Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A fluttering favourite!

Some say that second time parenting is a breeze as there will be “been there done that” moments all the way, while others say that raising a second child can be twice as tough. Hmm….I feel it’s a bit of both…there are definitely a few “dejavu” experiences that you can bank on to guide you through tricky situations when compared to rookie parents but it’s also true that you are dealing with an entirely different subject-matter who just happened to be related to your first born  as a sibling…so that’s makes it a whole new experience, plus there's always the sibling protocol you have to be conscious of…at all times…that only gets more challenging as the younger one gets older and starts to demand the lion’s share of the parental time … and when that happens, your only hope is that the older one reaches adolescence and becomes too jaded to even care! J

When it comes to books, my younger one has been introduced to them at a much earlier age, when compared to my older one, and to my delight, she couldn’t have been any more fascinated than she is with the pictures and imagery, any more thrilled with turning the pages of a board book and any more eager as I sit down to read her favorite book!  Thanks to Kutoohala, that houses a curated collection of some of the best children’s books both home grown and imported, my younger one is literally spoilt for choices when it comes to books for toddlers. Thanks to Kutoohala, I don’t have to wait for relatives or friends travelling from the US or UK to revisit the books that I had read to my son while in the US. Thanks to Kutoohala, our love affair with Bangalore’s children’s libraries continues to grow…! J

One such book that took me straight to Portland, where we spent a good part of Abhay’s toddlerhood is “Flutter by, Butterfly” by Petr Horacek, that has been drawn from his vibrantly illustrated “Butterfly Butterfly” which was one of the first books we read together when Abhay was a toddler. While “Butterfly Butterfly” is a very colourful  picture book, with a simple story line that follows little Lucy in the garden,  as she encounters many of nature’s garden splendours in her quest for the most beautiful of all – the butterfly, “Flutter by Butterfly” is a board book that takes off from the butterfly to focus on all these chance encounters from 'Busy Buzzing Bee', to 'Wriggly Wiggly worm', all presented in colourful cut-away pages to culminate in the grand finale of the crunching munching caterpillar! With vividly rich illustrations,  and alliterating phrases that can make for a great read-aloud, this is my little one’s current favourite which is a mini-version of my older one’s one-time favourite book…. So I’m not just reliving my own childhood, in a way, I’m reliving Abhay’s early childhood too! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Resplendent Rajasthan!

After a hiatus of almost two years following the birth of our little one, we have embarked on our annual Bharat Darshan tour with extended family around the Desert State of Rajasthan. As we travel from Pink city to Desert city, from Golden city to Blue city, enthralled by the majestic forts, earthen landscape, scintillating musical and folk art performances and the vibrant Rajasthani culture, this trip around Rajasthan seems to have everything -travel by flight, long road trips, train journeys, rugged and rustic experiences like desert safari and a taste of royal splendour at the numerous palaces and heritage properties - in all a wholesome experience of everything that is quintessentially Rajasthani! 

This  trip also seems like we've truly come of age in the balancing act of travelling with now two kids and all it's trappings. From carrying an additional check-in baggage to the omni present "baby bag", from waking up at the crack of dawn, not to catch the sun rise but to cook the day's to-go meal for the little one in a travel size rice cooker or lugging an umbrella stroller hoping to wheel the little one around, only to realise that the fort has stairs at every turn, jumping into the swimming pool or utilising other such amenities of the hotel with the older one when all  you want to do is curl up on that very fancy and comfortable looking couch with a book- Travelling with kids is more like business trip for parents as you always have to prepare for what may happen next! Amidst all the ensuing chaos, if you still manage to catch a glimpse of the fantastic desert sunset ...taste the delectable local mawa katchoris, or get a good bargain on the day's shopping spoils and have your kids enjoy the folk art performances/puppet shows,  you've got a winner...Let's reserve the museums and galleries for another time ....probably when the kids grow up or grow out of our nests!!!!

We are at an unenviable phase in our parenting adventure! While our little one is supposed to be high maintenance, given her age, she makes herself comfortable anywhere, provided her basic needs are taken care of!  Whereas our older one who is at an ideal age for travel, hence supposedly low maintenance, has instead proven to be quite demanding! Almost ten years apart, our older one and our little one couldn't be any more diverse in terms of their tastes,quirks, and mood-swings!! Of course, it immensely helps to be travelling with the extended family of parents and relatives, as your little beasts can be unleashed on them as well...and thanks to them, we could enjoy our morning walks minus the kids or go on zip lining adventures, but just as you begin to breathe a little ....your little one is promptly handed back with a soiled diaper!!:-)) 

Through out the State of Rajasthan, the camel is a ubiquitous presence. From camel rides to camel skin merchandise and camel prints on arts and handicrafts, the ship of the desert best represents the state, at least from a tourist point of view!:-)

As always, we look for something to read when we travel, so imagine my delight when I found a new release from Tulika publications that's set in Rajasthan! Replete with illustrations draped in vibrant hues and colours that present an authentic Rajasthani setting, this book is a visual treat in itself!  "When Bholu came back" by Kavitha Punniyamurthi and pictures by Niloufer Wadia revolves around a camel named Bholu and his  owner Beni Ram. Finding no use for a camel as a means of transport in modern day Rajasthan, Beni Ram tries to sell off his beloved Bholu, only to have the camel return back to him as he refuses to go to his new master. Just as Beni Ram and Bholu spend the night in the desert pondering  over how to find work in a time when village carts are preferred over camels, hordes of tourists arrive in jeeps with banner "Taparia camel safari". As the travellers get ready to climb onto the camels for a ride around the sand dunes, a little girl and her mother are left out as the safari team falls short of one camel .......and no prizes for guessing who got roped in to take the little girl on the most exciting ride across the golden sands...!!! So meet the newest camel on the "Taparia Camel Safari".....Beni Ram's Bholu!  Who knows may be we rode on him at the Desert Safari near Jaisalmer a couple of days ago!:-))) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

10 years of Abhayhood!

It’s now officially a decade since Abhay came into this world and while he is at the cusp of tween or pre-teen years before heading into the dreaded (so as far as parents are concerned!) teen years, there are many angles and moments during which he still seems like a little boy! Though he looks every bit and probably as cheeky as any ten year old, there are some elements of his personality that continue to remind us of his toddler or pre-schooler days ….. like he still winces as the pressure cooker whistle goes off or still employs toddler lingo references to some everyday things. Though he may not like my bringing this up, but as parents we cannot be blamed for finding the same endearing as we try to hold on to some of the last traces of his early childhood. Somehow as he turned ten on September 11th, it felt different as if he were going to be in a different league now…..and I could only think of the famous ABBA song….to paraphrase the same…. …..

