Kids, cars, ads..


Did I tell you that Vyas is into automobiles lately? He is also a beeeeg fan of Honda and has even been defending their recent recall of some cars due to defective inflators. He tells everyone that he is going to become an automobile engineer and will join Honda. You’d think he already has an offer letter from the company! Well, that is some change of plan considering he originally wanted to become a ‘garbage collector’.

Vyas’s favorite magazine now is Autocar India. He doesn’t miss a word, starting from the title to the copyright information at the end of the book, every month. Will never be bored of talking for hours together on the auto-specs to any random person walking this planet. It doesn’t matter even if the listener is not interested.

The big brother’s influence rubs onto the little fella too. Varun though seems to prefer style over substance. His favorite car (he says), is the Lamborghini Murcielago. Next fav. is the Bugatti Veyron. BMW comes third and last is Honda. The other vendors are not in the reckoning at all. He can keep gawking at the various pics of the various sporty cars in the various car mags and books at home!

Car-craze plus commercials does something to kids. Here’s is a sample..

The other day, Varun was watching a BMW ad. He turned to his dad and said,

Varun: “Appa, shall we buy a BMW”

Dad V: “I don’t have the money to buy one”

Varun: “Listen pa. It is easy. Call Quikr. They’ll give more money for our Honda City.”

Mommy/daddy- *facepalm*

Vyas: Hey, Honda is the best. Appa, you retain the Honda. Buy us a BMW.

Dad V: Ok, will check if it available at Connexions tomorrow.

Told you. Vs are like that only!

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Well..


When the daddy V upgraded the version on his iPhone from iOS 6 to iOS 7, Vyas decided to test the upgrade. After playing around for about 20 minutes, the fellow observed thus:

The features in iOS 6 were sharp and crisp, the experience, icons et al. The same features on iOS 7 looks and feels like soggy chips/appalam.

I think I agree with him 🙂

iOS 6 vs iOS 7

Image Source: http://www.techgenius.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ios7-vs-ios61.jpg

In Bon Bibi’s Forest


The boys and I were lucky to meet three stars on one platform- author Sandhya Rao, illustrator Proiti Roy, and the super story-teller Craig Jenkins. Spring & Zoom (where Vyas attends a workshop), had arranged the event and Vyas and I were looking forward to it.

It was a work-day evening and I had to literally rush home to pick up the two boys and hit the venue in time, and we almost made it. Craig Jenkins had begun his story-telling of Ramayana and we missed the first 10 mins:( We got to listen to the story of Bon Bibi fully. His voice and actions had the kids and adults hooked till the end! So much that Varun and his friend Shruti (from his play school) were paying attention too without fidgeting, and what’s more, Varun was having a ball imitating the actions by Craig which included making a face like ‘Dokkhin Rai’, grunting like one, and also threatening to tear me with the imaginary claws:)

It was a treat to say Hi! to Sandhya Rao and Vyas was super excited to get his copy of the book autographed by Sandhya, Proity, and Craig:) Chrishelle David from Tulika was around over-seeing the proceedings. Varun did a ‘Hi’ and hi-five to Craig and then followed a ruckus.. He wanted the tea that Craig was having and wouldn’t end the tantrum even after reaching home.. Before the others got to judge my poor parenting of initiating a child into the ‘tea-habit’, I scooted out of the venue with Vyas in tow! But all that was after the event:)

The Event

The book launch was organzied by Binita & Gargi of Spring & Zoom, a Centre for Literary Arts, Chennai.

The Book

The Book

Title: In Bon Bibi’s Forest
Author: Sandhya Rao
Illustrator: Proity Roy
Publisher: Tulika

The story

Dokkhin Rai, a monster with striped skin, sharp claws and teeth, ready for the kill, terrorizes the settlements bordering Sundarban. The locals live in mortal fear of falling a prey to Dokkhin Rai’s hunger and anger. It is then that Bon Bibi, and her lost and found brother, Shah Jhongoli take it upon themselves to protect the people and other lives in the forest.. Why does Dokkhin Rai terrorize the people? Will he mend his ways? Are Bon Bibi and Shah Jhongoli successful in taming the wild monster? Read the story to find out more!

The kids and I have fallen in love with this book and the little one enjoys when it is read aloud to him:) What has caught our fancy is the names of the characters with a distinct Bangla touch. If Varun knows a monster, its only Dokkhin Rai now! With the lush forests of Sundarban as the back-drop, Sandhya Rao has doled out a beautiful mix of mythology and a message which the kids can relate to so well. The story is supported by brilliant illustrations by Proity. If you want to tell your kids about co-existence, environment conservation and mutual non-interference, this book is a great fit!

Read more about what inspired the story of Bob Bibi’s Forest on the Tulika’s blog here.

Pictures: Courtesy- Spring & Zoom

NurtureShock by Bronson & Merryman


A friend recently recommended that I read the book ‘NurtureShock’. I have, as far as possible, avoided books that try to ‘teach’ parenting, relationship building, et al. Not because I don’t subscribe to the ideas and theories these books have to offer. Just that I’ll be rid with guilt by the end of the day for having violated every rule in the book, a total failure!!

