Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A few Favourite Books (ages 3-7)

In continuation to the book theme we are on currently, I have been meaning to compile a list of books that I am done reading a zillion times and my kids still don't tire. I have slowly got the peapod to read her own books though she still loves being read to. Just around the time I transitioned her, my boy started insisting I read out to him. He loves books and yanks them out at any given opportunity searching for his favourite blue elephant book and gets me to read . Every time I try to fool him by skipping a page or a line, I have a daughter just old enough to know the difference and keeps pointing it out. And sometimes the boy figures it out for himself I skipped a page and would go back to it after I have finished the book and make me read the book again from where I skipped. There is justice in his small world but is there any in mine??

 Giggle giggle quack quack - This is a funny story about how the animals on a barn pull a fast one on the farmer. Farmer Brown has a barn full of farm animals, cows, pigs, hens and ducks. Farmer goes on a vacation and lets his brother look after his barn. Farmer Brown leaves his brother with a note of things to be done each day. He also warns his brother of the DUCK. What he doesn't know yet is that the DUCK has replaced each note and what transpires thereafter as a result is that the farmer's brother orders pizza in the barn for the animals, the pigs get a bath in the farmer's bathtub and are dried with his finnest towels and they also manage a movie night. Both my kids love it and it always makes them laugh.

Snoring Shanmughan - An another funny story about a lion named Shanmughan. That name cracks me up everytime. Shanmughan is always sleeping and snores real loud. The animals were tired of the snore and required to remedy the situation. Soon they realize the lion doesn't snore so loudly when he sleeps on his side and the elephant helps moving shanmughan to his side when the snoring gets unbearable. Meanwhile, an another lion walks into the jungle and assumes the jungle doesn't have a lion and is all set to presume the role of the king of the jungle. The animals try to wake the sleeping lion in vain. Finally its the elephant who moves the lion to sleep on his back, the position in which he snores the loudest. The snore scares the new lion and he leaves the jungle.

The snow king's daughter - This is the story of a little boy, Keshav, he has his summer vacations and his favourite past time is looking at the atlas and pretend travelling to various places and make up a language for each place. This book very subtly talks about Tibet, immigration and independence. It hasn't been easy explaining why the kids came to India but their parents stayed back. It is a disturbing concept for the peapod and I don't think she still has made her peace with it. Every time we read the book she has a question, why did they let the babies go? When would they meet their parents? Who actually looked after them? and so on. We had also bought an Atlas for her around the same time. She too loved going through the index, looking them up on the map and then she would make me read up about the place. It is very often pulled out for reading.The illustrations are simple and fun. 9 out of 10 times the atlas is the next book to ponder over after this. Its been a pleasure meeting the author, Sowmya at the twistntales bookreading session.

How do dinosaurs say good night? - This is my 2.5 year olds favourite bed time book. The illustrations are pretty funny with a line of verse on each page. The author wonders in this book what a dinosaur would do when asked to go to bed. My son loves to watch me enact the dinosaur. The book is aimed at frowning at bad behaviour and to inculcate good bed time rituals but my son is mesmerized with the angry dinosaur in the book and he looks at them very fondly.

Tinysaurus - This is an another cute dinosaur story about a tinysaurus who lives with Daddysaurus, Mommysaurus and Bigsissysaurus. He complains about how he cannot do the things Bigsissysaurus is allowed to do and describes his failed attempts at trying to grow big. One day, while tinysaurus guards his mother's eggs,  Nastysaurus comes to snatch the eggs. How tinysaurus rises to the occasion and saves the eggs is quite entertaining. He then realizes being tiny has its own advantages as well. My son has since been renamed as tinysaurus by his sissysaurus.

