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Our Gods, your gods

Growing up in the commie land of Kerala in the 70s, we were less aware of caste or religious tensions that characterised much of North India. Such divisions may have been evident at homes in people's minds, in the attitudes and perspectives they carried about other communities but it generally did not leave their verandahs or mouths. People were courteous at the very least.
One incident from my primary school days however was an instance of the  prejudices and intolerance latent in people's minds even then and which the little ones in each family imbibed. I was the oldest and seniormost, say class 3 or 4, among a handful of kids who took the same bus home. We were all students of a one-of-its-kind primary school on the way to Konni and Pathanamthitta. We had Anglo-Indian teachers from Quilon who made us stand in the morning sun everyday and recite English nursery rhymes and the India pledge and national anthem. What I'm coming to say is that there was no tinge of religious…

Mother Earth

While decluttering Mira's shelves during one of my infrequent bouts of cleaning, I came across a small essay/speech I had written for her last year. Did I actually write it, is my usual thought when I glance through such notes. Because once something flows out of your pen, it  is no longer yours and has a life of its own. I'm just reproducing it to remind myself of my occasional flashes of imagination.
Topic: The earth laughs in flowers.
Our earth, I would say, is the most beautiful planet in the universe. Looking at it from space it looks blue and green _ blue is the oceans and green is the land. And this land is full of trees and plants that bear flowers and fruits.
Flowers make our Earth look so beautiful. I just feel it makes Mother Earth very happy to watch birds and butterflies everyday drinking nectar from flowers and taking a little pollen with them. That helps in pollination and new life, you know.
From small pansies two big roses and shoe flowers, from flowers in a g…

Reading human minds

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My! Isn't it pretty weird how the social media reads your mind? Or maybe Facebook is eavesdropping - or more weirdly tracking your movements or reading your mind. The suggested posts that fb throws up are uncannily close to what you do or think.
It has just now asked me to make banana and coconut pudding with Chiquita bananas! I had the last Chiquita banana yesterday night.
Two weeks back, it threw up a suggestion that I admit my kid in kindergarten starters just after I had spotted a KGS bus passing my place; maybe because I made the mistake of explaining what KGS is to Mira.
And last month in India, I had been so impressed by the the Brezza car and wondering why dad couldn't buy that in place of the Swift he opted for. But no search on Google, mind you. And Gmail sent me a mail asking me to buy a Brezza ! These are just a few of the instances. Is FB an all knowing God?

Childhood violated

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After seeing my daughter as a baby, my ex boss advised: "She's a very charming girl. Don't send her to neighbors' houses." Cute and pretty children will have more people wanting to pet them. Soon after we moved into our new flat, we had a neighbor, a  lady with teenaged two sons and a daughter, who took her home a couple of times to cuddle and play. But my maid must have given her a curt response the next time, because the practice stopped and the family became a little aloof with us.
But I felt a little curtness was okay to safeguard your child in these dangerous times. When I read about a mentally challenged little girl being raped by her neighbour, I wondered how the parents let her go just like that. But I guess one can't be too careful and parents often let their guard down or trust people they interact with often.
In the light of the horrific rape and murder of 8 year old Asifa in Kathua, we as parents need to be more alert about the wolves around our …

Classic doubts

Teaching 18th or 19th century classics to a teenager of the 21st century is a bit challenging. While trying to explain a play on Tom Sawyer's fence painting fiasco, Mira was often found looking zapped. She cannot understand why people would want to go see a steamboat that comes once a week. Or why a boy would want to swap apple or marbles for fence painting. " What is so exciting about a steamboat or a marble?" she asks.
Living with all material comforts and the best of infrastructure, today's kids cannot fathom or appreciate such tales. It is probably time we removed them from the curriculum instead of looking like fools trying to explain life in what looks like primitive society. Even yesteryear's America looks pretty tame for the 21st century kid.
I dont remember having such thoughts. Our only reckoning was that America or England was different - in its landscape, food, mannerisms etc.  Everything was imagined in the mind. Not like today when they immediately …

RIP

Call it an inadvertent tribute to Sridevi on her funeral day, but I finally managed to watch English Vinglish on Youtube today. Turns out to be a lovely movie - the plight of many married women in India. Often well-educated but not working, often ridiculed and treated like a door mat or everyone's slave (unpaid servant). It often takes a stranger or a third party to make the woman love herself or find a way to overcome weaknesses.
Not been a great fan of the actress except for Munram pirai, which I vaguely remember watching. In the college hostel, I often had arguments with a friend about who was more beautiful -- Sridevi or Jayapradha.  My friend was an ardent fan, while I supported the other South Indian beauty. Not that I saw any movies of hers. During a week our warden nun allowed us to run movie CDs in the hostel, I got to watch some Sridevi movies - Chandni, Nagina etc. but I still held on to my theory that Jaya was better. Some years ago, I watched the beautiful Malayalam m…

Losing our heroes

One of the lessons we had in our primary school Malayalam textbook was a leaf out of Letters from a Father to his Daughter, and I think it was something about rivers and sands. As a kid I found the lesson too tough to understand and wondered how the daughter in question _  Indira Gandhi _ understood such profound stuff. The pencil sketch of the daughter is still etched in my memory. And the father who wrote it continues to hold a special place in my heart as the maker of modern independent India.
I grew up respecting and loving all our freedom fighters, and especially the Father of the Nation (though his idiosyncrasies and experiments seem a little weird to me as an adult) and the first Prime Minister.  Maybe the history lessons in school were carefully planned but it was just cursory information and nothing deep. The deeper stuff, Discovery of Truth and Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, came as gifts from dad and which I preserved but didnt read. I was more interested in M&Bs a…