Friday, December 28, 2012

Mythological Mania - Who is the stronger God?

Hi Divya,

Mythological stories are some of my favourites too and I have read numerous stories from the Amar Chitra Katha series during my childhood and well into my school days. As I read them to Abhay now, some of his questions get very difficult to explain. It also pushed to me to think about many such stories which we accepted as they were. Ofcourse we cannot change the mythology and it is certainly fascinating to read. But some of the questions that Abhay asks are sure to have crossed the minds of other children too and believe me, there are no easy answers to these questions!

I thought I should list some of these situations and questions here:- 

1. In Amar Chtira Katha's "Ganesha",  the story goes on about how Goddess Parvathi created a boy to guard her door, and how this boy stopped Lord Shiva from entering the palace. The story also shows all the other Gods eager to propitiate in front of Lord Shiva and offer help. Abhay noticed Lord Vishnu (his favourite God) also doing so. So his question was, why doesn't Vishnu have powers here? Is Shiva powerful than Vishnu?

2. When I read Amar Chitra Katha's "Mahabharata" story, Abhay could not understand how Gandhari can give birth to 100 sons. The concept of the foetus preserved in pots etc, was too much to explain and way too much for him to digest.

3. In Amar Chitra Katha's "Jarasandha", Krishna actually fled to Dwaraka from Mathura to escape from the onslaught of Jarasandha. Abhay could not come to terms with his favorite God running from Jarasandha. And then comes the part where Bhima tears Jarasandha's body apart and throws the pieces in opposite direction. Quite an extreme death to explain. Similar is the death of Hiranyakashyapu in the hands of Lord Narasimha.

I am sure we will revisit these stories as Abhay grows up and slowly he will start to make sense out of the complex Hindu mythological tales and eventually will understand the philosophical meaning behind it. For now, there is one question that constantly bothers him though - Who is the stronger God? Is it Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Durga.. and the list grows! He likes to believe Vishnu is stronger for everyone has their favorite and Abhay's favourite God for now is Vishnu :-) and trust me this has no bigger significance in his mind than his favorite car character, Lighting Mcqueen !!!

I think as parents we have a responsibility to ensure that our kids' questions are answered in some logical way such that they do not develop fanaticism of any shape or form. These difficult to explain and unanswered questions will otherwise find their own meanings with different people who use their interpretation to cause some or the other kind of irritation to others. None of us need any examples do we? Every day newspapers have plenty!

Reminiscence of childhood

Hello Divya! Many congratulations on completing 2 years of your beautiful blog  - One story a day : Reliving childhood. It has been so good reading your blog. I like the bond you share with your son. Lucky Abhay! J

Today I would like to share some of my favourite books . My first introduction to the world of books was Ramayan - the great epic .There were many volumes. My dad used to read them to me as my bed time stories. As a result of  which I learnt the significance of “Dharma” (justice) and ”Sathya” (truth) along with the strength of character. 

Later I was gifted fairy tales and lovely books by my mom. They  mostly included the Walt Disney collection like Mickey mouse ,Donald duck, Goofy, Cinderella , Snow white , Sleeping beauty ,the Little Mermaid , 101 Dalmatians , Peter pan, the jungle book , Lady and the tramp , Aristocats , Tarzan and many more.

As a child I had a fetish for Enid Blyton’s books (it still continues).

Well, all these books taught me to dream a lot , have adventure and  lots of hope. My parents also wanted to discipline me so I was gifted self improvement books. These books have a great impact on me. They taught me how to think right. Among the self improvement books which I thought was a great gift to me was “The Road Less Travelled “ by M. Scott Peck. If  implemented , it is definitely life changing.

Whenever I feel like travelling my childhood again , all I have to do is go through some of these books. Voila ! I am back to the happiest place – my childhood.

I also love reading my dad’s  dairies .I feel alive J .

My  recent reads include The good earth ,Eat pray love , Catch 22.  

Here’s wishing you many more years of blogging. Thanks for inviting me again to contribute to your blog. It has been a delight sharing my favorites .

