Childhood

Growth pangs

We sit in the balcony. Me, the missus and the little miss. I stare aimlessly into the sky and swishing the humid air around. She sits with a mild frown. A frown that announces her irritated wondering on why her mother is insistent on her finishing an odd part of a silly thing called ‘idly’. It is part of our routine. The acrobatics and drama that are required to feed her.

The missus’s unwavering resolve to feed her an extra piece of food than the previous time, whenever that was, stays on course. A morsel of rice more. Two pieces of ‘bhindi fry’. A silly portion of a small idly. Whatever. It just had to be more than the record before. Progress is painstakingly slow as you can imagine. Nevertheless, there is a score that is kept meticulously in her mind. A challenge that the missus has worked on with zeal. Like a cricket statistician who will announce in the middle of a dry game, ‘this is the first time two runs have been scored off the third ball, bowled by Mr.X, when the Sun is out and two pieces of cloud dot the sky’. Or something like that.

Today, the little miss is more than the handful that she is usually. With a couple of playful pirrouettes that permeate joy in their silly incoherence she tells the missus, ( in an exacting tone and intonation that I get spoken to several times), ‘Have some patience please’. She then pirrouettes one more time and smiles. That naughty smile that emerges from the corner of her lips give away the fact that it is a calculated strike. Our silence signals to her that her mission is accomplished.

The stunned silence is only interrupted by a muffled chuckle that I would have typed ‘ROTFL’ were I online! The silence returns. Sometimes the future arrives without telling. We always noticed the daughter imitate one of us. A small sigh here. Or a comment there. But this is impeccable.

It announces a few things. That she has a sense of humour. That she is awesome cool in soaking up something and redeploying it someplace else with a telling ease. A few more thoughts flow. It takes a minute more for me to accommodate the thought that she is growing. That she is changing. Change happens in small packages. And then these small packages coalesce like an irreverent assortment of patches of cloud that announce a coming together by thunder and rain! It puts me in a tetchy frame of mind. Growth pangs, if you will.

Like the other day.

We were busy shaping a very pliant assortment of play dough with all our might. Me and the little miss. As the play dough took shapes that an adult would describe as a useless lump of waste material, her imagination flew into another sphere. I tried clambering on to her flight, tossing pressing worries aside and co-navigating vast alleys of her imagination. After about two hours of intense work with the play dough, we had a few more lumps to show. And that was that. But to her, it was the world. Of particular interest to her was a sad red lump of what was intended to be a car. In a matter of minutes her tiny fingers messed around with it for some more time. Before she announced “Appa, look at the boat”.

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The deformed tyres of the erstwhile car, she announced,  were herself and me.  With seamless ease she belted a story.  “Once upon a time there was a boat”. Immaculate imitation of how I read her, her bedtime stories. I was, in more ways than one, listening to my own voice with the sing song intonation and all that. My ears perked waiting for the next few lines. By then, her mission stood accomplished. ‘That is the end of the story’.

That was two-three weeks ago.

Today, with the threat of the idly safely dispatched, we sit down and say goodbye to the moon. That too is part of our routine. She waves and says, ‘Goodbye moon’ as is our wont. Over the last three years and so many months.

Today, for the first time, she says, ‘Appa I dont like the moon. He is not waving back.’ Its a subtle shift. Or rather a significant subtle shift. That a response is sought from the likes of the moon and a disappointment pervades in the absence of a response.

I stare into the moon and its unblinking radiance, becoming ever so present to how fleeting time is.  Change is inevitable. It signals progress. Growth is good. The slipping of time, like sand through the fingers, causes pangs.

Shoeing it in !

The group that I run with is upto some crazy stuff. Just a shade short of ‘filmy stunts’, several runners have taken to, hold your breath, barefoot running. On the streets of Mumbai !

Life is not a bed of roses. Life in Mumbai is definitely not. Running barefoot will get you to deal with the fact that roads are not even a bed of tar. Forget roses! Yet, chanting the name of long term health of the knee, getting ‘closer to nature’ and better running posture, they are pounding the pavements of Powai with bare skin of their feet. Feet that are used to sophisticated shoes. Yes. Sophisticated is the word.

