Monday, May 31, 2010

Of Books and Borrowers

First line from the book that I'm reading: ( yeah, reading only now....and no prizes for guessing the title....)

In the beginning there was a river, The river became a road and branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.

Recently, someone I know was ranting about his colleague who borrowed a book long ago and hasn't yet returned it. While this person was chasing him and hunting him down to have his possesion back, I know many others who would just wait silently or at best just drop weak hints clumsily and hope for the best. Me being one of them. Somehow, these episodes always reminded me of this anecdote by Stephen Butler Leacock

I find that some people just don't seem to take borrowing books seriously. Maybe it is in the genes; it is one more thing along with the sugar and coffee powder that we borrow and never return. While most books are expensive and it pinches when you lose them, there's more to it than just the money. Books are personal and most often they stand for more than just their contents. Some books mark a turning point, an emotion, experience, a person, a sentiment, an occasion.... many things... and I can't bear to lose them or see them treated shabbily. I even know some who don't part with their books - it is like a part of their soul. I can understand that - there are some books I would never lend. Having said that, I don't worry about giving my books to some very close friends because I know that they value it just as much as I do.

Innocent lenders beware! The 'Borrowers' spectrum looks something like this. Those who borrow and

1.Return in decent time and in good condition
2.Return the book in bad condition with a look of apology
3.Return the book, its deteriorated condition not bothering their conscience
4.Return after some polite reminders
5.Return after some polite reminders and annoyed follow ups
6.Lose the book but offer to replace
7.Lose the book and believe an apology will suffice
8.Lose the book and laugh about it like it is a joke
9.Have no intentions of returning
10.Deny that they ever borrowed a book from you
11.Borrow and disappear

Which ones have you met?

I've renewed and upgraded my membership with Book and Borrow. This arrangement suits me so well since the good libraries are quite far from where I live. I must say their service is more than satisfactory!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Flashback... 17 th October 2008

I was down with backache. Pattu got all cuddly and wanted me to carry her and was quite upset when I denied saying that I had backache. In a moment the expression changed to that of determination and resolve.

She went behind and said to my back, 'Ammava valippiyaa...chollu...inime anmmava valippiyaa?' (Will you pain amma ever again! tell, will you pain her again!)
And a few mighty blows landed on the already aching back!

The amma thunk thus - 'inime valikkaradunnu solluviya!' (Will I ever discuss my aches with her!)

Back to 29th May 2010

Pattu - Amma my leg is paining ..
Amma - come I'll give it one pinch...come here
Pattu - laughing...ammmmaaaaa....massage my leg amma...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Books or eBooks?

Browsing through the internet recently, I came across two pieces of information - both alarming and enlightening. This article says that, "children are more likely these days to own a cell phone than they are a book" and another study also goes to prove that "the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate"

This has triggered some arguments for and against technology with the naysayers likening it to the pandora's box and the soothsayers pointing out that it in fact opens up a plethora of information and is just redefining 'reading' and not killing it altogether.

Having grown up with print, I love having a book in hand, the way it feels, the way it smells, etc. However, I wouldn't deny that there have been times in the recent past when I've thought it would be really nice to own a Kindle and more recently the iPad. I'm feeling this way, and mind you, I'm still very conservative when it comes to technology, so, isn't it quite natural for the current generation to gravitate towards the digital format? With all the talk about preserving the forests, shouldn't we be taking the digital route? What about reading Dr Seuss, Eric Carle, Karadi, Tulika etc in the digital format? If youngsters are hooked to their mobiles, how about serving them a book on their mobile? I think there's an opportunity everywhere and that the path of least resistance will work.

What's your argument?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Midnight Masala at Pattu Household

If you don't know by now..yes, Pattu is a night bird and sleeps past midnight everyday! We sing, dance, read, play and wrap up by 10.30 and somehow manage to switch off lights by 11 - 11.30 PM. But Pattu is wide awake and still in full form. For the next one hour, our routine is something like this..

10 mins after switching off lights:
Pattu - Amma, I want water
Amma's arm automatically reaches for water, empties it into pattu's mouth and puts it back on the side table.

Pattu tells stories or has imaginary conversations

10 mins later
Pattu sits up and looks out the window and talks to the streetlight and they laugh at a private joke. I feel very jealous and insecure when she casually says, 'nothing amma' when I ask her what it is...

Pattu pokes the dad

10 mins later
Pattu: Amma...moocha (susu)
Amma's mechanically goes through routine only waking up when Pattu chooses to waddle in water for a longer time warranting change of clothes

back to conversations with the streetlight

10 mins later
Pattu - Amma...I'm hungry amma
Amma - sleep
Pattu - crying...I'm hungryyyyyyy
Amma - loses it have biscuit (yes, it is on the side table always)
Pattu - Noooo...let's go down and have pappu mammam (dal rice)!! - that's a ruse to go down and delay the sleep by few more mins...
Amma - loses it completely!  Pappu mammam has gone to sleep, only biscuits and milk are awake at night

We grudgingly settle for biscuit and repeat water, streetlight and susu episodes once before sleep embraces Pattu.

