Saturday, July 19, 2014

The early riser

A few excerpts from today's early morning conversations with Pranav. He was in a surprisingly benevolent mood.

Pranav: I am your mummy mamma

Me: That's wonderful Pranav-mamma

Pranav: Hahaha.....I am Pranav-mamma, mamma-mamma

Or conversation continued on these mamma-mamma lines.
When I told him I wanted to go to play-area, he goes "Oh! But it's so dark mamma" (when obviously it's not) and when I say I want cake, he goes "okay mamma-mamma, we will get it from the shop, okay?" - repeating back all the 'tricks' we use on him.

Pranav: I'm your best friend mamma-mamma

Brought a big smile on my face of course. I suspect best-friend comes from Dora or Diego.

Pranav holds my phone hands-free to his mouth, pretends it's a mic and starts singing his own made up songs - a lala singa bugga bu lala.
When I ask him what songs he is singing, he says: No mamma. I'm not singing. I'm doing twinkle la la la.
Managed to record a video as part of my journaling efforts.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pranav at play

Playing in the parking lot under the clubhouse

Labels: ,

First Pranav post on blogger

Praand is two years and six months old. I have been meaning to keep a tab of his daily exploits, and have finally gotten around to it today.

He said something blog worthy this morning but I am blanking out on it right now. Hopefully it will come back to me.

He is growing up to be a very affectionate boy hugging and kissing and saying i-love-you all the time. Makes my heart melt when he holds my face with both his palms and says "i love you mamma" or "you are so cute mamma".

However he makes sure he creates balance by being equally boisterous - "fighting" and exerting his independence by refusing to use his "nice/indoor voice"and saying "I want to beat you mamma" when he is mad about something or has a lot of pent up energy waiting for release.

He still doesn't understand the concept of "waiting". And so can get worked up when his call isn't answered after repeated (in quick succession) entreaties.

Toddlers are literally sponges and Pranav is no exception. He picked up the English alphabet by 20 months and was able to count to ten. He remembered almost all of his books by heart and would chime in while we read and/or act out the rhyme (like teddy bear teddy bear touch your nose). He knew the phonetic alphabet before his second birthday. By Jan-Feb he could recognize all the small case alphabets, knew the months of the year and days of the week, could count to 29 (and beyond with prompting) and recite Brahma Murari (in addition to all the usual rhymes). And by 28 months he could read three letter words with 90% accuracy, and spell them too when in the mood.

I guess it makes the nerd in me proud, that's why I am journaling these dates-events.

He now attends shloka classes - given his liking for rhymes and songs, we figured we should try out. He doesn't utter a word during the class. But surprisingly at home is able to recite whatever was taught. At least so far as it's been easy ones (I think). From last class his teacher had moved on to bhajans, will wait to see how that gets picked up.

Recording this for posterity

Makes for good post-retirement reminiscence :)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

San Diego: Part I

Bright blue skies, a light misty fog rolling in from the ocean, the 3pm sun on its way down in to the Pacific.

This was the sight that greeted us as we drove in to San Diego on the I-5. Amma, Appaji, Swadesh, Pranav and I were on our 4th of July weekend road-trip. We had started driving the previous night and stopped for a night cap midway at Bakersfield. The traffic between LA to SD had first been bad and then slow in bursts. Nevertheless we made it by mid-afternoon and headed straight for food.

Hand Carved Wood Bar

Casa Guadalajara, set at the corner of old town San Diego, was a treat to the senses. Vibrant colors, enticing aroma and a happy vibe welcomed us. As for the food -- Appaji (our dad) proclaimed it to be the best Mexican food he had had till date. And none of us could disagree. Pranav was thrilled watching the little sparrows flit from table to table picking crumbs, chirping in delight (I guess?). The sparrows brought back memories of Bangalore in the 80s and early 90s, before the pollution and the noise and the incessant citi-fication drove out all the happy chirpy birds.

After a sumptuous meal, we spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through old town San Diego, exploring the colourful shops selling interesting wares from spicy tamarind candy (Kannada speaking readers, remember kuttundi?) to intricately patterned colourful tiles. A drunk-donkey-in-cowboy-boots wine bottle holder was my favourite of the lot!

