kids

Tom Sawyer moments

I have something called a Tom Sawyer moment. Amongst my childhood heroes, Tom Sawyer is one heck of a kick ass dude. His successes with Becky Thatcher aside, his ingenuity to get a group of friends whitewash the fence was jaw-dropping awesome as a kid. It remains jaw-dropping AWESOME as an adult with a paycheck.

For ages I have hankered for a Tom Sawyer moment in my life. A moment when what got handed out as a punishment morphs into something quite different. A happy time when a lofty proposition is made loftier and transformed into a fun happy time.

A few weeks ago after some insane amount of peering into monitors and hammering away at the keyboard, the missus sentenced me with the responsibility of taking care of the little miss. When it became clear that I perhaps would end up enjoying it all, she threw in another angle. There would be two other kids that might join in.

Without much ado, we got working. The girls had to first scamper around and collect as many dry leaves as could be found in the garden. Then for strewn flowers. It took them an effort but they had a whale of a time. After which, came the task of arranging it all for display.

 

flower

Their hands were a dark shade of brown. The colour of the soil with assorted grime that came about by heckling the wind and peddling joy. When playtime neared its end everyone was happy. The mommies were happy that their tasks were behind them. The morose gardener let loose a rare smile and a good word to the girls to see most of his cleaning done.

As for me, my Tom Sawyer moment had arrived. The girls have said they want to do it again and one of them put it in simple terms. “Uncle, I will share my lollipop with you”

Plus, the little miss was one proud bundle. ‘My daddy’ she said. The moments that stay in memory are the unannounced and silly times. They whizz by. Slow down, put out your hands and watch them fall into your life.

Life teaches everyday. If only we care to listen.

 

Tom sawyer 1

The coronation !

The bells ring clear. Infact, the clang of the cymbals in the hands of the doll, bring about a watering in the mouth that would have made the man Pavlov beam with enough pride that could give the proudest of film stars some hair pulling!

A quick sprint to the balcony shows a genial man with the bamboo pole and a gait that is familiar. The old familiar gait. He looks much older now. 30 odd years have passed. Perhaps more. And they show. With cymbals clanging and the horn tooting.

Thirty plus years could have flown by. But Its time for some toffee now !

Memories of the genial gent, bending to wrap a tender wrist with the pink & white toffee that hitherto resided on the bamboo pole, come rushing back. He use to tie in the shape of a wrist watch ! Over the next half an hour, the kid would walk five and a quarter inches above ground ! Some thing that best of Swiss watches wouldnt give him later in life !

The years show on him too. The bulges and balding are pronounced. The glint of the sun from his Rolex makes him squint. Many watches have sat on the wrist. Many have gone too.

Today, as the cymbals clang, he rushes to the road with the mouth still in hyper ‘water’ mode !

Off comes the expensive watch.

Much to the amusement of the genial old man, here is a balding bulging chap, in crisp jeans and T-Shirt that would cost as much as the old man’s entire years supply, perhaps two.

Holding out his hand and asking for a new wrist watch ! A pink and white wrist watch made of cheap candy that hitherto resided on the bamboo pole.

The cymbals continue to clang with a ferocity that would have announced a king’s coronation.

He wasnt complaining. This infact was a coronation of sorts. He was crowned the kid he was. Armed with the pink and white watch on his wrist, chasing the white cloud and blue sky.

It looked like time had stood still.

Perch Power !


Wonder what image comes to your mind, the moment you hear ‘cop’ !

To a small towner like me, this elevated perch of the local traffic constable in Madurai is permanently etched in memory.

He had to climb a ladder to get to his post. And there he stood. Majestic. With his khaki trousers and white shirt. The metal buttons seeming to be just about successful in holding back a pot belly from falling apart.

Yet, tall. Majestic. And the wave of the white gloves that had the power to stop anyone on his or her tracks. Not that the tracks themselves had wheels that would set the road on fire. But that’s a different story.

At other times, he held a round metal object ensconced in those gloves. That almost gave them a God like visage. Written on it, in bright red : ‘STOP’ !

That blue and white perch, with a funny pointed top, designed with the ostensible reason of protecting him from the sun and the rain, offered a sight of opulence and raw power. In the eyes of school kids. Like me.

