Monday, July 18, 2022

The girl who loves to draw!


It is an understatement to say that Aadya loves drawing. When it comes to Aadya and her penchant for drawing, I am always reminded of a movie quote from the 90’s American movie “Sister Act 2 - Back in the habit” which goes like  When you wake up in the morning, and you cant think of anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl” ….. this couldn’t be any more truer with Aadya and her drive to draw that is uppermost in her mind as she wakes up every morning!   


What began as simple doodling has now blossomed into a creative, engaging, and sometimes all-consuming form of expression for Aadya. Initially, Aadya was stuck on drawing princesses and all their trappings, and then she moved on (phew!) to depicting her thoughts, state of mind, her wishes, or her understanding of a story or a book onto her drawing board!  (quite literally! 😊)  Drawing is not only Aadya’s favourite pastime or her hobby but also a form of solace on days that she is upset over something…. as she pulls out two sheets from the big pile of one-sided printed sheets (a very useful recycling method for my office waste!) and starts to draw………all is forgotten!  It’s not unusual to find her suddenly disappear to her desk in the middle of watching a family movie and reappear with an image she has sketched, drawing inspiration from something she’d seen on screen just a few minutes ago, like drawing two children playing tennis as were all watching “King Richard”! 

 It’s not uncommon to find her immediately turn out a replica of an image pasted on a new piece of clothing that we just brought home from shopping! 

It’s not out of the ordinary for our unstoppable little one to churn out 10-12 drawings every day! It’s not odd to find our house cluttered with one-sided printed sheets of all sizes, with Aadya’s drawings on the other side, lying everywhere around the house! It's not easy to swallow your guilt as she doodles out this workaholic image of yours as she waits for you to wind up at work! 

It’s not a birthday celebration at all,
 without Aadya’s colourful, vibrant and imaginative birthday cards that make for wonderful keepsakes for everyone in the family!

So much so that a recent visit to the planetarium and the Indira Gandhi park had us unexpectedly and serendipitously gate crash into the Sunday meet up of an art group called “Pencil scratchers” where Aadya found  herself most at home with a paper and pencil, rubbing shoulder to shoulder with fellow pencil artists and attempting to sketch a live model!


For someone who brightens our days with her brilliant drawings, we decided to preserve all her creations bound into books – and we already have over fourteen bound volumes of over 100 pages each, comprising of her drawings over last year and a half! Let’s hope she draws her way into filling an entire cupboard in the near future!

 So this year as she turned seven (almost two months ago and its another thing that I manage to write about it only now!), Aadya was insistent on having her birthday cake reflect her artistic quotient and Viola! ….we did celebrate her birthday in a rather artsy-craftsy way at “Firefly terrace” with a few friends and cousins who joined in the celebrations by way of a creative activity  planned for both kids and adults….and we all got our little artsy keepsakes to take home, that we can always remember Aadya and her seventh birthday celebration!


As Aadya explores her artistic side more, we revisited the book “ " I gotta draw"” by Bruce Degan that I had read to her brother almost 8 years ago! That apart, we also got a few books that she could relate to and thanks to the wonderful library   “Kahaani box”  we had a decent line up of books related to art and love for expressing oneself through drawings. From Fancy Nancy’sAspiring Artist , where Nancy is inspired to into being an artiste in her characteristic fancy style to  “Tell us a story Papa Chagall” by Laurence Anholt , which is a delightful introduction to the dream-like style of painting of Marc Chagall and “Prince with a Paintbrush” by Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan and illustrated by Ravika Sen which is a charming read on the “Leonardo-Da-Vinci of India”- Raja Ravi Varma!


But Aadya most of all related to “Bea Garcia - My Life in Pictureswritten and illustrated by Deborah Zemke, an early reader series brought out by Puffin books. We couldn’t have found a similar book, which revolves around a little girl named Beatrice Holmes Garcia aka Bea who has a penchant for drawing and expressing herself through pictures of everything about her life as it is and as she wishes it to be! It was almost as if we were looking at a reflection of our little aspiring artist as we read about how Bea navigates through her school and social life after her best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, all expressed through her magnificent drawings! . Read on as the teacher confiscates Bea’s book “My life in pictures” that almost threatens to expose her quirky view of her classmates only to have the circumspect teacher realise the power of her pencil! So… draw on…. my aspiring little artist …..the world is your canvas! :-) 



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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Travelling to the Land of the Lepchas!


