Friday, February 25, 2011

E for English

It's interesting to watch Puttachi grappling with the strange language that English is. When she started school in June, she knew next to no English. Now, she can understand quite a bit, and can carry on decent communication with someone entirely in English. She speaks only in the simple present tense, and with terrible grammar, of course.

I don't initiate conversations with her in English - it doesn't come naturally to me. But if she does, and she does it frequently, I encourage her, and join in her conversation. For her, English is something that is spoken in a school situation, so she says, "You are my ma'am, so let's speak in English now." If she suddenly gets stuck, doesn't find a word in English, she says, "Ok, now you are the Kannada ma'am, so I will tell only this in Kannada, then you become English ma'am again, then we will speak in English again."


A few days ago, we had a fun session - when I told her that one who runs is called a runner, one who speaks is called a speaker, and so on.

After that, she came up with hilarious things like - one with a tail is a tailor, one who comes late is later, one who docts is a doctor....I don't know how much of it she understood herself and how much of it she picked up from my reactions, but we had this wonderful half an hour laughing our guts out.


She: Y for uniform.
Me: It is U for Uniform. U-Uniform!
She: No, it is Y for uniform. Y for yellow, Y for Yak, so Y for uniform.
Me: Hmph. Makes sense.


She: There are many mouses there.
Me: Mice, not mouse. Funny, isn't it? In English, for many mouse, you say mice, not mouses.
She: (Frowns) You all can say mice. I will say mouses. *Stalks off*


Since she is so crazy about the alphabet, just to see how far she would participate, I introduced Word-building to her. I say a word, you say a word with the last letter of my word, and so on. She hasn't been taught to spell yet, but she latched on to the concept, and was enthusiastic.

She: Ok Amma, you start with A.
Me: A for Ant. What does it end with?
She: Ant... anttt... tt.. tt. T! T for Tall
Me: Good. What does it end with?
She: Tallll...lll. L!
Me: Correct. L for Late.
She: Amma, when I get L, I will say L for Lollipop.
Me: Sure. Now, what does Late end with?
She: Late.. ttt...ttt..... T!
Me: (She is actually playing syllable-building - she doesn't know how to spell, like I said.) Ok. T for?
She: T for Tree.
Me: So I have to think of a word with?
She: Treee... Tr... Trrrr....... Amma, I don't know. Tr? You can say Tractor.
Me: (How logical!) Actually ends with E, you see? Treeeeeee. E.
She: E for L
Me: What?
She: E for L, as in LMNOP. El, El. (She had once also said EL (L) for Elephant)
Me: Ah! But that's not a word!
She: Let's play some other game.

But she keeps coming back twice a day to want to play this game. I can see the future, once she starts to spell. Hours and hours and hours of word building....*shudder*

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Goodbye, Uncle Pai

The blogworld will overflow with reminisces, and goodbyes to Uncle Pai, who died yesterday - let me add my little drop.

Uncle Pai's Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle were my growing-up buddies. If, today, I know more about Indian mythology and more folk tales than my peers, I have ACK to thank. For years, I waited excitedly for every new issue of Tinkle, and devoured it end to end. They were all my friends, and Uncle Pai was a special friend.

I once sent a story idea to Tinkle, and I received a handwritten rejection letter from Uncle Pai. On one side of a yellow postcard (anybody remembers those any more?) He wrote that they couldn't accept my story idea, but to try again. Just like a boatman would row, row, row, to get to the bank, try, try and try again to succeed, he said. I hope I have that postcard somewhere.

Thank you, Uncle Pai, for all that joy I had growing up. I owe much to you.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Said Puttachi...

Me: (examining a couple of greys on my head.)
She: Amma, what is that?
Me: Grey hair.
She: Why do you have grey hair?
Me: (laughing) I'm growing old!
She: Oh. But you won't die right now, will you? Die after I become very big. Okay?


She: Amma,until when can I stay with you?
Me: What?
She: Until what age can I live with you and Papa?
Me: Stay as long as you want, Puttachi.
She: Can I stay until I am fourteen years old?
Me: I recommend you stay longer, mari.. :)
She: Okay I will live with you till I am fifteen years old. Then I will go to college and get married, and when I have a baby, I will call you up and tell you whether I have got twins or not.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A wonderful breakfast

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while now. When in my aunt's house in England, we had cereals and fruits and nuts every morning. I enjoyed that breakfast. After S joined us, he was totally taken with the idea of such a healthy breakfast. When we got back, we discussed it, and decided to try out that breakfast for a couple of weeks.

