Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guddu's photo!

Once you become a parent, you become what is called ‘camera ready’…..anytime, anywhere or anyplace! I mean…who doesn’t love taking pictures of the little ones especially since sharing photos with friends and family has never been easier! However the only ones who don’t share the same enthusiasm as their parents are the kids themselves…with some exceptions. Well, one can’t expect young kids to take time off from exploring the world around them all for a mere photograph! But if you thought it would get better with age…think again. As our little celebrities get older, they have attitude issues with posing for the camera…….making us feel like the nosy paparazzi! Of course, some of the best pictures shot are the ones captured naturally without going through the ordeal of getting them to strike the perfect pose, but there are times you just wish they would oblige and at least look into the camera …let alone smile for you! A couple of days back, Abhay came into my office and saw me in my Advocate’s garb and couldn’t resist trying it on and when he did, I couldn’t resist taking a picture, much to his irritation. In fact, I get a jaded look every time I ask my six year old to pose for one of my ‘blog’ pictures …with an even more jaded question “For your bloooog, is it?”

Today we read about the plight of one such mom keen on taking a solo photo of her little boy who is turn hell-bent on posing for the camera with his toys. “Guddu’s Photo” written by Nandini Nayar of  "What should I make?" fame and illustrated by Zeel Sanghvi. Brought out as a bilingual book mainly for very young children by Tulika publishers, ‘Guddu’s photo’ is an endearing story of Guddu who refuses to smile for a photo without his toys! As Guddu’s mother makes him sit on the chair sans his favorite cat, dog, monkey, horse and parrot. As they move from indoors to outdoors to under the tree, to near the gate …Guddu’s favorite animals follow them everywhere not letting his mom click the camera! The illustrations bring alive the child’s imagination of his favorite toys without whom he feels left out. Finally …like all moms, Guddu’s mom too gives in and lets Guddu pose for the camera with all his favorite toys! Described as ideal for children aged three and above, this book incorporates a simple concept and weaves it into a charming tale. Packed with curious illustrations and repetitive sentences, easy for the younger kids to follow that can also double up as an early reader for young readers,  Guddu’s Photo” is sure to make your little one smile…..just make sure you have your  cameras ready!:-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Look what I've got!

We all have our share of insecurities - be it about our capabilities, careers, looks, acquisitions or possessions and so on and so forth. Many a times our insecurity quotient is determined by the way we view the successes and failures of the people around us! For instance, if X went on a exotic holiday (as seen in the photos posted on Facebook) or exhanged his old car for a swamky new one (never mind the whopping EMIs), or landed a high paying job (never mind high-pressure or crazy hours ) or lucky enough to get promoted (never mind that he actually worked hard for it ), or found the perfect life partner (we all know there is no such thing!), it is almost like X has a life and we dont! Of course, not everyone feels this way all the time...but almost everyone goes through this at some point or the other ..and the social networking sites are only adding to our insecurities! :-) But it is a matter of choice whether you get affected by this perceived inadequacy or simply brush it aside as having a bad day! Well, its the same with our little ones it may only be about the radio controlled toy or the Xbox that his friend has and he doesn't whereas tomorrow it will only get bigger and when it does.....will he be self-assured enough to make that choice??

I found a wonderful book at the British Library that carries a beautiful message in the most subtle manner. "Look what I got" by one of our favorite authors Anthony Browne, favourite because his books seem simple yet surreal, illustrations seem funny yet thought-provoking, and the running theme may seem plain yet is complex on many levels! So if you ever find a book by the said author, dont hesitate to pick it up! In this story, Jeremy is all the time trying to show off to Sam about what he has and what he thinks Sam wished he had! As Jeremy boasts about his  shiny new cycle, Sam looks unfazed and merely walks on and Jeremy ends up crashing his bicycle! Jeremy then shows off his football and as Sam joins him in the play, Jeremy realizes that Sam is brilliant at football. But all Jeremy can do is smash a window with his football that lands him in trouble! However hard Jeremy tries, he cannot get Sam to feel envious of what he has. He cannot stop himself from saying “Look what I've got, I bet you wish you had one” when he has a bag of lollipops, or a furry gorilla suit or a pirate costume, or an outing to the zoo, but Sam couldn't have cared less! It is Jeremy who is in a soup every time he parades his possessions and ends up being rescued by Sam! Sam may not have what Jeremy has but he seems contented and happy with himself and what he has! Abhay loved this story and found the illustrations relating to Jeremy's well-deserved mishaps quite funny. Hopefully he would imbibe the message sought to be conveyed. Mind you, this is a message not just for the little ones....the next time you feel someone saying to you "Look what I got"........just walk on!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A hat-trick of plays!