In the modern days, the perches have slowly started dwindling. As automated signals replace the white glove and the rolling glare ! The man himself, stands besides the signal or under the tree. Waiting for the next offender. Causing the mind to wonder if he misses the days where he was on a different plane !

Well. Nostalgic struck. The other day, a neighbours kid asked for some help. In writing out a small essay on ‘Ambition in life’. When i was her age, i told her, my ambition was to become a traffic constable.

She smiled. And asked me to get serious. And in all seriousness, i told her, that that was who i wanted to become.

What flew by as the explanation reached her ears were the….White gloves, gleaming buttons, metal whistle, polished shoes and power to wave anybody down. ( No. The potbelly isn’t part of this list).

She didn’t get it. I guess she doesn’t quite know the perch side of this story !

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

Towards a wired future.

Theres this letter you might want to read here.
The times have changed. Haven’t they. In a big way. With Blue-ray technology. Internet & its many applications. DVD drives. PlayStation III ! Ofcourse, things have changed.

And of course, children of today will rise above all the plans the adults of today have for them. That’s my hope. And wish.

Sample this.


An advertisement calling in for students ( in the age group of 5-6 years). Apparently, they are starting a ‘new batches’ ! To teach kids read and spell words using phonetics.

And of course, parents have to be worried if their kid cant spell ‘Dictionary’ at the age of 5. Or 6 for that matter. Of course. And spelling that right, will make a ‘a winner in life’.

And of course,there are exams that measure. And measures that examine. Tuition centers that coach. And coaching classes that tutor. TV programs on stars and the world. And the world full of stars of other kinds.

I think, We are indeed on the right path. Of course. Lets hear it. For all of us. Educators. Policy makers. Kids. Parents. And everybody else in this chain. Yay.

As we hurtle fast towards success in a super connected world. With Orkut facebook, digital technology, faster education, blogs, spell checks (btw), Educational programming and the like….

..am i the only one, wondering if our education system makes us meander towards a wired future . With short circuited souls ?

( This is Part – II of a three part series on the Kids World of today )

The Same Wall in K World !

Post – 1 of a three post series on the K World !


Theres this wall. Everyday on the way to work. On the way to work. Currently it echoes a lonely halo in the mornings. For schools are closed and children are away on holiday.

In some time though, schools would reopen. Overflowing satchel and sprightly uniforms will dot the roads. As much as school buses and parents at a bus stop. Tiny hands scratching the air while in animated conversation about an ‘important’ topic is clear. Of a butterflies. Bees. Cricket. actors. Etc Etc. And of course, mothers there have their own.

It is indeed some sight. To watch the contrast. The children without a care and worry. The moving butterfly, the kite that broke free and the odd ‘secret’ visibly keeping them busy. Them mothers, i don’t know. Their subject of discussion remains distant to me.

Coming back to the wall.

The children, they sit on the wall. They are rather, propped on the wall. By ageing grandparents and caring mothers. An escape from having to stand and wait for the school bus. And sitting on the high perch, on the high wall, they converse.

The 10 seconds it takes for me to drive past them, are enough to spot the happiness in them. Animated. Energetic. And that 10 seconds is usually enough for me figure the energy expended in keeping them up there. At one place that is.

And in the evening, when i drive back, by the same wall, exactly where the children sat, there are the others that sit on the same wall. Men. Propped by themselves.

Young men. Old men. Middle aged men. All sit and have conversation. Some read the newspapers. Others discuss. Perhaps they too are waiting for their bus to arrive..

For a while now, i haven’t been seeing the children. When the schools reopen, there is going to be chatter and banter. And it is such a sight to behold. Everyday morning.

And i wonder, how it would be to be that wall. To be privy to all what the children speak. Their dreams. Their worlds. I wonder. And then, i think of the company the wall keeps in the evening. I shake my head. And say, ‘time flies’.

The wall will come to bounce with morning energy again. Soon.

Here’s to a great school season. May it rekindle in children the joys of living, the spirit of curiosity, inclusive thinking and a mindset that will make our futures better.

And may they tear down all walls. Save this wall.

This is the first of a three part ‘Kids World’ series on the modern day world of a child