Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My first tag

I am doing a tag for the first time, Thanks to ssstoryteller
Well here goes the 7 things that my blogger friends don't know about me.

1. I twice bunked school when I was in Class I (5 years old). Yes, I used to cross a wide and busy road and walk along the 1km road divider (for those who know bangalore it is the HAL road) and tell my mom that there was teacher's meeting and so it was half a day. On the second day, When my mom doubted, she took me back to school and talked to the nun principal (St. Thomas school).When they found I had lied the principal caned me with a long cane on my legs. Huh,the moment has freezed in my memory.

2. Since my mom had to deliver my sister (for confinement), I studied class II at my grand parents place - mylapore kumaran's school at chennai. My grandmother's servant Amritham used to take me and shubha( my friend- she was the grand daughter of srividya manjal kunkuma kadai) to school. My new born sis was stung by a scorpion and she was rushed to the doc. I did not have a rough book that day and since all of them had left for the clinic, I used the white card board back of a sweet dabba to write the notes.

3. Class 3-5 were at Chennamma memorial school at mission road(near LalBagh East gate) Bangalore. My dad used to drop me at school while going to work and bring me back during his lunch time. One day my dad's bike bullet gave him trouble and he could not pick me up, I waited all alone in the school and then after an hour's wait walked from my school to my house at kanakapura road along the compound wall of lalbagh. (near Lalbagh west gate). A good 8km walk.

4. Started reading tinkle from the second issue and was a regular reader. We friends had formed a Tinkle club under the Gooseberry tree of our house compound.We used to exchange books like Tinkle, ACK, champak etc.,

5. I used to answer all the puzzles and tinkle tricks and treats correctly and in return used to get stickers from Tinkle. This was pasted on the suit case, wooden almirah etc. It still adorns my almirah in Bangalore. Inspite of mailing answers correctly my name was never published in Tinkle because the winning list came from lots. I once desperately wanted to see my name on Tinkle. So I wrote a letter to Tinkle without my address. I thought they would publish my name and ask for the address in the book. Unfortunately this never happened. Looking back I find it was so silly.

6. I still cherish and bond with my childhood friend Shammi( Shamira Rai).We became friends when I was in Class V and to this day we are still in touch.

7. At the age of 20, I turned down a central Government offer(Asst. Central Intelligence officer) since i did not want to leave my parents and go to Madhya pradesh. Murthy chittappa( my uncle) still scolds me for turning down the offer, but I have no regrets even today.

I tag preeti,shalini,smashingbangles

Well, now it's your turn to list 7 things about yourself which we don't know and tag 3 more.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thrilling experience

GVK ONE --- An year old mall synonymous with storing leading brands of the world was where we got away last weekend. This mall is a haven for International brand conscious people. Shops like Giordano,Pepe,United colors of Benetton,Mango,Bossini, Maybelline, Reebok, Austin and reed,Aldo,crossword,planetsport,Inhabit,wildcraft,shoppers stop,Mebaz are some I remember. We actually headed out to check out the groceries at the world famous grocery store Ruci & Idoni opened in this mall a month back.

After parking our car at the multilevel car parking (it spirals down to 6 levels), we had a great entry into the swanky mall when sharun won one of the promotional offers of a car brand. He won their version of bowling alley and was gifted an INOX (theatre with 6 screens situated on the 3rd floor) movie ticket which he lovingly gifted his father for his birthday.

The highlight of the mall is the marine aquarium which is at the centre of the atrium. Large, colorful fishes in a sea-bed scape were merrily floating around keeping the shoppers especially the children coming in giddy with excitement. The mini golf course inside the mall is another attraction.

But what I enjoyed the most was the 4D experience at Fun zone. The 15 minute movie watched through 3D glasses provides some scary and funny moments. I have experienced this earlier at Thrillarium(bangalore) and virtual reality(Madras).This one was different with vibrating and synchronized seat movements and lot of special effects like face blast, mist, air spray etc.,On the screen, when the snake opens its wide mouth and advances closer to you through the 3D glass you feel the air spray from its mouth. When the glacier on screen was melting and raising the ocean level, you feel the water gushing out of the screen and extra chilly. Infact, sometimes through the SFX i felt as though it was a real bomb blast. It was a heady cocktail of emotions, though what we choose was a movie based on global warming called SOS. I shudder to think what a horror movie would have been like. Definitely the horror movies are a no-no for the weak at heart. A good experience. We Stepped out of the theatre hungry. Now an outing is incomplete without eating out.