Over the last few days, we have been at Sikkim, the Northern eastern Himalayan state nestled in between Nepal and Bhutan. Known for its pristine beauty of glacial lakes, breathtaking valleys, gushing waterfalls at every corner of the mountain drive, panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayas, and the precarious mountain passes. Mind you… exploring Sikkim is not for the faint hearted or one with a sensitive stomach - it involves fortifying yourself for  freezing temperatures, being prepared for anytime down pour, and enduring through winding and meandering drives through changing landscapes, bracing yourself  for breathlessness at high altitude points and of course grappling with motion sickness even when you  have never ever got sick during travel!  

But all such discomfort dissolves into delight with one look at the mist covered calm waters of Tsomgo lake, or the chance to snowball each other even in summertime at the “Zero point”, or the awe-inspiring views of the majestic Himalayas on the way to Yumthang valley, or experiencing the roar of the “Amitabh Bacchan” waterfalls on the way to Lachung, or taking in some cool refreshing  mountain air while on the pine forest trail to Rabtanse ruins at Pelling, or waking up after quick shut-eye during a long drive  to a spectacular sunset coloured sky over the silhouetted valleys… truly …travelling around Sikkim is all about enjoying the journey as much as the destination … more like life itself…isn’t it!! 


It’s after almost two and half years that we’ve donned on our travelling pants (even literally!) and our trip was wedged in between Abhay finishing his class 10 board exams and the reopening of courts in Bangalore after summer vacation and amidst incessant rains, and peak-season rush through out Sikkim and Darjeeling, Aadya’s terrible motion sickness (we had polythene bags tucked in at every compartment of the vehicle only to find them missing when we most needed them!) and Abhay’s annoying obsession with uploading stories on his instagram handle (now that his exams are over we had to keep our promise of letting him resume his social media activity!) …. we did manage to make it one of the most memorable trips ever! 


Our last stop was the West Bengal’s queen of hill stations - misty Darjeeling which was more of a reality check and reminder of the traffic jams back home in Bangalore!  Since we were nursing a minor stomach upset and were also exhausted from our Sikkim adventures, we avoided the usual touristy spots and chose to take it slow and indulged in some retail therapy on the Mall road, while enjoying some live jazz at one of its famous eateries - Glenary’s and stopping by Oxford Bookstore. 


One of the sure ways of avoiding  the crowds is to either travel during off-season or visit off-beat places within popular destinations. While it’s nearly impossible  to travel  during off season with school going-exam-writing kids, and  it’s not always possible to have the entire trip comprise of off-beat places, but it’s always possible to be a discerning traveller and look out for not-so-oft visited places like museums, quaint cafeterias and bookstores that are storehouses of local history and culture. For instance, while there were serpentine queues at the ropeway ride,  there was not a single soul at Gangtok’s Black cat museum - which we pleasantly discovered to be a wonderful state-of the art museum showcasing Sikkim’s history and the trajectory of the Army's Black Cat Regiment stationed in Gangtok. While none of the localities were even aware of this museum, the administrator of the museum himself appeared to be  curious about how we discovered this place. So much so, that even the taxi driver whom we hailed to go to our next destination was even more inquisitive about our visit and wondered  what interesting things possibly lay therein! 



 ….which leads me to our next destination….bookstores. As always in all our travels, one of the mini highlights of our trip is to visit a local bookstore and by now our entire family looks forward to it and given a chance Aadya would have spent an entire day at two of Gangtok’s famous bookstores - Good Books centrally located at Gangtok’s MG Marg and Cafe Fiction or Rachna Books (as it’s listed on Google) located opposite Gangtok’s Secretariat Office. 


