Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rooting for the Underdog

Little Nia is in a very good mood (having just realized that tomorrow is the last day of her swimming classes) and is celebrating by walking around the house singing "pappu can't dance". I, in one of the rare moments in the history of our household, am in the kitchen cooking (smileys - to keep up with the partying child!). In walks nia with a very puzzled look on her face, here's what follows:

nia: mamma, why didn't pappu come for the party?

me: he was there in the party nia

nia: then why are his friends saying he can't dance?

me: well what they mean is that is is not able to dance - that he is a bad dancer

nia: oooooh! they are teasing him? poor pappu!

me: Yup (and getting ready for the next question. but out walks nia continuing to sing the song)

3 mins later:

nia: mamma, they are also saying pappu guitar bajaata hai (pappu can play the guitar).

me: that's right baby

nia: (face all bright) ah! now when his friends tease him, pappu can sing - mere dost guitar nahi bajaa sakete saala! (my friends can't play the guitar)

and out she walks singing "my friends can't play the guitar dhir kitana dhir kitana"....fixing the world in her own simple ways!

Monday, May 18, 2009

What a day!

Ginger chai and pakoras was what i wished for as i woke up this morning. Instead what i got was potato soup, corn & onion bread, raisin bread, a choice between mango spread and cheese spread, fried rice, steamed unpolished rice from Pondicherry and finally chocolate cake for dessert - and all this home made! Ah and some lovely herbal tea & spicy nuts as we watched the evening rains lash out on the trees and the roof. All thanks to the warmth and generosity of a couple friend who invited us over for lunch. This amazing couple i know living a simple, earth friendly life, asking the right questions, spending as much time in thought as in action and always maintaining a deep relationship with nature. As i spent a day, nourished by the food and my conversations with them, it got me thinking what it means to truly respect earth, the way i see these two wonderful people do.

It means, to be able to say "I don't need much to be happy in life." And truly mean it. Simple needs. No hoarding, no cluttering, no wastage. Being willing to share everything. (After the delicious meal, the leftover yummy bread and cake generously packed for us to take to the others back at home!)

It means to to never look for instant gratification and put love in whatever one does with one's hands. To experiment with materials, arrangements, textures, flavours. To be willing to create - at one's pace.

It means to be aware of and appreciate the perfection of nature around - in the earth tones and textures, the seed pods, the hollow gourds, the bird nest dropped off the tree by the wind, the tastes and colours of the nascent vegetable patch, the blazing sky at sunset.

It means to slow down one's pace and to sync one's own rhythm to the day's rhythm. To start the day early, rest at mid-noon, slow down as the night creeps in.

It means to work wholly with one's body - and not just with the mind. A little thinking, a little talking and discussing, a little of working with hands in silence and a little of watching and observing and absorbing.

It means welcoming others into one's life with warmth, generosity and respect. To be sensitive to what the other person wants and to give as much as one can. Be it exploring questions raised, sharing food or even working with beads and threads with the little child craving for attention in the middle of all that adult time!

For me it was a day to rest, to think, to observe, to enjoy and just feel special. Thank you my dear friends for this truly special day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For a Friend

Had a great experience with children in class the other day which i thought i absolutely must document. We are doing myths and mythology as part of our Summer Camp theme. In each session, we share an interesting story from Indian mythology with the kids and have a follow-up activity. In one of the classes i did with the 4-6 year olds, I shared the story of Krishna and Sudama. And of course in my self-righteousness (and indignation at the return-gifts culture of birthday parties!) totally focussed on how Sudama took a simple and yet thoughtful gift for Krishna. At the end of the session, i got each child to make a picture for one's best friend - which one could then gift to this friend. Here's some of the responses by children:

Nidhi - i will make balloons for my didis (and she tells me names of three older children from her apartment complex).
me: Are they your friends Nidhi?
Nidhi: No but if i give them the balloons, they will be!

Shreya (also drawing balloons) - i want to give toys to my friends but i can only draw balloons.

Ruhi - I don't have one best friend - everyone is my friend. I will make gifts for EVERYONE! (Ms. Universe in the making?!)

Nia: (mistaking Ruhi to be lonely, i guess) It's ok Ruhi, you can be my best friend (they've met three days back for the first time!). I will make you a gift and also allow you to come and play with Foster (a dog who she was making a picture for originally)

Sameer: My best friend is Shubham and i will make a gift for him (draws something that looks like a spaceship and finishes coloring it in 3 mins flat). Hey Shubham - here your gift is ready.
Shubham: what is this?
Sameer: This is you (that's when i notice the smile and eyes on the spaceship thingy!)
Shubham: very nice. I will also make a picture of you (makes eyes and smile on the house he was drawing)
Me: i thought your best friend was Sanjana.
Shubham: Yes but now it is Sameer (oh well!)
30 secs later, drawing discarded, these two "best" friends are wrestling in the corner!

Suhrud: (has made quite a detailed picture and done a fairly neat job of colouring it) I was actually making it for (and gives me names of two girls) but i like this picture and they always fight with me. So i am giving this to me. (ah! All's fair in ....!)

Nia: (comes to me) I hope it's ok that you don't have anyone making a picture for you...maybe it's because you only like simple gifts.

So here's the friendship rule book i got to check out as the children shared their world with me that day in class:
Rule # 1 - there is really no concept of "BEST FRIEND".

Rule # 2 - I will offer friendship to whoever is around (and then again it's ok to change my mind)

Rule # 3 - I give you the best thing i can create!

Rule # 4 - I form my relationships not based on how the other person is or treats me, but purely on how i feel about the other person.

Rule # 5 - In the world of friends - there are endless possibilities of relating and giving! So who needs the rule book anyway??!