Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Confessions of a book snob

The mind changers
It really is true that despite years of living with someone, despite spending each waking-sleeping moment with him-her, you don't really get to know them.

And so it was with me. After years of thinking myself a liberal, only recently I realised I am a book snob.

But first I must present my defence.
I come from a generation when we had few distractions - no TVs, no computers, not even phones to chat away with friends and no friends other than school friends. School was a good 10 kms away which by the standards of those times was pretty much in the 'jungle'. 

So what did we do in the long summer vacations, Christmas breaks and weekends? We read, my sister and I, and we bonded, perfectly.

The other thing was that we went to a school run by strict Irish nuns who set high reading standards. The books we got were screened, I am sure. We had 'age appropriate' cupboards neatly labelled with the class they were suited to. We weren't allowed comics till after class VI, not even Amar Chitra Kathas. We HAD to choose one book of fiction, one biography and one Hindi book each week. We HAD to have a book mark and a book cover failing which we weren't allowed a book. All wonderful habits, I might add. Habits I cherish and I'm very proud of. Habits I wish I was better at inculcating in my children.

And so I grew up on Enid Blyton, Louisa Alcott, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and then - Georgette Heyers and Victoria Holts.

Later, I spent years at the news desk meticulously changing 'color' to 'colour', correcting language, following the 'right' way and getting more and more set in that right way, more sure than ever that I KNEW what was best when it came to reading.

I lost touch with kids' books till I had kids of my own some two decades later. What a rude shock that was. Wimpy Kid, I am not a Loser, Geronimo Stilton and Lord my God!! Captain Underpants! Peppered with pictures and illustrations, arrows and diagrams, doodles and drawings with coloured text jumping at you from unexpected places, with font that changed like a shape shifter - an unwarranted assault on my senses! What were these? Half-comic-half-book-half scribbled notes? Mongrelised reads, all.

I saw Midsummer Night's Dream as a comic and my heart broke a bit. When I spotted a Captain Underpants in my son's hands I freaked. The spellings were blasphemous. How could I allow it?

I looked down upon them all. I pushed forward my favourites. Noddy, Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair, Amelia Jane. As if in retaliation, the children rejected the lot. Each of them. I was heartbroken and I gave up on my kids as non-readers.

And then, very recently, I stumbled upon this article that said to 'Everyone Loves Reading - Just Find the Right Book' written by Tanushree Singh. And I was forced to re-evaluate my attitude.

I wasn't all wrong. However things have changed. 

Books are now not competing with other books. They are competing with television, the iPad, the PS-3 and the lure of friends at the door. They have to squeeze themselves between dance class and karate class, hold their own with Othello and Topple, fight off the Barbies and the Power rangers.

It cannot be easy.

What they need, desperately, are friends, friends not book racists, not heartless, judgmental critics. Friends, among parents, teachers and all sensible adults. Friends who would understand why they have had to change avatars, why they have to dress themselves up as graphic novels and comics. 

Besides, wasn't Enid Blyton banned in schools in her time? Isn't Roald Dahl irreverent and gory and yes, rude, in bits? Who's to judge the good and the bad? By all means ban the obscene, ban the bad language, ban the overtly violent but stop there. Rather than choosing just the best, reject just the worst. Let more of them make the cut.

God knows our kids need them way more than they need our kids.

Monday, October 27, 2014

When the TV is switched off...

.....creativity flows.

Last week fed up with too much TV I banned it completely and look what H came up with! 

A board game of his own. It's a simple one but we had a ball playing it. The 'tasks' he set up ranged from funny to outright weird. There was 'sing a song', 'take three sips of water', 'skip 5 times', 'touch the quilt', 'hug your partner'.

His was an amateur's job, but this is a great way to include physical activity in a board game. So if your dice lands on a particular number you might be required to skip a specific number of times or jump or somersault, do handstands, pushups .. whatever. 

Before I get carried away any more I have to add - there's a catch - you need to be ready to do all of it too.

So come along make your own board game.

Linking to # Microblog Mondays hosted by Mel aka Stirrup Queens who came up with this wonderful idea of micro posting every Monday. Do take a look.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Putting the cheer back in Diwali

I was chatting with friends a few days back and I found myself saying with a sigh, 'I wish Diwali was already over. It's a bit of a pain, right?' And that friend replied, 'Not really. I like Diwali, it's fun.' It might count that he was a 'he', wasn't a mum, wasn't even married for that matter. But the thing that struck me was, 'Hey! I used to think like that. When did Diwali become a drag for me? When did I stop missing putting out the diyas, doing up the house, dressing up in new clothes?'

Me the Scrooge

It happened slowly, over the years, ever so slowly that I didn't notice. It happened when all of that became a compulsion. I've shared how I felt many times here on the blog. I even took Lakshmi ji to task. Jokes apart, Diwali to me had come to mean loads of cleaning, wading through crazy crowds, trying to drive bargains and draining out my bank account handing out those bonuses.

However, that's not what festivals are supposed to be about right? Well, they are, but they are more about being happy and excited and content and about spreading cheer and making everyone happy while also being happy yourself. 

