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Comeback!

Lots of famous people make comebacks…so why not a blogger?!

An absence of some months from my site – this site – was necessary to combat personal crisis at home. But now I’ve come back and I am going to write and write and plan to do wonderful things with this blog.

What’s surprising is that some French person has taken over my blog to start something similar! …I’m quite new in this domain myself and this seems so surprising! … Anyway , guess my friends are still there and might love to hear from me…

Thanks to the pianist-friend who sent me his postings that i had read through!!  (Wish I could play the piano like him … !)

Hope you all are there …because you are the ones who inspire me to write and take my mind off personal problems… Blogging sure is a relaxation and you can only grow young …never old!DSC00027

 

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The wonder of coming back…

I’ve often heard of a saying “Home is where the heart is” but  failed to understand the meaning until i left my home to relocate to a city for medical reasons.

In the city i missed all that made my small town home to me – the smells, the trees, the little squirrels playing on the tree outside my window, the bird that walked so awkwardly on the branch of the tree just at  lunch time looking for its meal as we sat down to ours. The small autistic boy who rode his bicycle with such glee in the lane, the woman who lived alone and came to chat with us, the vendors who had such different ways of calling out their wares, the dogs that followed me wagging their tails happily just because we fed them at lunch with leftovers, even the irrate neighbour – were all so wonderful and i longed to see them once again!

My heart ached for the sight of friends and familiar faces… for chats that were meaningful and interesting to me. What were they saying about demonetisation? How were they facing the dilemma of the big note? how were they surviving?…what cultural events were taking place there? any plays worth seeing…exhibitions…? how did our garden look?

One day, I went for a morning walk and discovered a siuli tree in the next lane. it belonged to a dilapidated house that looked like a haunted house. I was elated! the little white flowers and their perfume took me to my garden where i would gather bowls of the sweet-smelling flowers to place all over my house…. I gathered some flowers and brought them back from my walk to my house.

Now I’m back home to a place I’ve fallen in love with. And ever since i stepped in through the gate, I have been dancing and singing quietly to a tune and rhythm that only I can hear!

I gush over even the most common and silly things because I see everything anew with love-filled eyes.

I’m so glad that I’ve not lost the wonder of coming back home.

 

 

When shall we wake up…?

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Have you ever wondered about the status of children in our country?

Quite frankly, I wonder if they have any status at all ! IF you watch the TV programmes that are doled out in the name of children’s programmes, I’m sure you will agree with me.  It is often unbearable to watch the inane things that are said or done in the name of children’s programmes!

Recently I happened to watch a children’s programme being aired at prime time on a Bengali channel that usually have sensible programmes. The set is of an underwater scene and is quite impressive and aesthetic. But perhaps that and the children aged 4 – /8 years are the  only good things about the programme. I had to steel myself to watch through the whole programme that is guilty of

  1. frightening children with djins and light and sound effects. The djin threatens to  take the children away for not being good
  2. asking children to shoot at the djin using a toy pistol
  3. using competition
  4. asking foolish questions like ‘whom do you like more – father / mother’.
  5. Using objectionable language

Besides this, the anchor asked pointed questions to each child about whether they had to suffer corporal punishment at home and later used these clips to show to the parents when they were called in. Then the parents were given funny ‘punishments’ in front of their children. All this is considered good fun but I’m amazed at the crudity. Why should parents be embarrassed like this on a public forum? Of course, I agree wholeheartedly that corporal punishment is bad but surely there are other ways to focus attention on this. Surely, undermining the confidence of the child in their parents quite subtly is perhaps not the answer to the problem? I’d very much like to know the objective of the makers of this programme.

In India, most children’s programmes are  without any worthwhile objectives. No programme is made that has sheer humour as its objective. The one exception being Dadima’s puppets. I don’t think terrorising children is funny. It can have a very negative effect on children.

One should also think twice before asking  children to shoot someone that they don’t like. What message does that give the child? When the child grows up and finds somebody they don’t like will s/he shoot them with real pistols then?

Competition too seems to be a must in all such children’s programmes. With all the print literature and also counseling programmes on radio and television, we still resort to competitive programmes.

