Monday, July 18, 2016

Pratham's Storyweaver

Puttachi had been learning Hindi in her school in India, and she was about to start learning the Kannada alphabet when we moved here. So I taught her the Kannada alphabet myself during the break that she had between schools in India and the US. I didn't want her to forget the Hindi alphabet, and I wanted to make her more familiar with the Kannada alphabet. So whenever we have a few minutes, she chooses a Level 1 story on Pratham's Storyweaver platform, in either Hindi or Kannada, and she reads it aloud. It is working really well. Just wanted to share this with anybody else who might be looking for something like this.

Note: Since this is an open platform, some of the translations and stories are by members of the community, and the language/grammar might not always be top-notch. Check before you let your child read it. (It is indicated on the book whether it is a Pratham original, or by a community member.)

The weather here

The weather here is weird. You never know when it will change. Just because it is hot now doesn't mean that it will stay hot. I never go out without a jacket handy even if it is sweltering hot, because by the time I come back in two hours, I might be frozen. And if I'm walking in the shade, I'll need a sweater, and if I step out in the sun, I'll need to peel it off. And yesterday, I needed sunscreen and a jacket at the SAME time. All I can say is "Whaaat?"

And of course it doesn't help that I'll need a jacket if I enter a store like Trader Joe's or Sprouts, especially near the frozen foods section. It is not fun lugging around a jacket everywhere you go, I can tell you that.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Portola Valley Redwood Park

I've talked about my previous experience with Redwoods before.

This time, we were careful to choose a shorter hike, especially because I had a hamstring injury last year, which affected me pretty badly. It has healed now, but I didn't want to take any risks. But the experience was as good, and the redwoods still hold me in thrall.

The redwoods, to me, feel like they are giants, benevolent ones, who stand tall and look at us puny creatures with a mixture of loftiness and compassion. I feel they are just standing there, leaning against each other, arms crossed, perhaps. Sometimes I even feel like I am intruding upon their privacy. I know, I am probably nuts, but then that's how they make me feel -- like they are real.

The roots of a fallen tree

Old Tree - 1200 years old, and 12 ft in diameter

Old Tree soaring into the clouds

Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley

Perhaps not as glamourous and flashy as the Exploratorium in San Francisco, but the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley is a place where you and your kids can spend an entire day. There are a limited number of installations, but there's so much you can do with them! We caught a show at the 3D auditorium (Tiny Giants) and the planetarium (How far are things in the universe.)

Also, the views from the place are spectacular!

In the foreground is the University of Berkeley, and across the bridge, you can see San Francisco. Being inside a big city like San Francisco is one thing, but looking at the same city from a distance is quite another thing. It gives me goosebumps. As the day wore on, the fog receded, and we could see the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz too.

Looking for a song - in the previous century

In this age, when any song you wish to listen to is a click away, and when you have software that can find out the name of a song for you if you just hum a few bars to it, it seems like an eon ago when you had to bend over backwards if you wanted to listen to a certain song.

It was just before the advent of the internet. I felt a strong urge to listen to the male version of the song Tujhse Naaraaz Nahin Zindagi from Masoom. I tried humming it to myself for a few days, but when the longing didn't subside, I asked a few friends if they "have" the song. ["Have the song"! The phrase sounds so awkward now!] They didn't, and so I decided to go to the shop and buy a cassette with the song. [Go to the shop to buy music! And a cassette!]

I had to search in more than two or three shops before I found the song in a Gulzar collection - it was a double cassette, but I bought it. I had to go elsewhere after that and so I had to put off listening to it [One had to go home to listen to a song, unless you had a Walkman on you!]

Finally, I got home, tore off the plastic laminate wrapper, and put the cassette into the player. I fast-forwarded  to the song. [One had to fast forward or rewind, and it took some trials to get to the right spot! Couldn't go straight to the song!]

Finally! I thought, and pressed the Play button. And paused with anticipation . . .  and it turned out to be the female version of the song, which I don't like at all.

The frustration!

We have it so good now!

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