Thursday, June 5, 2014

Weaving stories

One of the favorite activities for my son is to listen to stories.
He loves to read by himself, but at the end of the day, he saves time to just lay by my side and listen to a story I tell to him.

I also read myself a lot, so I try to simplify those stories to his level and narrate to him.
Simplifying the details so he can understand at his level.
I even mix up some of the actual happening around me when I create stories for him.

Recently, I tried narrating him the old Indian stories like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
But how can you explain to a modern age boy that a king could have 5 wives in that era.
Or that a mother could order something and the son would give up everything just to follow her orders !!

Or that a monkey could carry the whole mountain on his hand and burn down the whole city with fire on his tail.
He just doesn’t buy those parts of the stories.
When I started telling him the story of Mahabharata, he had 100s of questions and each one of them made 100% sense:
- Why did Gandhari blindfold herself when her husband was blind? She could have been more help if she was also not blindfolded?
- How can someone have 100 sons? (even I was baffled)
- Why did Arjun not say “Oh maa, peeche mud kar to dekh lo” when her mom ordered them to divide “whatever he brought home with his brothers” (which was incidentally Draupadi)

And so many more such questions.
So I finally gave up on these old stories (Also, as a side note, I am looking for a kid friendly English version of Ramayan and Mahabharat, printed or Kindle version. If you know about it, please drop a line)

Now, in our story sessions, I tell him stories from my own childhood – story of my brothers and sisters.
Those are the ones he laughs out so loud and keeps on asking me to tell those again and again
The ones where we left our little brother in a stroller in the middle of the road because me and my sisters were busy fighting who’d push the stroller
Or the silly games we used to play just to make him laugh when he was a little baby
Stacking up all the pillows and quilts to make a king like seat for him.
The story about how we used to come back from the school in our school bus
The watchman we used to see on our way back
Or why was our school bus stop so far away from home
Our little friends in our neighborhood
Fights and games with them
Their strict Nani, their candy lover Nana
Nana getting us kulfi in the hot summer days
Nani throwing away our comics on the “machan” when we didn’t finish our homework in time or fought badly with each other.
Tales of my teachers and days at school
How me and my sisters used to negotiate with each other for school homework
Craziness of my brother about listening that one particular song on the cassette tape hundreds of time by rewinding the song
Collecting coca bottle caps to win a promotional audio cassette tape

And seeing him laugh so hard and enjoying these stories, even my daughter has started joining us for these session and she is getting to know them through these tales
For me, this is my chance to make them familiar to my family who is so far from away from me and whom I don’t get to see for such long times...
I hope they continue to enjoy these stories as much as I love to weave those snippets for them.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Z is for zooming through

So here we are, at the last alphabet and the end of the A to Z challenge. I did get delayed by 2 days but I am glad I still made it through. There were days that seemed difficult, but eventually they were not. Technology has made everything possible today. So access cannot be an excuse anymore.

And, in between all the blogging, the month of April just zoomed by fast. It seems it was just yesterday that the month began. And it is already over too.

But other than the blogging challenge, so many other things happened during the month of April, which I missed to acknowledge here:
  • The tax season is over. This had to be the biggest burden hanging on my head. I do my taxes on my own, after trialing and testing several tax preparation firms. So, I was busy till the very last day checking and rechecking all the numbers, forms and receipts to make sure everything was correct.
  • The next big thing was Aayush preparing in a Indian cultural program. This was his very first experience and participation in an Indian cultural program. With the very limited number of Indians in this area, it is very difficult to keep the kids connected to our culture and customs. So when one of the friends told us about this program, we jumped at getting him enrolled, only realizing it later that it involved taking him an hour drive long place for practice every Sunday. But, in the very end, it was all very worth it. He enjoyed the dance item so much, he even dances to that music now in his free item. He loved dressing up  and the overall masti associated with the dance and music (It was a Bhangra performance)
  • Other things that kept me busy throughout the month were Aayush piano performance practice, participating in a community garage sale (where I did manage to get rid of some of the old stuff from the house) and helping Aayush set up his first lemonade stand at the garage sale. He was really excited for it and I was equally interested in it because this is one skill I’d really like my kids to learn – entrepreneurship, soccer practice for kids, never ending school projects and finalizing summer camp schedule for the kids.

