Sunday, May 12, 2019

Aadya's day out at the beach!

Summers are always a throwback to one’s school days!  Though we adults aren’t as lucky as our kids to enjoy a summer break for a  whole month or two  (unless you are in the teaching profession),  the sweltering heat, twilight evenings, school holidays, the mango season, ice cream outings….. All of which ushers in a lazy feeling goading you to .........maybe take it easy this season …..unwind and chill out with kids and family. With schools closed, and a consequent respite from the morning rush and evening homework, I can't help if some of my son’s holiday fever rubs off on me too. Though we didn’t plan for a major trip this summer….we combined a couple of family events at our native town with a small beach vacation at the coast with a final stop (as always) at my parents’ farm house Shristi, Dharmasthala.  

The highlight of our trip was our stay at Sai Vishram Beach resort at Baindur, Udupi District. A quiet little property on the shores of Someshwara Beach which promises a back-to-nature (sea in this case) experience, free from devices ( no TV nor phone) albeit with all the modern comforts, and a delicious vegetarian spread. The almost-private beach as its center piece, the resort offers a host of beach related activities during the day and sunset evenings with chai and literally ‘bajji on the beach”!  We enjoyed the calm and pristine surroundings of this Sattvik resort, made even more homely by the ever-smiling staff and not to forget the Sai Baba temple in the midst of the refreshingly beautiful sea facing greenery that made for a memorable summer getaway for all us!

Though our little one has been to a beach before, this was her real  full fledged beach experience and we were quite surprised that she shared no inhibitions (like her brother earlier did!) with any of the beach activities, whether it a motor boat cruise, to jet skis, or riding on the waves lashing on to the shore with the help of a life guard or simply floating in the middle of the Arabian sea, or making sand castles….our little adventurist was game for it all!  

To complete her beach experience, we read a couple of books on the beach. I had picked up   "Keya's day at the Beach" a Level 2 Pratham reader by Radha Rangarajan and illustrated by Lavanya Naidu. Keya excitedly  peeks out of her burrow in the sand to be looking out at the sea. As she accompanies her mother to the beach, she spots many of her kind who have all come out for their feed of the day at the shore. As she marches on with her mother, grabbing whatever treats she can find in the sand, her mother introduces her to many of her species kind from the robust-soldier crab, to the eye-popping ghost crab, from the big-claw-fiddler crab to the crab-eating moon crab. Alas! just as she nears the sea, it is time to head back to the burrow. But Keya has enjoyed a day out at the sea and can't wait for the next day to march into the beach again! This is a-one-of-a-kind fiction-non-fiction book anthropomorphizing crabs which does make an interesting read with vivid illustrations for curious little minds.
But for my little one to fondly remember her fantastic beach experience at Sai Vishram Beach resort , I had to fall back on another anthropomorphic series - "Peppa at the Beach" , a Peppa Pig adventure, revolving around their beach outing with the Kangaroo family. My little one could very well relate to the excitement of the approaching waves, riding on the waves and being carried by the waves into the shore..... just like how she attempted to do with the help of a life guard at the beach.  Just as Daddy pig is caught off guard with a giant wave that picks him up and carries him into the share, my little one was knocked down by quite a few big waves hitting the shore and no sooner did she wipe the saline water off her face than she was ready for more! So just like Keya and Peppa, our little one loves the  beach! 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

We are the Readers!!

"One book, two eyes and one light....that's all you need....and within no have read over a hundred pages!' This is what Abhay happened to say about his interest in reading when asked to speak recently at his Youth Leadership summer workshop conducted under the auspices of Toastmasters International. Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed at his bibliophile-style account of reading a favourite book while being a tad surprised too. Is Abhay  a voracious reader...No!  Does he pick up any book and begin to read.....not really! When asked to choose between a book and a device (not Kindle)...would he choose a book? I'm not sure but my guess is  that it would first be the device and then the book.
While Abhay has always enjoyed being read to, he has not always been enthused by every book I pick out for him to read!  Fair enough....he has his own favourite authors and genres we all do. While he may jump at a novel by Michael Morpurgo and even manage to read it at one go, he may trudge though another book and even abandon it mid-way! It may be an award winning author or a Newberry medal book, but if the theme doesn't impress our big little man, he will not get past even the first chapter!  But as a parent it is my job to gently goad him to trying out new authors and works.....while learning to let go when he does not take to what I deem is good literature (which is very hard and easier said than done! ) If not anything else, that's another reason for me to continue reading to him from my curated buys, while letting him dive into the world of his own favourite works! Whatever said and done......... if books (or ebooks) even figure as one of the interests or hobbies for today's device obsessed generation to turn to, we can consider it as a job well done...for parents!

