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Child-speak is quite interesting. Either it is the element of surprise for an adult to decipher a parallel sound or just an evolutionary slavery that was inculcated into the brains of a parent. Narayan, 19 months, has a little bit of vocabulary now.
Not to offend the pains caused to his mother he started off with Mom. For the superstitious he woke up on Dad's day and clearly said Dad. Well a good excuse for the rest of the family not to get me anything else.
In fact before he remembered Mom or Dad, his favorite object and word is ball. He has variations on this word. While he seeks it he calls a round object a "ball". When he gets hold of it it becomes "baa-laa" with a clear glee.
The other day I was sweeping the kitchen. Then I saw this diaper clad otherwise buck naked little figure running through the kitchen start saying "deedee" with his mouch curled up into a surprise-o. I acknowledge thinking he is calling me Daddy, "deedee" being close. "I am sure there are other activities that Daddy does, and wants to be recognized other than sweeping floors" is really what is going through my mind.
Now he takes his little finger and points to the to the trash and insistently calls it this time "deetee" with a discernable frown and a left to right head shake. Well it is child-speak for "Clue-less-grown-up I mean to say Dirty".
It is quite familiar now to hear "deetee" around kitchen sinks and also in public sometimes, referring to various inanimate and animate objects at which time I translate it to "Daddy" and sport a courteous smile.
Once upon a time there lived a man. He was certain there was Heaven. He was also sure there was only one way to get there. So he registered himself with the God of Heaven through his approved intermediaries and was assured of a place as long as he declared his allegiance to the God all his life.
The man had a wife and a few children. His wife would work all day for other people and gather food with the money earned. She Would then come home and cook a sumptuous meal. Our pious man would lay around the couch and watched movies, and played around with his video games, all in his immaculately maintained exterior, meaning his designer clothes, designer shoes, and designer hair. Although quite cute, the burden of children never attracted his attention as he was not sure that would affect his heavenly outcome one way or the other.
At dinner, he would ceremoniously arrive and serve himself ample portions, just in case if he was to get hungry at night. He would place himself at the table with immense satisfaction expressed with a toss of head and a sigh of relief. He would then declare his piety to the God by closing his eyes most reverently and thank God for such a wonderful provision. He would consume his food and at the end emit the most satisfying sounds, however rude they may be, and would leave the table leaving the emptied dishes for his wife or whoever else to clean. For a man of such reverence "cleaning dishes" did not come across as an act of piety nor thanking his wife. She was a mere mortal and she had no influence in Heaven.
Greatly impressed with the man's performance, God welcomed the man to the Heaven. The man looked around and he could see his wife no where. He said with an air of satisfaction, "I have told the foolish woman to sign up, and see now. I am here and she is not". The Heaven was fully populated. He eventually found his place. He was not sure, thought, why the Heaven looked so dingy.
That night when it was dinner time, he had no food. He was waiting to thank God. Yet there was no food.
Once upon a time there was a man. A rare bread, certainly for modern times. It was a time when pace was slow. It was a time when each event in the heavens was significant, recognized and moved on. For instance there was a keen sense of when Sun was up and when it was down. It was a time when you could tell how angular the 7 sages constellation was apart from the Northstar, called "Dhruva".
This man was not cunning. He has no means of scheme in his mind. He has no intentions of get rich quick schmes. He is what you call a very honest man. He had a reasonable amount of land and considered himself rich among peers. Ofcourse there is every reason for the peers to think otherwise. Nevertheless it is fair to say that such a thought never crossed our subject of this episode.
He felt himself so rich he made a promise to his son that however long he wants to educate himself or remain in school he would support him unconditionally. His son went through ten years of schooling, perhaps stumbling through the way. His son then went to a town nearby for the next two years to be taught in English. Instead apparently the only thing the school taught him is how to light up long tobacco filled foreign cigarets. The man, in the coming years, would recite a connected episode again and again to his grandson.
One day the man went to visit his son. The son is not available and the man walked into his room only to find bags of smoked stubs. He would recite this story now in a glee. Nevertheless he went on to support his son untile his son decides to get married and save the man of any futher expense.
On a summer night, in an open ancestral home that is degenerating faster than the man himself, he narrates this to his grandson with apparent joy and makes him the same promise which goes "If we were to sell all the land, we would do so, if you were to continue your studies, how ever far you wish to". The grandson noticed not a wish in his grandparents voice but a sense of pride that he would be able to support a dream as long as he could.
It was gladly concluded that the grandson studied so far that he had wisely spent every rupee of his grandfater until the man said, "I never thought you could study that long, perhaps you could look for a job now".
I prefer warm water for brushing teeth or washing hands and Kavitha prefers cold. When in hurry, particularly the mornings, I turn on the water for her to brush her teeth. By habit I always turn it on and keep it in the warm setting. Kavitha tells me subsequently "Daddy, accidentally you have turned on the water on the warm side". I am quite humbled by the exonerating virtuosity of "accidentally". I am not sure where she picked it up from but she uses it quite often under similar circusmstances.
