A shamelssly bragful post. Read at your own risk

My eleven year old started writing stories when she was 4 years old.  At five, we opened a blog for her to record her stories.  Her first blog post (at five) was this:

firstpost

She did not restrict her creativity to her blog, and wrote (writes ?)on any surface she can lay her hands on (the wall is off limits to her, incidentally).

She also wrote profound things such as this (again, at five)

be cheerful

Since one of us had to transcribe her stories on the web, many of her stories were lost.  When she started getting comfortable with the word processor herself by seven (sigh.  These digital natives are quite something, aren’t they?), she started typing out her own stories.  Inspired by dad’s idea of having an antithesis to her favorite young boy – Harry Potter, she wrote up a series of stories on a fantastic old woman – Saree Paati.   She then discovered Ogden Nash, who became her next role model. Thus were written really wacky poetry.

With dad being a published writer himself, and mom being a publisher, was a book far behind for the kid ?

Book

This 102 page book is a collection of stories of her imaginary (or is it?) wacky neighbourhood that had old women brewing  various kashayams, interspersed with Nash-ish verse.

We have limited copies of the book.  If you want one, you may write to me.  Else, you may find most of the content (and more) at her blog.  Her online persona is Valar, for the sake of internet safety and I hope you will keep it so, if you choose to comment at her blog..

On Learning

With the kid’s cycle tests on full swing, and self having just returned from a parents-teacher’s meet at her school, I found this article really interesting and relevant. The following passage hit home run with me.

Marianna [[replace with any chid’s name there, particularly mine]] does not get praised for the diligence and effort she puts into sticking with a hard math problem or a convoluted scientific inquiry. If that answer at the end of the page is wrong, or if she arrives at a dead end in her research, she has failed—no matter what she has learned from her struggle.

I have always been a top-ranker in all of my academic life, but 20 years since I last went to any form of academic institution as a student,  I realise that my perfect four point O’s are of no consequence now. Perhaps not quite so…my high ranks got me into a couple of good higher education institutions, but were these institutions worth the loss of the joy of learning that accompanied the need to get a tick mark at the end of the page?

Unfortunately, the “first-rank-mentality” is an immortal dragon that gives the rational part of my brain a stiff wedgie, whenever I see a report card that does not boast of the highest rank possible.  Thankfully the other half of our couple is a staunch “anti-exam, anti-marks” protestor (the standing rule to the kid is that she cannot enter the house if she ever boasted of full marks or first ranks), but those are only half of the gene-set inherited by the kid, who struggles between the paternally derived nonchalance (or even hatred) for marks and grades and maternal paranoia of not being a topper.  I sincerely hope the paternal genes win the match.

Whenever I tell the kid that “marks are not important”, I feel like a hypocrite because the dragon raises its ugly head inside mine and I have to bonk it on its head.  Thankfully, the kid is still curious and creative and the (often wrong) answer at the end of the page has not yet stifled her creativity.

Take home lesson for the mom – let the kid face dead ends. And while at it beat the monster that just awoke.

Having kittens

We all know of my pathologic love-hate relationship with animals, don’t we?  There is now more to complicate the relationship.  Before we could ascertain if Megabite was a boy or a girl, she proved to us beyond doubt that the make up is definitely female by getting herself pregnant.  After scouting all around our house and choosing the most convenient spots to nest – the spotless bottom shelf of my kitchen rack, the immaculate bottom shelf of the kid’s clothes cupboard and the squeaky clean bottom rack of dude’s CD rack, she finally delivered under the building’s common staircase that has never been cleaned since this building was built 38 years back.

I have been tearing up every time I see those tiny little things.

Isn’t birth a miracle?

Kicking-the-bucket list

Today has been a weird day in my head.  The cat that adopted us a few months back, birthed three kittens early this morning.  Although I never really got attached to the cat, the sight of those tiny, blind, helpless kittens, snuggling up to their mother has been choking me up all morning.  Birth is probably the greatest miracle in the world.

Adding to the emotional roller coaster of the birth is the grandeur of a death – the death of a great man, while doing something he loved.  Dr. Kalam wanted to be known, not as a president, or a scientist, or an awardee, but as a teacher, and he breathed his last while teaching – what a lucky man.

I have been thinking since this morning – if I were fortunate enough to go while I was doing something I loved, when would that be?

Perhaps when I am writing something?  A research proposal?  An article? Even a blog post?  How about now?

Perhaps when I am walking alongside my dearly beloved, sometimes in amiable silence, sometimes in animated discussion?

Perhaps when I am helping my kid draw, color, cut and paste stuff in her project notebook?

Perhaps when I am reading a book?  “My Antonia”? “Anna Karenina”?

Do you have a kicking-the-bucket list? Or is too morbid to discuss?

The Scientific Indian

kalam

Just how blessed is a human being who not only lived life pursuing his passion, but also died doing what he loved best – igniting minds of the youth.

I mourn the death of Dr. Abdul Kalam, our scientist-ex-president, the rocket man of India, and a wonderful human being.  I had the good fortune of seeing him as he drove past me one evening many years ago, when he was the President of the nation – I would cherish the memory of his simple smile for ever.

The country is on holiday tomorrow as a mark of respect.  I don’t think taking off work shows respect to a man who lived his dream.  Working does.  I will work tomorrow, as my mark of respect for his indomitable spirit.

May he find the truth he sought all his life, in death.

Precipitation

It seems unfair to not write a post about the rains, as I sit in the verandah, listening to its pitter patter and feeling the moisture laden cool air on my face, after having ranted and raved about being cooked less than a month ago.  It is still a very constipated rain that can’t make up its mind whether to perform a rock show like the monsoon rains of Chennai , or be gentle and delicate as the first leaves of spring (which have long since aged and withered in the bone burning heat of the past month), and falls in an indescribably boring, brief, continuum.  But that is a “glass half empty” argument, which is not right, considering that we started with an empty glass a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll take this and run.

There are two seasons in Chennai that I love.  Jan-Feb-early March, when it is bright and sunny without being particularly hot and October-November, the North East monsoon period (which lately seems consistently delayed to December), where if we are lucky, half a dozen cyclones of varying strengths miss us by a hairline, thereby giving us the monsoon feel without the damage.  July-September period is temperamental in that summer does not want to leave, but the South West Monsoon overshoots its geographic boundaries and graces us with a few showers as is happening now.

The steady drone of the drops is hypnotic, but is disturbed by children squealing in the neighbourhood.  There is one particular boy who is singing “Rain Rain go away” and as soon as I publish this post, I am going to seek him out and sock him one.