‘If they could do it, I could too’. I told myself in one of those half-assed-belligerent moments that’s usually devoid of reason. And I decided to venture out too. But no. Not the whole hog. A stepping stone to eventually running barefoot, they said, was to run in ‘Canvas shoes’ I was told. You remember these shoes, don’t you ?




The stuff that you wore for PT classes and something called ‘mass drill’! The mass drill that seemed such a extravagantly pointless exercise and fun filled day : ‘Sports Day’! Yes, the same ‘Mass Drill’ that came nowhere close to a ‘sport’ on ‘Sports day’! Of course, you had to be a sport in taking the effortless affront to ‘synchronous movement’ that was perpetuated in the name of ‘mass drill’, in your stride.

I, as regular readers are aware, am a perpetual sucker for nostalgia, diving into the past at the slightest whiff of an opportunity. Sitting in the shoe store and caressing the coarse canvas shoe was no slight whiff. It was a tornado of sorts! Before you could say four-five words like ‘The- Prime Minister-needs-to-speak’, (or any other four five words for that matter) full chronicles from the past years of starting off with the canvas shoe, were relived in my mind!

Many images from the past did many more sorties in the mind. Images of the ‘mass drills’ were just one genre. The ‘March Past’ was another wonderful display of how earnest kids supervised by strict ‘PT masters’ (as they were called), could swing their arms and legs in such a belligerent spectrum of directions, very rarely in synchrony!

Sports day itself was a delight of a day. Other than the mass drill and the march past, there were Olympic stature events like ‘lemon & spoon race’ where the ‘gold medal’ would go to the bloke who would balance a lemon on a spoon, with his teeth and run a distance of ten meters. Or thereabouts.

If that didn’t excite some, there were other ‘games’ like ‘Sack race’, ‘slow cycle race’, ‘ One leg hop’ and such else. (Now, these are not to be confused with similar games that go on in the present day corporate world). The ones at school were adorned with innocence and glorious charm.

(With such sport that gripped our imagination, India’s medals tally at the Olympics makes sense. A tally thats often eclipsed many times over by nations with population no more than population of Powai. Or even, an apartment complex here!)

Oh yes victory in these events meant that the ‘houses’ that you were allotted to would get points. The ‘houses’ were named after colours and a ribbon of the same arresting colours ( Fluorescent green, or blue, orange or whatever. The essence was in ‘Fluorescent’.) would be tied to your hand. Just in case you wanted to jump ship to a group that held more allure (err… due to a variety of reasons). Alas we couldn’t ! Those scheming teachers!

For several formative years the sport that occupied the mind was cricket. A sport that you could play with anything that resembled a bat, including a fallen branch of a coconut tree, with just a bit of appropriate chiseling! To play which, you couldnt care what you wore ! Anything was good!

In a few years, as innocence faded, newer sport held interest. Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis. I graduated to these new sport and took to new special shoes that pester power at home, brought me. The good old coarse canvas shoes, in my mind, were for the sissies doing the sack race!

So there ! So much for nostalgia !

Last week, I sat in this grand shoe store, in a brand new mall buying the good old canvas shoe. Running my hand over the coarseness of the canvas, i guess I was sitting there for a while! For it was the missus’s embarrassed nudging that brought me alive to the fact that the entire store staff had turned out to see the chap who was caressing the canvas shoe! Almost !

It was more than the attention that I had bargained for, and certainly more than the Rs.299/- I paid for these. I was surprised that Rs.299/- went the distance a long way! Especially, when it came to drawing the attention of an entire store!

Since then, I have run once for 40 minutes in these shoes. I was left with a mega blister that ballooned ‘boulder size’ by evening that bristled with irritant pain for a couple of days.

The blister will go. The blistering pace at which some memories returned, will linger for longer.

By the way, do you remember these shoes ?

Goats & apples !



There was a verbal volley with a definitive purpose that the ear was used to. When the marks didn’t turn up as well as they perhaps should have. When they were a marathon of a distance away from the swagger with which an extra hour with TinTin was devoured claiming that the math exam had gone off ‘beyond expectations’ .

