Basket full of….


We went to this unique and wonderful story telling session by Anita Ratnam at Oxford bookstore last weekend. She came there with a basket full of sounds. Yes she had a basket full of instruments that make such unique sounds and she beautifully combined rhythm and different types of sounds so seamlessly into her stories. I have never come across so many musical instruments and some were so unique – a pipe that whistles gently when swung in the air, drum with pebbles inside that gives a wonderful effect, Bamboo rain sticks and something else that croaked like a frog, chirped like a birdie and a lot more. The kids had a great time trying out all of these.

There’s another storytelling session at The British Council Library on 24th of this month between 3 to5 pm by Dominic Kelly. This is for ages 12 and above..yes, even adults are welcome apparently…so catch it if you can.

This one is for my Bangalore friends – Acoustic Traditional is organizing some very interesting festival called Confluence, which is a festival of indigenous story tellers. They are organizing it at the Fireflies Ashram between 30th September to 3rd October. They are apparently flying down a few tribal storytellers. I hope they come to Chennai as well.


Party Update

Warning: Ms Modesty was reading this post with a raised eyebrow and a smirk on her face. Very annoyed, I packed her off to Mars with a one-way ticket. 

Party was a soooper doooper hit! Kids and the moms and the few dads had a whale of a time! We had a good turnout too – around 67 turned up out of the 80 invited. Party started at 5.30 and went on till 9 PM. We had organised 4 art and craft activities and 3 traditional Indian games. Our wonderful neighbors volunteered as organisers for the events – party wouldn’t have been a success without them. We managed to have a Healthy and Green party that was also interesting (thoroughly enjoyable; the best b’day party ever- said the kids). Yay!

The art and craft activities were:

1. Bead key chains and bracelets: Initially the boys shied away from the beads. One little boy made a key chain and that triggered the rest of them to follow suit. They even made their own little variations. I saw these key chains on many cycles later. Girls  made some very pretty bracelets too.

2. Block Printing: We had plain white hankies and two types of blocks. No two printed hankies were alike. After the beads, boys didn’t shy away from anything else.

3. Decorative Terracotta Diya: We had the large size diyas. Some metallic colours, glitter and stones and the kids made magic! Again each diya was different ranging from simple to complex designs. Some kids were so interested that they made two diyas…

4. CD Painting: Borrowed the idea from utbt. We prepared the CDs beforehand – spread glue and smeared our own humble kola maavu instead of coloured sand. I made couple of samples so that the kids got an idea. Since this is a bit time consuming and effort intensive, we packed it for them to try at home.

And we had made newspaper bags for the kids to carry these back home.
G akka, Pattu’s caretaker deserves all the credit for preparing the CDs and the paper bags. MIL pitched in too.

Kids and moms had total fun with art and craft. A mom of a sleepy 2 yr old dropped her son at home and came back to do crafts. Lot of moms further borrowed the CD idea and newspaper bag idea for the kids’ reuse-recycle school projects.
All party decor conceived and executed by my mom. She also put up with resultant party mess in her house.
Pattu’s hairdo (which was very pretty and attracted many compliments) and dressing by G akka.  Pattu also liked the b’day frock that G akka bought for her so that’s what she wore at the party.

………doing a virtual dhrishti………I’m blessed to have such lovely people around……

Coming to Games:

1. Cycle tyre race – we had big and small cycle tyres for different age groups. Made some people nostalgic. Kids were oh so excited.

2. Gilli danda – Everyone (including some adults) had a go at this…

3. Bambaram (top) – Surprisingly, not many were adept at this. By the time we started bambaram, it started to rain and we had to cut it short and shift indoors.

All procurement for games by our driver and and event management by hubby, some wonderful neighbors 

Now to the Food:

Utbt – you were right about the food. Kids didn’t even miss the chips and the samosas. And the parents really appreciated the thought and the effort (and our guts 😉  )

1. Whole wheat pasta + corn and veggies in mint and basil sauce – a huge hit across age groups. It just vanished in minutes! Kids came back for second and third helpingsMany moms called me later for the recipe 😉
2. Bhel Puri – a hit with older kids and adults and a few 3 yr olds as well
3. Chutney sandwich – older kids and adults
4. B’day cake and chocolates – the cake was the ‘melt in your mouth’ variety… from Hot Breads
5. Real and Tropicana fruit juices

I was planning to bake some muffins but most moms felt it would be an overkill and kids would not be able to eat more than these many items. We served very little initially and kids came back for a second helping of their fav snack. Very little food wasted.

Utbt – ‘No Gifts’ on the invite worked... only 2 or 3 gave gifts. The whole community is planning to adopt this policy of no gift – no return gift b’day parties. We were quite worried about the kids’ attitude towards return gifts lately.

Pictures – next post…. 

Pattu turns 5


She had 2 new sets of clothes to choose from. She chose to wear an old frock that she likes most. This is your day Pattu and your joy counts, who are we to tell you otherwise.

Pattu has been waiting to turn 5 since her dear friend P is 5. P is exactly 1 yr older than Pattu so I told her

Amma: “When you turn 5 P will become 6”
Pattu: looking all upset “Tell P to wait amma…then we both can be 5 together…”

Well, Pattu, Time is merciless…

Healthy and Green

I’ve been going around with some dangerous ideas in my head lately. No, no…I’m not gonna enroll myself for music classes…not that dangerous.  I’m thinking of a healthy and green b’day party for Pattu. While it is generally very fashionable to use a smattering of these words in conversations, they are not necessarily party highlights…if u know what I mean… that too if your audience is kids.

