Friday, October 30, 2015

Aadya is here!

Over the previous weekend, we were joined by our close family and relatives on the occasion of our little one’s naming ceremony or Namakarana as it’s traditionally referred to amongst Hindus. Thankfully in India, we still have months after birth to mull over various options in choosing a name for our little ones, unlike in the West. However, it is also true that most expectant parents in the West are well aware of their baby’s sex  as early as the second trimester, unlike in India! So they have all the time in the world to arrive at the perfect name and have it ready to be declared at the time discharge from the hospital! Well, with most Indian hospitals today offering birth packages as if they  were vacation packages, more so with an emphasis on faster discharge/ turn-out rates, a three nights – two days  hospital stay, hardly seems sufficient for even shortlisting a few names, let alone finalize one! And then …there’s always the convention of naming after family elders or the convenience of rhyming with sibling names and of course, astro-numerology where the date, number of letters and stars will all have to converge for the right name! So you wouldn’t dare to say “What’s in a name?” …now would you?

Frankly, we didn’t go through much trouble in arriving at the names of both our  children! (who will probably take us up on this when they grow up!) With my older one, I insisted upon a name that he could live up to and we all know how counter productive it turned out to be! So the responsibility of choosing a name for our younger one fell upon my husband, who in his characteristic style sought a consensus among the close family over the first name he liked and didn’t encourage any further discussions and voila!... We had the name! As if to ward off any last minute dilemma, we even had her birth certificate registered before her official naming ceremony! Of course, we preferred a name starting with the letter ‘A’ as to alliterate with Abhay’s and chose the name for its modern yet traditional tone.  Our little one is now officially named ‘AADYA’ which is a Sanskrit word derived from the name of Goddess Durga. Aadya also means the original power from which all five senses and five elements of nature originated.

So as we unveiled the name ‘Aadya’ and shared the joy of her arrival with close family, I had to celebrate the same by a mention on Onestoryaday! No celebration on Onestoryaday is complete without reading a book for the occasion, and  our choice for this happy event is the Tulika’s First look Science series on the basic elements of nature by Anushka Kalro, Rajasee Ray, Sankhalina Nath and Shubangi Goel, developed as a classroom project with Srishti School of Art. Since the name Aadya means the original source of Panchabhootas, five elements – Akasha (Sky), Vayu (Air), Prithvi ( Earth), Agni( fire) and Jal (water), we picked out this series that features Air in “Dhooli’s Story”, Water in “Boondi’s Story”, Earth in “Gitti’s Story”, Earth’s surface in “Beeji’s Story” and Space in “Bhoomi’s Story”.

Each of these books presents a perfect introduction to young children on the science of how things first began. Narrated in a unique format, with each of the elements assuming a young character - be it Beeji, a super-seed wanting to explore the world, through which the story of the evolution of earth’s surface unfolds, or Bhoomi, one of the eight planets in the universe, through which the concept of space is brought out, or Gitti, through which we learn about the earth as we know today, or Dhooli, a tiny speck of dust who flits and floats in the air, through which your little one is enlightened about the air around us, or Boondi, the tiny droplet of water who teaches us about the water cycle! Aided with stunning pictures and illustrations, each of these stories successfully attempts to unravel the mysteries of nature by way of interesting stories that are sure to capture the imagination of young minds. So as Aadya is set to begin her journey in this world, here’s seeking the blessings of the Panchabhutas or the five elements that form the basis of our cosmic quest of this world and beyond!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Virtual Travel with Ruskin Bond!

With most schools in Bangalore closed for Dassera vacation, we are now  faced with the formidable task of managing both the kids at home from morning to night…..and life can’t get busier than this! Serves me right for earlier balking at my mommy-friends with two kids who complained of a similar mayhem when the older school-going kid has holidays! Though Abhay is too old to require constant supervision and my little one is yet to reach that stage (which she will very soon!), they are both needy in their own way! Though their worlds are poles apart and will be so in the years to come, there’s nothing worse than when their worlds collide! While my older one has warmed up to his baby sibling quite well, it is younger one who seemed to be slowly learning the ropes of surviving in this world, when it comes to being heard! So be it waking up to find herself all alone, or venting out her irritation over her brother’s  constant cuddling and kissing….she  already knows how to lodge her protest or make her presence felt!  As long as Abhay had school, there was a set routine in place with all attention being showered on the little one during the day only to have the older one reclaim it, once he returned home from school! Now that both are at home, it feels as if both of them are eating into each other’s space that  gives rise to a feeling of neither here nor there, leaving me with absolutely no space at all! J