This verbal tranche of insults and such else, were delivered all ofcourse, with the intention of somehow getting me more focused and ‘into’ the subject !

The assortment of words that made the sentence was remarkable for the sentence could masquerade as sarcasm, retort, insult, insinuation, motivation, display of anger. An extravagant paraphernalia of diverse meanings that I don’t have the patience to recount.

For that wide an array of interpretations, the sentence and its constituents were ( and still are ) remarkably pithy : “I’ll get you a few cows

It was supposed to be the ultimate insult to an average young mind. It meant, that the new depths the maths marks touched could fit the grand occupation of herding cows and goats. It was a singularly frightening thought. Completely inappropriate by a grotesque proportion to what caused this : the math paper !

For the math question paper would have had a question like ‘ A has five apples. Of which he gave one-fifth to B and another one-third to C……’ . Finally ending with some vague question like ‘So how many apples was A left with’ or something to that effect.

For the record, I have always believed that the impact of apples are best felt on the tongue. The teeth biting into fresh fruit, and the tongue swarming with tasty juice was all that mattered.

If you had five apples, you ate five apples. Obviously, Mr.B and Mr.C were non-entities once the apples were sighted. Even if the apples happened to be theirs.

To me, people featured in the question paper like Mr.A, were beyond comprehension. To subject something as tasty as a simple apple, to such a fractious assault was downright unnecessary, completely impractical and cruel to an imaginative test taking kid!

These and such thoughts would play in the mind. Before I knew, test would be over and the mark statement would have touched a new nadir.

Oftentimes holding the report card in hand with the math marks settling in a new marina trench, would send me on a imagination frenzy to see myself herding an assortment of cows and goats. Which obviously lead to serious palpitations to form on my forehead. And other parts too, but that’s besides the point.

No no. Dont get me wrong. Not for me the insult. Not for me the insinuation. At that age, I didn’t give goats horn about what people would think of me being a cowherd. Nor do I care much now. It was not that. The problem was something else.

It was keeping count of those goats and cows.


Beads of sweat transformed into enormous water streams just thinking of the proposition of losing two goats for no fault of mine. As a matter of addition and subtraction we were taught to ‘borrow’ ‘from the next digit’. Or in case of addition, ‘carry over’ to the next column was important.

After dutifully ‘carrying over’ or ‘borrowing from’ I would ofcourse gloriously forget that act of generosity and move on with life and other numbers. Until such a time, the math teacher made me write such ‘carry overs’ and ‘borrowing froms’ in such gigantic font size to enable recall.

If that was the case with random numbers, to keep track of cows and goats was a different ask, to my fertile imagination. To keep counting them and finding I was two short ( or three short, for that matter) would have had some serious explanation, I figured.

I fretted that I would lose count for no fault of mine. It would be comprehensively unfair if, say, the goats wanted to scratch themselves against a specific tree, or stayed back at the local pond, or sighted a far attractive mate and decide to have a good time!

I would be reduced to taking the blame on myself and my math skills.

Grotesquely unfair. Isnt it ?

Ofcourse this attempt at fear laced motivation, stopped getting uttered one day. One fine day, one of those ‘uncles’ was home to launch into moms cooking. Such genial uncles back then ( and these days too) have a set of questions which were simple to figure out.

Usually starting with ‘Which school do you go to and somewhere along the line leading to ‘what do you want to become when you grow up’. ( At a younger age, ‘what is your teacher name’ used to be one persistent such, which in hindsight, rises an eyebrow. Actually both my eyebrows. )

Just as he was finishing the question of ‘what do you want to become’, in a flash, my mind streamed an image of a proud me, managing an array of goats and cows without losing count of any.

Without losing a breath, I announced with a singular flourish that I wanted to become a ‘Cowherd’. Much to the blasphemous horror of all around, evidenced by the stellar silence that followed an intemperate bout of laughter from the genial uncle.

After that, the subject of ‘grazing cows’ as a default occupational choice, in case the math marks didn’t move north, made a quiet exit. I must say, the cows and goats haven’t been ever so thankful as then.

Do you have such recollections of your childhood ? Or were you the Mr.A type ?