Just off one of the busiest parts of MG market and near Baker’s cafe (a famous cafeteria with charming and eclectic decor, offering delectable variety of baked goodies and eateries ), Good books houses a wonderful collection of mainstream books and many works by local authors  where we ended up buying a few regular Usborn Early Readers for Aadya and an interesting compilation of tales of the land of Lepchas (Sikkim’s aboriginals), aided by amiable and helpful  bookstore owner. Good Books is indeed a lovely place for book lovers to make a pit stop amidst their MG market shopping! 


We also dropped into Cafe Fiction, an award winning bookstore cum cafeteria that has a beautiful display of a wide variety of mainstream and independent publications that one can pull out from the aesthetically placed bookshelves and curl into their super-comfy chairs reading them…while sipping a hot cuppa coffee, by the giant windows offering beautiful views of the street below. I wish “Namma Bengaluru” too had our very own Cafe Fiction! 


Anyways.. thanks to Make-my-trip, we now return to Bangalore glad that our Sikkim trip was by and large uneventful (though there were scares of landslides at certain places owing to heavy rains) refreshed and rejuvenated for our routine grind back home, our social media accounts full of stories and posts to put up and our minds full of happy memories and  four bags full of laundry! :-) 


Well… as my colleague was intrigued to notice books even in my travel DPs .. I must say that a travel without books is no travel at all! Despite long road trips during the day.. reading to Aadya was never given a miss (not that she would herself or let us go to bed without a book) and thanks to “Good Books” and “Cafe Fiction”, we were never short of interesting reads.  But to commemorate our Sikkim trip, we read from “The Legends of the Land of Lepchas Folk Tales from Sikkim” by Yishey Doma and Pankaj Thapa. 

A beautiful collection of folklores on various aspects Sikkim’s environment, history and culture. We were delighted to make some connections of what we saw, felt and experienced from some of the stories. From story of “ The Race between Teesta and Rangeet” that gives a mythical side to the confluence of the rivers of Rangeet and Teesta river that we came across on our way from Bagdogra to Gangtok to “A tale of two trees” being the story of Lali Guras, Sikkim’s Rhododendron that we saw aplenty at the Yumthang valley, or the “The Cave of Occult Fairies”, the story of Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rimpoche who subjugated the demons and saved his devotees from evil, that reminded us of giant statues of Guru Padmasambhava  at Sandrupse hill and at Pelling skywalk, and the fact that Mount Khangchendzonga is a constant presence in all the stories just as the view of the mountain  Khangchendzonga  was our constant quest throughout our trip! While we are set to get back to pavilion from now on, this book serves as a wonderful parting shot for our minds and hearts still hung over the land of Lepchas! 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

What can I be!


It’s not very often that both my children (who are almost nine years apart ) are pondering over the same things.. and when that does happen .. the difference in their respective situations seem even more glaring and bemusing! Not too long ago, my soon-to-be seven year old daughter was quite taken in by Niyatee Parikh Sharma’s “What can I be”? (It’s a different matter that I managed to find time to blog about it a couple of months later!) She was fascinated by the interaction that the mother-daughter duo have about what the daughter wants to be when she grows up!! Round about the same time, my son was going through his own “what after-class-10” pangs and “What should I do - dilemma” dominated his thoughts and our thoughts too …and continues to this day as he finishes his class 10 Board exams! While he is clear on what he does not want (“Im done with science for life”! he screamed as he finished his science exam last week)… he is still not clear about he what he sees himself doing! While there are a couple of obvious choices .... he has been in "yet to decide" mode for quite sometime now. Unlike our generation who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, the Gen Z today are spoilt for choices and seem jaded with the endless possibilities that lie before them. While  there are many who have figured it all out and are already on their decided path, there are many others who are yet to decide on their future course of action. But having already scaled up the physiological needs and probably even psychological and self-esteem needs,  as per the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Pyramid of needs”,  most kids today are directly onto achieve “self-fulfilment”!   Ever notice that the question or doubt about the “scope” of a particular choice that was uppermost in our minds back in the 80’s or 90’s does not even cross their minds today!  Of course, it’s most desirable that they are probably making choices solely based on their interests, but can they sustain their interest in the choices that they’ve made … and as parents - it’s a fine balance between being control freaks and being too pliant! With too many choices creating too much confusion, I just hope the saying “When people have too many choices, they make bad choices” will not turn out to be true!