Anyway, if there’s one thing that the new arrival has taken a toll on, it is with regard to travel and this is probably the first time that we’ve not been able to go on a trip during Abhay’s vacations. Of course Abhay is not thrilled at the idea of being home bound as he will have nothing to show off to his classmates, all of whom, according to him, have made grand travel plans during the Dassera break!    (Talk about peer pressure!) If we don’t act soon, Abhay has even threatened to squeeze himself into his grandparents’ travel plans to Himachal hills in November! Anyway, even we cannot join my parents, we can certainly vicariously visit the high altitude destinations by reading ….Ruskin Bond of course. We picked out his first children’s novel  titled “The Hidden Pool”, ideal for younger and middle level readers. Like any Ruskin Bond story, the story set in ten small chapters literally transports you to the land of beautiful mountain slopes, deep and hidden valleys. This is the story of Laurie who moves to a hill town along with his parents as his father is posted to India on work for two years. As he forges friendship with unlikeliest of people, given his English upbringing, Laurie finds himself drawn to the local people and their customs.Read on as Laurie narrates as to how his friends Anil and Kamal take him on many a memorable adventures from beetle races to midnight dips at the valley’s pristine pools, tedious treks to the Pindari glacier and their run-in with so called Abominable snow woman! Before he realizes, the two years fly past and Laurie finds that the town and the people have grown on him and saying goodbye is tougher than he thought!   More than the interesting events that take place during Laurie’s stay in the hill-town,  it’s Ruskin Bond’s vivid descriptions of the picturesque hills, simplicity of the people, uninhibited childhood experiences, lasting friendships between young boys of diverse backgrounds! A must read for everyone who loves Ruskin Bond’s writings! Why…Abhay doesn’t it feel as if we’ve traveled to a whole new world during these vacations....…thanks to Ruskin Bond ?? J

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The actual new arrival!

It’s been over four months since the arrival of our little one and after enjoying all the pampering and post delivery care at my mother’s place, I am now back at home! Mom’s house is truly the best…no matter how old you are and especially at a time like this…when you need all the help you can get! If not for keeping up with the infant schedule, the last four months almost felt like a vacation of sorts, all thanks to my super agile multi tasking mom! Not to mention, she almost ended up with knee joint strain owing to all the stress and it’s probably her turn now to take a vacation! J During my stay at my mom’s, Abhay continued to be at home with his daddy and paternal grandparents and here’s a word of thanks going out to them as well.  So except his weekend visits to my mom’s place, Abhay’s daily routine remained the same and the arrival of the little one hadn’t wrecked his life…...yet!!!  Well….in so many ways, Abhay continued to be the king of the house …and ended up being cosseted even more by his paternal grandma, lest he may miss his mommy ( which he didn’t…..of course!!!) So it’s only now that the arrival of a “new little person” has begun to impact his life!

I must say that it’s been so far so good and Abhay has taken quite well to the new member of our household. While he is excited to return home from school to his baby sister, I am not sure if he feels the same about the return of the stricter parent! J Anyway, to mark the arrival of his baby sister, we read the short story “A new Arrival” from  R.K.Narayan’s cult classic Malgudi Schooldays brought out by Puffin Classics, which is a slightly abridged version of the original “Swami and Friends” first published in 1935. Any gem of a story of Swami and his friends conjures up the nostalgic images of the 80’s Television series based on R K Narayan’s stories, but reading the same has a charm of its own! Though the stories are set in pre-independence era when the environment was a lot different from that surrounding the kids today, Swami’s world, his apprehensions, his ever changing dynamics with friends, his attitude at home, his run-ins with his teachers, are not very different from what kids go through today. Except for a few elaborations on the conditions that prevailed then and references that are principally of British origin  ( as opposed to American references that the kids today are more familiar with),  R.K.Narayan’s stories are truly timeless and will never fail to delight the generations to come! In this story, “The New Arrival” Swami misses his mother who has been in confinement for over two days resulting in the birth of his baby brother, the news of which he received without much enthusiasm, especially when the new arrival has ushered in some changes like mother’s absence in the kitchen or the presence of a lady doctor at home who behaves as if the house belonged to her!  Anyway since he had his granny for reassuring company, he couldn’t be bothered more! As he laid his eyes on the little one, he couldn't help but laugh at this “funny looking creature” with its eyes shut, folded hands on his chest, plump pair of small hands and a face red like a chilly! As he imitated the same to his friend at school next day, his friend cautioned him saying that “these things” grow up soon and before you know it….they hardly bear resemblance to their baby features!!! So Abhay….beware! Your baby sister may seem like a  benign ‘living’ teddy bear now,  quietly tolerating all the kisses that you almost smother her with…but not for long! J