Slipping through our fingers all the time…                                                                
As we try to capture every moment……  
Slipping through our fingers all the time    
Do we really see what’s in his mind               
Each time we think we’re close to knowing      
He keeps on growing                                                                                                                     Slipping through our fingers all the time…. 

As Abhay hit the first big ten, he was very clear that he wanted a birthday bash thrown at home, and presented us with  a big list of do’s and don’ts, with invitees being all his favourite people, including close cousins, schoolmates and neighbors. Though it was a particularly hectic week for both of us, we hurriedly managed to put together a decent show  - a birthday party with games, gifts and a quick-fix-easy-to-make piñata that the kids enjoyed breaking and smashing. Finally as the guests left and it was time to clean up, Abhay announced the party to be a grand success…..and Boy! Were we glad to live up to the expectations of our big little man!! :-) 

On the occasion of celebrating ten years of Abhayhood……..we went on a philosophical tour on life and living from our all time favourite author Ruskin Bond “What’s your dream?”, that we read as  a part of the compilation “The Room of Many Colours”, a thoughtful piece on dreams and life. Written in first person (as most of Ruskin Bond’s stories), the story involves a young boy’s encounter with an English speaking beggar, who stumps him with one question “What’s your dream…..something you wants most in his life?”. As the boy answers that his dream is to have a room of his own, the man begins to probe further leading to a intriguing conversation on the significance of dreams in one’s life, with the old man giving out pearls of wisdom drawn from his own experience on how it is important to work towards your dream and move towards it all the time, and most importantly, if you don’t expect too many things too quickly, you’ll find your dream. While children are natural dreamers, they end up losing their natural ability to dream as they grow up. With a layered narrative that likens dreams to freedom and growing up to losing that freedom, the story beautifully conveys that while it is important to follow your dream, it is also important not to take other people’s dreams. The story ends with the boy left to ponder over the old man’s words of wisdom….and is the reader. As this is the age for Abhay to dream and build castles in the air, we couldn’t have asked for a better story to celebrate his foray into pre-teenhood….So here’s wishing Abhay a very happy birthday….dream on…my boy as there is no life without dreams! :-)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Gajapathi festival!

Previous weekend was Ganesha Chaturthi and as every year we travelled to my native town Dharmasthala to celebrate Chowthi ( that we fondly refer to)  with my father’s extended family in our ancestral house. Abhay has always enjoyed celebrating the festival along with his second cousins from my father’s side, and has even actively participated in the all-night-long family bhajan sessions that culminate in the immersion of the idol, the following morning, But this time, we were delighted to find that his younger sister too followed suit and had a fair share of family fun herself, not to mention her dancing and grooving to the “jagante-chande vadya” (percussion recital) that quintessentially accompanies all Poojas or religious rituals in South Karnataka. Though this is her second Ganesha Chaturthi, it is technically her first Chowthi experience, considering that she was hardly aware of her surroundings as a three month old last year.  Here’s hoping that with Lord Ganesha’s blessings, she grows up to enjoy each and every of her  experiences to the fullest.

So on the occasion of the Elephant God festival, we read ( and as have been reading for the whole of last month) my little one’s new favourite, Tulika’s Gajapati Kulapati series. Revolving around  everyone’s favourite elephant named Gajapati Kulapati, Ashok Rajagopalan’s three books have the beloved elephant in three different endearing situations that in many ways mirror the ‘predicaments’ faced by our little ones – from catching a cold to suffering from a terrible stomach ache! What happens when the center of the household ( read town in the case of Gajapati) isn’t feeling too comfortable? …Trust him or her to bring the whole house down right?? So as Gajapati Kulapati goes Aaaaaachchooooo!…. Or Kalabalooosh………! or Gurrburrroom……!, the whole town from  the fruit seller to postman, from the village cow to Paati amma, and from children to the school teacher are sent scampering about trying to find a solution for Gajapati Kulapati’s current challenge…. Whether it is his giant sneeze or his giant leap into the village pond or the loud wind that he passes following a bad stomach ache!  With a simple yet engaging storyline, playful and hilarious narrative, accompanied by words and sounds that toddlers would love to repeat and imitate…it doesn’t take you long to understand why this one is an instant hit with the kids! Of course we all know Ashok Rajagopalan through his bright and vibrant illustrations in many of Tulika’s publications but here's  full marks to Ashok Rajagopalan  as an author as Gajapati Kulapati series (at the risk of sounding  presumptuous to say so!) is one of most enjoyable, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoroughly entertaining read-aloud stories for young children. We will always remember Gajapati Kulapati as one of the first books my little one began responding to….. and when asked how does Gajapati Kulapati cry out when he has a stomach ache…”Owowowooooohh!..” says my little one!!! As Ganesh Chaturthi symbolizes the start of the festive season…season’s greetings to everyone…enjoy the festive season!:-) 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Indian Freedom movement for today's children.

It’s that time of the year again when we see the mini-tricoloured flags being sold at the traffic signals. Of course, the Indian Independence day means a lot more than hoisting or flying the Indian flag, but it sure feels good to see the saffron-green-white everywhere from mini-flags to fashion merchandise to on-screen logos. Though it seems as if we are commoditizing the Indian tri-colour, symbolizing the patriotic spirit in tangible terms in a way helps imbibe the true spirit and pride of being an Indian, at least for children. Why….., as Indians living in the US, didn’t we embrace the blue and red hues on July 4th? So, why get cynical on August 15th and instead celebrate the India we love and the India we want to love!

That said, it has been increasingly felt that the Independence day celebrations has been reduced to mere symbolism or some sort of a cultural event for kids to show off their talents on the patriotic front, which they happily forget once the day is over. What does freedom really mean for the younger generation today? Is it a case of too much freedom today or too little value for the freedom once fought hard for?