When will grown-ups act responsibly?!

It’s a pity because we have the brains and skills to make superb programmes if we did not bow to  the TRP devata.

Most educators and sensible parents ignore the Television medium as not worth their while. However, knowing the reach of this medium I feel educators and parents should get together and raise their voices against inane and deplorable programmes that are aired in the name of children’s programmes.

What do you think?

Exercising the imagination

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Isn’t it amazing that very few parents read and enjoy rhymes and poems with their children now a days?

But maybe you are different and belong to the minority group that loves to read rhymes and poems with children. In days when memorizing was not banned from  schools, we had to learn and reproduce poems in exams. Naturally we hated the exercise and I don’t think I can remember one single line. Instead I can recite endless rhymes and poems from Abol Tabol or  Shishu simply because we loved reciting them. Ma used to say two lines from a rhyme and we had to continue with two more lines. It was sheer fun because we could also enact the lines! We enjoyed such games and had often turned  long evenings of power-cuts into enjoyable times.

With my daughters I did the same. We also made rhymes on everything under the sun – from eating, bathing, sleeping, walking, dressing…. No wonder they have very good poetical sense and write lovely poems.

Well, rhymes and poems can be wonderful allies of parents and teachers and a right poem can often build bridges. I remember watching a movie where a new teacher in a class of young adults resorted to ‘The Tambourine Man’ that actually touched a chord in these students who came from the have-nots and slum areas of America.

Exploring a poem or rhyme with young children too can be  a delightful experience. Once I stumbled on a book that had 365 poems in it for each day of the year but most of these might not interest the 21st century child. However, most children will enjoy poems by Dr Seus , Shel Silverstein or Bruce Lansky. They are contemporary. But those who are proficient in the language can also try Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti and Edward Lear.  Actually, children should enjoy what they read and the first three names of my list are guaranteed to hook children for life to reading poetry; enjoyment leads to love.

One must not think humorous poems do not have serious thoughts in them. Recently I saw a play based on a book of poems by Dr Seuss named ‘Horton Hears a Who’ by a group called ‘Jhalapala’, directed by Santanil Ganguly. It was a superb adaptation and had messages for saving the world and environment among other things in the play. ( picture above)

I had once done a shadow puppet play with the children in our small library ( will talk of it another day) on one of Edward Lear’s poems – The Jumblies.

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So you see anything is possible.

What poems and rhymes do is nurture the imagination in us and that is what makes all the difference between a human and a robot. Don’t you agree?

Exercising can be fun too!

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Hi

Yesterday I was talking of exercising and habit formation. I found some delightful sites that  talk of fun ways to exercise our kids. They are all wonderful and have useful advice. You can look them up for yourself of course but what I gathered from these sites is the subtle intrusion of exercise into chores that not only lessens any one person’s task but also leads to togetherness and sharing.

So I put on my thinking cap and concocted some fun ways to introduce physical activity in our lives. The fun of these chores lies in the fact that both adults and children learn to share and work together.

Here are some ideas.

  1. Putting clothes on the clothesline as neatly and fast as one can. Teamwork.
  2. Preparing dinner/ lunch together. One dish per team ( mother+son/ father-daughter/ sons / daughters or whatever combination possible)
  3. Washing the car together. Remember there are four sides to a car and so…
  4. Cleaning up the room in 10 minutes flat. Reduce the time to suit the mess.
  5. Cleaning Day. Allot rooms to pairs and set up a competition to see who can clean the room faster and aesthetically.
  6. Give shopping lists to different members and set up a competition to see who brings in the items faster. Have them go to the shops on bicycles or by walking.
  7. Ask children to play their favourite music and dance together.
  8. Do some musical chairs / hopping to the next chair during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  9. Play old games like the hoopla or hopscotch with your kids.
  10. Organize a badminton tournament in your locality and use your lawn.
  11. Ask everyone to do everything for half an hour while jumping or jogging.
  12. Go for a hike or surprise picnic somewhere. Take your bicycles and enjoy the ride.