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dear divya warm hug and best wishes for completing two years of one story a day.
Here are few of my favourite books .
  1. Speed post,Spouse,Surviving men,Selective memory and Shobhaa at sixty all the books are by Shobhaa De- iam a huge fan of shobhaa de.
  2. "Power of Positive Thinking" by Dr Norman Vincent Peale,"Think and Grow Rich" byNapolean Hill,"The Monk who sold his Ferari "by Robin Sharma are my favourite self help books.
  3. "Tell me your Dreams" by Sidney Sheldon,i dont read fiction much ,i finished this book in one go ,i have read few novels but the name of this novel remains in my memory till date.
  4. "wisdom" - its my favourite since childhood even today i enjoy reading it...intresting and informative.
  5. Linda Goodman "Star Signs" the book changed my life and introduced me to the world of Astrology .
  6. "Journey through the Gaian Tarot" by Joanna Powell Colbert.
Thanks divya for inviting me to contribute to your blog.

Few of Vihaan and Vyom's favorite books

Great going Divya! Glad to celebrate the two year milestone with you.
Here are a few of ours and kids favorite books we own and hence read more often.

  • Goodnight Boston, Adam Gamble, Joe Veno
  • Goodnight Moon,  Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd 
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You see?, Eric Carle
  • Papa, Please Get The Moon for Me, Eric Carle
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Birdwell
  • Disney Storybook Collection with 20+ classic tales that early readers can easily follow
  • Lady Bird Book Series-  My husband loved growing up with these books. We bought about 20+ books for the nostalgia factor and read them everyday these days.
Wishing you many more years of inspiration for One Story a Day. I am sure Abhay will love reliving his childhood through this blog when he is a young man :).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Xmas Season!

Since our big move back to India, we have pretty much settled down in namma Bengaluru and found ourselves not thinking of the US as often as we used to when we had just got back. But the only time I cannot but help think of the US is during Christmas! Being more than a year since we moved back to India, I realize that I can no longer claim the “repatriate” status (a term I recently discovered in Shobha Narayan’s “Return to India” used to describe the US returned) but I guess we can always take some leeway during the Christmas and vicariously indulge in the fa-la-la frenzy of the holiday season in the West. 

So though we didn’t put up any Christmas tree like we did in the US (with our Christmas tree  now lighting up our friend’s house in Portland), we still managed to hang  Christmas stockings and had our in-house Santa call on Abhay and his cousin Vikranth with gifts!


Whenever I am on the look-out for an Indian publication on special events, I can always count on Pratham publications to have one.  So I had Abhay read “Sam Christmas Present” by Annie Besant and Alicia Douza a Level 1 book brought out by Pratham publications. Sam is a curious about what was his Christmas gift this year. When he asked his mom and dad, they both tell him that is hidden in a gift-hunting. Below his father’s desk, he finds a gift wrapped box but with tag that tells him that the gift is for aunt Juju. He chances upon another gift wrapped box but is disappointed to see his uncle Alfie’s name on it’s tag. Wherever he searched, he found gift for someone else but not him! But as soon as Sam resignedly sat on the floor, he spotted a gift under his bed! Did Sam open it or put it back in what was supposed to the secret place? Well, Abhay didn’t agree with Sam’s decision to put it  back under his bed and supposedly wait for Christmas! So here's wishing Abhay and everyone else a little patience this Christmas season! Merry Xmas and have a happy new year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mythological Mania!

Abhay is fascinated with mythological stories, much to the delight of my traditional minded in-laws! J Ever since we brought home "Tales of Vishnu", Abhay is sold on the Amar Chitra Katha series, whose stall we didn’t miss at the Bangalore book festival. While visiting his Doctor recently, Abhay refused to let go of an Amar chitra Katha publication that he dug out from a book rack in the clinic’s waiting room (One of the biggest incentives for Abhay to visit his pediatrician!) In fact we were forced to remain in the clinic even after we were done with the check-up simply because Abhay hadn’t finished with the story of “Prahlad”!

So while browsing through an outlet of, an online bookstore at the Bangalore Lit fest, I stumbled upon a wonderful children’s book series on mythological stories called Umachi. Boy! was I glad to have laid my hands on the last copy of “The Pillar” by Sripriya Sundararaman Siva. Part of the Vishnu series, this is the story of Prahlad, the eternal devotee of Vishnu, much to the chagrin of his father Hiranyakashipu. With vibrant illustrations, Abhay was introduced to Prahlad’s resolve and unflinching devotion to Vishnu that foiled his father’s devious plans, including that of his father’s sister Holika   who turns into ashes in attempt to kill Prahlad. When Hiranyakashipu orders Prahlad to prove Vishnu’s presence in the pillar, he writes his own death warrant as Vishnu emerges from the pillar in a half man-half animal avatar called Narasimha, the fourth of  Vishnu’s Dashavataaras. Though no one can beat Amar Chitra Katha’s range, the Umachi series is based on a picture book format that appeals to children of all ages. So here’s recommending the Umachi series for your mythologically curious little ones!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Growing up and quick

Hi Divya, as I get to read to Abhay quite often, thanks to your dedicated efforts to introduce him to the world of reading and stories, I thought of contributing to your blog with one of the stories I read to him recently.