We have always enjoyed watching live theatre or a play but were either too lazy to drive all the way to Chowdaiah Memorial Hall or Alliance Francaise ( where most plays in English are staged) or felt daunted by how much the tickets cost both of which discouraged us from turning into “theatre-buffs” as we would’ve very much liked! But ever since Rangashankara sprung up literally at a stone’s throw off from our house and  began to stage a wide range of plays both in English and regional languages on a regular basis, with cost of tickets easy on the pocket too, what else could we ask for! In fact, there have been times (before Abhay was born of course!), when I had nothing to do on a weekday evening as my husband was stuck in conference calls, I’d walk up to Rangashankara and watch the play of the day and return home just before dinner! Anyway, parenthood changes a lot of things and so did our penchant for plays as most shows at Rangashankara place a strict age limit of 8 and above. Though we do manage to catch a show or two leaving Abhay with my in-laws or with my parents, these are nothing compared to the hey-days of pre-parenthood freedom! :-) But whenever there is a play meant for children, I make it a point to take Abhay as I was once told by Arundhati Rao herself  that getting your kids to watch plays will only ignite their imagination further!


So this weekend saw a hat trick of children’s plays for Abhay, with two of them in Kannada staged by the Sanchari theatre group at Rangashankara and one in English put up by Rafiki  at Gambola children’s centre. The English play is titled “Fabulous Adventures of Aditi and her friends” which is a confluence of the first five books in the Aditi and her friends series by Suniti Namjoshi, was performed in a unique non linear format and the narrative unfolding with the aid of shadow puppets and live singing by the actors. We heard that there is another show playing at Jagriti two weeks later. Anyway, Abhay quite enjoyed all of them and liked the performance of “Narigaligeke Kodilla” (Why don’t foxes have horns?) the best! This is a play written by the most celebrated Kannada writer and poet “Kuvempu” and directed by Mangala.N and beautifully complemented by some foot-tapping live music along with fantastic performances by the cast of the Sanchari theater troupe. The same group put up a performance of the fairy tale of “Pinocchio”, translated and adapted to appeal to today’s children. So I read the tale of “Pinnochio” brought out by Omkidz publications. We all know the story of a talking wooden doll whose falls prey to temptation and cuts school to watch a puppet show only to have him land in trouble and later saved by a fairy.  But when you watch the characters come alive on stage with the aid of creative and colourful props and peppy music and not to mention Pinocchio’s expressions mirroring your little one’s when he makes those false promises in exchange for something he badly wants or fusses over bitter medicine or plays truant with school or lies to save his skin, believe me, this is a play not just for the little ones! :-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Mango season!

Last year this time I was lamenting over the fact that my son will never know the pleasures of savoring the most celebrated tropical fruit ever – the mango! It was almost a herculean task to get him eat a slice of mango. However, what I hadn’t realized was what could not be accomplished by a mother’s cajoling was effortlessly done by a grandparent’s pampering! Towards the end of the season last year, Abhay’s maternal grandpa had managed to feed him some luscious alphonso slices and apparently he couldn’t get enough of the king of fruits!  But what I hadn’t expected at all was that my little one who has an aversion against fruits in general, was in fact eagerly waiting for the mango season this year! Last year, Abhay just stood by watching us relishing mangoes, this year however he was the first one to dig in! But the only flipside is that he refuses to eat any other fruit other than the mango!