Anyway, having just finished his class 10 Board exams, and that too four days earlier than others who had opted for Hindi as second language, Abhay is not mood to think about his future as of now, and he is simply super thrilled about being in his own words “Done with school!” …and believe me there is no looking back there! As if to celebrate this milestone, we revisited Aadya’s once favourite along with her older brother (so as to nudge him into thinking about it) - “What can I be by Niyatee Parikh Sharma and illustrated by Vibha Suryanarayan, brought out by Tota books. It’s a wonderful conversation driven story wherein a little girl wonders what can she be when she grows up and her mother assures her that she can be anything she dreams of  - from an architect, just as they stand before an anthill who are the most amazing architects of nature, or a mountaineer  or marine biologist as they sit by the lake watching tadpoles, or an archaeologist as they excavate shells from the earth, and many such choices, as they juxtapose them with related creative and explorative activities around nature. A wonderful light hearted read that makes for an interesting parent-child activity about life and career choices that your little one may want to explore. Vibrantly illustrated, my little one could very well relate to the little girl’s dreams and aspirations and the narrative inspires kids to create their own path!  As we finished reading this book, Aadya confidently declared that “I want to be an artist”!  Wow….I only wish her brother is as clear minded as she is about what he wants be!  😊

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Embroidered creations of love!

 I have never been the arts-craftsy type of person and have always been envious of people who are dextrous enough to create a tangible work of art like a painting/drawing/sketch or crafts like handicrafts/embroidery/jewellery, etc. My mother though, has always dabbled into such creative arts  like painting and hand-embroidery as a hobby and still pursues the same post retirement.  My daughter loves to draw and prolifically turns out pencil sketches of her view of the world around her…and I cant help wondering if God skipped a generation while bestowing the artsy-craftsy creative gene to our family! 😊

Anyway, my mother finds great satisfaction in her hand embroidery work and more so on her post retirement move to Dharmasthala. Anyone close friend or family member visiting Shristi is sure to leave with one of amma’s exquisitely embroidered pieces as a return gift to remember their Shristi visit. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding nature, or traditional art designs like Warli, Kantha, Kasoothi or Kutch, amma creates magic with her fingers through her intricate needlework embroidery on vibrantly coloured fabrics, or left over blouse pieces and weaves. She has even embarked on what she likes to call her “magnum opus” – an embroidered creation of mathematical equations pieced together into a massive bedspread representing almost four decades of her life dedicated to the scholarship and teaching of mathematics at Jyothi Nivas College, Bangalore. As Im writing this…I see amma’s focussed needlework creating a beautiful string of flowers on a bright red poplin cloth!

Off late, Aadya and her grandmother  share a special connection through their own forms of art. Aadya presented one of her drawings of a silhoutte of a tree as a gift for her “Sanna-ajji” and Lo and Behold! her “Sanna-ajji” had replanted her tree into customised pillow case! 

Thanks to amma, all four of us have personalised pillow cases with taglines specially embroidered by amma…with “Acchu our Hero” for Abhay, “Aadya our Princess” for my daughter, “Multitasker of Samruddhi” for my husband as he truly is, “Budding competent Advocate” for me (while I thought I was already a competent advocate ….trust my mom to give me a reality check! 😊) Her latest gift has been a hand-embroidered patchwork bedspread with unique designs on each piece, from geometric shapes to modified katha work, from traditional art layouts to colourful flower patterns, with distinctive colour combinations, and beautifully sequenced strands of threads of various shades….and all I can say is that amma’s embroidered tapestry of brightly coloured flowers adorning our bed acts as a mood uplifter just like Wordsworth’s Daffodils! 

