Moral of a story

Varun, like his Anna, loves stories and story books. He at times narrates stories taught in school and always finishes it with the moral of the story 🙂

Last night, I read Pied Piper to Varun. When I asked him what the moral of this story was, he said,

“If you pay money to other people, they will be ready to do everything”

Isn’t’ that some moral?!

PS: For the benefit of those who don’t know the story, it is about the chap, the Pied Piper, who helps drive away thousands of rats (using his music) from a miserly town called Hamelin. The townsfolk pay the Pied Piper just one gold coin going against their promise of paying him a 100 coins. As a revenge, he lures away the kids from the town to a distant land where the children grow up into unselfish and happy adults.

We read

read-right1Anna, after thoroughly revising Harry Potter and re-revising and planning for yet another re-revision a few months from now, drowned himself for a period into the world of Percy Jackson amidst other things. To keep his reading pattern consistent, he did a he few revisions of PJ as well. It was then the turn of Artemis Fowl to suffer at the anna’s hands. The thambi therefore is always abreast of what the anna is reading.

A book I was reading was lying on a chair. Varun walks past the book, retracts, casually picks up the book, frowns, makes an attempt to read. He does. “Ennadhu.. (what is this….)? Artaeeeemis Fowl”. Drops the book back on the chair and walks on contended.

Om Books-eh Namah!

I had borrowed the books, Immortals of Meluha (IOM) and its Sequel- The Secret of the Nagas, from my sister about 3 months back and

A pic couple of years back
A pic couple of years back
it was lying idle until one week ago. For some reason, I couldn’t will myself to read the books even when my friends at work recommended when they were released.

Vyas saw these books asking to be read and started reading the first part- The Immortals of Meluha, and did not move his butt till he finished it. The moment he put the book down, he came up to me and said, “Amma, you are missing something. Am serious. Do you know….?” and the barrage of questions never end. He kept giving me snippets and kept quizzing me about things which I had no clue of. He is at a phase where he thinks, quizzing random people (which includes his amma, her friends from office and his partner in crime- Abi aunty – more on that later!) is his birth right. It gets to a point where I sincerely wish I could dismantle my ears or seal the ear-drums for the duration of the quiz. Which means, the entire waking hours at home, when he is not busy reading something else or watching the LOTR series back-to-back!

The Daddy V is convinced that there are now surely two nut-cases, damaged beyond economical repairs. He is seriously considering banning a big chunk of the mommy-sonny duo’s vocabulary that is largely interspersed with names of places, people, spells, charms, words, worlds, gods, demi-gods, greek-gods, roman-gods, indian-gods, nepalese-gods, of hobbit-holes, Minas Tirith, and the Saurons, Sarumans, and Voldemorts:) It is common to hear Vyas say, “He is such a Gollum”, about a classmate (he is being way too critical btw).

I was a little apprehensive about his reading IOM because I was not sure if it was adult literature. Checked with a couple of friends who had read the book and they didn’t see any harm in his reading them. So, when he finished the 1st part, he picked the next volume and took it to school. His school lets the kids bring books or pick one (to read during a free hour) from the class library where the kids pool-in the books every term and take them back at the end of the term. His English teacher saw this fellow reading The secret of the Nagas, in the corridor during a break and she seems to have told him that it was not a book for the kids his age. The fellow tried persisting saying he had already finished IOM, and couldn’t wait to finish this one.. Apparently, the teacher was firm and offered to share some of her books with him instead:) The fellow resigned to stuffing the book back into his bag:)

The moment he reached home, he called me at work and asked why he was not supposed to read the book. How would I know? So I promised I would read and let him know if it was OK for him to continue, and that, if his teacher has told him, it must be for a reason. I still promised to validate the teacher’s concern and so I HAD TO read the trilogy. I read both the books last week and I must admit that am awaiting the 3rd part. I remember reading a lot of reviews last year- mostly in favour. As a reader, though I found the books to be page-turners, I feel that the style of narration is too contemporary and lacks the ‘awe’ element or the grandeur I’d love to associate with events that are said to be at least 4000 years old!

Though the book doesn’t even border on eroticism, the courtship of Parvatheswar and Anandamayi is a bit of a stretch for kids Vyas’s age. I’m NOT worried it will corrupt him. Our movies or song sequences leave nothing to the imagination. The trouble is, he might not exercise restraint or apply discretion when discussing the book with his friends. I don’t want another of those ‘puberty’ episodes 😉

Now, my next worry is, how to keep the fellow off MY books. This guy has quite a lot on his platter but cannot keep his nose off mine. Always wanting to know what am reading, if he can read, what it is about, how many pages I have read, why am not reading anything…. Shabbaaaa!