Why do animals have strange bodies ?? - My little boy totally totally loves this book and this is the one book I try skipping lines and pages and both my kids wouldn't let me and would ensure I re-read it. It wonders about why a camel has a hump on its back and why the elephant's nose is so long and why the rabbit's ears are so long and why the kangaroo has a pouch and it then talks about facts. Thanks to the book, my kids can now differentiate between a tortoise and a turtle, they know there are one and two hump camels, they know about porcupines and some more. Its an interesting book. I tried searching this book on the net but haven't been able to locate it so no pics or links. But if you find it in a bookstore, do flip it over. I am sure you will love it.

The magic paintbrush - This is a recent purchase. The story is based in China and the inference is drawn only by the pictures and nothing in the text. Its a simple engaging story that is told in verses. It has a Chinese folk tale feel to it. The story is about a girl Shen, who receives a magic paintbrush and is asked to use it only for the poor never for the wealthy. The magic paintbrush makes real, all things that are painted with it. The trouble starts when the emperor comes to Shen and instructs her to draw a tree full of money. To know how she keeps her promise and escapes the emperor, you should read the story. The peapod loves the story and the rhyme. OK, it isn't as big with the peapod as it is with me (looks sheepish :) ). I loved the book and keep asking the peapod to pick it up for a read and when she doesn't I do. Here is a sample for you anyway,

Go and catch some shrimps, Shen
Go and catch some fish.
Go and gather oysters
To fill the empty dish.

She sits there on the seashore.
A stick is in her hand.
She sits there drawing pictures,
Pictures in the sand.

Dancing on Walls - This book introduces kids to warli art very beautifully. The story is about a girl, Sharvari who stays back while her parents go to the market. She plans to clean up the house and complete a few chores to surprise her parents. Standing in her yard she sees silver figurines slip down the moonbeam. Suddenly she hears a plea for help. One of the moon people falls into water and moon people do not know to swim since there is no water on the moon. Sharvari saves the little moon man and as gratitude the moon people help her finish all her chores in no time. How did that translate to warli art? Read it. Its a very good gift for kids for the age group 4-7.
The peapod enjoys picking books at a bookstore and has kind of made her peace with me shortlisting them at the counter. Sometimes I wonder if buying books for peapod is just an excuse :). 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Book reading - Have you seen this?

After months of seeing book reading events happening in every other city but Pune, had me yearning for some fun here in our very own city. Finally here is our chance

I will be reading out loud Arthi Anand's wacky book  Have you seen this?

Venue: Twist 'n' Tales, Aundh
Date: 11 Nov 2012
Time: 11 am.
Age group: 3 -7

Sowmya Rajendran, the author of children's books like Aana and Chena, Powercut, The snow king's daughter will also be at the event reading from her book "School is cool".

To say I am nervous would be an understatement but I have been looking forward to this event for months now, so fingures crossed. Please do come if you can.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Violence Against Women Awareness - Patriachy

I am hopelessly late to this but I just want to still show my support to this cause and its a cause  I support.

If there is one thing that has survived well past its time and needs to be 10 feet under already is the idea of the patriarchy society. The survival of the mindset is the single most reason we see the many crimes against women in our country.

What is a patriarchal Society?

Wikipedia defines it thus- Patriarchy is a social system in which the male acts as the primary authority figure central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails both male and female subordination to the designated male patriarch with a specific domain or grouping.

In a patriarchy, roles are gender based and not on an individuals interests or capability. The women minds the home and hearth, is responsible for child care, caring for the elderly in the household, submissive to her husband, submissive to all the elderly in the household, to all and sundry and basically staying in the background. Patriarchy is based on a system of power relations which are hierarchical and unequal where men control women’s production, reproduction and sexuality. The patriarchs view women as second-class citizens and as their property, to do as they wish with them. Hence Domestic violence is prevalent in patriarch societies and hence nobody even blinks when they hear or watch women being abused. It is not seen as a gross violation of human rights in general.

