Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My angels and their creations

I am speechless to comment on this. A tribute to me from my Michaleangelo's, Da Vinci's and Picasso's

you dears this is all I can do to respect the honour.

Sometimes you don't need expensive gifts to feel Loved. Some cute devils do it to you very easily.They change your life forever ;)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Let’s Play

Have you ever been to a kindergarten? Or ever observed toddlers play? I bet you are missing a lot if you have not. I did a kindergarten observational study as an assignment in my graduation. My course on child psychology devoted an entire module to the concept of ‘play’. Now don’t you frown thinking, what’s the big deal with playing? Play is not as natural as breathing, as you may think. It requires a kid to pass through many developmental tasks to master this skill.

Now you would laugh if I said play therapists exist, but the truth is they did not fell from Mars. It’s so amazing that with no prior coaching on how to play (kids these days have a coaching for everything under the sun before joining a day care centre), the sort of behaviours children exhibit when left to their own reminds us how unique each individual is right from the beginning.

Observing play patterns are important because it gives you insight into the developmental milestones of children. If you still don’t believe me ask this to those parents who worry as to why their two year old son does not kick a football? Or why is one’s kid not holding a pencil? Why doesn’t my kid respond to colours or music? Why is my one year old destructive with toys and fights with other kids. Get into a crèche and be prepared for a mess. Tearing of papers, peeing into paints, fighting over things etc., to just name a few, are tantrums of varied nature that would definitely frighten you. But it is also cool to see them forget these behaviours in minutes and settle down into new activities that engage the minds of our little geniuses for the whole day.

Now play does not just mean throwing a ball, playing with dolls and making sand castles. Anything amusing to a child becomes a game. Now take this case of an eighteen month old who was trying to gain mastery over clicking a ballpoint pen and the whole activity turned into a game. She tried it on and on. When she failed she looked around. Seeing me she held the pen towards me, which meant “HELP”. I showed her how it should be clicked and soon enough this became our game. She would click and give it to me and I was expected to give it back to her and this went on for around forty five rounds until she got tired. This is what therapists would call ‘cooperative play’. When you see two or more kids sharing stuff and doing something like building a castle or making clay models, its cooperative play behavior. Mostly their discoveries are through trial and error method and it’s amazing how they learn through consultation and howexhaustive the whole process can be.

There are many solitary reapers as well. It might seem unnatural to some that kids prefer being loners. Recent research on solitary play states it to be beneficial for the cognitive development the sensory, perceptual and information processing abilities constitutes cognition). While girls engage mostly in solitary – constructive play like puzzles and colouring, boys engage in solitary- functional activities – building blocks, kicking a ball around etc. Solitary activities could also be imaginary games, like when kids sit in a corner and talk to imaginary play pals. These Calvins discuss game plans and strategies and even feed their Hobbes. There is a third subgroup in solitary players called reticent players. These are kids who are onlookers, do not engage in any play but observe others playing. Try giving them a lump of clay or a colouring book, they would not engage in these activities. It is said these kids are isolated or insulated to be so or have certain cognitive as well as physical deficits making them onlookers. They could also be observing to pick up language and behavioural skills they think they lack. I remember my brother who belonged to this category. Now that I think of it I understand why he could not get along with our girlish games of make believe- kitchen. Another interesting observation about solitary players is that they engage in imaginary games. Calvin and Hobbes is a typical example. A friend of mine who read this post during the editing said being the youngest at home with no one to play with, she lived in an imaginary world where she believed she had two homes and would sneak food from her real home to the imaginary one.

It’s amazing that initially kids don’t realize the difference between their fantasies and reality but later on when they distinguish the difference they still stick on it for some time.
Sometimes it’s interesting to observe kids sitting in groups or in a circle and using the same set of resources. But they do not actually play with each other. This is called Associative play. You can observe kids building rail roads and bridges avoiding the pathways of others. They are not entirely solitary players who would not share their resources. The barter system in associative learners is interesting to observe. When they have pieces that don’t get along with their plan they offer it to the person next to them. This level of decision making is quite significant at the developmental stage. Here they are playing together yet they are not together.

Now if you observe another group, you would find children sitting together in a group yet they play individually. One might be building bridge, the other moulding clay or maybe even doing the same activity but with no interaction with their neigbour. You could call them islands. They don’t socialise at all like which happens in associative play. Sometimes you see kids who grab all the toys from kids nearby and play all alone. Neither does s/he play with others nor do they share resources. Single borns who never have had to share with other kids mostly engage in this play pattern as they grow up. In an interview with a Montessori school teacher, one of the biggest problems she said, she saw in the present generation was this attitude. She mostly taught single borns and they do not know what it meant to share. She said it would amaze you but one of their agenda is to teach resourcefulness (definitely it would amaze anyone who never had to learn to share as part of the curriculum. I felt a generation leap hearing this.) If you ask them to share a seat in a bus, since they all come in cars occupying the entire back seat, they don’t realise it’s a bus and that they need to share. So even teaching a kid, to share a bus seat becomes a big lesson.