Books have been a integral part of our lives and our house-hold has books falling out of every corner rack....from books that we couldn't resist picking up at a book fair, books we bought for authors to sign on at lit fests, self-help books that we aspired to read only to be pushed to the last, multiple books that we've been currently reading depending on our moods, books we've read many times over and hold a sentimental attachment to, books that plan to pass on to our kids, children's books that our older one has grown out of (or we think so until we find him to pouring over them on some random jobless afternoon) and we hope our younger one soon grows into.... (but considering her independent streak......that may never happen!) Books ..books and more books! 

Our summer reads! 

With the World Book day yesterday,  I put my phone on silent and spent an entire evening reading to my younger one who is equally find of books and exchanged reading status updates with my older one who is spending a part of his summer vacations at his grandparents' at Dharmasthala. Soon it began it rain outside and I turned some music Abhay put was just one book (at a time)......two pair of light......and we were transported to another world!  

Amongst the many books we read, I picked up "A Book is a Bee" a Tulika Publication by Lavanya Karthik and pictures by Ruchi Shah. Though we've had this book for quite some time now, its only now that I felt that Aadya was ready for it. True to the its title, this book lets you into all that a book can be and has to offer.....from being likened to a bee buzzing in your head to growing like a tree with branches that leads you to places all over the world, from being compared to a ship that lets you sail into far away waters waving with words to looming large like a rain cloud that showers stories! A book can play the role of your best friend and soothe you like a warm blanket and even offer a lip smacking feast!  A nice little book about the fascinating world of books with equally fascinatingly illustrations to get your little one hooked on to! Read on.....become a reader and you'll know what we are talking about!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Like a girl!

"Balance for better" is this year's theme for International women's day. A balanced and an inclusive environment especially in terms of gender is truly the way forward. As highlighted by Shelley Zalis on Forbes , 'When you add more women to any equation, there's a return on equality'.  Seeing more and more women at the boardroom, courtroom, legislature, cockpit, stadium, studio or on the front-lines is certainly not only a measure of progress of the society but also encourages many others to take a leap and a recognition and  celebration the same is the sheer essence of International women's day.

Speaking of balance on an individual level.....for every woman of this millennium, achieving the right balance has been a constant challenge. We are on a tightrope......on a perpetual balancing act... switching between our different identities, working around our varied schedules, managing expectations from multiple quarters - professional-societal-maternal-domestic and not to forget our own expectations from ourselves.... Oh! the different hats we wear!  Of course, like everyone and everything else, we have our goods days and bad days. There are times when things seems to be working reasonably well, even to a level of being textbook-perfect., and there are times when things couldn't be worse off....or when one role seems to overshadow the other least for the time being.....and we feel guilty and with it, the need to justify ourselves.  But especially on those days..... we need to cut ourselves some slack....and not feel solely responsible for the things going wrong... ..and key is to go with the you what got to do...and give it your best shot! As Julia Child had said "No matter what the kitchen  (sic)  (but you can take it as life in general) ...never apologize"

Women's day is also about supporting the individual freedom of choice and how as a society we ought respect a girl's choice to live life on her own terms, whether its choice of a career or a life partner or simply how she chooses to dress.... it's her choice and thus will be her responsibility to deal with it!  Anyway, I always try to read something woman-centric on Women's day, and this time I was delighted to find many books revolving around women. We had picked up "Like a Girl - Real stories for Tough kids" by Aparna Jain by Context, Westland Publications, at the Bangalore Lit fest last year when Abhay being one of the few boys to get the author to autograph the book for him as signed as "Change the world #Like a girl...."  

As true as that, the book presents the inspiring stories of fifty six women who pioneered their way through the so called male bastions with sheer grit and determination and  sought to change the world and thus making way for more to follow. From Sultan Razia to Dipa Karmakar, follow the stories of these  women who broke stereotypes and didn't hesitate to take the road less traveled to reach great heights. While there are many famous names that we've all heard , the book also features lesser known but no less adventurous women who rose from ordinary circumstances to make an extraordinary impact - like Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla who took on the multi-national Union Carbide factory through their NGO 'Chingari' or the environmentalist Sunita Narain who lead the campaign in Delhi for vehicles to switch their engines from diesel to compressed natural gas or the writer Bama who took on the caste divide in her village and wrote about it that not only won her recognition but also empowered many other Dalit girls. A great book about great women.......and for anyone comparing "being shy or to a girl..." this book is a great way to show them to change the world a girl! Happy women's day !!  

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Happy Birthday my ninja nani!