Patriarch not only suppresses women but also younger boys/men in the household. In India, we have sons struggle under their father's reign. Younger siblings struggle under the 'bade bhaiya'. All in the name of 'respect'. Young men find it difficult to voice a different opinion and tend to follow whatever the dictate of the father or the head of the family is. In that way you can compare them to women, but then women are saddled with a whole lot of responsibilities with no acknowledgement or appreciation and with no monetary value attached to it. So much so that women do not even know themselves the amount of work they get accomplished. Most women tend to downplay what they do or tend to blame themselves for the criticism they receive rather than look at it objectively. Even today.

Women's liberation movement did not just liberate the women but also young men to walk away from the oppression/submissiveness forced on them at home. Sadly, liberated young men instead of being thankful to the liberation movement soon start the same cycle where they throne themselves as the head of their family. It would do a world of good to have atleast the younger men move away from this mindset.

Thanks to many feminists movements and various human rights organization who championed causes like right to education, equal employment opportunity, equal pay rights, right to my own body and sexuality, right to my kids, right to live with dignity, today we live in a time where atleast the law recognizes it and grants them. But we do still have people, men, women both at really powerful positions, who can make a difference and influence a whole lot of people considering the positions they hold, but advocate regressive and uneducated views. A judge in Karnataka still believes women should adjust and sites examples of women who have been abused but still live with their husbands as shining examples. A family life is of equal importance to both and should survive only because both of them want it and not because one person is ready to adjust. The one person adjusting bit is very regressive and demeans the institution of marriage. A women chief minister who has reached the heights she has because of these same feminists values fails to re-inforce them and instead blames western values corroding our culture. Blaming rape on women getting out their houses or wearing jeans or skirts or even suggesting it was because they mingle way too freely with men is sadly all on the wrong track. The basic difference is consensual and forced touch. The moment an individual (girl or boy) is forced to do something against their wishes, that is when the law should kick in and identify the abuser and the victim. Who violated who's space? Not immediately turn the guns on the lady/girl and start asking her about her mother, husband, lifestyle choices, clothes and such kinds. It DOES NOT MATTER. And it is not a complicated theory. Infact its simple. Moral policing makes it complicated. Instead of taking the abuser to task, the victim gets branded as shameless and too forward and available. This endorsement sadly puts the our case a few decades backward. Its even more bizarre, when powerful women make such statements.

Partnership is the cool thing to have in a marriage. Its almost never 50-50. And the power equation is never the same in all homes. You contribute as per your strengths and then some order some take homes.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Science Express arrives in Pune

‘Science Express - Biodiversity Special’ (SEBS) is an innovative mobile exhibition mounted on a specially designed 16 coach AC train, traveling across India from 5 June to 22 December 2012. SEBS is the fifth phase of the iconic and path-breaking Science Express. The SEBS is a unique collaborative initiative of Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India.

This is pretty close to where I live and hence defintely on my must-do list for the weekend. More details after I have a peek tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Have you seen this? - by Arthi Navneet

Hello friends, This is peapod here. Its been a while since I last popped here. Been busy - ha ha - dont ask me what that means - that is what my mom keeps saying. But I have come to tell you about a great book I have been reading.

Have you seen "Arthi aunty's" new book - the very wacky and funny "Have you seen this?" yet?  I am sure you already have - if you haven't you really need to. You can buy it here.

Did you just ask me - what is it about? It's about all these things that do funny things.

What do you mean funny things?  Have you seen a door that runs? ha ha ha. Now wouldn't that be fun running behind a door that runs specially just when chattambi needs to go shu shu - ha ha ha. (Mom tells me it isn't nice to make fun of him, but now it wouldn't be fun if I were running - would it?)

The book also talks about a crow that cooks - How interesting would that be? Wearing saree like Ammachy does and tie her hair high - haha. It gives me all sorts of weird ideas. The tree that flies - how comical would it be if the tree flew when the animals play hide and seek - crazy right? How about a pencil that writes? I have been asking mummy to order me a writing pencil and that way, I need not worry about Dapte Mam urging me to write fast.