Food wise, the mall offers the world famous Hardrock café, Subway , KFC and a polynation food court. It has small kiosks for American corn, Hot dog, Hershey's icecream, cookie man (if I remember correctly), chocolate hut etc.,

Drove back home stocking(groceries)and gearing for the week ahead...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The original twitterer -- sparrow

Today is world sparrow day. This day has been called by the Nature forever society and other wildlife trusts across the world.

This event is to celebrate and create awareness about the simple,small and cute grey,brown and white feathered bird which once perched on our ledges or on trees around our house.

As a child of the 70's and 80's, we have woken up to the constant twitter of this bird, some times cursing the bird and pulling the blanket to cover our ears. They co-existed with us on the ledges and on tree tops around us chirping and giving company to all of us around.

In the afternoons, when mom and her friends would chit- chat and clean the grains, the sparrows used to hop around them and feed on the grains strewn. It was a pastime for me and my friends to watch their nest building activity . These sparrows built their nests on the ledge outside our house, and so they were taking the soft down feathers, twigs, dry leaves etc there and dropping them on the way . The footsteps to our house were strewn with twigs, feathers and other dry leaves. Gradually the eggs laid in the nest hatched and all we could see were the wide open triangular red beaks of these birdlings, since the nests were at a height. The parent birds transferred the food from their beaks to their young ones. The chirping, hopping, fluttering of the wings beside my windows was aural and visual delight then . It was simple bird watch like these that made our childhood so magical and cherishable.

Sadly, these birds which are neither flamboyant/exotic are nowhere around today.One has to make an effort to see these little birds.

Today spacious independent houses with gardens and trees are giving way to concrete jungle/apartment complexes, old grain shops turning to a/c super markets ,organic manure giving way to chemical pesticides , air pollution in the form of CFC’s and waves of the cell phone tower( these waves are supposed to destroy the life in the eggs of sparrow), all of us using clean packeted grains have all contributed to the decline. The twitter of the sparrows have been replaced by online twitters.

The human race is facing two conflicting situations today, one is a bright one where we enjoy the benefits of state of art technology in our daily life. Thanks to genetic engineering, Information Technology, space shuttles, press button living, push button publishing etc., On the other hand is the grim scenario looming large with population explosion,Global warming, depletion of resources, pollution of the basic elements of nature, ecological degradation etc.,

Preservation and protection of our environment is one of the important responsibility of mankind today. Many large animals like tigers(just 1411 left) and small animals or birds are facing extinction. It’s time some awareness is created about ecological degradation.

Thanks to some responsible societies and trusts for taking conservation measures to protect this simple ‘chittu kuruvi’ (as called in tamil)/ gubbachi in kannada,goriya in hindi). Hope everyone of us become more responsible about our surroundings and live an environmentally healthy life and bequeath a healthy world to our future generations and also letting the house sparrow survive else gen next will see sparrows only on internet.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vacation time, Ahoy!

It is now time to ‘do nothing’ or to simply stand and stare. Time to go easy, take a break and enjoy holidays and life.

The exams are over and the short vacation of 15 days have started before the next academic session starts on March 29th. The children who were merrily going around their daily tasks like school, academics, games, drawing, music etc., have more time on hand now.

To keep themselves busy, of course apart from their daily dosage of TV(IPL time, CID, cartoon time), computer time(star doll, pokemon),playing with friends, week end outings, swimming they have decided to spend time - gardening, cooking , drawing and reading.

For Gardening, I have been asked by my spirited children to add some plants tomorrow, they will choose and care for them only during holidays. Later on it will be my duty.

Cooking is craft for them,fun and learn activity, trying to assemble their own burgers, baking pizzas, wheat cakes, French fries( with my supervision), home made pani puris, bhelpuri’s, pav bhaji’s. They will also help my MIL in the making of traditional cooking like sevai, kai suttu murruku( hand twisted oil fried snacks). Making their own food (only for 3.30 snack time) turns my fussy eaters into good eaters since they prepare their own food. They also make their food appealing and help themselves to get the required ingredients in the nilgiris supermarket in my complex. This way they will also learn about the herbs, spices, dairy products. It also makes them aware of the nutritional values. Glad they have developed a taste for tender coconut water, home made lemonade in barley water, buttermilk spiced with mint,coriander and ginger powder. They do indulge occasionally in fast foods during our weekend outings. Oh yes, after all their cooking activity, I have to add finishing touches by cleaning the mess thereafter.