It is every kid's fascination into growing up quickly and becoming his/her father or mother. For most of the kids, those early years are the only time when they think their parents are heros and would want to become them faster. There could also be other reasons. They think we have lot of privileges while they don't! We don't need to do homework, don't need to get ready early to go to school, don't have to deal with a friend you don't like, don't have to sit through boring classes in the school, don't have to go through zero hour where the teacher will make you do sport drills, don't have to be told to eat fast, eat this and that.. the list is really long. Coming to fun part they think parents have lot of fun such as driving the car to office or elsewhere (traffic bug hasn't affected them yet), watch TV, listen to music while not having to go to classes to learn the same! Our son, Abhay goes through all these and sometimes he just can't wait to grow up and do what he wants to do - that is watch TV, play with lego blocks, draw pictures etc. Basically be himself in his own world. I really like him to be happy in his world of imagination as very soon the realities of life will unfold one by one as he grows. For now, he never misses a chance to imitate me or act like me which is a very cute sight for us at home :-)

As Divya has asked for a contribution to the blog with a story, let me briefly narrate the Rabindranath Tagore classic I read to Abhay last week - 'The Little Big Man'. This is a very simple story of a boy who dreams that he is already grown up as big as his father and so he can do a lot of big things. He tells his school teacher that he no longer need to read books for he has grown up and the teacher agrees. He tips his maid for which his mother asks what he is up to? He answers nonchalantly that he has grown up and can do so. Mother agrees. The boy further dreams of wearing his fathers clothes and walk by himself to the village fair where the crowd is thick. His uncle tries to stop but he gives the same answer to his uncle. His uncle agrees as well. Later the boy dreams about his father coming home during October holidays and get him the dress which will be very small. He would tell his father that he is big now and he can give the dress to dada (his brother). His father tells the mother - 'he can buy his own clothes if he likes for he is grown up' and so ends the story. Abhay liked the book as it resonated with the way he thinks at this stage of his childhood. The father in the book has a moustache and Abhay wanted me to grow back my mustache (my look from few years back) after listening to the story! Not sure what plays in children's minds!

The book is brought out by Katha, a non profit organization. The illustrations are very simple but striking by Rajiv Elipe (I also got into the habit of trying to know about the author, publisher and the illustrator courtsey Divya. Not for knowledge sake, but when she asks me to pick it up from library or bookstore I won't be totally lost :-)).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nobody quite like me!

When you’ve borne your little one for nine whole months and have endured excruciating pain to bring him/her to the world, a moment that changes your life forever, the least you can expect is for your little one to look a little like you! I thought it was extremely rude when everyone who came in to see Abhay on the day he was born, claimed that he was a replica of his father! Hello! What about his exhausted mom who just went through almost 24 hours of labor? Why does everyone assume that she would gush over a comment like that? I am not sure of our older generation, I sincerely feel even if your little one is a clone of the dad, it should be considered politically incorrect to announce the same ….at least on the first day! Of course, when Abhay was growing up (he still is!)….different members claimed different parts of his body….his face structure claimed by his dad, his elephant ears by his maternal grandma who in turn claimed to have inherited the recessive gene from her grandma, his long fingers claimed to be of his great–grandfather’s… this was when I decided to put my foot down ….because in case nobody noticed….I have long fingers too! J Of course, when everybody else lets you down….you can always count on Facebook where you can upload your baby’s pictures and have your loyal friends declare that your baby looks just like you….never mind that they have never seen anybody else from your family!