Introducing another poet..

This is by my dearest Aashi.. Tinkle overdose surely 😉

My wonderful dream..

When I was sleeping late at night
I heard someone call my name
I opened my eyes and saw
Suppandi, sitting on his watch,
Saying” iam on time!”

I looked around, to find
Raghu looking very sad
And Tantri creating a bomb!
Doobdoob and Chamataka
How happy for once, together!

Kaliya, Keechu and Meechu
Were not far behind!
Shambu, standing with his gun
And Shanti, still behind him
Pyarelal and Lajawanthini
Tapping on my head, lightly
Kapish standing with Pinto
And smiling with Singal and Peelu

When I opened my eyes for real
They all whispered goodbye!!!
What a wonderful dream, it was
Will I ever meet them all again???

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

Reading in 2011

First, a reminder to the self to get organized in this area with a decent online shelf like goodreads, shelfari etc.. More after a prompting by a friend just this morning:

A round-up of what I read this year (in no particular order):

1.The bus stopped – Tabish Khair
2.In a free state- V.S Naipaul
3.The Palace of Illusions -Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
4.Of Men and mice – John Steinbeck
5.Smell – Radhika Jha
6.In my father’s house – Ann Rinaldi
7.Ground Beneath her feet – Rushdie
8.Au-revoir Calcutta- Krishna Dutta
9.The Toss of a lemon – Padma Vishwanathan
10.A Passage to India- E.M Forster
11.Above Average – Amitabha Bagchi
12.Two Fates – Judy Balan
13.Revolution 2020 – CB (yes, shoot me:)))

Somehow, none of the books in this list have made it to my list of favourites.. And all these have been just a pick-and-read act, except perhaps Steinbeck.. nothing was on the list to start with, and no plans:)

Kids literature:

1. Charlie and the great glass elevator – Roald Dahl
2. Frindle – Andrew Clements
3. In Bon Bibi’s Forest- Sandhya Rao (attended the book launch, story-telling with Vyas and Varun.. A separate post later)
4. Advaita- the Writer – Ken Spillman (attended his book reading with Vyas.. (again, in another post)
5. The Whispering Palms – Deepa Gangwani and Tina Suchanek
6. Dorje’s Stripes – Anshumani Rudhra
7. Mayil will not be quiet – Niveditha Subramaniam and Sowmya
8. Just a train ride away – Mini Shrinivasan
9. Haroun and the sea of stories – Rushdie (currently reading)
10. The Conch Bearer – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (plot akin to LOTR minus all the grandeur)

In this section, Frindle and In Bon Bibi’s Forest have been the best though I thoroughly enjoyed every book listed here..

And a whole lot of toddler books that I read with Varun.. Bondapalli and Ekki Dokki remain our favorites 🙂

So what did you read this year?

Chennai Book Fair- Tamizh and Kids Special..

… is what I’d call it!

Over 650 stalls under one roof, good arrangement of drinking water, tea/coffee counters for the floating public and polite folks at the counter made it one good experience.

Having ingested a heavy Pongal feast, my co-sis and I set out with the only aim of walking around the stalls. The M-I-L had placed a request for 3 books besides which I thought I’d pick up one or two books for the kids. Vyas had already earned a bounty from thatha and appa a few days back . Anything more was only going to be a bonus:)

We kept our promise and returned home with just these:

Met another parent at the Tulika stall who was also a fan of ‘A Silly Story of Bondapalli’ and Ekki-Dokki (I bought a copy of these again as gifts for another friend’s kid):) While we exchanged notes on what our children liked to read, we completely overlooked introducing ourselves:( Ne’er mind. At the next stall/fair perhaps! Ulagam is urundai– Greek for World is small.

I thought there was going to be a stall from Pratham Books, and was slightly disappointed at not finding them there:(

From a couple of other publications:

I liked the title of this book and just picked it up at whim. Vyas’s first copy of Hardy Boys. He is yet to open the book. Not sure if he is ready for it yet…

The co-sis who always likes an overdose of bhakthi picked up these.

These, the nice DILs picked up for the MIL- Pongal gift:)

And this was for a friend on request and the whole package came at Rs.600/-. It includes Ponniyin Selvan, Sivagamiyin Sabadham, Alai Osai and Parthiban Kanavu. Am told that this is a super deal. What do you think?