I. Healthy….
Imagine a b’day party without fries, fryums, wafers, samosas/ puffs/ cutlets/burgers/ pizzas… more so, imagine b’days with cucumber, carrot, fruit salads, idli/dhokla, cup corn, sundal…. I sounded this off with a few kids here are some reactions,
‘aunty, last year they served fruit salad at S’s party… we are not planning to attend this year..’
‘aunty you can serve corn and chips and samosas…let people take what they like’ – the kid who didn’t want to hurt me.
…. you get the picture. I don’t have to tell you all…kids are ruthless. Imagine the kind of nick names they’ll call me *SHUDDER*
But, but…I am not one to give up. Iron will …heard of it?
So, here’s goes my list:
1. bhel puri, small triangles of chutney sandwich – whole wheat/ multigrain bread, whole wheat pasta with corn, mini fruit muffins (that I plan to bake) + b’day cake ; non aerated fruit juice ; chocolates ; cookies
Any other non messy, easy, healthy and interesting option? Ideas please…

II Green
No plastic cups/ confetti, etc. Bio degradable cups and plates; etc. etc..
Hubby strictly said no gifts and no return gifts… it has to be celebration for the pure joy of it and not be burdened with gifts and such trappings. Very radical. But it is like serving cucumber and boiled carrots for the party. I told him that his daughter would be alone and friendless after such a party. None of that moved his Iron will…the family seems to have this in plenty.

But then I got a bulb… I thought I’ll organise art and craft…

– Wooden beads – they can make bracelets/ key chains
– Pot painting – a pack of seeds with each pot
– Block printing on white hankies
– Danglers with used CDs
– Newspaper bags to carry these

So long as they have things to carry back home, I think kids would be happy…what do you think?
Any other ideas folks? Let me know before this weekend…

Ms Pattu walks out of Mother India

and the producers had to rope in someone else to be ready for release for Independence Day.
Yes, Pattu was supposed to hold the flag and stand at the center while other older children danced to a patriotic number. But Pattu felt that the role does not give her enough opportunities to display her talent (too much nenappu (attitude) for being so damathoondu (small) I thought!!)
“Amma, I also want to dance like the others…I don’t want to just stand”
That’ll take a while my dear…maybe next year.
Instead, she was happy winning 2 prizes for sports and participating in a drawing contest. 
Psst: The drawing was too funny…it just had some blobs of colour though she called the blobs ‘house’, ‘tree’, ‘sheep’, ‘sun’, ‘flower’, ‘cloud’, ‘girl’ …  

Warli busts Gender Stereotypes?

We were trying our hand at Warli. We made a family for starters… and Pattu wants to know, “In Warli the men also wear skirts?” 

And while on this topic….
At Nalandaway’s Art and Craft Carnival, I found many parents (both moms and dads alike) steering the daughters towards jewelry making and their sons away from it. Consciously or sub-consciously, I don’t know. One of the little boys was so fascinated with jewelry making that he insisted on trying it out while his mum was pushing him towards greeting cards and the likes. I couldn’t resist the aaarrrggghhh that was building up inside me, so I told the mom (politely only…) that a good number of jewelry designers are men and that it is a very lucrative profession. 
To which she said, ‘but it is a waste of time…he cannot wear any of these na’. **Gggrrrrr…the woman didn’t get it! ** 
and here’s the best part… the little boy said, ‘but I’ll make bracelet and chain for you amma… see this one is nice..’  **awww so cute it was**

So, they were made by the boy and proudly worn by the mom. She came and showed me…she was beaming! **Gggrrr gone and happy**

So, Parents, leave them kids alone!

Pencil and Crayons

Still Life – Thandu keerai before it was  mashed into pulp.
I was quite happy with the way it turned out… I mean the sketch, though the pulp also turned out well 😉

This Mayil danced when it rained in Chennai – Crayons on wall
Upto something Fishy… Crayons on wall
What’s the lone Warli man doing there? Wondering how to catch this fish…

Fragrance of Spring – Crayons on wall


…can be funny at times…

Hyderabad treated us to Punjabi food for lunch and we had Uttappam for breakfast in Delhi!

My craving for Hyderabadi biryani will have to wait for the next time.

Dr. Pattu

Pattu is busy role playing with her doctor set. I am the Patient. Pattu brings a stethoscope, forceps and a bottle of medicine. Putting the stethoscope to my back, she says, ‘breathe’. I comply.

Pattu: You have cold, I’ll give you syrup. It is sweet only, don’t cry, ok.
Amma cries and puts up a fight.
Pattu: No…show aaaa … be quiet, else I’ll call the doctor!
Amma: Oh, but who are you then?
Pattu: I’m the nurse
Amma cries and puts up a fight again
Pattu calls the doctor and Dr. Pattu arrives.
Dr. Pattu: Why are you troubling? Show aaa… it is a sweet medicine only… show
Amma reluctantly shows aaa and Dr. Pattu pulls out a teeth using the forceps.
Amma: Ouch! Why did you do that? You said I only have a cold!
Dr.Pattu: But I had the forceps…that’s why. Now I’ll put nose drops ok?
Amma is scared and objects.
Dr.Pattu: Looking annoyed.. If you keep troubling, then I’ll have to call the plumber!

If Pattu becomes a doctor, god (or the plumber?) save her patients! 

We made it this time…

…to Nalandaway’s Art Arattai Aarpattam. Pattu along with her friend A explored all the art and craft activities by Let’s do Something – pot painting, pop up cards, finger painting, jewelry making – they made their own bracelet and earrings.

We went back for the Sing along with Jeeva and Krishna Iyer. Awesome! Pattu and A had V as well for company and the three of them were super excited singing and jumping along! LB was just two rows away from us … I can’t tell whether the kids or the parents enjoyed it more.

And this Aarpattam continued all the way back home as well!

Highlight of the evening was V telling the girls, ‘ayyo CD odanju pochu’ (The CD got stuck) when the girls were stuck on a song trying to recall the next line. LOL!