Saturday, June 21, 2008

Comments on E's school

E is in kindergarden, now. School started last week and we haven't had any major upsets or tantrums yet. Not that I anticipated any problems, really. Even when started Montessori the day after he turned two, it took him only a few days to get used to being there the whole day and away from us. He used to cry just a little bit and as soon as he saw the teacher and his class room and most importantly, the other kids, he would be his cheery self again. This time around, the most exciting thing has been the school bus. He wants to go in the school bus and as we have decided that we will drive him to and from the school, he is immensely disappointed. All he wants to do is go to school and come back in his big school bus! He is properly outfitted in his "Cars" school bag, "Ben 10" lunch box and "Power Rangers" water bottle. Talk about consumerism!! I remember a piece on NPR that talked about advertising to kids and how successful and dangerous( to the kids and their parents' pocket) it is and now I am seeing it in action.
So, P drops him off in the morning and I go to pick him up, along with Baby A ofcourse. The 35-40 minute ride gives me a much needed sit down time during the day and I find myself composing the next post for the blog. More often than not it is a tirade against something or the other that has happened around me, lately it has been about my struggles with the household help and E's school. The former deserves a post for itself, so here it will be about his school.

We found this school as a temporary place for him till we get him into a "proper" school starting next year. I did not want to make this vital decision without doing due diligence( VC speak!!) on all available options. We had talked to the promoter of this school along with the principal and found them to be very enthusiastic and well-informed educators. So we decided to go with this one. So far, it has only been a week and it doesn't seem too bad, as far as the teaching methods and activities as concerned. Yesterday, I reached a little ahead of time and decided to wait outside his classroom. Here, as with everywhere else in India, there is a lack of proper procedures and discipline as far as the working of the school is concerned. There is no waiting area for the parents or caregivers so you can walk right up to the child's class room. Yes the door is closed but security of the children seems to be the last thing on the agenda. The school is housed on an old kothi (mansion) with thick stone walls and a period architecture. But that also means it needs regular upkeep which we Indians are really bad at. The place has a very shabby look which is out of place for a school. In the class room, there are no cubbys or shelves for the children's backpacks, so they all end up in a heap in one corner. The furniture is all wooden, painted in bright colours which is a welcome change from the industrial metal, rusted furniture we saw at some of the other "preschools". The floor however is quite dirty and definitely can use a foam mat where the children will feel comfortable.
Yes, all these things seem superficial and one can argue that it doesn't necessarily affect what is taught in that classroom. Maybe so, but it is this attention to detail that makes a place stand apart from the rest. When it comes to children, steps should be taken to make the environment feel cosy and welcoming instead of stark and utilitarian. This carries on over to all walks of life in our society. That probably explains why there is no sense of customer service in the services sector and no employee in any business seems to know any of the soft skills that are an integral part of the Western marketplace. If you do not experience it all your life, how can you be expected to impart it to others?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mid year update

I had written this as my contribution to the family magazine, a wonderful idea proposed by cousin H in pune. Just putting it up here to enable me to keep track....

This time last year, I was congratulating myself and Eeshan on successfully completing the project marking the end of his babyhood – potty training. We had been back in the homeland for only a couple of months and were still getting used to doing things the desi way. Parth had already joined ISB and was well into the world of late night assignments, last minute projects, classes and exams. Eeshan and I were pretty much on our won and left to find new friends and things to do in the beautiful 260 acre campus in Hyderabad. We had worked out a good schedule for play and a little bit of work for Eeshan and I was determined to enjoy my new found status as housewife and more importantly, full time mother after working full time for 5 years. Little did I know that, in less than a year, the term full time mother will redefine itself for me.

So, on the 23rd day of January 2008 we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl whom we named Anika. I was in Pune with Aai and Baba and my lovely Eeshan to keep me company and Janoo from Nagpur had flown in to help us out. Things turned out very well and all of my fears about Eeshan having adjustment issues with the new baby turned out to be baseless. Now-a-days, he goes around talking about “my bab y sister” and “my kuchu muchu” – his nickname for her- all day . Baby Anika is doing well and is starting to develop a personality. She is an easy-going baby as long as she is the center of everybody’s world. Thankfully she has her doting brother and and an even-more doting father to pamper her.