No two people are the same, adults or kids. What works for my first child, doesn’t work for the 2nd (yes, already!). Aren’t most of our actions, proactive or reactive, instinctive? Correct me if am wrong. For instance, consider a modern parenting rule that says ‘be firm when saying NO’ or another tough one that says, ‘don’t use ‘don’t” or the famous ‘spare the rod’! . My auto-reflex allows me to just say, ‘don’t run, you’ll hurt yourself’ when I see my little fellow dash to the gate and escape a sharp turn by a degree! However much I rehearse to say, ‘Kanna, walk slowly as there is a bend ahead’, I can never say it at the right moment, and I doubt if it’d ever work with my kids! I patiently remind Vyas thrice if he has some schoolwork to catch up with. I’m gritting my teeth the 4th time and that is all the patience I’m capable of. Another minute of delay is asking for a tight pinch on his thighs. Trust me, it works!

That said, I don’t question the intent of such useful positive parenting tips.. It’s perhaps for calmer folks:) NurtureShock was a different ride though! The book works on the basic premise that most modern parenting methods are flawed!

NurtureShock
Img Courtesy: Amazon.com

Authors Bronson and Merryman explore different stages of child development and talk about the reasons for obesity, aggressiveness, lying, sibling rivalry, and impact of  the relationship between the parents on the children. Few things that stumped me were this:

1. Kids watching too many violent shows do not necessarily turn violent, and those watching good, funny, passive ones certainly do not turn out as saints!!

2. Children of permissive parents lie more often than those with ‘strict’ parents! Such children lie to simply keep the parents happy and carry on with their plans.

3. Children who are ‘only praised’ never learn to acknowledge or handle failure. How doing –Very good, you are doing a great job– all the time even for the smallest of tasks a child accomplishes is detrimental to the child’s growth.

4. Parents, if having an argument in front of the kids, must also take the conflict to a resolution. Moving an argument to another room is a bad idea and never having conflicts is equally bad! I liked this one 😉

5. Single child mostly ends up being a snob and those with siblings are wonder kids who know how to share, is but a myth. Hint gals and guys. If you are under great pressure from your folks who are generously sharing gyan on the importance of having a second child, you can consider gifting them this book. Or at least ftp that one chapter directly into their brains!! All is well if you want to have more than one of course 🙂

6. Peer pressure and fear of rejection are the chief reasons for aggression and starts in early tweens!

7. Drugs, alcohol, and sex among the teens, is a chapter I read forcing myself to believe that all these things happen only in the ‘West’ and I know it’s far from the truth!

8. One grouse I have with the book is its claim that the traditional dads make better dads than the progressive dads! By progressive dads, the authors refer to the ‘nicest’ men of this century who share every work a wife/mom/sister does!

I would have loved some casestudies based in India and a tad disappointed at its absence:( According to the book, the Chinese parents do a great job pointing at a failure and enforce the need for hard work to turn things around. Why their ‘good parenting’ isn’t helping improve the teen pregnancies and abortion rate in the country is a connection I fail to understand. The Filipinos are parents who set the rules. Their children fight the rules their parents make, but do not fight the authority of the parent to set the rules. Wow! Both these sounded quite desi.

Conclusion: Worth a read. Makes you feel you are a normal parent:)

Just as I heaved a sigh of relief on finishing the book, the same friend suggested yet another. This time, its The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris. I wished I’d learnt to apparate!! With the ‘ding’ sound with which characters disappear in Crazy Mohan’s dramas!!

Twice Born – A quick review


“I became we at seven o’clock on the longest day of the year at the moment when the ancient wall clock bonged for the seventh time”

The protagonist introduces himself with the above statement. I like to guess what comes next in a story, be it in movies or books. Most Indian stuff are predictable. Going by the above line, I was pretty sure the protagonist was referring to his marriage. Further reading proved me wrong, but I was not disappointed. He goes on to say, “I saw myself and behind me I saw myself” and explains at length about seeing more of himself – an infinite progression like seeing his reflection in a room flanked by mirrors on all sides. That is when the realization dawns on him that he has become a schizophrenic. He is happy about this state and feels liberated and goes on to claim that he had ‘attained’ the secret ideal of many in the 21st century after Christ. Like being schizophrenic is a state of Nirvana!

Twice Born - by Vijaya Raghavan
Image Courtesy: Amazon.com

Twice Born, by Vijaya Raghavan, a journalist for over 2 decades, is the story of an English professor who divorces his love – his profession as a teacher- to marry a PRO career as a trade off to unite with his love. With just a little way into his marriage he realizes that he’d committed an unpardonable offense of yielding to lust. His personality suffers and his self-esteem is beyond economic repairs. A brief re-union with his son-turned-naxalite after years of separation from his wife, purges him of some bitterness. His becoming a schizophrenic is attributed to the torture meted out  to him by the police during the interrogation on his son’s whereabouts.

There are a couple of nice anecdotes narrated by two of the ‘splintered’ personalities of the protagonist; one is about a poor, honest, ordinary man suddenly becoming rich (a rich stranger listening to the man ramble on his state of poverty, knocks on his door and parts with some wealth and vapourizes) only to be locked up in prison for the un-explained wealth! Yet another is about a little boy with confused parents who on one hand encourage him to ask questions and take him to task when he actually asks them!