7 stones

Back then in school, oh yes, you remember when you were in school, don’t you? When the biggest possible worry was what the questions in mid term results could be.

When chief amongst the wonders of the world that you couldn’t figure out would be the acute deprivation in that human mind that caused him or her to think up of something as weird as Trigonometry. And then roll your eyes with even more wonder on the mind that thought of including as vile a subject as that in the syllabus!

These were brief interludes. At other times, you were free to do as you thought fit. Many times you just did and only then thought about if what you did ‘fit’ into acceptable scheme of things.

Ah. School days.

No this post is not about school days. Technically. No. this post is about a game called ‘Seven Stones’. That’s a game that caught attention much before games like basketball and volley ball emerged in the horizon.

It didn’t predate cricket, but then, cricket required equipment that was banned by the school. You had to be a Houdini to be able to smuggle in a bat and three stumps. Tall ask. But you could always find seven stones and on the field, and take aim with a smuggled rubber ball.

The rules were simple.

1. There were two teams. One that had to aim the rubber ball at those stacked up seven stones. As soon as the stack was broken, the same that broke it attempted to rebuild all of the seven stones again.

2. Oh yes, the other team weren’t twiddling their thumbs or picking their noses while this restacking happened.

3. They had to aim the ball and hit the members of this ‘rebuild’ team beneath the knees to get them ‘out’. If the ball ‘hits’ you, you are out.

4.Eventually there are fewer and fewer players around to rebuild.

5. The team that would build all of the seven stones before all its players are knocked down, or the team that knocks down all of the players before they can build up the tower of seven stones, is the winner.

Detailed rules are here

After this game ‘players’ would then go back to wondering whoever invented Trigonometry. Or why some crazy Midsummer Nights dream wasn’t as interesting as some of the other dreams that they would rather talk of.

Does this sound familiar ? Well, hold on. The world thinks that the Iraq war has no precedents. I beg to differ.

Examine it if you will. What were established cities, dams, roads , hospitals and the like were pulverised with remarkable accuracy. The news channels giving it a coating of pulchritude, as though it was some fireworks show! People died. Many were maimed. And many more left to fend for themselves.

Ofcourse, the rebuild effort started with greater speed by the same folks who pummeled the land. Like in the game of seven stones, the other team werent sitting there twiddling their fingers. They hit the re builders, usually, beneath the belt.

The other day in an animated discussion about the validity ( or the lack of it ) about the Iraq war, an animated participant said that this was the original idea of one Mr.Bush and another Mr.Blair.

Which is when the animated participant was calmly told that it was a ‘stolen’ idea. With an ever smart twitch of the corporate collar, a smirk and a slanted neck ( which is corporate speak for ‘ha ha you moron you shot yourself on the foot – I got you’) “so whats the evidence ? How can you prove this? “ the participant asked.

With an all pervasive calmness that would befit a zen master, the participant was told ‘go get me seven stones and a rubber ball’ !

Time graduates !



While I was there, I attended a graduation. Attended one. The brother in law was getting an MBA with some kick-ass project scores and some serious study.

Well, ceremony in itself was nothing short of splendid. It started on the dot and ending on another dot. The speakers, the pageantry and pomp gave order a new coat of glitz. The commencement speaker spoke with some purpose, perhaps taking her role rather seriously. That translates to “it was a rather long speech”.

People with knowledge of Six Sigma or stuff of that order perhaps facilitated the arranging of chairs. Students were at the best of behavior that had me wonder if they had been told that they better be at the best of behavior ‘or else’.

Three and a half pats, was all that I could give myself later. Beyond which it became a trifle laborious. For my hunch was right after all. Wikipedia says : “At the high school level, this allows academic administrators to withhold diplomas from students who are unruly during the ceremony”.





I know. I know. You are the ‘bullet train quick’ type who is quick to spot “but this is for high school”. Well, allow for some exaggeration. Will you ? Please adjust.

An overbearing black sea of gowns with borders of red / blue / yellow, well complimented by hoods, painting a rich tapestry of straight angles above the head. Ofcourse, you couldn’t miss the lovely garlands that adorned necks that seemed to have stuck out quite a bit to get this far !