Parth graduated from ISB on the 5th of April successfully fulfilling a long held desire and countless hours of tireless dedication. During the job search, he got 3 offers and decided to go with a venture capital firm based out of Hyderabad. This enabled him to put his pharmacy background and his training in finance to the best use. He is enjoying his work.

As for me, after the first two months of whirlwind activity when Anika and I were still getting to know each other, I had to tackle the mammoth job of moving into a new apt and unpacking. This chore however was made light by Parth, who had to do a lot of work himself since I always went in with two more members of the family, who weren’t necessarily productive. But a few late nights and a lot of patience later, we are all set in the apartment and are also into a good routine. I even have a couple of hours of “free” time during the day when I can sit down and think about doing something other than mothering. The issue of exercising to get rid of the pregnancy pounds and a few leftover ones from the earlier years always raises its ugly head but I have been successful at avoiding it so far. I have been experimenting a lot with my cooking and plan to codify all my results and someday have something to show for this great love of my life. Eeshan starts school soon and that will be another turning point in our family and the next update I write will start off with the first day of school for Eeshan Chakrabarti.

Till then, be well and keep in touch.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

E and his cartoons

Yes, E watches TV albeit in, what we think is, moderation. And he is already well-versed in pop culture as far as the world of cartoons is concerned. Gone are the days of Elmo and Lightning McQueen. E has his heart set on Perman and Ninja Hattori and let me tell you, these manga are cute!! And cuter than that is how E sings the title songs of these two serials and a couple of other songs too. I have become hooked to Pokemon, now. I can see what the craze is all about - that Pikachu is cho chweet!!!
Coming back to E's songs, he hums a few hindi songs too now, like the songs fron Taare Zameen Par, "dard-e-disco" aankhon mein teri"etc. Then there are his Digimon frontier dialogs - "digi's parents.....andeluscious", that is what it sounds like!! (It is supposed to be Digi spirits -evolution!!) He is very good at imitating words from other languages and also other kids.
Ms. A is doing well, though today has been a little dull as she has cold and slight fever. But she is in her good spirits as usual. Got her next round of shots and is doing quite well. She does not like to lie down and prefers to be either on her tummy or sit up in our laps. We (E and I) have named her 'Anikamon' after our newest addiction to pokemon.
Mamu started work this week and is looking for a house. Now all he needs is a 'good girl' to settle down with and he will be set.
Pishi is enjoying life in Deutschland, checking out guys, wines and food - not necessarily in that order.
Things are rolling along just well in our neck of the woods.

Mango poisoning

Neither of us had ever felt like this before! No, we have not fallen in love all over again (though that is a regular occurrence in our life) but something we both experienced this Sunday.
So, after 10 years of not enjoying mangoes in summer -a quintessential Indian summer tradition - P and I decided this year to devour this royal fruit like never before. Apart from the evergreen Alphonso and omnipresent Baiganpalli, we had discovered Himayat, a really fragrant and fleshy variety of this high calorie delight. And needless to say, mangoes have been a permanent fixture on our dinner table for the last couple of weeks. E loved it too so we had just the perfect excuse to bring some more home.
Sunday morning, P started saying that he was very hot and felt like heat was radiating from his face. Well, it was very hot and we thought P was just reacting to it. Then, I started to feel very hot and almost burning sensations on my face and the tips of my fingers and toes. As it started to get worse and both of us felt the same way, we were sure it was the masala that I had used to make mutton curry that morning. but after a blistering,miserable day as we settled down for the night, P had an idea! It might just be the mangoes!! Considering how Ayurveda consideres mango to have "heating property" it was the perfect explanation! We had a big laugh and have imposed a week-long moratorium on mangoes in the household. I can't wait till the week is over.