 Please  share your ideas on exercising and let us all enrich ourselves. So do please write in.

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Sharing

Hello Friends,

Yesterday  my daughter suddenly woke up and set out for a gym. She wants to reduce her tummy fat.  I see her good intent and am pleased. But memories of my childhood flash on my mindscreen…

There’s my mom on the madur( a coir mat) on the floor  with me (7 years old) on one side and my dada(ten years old) on the other side…

Ma pulls up her legs and stretches them straight upwards from her hips… we follow…

‘Can you do this?’ she says and brings her feet down over her head to touch the floor … we follow…

More such easy stretches follows …lying down…sitting up… our late afternoon routine on  hot summer holidays.

What was to us fun and games to while away the hot summer days were actually freehand exercises  that Ma taught us so easily. Later it became our habit. I still remember how for years afterwards ,before my morning shower, I always touched my toes about ten times or so and did the twists. Even now at 50+ I can easily touch my toes.

But my daughter goes to the gym…!

Is it time I hadn’t shared with her? I’ve been a working mother most of my life. No, I guess that’s not it. It’s the intent of spending time together doing something fruitful. Ma did it so simply and we loved those times and still remember them.

Those hot summer days spent on the floor of a ground-floor flat  were so precious! We didn’t have to go swimming followed by football practice followed by table tennis and so on and so forth to keep fit.  Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying these games are bad but often I find it’s the parents’ wish that compels an unwilling child to attend such practices conducted by a strict stranger.

Do children wish that their parents spend some time playing with them ?

I bet they do!

First Blog

Hi !

Have you ever wondered what makes all urban humans equal and one? ……

Lots of probable answers must have flashed in your mind in a second and they are all probably right. However, what I think (and I have a right to declare it here as this is my blog after all!) unites us despite other differences is simple – it’s BLOGGING!

My daughters blog, my friends blog, their friends blog…so I decided to get blogsaavy. People tell me it’s not difficult provided you have a passion.  If that is so, why …I have at least half a dozen interests and passions. Writing for children, teaching English, Dramatics, writing plays, reading children’s fiction, children’s library, puppetry and translation. Okay, let me stop at seven for today.

So my blog is going to be about all of these. I have taught in schools for over two decades and have been a teacher trainer after that. My passion for the theatre began early with my mother’s influence and it grew and grew as I dabbled at scriptwriting and direction for the radio and stage. And today I can boast of many published plays and books, articles, short stories and translated books.

When I pause to think of all my interests I see  the link that unites them all. It’s my love for life and the underlying drama in everything we do. Take teaching for example. A teacher is actually a performer – a superb and brilliant actor/actress who interacts with the students in the teaching-learning process. The classroom is her  acting arena. Writing , reading and all that I did or do has an element of drama in it.

My passion.

Passion is described by the dictionary as an extreme interest in or wish for doing something such as a hobby, an activity etc. I agree it’s a very powerful feeling but surely it’s not for a hobby or a dream. When you have a passion for something , nothing matters and you go all out for seeing that through. At that time you are driven by an enthusiasm and limitless energy that gives you the necessary drive.

Do such passion arise out of nowhere?

I would like to think they don’t. There needs to be a trigger somewhere that sets the ball rolling and parents need to realize this right in the beginning. I know of my friend who read and shared the articles of National Geographic with her two sons right through their childhood.  Now the older son is an environmental sculptor and the younger son is following his dream studying Environmental Science.

That’s just one example. For me, I think I know what triggered my interest in the theatre. It’s very silly but absolutely relevant. In Class I , I think, I had been selected to play a character in the action song ‘Old Mac Donald’ but because I fell ill thereafter and was absent for a couple of days I found myself  shifted to the chorus. So when all the lucky friends who were doing the characters had nice costumes and make-up, I had to console myself with just a dab of lipstick applied by a sympathetic  Miss who liked me a little. Ever since then I was drawn to the theatre and make-up like a moth to the candle.

That is what passion is all about . Have I been able to explain it a little? Yes? Good.

But for those who still fail to get it  here’s what T.S. Eliot thinks … and I echo after him :

“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.”