Something that will definitely not miss the ear is the hoots and cheers from families. Families that seemed to have turned out in droves to cheer the graduating student, sometimes mirroring a mini product launch campaign, as names of individual students were called out. Much to my baffling, which you will empathise with, as you read on.



Overall, this was one heck of a ceremony. Something to remember.

Flip a page.

There are graduations. And there are graduations.

The only graduation that I attended was at the end of the MBA. Once. Just once in life. That was many years back. If you are expecting a deluge of memories to inundate this post, well, no. Sometimes you are spared.

The strongest memory, however, of that ceremony was the distinct smell that rented robe brought along. My family was represented by one person : me. I don’t recall of any of my classmates turning up. They had already immersed themselves in newly found jobs in an emerging economy. Better ( or worse) still, no one bothered to find how the ceremony went.

I have no recollections of the speech. Goes even further, don’t even know who was the speaker. I have racked my brains and re-jigged my memory with no results to show, except perhaps five and a half strands of hair that the floor bears as evidence.

Ofcourse, those were days where a facebook update to let the world know that you have just had a glass of water, wasn’t exactly possible. So no trail remains. Digital or otherwise. Net net, nothing remains as evidence, which is disproportionately epochal to what the degree has brought me in life!

Looking back, it occurs that that those were the ages when you just wanted to get on with it. There was no celebration of ceremony. We had a future to make. A life to live and a livelihood to create.

Modern day urban Indian schools are now towing the US line. Ah, I forget. In the US, graduations galore. Everything from swimming classes to kindergarten have graduations. Unfortunately, I never could make it to any of those, but yet, have heard truck loads of stories of them.

Back here in India, many a school has graduation ceremonies. With robes and all that. When parents invite me and the missus, to a party to celebrate their son or daughter graduating from Kindergarten, we turn out in our best. The moment in time, when the kid graduates from mellifluous ‘child blabber’ to saying in impeccable English : “This school sucks”, is indeed a moment to savour.

While I am quite neutral on the graduation for kids. But then forcing them to wearing academic gowns and caps and such else doesn’t get better than the league of fancy dress. Both for me and the kids. But it is a wonderful revenue stream for the school and perhaps a good photo op for the parents.

I am reasonably sure that your suspicions of me being one heck of an old world twit have been proven beyond doubt. Perhaps. But then, I am someone, for whom the only meaningful recollections of a graduation are of a postman.

Yes. A postman, who brought a Post Card, during the height of every summer. The only word printed there : ‘Promoted’. That announced graduation to the next class.

Even as the card was entering the safe confines of a steel almirah, courtesy my dotting mother, I would be gone. To face the sun, and try to beat down the beads of sweat on the forehead. Cricket. Tennis. Or simply, attempting to stone the next odd shaped tamarind fruit. No robe. No gown. No ceremony.

Times. They change.

Perhaps, Time graduates !

Bringing up children..

We were at the Grand Canyon. It was almost end of day. Tired and exhausted. The muscles cried for some rest after hours of battling the sun, the heat and the height. Perhaps for the first time, the camera was whining too, with the batteries draining.

Attempting to take one last shot of the ‘depth’ of the Canyon, I ventured as far as daring would get me to and the missus would allow. It was a sheer drop beyond the point I was attempting to walk upto.

Earlier in the day, the bus driver had joked, ‘If you want to get to the bottom of the canyon faster than the bus, I recommend that you keep walking off that ledge. Beyond a point, it would take you all of 6 minutes”. And then he indulged himself into a shoulder-jerking-in-fits–of-laughter !

His words ringing in my ear, I took each step of the descent to the ledge, with great care. When I was about 5 feet away from what seemed like the end of the world, two important occurrences took place. One gradually receding and another getting more and more pronounced.

One, courage was steadily evaporating. Slowly but steadily. Leaving behind traces of the big sized occupant that it once was. For, from where I was, I could see the end of the stretch of land I was standing on, and the beginning of a sheer drop.

Two, from a distance, the missus was howling me to stop right there. Howling to the point of embarrassment. Anyone could have mistaken me for one of those greedy bigamists who was just running away with her jewels! There perhaps were two elements that powered her thought : One, she had heard the driver. Two, she knew me well !