Drawing classes of course, will be taken care by their Pallavi aunty – who is blessed with artistic hands. She makes beautiful murals, miniature fountains and other décor items. Her paintings and drawings are very lively. She is not commercial and teaches art for art’s sake. Her classes are not crowded and also she connects with the children well. So it is an informal art class for the children. (will upload my daughter and son’s drawing in a future blog)

Their vacation also means my over time. Now I have to be on my toes, no computer/ TV time for the next 15 days for me, also the additional duty of being peacemaker/mute spectator for their frequent fights.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Exam fear/fever

Around me this season, I see most parents of primary school children rushing home early from office or in extreme cases even taking leave. They call all old relatives from their native places to pitch in for help. No weekend outings, cable connection removed, pulling stops over all extracurricular classes for children like music, drawing, table tennis, dance etc. Parents sporting tense looks and avoiding social get-to-gethers, hurried shopping etc. The small play area and driveways where children play are wearing deserted looks.

Any guesses what’s in the air?

Yes, it’s exam time. So the whole family sits and studies with no break/recreation. I admire the way they love and care for their children. But……….

The whole year has been spent without any methodical approach towards the studies. Finally when it is the exam time the family lays extra stress on the child and fixes a target percentage for the child in the exam which instead of helping puts unwanted pressure on the child and they too get pressurized. These stress levels cause mental and memory blocks along with loss of appetite and less energy level. After the exams are over, there is a sigh of relief as though they are back from a victorious war. I was surprised when I was told by my family physician that a 16 year old student was popping pills for Blood pressure.

Why should not everything be normal during exam times too? If one puts continuous and consistent efforts throughout the year, eats wholesome breakfast, goes regularly to school with an alert mind, concentrates in class and comes home to recall all that is done and correlates it with real life and visualize wherever necessary it gets embedded in your memory. It is further strengthened by the child’s homework. But in most cases, during school days parents themselves wake up late, on most days the children even miss their regular school since they had a late night , ( parents could be gold medalists/great scientists but when it comes to teaching , there is no alternative to classroom teaching hence it is very important for children to attend school regularly). No time to prepare/eat breakfast, the child drinks just a glass of milk, has some biscuits/chips with a tetrapak milk for lunch.

How can the mind be alert when your stomach is empty? Result - no concentration in the class and they come back home to have a hurried lunch and hop from one tuition class to another with absolutely no time to play or to pursue a hobby.

Will it not stress the child and in many cases even parents? The very thought of all these triggers the stress hormones.

Thinking skills, analytical skills, general problem solving capacities, decision making – the essential results of a good education come only when the child is independent and starts thinking and working on his own. We as parents and teachers should only offer time, space, nourish, nurture and guide the children. Apart from school where of course the base work is done. Let us encourage children to socialize, discuss among peers and friends so that there is flow of information.

A child learns and discovers better when he goes in search of knowledge. Instead of spoon feeding the child in the name of helping him, he could go in search of information. I feel this would be a better way of learning. I know a parent who does the entire project work for her child while the child is playing happily outside unaware of his school project work. The project is in good shape and he gets an A+ at school. But how much has the child learnt here?

Some parents admit their children in the so called techno schools. Here they coach you to be the future IITians/technocrats/professionals and the training starts as early as 6th standard. These techno schools have no playground they look like corporate offices (from outside) and offer no extracurricular activities. They lay more emphasis on finishing the syllabi within the stipulated time, memorizing rather than understanding concepts. Perhaps, that is why the tension because while you memorize your train of thoughts gets derailed when you forget even one word. If they have not cracked IIT prelims after all these training, The students behave as though they have lost everything in life at the age of 16/17. The situation would be pathetic, if they did not have sympathetic and loving parents.

Let us accept our children as they are. Let all the creative juices flow during exam times. It is an outlet for them to relax. In fact, it is proved that children who relax through creative art ,music , sports etc perform better in academics. Music, art and sports are supposed to activate both the cerebral halves(right and left) thus aiding your logical,creative and intellectual skills. Let our children face their exams with utmost confidence pumped from us. Let us learn to love our child with their failures. Last but not the least, Let us not have expectations from our child. Let us give them unconditional love and allow them to enjoy their childhood. As long as the child is clear with the basic concepts it is fine even if he is a B grader. Sometimes children lose marks due to carelessness.

Let us help them to enjoy their academics and childhood and let us also enjoy the exam times.

P.S: The above observations are based on my surroundings. It may not be applicable everywhere and cannot be generalized.