The kids today are unaware that the independence we celebrate today was won by a long and prolonged struggle against the then British establishment. So much so that I was taken aback as Abhay asked me if Bal Gangadar Tilak  was a bad person as he was jailed. Of course, one may ask the same question about the recent events that had people  imprisoned on the grounds of sedition, but that is however question for another day. As of now, I realized that there is not much he knew about the Indian freedom struggle.  So for this year’s independence day, we picked out “A Flag, a Song and a Pinch of Salt” by India’s most prolific writer of history for children, Subhandra Sen Gupta and  brought out by Puffin Publications. While this is not a book that we could finish at one go, this work of non-fiction  takes you back to the beginning of last century when the seeds of Swaraj were sown, with people from different walks of life, from lawyers, to writers, to teachers, to businessmen, all joining in the movement…. …determined to make India free. While the main architects of  “Mission Freedom” have been featured, the book also throws light on some lesser know names and events that in their own way contributed to the uprising that culminated in India’s independence over seventy years ago. Written in a simple and contemporary narrative, interspersed with interesting anecdotes and legends, this book acquaints the reader about the extraordinary lives of freedom fighters from Mahatma Gandhi to C.Rajagopalachari, from Bikaiji Cama to Birsa Munda in an engaging and non-text-bookish manner. Though meant more advanced readers aged 12 and above for independent reading, this compilation nevertheless makes for an interesting shared reading experience for children who’ve just begun to get curious about what Independence day means. Happy Independence everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Aha! ...with Granny!

Come July and it’s time to say…Aha! …and head straight to Rangashankara! We have been regulars at the Aha! International Theatre festival for children since 2012,  making advance reservations even before the tickets arrived, planning and assigning chaperoning responsibilities well ahead in time so that all of us at home get a piece of Aha!  So much so, that my parents and in laws have often wondered who is the intended audience for the plays – children or their parents!! 

Ideally, we would like to watch all the plays ( and we have done that for a couple of years), but through the years, we’ve evolved in our choice of plays and  Abhay now prefers plays more suited to his age, with language, humour and themes he can relate to and so this year we’ve picked out plays and shows meant for children aged seven and above. In fact, my little one who is now over fourteen months old narrowly misses the eligibility to watch “Dinner at eight” presented by Headstart school of Montessori meant for children between the age group of 18 months to 36 months. Of course….left to me …I would have gone for all the plays!!!  So, waiting for my little one to grow up…I guess!! J

Yesterday we went for the screening of a Korean feature film, “The Way Home” directed by Lee-Jeong-hyang  Since it revolved around a relationship between a grandma and her grandson, Abhay was accompanied by his maternal grandma! Though the film was in Korean language, it was presented with English sub titles. Set in a remote village in Korea where a city bread spoilt kid is sent off to his grandma’s while his mother is in between jobs, the film beautifully portrays the evolution of a poignant relationship between the grandma and grandson, despite the age factor, generation gap and the urban-rural divide. Abhay and his granny thoroughly enjoyed the movie and thanks to Rangashankara, Abhay has been exposed to not only world class theatre but also brilliant movies from all over the world!

So we had to end our Rangashankara movie night with a moving story and who can be better than Ruskin Bond when it comes to insightful and charming stories on inter-generational relationships! With my last two posts also on Ruskin Bond…. it feels like a Ruskin Bond festival on Onestoryaday!  We read “A long walk with Granny” from the collection “The Room of many colours” and other stories brought out by Pensuin publications. The same story has been rejacketed as “Getting Granny’s glasses” by Puffin publications.

Nani (granny) needed a new pair of glasses but was reluctant to get them as she had to travel all the way to Mussoorie to get to the eye hospital. ( With Abhay’s own grandma’s legendry reluctance to get her annual eye check up…this story couldn’t have been more appropriate) So as Nani tries to make do with her old glasses that are badly scratched with spots all over, it is up to her doting grandson who agrees to accompany her on their two day tedious journey to Mussoorie to meet the eye doctor. Just as Mani wonders how to get by the first mile, which comprises of a long walk to Nain Market to catch the only bus to Mussoorie, Nani chides “I may be going blind but there’s nothing wrong with my legs”!  And so Nani and Mani set off on what turns out to be a rollercoaster ride along the foothills of Himalayas, with incessant rains and landslides aplenty. Though it is Mani who’s tasked with the responsibility of taking care his septuagenarian Nani, it is Nani who could give a well trained scout some stiff competition, when it comes to readiness and preparedness to brave any emergency, from carrying all essentials to being ready for a ten mile stiff climb when the bus breaks down! When Nani  finally gets her new pair of glasses…..she cant stop gazing out of the window on their way back as every turn and bend opens up new vistas for her! Nani’s child-like enthusiasm along with Mani’s mature sensibilities make for a  great story……and Ruskin Bond’s tender and vivid narrative packed with subtle yet tongue-in-cheek humour enhances the experience to a totally different level!  What an apt ending to an Aha! evening! 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

School days...those golden rule days!!!!

The month of June signals the start of a new academic year in most parts of India.  New academic year brings with it new friends, rivals, teachers and challenges (not necessarily in the same order!). As my nine year old steps into grade five, I can’t believe that he is already into middle school (or is it considered middle school from the sixth grade…I’m confused!)! With school work, home work/studies, assessment and grading system getting tougher with each passing year….it’s time  to pull up one’s socks and get serious……and mind you….it’s not just the child but also his or her parents who now need to be all the more involved in school work and studies. Plus there’s always growing up pangs with each phase of growing up throwing up new issues and quirks to handle and deal with……there’s never a moment in parenting, now… there?? J

Going to fifth grade also means transition into tween years and the way time flies …what do you know…within a year or two, he’ll be stepping into the dreaded adolescence! J Anyway…we always pick a book for the start of the new academic year and this time we’ve been reading two books  and both are connected through our current favourite author, Ruskin Bond…..of course! The first  “Whistling School boy and other stories of school life” written by Ruskin Bond which I have just featured in my previous post and another “The Puffin Book of classic school stories”, a compilation edited by Ruskin Bond. Isn’t it such a treat not only to be reading your favourite author but reading the favourite stories of your favourite author!?? 

This compilation comprises of excerpts from famous works from David Copperfield,   Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Jane Eyre that revolve around school adventures or misadventures of the protagonists, extracts from acclaimed school story classics like “Tom Brown’s School days” by Thomas Hughes and E.R.Braithwaite’s “To Sir with Love” to home grown school stories from R.K.Narayan’s immortal Swami and his friends and boarding school escapades of Rusty by Ruskin Bond. While most of the stories are set in the previous century, it’s amazing to see how these stories continue to appeal to the school goers today…a hundred years later. Still a work in progress in so far as our reading is concerned, these stories beautifully capture the various aspects of school life…friendships, resistance to authority, formation of secret clubs and societies, impressing fellow classmates and probably even teachers, rivalries and fights, examinations and competitions…..all those golden moments of care free school days! Though the language and narrative of some of the works may be a little challenging for a nine year old to read on his own, these time enduring school stories make for fantastic family story times…not just for a nine year old! Well….as Ruskin Bond mentions in his foreword that the purpose of this anthology is justified if any of these extracts make the reader pick up some of the classics from where they are taken…..these stories not only make you want to go back to reading those classics…but also in a way go back to school!! Have a great academic year ahead everyone!! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Letter to my father!