So dedicating this blogpost to my mother’s magical needle and thread work as we celebrated her 69th birthday last weekend in a hybrid mode – while we physically joined her and my father at “Aroha’s Eco Hill Resort” at Sakleshpur, and her best friends joined in through a zoom call, with goodies being delivered to their doorstep so that they don’t miss out on the cake! 😊   

Following the birthday weekend, we had an extended sojourn at our most favourite place in the world my parents’ farm, “Shristi”, and just as we are about to drive back to Bengaluru tomorrow, we had the grandmother-granddaughter read together one of our all time favourites – “Grandma Bubba’s warm shawl” by Rijuta Ghate, a publication by Jyotsna Prakashan, which brings out books that have an old world charm to them!  Wonderfully written and illustrated, this book came highly recommended by our friends at the Funky Rainbow, and has always been one of those books we fall back on for a warm and cosy read, and it is rather surprising that I haven’t had the chance to blog about it…until now when it feels perfect for the occasion!

Grandma Bubba lived in the far away mountains and took good care of her flock of sheep. As winter approached, grandma Bubba decided to knit herself a bright red shawl from her sheep’s wool that she’d dyed red from beetroot pieces. Just then, her grandson comes running to her asking for a bright red sweater and a bright red sweater was ready in no time! So every time grandma Bubba dyed her wool green using spinach leaves, or purple with purple cabbage, or yellow through turmeric, or blue turned by indigo, each of her family member comes in with a request for a cap, or muffler or a pair gloves or a pair of socks and grandma Bubba is only too happy to oblige! So the entire family is kept warm during winter by grandma Bubba’s knitted creations and did grandma Bubba finally knit herself a shawl ?.... Read on to find out how grandma Bubba’s love for her family brought out the most colourful shawl that there ever was! A wonderful feel-good story that echoed my mother’s sentiments as her embroidered creations adorn our lives and fill our hearts with warmth and love! 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Quarantine times!


I began this year like every year with a new year resolution to blog more often, but didn’t expect to follow it up in the same month itself (it never happens!). Similarly we all hoped to embark on 2022 putting the horror of Covid-19 behind us,  but didn’t expect the pandemic to catch up with us so quickly, and in such a lightening speed so as to have the  hitherto untouched/uninitiated / uninhibited caught unaware!  Neither did we all expect to test Covid +ve at a time when we (read.. I) have been indoors for the past three weeks nor did we even anticipate that the illness would first hit my father-in-law when he hasn’t stepped outdoors in the past whole year!   Well….it hits you when it hits you is all I can say as we got sealed into isolation as a COVID HOME last week!

After being locked in through the first wave, and braved the second wave, we couldn’t after all escape the milder version of the pandemic that had engulfed the city as a third wave, which is now on a decline just as we at home find that the worst is now behind us. From acute fever and exhaustion to slight temperature and weakness, from continuous to sporadic bouts of cough, each of us reacted to the virus in our own way, convalesced as our own body and mind allowed us to and recovered in our own pace …….thankfully all at home. With four of us being co-vaxined and covi-shielded from the severity of the infection, this variant has left us drained mentally more than physically, paling us into a general sense of gloom and dis-spiritedness…as quarantine can turn even the quiet into the querulous!! 😊

Well….the best way to bring some cheer back into our lives is to have happiness delivered to our doorstep  by none other than “Funky Rainbow” our favourite indie book store of South Bangalore. No sooner did the little gems get delivered than did our happiness quotient in the household begin to rise!  Quarantine times can also be a period of emotional upheaval for us as a family as we grapple with the physical symptoms of the illness with willpower and emotional strength and what a better way to remember these trying times than this wonderful book that’s not only makes for a great read aloud book for children but also enables us to reflect on our emotions as adults. “Are your emotions like mine?” by Chitwan Mittal and Shruthi Hemani  is narrated by a little girl trying to understand what she feels every day from excitement to anger, from feeling silly to feeling nervous, from being proud to being adventurous! There are a host of emotions that we experience and reading about it not only serves as an acknowledgement of our own feelings but also a step forward in trying to understand and get comfortable with what we feel, why we feel and how we feel and express our emotions. Aided by brilliant illustrations , the little girl and her lion’s journey into their emotions was an instant hit with my little girl who couldn’t resist drawing her own version of what she feels! Here's to our emotions!