Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parks and Recreation!!!

Yesterday I was talking to a friend back in the US where we’d lived for three years, and as every Indian in the US would do, she asked me if we miss living in the US. I had no hesitation in saying that I actually didn’t and in fact, it now seems as if we’ve never lived there at all! But after our brief chat, I began to think….is there something I really miss about the US? Of course, driving on the US roads is a pleasure whereas driving here is a pain! But one thing I really miss about the US in general and Portland in particular are it’s open spaces and parks that have a little something for everyone one in the family - a children’s park, a jogging track, open lawns with stone benches to settle into with a book in hand or picnic tables for families to enjoy their evenings snacking on their picnic meals while their kids play!  In Bangalore’s defense, however I must say that the Garden city does boast of some good old parks, like the Cubbon Park, the Lal Bag, the Coles Park and other local parks in the inner suburbs and it all depends on us to make the best use of the available resources. After all, the grass is only greener on the other side!:-)

For today’s reading prompt of garden for the 30 books in 30 days challenge, we first read “The Green Ship” by Quentin Blake.
Two children explore the neighbouring garden, come across a giant bush neatly pruned to form the shape of a ship. As they climb on the green ship, they befriend their neighbours, an aging couple who engage the children in a pretend play of all kinds of sea adventures, including steering the ship through a heavy storm (which is a real storm)… that almost destroys the ship!  This book subtly touches upon various facets of life and growing up viz. neighbours, friendship, aging, imagination, nostalgia, complemented by quintessentially Quentin Blake illustrations …… a must read for all kids aged five and above!

Speaking of parks and playgrounds, we also read “Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure” by Thomas and Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty.
Ruby loves climbing, sliding, running and jumping in the playground. In the park near Ruby’s house, all the playground equipments are in a rundown condition, except for the swing. But one day, even the swing comes crashing down, much to the disappointment of all kids. Just as all the children leave the park dejected, Ruby stays on to find a ice cream van approach the park. As the lady in the ice cream van offers Ruby her last ice lolly, Ruby polishes it off clean to find the words “plant me” written on the ice stick. Ruby plants the ice lolly stick and a multicoloured shoot pushes its way up through the soil and sprouts new branches that in turn twist into a beautiful swing. As Ruby launches herself on the swing, the branches sprouted more ladders and poles that in turn blossomed into swings and slides.

The magnificent playground then grows and takes over the rest of the city, taking along other children with it. Soon the adults join in too stalling the traffic and all other routine activities in the city. Ruby is then gently nudged into the mayor’s office by the playground branches. As she entered the mayor’s office, she sees a familiar figure seated at the mayor’s desk. Does the mayor understand Ruby’s concern for a place for everyone to play without having to wait for swings or slides? Read on about the magical adventure of a little girl that brings a rundown playground back to life!!! I love way the author mixes fantasy with real world issues and tries to inculcate a sense of responsibility towards one’s community. Not to forget the detailed illustrations that wonderfully represent a city downtown while at the same retaining the colour and vibrancy of the suburban green landscape. So here’s hoping for another ice lolly kind of an adventure like that of Ruby’s in Namma Bengaluru!!!!

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