We stayed with Harsha & Suhasini, who were wonderful hosts. The comfort and flexibility of a home was especially convenient given we had a precocious 18 month old with us.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was our destination the next day. If you are fascinated by wild animals, you will love this place. It is home to over 2600 animals representing more than 300 species. Set in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, the Safari Park is spread across 1800 acres. It is the most spacious zoo I have ever seen or heard of, with animals enclosed in what are called "free-range" enclosures.

Wild animals are best off in the wild. Yes. Yet, zoos are not evil places. Neither are they for frivolous entertainment. They are necessary for conservation and education. The Safari Park has the world's largest veterinary hospital. The park often adopts animals that are in danger of being killed either due to over-population or illness and rehabilitates them in zoos and parks across the United States and sometimes internationally. Its efforts in conservation are among the best in the world. The recovery of the California Condor from the brink of impending extinction is probably the park's most famous conservation effort so far.

Humans are prone to not care if they are not connected to something directly. Zoos, safari parks, game reserves and national parks all play an important role in connecting wildlife to human beings. Yes, for some this is just entertainment, a distraction for their kids, etc. But for many this experience could inspire a dream a passion which otherwise might not have been possible. I view the animals in these zoos and parks as ambassadors of their counterparts in the wild. They inspire an awe for mother nature and concern for the conservation of her creations. The magnitude of this concern in each visitor might vary, but collectively there is enough created to sustain such efforts. Whether they are sufficient, probably not. But they are a step in the right direction and could inspire more such eventually to the point where conservation becomes integral to our lives.

While we enjoyed every bit of the Safari Park - from the towering Giraffes to the massive rhinos - our best time was spent at the elephants' enclosure. Elephants being Pranav's favourite animal, we reached there with enough time to spare in the evening, when the sun was heading down to the western horizon, a cool breeze was playing and we still had energy left to enjoy watching the massive beasts.

There must have been some 12 to 15 elephants in all. But the best of the lot was a baby elephant, probably the youngest, definitely the naughtiest. S/he was rolling in the dirt, sneaking between mama's legs, blowing mud on her cousins and playing just like Pranav does. At one point she looked like she was trying to do a somersault, head to the ground, front knees bent and bum raised up. She playfully butted heads with her cousins, one of whom joined the game, and sneaked up on her as she feigned sleep and tried to pull her up with his trunk! To which the little one jumped up and chased him away pushing with her head and trunk. They could have been a human toddler and a younger sibling playing around in the park. It was fantastic! The most heart warming animal encounter I have ever witnessed including on television! Unfortunately the camera battery ran out and we werent able to capture this on camera.

All in all we had a great time. The lions had all fallen asleep together right next to the glass wall at one end of the enclosure, so we got to see them real up close (the picture doesnt do justice to the view, but you get the idea). The tram ride was good enough to get a great view of the giraffes, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest, bison and all varieties of deer found in the African Savannahs.

The bird show was great. The cheetah run was splendid. After the run Amara the cheetah decided to sit right in front of us in the shade to savour her meaty-treat. Literally 5 feet away with no mesh, no glass, no nothing to block the view! We got to see her reach from 0-60 in under 4 seconds twice. Neat or what!!

Here are a few more pictures.

Pranav couldnt hug Amara, so he made do with her counterpart at the souvenier store.

Here is how Swadesh and I match up to an adult gorilla.

Pranav went bonkers for the hot-air balloon. For a good one hour he kept pointing at it saying baal baal. Here he is with amma & appaji watching it rise up in to the air...or rather making ajji-tata watch the balloon and use their distraction to grab amma's glasses!

And this is Swadesh and me in front of the park map at the entrance.

San Diego travels to be continued....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Play n Learn

When I was growing up, what if....

History was taught using visuals
Tests were in the form of games
Scores were assigned based on number of clues unravelled
Grades were based on number of levels crossed

What if....

Science, Maths, Geography, Civics and even Literature were taught the same way as above

What if....

