Wednesday, September 14, 2016

10 years of Abhayhood!

It’s now officially a decade since Abhay came into this world and while he is at the cusp of tween or pre-teen years before heading into the dreaded (so as far as parents are concerned!) teen years, there are many angles and moments during which he still seems like a little boy! Though he looks every bit and probably as cheeky as any ten year old, there are some elements of his personality that continue to remind us of his toddler or pre-schooler days ….. like he still winces as the pressure cooker whistle goes off or still employs toddler lingo references to some everyday things. Though he may not like my bringing this up, but as parents we cannot be blamed for finding the same endearing as we try to hold on to some of the last traces of his early childhood. Somehow as he turned ten on September 11th, it felt different as if he were going to be in a different league now…..and I could only think of the famous ABBA song….to paraphrase the same…. …..

Slipping through our fingers all the time…                                                                
As we try to capture every moment……  
Slipping through our fingers all the time    
Do we really see what’s in his mind               
Each time we think we’re close to knowing      
He keeps on growing                                                                                                                     Slipping through our fingers all the time…. 

As Abhay hit the first big ten, he was very clear that he wanted a birthday bash thrown at home, and presented us with  a big list of do’s and don’ts, with invitees being all his favourite people, including close cousins, schoolmates and neighbors. Though it was a particularly hectic week for both of us, we hurriedly managed to put together a decent show  - a birthday party with games, gifts and a quick-fix-easy-to-make piƱata that the kids enjoyed breaking and smashing. Finally as the guests left and it was time to clean up, Abhay announced the party to be a grand success…..and Boy! Were we glad to live up to the expectations of our big little man!! :-) 

On the occasion of celebrating ten years of Abhayhood……..we went on a philosophical tour on life and living from our all time favourite author Ruskin Bond “What’s your dream?”, that we read as  a part of the compilation “The Room of Many Colours”, a thoughtful piece on dreams and life. Written in first person (as most of Ruskin Bond’s stories), the story involves a young boy’s encounter with an English speaking beggar, who stumps him with one question “What’s your dream…..something you wants most in his life?”. As the boy answers that his dream is to have a room of his own, the man begins to probe further leading to a intriguing conversation on the significance of dreams in one’s life, with the old man giving out pearls of wisdom drawn from his own experience on how it is important to work towards your dream and move towards it all the time, and most importantly, if you don’t expect too many things too quickly, you’ll find your dream. While children are natural dreamers, they end up losing their natural ability to dream as they grow up. With a layered narrative that likens dreams to freedom and growing up to losing that freedom, the story beautifully conveys that while it is important to follow your dream, it is also important not to take other people’s dreams. The story ends with the boy left to ponder over the old man’s words of wisdom….and is the reader. As this is the age for Abhay to dream and build castles in the air, we couldn’t have asked for a better story to celebrate his foray into pre-teenhood….So here’s wishing Abhay a very happy birthday….dream on…my boy as there is no life without dreams! :-)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Gajapathi festival!

Previous weekend was Ganesha Chaturthi and as every year we travelled to my native town Dharmasthala to celebrate Chowthi ( that we fondly refer to)  with my father’s extended family in our ancestral house. Abhay has always enjoyed celebrating the festival along with his second cousins from my father’s side, and has even actively participated in the all-night-long family bhajan sessions that culminate in the immersion of the idol, the following morning, But this time, we were delighted to find that his younger sister too followed suit and had a fair share of family fun herself, not to mention her dancing and grooving to the “jagante-chande vadya” (percussion recital) that quintessentially accompanies all Poojas or religious rituals in South Karnataka. Though this is her second Ganesha Chaturthi, it is technically her first Chowthi experience, considering that she was hardly aware of her surroundings as a three month old last year.  Here’s hoping that with Lord Ganesha’s blessings, she grows up to enjoy each and every of her  experiences to the fullest.

So on the occasion of the Elephant God festival, we read ( and as have been reading for the whole of last month) my little one’s new favourite, Tulika’s Gajapati Kulapati series. Revolving around  everyone’s favourite elephant named Gajapati Kulapati, Ashok Rajagopalan’s three books have the beloved elephant in three different endearing situations that in many ways mirror the ‘predicaments’ faced by our little ones – from catching a cold to suffering from a terrible stomach ache! What happens when the center of the household ( read town in the case of Gajapati) isn’t feeling too comfortable? …Trust him or her to bring the whole house down right?? So as Gajapati Kulapati goes Aaaaaachchooooo!…. Or Kalabalooosh………! or Gurrburrroom……!, the whole town from  the fruit seller to postman, from the village cow to Paati amma, and from children to the school teacher are sent scampering about trying to find a solution for Gajapati Kulapati’s current challenge…. Whether it is his giant sneeze or his giant leap into the village pond or the loud wind that he passes following a bad stomach ache!  With a simple yet engaging storyline, playful and hilarious narrative, accompanied by words and sounds that toddlers would love to repeat and imitate…it doesn’t take you long to understand why this one is an instant hit with the kids! Of course we all know Ashok Rajagopalan through his bright and vibrant illustrations in many of Tulika’s publications but here's  full marks to Ashok Rajagopalan  as an author as Gajapati Kulapati series (at the risk of sounding  presumptuous to say so!) is one of most enjoyable, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoroughly entertaining read-aloud stories for young children. We will always remember Gajapati Kulapati as one of the first books my little one began responding to….. and when asked how does Gajapati Kulapati cry out when he has a stomach ache…”Owowowooooohh!..” says my little one!!! As Ganesh Chaturthi symbolizes the start of the festive season…season’s greetings to everyone…enjoy the festive season!:-)