 To celebrate this rare change of taste, I had to read a mango story for my mango lover! Last year Tulika brought out a magnificent book titled “"The Sweetest Mango"”, but this year though I couldn’t lay my hands on any book, I found a delightful story in the May issue of Highlights Genies by one of our favorite authors Nandini Nayar titled “Meera and Kiran and the Mango story”. While enjoying the best mangoes of the season, Meera wonders where do mangoes come from, Kiran replies that mangoes come from the shop, Meera further quizzes as to where does the shopkeeper fetches mangoes from to which Ma replies from the trees. Kiran seems puzzled and wonders if there is a tree in the shop ( Abhay loved the illustration of a shopkeeper perched on a tree selling mangoes!) Assuming that all trees grow mangoes, Meera declares that she cant wait for their tree to start growing mangoes too when Ma clarifies that their tree is a coconut tree which can never grow mangoes. So Meera and Kiran set out to grow a mango tree in their garden which Kiran promises to take care and share his food. Ma then gives them a one-on-one on the essentials of gardening which the children follow to a T and before they know it, they are relishing the mangoes from their garden! An informative story to narrate as your little ones gorges on the king of fruits! Enjoy the rest of the mango season everyone!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mothers' day!

When Anna Jarvis campaigned to have the second Sunday in May recognized as “Mother’s day”, she probably didn’t anticipate how commercialized this day would turn into! In fact, seeing every business from restaurants, salons, baby and clothing stores to maternity hospitals cashing in on what is supposed to be a simple appreciation day, it almost seems clich├ęd or contrived to wish “Happy Mother’s day” to your own mother! Well, to me, today is the day to express gratitude for all those annoying “mothering” moments, while at the same time hoping that your little one would probably feel the same about your own “mothering”moments of today! We are constantly introspecting over the choices we make as moms and its impact on our little ones and I am now beginning to understand what my mother went through over the choices she made or decisions she took concerning me. For instance, it may begin with “Am I feeding him/her enough?” or “Should we take him to the doc or wait for another day?” and grow into "Will this job-change affect him?" or “Am I being too harsh with him?” or “Is this the right school for him?” or “Is this extra-curricular activity too much for him to handle?”and progress into “Will this be a good career choice for him?” or "Is she the right one?" and eventually evolve into “Am I being pushy?” or “Should I just let go?” – in all asking ourselves the same question “Am I doing the right thing for my baby?” So I guess today is the day you can put to rest all those self doubts your mother has had while raising you with a simple “Thank You”! ....... So...thanks amma for the choices you made!

Celebrating Motherhood- Three Generations of mothers (My own mother is missing from this picture though!)
You may be a mother of nine (in case of our grandma) or a mother of two (in case of my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law or a mother of one (that’s my mother and me!), you cannot but agree that you play a pivotal role your child’s life! So on mother’s day I read “My Mother” by Jaya Jaitley, art and pictures by Bahadur Chitrakar, a Level 2 bilingualEarly reader brought out by Pratham publications. Set in rural West Bengal, a little boy describes a day in the life of his Ma who toils for her family. She wakes up very early in the morning to fetch water from a hand pump in the village prompting the boy to dream of becoming a mechanic so as to be able to repair the pump for his mother. Besides cooking and cleaning, Ma is clever enough to help them with their lessons and narrate magical stories that never end as they all fall asleep before she finishes! At end of the day, when Ma’s work is done, she sits down to paint pictures just like her mother did as it makes her happy! I loved illustrations that are designed in traditional Kalighat Parichitra style that are both vibrant and authentic to its setting. A simple and sincere narrative by a little boy who is full of gratitude for his home without his mother would not be the same!! Well....its the same for all of us, isnt it? To all moms......Happy Mother’s day!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cant wait for summer be over!