I usually wake up around 6:30 and be ready by 7. Then I start my journey upstairs. Everystep step adds an extra ounce of stress as I go through my strategies to wake up this 6 year old. She is one tough cookie to wake up. In the complicated script that ensues there is a step when I have to separate the 6 year old from her blanket. The other day she said with out a feather of a surprise, "Daddy the blanket will be coldiee..". Her eyes were still closed and her feet a bundle under her chest.
The Pandava prince Arjuna is known for his wisdom of weaponary. In sanskrit in which Mahabharatha was written the word "weapon" rhymes with the word "science". A weapon does not exist with out a serious study of science. Weapons have personal names. Each weapon seem to have been a perosnification of years of study and knowledge. The tales of Mahabharatha are ripe with such abstractions. Perhaps that is a subject on its own.
Back to the original story. So the art of weapons being a science, Arjuna as a child was being taught by Drona.charya, the renowned teacher of the Kaurava Court. On a certain occasion the grand old man of the dynasty Bhishma drops by to check on his grand children. A demonstration of their skills ensued. The test of the time is to take aim at the eye of a bird sitting on a tall Oak.
The five of the Pandava princes and the 100 of the Kaurava Princes are lined up for the task with Arjuna being lined at the last intentionally although he was the middle of the 5 of the Pandava princes. As each of the students take aim, each one has a different interpretation of what they saw while aiming at the bird. One saw the blue sky, and one saw the branches and the leaves and one saw the bird itself etc.
When it is Arjunas turn, I am certain to his apparent dismay, saw nothing, that ofcourse except the eye in its complete magnificence. A transcendental vision perhaps. While he watches his aim the rest of the physical world seem to disolve into nothingness.
This unbridled focus is the essence of study. Intelligence is nothing but a manifestation of all absorbing interest in your subject. Everything else is bound to follow.
There is another important element to this story. It is not often that the attention gets drawn to the fact that Arjuna FORGOT the world. So focus and forgetfullness go hand in hand. Unless you are capable of forgetting you won't be able to focus. Not knowing this principle of forgetfullness seem to be the bane of many learners. To ignore the small and many for the big and one is important.
I am not an expert on sanskrit. But "Ekagratha" literally might mean "Focus or mind on ONE" (Eka - means one in sanskrit)
Freedom is about spending less money
Dialing through the radio today I heard a passing remark that "Great nations deserve great art". The composition was compelling but I prefered to rearrange the order of the sentence and make a bold prediction that perhaps "Great art begets Great Nations".
Art is the candle. Art is the potential that the drifting masses hang on to in the storm of time and in the time of change. At times of despair it is the hope.
Art is religion for some. Art is song for some. Art is engineering for some. In all cases it is an act of love and the seed of action.
Where it is not held in chains humanity should prosper and where it is a medieval darkness should descend.
Mighty kings may have shaped the dominions in their rein, but it is Shelly that should be known in the next nation.
Rulers of various hues may have empires over the Hindukhush but it might be the Gita that is in the heart of the citizen, the scientist, perhaps the next ruler
Director of SETI research
A considerable number of hand written notes guard her, as she calls the ENTRANCE, but essentially her door. Most of those notes deal with who should stay out of her room. The objects may range from generic, parents for instance, to specific, Ashley for example. Obviously I, nor anyone else whether listed or not, do not pay any attention to what is on the door, until I have started realizing there is a certain amount literary value to these, obiously painstakingly crafted decissions.
The other day we were celebrating Narayan's 2nd birthday. We had a houseful of kids and adults. She thought she was discouraging the younger ones and older ones by posting a note. Very phonetically chose inscription reads
No buddy allowed, Only friends!!!
I was surprised as this writing spanned multiple lines and after having only read the first part "No buddy allowed..", I said to myself, what on earth would she write that for. It would have been 100% natural to see things like
"No Mom and Dad allowed"
when she is a little upset or
"No Satya allowed"
When she is really mad. But she would never write to keep her buddies out. This must be serious I was thinking. So I stalled and read the rest. That was funny I thought, however unintentional. A normal observer would have stopped there.
But an analytical, nothing better to do parent, reasons further. And he comes up with these.
For a 6 year old, 'u' is taught in school to sound more like "ah" in "fur". So to spell "body" in "No body" she choose "bu" for the first part. Then what about "ddy"? Well she pressed the "d" twice to show you how serious she was about the "No body" part.
"Dad, I was scared for a moment. I thought the "Electric city" was gone again."
The other day it was an evening time. It had just gotten dark outside. you were doing something in the kitchen. I had Narayan in my hand. I was walking out of the kitchen, and I had turned the lights off.
You said. "Dad, I was scared for a moment. I thought the "Electric city" was gone again."
You were hesitant in getting your tongue around "Electricity" to finaly decide on "Electric City" as your chosen sound.
It was inventive, sweet, and tacky. I wish grownups take such chances in every day lives to try out when they are not sure. Venture out and invent something. Go beyond their means to wring the possible out of the impossible.
For every one of these phrases you utter there must be 3 more that I forget to write down.
It is from the unexpected that an intelligent human being derives pleasure. This is the kick in exploration. This is the true pleasure of science.
