given anyway! It almost feels like you’re trying to impress your boss when he says “Hmm…I wonder what else is cooking up for my birthday…”!!Phew!

Of course….each of us had our own way making Abhay’s eleventh birthday extra special…from home made delicacies dished out by his paternal grandma to the gifts ordered off the internet (as if on Abhay’s birthday registry) on behalf of his maternal grandparents, from  the old-school style of gifting a watch by his grandpa to the host of knick-knacks and gifts bought by his father and to the new-generation  dedication on a local FM station on the radio by his mom…from numerous whatsapp messages (and still counting) on our various family and friends’ groups  to the babbled “Happy Birthday Abhay-anna” from his baby sister…. We all chipped in to make the whole day better than all the individual specials put together…..after all the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts and  I sincerely hope that Abhay grows up to understand the same!!

In keeping with the recently devised  birthday tradition (that began only over three years ago and I don’t know how long we can keep it up as he grows older!) we had a birthday treasure hunt of eleven gifts symbolizing each year of his life, with the first clue handed over by his sister!  So celebrating her brothers birthday, we read about a baby leopard’s “Hide and Seek Birthday Treat” by Linda Jennings and Joanne Partis. Brightly coloured and narrated in rhyming verses, this book (another gem from Kutoohala)  is a sure delight to read aloud to a toddler who will sure be excited to go on a breezy “I Spy” adventure  of various animals of jungle who all missing on the leopard on the day of his birthday!  As the baby leopard goes looking for his friends from zebra to lion, from snake to crocodile and is almost disappointed to find none present for his birthday only to realize that they were all in the hiding for a reason…. To throw the baby leopard a surprise birthday party!! Despite nursing a viral infection, our  little one couldn’t be more excited on her big brother’s birthday……Happy Birthday to Abhay-anna! J