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! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bond with India!

Where do you want to live when you grow up?’ or ‘where do you want to go on  your next vacation?’ When posed to the kids today, both the questions elicit response that invariably points to a destination outside India. Of course, everyone has a right to live the way they want and where they want and it’s a matter of individual choice. I have nothing against living or working abroad but what I abhor is how kids today blindly assume that the key to a bright future lies anywhere but in India! Even when it comes to travel, (taking a cue from their classmates) sightseeing tours or vacations within India don’t seem to enthuse them as much as holidaying on foreign shores. I am not sure if this attitude can be put down to a childhood fascination with “the distant and dreamy” locales or an extension or a reflection of the Indian middle class mindset, but ever notice that our kids always come up with names of places outside India while playing Atlas games. For instance, when it’s Abhay’s turn to name a place starting from I …..his choices range from Istanbul  to Indianapolis……….. and never India! J

In an attempt to set right this anomaly, I picked a book that best illustrates the unique connection one feels with India like no other country. A gem of a book from a gem of an author whose writings and musings are evergreen in as much as they can be read as many times over by one and all, without running the risk of ‘been there and read that”! Well, the name is Bond..and no prizes for guessing that its Ruskin Bond I’m referring to! When I chanced upon “the India I love” at the “Funky Rainbow” bookstore at a Bookalore event,  the cover page itself looked so appetizing that I had to have the full course meal!

the India I love” is a collection of prose and poems that has the celebrated author rewind and  have us unwind over his reflections on his India experiences!  Though some of his writings are a little above Abhay’s reading and probably comprehension level,  Ruskin’s Bond’s writings are meant to be read aloud ….and reading to your nine year old with a few explanations here and there is a treat by itself! As the author himself admits that his forte lies in “observation, recollection and reflection” and there are plenty of such musings in this work  – from his innate understanding of “Children of India” to why he chose to live in Mussorie heading a family of twelve in “Now we are twelve” to his diary notings during the period when he was still establishing himself  as an author in “Simply  living” to a throwback at a time when he was caught between the East and the West ( much like many of us) in “India I carried with me” to his many a reading adventures, and bringing back memories of his grandmother’s house in the Dehra Dun of the 1940s,  to the and finally to his “Thoughts on approaching seventy”…..there are so many facets and faces of India that he loves and writes about in his characteristic style that has you smiling away till the last page! Well, I’m not sure if reading the book has made any difference to how my little armchair globe-trotter feels about making India his home in the future…but the colours of the India that Ruskin Bond writes will never fade just as his writings never do! A must read if you are a Bond fan….the Bond from Mussorie!! J