Wow, as I wrote it down, I do realize it was pretty busy. And the month just zoomed by.
And now I am geared up for May as well, with swimming classes starting soon for both the kids, school closing down for summer.
How was the month of April for you?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Y is for youngest member of my family

Your eyes are small, but the shine in them is the brightest
The dreams you have hidden there are not so small
Your lips are small, but the smile you give can melt the biggest ice
And oh those giggles and those cute "sowwiieee" and "pleassssssssse"
The questions you ask, with that smile are just profound
your hands are small, but the things you want to do are not so small
You want to reach anything and everything that you have your eyes on
You want to try everything that your "best buddy aka Aayush" does
Doesn't matter if he is doing homework, playing soccer, playing piano, riding a bike or even racing
Doesn't matter if you have to fake a headache and that too, you say is happening in your tummy,when I ask
Or that I need to call your doctor because you also have a wiggling tooth
That you don't even have all baby teeth out doesn't count
You are my drama queen, my sleeping beauty
Waking us with a smiling "good monning" every single day
You want to go to so many places and do many things
Your list is never ever ending
May go places all around the world as you grow up
And explore every single thing that you wish to
But you'll always be my little kashu, spreading smiles and cheer

Lots and lots and lots of love



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

X is for eXtra

Yes, x is for the extra hour/day I am trying to steal to make sure I reach the finish line for this blogging marathon. It is the first time I did this and I wanted to do it for myself, just to see if I could really do it.

And I did try my very best. Used my work lunch time to compose my posts on phone, staying awake past 11 on work days and typing my posts on my kindle. And I know I will make it; just a matter of how close to the finish line.

Thinking about it, I think most human beings are greedy by nature; always asking for something extra than what they have already achieved. And it is this zeal to have that extra is the one that keeps the flame in each of us going. Wanting to go that extra mile, giving a little more than what's expected of you, looking for that extra edge in your skills and career. So here's a parting wish for today, "May you all get what you wish for yourself and a little bit extra too" 

Keep smiling

Monday, April 28, 2014

W is for winners and losers

Every game has a winner and some losers; so is also true in the game of life. You win some and you lose some. But then in the usual game, the rules are predefined by the creator of the game.

Who decides the rules for winning and losing in my life? No one other than me. Sorry, I refuse to give that privilege to anyone else. So I have not lost it unless I decide that I have no more moves left. Similarly, what may be my definition of success may not be your definition of success. So may be we can agree to disagree and just not make any judgment about each other.

Because I believe life is not only about winners and losers but also about how you define your winnings and loss and how you get there and where you go from there.


V is for VCRs

Do you remember the time when VCR( video cassette recorder) used to be an item of luxury? That was way before we had access to multiple TV channels or the onset of cable TV.

I remember one of our tenant uncle used to have a VCR which he used to rent out to folks. So when the VCR was not on rent, he would ask us if we wanted to watch a movie on it. And immediately, all 4 of us (me and my brother and sister) would take a poll on which movie we would like to watch. Brother's favorite was Sallu Bhai (yeah his really irritating early movies) and the other action stars, sisters wanted comedy and I demanded the ultimate melodramatic ones(as advertised by Ameen Sayani on vividh Bharati)

After much deliberation, some tears and some peace treaties, we would settle on a movie. The next tedious task would be to go convince mom about watching a movie. That task would be assigned to me. I would go and talk to mom, take all the heat, make all promises to finish all homework as soon as movie was over and what not. Once we got a green signal, the other 2 sisters would race to the video library and demand the finest print of the movie. All the while threatening him to not pay any dues if the print is not clear. I must say, for the 6 year old that they were, they were pretty demanding in that.

And then we would be all set to enjoy the movie. If the movie turned out to be a utter rubbish(which most movies during that time were),all 3 of us would grill him/her for the remaining part of the movie.

Trust me, it took a lot of project planning and execution in those days for a simple act as watching movie; unlike today when movie are so easily accessible on every other channel.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

U is for the unconventional

It is  not too often in life that we come across people that do not follow the norms and rules of life; Live life on their own ways. I am always intrigued by such unconventional people because it takes a lot of courage to do so and not worry about the judgement of other people. I, for one,am very conscious at times of what other people will think or that I should be following a set of rules.

One such unconventional person I remember is from my school days. He came as our Maths teacher in XIth grade. At that time, it was said he was just a substitute teacher.
An elderly man, walking with a stick in his hands, for his troubling back, Mr Dhayia, always walked with a limp.
But he had a way with the maths subject and his student. And right from the first day,he was different.
Not like other teachers at all. He always said "I do not believe in punishing the students for not doing the homework. If I  could make the kids do homework that way, I'd have taught the subject to a cow or a mule. I am dealing with human beings here who have the ability to think and take decisions"

Once, when he caught one of the students eating his lunch during the class in the back of the class, instead of reprimanding the student, he offered the student to take his time to finish his lunch and then discuss with him personally on the problems he missed. Because, again according to him, "a hungry student could never concentrate, especially on Maths problems"

He made even the toughest of maths problems on derivatives and integrals seem so simple with his logic and smart tricks he taught us to tackle those problems.

And before the exams, he always told us "You all are so prepared that you need not be scared of the question paper. The examiner will be scared with your answers"
And before every exam, he would be standing right outside the exam hall,  boosting confidence of each one of us.And he always said "You should be so confident that after the exams, you should be able to calculate your scores yourself"

He ended up staying for both our XI and XII grades and improved the maths grades for our class so much. I  stayed in touch with him for about a month after I left school. I still wonder where he is or how many lives he touched.