Thank you for reminding me.
There was a saying in Telugu that talks about turns, and the sneakily implied benefits. It goes something like, "It won't be long, will it, as my sister is being hitched". The birthday of a 2 year old is especially interesting to a 6 year old as she very well knows she is the tacit owner of all the toys that are to be received and she tries her best to promote the event.
We were playing the other day with one of those games that she purportedly borrowed from her brother with an absolute glee on her face. It is a board game called "candy land" where small figurines move over a snakey path as pick cards. Obiously the one ahead will eventually win the game.
I pick my cards and I was ahead of her by a few squares and I was quite satisfied with my progress thus far and quite placid in the hope of teaching this 6 year old how one should take such things as victory and defeat , pleasure and pain in stride and so on and so forth.
The she picks one of those privileged cards with a mermaid sitting on a load of gold, and she jumps way past me on the board. Well I have never seen my teaching debunked in a flash and I see these hand waving, air pumping 6 year old jumping on the bed while saying
"Bye, bye my love, I will see you tommorrow"
as I try to pick my next with calm.
Heart heavy and feet reluctant
Eyes but a flood of tears
Her prize to her bosom
Her head in bow
The sorrowful 16 year old descended the bathing steps
However you slice it life in these times is a rush. Along with it goes the stress. This quotient is at its peak around 8AM in our house as I start gathering my work bag and Kavitha's school bag on our way to the 100,000 mile Camry in the driveway while trying to wave the customary bye to her Mom and Narayan who happens to eye us everyday as to where on earth we disappear into.
I check my seat belts and back up while Kavitha settles in with her school bag while ferociously thinking how to annoy her Dad. This annonyance may vary from playing a game to pretending to be a creature with matching vocal chords. On this rainy, wintry day she must have decided to take it easy on me and announced that she would like to play the "My letter is letter.." game. The drive usually takes about 10 minutes covering the 2 mile distance as we pass the traffic lights and an ever present ominous looking Jacksonville Police Officer that directs the traffic into the school from the main road.
The game goes like this. I will start by choosing a letter. Let me say the letter is "t". So I will have to promptly announce to the other player as "My letter is letter T", followed by a clue. As I pass through the tall growth on the side of the road I prepare my clue: "It is tall and green". Kavitha would normally guess this with an answer of "tree". Today she chose to play first and chose "T". Subsequently she declares the clue:
It lives in nature
It is the home of the squirrels
In my mind I start reflecting "My tree is tall and green" while her tree is a thing of life and a part of Nature. So I take in stride the humble, and she moves on to her second letter which she chooses to be "R". And her clue arrives with the same precission:
Soon I will be 7
And I will be taking care of it
With consternation and gloom I pull into the parking lot of the school thinking of ruses to avoid getting a "Rabbit" for her 7th birthday. It used to be her 6th birthday. But recently she weighed the predicament of taking care of a Rabit and decided that the Rabit will be more manageable when she is 7. I am still hoping it will be 8 next year.
I dropped her off with her basket of Valentine gifts to her teacher and co-students and headed back to work. A friend of mine comments in this wake:
"She has more personality in her pinky than most people have in all their bodies."
Susan Hockfield is the sixteenth president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been a strong advocate of the vital role that science, technology, and the research university play in the world, and she brings to the MIT presidency an exceptional record of achievement in serving faculty and student interests. Dr. Hockfield assumed office on December 6, 2004, following election by the MIT Corporation on August 26, 2004.
Great victories and great opportunities are with in your reach.
Let not quotidian distractions hijack your attentive march
No school No Money
No Money No Toys
No Toys No Fun
No school No Job
No Job No Money
No Money No Toys
No Toys No Fun
Yes school Yes Money
Yes Money Yes toys
Yes toys Yes Fun
Narayan is a year and 3 months. He is walking around quite good now. His favorite hobbies include toppling oversized things among other destructive things. This past sunday like many husbands of the modern times, otherwise quite respected, I was washing dishes while watching Narayan. He is at his game destroying things in the living room. Kavitha, my 5 year old, is kind of keeping an eye on him as I couldn't spot him exactly what he was upto from where I was washing the dishes. Kavitha got hold of a puppet doll. It wasn't long before she tied knots around it. Now she is all concentration trying to unknot the doll. I hear the frustrating sounds of a 1year 3 months old. More than usual the presense of Kavitha around a 1 year 3 month old can cause this. So I yelled "Kavitha what is the problem?" as I lift my head from the sink. I can see this time though that she couldn't be the reason as I see her in the middle of the room focussing on the puppet. As I was conjecturing this I hear the answer floating by. Katiha didn't even turn her head. She simply stated using a pronoun: "He is trying to lift the sofa" and continue to unravel the puppet.
Where Clan and Country,
Region and Religion,
Dislike and Fear
I seek hope in the lines of Rabindranath Tagore
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Women Pioneers in Medicine
The MIT Program in Women's Studies will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a daylong symposium, "Challenges for Women's Studies: Power, Politics and Gender," with leading feminist scholars Barbara Ehrenreich, Chandra Mohanty and Patricia J. Williams.
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