The best thing about the book is I can read it without help and it is very funny. The chattambi keeps looking at the pictures and asking mom his standard questions that all begin with either "What" or "Why". I know mom pretends not to hear him at times so that she doesn't have to answer him. And I love the girl and the boy in the book with big wide eyes and a long chotti.

Here is a book reading invite for Mumbai on the 1st of Sept. My dear friends from Mumbai,, you are very very lucky. Go for it. Waiting for the Pune book reading invite now with my fingures crossed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Horror of the Abuse

The last 2 days of TV viewing has been really really depressing. It brings back the horror of the Bangalore incident, where the ram sena humiliated girls by hurling them around since they were seen in a pub.The Guwahati incident was even more horrifying considering this was just a child, a 16yr old class IX student. She was coming back from a pub with a couple of friends and got into a spat with a couple of boys on the street. Her friends escaped the mad mob and the poor girl was trapped. She was molested by 30 men and then stripped. Cowards each one of them, taking advantage of a child. I hope there is enough noise made about this incident to book each of those young boys and men who were happily smiling into the camera while doing so. Its a shame. Watching that clip on TV sent a shiver down my spine. We live here, we call this our homeland and are kids and our women are all under constant threat.

My heart goes out to the child who probably will live this nightmare for so many more days and nights. I pray she and her family find the strength to stay afloat. The one reason other than absolute failure of our law and order these things happen is because men still believe under some cosmic scheme they are suppose to control or discipline women and they can. If this is what they do to girls they don't know, what would they do to their own women folks behind closed doors. That smile, that glee while tormenting a child in public, humiliating her, pulling her hair is so disturbing, I so want to scream out loud. It is absolutely disturbing. Being a bystander to such atrocity is equally horrendous.

This just shows prejudices inbuilt in our country at so many levels over and above the very obvious.

1. What makes boys/men think they can grope and strip a girl in public and look very unaffected by it - Did they think they had every right to teach a girl with whom they had a spat, a lesson. How is this any different than men stoning a women to death in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

2. When a group of boys are at it, why can not an another group step in, stop it. What part of our being lets us watch on as a poor child screams for help. - Are we above all that happens on the street. A mob can get away with anything in India.

To such perverts I ask, who died and made you the custodians of culture, Izzat and women in general. Take a hike guys and just stay there please. Women in India, have all been through men staring at them, men edging an elbow at their breast like they didn't realize, pushing themselves on you in a bus or in a crowd like they couldn't help it. Men baring their stun guns, staring at your breasts, groping in a quiet dark alley if the chance presented is just something we have learnt to expect and look out for. And then, every now and then sexual harassment reaches a new level like this one. The Mumbai new year incident, the Bangalore pub incident and so many more shakes you up. This could have been you. That just makes me think how should I ensure my son isnt one these. A Boy with the right values and who would never join a mob like this. Men who can stand up and do the right thing.

We all know, sexual harassment such as these are not about the dress you wear, or the time of day or night, or the place you were in, or the company you are in, or your mode of transport. No. It is not. It is just because some rabid men decided they were going to have a field day and then found support in a few more who joined them or decided to stay in the background and watch and thus their pack grows.

We as a country need to make enough noise and ensure that none of them are let off. They deserve very severe punishment. Even if they are young boys and have a life ahead of them, if they are let off this time, they and many others like them are only going to be more confident about it the next time. Only 4 of the 30 have been put behind bars so far. I am sure the rest are in hiding thinking, it will ease off in a few days and then they can unleash their ugly monstrous selves back on the street.

This country really fails its girls, young ladies and women. Totally. Its a sad sad state of affairs

Monday, July 09, 2012

Next door by Jahnavi Barua and some more....