The reason for this flashback is a book that I had Abhay read today, “Nobody quite like me” by Pamela Rushby and illustrated by Melissa Webb, a Level2 Early Reader from Cambridge University Press. I recently chanced upon this Early Reader series that has graded reading based on different levels of learning of the English language. For instance, a Level 2 has been described as being ideal for the second and third year of English. While visiting his grandma, a little boy finds a photo album that has photos of all the members of his family. Coming across an old photo of his now balding grandpa, his grandma remarks that he has lovely curly hair just like his grandpa Bill. The boy’s grandma goes on to liken his toes to that of his Uncle Jack’s, his big brown eyes to that of Auntie Sue’s, his nose that turns up at the end , just like his dad’s! ( Must be the paternal grandma as there is no mention of the mom!) So the boy understands that he looks a lot like his family, but there is nobody quite like him! So Abhay may have his father’s face structure, his mom’s smile, (my facebook friends have told me!), his grandma’s ears and his great-grand father’s long fingers…..but there is nobody quite like him! But in the tug-of war between his parents over whom does he look like, Abhay in fact thinks he looks like the actor Ajay Devgan!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Abhay, the artist?

Abhay has always loved drawing and coloring but off late I’ve noticed his interest wane a little. There was a time when he would spend an entire evening in the company of his color pencils. Now he seems to be satiated with drawing one picture or at the most two and he is done! Well, no harm in discovering that there are other interesting things to indulge in, but I certainly don’t want him to give up on the artist in him.  While children do tend to take up hobbies on their own, sustaining a long-term interest in the same may be a challenge, be it painting, music, dance, sports or stamp/ coin collection. I guess that’s where parents have a role to play, a delicate one at that as there is always a thin line between positive encouragement and pressure – something that I confess I also am guilty of ignoring… at times!

Anyway, I found a nice little book on encouraging kids to pursue their passion without breathing down their necks. “Paddington, the Artist” a part of the book series centered on a bear named Paddington illustrated by R.W.Alley. One Sunday Paddington is out for a walk with his friend Mr. Gruber, when they come across some paintings tied to the railings outside the park. Mr Gruber informs Paddington that it’s what is known as an Outdoor exhibition of paintings that are for sale. He points to a bright orange one titled “Sunset in Bombay” which makes Paddington glad that he doesn’t live under the scorching Bombay sun! Mr. Gruber then motions him towards an abstract painting of a “Storm at sea” that only makes Paddington sick and wish that he didn’t have such a heavy breakfast! Lastly, Mr. Gruber points to a picture of the artist himself, called a Self-Portrait.  Paddington then sets off home looking very thoughtful. When he gets home, Paddington collects all his paints and brushes from his room and goes to the garden. The next Sunday, he invites Gruber to his very own outdoor exhibition of paintings –“Sunset at Windsor” that is painted grey as it had taken Paddington such a long time to paint that it got dark before he could finish it and a self-portrait that looks nothing like him!  When Mr Gruber says that he looks better in real life, Paddington admits that he kept going upstairs to look at the mirror but had forgotten what he looked like by the time he got downstairs again! J Paddington then feels that painting isn’t as easy as it looks and he may just give up.  Mr Gruber however advises him against giving up after which he leaves Paddington to wait on his paintings hoping for someone to stop and buy one. But no one comes and Paddington falls asleep but when we wakes he finds all his paintings gone and an envelope with money. Overjoyed, he goes over to his family, Mr and Mrs Brown and when they see the handwriting they recognize it as Mr. Gruber’s but don’t say a word to Paddington!  Paddington meanwhile is encouraged to paint more and  even intends to paint a family portrait!  So as I learn to let go as a parent.....dont let go of the artist in you!:-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Storytime at Makkala Koota!

Over the weekend, we attended the Literature Festival organized for the first time in Bangalore. BLF 2012 was a dream come true for the booklovers of the city. We got to meet many of our favorite authors, have them autograph their books for us and watch them speak on various discussion sessions all spread over two and half days. BLF 2012 also hosted special sessions on children’s literature titled “Makkala Koota” which featured some books from Pratham publications, works of the famous illustrator Nadia Budde whose picture book we had the good fortune to come across in the US. So overall, it was both a fun filled and a thought provoking weekend for the entire family! Of course, when you attend such fests with your little one, a story telling session organised by  Pratham publications assumes priority over a discussion like “Ferment in West Asia”! J