The most crowded stalls were those of Alliance, Higginbothams, Kizhakku Pathipagam, Vaanathi, Vikatan, Century Book House, another one of Sujatha’s and couple of others. People were swarming the kids stalls more than others. MIL’s request for Saavi’s Vazhi Pokkan was not found anywhere. In fact every stall other than Alliance had only ‘Washington-il Thirumanam’! (All the non-Tamizh reading junta, please forgive for a post interspersed with French and Latin) At least to me, it is that and picked these books just by the title/cover🙂

What I liked about the whole (af)fair though was the sight of people pouring in like ants to see/buy books! Long live BLACK AND WHITE READING!

A mini library

Remember the post on what Vyas wanted to do with the money saved in his kiddie-bank?

We both had a grander idea for the library but that can wait. Meanwhile, wanted to gift him a book-shelf and Christmas/new year was a good excuse to buy one. Scanned a few shops and settled for a simple one made of compressed wood and both the little Vs love it! Varun has been meddling with the keys and seems to be putting it everywhere other than the key-hole! Vyas seems to have more need to reference books, put some in, take some out through-out the day!

At the risk of sounding vain, sharing some pictures here.

The Roald Dalhs
The Roald Dalhs
The Enid Blytons
The Enid Blytons
Master in action
Master in action

This book was a gift from his friend Varsha from our apartments:

A gift from Varsha
A gift from Varsha

And it carried this message inside. Don’t you think it was very thoughtful and sweet of her?

A note inside
A note inside

The timing of the book fair at Chennai could not have been better. The little man earned few more books as gifts from the fair from his dad and grandpa, and he got to choose them himself! I’m planning to make it to the book fair the coming weekend. Without any attachments that is;)


A book in hand, all the time in the world, and someone bringing you a hot chai every few hours, is my idea of a perfect world:) I can lose myself in a book for hours or days together (oblivious to ants building their hill around me) and no day is complete if I have not read something for at least 10 minutes. Luckily I get my quota of reading-time mostly during the time I travel to or fro work.

Read a quote somewhere about there being a difference between a person who is eager to read a book and the one who is tired and wants a book to read or something to that effect. Well, am not sure if i really understand what it means but I probably fit into both the ‘types’.

Here are some of my favorites, a mix of fantasy, drama, tragedy, satire, comedy, surrealism, philosophy et al.. (listed on no particular order)

1. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
2. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
3. The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie
4. Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
4. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
5. Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
6. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
6. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude -Gabriel García Márquez
8. The Hobbit – J R R Tolkien
9. Animal Farm – George Orwell
10. Catcher in the Rye – S.D.Salinger
11. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
12. Swami and his friends – R.K Narayanan
13. Harry Potter Series (but Deathly Hallows was a damp squib!) J.K.Rowling
14. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
15. The Impressionist – Hari Kunzru
15. The Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien (I just finished reading this and would like to read it again!)
… I can go on.
16. Edited to add: To Kill a Mockingbird -Harper Lee (How did I miss this one!)
Would love to know what your hobbies are and if you are a book lover, which are the ones that reel off your mind almost immediately? Ready to be tagged, anyone?

Random Dinner-time Conversations

Vyas: Amma, if Apram falls sick..

Me: Wait.. He is not sick. And will not fall sick.

Vyas: Listen! Just saying… imagine… if he is sick, I’ll go and meet him with a ‘Get Well’ card!

Me: !!??$$ Ok. Just because you discovered about a ‘get well’ card, you want a friend to fall sick!! Sick!!

Vyas: No. Wait. Am not done yet… When I give the card, Apram will say, “Oh! am terribly sick with Chicken-pox!” , to which I’ll reply, “Ok da! Stop being a drama King!” Fancy that!

So, its about the urgent need to put some recently learnt words and phrases to use!


Vyas: Amma, I have a question.

Me: I know! Shoot!

Vyas: Who or what is a ‘suitor’?

Me: Errr.. umm…. Someone eligible or suitable for marriage. Meaning depends on the context. Where did you learn that word?

Vyas: When I was reading – The Odyssey…(had got him an abridged version)

Me: So, who has suitors?

Vyas: Penelope. Ulysses is the suitor. Others are un-suitors!

Me: (LOL!) Ulysses is the suitor alright. But the others are not suitable enough..(I suggest)!

Vyas: (Shrugs). Is The Odyssey real? I mean, is it a real epic or imagination like Ramayana? Is Troy a real place? And what about Ithaca?

Me: Its a Greek epic. Not sure if it is based on a true story. Will find out. I think there was a city called Troy. Not sure again..

Vyas: So why are they calling it Trojan war and not Troy war?

Me: I DONT KNOW! I’ll read about it and let you know. ok?

Vyas: Forget it. Do you know Roald Dahl’s father’s name?

Me: I really give up!

Life would have been tough if there was no Wikipedia! Again, am not complaining:-)

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