So this year I decided I'd put the cheer back into my Diwali. I needed to, specially since The Husband might not be home this time. The key, I realised, is to lower expectations and do more fun stuff with the kids. It helps immensely that at 8 years they are older and a little less of a pain. (I cannot believe I just said that!!)

So I drew up a 'Will' and 'Won't' list for myself. Take a look.

I won't

Dive into closets and lofts for that once a year cleaning.
Trawl the old city for the best idols, the 'different' diyas, the cheapest bargains.
Worry myself sick about visitors.
Try to clear up the kids' cupboards or their room (Whew! Such a load off, already).
Go ballistic yelling at them to clear up either.
Try to keep a democratic approach with them (This one is HARD).
Try to say 'Yes' to them as much as possible. (I have good friend Shailaja to thank for this tip).

I Will

Put out fresh (not necessarily new) covers.
Put up the pretty stuff I've bought for Diwali.
Order gifts online.
Paint diyas with the kids.
Try new crafts with them.
Have a few festive foods like the mandatory Yam (So we don't turn into chhuchhundars in the next life!) and a simple sweet like a kheer or the super easy atta laddoos which we make together.
Buy lots of sweets.
Hand over the bonuses with a smile and without a grudge because the people around me do make my life simpler and happier.

The list comes with a word of caution to myself:
- The house will not be as clean as I would like it to be or as it used to be
- The food will not be as elaborate
- The gifts will not be as glorious

The democratic approach

Starting from there we've spent the past few days happily cleaning up TOGETHER. 
The kids made out lists of things they would do and the things they wanted me to do for them. They allocated cleaning one small area (a drawer, one shelf of a cupboard) each day to themselves. H even included 'not trouble N' in his list! Now that's a time-saver if ever there was one. Their lists for me were, of course, much longer (buy crackers, help us paint diyas) but that was fine.

Our fun times

Since painting diyas was top of the list, that's what we started off with. Midway through it N wanted a dance break so we put on some LOUD music and she danced. Then we got back to work. After a while she wanted to invite her friend over. And we did just that.

We tried making jam jar lanterns for which we'd been saving for some time. After a few mishaps they turned out fine. Take a look.

Here's what we did..
We pasted cello tape. Then painted them with fevicol, then applied powder glitter. We intended to peel off the tape later but we couldn't find the tape and ended up peeling off much of the glitter. So next time we left the ends clearly visible. Like this...

... and then peeling it off was a cakewalk.

We stuck on some sequins and ended with some ribbon and gota. All we need now is for some candles to go in and we're done.

And we tried some damage control. We pasted kite paper hearts on the really bad ones. Once the candle lights it up, we're hoping it'll look just as good as the others.

Then we wondered what to do with the bottle caps. So we made them into tea-light holders.

This was easy. And here's a tip: Use a toothpick to pick up the tiny sequins. Once the kids got a hang of it, it was fun.

To our surprise and happiness they even floated on the water so now we have ended up making floating candles! Yay!

There's a few days to go for the big day and we've had a relatively peaceful time. We still have some more things in mind which we might try out. But I'm not pushing it.

So what would your 'Will-Do-Won't-Do' list look like? Of course it might be completely different from mine. If you love cooking that'll feature big time or if you love to shop, city shops might be fun. The thing is to list and prioritise. 

Happy Diwali!!

Come join a set of fabulous bloggers sharing their Diwali moments , easy Crafts, DIY ideas, Recipes and book recommendations with you .

Starting from today till Diwali and beyond, each one of us will be writing a post related to Diwali.
Participating blogs
So sit back, relax and check out all the fabulous Diwali Dhamaka posts from the participating blogs in the linky.
Link in your Diwali posts here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My five favourite mums

It's Day 4 of the Write Tribe's super initiative '7 days of rediscovering your blogging grove' Where we blog seven days in a row according to a format. The idea is inspired by Darren Rowse. We've done a list , answered a question, written a review  and today, we share our favourite links.

And so here I am, listing links from five wonderful mothers who I enjoy reading. This in no way is a comprehensive list.


The blog chronicles the homeschooling journey of 8 year old Pari by her mother Rashmie. It is a wonderful mix of learning and fun, art and activities, music and photography. And it's a storehouse of ideas on teaching kids, talking to them and reaching out to them.


I have blogged about the mad momma earlier. A more straight-from-the-heart, no nonsense blog you'll not find. This isn't strictly a mommy blog because the mad momma writes pretty much about anything that catches her fancy. But it's all immensely relatable.


This one's my 'go to' place for crafts, activities, recipes, DIYs. It's crammed with creative fun ideas on every topic under the sun.


This one kicked off as a baby-book by stay-at-home mom Jill Smokler. I love it for it's irreverent take on parenting. It's funny and witty and useful. I love the listicles posted here. There is even a confessional where you can spill all your bad-momma feelings.


Momofrs' blog Mothering Multiples was one of the first few blogs I started reading after I got back to the real world post the twins' arrival in my life. Here's another lady who writes from the heart and is unflinchingly honest - too unflinchingly honest sometimes. She has twins, like me; a boy and a girl - like me and it's super fun to read her stories which seem sometimes like an uncanny retelling of my own.

So there, those are my favourite links.
For more link posts go on over to the Write Tribe blog.


Related Posts with Thumbnails