Engineering could be converted in to fun games
Accounting and Finance learnt through online Apps

How much more would i learn?! How much more would we all learn??!! How much better would the world be, where people who actually knew the subject did well, versus people who were able to mindlessly memorize facts.

Could we create such a world for future generations at least?

Anyone out there who would be willing to invest in such an idea?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Which direction do I set sail?

Out at sea; strong winds blowing in all directions; which way do I set sail?

I am at a point in life where I am trying to figure out what next? What is my true passion? Where do I see myself in 5 years time?

I have spoken to many and all of them tell me that what I am going through is perfectly normal, and that more than half the people out there have no idea why they are doing what they are doing, so in some ways at least I am better off as I am now trying to figure out what is it that I really want to do.

One moment its reassuring to hear them say this, but the next moment the question comes back - so, what next?

I want to be a creator, want to leave a legacy; I want to influence public policy, help contribute to the improvement of peoples lives in some form; I want to earn enough money to fund my desire to travel around the world, not just alone but with friends and family - With so many I-wants, now the challenge in front of me is to figure out the next step that will make all of this happen.

The problem in some ways is that this can happen through many routes - a job in an existing big firm, entrepreneurship, social service, even politics! However which one of this is best suited for me? Should I think short term or long term? In either case, how do I evaluate what is best?

Am trying to answer these questions for myself. Felt like sharing it out will get back to my thoughts, and keep the world posted on how things pan out.

Wish me luck and chao!


Monday, January 05, 2009

Good times at Home!

Squinting in the bright light, I tried to read the sign on the road, trying to figure out whether I turn here or at the next traffic signal. Unable to figure out the words till the last second, I ended up swerving sharp to make the right turn, barely missing the car behind me who was trying to get ahead thinking I was headed straight. A cacophony of horns blasted all around me, suddenly there was a blinding flash and I found myself falling, flailing and falling further. I tried to scream, all I heard was a feeble splutter. I flailed my arms wildly hoping to grab on to something that would arrest my fall, all I could grasp was thin air. A sudden yank, another blinding flash of light and I had found my voice, and my flailing arms had found something to grasp on to. Just that my mom wasnt too happy to see me throwing off her precious duvet with its new cover and mathcing sheets, screaming my head off in the process. The blinding flash I realized was the Sun shining mercilessly through my window which had just been thrown open by my even more merciless mother. Who on earth gets out of bed before 10am on a Saturday?! Geez, parents just dont get it, do they?!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Misty sunshine, peeks of blue sky, tingling chilly breeze....

Thats how I would describe the weather in Hillsboro on Saturday.

I woke up at 7am unable to go back to sleep. Unlike the normal moping-lazy self I am on weekends who continues to wallow in bed no matter how miserable it feels, this time I decided to snap up and zip out for a drive. One of the first times I have had such an inspiration I would say, but was totally worth it.

A quick stop at the nearest Starbucks to grab a cup of tea (with 8 packets of honey :P) and I was on my way exploring 26 West the freeway that runs from Portland to the coast. The scenery was beautiful..rolling meadows, dotted with farmhouses, a few horses gambolling around in the early morning sun, white picket fences..brought back memories of Enid Blyton's books. The Famous Five series in particular always described scenes similar to these when the five went off biking or caravanning during holidays. Imagination had made those descriptions vivid in my mind and I found myself reminescing on those very memories. How I used to long for such adventures..for being allowed to go off in a caravan for a week with friends/cousins..hopefully solve a mystery on the way..even without which it would still have been an adventure!

Over the last 3 years, I have been on countless holidays with friends, with family, all have been fun and have had elements of adventure, but I realize that as much fun as they have been, I would still give a lot to go back to being 12 and off on a caravan holiday with a few of my closest buddies. I guess the magnitude of the adventure that it would seem like at that age would be many times more valuable than it seems like today. But then truly speaking my desire for such adventures was so strong that I probably have lived through such adventures vividly enough through my active imagination. And I guess oftentimes, imagination is more exciting than reality. Surreal as we call it..