Amma writes all these blogs about me and my sister.  Now it is I, Abhay Karanth,  expressing my thoughts on Onestoryaday. It is my  grandmother's birthday today! I always make cards for all of my family members' birthdays but this time I've decided to key in a guest post on Amma's blog as my grandmother is on a travel trip to Gujarat!   

What do grandmothers mean to us? To me, my grandmother is happiness, laughter, maths, football and fun!  My grandmother makes jokes when you least expect it and makes everyone laugh. I always practice Maths with my grandmother as she is a retired Maths professor and I don't forget to go brag about it at school, even to my teachers! 

One of my favourite TV shows is a show called "Young Sheldon" and I can relate to Sheldon's relationship with his grandmother whom he calls Meemaw. Meemaw is just like my grandmother except that my grandmother is more caring. Meemaw has a pet name for Sheldon and calls him 'Moonpie' and my grandmother calls me 'Acchu'. Meemaw means a lot to Sheldon and so does my grandma  to me!

As every post on amma's blog has a book a to go with, I read "Ninja Nani" by Lavanya Karthik.   Deepu is an ordinary boy and loves watching the TV show Ninja Dragon. But his grandmother is always sitting on the couch and watching her cooking shows. What can Deepu do? Snatch the remote! But while fighting for the remote, his nani goes bananas and turns into a ninja warrior and does all the moves that a Ninja  does! Well, will Deepu survive this crazy evening as nani uses her recently acquired ninja powers to catch the burglars in the park? Read on to find out.  I love the fact that Ninja nani is extremely funny and always cracking jokes but when it comes to her grandson, she is extremely protective....just like my grandma. I would give this book a 4.5 stars out of 5. 

I know my grandmother is going to read this so I would like to wish her a very happy birthday and this day comes once in a year and she should enjoy it. I would like to end by thanking every single grandmother in the world for always being there for your grand kids! Happy birthday to my Ninja nani. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Angry "A"s!

What makes you angry? When your clients dodge paying up after extracting all the work from you? Or when you feel your entire weekend being devoured by your kids leaving absolutely no 'me-time'?  Or when your little sister is a ubiquitous presence at home, staking claim to all of your parents' attention? Or when you are not allowed to snack on your favourite junk food (which happens to be right before dinner time!)........ these are a few reasons that makes us go all red and hot! Off late, both our 'A's (as we fondly refer to our kids both whose names begin with the first alphabet) have been experiencing certain anger issues in their own way........if one is transitioning from tween years to teens.... the other is moving from thunderous threes to fussy fours!! While we dialed in  for "Toddler 911 techniques" for the latter, for the former we decided to introspect and look within and like most children's's no surprise that this too stems from the parents! While anger is a natural feeling when things don't go as expected, it's how we choose to react and express our anger that has a direct bearing on how our kids let their steam out! We yell and they yell, we abuse and they abuse, we curse and .........well.....they'll think cursing is cool!
Of course, avoiding all kinds of outbursts or shouting-matches is easier said than done, and it's convenient to let it slip a few times and blame it on children themselves or rationalize the same as parental authority! But seriously...who are we kidding? They are as we are and they will turn out as we have turned out. As the saying goes ....children are great give them something great to imitate!

As we all learn to deal with our own anger management issues, I discovered an insightful little children's book on the same subject by Pratham publications titled "Angry Akku" by Vinayak Verma. Recently awarded the Hindu Young-World Good Books award for the Best Picture book: Story category, this book is based on a theme that transcends all age groups and makes a delightful read for one and all.  Even the name of the little girl reminds me of Kannada author Vaidehi's story of a strong willed woman named "Akku" with her own anger management and mental health issues that was even adapted into theater and later a movie. I wonder if the author drew inspiration from the same....!

Anyway, as little Akku is picked up from school by her father, he notices that Akku is not her usual perky self but is upset over something. Nothing seem to cheer her up...if the sun flowers on the way are "too yellow", the monkeys on the roof of her house are "Chee!" Nothing that appa has to offer softens her mood..... and though she refuses to down a glass of buttermilk or crunch into the crispy vadas.... on second thoughts  she polishes off the plate in no time!  Despite being in an unenviable situation, I envy the father's ability to stay patient and adopt a therapeutic  approach to letting Akku's anger subside! Why is Akku angry or most importantly, does Akku finally cool down?  Read on to find Akku's  annoyance melting away as she turns from Angry Akku to Artist Akku!  Aided by vibrant and imaginative illustrations,  and endearingly relatable portrayal of its protagonists, this book is truly one of the best picture books in recent times! Even on a personal level Angry Akku is a big hit at home as I see my little one imitating Akku in one of her own angry avatars and my older one trying out the ten best things suggested when he feels angry like Akku and  our lives are all about juggling between them as we learn to deal with our own angry-Akku-moods!