Anyway, the combination of those two factors got me to stop moving, at the speed of light. Perhaps faster. I stopped. Waved back to her. Indicating that I am not moving an inch further, and she stood right there, in a distance, crossing arms.

In that moment, there was transformation. Of the howling scare on her face, transforming into a solid stare, perhaps indicating what would happen if I did. These of course are moments of silence and depth in our marital life!

As a consolation, I pulled out my camera, and started clicking.

Which is when this young mother walked past me with her kid in one hand and the camera in the other. I was aghast. She walked right past me, straight to the ledge. Got her kid to sit down, she sat down too. Two steps to her back or one step to the left would mean she would go down thousands of feet ! A concealed squeal escaped my lips.



She pulled out her camera and started taking pictures ! I stared in awe. I turned to gesture to the missus to see whats happening only to see that she her face was buried in her palms, not wanting to see what was going on.

That is end of the story. Obviously the lady, after clicking few pictures, stood up, looked around and walked away. Impervious to all the hyper pumping that she caused in at least two hearts.

What we didn’t know was that this scene was to take several avatars and play itself out many times over during our trip. The settings were different but the theme was the same. Parents that seemed inclined to expose kids to what could be called, a certain ‘spirit of adventure’.

Which took me back to how kids are brought up in the households of neighbours / friends / relatives and colleagues back home here. For instance, would anybody let their kids go that close to a ledge? Am not so sure. ( You would notice that I am conveniently side stepping the angle of ‘Would anyone go close to a ledge’).

Which is when the mind darted to a comment that an auto rickshaw driver made some time back, while discussing seat belts. The sum and substance of what he said was this : Daily life in itself was such a challenge, adventurous and risk-prone.

He spoke of his kids who were about in their pre-teens years old, who carry the satchels, cross the highway, take a public bus, at peak hour just to reach school. Everyday. For the past several years.

Now, quite obviously, crossing a highway will not be at a zebra crossing but just looking at and dodging traffic and rushing through. The public bus perhaps has all of four inches of feet space available. Of potholes, the less said the better.

With an arid tongue and matter of fact tone, he said, ‘This safety & risk business is for soft people like you who live in high rises. Beyond a point, nothing matters’. The rest of the journey was populated with such conversation laced with moments of silence.

Quite often, I wonder how kids are brought up here. Forget risk. Do kids in modern day metro go out and catch fresh air, throw themselves at nature, run with gay abandon…? Like we used to ? I am not sure.

Ofcourse, I wonder what you think..


Rocking Horse


I am not sure if you see horses like these. Ok. Rocking horses like these. Where as toddlers, we swung back and forth. For all the energy that the kid expended, the horse didnt move from one place to another.

The child gets to ride a horse. So he is happy. The mother is happy for he stays in one place. Its win-win all the way ! (Until of course, he comes face to face with a real horse, and starts asking questions like ‘why does it not stay in one place” to his mother. But that’s another story).

Children of the modern times, get their first lessons in mobility on play items like this. My nephew’s first vehicle, just as he is learning to pronounce my name !

The horse (& such else) that rock, have been bypassed ! He zips and zooms from room to room in this three wheeler !

At an age, where i perhaps was learning to turn around to lie on my tummy (Ok, please go with the flow of this post and discount, for the present, that i am a ‘little’ slow) he zips. Felling whatever objects that come in the way. Be it the dinner plate, the TV remote or the coffee machine !

And in his victories, his parents claim to be monetarily poorer. ( I would contest that claim, and win hands down. But that’s another post)

Call it old fashioned attachment to things of the past, my heart lies with the rocking horse. And its variants : The swan. And the elephant. And such else.

Somehow, they brought about a connect to nature. And fueled imagination. So i think. You can imagine a whole lot of things while on a rocking horse ! I guess. Put me on a rocking horse today, and i can conjure up images of Porus and Alexander. Me fighting them, that is !

But, on another note, i don’t think he is missing much. At an age when i looked into the radio to wonder who was within such a small box, he watches Discovery channel and Sun TV with such precision, that he perhaps has a mental construct of not only horses, but also every conceivable life form.