We did try, and we're hooked. I cook oats in milk, and add chopped fresh fruits, nuts and dry fruits. I also add a fistful of ragi araluhittu/hurihittu (popped and powdered ragi.) For a bit of crunch, we add a little Kellogg's oatbites. It's working wonderfully for us in many ways, at many levels.

Every morning, at about 9 or 10, I had a tendency to feel terribly tired and drained out. It was worse when I ate bread and uppittu. (My mother and my grandmother also have the same problem, and we're still not clear why it happens). After we started this breakfast, it hasn't happened even once. I do feel hungry again at about 10 or 11 (but I feel hungry around that time even after an Indian breakfast), but I've never once felt drained out. Peevee, my sister, the nutrition expert, says that it is because of complex carbohydrates in the oats - it releases energy bit by bit.

Besides, the compulsory dose of fruits and fibre has done wonders for Puttachi's digestion. Initially, Puttachi wasn't very receptive to it, and I felt guilty about giving her something she probably didn't like. But one Saturday, when I set a plate of something else before her, she frowned and said, "Why haven't you made oats? I want oatmeal." "Don't fuss, eat whatever is on your plate," I said, but inwardly, I was doing somersaults! It's been eight months and she is also enjoying this breakfast as much as S and I do. As for me, who is so crazy about good food, I was quite sure I'd get bored with this after a while, but each morning, I approach my bowl with great enthusiasm, and that is saying a lot about it!

To an extent, this breakfast means lesser time and effort. But it does take time chopping fruits and breaking nuts down into small pieces for Puttachi, and cooking the oats just right so that it doesn't get gooey - it does have it's own effort. But the biggest plus is that I needn't wonder every night what to make for breakfast next morning.

But I make make Indian breakfast in the weekends - one, for my tastebuds, and two, because I don't want to forget how to make all that, and three, if I feel tired, I can very well chuck everything and take a break mid-morning.

If, for any reason, a hearty Indian breakfast is not working for you, I urge you to try this.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The waist-high interrogator

There is a new phase to Puttachi's questions, when I thought I'd seen the worst. Now, she wants to know everything about everything.

She wants to know the reason of my every action - and I mean every single tiny unconscious forgettable action. If I run my fingers through my hair, she wants to know why. If I pick a piece of lint off my sweater, she wants to know why. If I twist my lip, she wants to know why. If I blow air through my lips, she wants to know why. You'll think I'm exaggerating, but when I say every single action, I mean every single action. I've never in my life had to account for my actions - now I need to, constantly, for this waist-high interrogator.

A common line of questioning, as we are stepping out of the home: Amma, why did you say Tch? Why had you forgotten the key? Why hadn't you kept it ready? Didn't you know we were going to the park? Amma, why are you wearing socks with these sandals? Why do you want to protect your feet from sand and cold? Why do your feet crack in winter? Show me your cracks? Why don't you look after your feet better? Why don't you apply some cream? Why.....

Sometimes, when I'm brushing her teeth, I've to beg her - can you please stop talking for two seconds and spit out the paste? Please?

Another common line of interrogation:
Me: Hmmm.....hmmmm.. Dil tadap tadap ke kehraha hai aa bhi jaa.. hmm hmmm (Humming while doing something)
She: Amma, what is that song? What are you singing? Sing it loudly, properly? Don't say hmmm... sing it with words? Is this in Hindi? How did you learn it? Did you hear it when you were small? Did your mother teach you? Do we have this song at home? Will you play it for me?
So I dig out a Mukesh collection and play it for her.
She: Which CD is this? Mukesh? Who is Mukesh? Show me the photo on the CD cover? Is this Mukesh? Is he still alive? Why did he die? What is the name of this CD? Has he sung all the songs in this CD? Is this the song you were singing? Now you stop singing. If you sing, I can't hear the real song. You can sing it later. (Listens.) Amma, did you say Mukesh was a man? Then who is this girl singing? Lata Mang-kar? Then why did you say all the songs were sung by Mukesh? Why is Lata Mang-mang helping him sing? Why is this song in Hindi? What does this song mean? Why is he calling the girl to go to him? Are they friends?

I'm afraid to even say that this must be as bad as it gets.
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