Last night Pattu was pouring her heart out to me in pure Hindi - Pattu brand of Hindi of course. I didn't get a word of it since it didn't even have the usual smattering of English words! She was very upset that I didn't understand - anger and later tears followed! For some reason, even when being upset with me, amidst tears, Pattu spoke only pure Hindi! *SIGH*

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Only a mom...

..can be proud of this.  Pattu drew these all by herself and enlightened us on what they were...

1. A Tree

2. Cars - Lots of cars on a road

Friday, May 21, 2010


Clown, Quentin Blake. Pattu Rating: 4.7

I've been wanting to review this for a while now. Finally got around to doing it now.

For me, it was love at first sight. For Pattu, the scribbly lines ceased to impress initially but it grew on her and when the story unfolded it had her completely hooked. I've become a huge fan of QB's illustrations after just a few books (including the Roald Dahl ones) and am hunting for the rest.

The clown along with some of his friends (all of them toys) are abandoned and have nowhere to go. The clown is not willing to give up and goes looking for a home for himself and his friends. A series of adventures where he meets different kinds of people in different situations. Adults who don't think much of him, who don't find him worthy enough, a child who wants him but whose mom doesn't let her keep him, a burly guy who is rude and so on. Finally he lands up in a house where he instantly turns around a situation by being resourceful and winning the smile of an infant. At last how he goes on from there to rescue his friends from the garbage bin and how all of them eventually find a home makes the rest of the story.

The illustrations are so expressive and make the story powerful and compelling. Words would have probably diluted the effect of the illustrative style. I loved this also because it allows the reader to interpret and imagine the story from their own perspective. For instance, when the burly man throws the clown up in the sky, my version of the story, had I been telling Pattu, would have been something like, 'the clown got scared when the man threw him up in the air'. However, without this influence, Pattu's version was, 'the man threw the clown up in the air and the clown was super exited to go so high up in the air'. Also, in Pattu's version, the clown was seldom sad...he enjoyed his adventures just as much as he enjoyed finding the home at the end. Am I happy that I didn't narrate the story to Pattu - I like her version better.

So, what's your version?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artsy Craftsy - May Entries

Here is our entry to the Artsy Craftsy Challenge for May. 

Edited to add some more... and some more details

Plate Art - This one is simple. Just pick up a Styrofoam plate and paint it.

Earring and Necklace Stand - Simple again. Thermocol board, painted.

Flower Float (It kept moving on water so couldn't get a good water shot)
This is a styrofoam bowl cut into the flower shape and painted.

A leaf wall hanging
Thermocol board cut into the shape of a leaf and painted. Mount it on a cardboard and hang it up on the wall.

This time, Pattu was so very involved in this whole thing. The room was a mess every evening and am sure my maid is expecting an extra sum for clearing up every day.

Entry 1. The Photo Frames - Mother's day gift from Pattu to both Grandmoms. Two thermocol boards, one cut out in the center to make space for the picture and stuck on top of the base board with just a slit on one side through which the picture can be slipped in. There's a slit at the top to actually insert the picture and it is operational :)
Pattu did some base colouring and me the details. One has pista and sea shells (coloured by Pattu) stuck to it.

Entry 2 - A Pen Stand - This was Pattu's idea. She accidentally poked a hole in that styrofoam bowl and I surprised her by calling it a 'neat idea'!

 Entry 3 -Pattu's Room (sans the mess)

Entry 4 -Arty Clips - Pattu did base colouring and me the details. Cut out shapes on a styrofoam plate and paint them. Stick it on a clip (the ones we use for clothes?). I wanted a wooden clip ideally but couldn't find one. I feel the clips are a bit too big for the shapes here...they should cover up the entire clip.

Entry 5 - Streamer - Stringed assortment. Pattu did all the colouring but for the details on the butterfly. She even broke one of the tail fins of the fish

 Entry 6 - A house and a park - Pattu's Caretaker's kids had come over and they did this. Such wonderful girls!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Of Trees and more Trees

We revisited some of Pattu's favourite books, Norbu's New Shoes being one.
 As I reached the line that mentions Lord Buddha, Pattu says, 'Buddha ummachi..who lives in a treee...'
Amma -  'Ain...where did you get that from?'
Pattu - 'Ayyo..amma..that ummachi lives in a tree na amma..'
Amma - Tree??? What Tree?
Pat comes Pattu's reply - 'Mo-Na-S-Tree Amma!! followed by an, Oh-oh look...

Pothy's has been handing out saplings to all the shoppers and thousands have already been handed over. Good initiative I think though the cynic in me wonders how many will actually plant them and care for them and how many will live on see the next summer(s)... I think it would be worth it even if 20% succeeded...

Been meaning to go for the Nizhal's (Tamil word for 'Shade') Tree Walk.... ironically, I'm waiting for the heat to go down a bit :D

Monday, May 17, 2010

How 'responsible' are our brands?