So while BLF 2012 had programs for children on both the days, we had to split the time spent in the lit fest between Abhay and us, with Saturday meant for Abhay and Sunday reserved for us!  The highlight for Abhay on Saturday was the story of Sringeri Srinivas in “Annual Haircut Day” narrated by the author herself, Rohini Nilekani going by the pen name of Nonie in all her children’s books. Brought out by Pratham publications, this story is even a part of Abhay’s school curriculum. Sringeri Srinivas is a man who has a hair cut only once a year. So when it was time for his annual haircut, he discovers that the busy barber does not have the time to cut his long hair and so he tries to find an alternative. But he soon finds no one from his wife to the tailor or the carpenter is keen to cut his knee length hair. But does Sringeri Srinivas finally get a hair cut on his annual hair cut day? Read on to find out about the unexpected Good Samaritan because of whom Sringeri Srinivas literally goes bald! A couple of days later when Abhay was taken for his hair cut, he narrated the entire story while getting his hair chopped, and the salon shop owner ended up asking his grandfather, "Who is this Sringeri Srinivas, sir?"! :-)
BLF's very own Sringeri Srinivas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cupcake surprise

Staying on the subject of celebrations, I am one of those who believe that no celebration is complete without a cake. Though still a novice in baking, I managed to bake a small batch of cupcakes for the second anniversary since its Abhay’s favorite. But for Abhay, a cupcake without frosting is no cupcake at all! This time however I sought Abhay’s help to whip up some fresh cream for the cupcakes inspired by the hostess of  “I can cook”, a cookery show with kids on CBeebees, a BBC channel that was recently discontinued. Similarly, I had also read in last week’s issue of the Outlook magazine that, thanks to an explosion of modern gadgets, books, TV shows and activity clubs, urban kids are increasingly displaying an interest in baking and parents are encouraged to involve their kids in their kitchens. So I thought a special event on my blog deserved Abhay’s participation too and had him don a nice little apron and turn into my sous chef! So how was our cooking adventure may ask? Hmmm…..Well, let’s just say that cooking or baking with a six year old seems a lot cooler on TV than it actually is in reality! For now, I have no dreams of making my son a Little Masterchef, though I must say he sure knows how to pose like one! J

The central theme being cupcakes, I had Abhay read “Cupcake Surprise by Lynn Maslen Kertell and illustrated by Sue Hendra, a Level 1 Reader from the famous Bob books publication that brought out one of the first Early readers. Its Dad’s birthday and Jack and Anna decide to bake him cupcakes. But they soon discover that their pantry is short of the ingredients as they head to the store for flour and also pick up cookies for the road. When they get home, they begin mixing all the ingredients with their puppy Buddy dropping the cookies into the mixing bowl, by accident. Nevertheless, they decide to go ahead with their plan and seek their mom’s help to put them inside the oven (Very important to have the adults help out!) Jack, Anna and Buddy watch the cupcakes bake that they can’t wait to taste! Finally, as Dad arrives, Jack and Anna give him the best birthday present ever - cupcakes!  Reading and writing  about cupcakes gets me in the mood to bake….of course this time I going to stick to baking solo!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Onestoryaday turns two!

It’s been two years since I started blogging at Onestoryaday: Reliving Childhood! Though stepping into what will only be my third year of blogging, I feel as if Onestoryaday has been a part of my life since forever! It’s the same feeling as once you become a mom, the memory of your pre-motherhood phase suddenly turns blurred! Anyway, this time last year, I felt good about being able to continue reading and blogging  despite our big move back to India. This year I feel good about being able to carry on blogging despite my big move back to work after a three year sabbatical! What began as an online chronical of our reading experiences has now turned into a passion for me! Reading  to my son has always been and still is  an enjoyable experience but what I didnt realise was how much I enjoyed writing about it, until I started a nice little blog to preserve these experiences for posterity. Blogging on Onestoryaday has helped me rediscover my passion, my interests and my motivation, and in short, myself! 

 So as all celebrations are synonymous with cake, whatever the kind, this one was celebrated with Abhay’s favorite cupcakes and some of the books I read this year with the best saved for last – my husband’s surprise personalized mugs for Onestoryaday’s author and the protagonist!

Visiting the children's section of the library or a book store has always made me feel like a kid in a candy store! While I had been spoilt for choices  when it came to interesting picture books in the US, having an easy and affordable access to good picture books has been a challenge in India, especially with regard to the foreign publications.   Though we have plenty of home grown publications dabbling into children's literature, we still have a long way to when compared to our western counterparts! Onestoryaday  has not only been my creative outlet but also served as  a platform for me to share my exciting discoveries in  children's literature with other parents.  So  here's giving a chance to my readers to share their favorite children's books with Onestoryaday! Like last year, this December too Onestoryaday invites all the readers to share  the books  you  have read as children or the books you love to read to your  children!Share them all with Onestoryaday!