 I am glad that we are in the middle of summer holidays - one month’s over and one more to go! Even before Abhay began his summer vacations, I had begun planning for them! I thought I had it perfectly planned out for Abhay to spend the first half at his grandparent’s farm in Dharmasthala the old fashioned way, followed by a refreshing family vacation to Kodaikanal which would ready him up for a football camp organized by his school. But when the school decided to cancel the sports camp for the month of May due to very few enrollments, we were faced with the horrifying prospect of Abhay spending the whole day at home, which would have him invariably turn to the idiot box for company. So we were forced to do some last minute leg work for summer camps in our area, the result being Abhay has been enrolled into a discovery and science based summer camp organized by a group known as the Readwell academy. Ideally, I would have wanted him to be engaged in some outdoor sports or physical activity, but given the circumstances, I can certainly make do with any activity that has him constructively engaged at least until noon,  as opposed to watching TV the whole day! Well, to be honest, with Bangalore’s scorching climate, diminishing open spaces (unless you live in an apartment), and unruly traffic even in residential localities, I wouldn’t blame him for wanting to stay indoors instead of exploring the outdoors!

Besides holidays, summer is also the time to head outside, relish the king of fruits and gulp down gallops of ice cream! So today I had him read “Lassi, Ice cream or Falooda” by Mala Kumar, Manisha Chaudary and Priya Kurien, a Level 2 Early Reader and a part of the Rituchakra series on seasons brought out by Pratham publications. As usual Meenu is excited about summer, a season between spring and monsoon, a season of school holidays, a season to take a vacation on the hills, like Ooty (“or Kodaikanal” as Abhay recalled), a season of grandma’s raw mango panna or Farhan aunty’s sweet smelling Falooda, a season of the hot sun that has everyone wearing dark shades and feeling thirsty while quenching the same with Nimbu Paani or ice creams. So is the little sapling that Meenu had planted during spring that has grown into a little plant which Meenu never forgets to water twice a day. Finally Meenu shares her eagerness with the plant which she feels is waiting for the monsoon to bear fruit the next summer. Well, its not only Meenu or her plant, I guess everyone is waiting for the monsoon too!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We're Back!

After a month at “Srishti”, his grandparents’ farm house in Dharmasthala followed by a family vacation in Kodaikanal, Abhay is now back in Bangalore. With one whole month of unstructured outdoor and indoor play under the cosseted care of his grandparents, it was a nature summer camp of sorts customized and tailor-made for Abhay! However, with Abhay grandpa’s busy with festivities at a local temple, it was left to Abhay’s “sanna-ajji” to hold fort and cater to her very demanding grandson! Abhay also had the farm pet dog for company, who was not only happy to follow him around but also withstood Abhay’s physically oppressive methods of play! So in all, did Abhay miss his parents? Nah….how could he when he had his Sanna-ajji - an ace storyteller, an arts and crafts exponent, a pretend play enthusiast, a peer to have a silly tiff with – all rolled into one and not to forget, an  ideal playmate ever ready to let her fellow playmate win!:-)

So now back to pavilion, recalling his action packed vacation at Srishti, I thought I’d read to him from a book gifted by Sanna-ajji. Aptly titled “Grandma’s stories” brought out by Omkidz publications this book contains four interesting stories all narrated by granny as the children listen on in rapt attention. We read “The Talking objects” which was Abhay’s favorite amongst all the stories. Tired of her grand-daughter Lizzy’s careless attitude towards her belongings, Granny decides to make Lizzy realize the value of her belongings, by way of a story, the story of Robin who was infamous for treating his belongings shabbily.  Just as he was about to bang his fist into the alarm clock, the clock protested over the way he punches it every morning. Shocked to see a talking clock, Robin wakes up with a start only to find his toothpaste, toothbrush and school bag give him a piece of their mind! At school, as he asked to complete a math sum on the board, he is further flummoxed to find the chalk develop a mind of its own and scrawl out a duck instead of the answer making him a laughing stock before his classmates! It turns out that all the objects had had enough of being thrown around by Robin that they decide to teach him a lesson. So as granny narrated the story of rude Robin, Lizzy understood the message behind the story and promised to ensure that she doesn’t meet the same fate as Robin!  Though this book may not make it to the Recommended Picture books list, “Grandma’s stories" does make an delightful  read, as everyone will agree grandma tells the best stories in the world and so does Abhay’s grandma! Thanks to Abhay’s Sanna Ajji for entertaining him the whole of last month…as I am already at my wit's end trying to do the same this month!