The TV, for me has become some sort of a meaningless drone in the background for a long time now. Recently though, I was irked by couple of ads caught my attention.

1. Relaxo footwear brand for kids: Shows couple of school kids (8 yrs or so) fighting a villain - an adult, in a crowded marketplace and looking smug at their victory and the admiration of passers by. This is serious fight mind you, like the ones you see in B'wood movies. What crap! It is a footwear brand for god's sake, can't the agency think of a better story? Where is the censor board when we need them?

2. Complan: A mom tells the story of her son who was short and hence had to endure some teasing from other taller kids (calling him 'chottu'). Heart broken, she vows to work on his height. Enter Complan and now her son is tall and she can walk with pride. So moms of short boys, what a shame, go hide your face! And yes, teach your kids to yield to the teasing - if you are teased about being short, go find a way to get taller or go hide! How wonderful!

We talk about Barbie, fairness cream ads and the likes being a bad influence, making girls take a certain biased view of beauty and so on. I see this ad as doing pretty much the same thing to boys. It ridicules boys who are short putting a lot of undue pressure on growing boys (and probably on the moms as well), poking a hole in their self esteem, making them under confident.

We all know that there's only so much a health food drink can do. There are the genes - the biggest determinants and a lot of other things that influence height and we all know that a good percetage of our population is below average height. So what are these ads seeding in the innocent, vulnerable minds? Don't these brands have any responsibility towards their audience and the society? Is selling (by whatever means) the only agenda?

When will we go beyond physical limtations and start focusing on more important things like being socially responsible, sensible, etc.? When will we start appreciating people for what they have made of themselves than what mere chance has endowed them with? Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying we shouldn't celebrate beauty, but not at the expense of making the rest of the kids feel inferior.

What's your take?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

4 Yr Old 'Pride'

At the Park...

A bunch of 4 to 6 yr olds playing. Pattu and two others busy doing acrobatics on the monkey bar. Pattu tries one of the new tricks but needs my help to reach up.

Pattu: Amma, Please help me amma...

S (Remember S of the Gang War fame?) : Eh, why are you calling amma for that, you are big...come I'll show you how...

The Amma wonders if it is time to retire....

PS: Yes, Pattu and S are friends... no trace of any memory of Gang War episode :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Food glorious food!

We got our first package of organic groceries from Organic Plus - we tried some dals and rice, sugar (brown), palm sugar, Gingley oil and we liked it.

I also found the organic veggie place in sholinganallur on OMR (near Infy) that Art had mentioned - planning to try them out.
We picked up more organic fruit preserves - Plum and guava, from Fab India and we highly recommend them. I've also picked up a dark brown coloured whole wheat pasta hoping to feel less guilty when indulging. The lady at the store tells me that it needs some pressure cooking and it more than doubles in quantity when fully boiled.

Jus Yummy:
We tried the olive and walnut french loaf from La Boulangerie - the Olive loaf is out of the world (just a bit too salty though). I believe they are setting up shop in Velachery soon - am definitely looking forward to it.
Krishna Sweets made Velachery buzz - am not at all a big fan of Krishna Sweets, so am not too thrilled.
We went to the new Sanjeevanam at Adyar to celebrate Mother's day, with both mom and MIL - slightly bigger than the earlier place. It was in an apartment complex - was a bit of a disappointment for me... I think a nice traditional looking house would have been so much more charming! The Rajakeeyam tasted just as good though :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Gang War

Pattu faced her first gang war a few weeks back. I witnessed some interesting group dynamics and thought I should share it here. I've tried my best to stick to just 'reporting' the incident. I want your thoughts on it...

Gang Profile: 12 or so 4 - 8 yr olds
Venue: kids' playground
Situation: Both swings were occupied and Pattu wanted to have the swing. She asked H (Girl) if she can play on the swing and when H didn't budge she insisted. H left (a bit cross) and joined S (Boy) on the other swing but Pattu wanted H to share the swing with her. H was miffed with Pattu and hence refused.
H prods S and both shout, 'Pattu bad girl...Pattu bad girl' - Pattu is upset but controls tears.
Some random 6 kids (all boys) big and small gather around Pattu and join the chorus. One boy (8 yr old) looks on, not approving what the other boys are doing (he gives them an angry look) but doesn't say anything. Pattu breaks down. Teasing grows louder accompanied by some sniggers in between.
Pattu HOWLS! Comes and hugs me. I just hold her.

Suddenly we hear, 'Pattu Good Girl' chorus from a bunch of girls in another corner of the playground.
Boy band disperse quietly. Some from that group take Pattu to play with them. Pattu still crying and angry allows herself to be led away and becomes interested in their game (which involved getting her hands dirty in the sand and the likes). Couple of older girls continue to appreciate and thank Pattu (and quite spontaneously, not making much ado about it) for helping them with various tasks (they were building a mountain, temple, etc). Pattu Happy.

S comes to Pattu after sometime and says, 'You are a good girl only ok...'
Pattu looks at him with a blank expression - just for a second and carries on. S stares after her and moves on.

What's your take?