We find ourselves in an unenviable position of being caught in between two entirely different phases of growing up! Abhay’s near transition into tween years juxtaposed with our little one’s transition into toddlerhood makes for a trying test in parenting. While we do manage to sail through on some days…there are many occasions when we falter and fumble and that’s when the co-parental support assumes great importance. No matter how hands-on a parent you might be, it’s certainly tough to single-handedly manage everything on your own, without the support of your partner-in-crime! Today’s age and lifestyle has blurred the lines between what was typically considered a mother’s role or a father’s role, and the roles now seem interchangeable, depending upon time and convenience. The credit largely goes to the new generation dads who’ve stepped up and are not just actively involved but rather thoroughly enjoy their parenting responsibilities. Daddies are always special… matter how late they turn up from work ……they always get a giant grin from the kids….be it a one year old or a ten year old!

Well…parenting is a journey and no journey is fun without a companion! So father’s day or mother’s day is also about acknowledging the vital role played by our spouses  in this journey. So as we embark on this amazing experience together … we start out as rookies, gain experience along the way and then probably turn pro, especially the second time around! J

So over the father’s day weekend a couple of days ago, we revisited a passage that is a touching ode  to a father-son relationship beautifully expressed in the form of a letter in “Letter to my father”, being an excerpt from his recent compilation “Whistling Schoolboy and other stories of school life” by Ruskin Bond brought out by Red Turtle wing of Rupa publications. Considering that schools have begun in most parts of the country, this collection of stories revolving around school life makes for an ideal read this season. “Letter to my father” feels like a continuing monologue of a son recounting his everyday experiences, reflections and thoughts to his father. No one would have guessed that the father to whom the letter is addressed has been long gone as the letter is written in a conversational style that only goes to show the undying love between father and child. Written in first person as a young adult, Ruskin Bond fondly remembers the precious time he spent with his father as a nine year old, as if it were yesterday. Though this also brings back unpleasant memories of his father passing away and that he misses his father even though his father has been gone for over four decades …. ….the letter however does not strike a sorrowful note but is instead a celebration of the special bond that the Bonds share! J  With a breezy narrative that alternates between witty and wise, insightful musings that are quintessentially Ruskin Bond, this poignant tribute to his father is sure to bring a lump in your throat! For instance, he wonders what if he happens to meet his dad, would his dad look the same and further will he still be a small boy or an old man? Classic Ruskin Bond..isn't it??:-)
Belated wishes to all the daddies on Father’s day!! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hey....its a year!

I can’t believe it’s already a year since my little one was born! It feels like yesterday since I stepped out of the hospital with the little one in my arms wrapped in a  pink blanket, unsure of how I’ll be able to manage, now that I had officially become a proud (and nervous) mother of two! It only feels like yesterday that I had to relearn the baby 101 basics that I had unlearned over the past eight years. It was only yesterday when a dear friend had advised that if you survive the first year…you’ll be OK!  One year is up and although things are still a little topsy turvy at home….it feels much more settled,  with a set routine (that changes almost every day)  ….well ….as settled as it can be with a toddler, a nine year old  and a ninety nine year old at home!J

Though we weren’t keen on celebrating our little girl’s first birthday, it was her big brother who made a good case in point on why we shouldn’t think twice about celebrating our little one’s birthday when we made a gala event out of her brother’s first birthday! ( How selfishly generous!) So it was more for the older brother than for anyone else that we had a birthday party for his little sister! So it was all about the big brother in his little sister’s birthday party! And so it was mainly the big brother and his friends who enjoyed at the little sister’s birthday! What did the little sister do…she did everything but enjoy the party!:-)

On her first birthday, we picked out a book that has become  quite a  hit with her, off late. So much so that she follows it up with a “B” as soon as I show her the book! Frankly, this book was a random selection from Abhay’s library and I certainly did not intend on introducing ABC so early in her childhood. But this Tulika publication was the only one I could lay my hands on, on one cranky evening! “Hey That’s an A” by Jerry Pinto and illustrated by Sayan Mukerjee was a book that I originally picked out for Abhay but it turned out that Abhay was too old for it. Now that I pulled out the same for my little one, it turns out that she is too young for it!:-)

More than an alphabet book, this is a one-of-a-kind representation of the written word, packed with puns and tongue-in-cheek humour that is sure to entertain and appeal to every reader. We love the little references to funny names and terms that in a way mirror the baby pet names that we call out to our little one with. Though stated to be meant for children aged 3 +,  my little one jumps with joy as I read out these funny verses.  
 “Hey, that's  an A”… is a robust ABC book that not only offers a phonetic perspective to the alphabet but also explains the technique in writing the same, which hopefully will help us in the near future……and going by today's schooling standards…it is not too far away!:-) Happy Birthday…my little one…enjoy every little thing before things get serious! J

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mothers and others!

There’s an old saying that God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers!!!  While this was meant to be appreciative of the unparalleled persona of a mother, it can also be a tad overwhelming, especially in today’s age of super-moms! Of course …being a mother is a huge part of a woman’s identity and there’s nothing in the world that would make her trade places with someone who’s never experienced the joy of motherhood. That said….does motherhood define one’s identity ….may be and may be not!  It’s been almost ten years since I’ve joined the ranks of many women and came to be known as “amma” to my son and  had a dejavu feeling when my was daughter was born last year. As my daughter is slowly getting the hang of calling out my name aloud - “amma” …… I wonder if that is all I will be to them!  No doubt …  I am their mother and they are at a stage where …..“amma” is everything to them, more so with the little one. But I am not sure if I want them to grow up thinking that “amma” is a uni-dimensional figure, ever present and ever ready to make their life as easy as they want it to be! As they grow up, I surely want them to understand that “amma” has her own life or has her own thing going which may not be convenient to them at all times. 
Sometimes I wonder if we moms really need the anointed status of “Supermoms” because we are as flawed as anybody else and just like everybody else…we have our good days and bad days too! Well….I’m not sure if even God meant for mothers to be everywhere or round-the-clock/24-7 care- providers leaving us with very little or no ‘home-life balance’! J

