Monthly Archives: March 2014

Learning to give and share

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The twins turned 3 last week…and although we kept the celebrations small (as per their very specific request) they still ended up with a LOT of presents…including 2 bicycles, a balancing bike and 2 scooters…so lots of vehicles! After managing for the past 4 monhs with their tricycles which were slowly getting more and more worn they were (needless to say) over the moon with these new acquisitions. Amu got a tricycle too and I was wondering what to do with the old trikes. (our mansion can only accommodate this much stuff!). 

I thought it would make sense to donate the trikes and so i got into a conversation with the kids about sharing their stuff. Feeling especially generous after their birthday bounty, they were quite amenable to the idea and Sid even suggested that we give the trikes to the kids in the “plastic houses” near school. (we drive past some temporary slum houses on the way to school everyday and they often have questions about the people there – what they eat, why they don’t have clothes or a proper house, etc.) 

So we decided that it would be the plastic houses where we took the trikes and in the evening the boys helped load their vehicles into the trunk of the car and stopped there on the way to the park. We found a couple of kids who looked like the right age for the trikes and the boys gave them away. Sid showed a little last minute reluctance to part with his beloved trike but Nish managed to convince him otherwise and we left the scene minus both trikes…and a very happy bunch of kids outside the plastic houses.

On our way top school on friday we drove past the houses and saw two familiar looking trikes now adorned with a few balloons and some coloured ribbons! 

an old phone??

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When we gave Sid an old cell phone to distract him from one of the many fights he was having with Nish, we little realized what a world we were opening up….(and sadly, how important he thinks a phone is!)

He has been walking around, looking busy, planning ‘important meetings’, sharing thoughts about all possible things and even just sitting and nodding like he is listening with lots of “ohs!” and “achha” and “oks” thrown in.

Last evening is dialled frantically. “hello! Hello!! 101? i have emergency! Fire in my house. Come fast”. He was versatile enough to provide the sound of the fire engine while continuing his pleas for help as well as instructions on the old phone. He got a bowl for his his (as a helmet) and came in and realistically hosed down the fire. Then he promptly called up another imaginary person to tell him about he fire and the rescue! 

His twin Nish is not bothered about the phone, but for Sid it has become a valuable possession, just like his glasses which he likes to wear perched on top of his head like “ajoba” (his grandfather). Amu is not that interested in the phone, but he has quickly figured out that he easiest way to currently get a rise out of Sid is by making off with the cell phone or threatening to throw it! 

Another lovely book!

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One by Kathryn Otoshi

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I have to thank my kids’ classmate most profusely for the return presents they got at his birthday party…a whole stack of books. And not just any books but some really well picked out ones. We got a lot of them sooner and for some reason, this one remained on the shelf for the past couple of months. I pulled it out yesterday and went over it a couple of times before reading it out to the twins.

 

One is a really simple and yet very complex books. Using simple language and gorgeous yet extremely simple illustrations Otoshi gets multiple points across to the reader. A little bit like an onion (a la Shrek), there are layers you can peel off and appreciate. The first read can be an easy one…the book seems to be about colors and numbers and standing up for oneself. A second read helped me appreciate the play with words and the use of numbers…everyone counts as in matters.  

The end flaps introduce the picture book really well. I quote “Blue is a quiet color. Red is a hot head. Red likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one takes a stand, things get out of hand. Until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up and count!” 

What appears to be a numbers/colors book is in fact a lot more…it teaches us to count for something, to stand up for what we believe in. 

She sums it up beautifully on the last page “Sometimes it just takes One.” 

And the other aspect I really enjoyed was the connecting of colors to temperature … so blue is cool and red is hot. Which really made sense to my kids…we have been reading a book called “When Sophie gets angry” by Molly Bang and that is another book where the illustrator has in fact used the colors red and blue very beautifully to add to the metatext. And, this is something I pointed out to them and we discussed when we were reading. We came up with hot things that made them think of red…flames, fire, embers, coal, the sun…and then of cool things with blue…water, the swimming pool. 

One also helped me introduce them to a new English phrase…When someone is angry they see RED (my boys currently seem to see red pretty easily ..so i think they got it and were amused).

Pratapgad Fort

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We decided to give the twins their first taste of history on this vacation. Nothing complicated…just introducing them to a little maratha architecture since we were not too far from Pratapgad…a famous fort from Shivaji’s time. 

It was a fairly long drive from Panchgani to Pratapgad but we played a lot of songs that the kids like (they now can actually sing 2 french songs thanks to our long drives!) and we played a lot of I spy with my little eye. We were fairly entertained by the animals we saw along the way..cows, buffalos, horses, donkeys, dogs, goats, camels (!) and a lot of monkeys. The monkeys were especially interesting and fun to watch because they sat there and pretty much performed for us…chattering away, jumping and making faces, etc. There were multiple families, a very aggressive alpha male and lots of little baby monkeys who were clinging to their moms and feeding.  We saw monkeys fighting (just like us, said Nish) and monkeys clambering up slopes and trees. 

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Finally after a loooooong (but surprisingly peaceful non cranky non fighting) drive we reached the base of the Pratapgad fort. I loved Sid’s reaction when he looked up..”wow!!! cool!!!” It is so funny to hear them talk like that. But it was a pretty cool sight. The fort with the orange flag flapping in the wind, set on top of a green mountain was a lovely sight.

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We wondered if the kids would be okay to climb all the way to the top. The original steps are not used at present and they have created a newer pathway which is safer and easier to climb. The boys were pretty excited about ‘climbing up the mountain’ and were most disappointed when they learned that the way up was by the steps and not a more adventurous route…however, their disappointment was short lived and quickly replaced by wonder when they saw a group of load carrying donkeys making their way up the same steps. We followed the donkeys up the steps watching out for “donkey potty” which was quite abundant. Nish was especially disgusted that they were just going potty all over the place..(why can’t they use a bathroom Aai? this is gross!).

It was a bit of a climb  with several touristy distractions like hats and glares and cheap plastic cars but the donkeys helped us stay focussed (and saved me some cash) and we finally made it to the top.

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Sid and Nish were most fascinated by the food and drink stalls there – there were fountains with ‘kokum juice’, buttermilk and ‘strawberry juice’ (all fairly synthetic looking to be honest). The view was simply breath taking and the boys were awed by the sheer beauty and the dizzying height! (Nish actually kept quiet for a minute straight i think). 

We showed the boys the fort, the water storage, the cannons and finally we made our way to the temple there. My very devout boys all prostrated in front of the idols and then we made our way to the sugar cane juice vendor there. We watched him take the sugar cane and pass it through the machine to get deliciously refreshing sugar cane juice. Since we had visited a sugar cane field just the day before the boys were able to relate to what they were seeing a little better. 

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We had lunch at a small eatery located on the mountain itself…simple mahashtrian fare (pithala with bhakri – a healthy roti like bread made with jowar, thalipeeth and yoghurt). The boys played there, made friends with the old man who owned it went and checked out his room, declared it ‘very very nice” and also discovered how to pee on the mountain side when there is no loo for miles! (well not miles …but not till the base of the fort – which for a 3 yr old’s bladder is miles)

The car ride back (after we again saw the monkey clan) was extremely peaceful as they were all passed out!