Though nice in parts, the book falls short of a seamless connect between the events, and the plot is a damp squib. You will find an occasional gem of a thought like this: The pun is the only form of humour that provokes groans, the opposite of laughter; paradox is the only truth. So the punster is the only true human wit. Why am I spending so much  of my energy and your time analyzing a lousy joke? Because comedy is too serious  a matter to be taken lightly!

Which is why I found this book worth a read!

Choosing Books


Scholastic conducts book fair in Vyas’s school every year. The young man is a regular customer at this fair, and brings home the brochure and waits anxiously to tell me about the fair. That the same care or caution is not exercised for the circulars sent, project announcements made, or contests scheduled is a different matter altogether.

Whenever this book fair is held, I tell him a budget and let him choose the books within that limit. A good half hour is spent selecting the books. I feel too tempted to increase the budget when I see him total-up the cost of the books and crease his brows and sigh when it overshoots the amount. There are some books which are way too expensive and he has the option to borrow from the library close to our house. He readily excludes such books from the list and scans for other favorite titles. His list invariably has some fancy stuff like a 3-D picture story book with the 3-D glass, or one of those cartoon network heroes like Ben 10 or such, or new stories. He marks the books he wants to buy on the catalog and hands it over to his class teacher along with the required cash.

Disgusting Poems
Image: Courtesy Amazon

Coming to this year’s book fair, he came back with the catalog and we scanned all the titles and the cost. His choice of books this time took me by surprise. The titles read: ‘Disgusting Poems’, and ‘Knock Knock Jokes’!! I thought it was gauche to list ‘disgusting’ titles as part of kids literature and I was in two minds. But then, this was the first time my son picked a collection of poems and jokes and I was perplexed. Was not sure how ‘disgusting’ or funny the books would be. Curiosity got the better of me, and I agreed. I decided that in case it turns out to be really disgusting, I’ll put away the book somewhere and tell him it vaporized!

He got the books last week and few questions in the last few days have convinced me that he has read/learnt some ‘stuff’ from the books (more on that in another post!) Got a chance to read a few poems two days back, and well, it had the Mr.Bean effect on me; kids adore him, adults abhor him:) Children will thoroughly enjoy while the fussy adults will find it crass.

Sample the section under which the poems are grouped:

    Animal Instincts

 

    Knickers and Pants

 

    Bellies, Bottoms and Body Bits

 

    Bad Habits

 

    Spots, Sick and Toilet Troubles

 

    Rude Food and Rotten Recipes

 

    Earwax, Bogeys and Belly-Button Fluff

 

    Wind Section

 

    Truly Disgusting

So, you see where it is going? No? Will post a few sample poems shortly!!

2 States… by Chetan Bhagat – A quick review


Just finished reading the book and found myself in 2 states- smiling and not too disappointed! That said, his previous 2 books had taught me a good lesson on not to expect anything in the first place. Back then, i was again in 2, but different states- clenching my teeth, and disappointed. So, if you have not read the book yet, well you are not missing much. If you do plan to read, toe my lines, dont expect anything awesome.

It feels like walking out of a theatre after watching a usual Hindi or Tamil flick. A girl and a boy, obviously from different cultural backgrounds, rise and fall in love and the end is a mega ‘Shubham’. This is 2 States for you in a nutshell. And Chetan Bhagat has got his acts right when it comes to appealing to the young minds by liberally using a good mix of girls, booze, sex, sentiments ,a little academics and work life. The IIT, IIMA backgrounds add color to the book and the characters, while the places Ahmedabad-Chennai-Punjab serve as nice back-drop with deep contrasts- literally Red-Black-White in that order!

2-States
2-States

There can be no spoilers when reviewing this book, so let me go ahead and say it! Krish and Ananya are the two people brought together, as you know, by fate. The relationship predictably starts as a ‘friendship’ which the whole of India understands, and grows up into ‘deep-love’ and culminates in a ‘we-marry-a-family-in-india’ marriage that we are all so used to. Ananya and Krish do all it takes to win over each other’s family and Chetan spices up with all the cultural masala, and it does add some taste to the tale.

The upside is that every Romeo and Juliet in India can relate to the characters all so well and am sure there must be many parallels! Which is yet another reason why his books sell like crazy and so fast! 2 States.., like his earlier works, is a quick read and a notable positive is that you’ll not get bored. What I personally liked, (yes, i liked a few things) is the subtle humor, the all too familiar South vs North digs, the Indian obsession with ‘fair’ skin and food. I was caught laughing twice in less than 30 minutes on my bus ride home:-) Worth, since I borrowed it from my friend!

Recommendation:
1. Good way to kill time.
2. Can be a good start for those with a ‘Reader’s Block’ (if there is such a thing)
3. You will like it if you’d once upon a time read Mills & Boons
4. Those aspiring for IIT/IIMA: You may feel pleased to know that life is colorful out there
5. If you are looking for some value, something to satiate your literaray appetite, then am sorry. This book is not for you.