So as a departure from my usual routine on Onestoryaday, I’ve picked up a book meant more for adults than children “Mothers and others” a wonderful compilation on motherhood and more, edited by Jaishree Mishra, brought out by Zubaan publications. This eclectic collection provides an off-beat perspective to one of the most special human relationships - the mother-child bond. With most contributions narrated from the mother’s point of view, this certainly  makes an interesting read and even echoes the sentiments of young moms who find it hard to toe the traditional line, when it comes to parenting. With contributions from well known writers like Shashi Despande, Jahnavi Barua, Manju Kapur, Kishwar Desai (to name a few and my personal favourites) and many more, you realize that motherhood cannot be strait- jacketed into how its represented in mainstream media and films and that there are so many layers and dimensions to it, with its own highs and lows and pain and pleasures. Read on as the books also explores questions of identity, adoption, childlessness, bereavement and loss through the medium of beautifully written essays, stories and poems. Though the stories are essentially for grown-ups,  I did manage to read  to my nine year old, a little from “Eating Baby” by Anita Roy, a hilarious account of a mother transitioning from nursing to feeding her baby solids ( a stage I went through recently and hence could totally relate to ) Though my older one could follow a little, he  couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about!  Well..once in a while,  it's sure okay to set aside the picture books or young reader fiction and read what mommy wants to read right?? Like I said …“amma” has a taste and a mind of her own too! J Happy Mother’s day to all the mommies!    

Friday, April 29, 2016

History is a Mystery!

For today’s kids, it’s all about packaging!  Be it food, school, homework or daily routine activities…….they have to be jazzed up and made fun for them to want to do them! Well…we parents have to learn early that a direct approach can get us nowhere and the presentation is the key!

Staying on the subject of history, while "Children's History of India" (reviewed previously) makes for a great non-fiction read,  not many kids take to non-fiction as well as fiction. So the ideal way to get the latter to improve upon their knowledge quotient is to have them read books that present facts in a fun and an engaging manner and what better way to do it through the medium of stories?  

Of course, there are plenty of options in the field of science fiction for children, but what if there was a historical fiction series that enlightened the children on history while entertaining them as well? Here comes the latest offering from Duckbill publications, a pioneering publishing house that has changed the face of children’s literature in India - the History Mystery series by Natasha Sharma and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan.  

History, in a way, is a mystery, isn’t it? Here is a delectable series that unravels the enigma of the forgotten times with period drama/mysteries, set in the kingdoms of four of the most famous monarchs who ruled India at various points of time. The author spins off hilarious and intriguing tales around the actions, achievements or the administrative policies, the rulers are best remembered for. Though the publisher's age recommendation indicates that this is meant for younger readers, who’ve begun to read independently, the narrative and vocabulary employed certainly competes with middle level fiction catering towards early teen readers. As always, the stories make good family read-alouds, with added explanations and elaborations.
Like any mystery series, the pattern of each of the stories remain more or less similar – with something troubling the emperor prompting him or her to set the kingdom’s top secret super spies on the job. Imagine if  Emperor Ashoka finds his famous Rock Edicts inscribed with messages that are polar opposite to what he wants to preach to his subjects and you have “Ashoka and the muddled messages” or what if the well established trade and commerce links between the Chola kingdom and China is at the brink of a break-down owing to someone messing up with the shipments leading on to “Raja Raja and the swapped sacks” or what happens when Akbar discovers a mole amongst his close coterie who seems to pass on sensitive  information to King Adhbhut of the neighbouring kingdom,  resulting in “Akbar and the Tricky Traitor” and how does Razia Sultana, hell bent on gender neutralizing her role as the ruler of Delhi, deal with the so called gifts that are deliberately sexist in nature in “Razia Sultana and the pesky presents”! Starting with four such books, here’s hoping that there’s more coming in this delightful series.
Besides giving a glimpse of life and times of the era that was, the stories are set in the famous architectural monuments of the prevailing times that stand tall even today. What do you know…. the stories may even serve as a guide book if you plan on a heritage tour!   Laced with contemporary humour and aided by suitable illustrations, the backdrop of the stories are an authentic depiction of those times, especially the names, hierarchy of royal staff and the royal protocol, so on and so forth. While the specific plot is a work of fiction, the author draws heavily from historical sources to present a genuine picture of the bygone era and ends each story with a note that separates facts from fiction. Besides, the stories humanise the kings and heads of state, revealing a rather sensitive or vulnerable side, with some of it being fiction like Razia Nawaz’s fear of lizards and some reportedly true, like that of Akbar having invented a travelling bath.
You can't help feeling bemused as you watch today’s generation find names such as Agramahisi or Kalapathy Arrghety or Baaz Ayebeg more alien than the alien characters of Hollywood Sci-fi flicks!
Though set at an era when time stood still, the History Mystery series can sure give modern who-dun-it’s a run for their money, with your little wannabe detective begging for more!!

A Children's History of India!

"Amma.. was Babur originally from Mongolia or the present day Uzubekisthan ?" was one of Abhay's recent questions that had me stumped! Though I prided myself as a humanities student, I realised that I had no clue to some of his questions even though they seemed fundamental enough for any history student to have known an answer. Blame it on bad memory, or a lack of touch with the subject, or the fall-out of learning by rote that characterised most of our studies in school; But history from textbooks was more about remembering the dates/years of battles and reigns of kings than an interesting account of how things were! As much as Abhay seems fascinated by history, it's rather disappointing that history isn't a part of his school curriculum yet. So we are left to our own devices (read google) to unravel some of history's mysteries! 

When it comes to history, what are the choices for children/young readers? Well, it’s either the exam oriented textbooks or the rhetorical over-simplified versions of history that hardly sound credible or the big-fat reference books that the children/young readers tend to steer clear from!! What if there were to be a book that presents historical facts, sources and analysis in a non-text-bookish manner without running into the danger of information overload?   A Children’s history of India” by Subhandra Sen Gupta and illustrated by Priyankar Gupta  does exactly that!! Brought out by Red Turtle, the children’s wing of Rupa  publications, this book is a composite work on Indian history starting from the Harappan civilization in 2600 BCE to contemporary India. 

A children’s history of India is a thorough work of non-fiction and is divided into four sections that trace the rich history of our country from ancient times to what we now know as modern India. The author then goes to detail the rise and fall of various dynasties chronologically during each period, elaborating on the political milestones, prevalent lifestyles, social and cultural trends of the times that were. Presented in an easy-to-follow narrative, each chapter is also laced with interesting trivia, summary boxes, relevant online and offline sources for more information and a brief note on parallel developments in other parts of the world around the same time.  For instance, who knew that not all poems in the Vedas were solemn prayers but also included even funny rhymes and limericks or about a traveler named Thomas Coryat during Mughal times who supposedly walked all the way from England to India!! Accompanied by minimal illustrations of the highlights of different eras, the author also helps the reader understand the empirical analysis of historical data that separates facts from legends. Not very often do you come across a work of non-fiction that appeals to both children and adults alike…..”A children’s history of India” is definitely one of them and a must have for anyone interested in history! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Abhay's cricket attacks!