(And of course, the Tamil movies will perhaps let him know that Tata Sumos are designed to fly in the air. Guns are like candy. That every man and woman has a soothing voice and a live orchestra inside them. And that, a hundred dance girls in funny costume ready to dance, come preordained with life. Thats again a separate post).

In a few years, he would perhaps access the internet. And learn. All about cars, bikes, buses. And horses too. If he wants.

I am sure he will do that all imaginatively, elegantly and efficiently. At many times the speed of what i can ever do.

I have one consternation though. About what he would think of me, when he reads this post someday. About my language skills. And perhaps my intelligence.

For what kind of a nitwit would one be, to even think of a stationary wooden horse as more fanciful than a colourful cycle that helps to zip inside the house and target the TV.

And worse still, call that horse a ‘rocking’ horse !

Questions are the answers !


Children and their abilities to question are legendary. Coming from a clean slate, an inherent curiosity to know more and just be present in the moment.

Amongst the kids of friends and family, many questions abound. And some stay with me. More in that moment as their parents struggled for answers. Here are a few recollections.

  • ‘Why do you have to stand straight ? Can you just crawl around ?’


  • ‘Who invented walking ?’

  • ‘Papa, why don’t you wear a blue cloth on your head like that man ? ( Pointing to Manmohan Singh)’

  • Upon seeing a Korean Air plane, which is blue in colour : ” That is the only plane that flies in the sky”.

  • Papa, do you really work when you go to office or sleep like you do on Sundays ?

  • Mamma, ( looking at slum children ) can i play with them ? Why not ?

  • Uncle, are you the one from office, that my dad complains to my mom about daily ?

  • ( After watching Animal planet ) Animals are wonderful. So much better than my school teacher. Isnt it ma ?

  • If the rose can be red in colour, and it so good, why cant everything be red in colour ?

  • If i will be big one day, there will be somebody small also ? I need to teach somebody like you are teaching me.

  • After watching Discovery Channel : “If all people are the same, why do we have to fight ?”

  • Watching a news telecast : ‘These people have no other work’

  • Upon being asked what his name was : ‘You are the 10th person asking my name today. Please ask that uncle in that green T-shirt’.

  • Mamma, if God invented the world, he invented ice-cream also ? Are you sure, God invented vegetables also ?

Children and their questions / statements have always promised a hope for the future. That things indeed will be different. And to date, that’s a promise that never fades. At least as long as us adults don’t interfere ! That is !

Here’s to a great year of education ! And the next time he or she, comes up with a question, no matter how silly, no matter how odd. Perhaps its important to note that many answers to his or her future stays pregnant in the questions themselves !

And of course, one last question asked by a certain R. The mother had no answer. Can somebody help her.

“Why do girls sit and do ‘su-su’ and boys have to stand and do ‘su-su’ ?” [ ‘Su-su’, is accepted child / adult speak for pee ]


This post concludes the three post series on the kids world of today

Crateful Markets !

The markets are in turmoil.

People say so. The newspapers say so. Every TV Channel worth the telecast rights says so. Any industrialist who doesn’t say so, is not one. Educationists say so, the world over. Many friends from the blog world says so.

Not to be left out, i want to say something about the markets too.

Ever since i graduated from B-School, ‘Market’ took a meaning of pinstripe suits, mega deals, pink newspapers, intense analysis, luck, spread sheets, mathematics, loads of money. These of course had one element in common : Me ! All of the above had a strange repelling effect on me ! They took the next street, when i came close to them !

Before B-School, ‘markets’ conjured different images : The fresh smell of vegetables, the dirty ground swathed with dropped green leaves, grimy soil, rotten tomatoes, cut coconut, broiler chicken, endless bargaining and a huge amount of energy.

I suddenly seem to get the connection, and understand why stocks are traded in ‘markets’ too.

The eternal construct of the old world market, was in its form. You traded in what you could see. For a price that was by and large equitable to value. The principles of supply and demand worked to ‘real demand’ ! You could touch the offering, and paid in hard currency. If your produce was sub-prime, your price automatically was sub-prime !

