Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ganesha's sweet tooth!

Every year during this time, we head to my native town, Dharmasthala  where we join our extended family from my dad’s side in the celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi at the family ancestral home. This has been our family tradition ever since I can remember and so it was only natural that I continued the same post marriage and now have Abhay and in the future have our little one tag along with us! Barring the three years that we were in the US, we’ve been regulars at this annual family event and given our busy lifestyles, this is often the only time we get to meet our relatives and extended family. So much so that this is something Abhay has come to look forward to every year wherein he does not remain a mute spectator to the festivities but whole-heartedly participates in some of events surrounding the celebrations like the pooja and the bhajan session that goes on till the twilight hours followed by the visarjana next morning.  It feels nostalgic to see Abhay get into a competition mode with his cousins in the singing of bhajans, taking time off to rehearse the same in advance before the ‘final show’! Can’t blame him as I guess it sort of runs in the family as I used to exhibit the same spirit during my growing up years and I see the same vying attitude still displayed by my father and his hexagenarian brothers! :-)

Though it is more than a week since the festival, Ganesh Chaturthi festivities extend a whole ten days in many parts of the country with many neighbourhoods hosting their own Ganesha events around many cities, including Bangalore..…so the celebration of “Ganesha” is far from over. So my post on Ganesha Chaturthi (a must post occasion on Onestoryaday) can hardly be deemed out of place..isn’t it?? Anyway….there’s never a wrong time for good books and for this occasion, we read “ Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth” by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes and illustrated by Sanjay Patel, an Indian American animator with Disney’s Pixar who has authored many books on the Hindu Mythology for western audience, whose retelling of Ramayana we’ve read before. Often deemed as a  hipster’s guide to Hindusim, Sanjay Patel’s books present the mythological tales in an entertaining narrative packed with tongue-in cheek humour and quirky dialogues mirroring the recent Disney flicks that we’ve come to enjoy. Aided with vibrant illustrations, the authors take the creative liberty of adding a few fun elements and amusing scenes, while retaining the overall essence of the legend. We all know the story of how Lord Ganesha broke his tusk that eventually proved to be a blessing in disguise for the great Vyasa to put down his story of Mahabharata in writing.  But did you know it was the “Super-Jumbo Jaw Breaker Laddoo” that was responsible for him landing with a broken tusk, despite being warned by his best friend, whom he fondly called Mr. Mouse? Or as Ganesha hurls his tusk at the moon in frustration, it lands on an old man who happened to be the great poet Vyasa looking for a scribe to pen Hindu Mythology’s most famous epic. With a little goading, Ganesha no longer resents his broken tusk as he realizes it’s true worth and with the able assistance of Mr. Mouse who helps Ganesha understand the “terms of agreement”, Ganesha sets out to do the formidable task….and the rest is history! We loved the authors’ contemporary presentation of an age old tale in a manner that the children are able to relate to. Of course, the graphic illustrations are the book’s piece de resistance, that are not only striking in colours and imagery but truly represent India’s rich and vibrant mythological heritage which sets this book apart from any other mythological series we’ve read before. So along with all the goodies and festive treats to satisfy your sweet tooth…bring home Ganesha’s too!! Enjoy the festive season everyone…!!:-) 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Happy Birthday Big Brother!

I can't believe it's been nine years since we were first gifted the joy of parenthood! Yes.. It's my older one, Abhay's birthday today and ever since my dejavu experience with the birth of my little one recently, not a day goes by that I don't think of Abhay's "just born" moments. My little one being a miniature Abhay in every way, is a constant reminder  of how fleeting time is ... Nine years ago .. It was Abhay in her place who now finds himself  elevated to the position of big brother.. willy-nilly!:-) As they grow not only shed their baby fat but also their baby antics and innocence that no longer make them amenable to all the molly-coddling they had enjoyed so far. While Abhay receives a fair share of pampering from everyone at home....there are times when he feels envious when we gush over the little one's toothless grin or fuss over her baby-talk. Though he understands as much as a nine year old can, he has turned a little more sensitive, noticing every nuance of our demeanour towards him. It may be an innocent remark on his tardiness or a routine disciplinary measure... But the same now acquires a whole new dimension with the little one around. So what probably plays out in his mind is "Amma is all smiles at the baby but is always stern with me... Is this how it's going to be?" I must admit that my being away at my mom's for the last three and half months hasn't helped a bit on this front, with his weekend visits and telephone interactions turning into instruction sessions rather than free flowing conversation with Abhay (and his daddy!) Well... Parenting is  a continuous learning experience .... And I have a lot to learn in the balancing act of parenting two kids! So as my not-so-little one (anymore!) turns nine today... here's an assurance from everyone ... No matter will always be our hero! :-)

Though Abhay was no toddler before and was nearing nine, he was always our little one! But post the arrival of our second child, he suddenly seems so grown up and big! So much so... It seems as if he even may squirm at being called a kid very soon!:-) While today's Abhay's first birthday as a big brother, it is also his  first birthday without his mom at home as I am in my native town with my little one, while Abhay is with the daddy at Bangalore. So we had the daddy read "It's hard being a kid" by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos and illustrations by Marta Fabrega, though it would have been ideal if we could lay our hands on something like "It's hard being an older kid"..(May be Abhay can write it..:-)) This almost feel like a dairy jottings of a girl named Tatiana where she reflects on what it means to be a kid. Well, sometimes it's not easy being a kid... With there being so many things they are expected to do, even when they don't feel like it... Be it school, homework, clean up their rooms or brush their teeth! Tatiana feels that the kids have it tough as there are rules that follow them wherever they go... Be it at home or at school! No matter where they go... They are being watched.. at class or library or even the playground where the neighbours keep an eye on them lest they break anything! In Tatiana's opinion, the grown ups have it easy as they can do whatever they want ( if only that were true) like not eat at dinner table or being able to stay up late and are not exactly bound by rules ( Well..... Not the same rules!) and she can't wait to be a grown up! But as she ponders on, Tatiana realises that being a kid sure has its advantages... Like it's okay to be silly and how there's always a grown up to take care when something goes wrong. Finally she concludes that being a kid isn't that hard as she first thought....... And going to school and following a bunch of rules isn't that awful after all! While being little simplistic in its narrative, the illustrations are hilarious and the book has each page carry a question for the readers to think and mull over and ends with fun role-reversal  activities for kids and an advisory note to us parents attempting to impress upon the child's perspective. A great read to set the whining children into thinking about how carefree and uninhibited their lives are ... Something you probably realise after you are a grown-up!  Conveying the universal message in Tatiana's words "Instead of worrying about how hard it is to be a should just be kids and have fun"! So Abhay.... Just enjoy being a kid .... as it will be over before you know it.... Happy Birthday, my first born!!