Partly published in Parent Edge  blog . 

Why do I have to study science if I want to become a cricketer?” was one of the questions I had to encounter when coaching Abhay for his exams this year! I am not sure whether it’s a natural progression of interest for boys his age or inspiration from his cousins (who are district/club level under-14 players), but I have no idea when my nine year old turned from a regular cricket fan (or so I thought!) into a wannabe cricketer! Over the last year…Abhay’s interest in cricket has transformed into almost an obsession … with him swinging his bat, practicing his bowling and watching long forgotten matches on sports channels back-to-back and so on and so forth! So this summer, we had no choice but to enroll him into a cricket coaching camp, where he goes every morning, lugging his cricket kit that seems larger than him! J As if that were not enough, we have to tolerate his continuous chatter and live demonstration of various cricketing techniques he’s learned at the camp…..all day!!!! So it’s all about cricket, cricket and more cricket this summer! 

In fact, buying his cricket kit almost felt like a coming-of-age event of sorts, with our nine year old, dizzy with excitement over choosing the best cricket gear for his game, in the company of his equally excited but more-seasoned and experienced cricketer cousins!! We are not certain if his new-found sporting activity is just for summer or a year- long affair or beyond, but all I can say is that it’s his job to dream and our job to provide the right pitch for him to realize his dream!  That said…. as he dons his cricketing gear, we can’t help but notice that our little boy in white looks all grown up!!

Ever since Abhay’s interest in cricket grew, I have been on the look-out for  good books on cricket for young readers and I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this book written by our favourite author! What are the chances of finding a book written by Ruskin Bond on cricket …right?? I grabbed it as soon as I chanced upon it! So we begin this IPL cricket season with the best - Ruskin Bond’s recent offering “Ranji’s wonderful bat and other stories” that is not only makes for an engaging read but also brings out the pleasures and pains it takes to watching and playing the gentlemen’s game respectively.  This wonderful compilation includes some of Bond's early stories featuring twelve year old Ranji and his love for cricket. I’m sure  Ranji’s emphatic  “I want to be a test cricketer when I grow up, of what use will Maths be to me?” does echo some the sentiments of our wannabe cricketers at home …doesn’t it??  While this book, brought out by Puffin, the children's publication wing of Penguin publications, has cricket as it's centrepiece, it's not all about cricket either, and other stories revolve around sporting activities in general, sportsmanship spirit and many a nature adventures. This curated collection also contains excerpts from his novel (that we had featured a while ago) "The Hidden pool"  that showcase unconventional sporting feats like the big bug race or the adventurous treks to the Pindari glacier.  Read on as he reflects on why cricket is every living being's game in India, including a crocodile in "Cricket for the crocodile", or that cricket unexpectedly acts as a gender-bender in “Koki plays the game”, or Uncle Ken’s muddled experiences with tennis and cricket alike, or a young boy’s cycling turns into an unforgettable run-in with nature’s fury in ‘Riding through the Flames”, how two boys fight over an exclusive swim in a pristine forest pool in “The Fight” and many such page-turners. Of course….being an Ruskin Bond aficionado, both of us devoured the book in no time and Abhay couldn’t help comparing himself to Ranji, the protagonist in the cricket stories. The charm of any sport does not only lie in the day’s game or the match, but in the passion, dedication and the joy of losing oneself in it and trust India’s favourite story-teller to vividly bring out the same in his sports stories.  Replete with subtle wit and humour, coming of age tales of friendship and team spirit on and off the field, lively limerick-style poems on cricket, bring on your sporting or cricketing outfit with the Bond from Mussoorie!  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

At Holiday House with Enid Blyton!!

The end of March signifies the end of exams... for most primary and middle school kids as there's still time before we lose sleep over big exams ( Thank God!)! The end of March also ushers in the beginning of summer holidays ... again, mainly for younger kids as with the syllabus getting tougher year after year... You never know when summer vacations get eschewed by tuitions and advance classes!! Similarly, with all kinds of summer camps-cricket camp-sport camps-science camps starting from April, March-end is probably all there is left for unstructured play for the kids today!:-) 

So before the madness of summer vacations begins, we stole some quiet relaxing time at our very own holiday house, Shristi, my parents' farm at Dharmasthala. Of course reading snd relaxing always go together... So as our first read for the summer, we chose an an author whom I and many from my generation grew up reading..."The Riddle of the Holiday House" by the original children's author, the one and only, Enid Blyton!! Gifted by a dear friend over a year ago, this book couldn't have been any more apt for Abhay as he begins his summer vacation at his favourite holiday house!! 

For most of us who grew up in the eighties, we made our first foray into reading with Enid Blyton's books. Those were the days before the advent of satellite television, and in many ways, Blyton's books also served as our window to the western world. Though the stories are set in what now appears to be a little parochial and privileged backgrounds, and more often than not, a predictable storyline, Enid Blyton's adventure or fantasy based stories are a great way to get kids into voracious reading. Be it the Famous Five or the Secret Seven series or the Malory Towers series, you can't just read one ... you have to read them all!!  Believe me, Blyton's bold and daring characters, lighted hearted humour, and stories of friendship and loyalty often backed by a strong moral framework continue to interest children even today. We began reading the first couple of chapters together after which I had to break for the day.. and by the time I got down to resuming reading, I had discovered that Abhay had finished the book all by himself.... he simply could not stand the suspense!!!!! Now doesn't that sound familiar????

Originally published as "The Holiday House" in 1955, this book has been altered and edited by her daughter Gillian Baverstock to become a part of the Riddles series. The first book in this Young Adventurer series, the protagonists being the young brother-sister duo, Nick and Katie, who are excited to spend their summer holidays at a  beachside kids -only "Holiday house" run by one Mrs. Holly who takes in unaccompanied kids along their pets (Wow!) The story follows their experiences at the holiday house, including their run-ins with the insufferable Clare, Mrs. Holly's nosy daughter and other fellow guests like the mysterious boy Gareth. As the daring duo go on to explore the surroundings, the plot thickens and falls into a pattern typical of Enid Blyton mystery series, with a stray discovery leading on to uncovering ugly truths and dark secrets from seemingly innocuous characters who try to deliberately mislead the protagonists into doubting a mysterious character who surprisingly ( or rather predictably ) turns out to be a Good Samaritan! Replete with page turning plots, fascinating adventures, red herrings and  roundabouts, follow the tween siblings as they ultimately save the day sending out the usual  "triumph of good over bad" message common to most Enid Blyton's stories. Of course like most Enid Blyton's stories, the Holiday house transports you into a different world altogether ... On reading the book, Abhay wanted to know if he and his sister could stay all by themselves at a holiday house and gorge on hot scones and fruit cake:-))) 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Exam fever!