A child has a rationale for any game. S/he puts in more effort than any adult to make sense of the world around him/her through exploration. Their industrious and inquisitive mind could drain our energy and put us to shame.

One another very important thing I have learnt from kids was determination. They might get tired and leave the activity for a while but they aren’t quitters. I observed a boy trying to water a plant in the kindergarten using a mug which was broken. It took him lot of effort to run up and down with a leaking mug to water the plant. I wanted to see if he would give up and even more curious to understand if he did realise that the mug was leaking and his efforts were getting wasted. I finally saw him exasperatedly throwing away the mug. But after sometime he started running with handful of water. Later on, I saw a little army of kids, in line from the tap to the potted plant, passing handful of water. Now how much of it reached the plant, I am not sure but, I found the whole experience touching. Even conservation of nature is a game to them and conversely destruction a game to us adults. We have come a long way from being kids and all the while learned a lot of things by playing, but today when we stand at the crossroad of being an adult, we neither remember half of what we learned as kids nor are we ready to play again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Inna" the spoilt brat

My field work at a primary school these days brought back lot of childhood memories. When I saw newcomers fretting, crying, and arguing with their parents, I realised things haven’t changed with kids even after two decades. Children will always be children. I never got an opportunity to see a child growing up especially in their formative years. At home we siblings grew up together and therefore it was more about the struggle to get attention rather than paying attention to someone. Field work for me is like revisiting my childhood. It gives me answers to why I must have behaved the way I did then and how much suffering I caused my mom.
There are many snippets on "Inna - the brat" - Here's some -

When I began schooling, I insisted mom to wear makeup like my friends’ moms. It never occurred to me mom came in uniform, from work and these girls had moms who were housewives. I remember my poor mom wearing a lipstick on a sports day, maybe she thought it would please me. I had one look at her and said, "you look horrible, don't wear it anymore". That was me blunt and the most thankless child anyone could have. But mom still loved me.

This snap above too brings back some memories. Maybe it's the pink dress. Not that I really remember the incident but then it has been repeated to me so often by mom that I can narrate it in my sleep.
I was three years old then. We all came to India for vacation. We were three kids aged 3years, 2years & 3 months (Poor mom! I can't imagine how she managed us during travels). Mom still recalls a scene I created at the airport. Dad had luggage in both hands, mom was carrying my sister and our servant was carrying my brother, who was just an infant. I, who could walk properly and normally insisted no one should carry me, suddenly felt like being carried. Everyone except me went into the terminal and I stayed back with stubbornness written all over me. I insisted that I had to be carried or I would not move an inch. Dad tried threatening me, officers tried scaring me and poor mom even begged. I was immune to all their strategies and so mom had to put my sister down and came back to carry me. Now when I think of that 3 year old kid, I feel like spanking her myself. But I know mom; she would have tried explaining rather than scolding me.

When we reached India, we had the typical “gulf baby” adjustment problems. We thought mosquitoes were mini airplanes attacking us and we spend whole day showing off their bite marks to each other.Rain was new to us and so was dirt. My sister would walk carefully so as not to get her chappals dirty and I got immense pleasure in pushing her into puddles on the road.
Now I wonder whether I was suffering from conduct disorder. Mom says I once got so fascinated seeing a chick, that I mistook it for a toy and held it so tight that I killed it eventually.
Anyone who could dive into a pond or climb up a tree was like god to me. I had not seen such skills back where I came from. Asian toilets were a wonder and so was a black and white TV. My biggest doubt was how would cartoons look on B&W TV?

Mom's most favourite story is from one of our Palmaner visit. Palmaner is a place in Andhra Pradesh and mom's sister has a convent there. It was quite a rural place. People boiled water on fire wood and I was irritated by the smoked taste of water and used to mull over the heat, smell and mosquitoes. The nuns at the convent labeled me " Snob", with a capital S.
Mom says I had an adult like style in everything I did then. My body language, mannerism and words I used in conversations were all was adult like. One day while mom was talking to the nuns I barged in.
I began an amicable - soon to - be disastrous talk,"where is my pink shoe?"
"Well Teena, mummy could not carry too many shoes. Why don't you wear the one you have now?” And I started my barage."Are you a mother? Don't you know you should be carrying the pink shoes when your daughter wears her pink dress?"
Mom says the nuns were in a shock to hear this two feet tall creature utter such statements. Having said that I stormed out of the place but mom just smiled and said "that's her".
My aunt then said "beware of her, I tell you. Lord knows how she will be when she grows older".