Next door - Jahnavi Barua

Totally totally loved this book. The backdrop of this book is Assam. It is a collection of 10 short stories. I confess I really do not know much about Assam and I have not known any Assamese all these years. I generally need a good story to enjoy a book. Good humour, I love and a nice romantic story/angle has me totally hooked. A good book to me is generally the one I can not put down. But this one does not meet many of my loud criteria. There isn't a complicated plot in there, its about the emotions of everyday people. Humour is scarce and very subtle. And you actually need to put the book down after every good story or 2. What I have loved about this book and stories is that it gave me a glimpse of that land I have not known. Of the mountains and the river that are so much an integral part of the people of this land, of people from all walks of life. I think I know more of Scotland, Ireland and Paris than I know of this place called Assam. The river Brahmaputra has figured in every story and is a towering presence in the book. Here are a few excerpts from her book. The writing is beautiful. And I am generally not the one to gush over beautiful prose since I am single mindedly after the progress of the story. But this one has striked me really hard. I am sure I will re-read it.

"She hoiseted herself on to the wooden railing that skirted the veranda and leaned back against a wooden post. From her perch she could see the river as it took a wide sweeping turn and disappeared palely, and across , beyond the ribbon of silver was a range of low hills, dark and brooding, Bhutan."

"Indeed, the pale pebbles and stones lining the banks seemed to glow, reflecting this radiance, and the tree massed along its edge rustled in the morning breeze and leaned towards the water, whispering, seeking, a cue, an excuse to follow its lead."

I would totally recommend every blogger to pick this one up for a simple reason, everyone who writes, knows the difficulty of describing a scene. I haven't read any other books of hers but I will look up now definitely.

Long long back, atleast a decade and a half back, when I read "God of small things", I thought nobody other than a Keralite would understand half the references made in the book. A few Malayalam phrases here and there and a lot of nuances that are so much a part of Kerala. I thought it impossible for anybody without a clue of the place to read and understand it. I stand corrected today. Not about understanding every Assamese nuance but the fact that I enjoyed the book very much with its subtle Assamese phrases and letting my imagination take me to a beautiful place of mountains and rivers. I think that is the magic of lingual phrases. I think you will love it.

And a few more books I have read in the recent past

Never look away - Linwood Barclay

This one is a compelling suspense/mystery atleast untill midway. After having read umpteen suspense/thriller books and seeing similar movies, you can start guessing after a while but it was still very interesting. I totally enjoyed it.

The Bad boys guide to the Good Indian Girl - Annie Zaidi, Smriti Ravindran

I don't know how to describe this book. It is a collection of stories about school going girls, teens, and adults. Many of these stories are much so about me or people I surely know. It kind of challenges many stereotypical behaviour towards, and of ,women specially in India. Today we are fighting so many things that are not right with the world and specifically prejudices based in India. But beneath all the bigger problems are problems with the way we think which are fed by and moulded by thoughts and opinions we see around us. It is a light read but quite interesting and funny. The title was a sure pick me up.

Born In Fire - Nora Roberts

This is a book I will most probably read again and again on a nice rainy day, or a quiet Saturday afternoon or on a lonely night. It is a keeper on my book shelf. I have read the other 2 in the trilogy of this book and didn't care much for either.This story is staged in a lovely village in Ireland and is about a stubborn, spirited and fiery glass artist named Maggie and an art gallery owner, Rogney Sweeney, who is ofcourse stinking rich, well-mannered and a total gentleman. She is straight forward, speaks her mind and doesn't give a damn about what people think. Why is it that I love her way more than the gentleman Sweeney? Because I am a sucker for stubborn, spirited people. Faced to face with one I have to almost get on my knees to keep the peace and reign in my logic and shut down the practicality department but nevertheless I love them. They are damn impossible. But they are so passionate about whatever it is they are going on about that you just cannot help loving them for it anyway.

Currently on my hands is -
How to be a women - Caitlin Moran - MM and Chandni recommend it much and the couple of pages I read, I liked.

Diary of a wimpy kid - This one is just plain funny. This is the first book I have read and its hilarious. I can imagine the peapod and chattambi writing diaries like these.