We are yet again approaching the end of an academic year and it’s the dreaded exam season in most parts of the country…that happens to coincide with the T-20 cricket season, much to the anxiety of ….probably not the kids but their parents! Though the month of March has always brought back memories of my own exam nightmares, I drew comfort from the fact that I still had a long way to go before I start stressing over my son’s tests and assessments. Little did I realize that this comfort feeling comes with an expiry date…..Grade 4 !!!  Most schools today peg Grade 4 as the year of reckoning ….when full-fledged academic assessments are introduced and kids (and their parents of course!) are expected to pull up their socks and catch up with rest of the studious world! So all of a sudden….it’s all about checking up on the syllabus, studying, revising and looking up practice questions…..making me relive my exam days once again and it’s only worse this time! It turns out that you are never free from exams and it was only a temporary respite after all because as a student, you may have been casual towards your exams but you cannot afford to be so as a parent! So whether you choose to wake up early or get off from work earlier than usual, or split the subjects between your spouse and yourself to coach your children, exams are a serious business ….. at least for parents!

So amidst his Maths, Science and Social Science subjects, I had Abhay scale back to reading an Early reader simply because it seemed perfect for the exam season! “The Worry Monsters” by Sally Rippin and illustrated by Stephanie Spartels is one of the twelve titles from the “Hey Jack” series for young readers brought out by Euro books. This is a simple story of how Jack, who is terrible at spellings, procrastinates and forgets to prepare for his spelling test and is thus hounded by what he calls “the worry monsters”. Its only when he opens up to his dad does he realize that playing truant with school is not the best of solutions to deal with his fear of tests. With a little help from his father, Jack not only manages to practice his spellings and drive away the worry monsters but also learned to deal with the worry monsters should they reappear again! So here’s hoping all our kids learn to overcome their own worry monsters too!

Another great read that makes for a refreshing break from the monotony of studies for both parents and kids is a story from R.K.Narayanan’s “Malgudi School days”, the complete collection of Swami and Friends brought out by Puffin classics. In fact, the story of Swaminathan “Before the examinations” couldn’t be any more similar to Abhay’s situation at home! Though we’ve read this book many times and I had featured this classic sometime ago, life and times in the fictional town of Malgudi  as narrated by the one and only R.K.Narayanan never fails to charm the reader, whenever and whatever the time may be! 

From Swami’s grim realization that his father was changing for the worse in the run-up to the examinations ( mother Abhay’s case!), or the highly distracted Swami doing everything possible to escape from studies, including perpetually hovering around his baby brother (baby sister in Abhay’s  case!), or spending hours together mulling over the crooked boundary of Europe during his study of geography ( Ditto, more so when Europe is not a part of Abhay’s Social Science syllabus at all!)  and approaching his father with a list of required stationery just a day before examination( ditto-ditto!) …… it’s amazing how Swami’s tales are evergreen and are relatable even to this day and time, even though it’s almost a century since they were first published!!! Also goes to show that nothing much has changed when it comes to parent-child attitude towards exams! Here’s wishing everyone all the best during this exam season! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gender - Degender!

First appeared on Parent Edge blog

Every year around this time, we find numerous write-ups and discussions in the media, symposiums and talks in educational institutions, and musical/cultural events revolving around what has now become an extremely symbolic ‘Women’s day’!  Why….even retailers and restaurateurs have jumped into the bandwagon and are offering ‘women only’ offers and happy hours!  While symbolism is important to make a statement and it was indeed a proud feeling watching the women legislators dominate the Lok Sabha session today, what really matters is to see if we can sustain the same momentum, in other areas as well. While celebrating our differences from men on one hand, and striving for gender equality on the other, as a way forward, it is but most significant to break free from gender stereotypes, gendered perceptions and gender based double standards. Why is it that no matter how successful a woman is in her professional capacity, she is still judged on the basis of how much of ‘nurturer’ she is towards her family? Why is it that a woman is expected to be a superwoman when men will be men? Why should it matter as to whether it’s a man or a woman who is driving the vehicle ahead of you? Why is it that no matter how brilliant a girl has been as a student, she is more often than not,  expected to stick to a family-friendly 9 to 5 job ? Apart from certain intrinsic differences between men and women…it’s all about individual choice and freedom isn’t it …and what’s gender got to do with it? Here's extending  this year's International Women's day theme 'One day I will'  to..........One day gender will not matter!

As parents, we owe our children the responsibility to see to it that they neither perpetuate nor feel fettered by gender barriers so as to achieve a more egalitarian society that we are all hoping for.  On the occasion of Women’s day, we picked up “Big Hero size zero” a thought provoking book by Anusha Hariharan and Sowmya Rajendran brought out by Tulika publications that seeks to shatter the societal and cultural shackles associated with gender. With its main focus on gender talk, this book also addresses various issues faced by adolescents relating to identity, peer pressure and feelings of alienation and rebellion against family, etc. Since Abhay is still on the cusp of his ‘tween’ years and he was still too young to comprehend some issues, reading this book is still a work in progress. Meant for the teenage drama kings and queens aged thirteen and above, this work of non-fiction comprehensively deals with the role of gender vis-à-vis family, society, appearances, attraction, violence and finally how each one of us deals with gender, which is nothing but an identity assigned to us by the society as opposed to sex which is an identity determined at birth. The authors attempt at challenging labels that the society in general ascribes  to how a man and a woman ought to be, including our own biases that we never knew existed or even every-day language that reveals gender biased phrases. This book flows like a candid conversation on gender issues, including the tabooed transgender and same sex relationships that are often caricatured in the mainstream culture.  “What’s the point in earning if she can’t cook for her husband?” or “Scantily dressed women should expected to be raped?” or “A bold and aggressive woman is not marriage material” are some of the comments that are often bandied around as if they represent solemn truths and this book is a bold endeavour to question such prejudices. With a breezy yet powerful narrative, frequent references to popular culture and accompanied by illustrations that parody gender stereotypes within the family and society, this book raises important questions, busts long held myths and confronts many truths and untruths that makes not just the young reader, but even adults think and reflect on whether it’s really a boy-girl thing! Happy Women's day to everyone! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

To a math lover......!