To their surprise I turned out to be just the opposite. Tasteless about clothes, indifferent to jewellery and let’s just forget about the “matching accessories”part.
Now the same aunt begs me to look elegant and every time I refuse to shop, mom reminds me the sermon of a 3 year old girl.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Some Underwear stories

Now cool down I am not writing Mills & Boon stories here. I have been wanting to write this but was worried about how it would be taken , well to hell with image did I have one?????

My friend is leaving for Delhi so we discussed about Delhi for some time today and I was recollecting my trips to Delhi with my batchmates during MSW days. I realized I never wrote any experiences of those days so here you go. Something silly yet worth writing.
We were a batch of 30 with 4 nuns, 1 priest and 11 guys the rest are girls ( I am weak in maths so you count.Sometimes guys add me to their group and said we are 12 guys).

We did our placements in the 3rd sem at Delhi and were fortunate to spend some time in the scorching summer of Delhi in Chandni Chowk, Chor bazar, Palika bazar and Sarojini market. Delhi definitely is a colorful place everything from sweets to bangles, bags to chappals its colorful.

Ok...... let's get back to the title :) enough of background now camera focuses towards a church in Palam. When we landed at 5pm at Hazrath Nizammudin we were shocked at the first incident that welcomed us to the capital city. A boy not more than 11 years of age snatched a gold chain of my friend and ran and not even our Wayanadan express could chase him . The shot was like in bollwood movies the boy ran from one train to other and we thought we lost him.

Jiska koi nahi uske saath Delhi police zaroor hota hai :) ( for those who got noone you definitely have the Delhi police). There were officers in civil dress to curb such incidents and we were impressed , we got the chain back.The boy was handed over to Prayas an organisation working with Juveniles ( And guess what the girl whose chain he snatched did her internship there :) )

Oh I am deviating a lot from the title .....

Ok now we had to be put up at a common place till next day so we could part ways to our placement offices. Our dearest Priest classmate suggested Palam church where his friend was a priest. We landed there and got fresh. As the journey was two days long girls washed a lot of stuff and hung it on the terrace. At night the priest washed his robe and asked the parlour boy to hang it on the terrace. Next day morning when I woke up and went to the terrace to brush my teeth I saw the priest standing stunned.

It was just 5 am and the sun was rising and it looked pretty what looked prettier was a priest's robe hanging in the middle of a clothesline with undergarments like decorations on both sides. Obviously girls had no clue this would happen and the parlour boy was a fool. But the priest stood dazed. I understood his plight so with my tooth brush in mouth I walked towards the clothesline and with the seriousness of rescuing a victim from fire I brought the robe and handed it to the priest who walked downstairs silently. Slowly the girls woke up oblivious to all this and the day resumed normal. Not funny huh? Imagine it !!!!!

On our last day we assembled at the same place.Before leaving the place the priest said "please carry all your belongings don't leave anything". As if to ensure this would be done he told me "Please go to the terrace, if anything is left it might be the belonging of one of our people so get it". I went on the mission and found two male under garments.With disgust and horror I put it in a polythene bag but forgot the whole affair in the hustle. As the bus took off a guy screamed " A very precious belonging of mine is left please take the vehicle back". The gang said leave it forever,"No its impossible" he said. "I can't do without it". What is it?, many asked he was silent. And then I heard him tell someone " Aliya my Jockey is missing". Nonchalantly I threw the Polythene and asked ""Is it this? All were stunned and looked at me as if I had some fetish for such things. " Spare me the looks father said to carry all that was left behind", I said. "Thanks di, our point stands vindicated, you are a boy, you understood the value of this thing". I did not understand what that meant I looked clueless and girls looked at me as if I did something derogatory.

Well till date jockey ads make me puke.

Those were some underwear experiences.

But I did have some best laughs of my life .

Note: This is not completely true it's fictionalized a lot.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Aadu Mania

To some of my friends who have seen me writing this, I am sorry I know it's too late. This was meant to be my fifth blog and now here it is as the 78th. Never too late, I guess. Thanks for the responses you guys wrote in the previous post so here's something frivolous.

Well when I said aadu , I don’t mean goat in Malayalam but aaduka, rocking and swaying in English and Jhoomna in hindi . It started with walkman, mp3 players and now it’s at it's peak with ipods and mobile phones. You see people with eyes shut rocking around in buses, trains and roads. First of all I got no problems with this fad, neither am I jealous coz I do possess such a contraption. But you just won’t believe what happened in the last few years because of this mania.