Sale didn’t happen because of serendipity. You didn’t buy two more cabbages because some pinstripe told you to. You bought it if you liked it. Or somebody in the family liked it. And those of course were the days of carefree eating, unpolluted by the oil-free-calorie-calculating agenda ! The veritable place offered the best breeding ground for veritable trade.

With a polyannish flourish, and additional inches to a wiseacre chest, here is my theory : The engine of the old world market was its simplicity. Or rather in its abhorrence of anything complex.

You could set it up in a jiffy. When its time to go home you go home with your store. But the essence of a certain degree of a ‘fair exchange’ & commerce took place ! True value was exchanged. And still gets. And these showcased Innovations in simplicity !

Here are some examples.

A foldable cot forms the merchandising area of this store. Infact, that forms the store. The trader displays his material, shouts out to the world, catches the odd mans attention and converts the sale !

Clicked at Malpao market in Goa.

You sure must have heard about Tele-shop. But have you seen an auto-shop ! Well, here is one. The shop is gone by the night. Only to reappear in the morning. With new merchandise and merchandising.

Vegetable / Fruit Vendors at Powai

And oh yes, supply chain, need not be imperious analytical minds, software that would almost get you the moon, heavy duty warehouses and so on. All it could take is a gunny bag and some strong arms !

Clicked on the road. Somewhere in Mumbai

An inverted crate and 2 X 2 ft is all that this lady has to sell a perishable product. She told me she makes about Rs.300/- a day and sleeps a happy woman. I asked her, what does she aim to do ? She told me, ‘ Sell my ware. Earn my money. Get my sleep.’ That was as simple as it could get.

And i sure could tell, she was crate-ful ! Even after her merchandise was exhausted !

Clicked at a market in Goa

Introductory Offer

The sidewalk has had new granite benches.

We venture out to sit and watch the world walk past. Some converse animatedly. Others walk in trance with perhaps a couple of tons on their shoulder, metaphored by a laptop bag ! Yet others walk in blissful love. Many others walk with children playing pranks and pulling hair.

We sit there and watch the walk. Well aware that when we walk, some others would too. But i insist on sitting there. The bright lights from the store, the brand new bench, and the beautiful people are all worth it.

Right opposite are three clothes stores for children. ‘Pumpkin Patch’, says the one thats right opposite. It has some interesting mannequins. I rejig my memory on which village fair i had spotted similar design. The interesting design catches my eye and i am keen on examining them for sometime.

In quick time, i spot a kid that emerges from beneath the mannequins. She still is talking to the mannequins when i see her first. My eyes twitch like an antler’s ears, at the sound of a rustle. I see two adults at the background.

Parents of the little one. I assume. Oblivious to me or anybody else watching ,they are busy shopping for the little one. Pink frock. Blue Jeans. Shoes. Overalls. They try everything.

Carrying the child to the ‘trial’ room every time they want to try something new ! It must have been some trial. For the kid wasn’t exactly happy with the interruption of ‘play’ with the mannequins.

Later, my wife tells me, that Pumpkin Patch is an international brand for children ! ‘European,’ she says. ‘A pair of jeans for a 3-4 year old can retail at Rs.2000 a piece’. I jump out of my chair ! Two thousand !! Somehow, something doesn’t seem ok. I am unable to put my finger on my exact discomfiture.

Children being introduced to branding & brand preferences at an age when mannequins are looked at as playmates, doesn’t ring the right bell. Perhaps Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’ that i am reading now, has come to influence me heavily !

The next door is another children’s store. Its glass window has an announcement : ‘Introductory offer : One for one free’.

“Mamma, look, there is an offer here. Its one for one free. Lets buy the red Romper mamma ! Please…! ” A kid whose introduction to the world cannot be more than a few years implores. His mother takes him in.

We walk away. I walk in silence. ‘Whats on your mind ?’ The wife asks.

My mind races with questions. Have parents paused to take stock of all that they offer to their ‘introductions’ ? I am not so sure.

I decide to keep that discussion for a later date.

‘Whats a Romper?’ i ask. That was on offer, you see !