I have never really liked math, though I did reasonably well in the subject at school (or so I'd like  to think!) I'm not sure if my mom being a professor of Maths had anything to do with it, but the pressure of excelling in a subject that has been my mother's professional identity, did get to me at times. So when it came to making a choice post secondary schooling, I steered clear of the science stream and opted for humanities, notwithstanding the misgivings that almost everyone seemed to have regarding my field of study.  Well, everyone except my mom. Despite her well entrenched background  in science, not once did she impose her obvious choice on me and not once did she express her reservations over my then-not-so-popular choice.....and thank you so much for that Amma!!! Now that I am a mom myself, I wonder how ??.......  as neither can I claim to be as broad minded as her nor do I find it easy to let go like she did!!:-)

Surprisingly, my nine year old son finds Maths quite interesting and has even declared maths to be his favourite subject ( at least for now!). I know it's too early to say.... finally my mom  may just find someone within her own family who shares her passion for maths!! So on the occasion of her birthday, dedicating this post to my mom, the math lover.... we read  "The Boy who loved Math " by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. A wonderful book that traces the life and achievements of Paul Erdos who is "probably" a Demi-God to mathematicians world over. Even for someone who isn't all that gung-ho about numbers, this book with its crisp, mathematically creative narrative and striking illustrations makes a wonderful read for one and all.  "There was once a boy who loved math. He grew up to be 1 of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived ..." and thus the reader is lead into Paul's unconventional life that began and ended with numbers!! From a little boy who hated rules, school and his baby-sitter, read on as Paul's love for prime numbers made him famous around the world and in turn made him travel around the world... all for math, math and more math in the form of Number theory, Combinatorics, Problemistic theory and Set theory. So much so that he was called a math- match maker..- introducing mathematicians all over the world to one another so that they work together and of course do more math! While a lot has been written on his famous work in mathematics, this book acquaints the young readers on the little known facts about how the magician from Budapest ( as he was known) was, like as a person -  how he was hopeless in doing his  laundry or cooking his food, or how he made the whole world his home and that he loved playing with epsilons, a mathematical term he used for children!!  Accompanied with insightful and thoroughly researched illustrations, plus  a smattering of numbers all over... you might just want to read this "infinite" number of times!  To the best  math lover I've known all my life......Happy birthday Amma!!:-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wheels to Fly!

Over the previous weekend we had been to “Nammura Habba”, a two day gala event celebrating the essence of Karavali or Coastal Karnataka culture, from its food and cuisine to folk arts and music. Though this is the third edition of the festival, it’s the first time we attended an event like this that had a huge turnout of Karavali population or people from the Coastal region settled in Bangalore along with the attendance of many true-blue Bangaloreans.  Though Bangalore has been home to me throughout my life, it felt great to revisit my roots and join in the celebration of its unique specialties and imports. Be it the language, culture, or cuisine,  as they can take a person out of Karavali but you can take Karavali out of the person!

Besides a number of cultural and musical events, the festival also saw many famous people from Coastal Karnataka being felicitated and we were delighted to see Padmashri Malathi Holla, India’s pride at the Para-Olympics. It is not very often that we get to read about a famous personality and then see them in person…..isn’t it? No sooner had we finished reading Tulika’s “Wings to fly” than  we happened to see Malathi Holla on stage and got hear her story of how she braved her disability to reach for the skies, in her own words, all thanks to “Nammura habba” !!

"Wings to Fly" by Sowmya Rajendran and pictures by Arun Kaushik  presents her remarkable story in an interesting light that is sure enthuse and inspire young minds.  Little Malathi was like any other girl, loved sweets that she stuffed into the pocket of her red skirt, or couldn’t wait to dig her teeth into the ripe mangoes that had fallen from the tree, or wanted to run behind the chicks in her yard, except that she had to do all of those while being in a wheel chair. Malathi had suffered a polio attack when she was about a year old which took the strength away from her legs. Despite undergoing a number of surgeries and living in a medical center for as many as fifteen years, Malathi continued to be wheelchair bound. But that didn't bind her spirits in any manner, and Malathi found herself loving the movement exercises advised by her doctors. That's when Malathi began participating in many sports events for the disabled and the rest is history! Read on as Malathi went on to scale new heights in the field of sports,  including an interesting anecdote how she even raced in a men's event and won!  With a sensitized narrative accompanied by lively illustrations, this book beautifully and vividly brings out the inspiring life of Malathi Holla, who is a living example of how one can brave all odds by sheer determination, resilience and courage…with wheels and willpower like Malathi’s who needs wings to fly!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

V - day with kids!

It’s ironic that we started celebrating Valentine’s day after Abhay came into our lives, and more so during our short stint in the US when Abhay came back with a Valentine’s day card for his parents! As I’ve mentioned  earlier, Valentine’s Day is not just celebration of romantic love but all kinds of love - parental love, sibling love, affection one feels for grandparents, friends, teachers, etc.  While Abhay’s V-day card making days ended as we moved back to India, we’ve always made it a point to celebrate this day as a family. Now that day long outings are no longer feasible with a nine month old in tow, we did however manage to go out for a V-day dinner at a local restaurant that was done up with heart shaped red balloons all over! Of course, thanks to our fellow Bangaloreans’ penchant for eating out, we had to make reservations as early as the beginning of the week! J

With a sweet little addition to our family this year, Valentine’s day has been made all the more special! Before her arrival, it almost seemed improbable that we would feel the same love as we felt for our first born. But now as we hold her in our arms,  mollycoddle her, baby-talk with her and as she flashes her toothless grin in recognition of that special bond….. truly…. it is one of life’s greatest pleasures. In celebration of this parental love and attachment, we had our little one look into “Okaasama Otousama”, a Tulika publication by Sandhya Rao and pictures by Krishna Bala Shenoi, a wonderful book meant for infants and toddlers.  Narrated in a rhythmic style, the book showcases one of the first words uttered by most kids ( mother-father) in eighteen different languages. As you turn the pages, watch those little eyes follow the varied landscapes, settings,societal and familial milieus depicted in myriad colours and hues. The presentation of the concept is simple yet profound in the way it embraces multiculturalism and diversity, but for the error in the Kannada reference of “father” as Thanthey with the actual word being “Thandhey”. From Tamil (Amma – Appa) to Tulu,(Appe-Amme), from Swedish (Fader-Moder) to Silican (Matri-Patri), from Japanese (Okaasama Otousama ) to Finnish (Mutsi-Isi), it is only a reaffirmation of the inextricable bond that a child shares with his or her parents. Happy Valentine’s day, my little ones!