So it's my experiments with some Aadu maniacs :)

I was learning how to cycle after I joined IIT (well I am an ace cycler now or I think so) now Jils dnt list the number of accidents I had plz.

There were two girls in front of me on the road, it was obvious “they were victims of aadu mania” both were sharing earphones of an Ipod and swaying like snakes, nodding head in a pendulum pattern 1...2..1-2.1..2.1-2 . I rang the bell, maybe they thought that was part of the music too, they did not even twitch a muscle, I yelled, “move to the side I am new to this whole business”, no response. I overtook them and applied brakes. There was a cement mixer in front of me but they seemed oblivious to my plight and smiled and left, had I not overtook them I doubt if they would even notice the cement mixer they would even fall into it happily.

There are some symptoms these maniacs exhibit, if you want to track them down.
1) They sway all the time as if they are on dance floor , like a snake at times ( even without music- its called after effect ;) )
2) They are deaf , when you talk to them.During normal periods of the day they cant hear you ( try singing it works)
3) They complain listening to songs in sleep ( at least my ex roomie did)
4) More prone to accidents coz they miss pot holes, electric posts, slip, they like being pampered by vehicles on street and worse they could poison food (my roomie did).
5) They jump out of their seats or come out of a trance like state when you call them .

This happened to me when I worked for a year at Dharwad. My roomie had these earphones connected to her mobile all the time sometimes she listened to music and mostly she was on calls but this thing was always attached to her ears. She rolled chappatis, hung clothes, cooked and cleaned with this thing in her ears. At times I was scared what would the food be like? (of course I was concerned about carrying her to hospital for a broken neck someday too). Once I saw her adding salt to wheat flour for making rotis smiling to herself listening to songs, she then added a spoon more( I tried telling her but she gave me her " I Know what I am doing" look). We sat for dinner and she got a call, she went away without tasting her delicacy and I was like the model of centreshock ad, shrieking after the first bite.
Unaware of my pain she continued her rocking and giggling. By the time she returned I had cooked rice and she stared at me unaware of what happened. Well I thank god we don’t use cyanide at homes or she would have killed me.

Another friend of mine had this contraption in her ears while dressing, she won’t even keep it away for a second now can you imagine someone slipping a top over the body without removing the ear phones , well she had mastered the art.

I got to know a cute girl here in IIT; she even wrote me a testimonial on orkut before. Now she hardly smiles, and always has this thing plugged in her ears. I feel like I have lost her and all for this silly contraption.

But it seems to have helped many. My cousin for instance plugs this thing in the moment his wife starts quarrelling or his kids ask for money.

My favourite is a girl in our mess who eats, walks and reads newspaper with this thing in her ears. Initially we thought she was insane talking to herself coz she sings and talks simultaneously like some mono act.But slowly we got acquainted to her using her hands to dance along to the tunes. She gets offended if you sit next to her or if anyone observes her.She has her favourite seat in the mess where she sits alone and listens to the music and dances all alone. It's amazing how she has avoided any social contact and relied entirely on this contraption.

To think of how dangerous is this fad? Look around you would find at least 5 victims of this poor disorder.Share in your experiences in similar situations like mine.

Well I wrote mostly about victims who are women I observe them more, this does not mean men are not victims to this mania. Well I thought I can spare men in this post :P

Monday, June 1, 2009

I am feeling melacholic "Foi" said. "So"? I asked. Lets go to CCD. "But our dearest comrade is away for ten days. Shouldn't we wait for her? ". "No I want to go today, besides she is enjoying her conference in some Jaipur palace"."Ok that's true so when do we go"? "A" asked. "Sharp 12, midnight", Foi said. "Why so?, asked "V".
"Well I am creative after 12", Foi said sketching a tree and two rocks on her new sketch pad. "Dont you have a green pencil"?, she asked me. "Manage with what you have" I yelled. "You guys think I run an art supply store don't you?"
"Lets take your sketch book to CCD maybe you can get more creative", I suggested. "Look I am not gonna change my dress", Foi declared. But the rubber slippers? , "A" asked. I am what I am and I payed Rs 70 for this "F" argued. Beyond that the conversation was above my level. Nearing CCD "V" asked are you sure there are lot of guys. So what "F" asked we are not scared. its not about fear its your rubber slippers .Then disown me I am going alone in this rubber slippers.

Finding a corner seat the bratz looked helplessly at the menu looks delicious "V" said. But what's what? Chocolate fantasy, chocolate chip muffin, spinach,corn and cheese sandwich and Chocolate truffle the orders ran. "V" looked constipated seeing the muffin " well this isnt what I hoped for" she smiled. "F" said why is this not the way I wanted.
Then you should have said I want something that looks like this I don't know its name , I taunted.Why