Friday, April 28, 2017

Hawaii - Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1 - This was a very long day. We left California in an early morning flight, and were in Honolulu before noon local time. We checked into the home we'd rented, and in the evening, went to check out the local beaches. We swam in the nearby Makaha beach. The others went beach hopping, but I went back to the house to rest -- I had a bad  headache. I just sat looking at the ocean and listening to the sounds and felt so much better.

Day 2 - Hiked up Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone. It was a hot day and it wasn't a very easy hike.
Diamond Head (Le'Ahi)

Views from the top:


That evening, we went into the sea again. Okay, not me. I am strictly not a big fan of the sand. I love the sea. LOVE it. But wet sand - I can do without. So I just took some pictures. But this was the last time I avoided the sea. Let's just say I love the waves too much.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Moods of the Ocean

Here are a series of photos of the same two chairs at the vacation home that we had rented in Hawaii, taken at different times of the day, and different weathers.


More than 20 years ago, I read Hawaii by James Michener and was taken with the story and history of the place, and I immediately knew that someday I would just have to visit the place.

Last week, during spring break, we did go. Yes, it was beautiful. But to tell you the truth, it was a slight let down. Let me explain. Yes, it is really beautiful, and all that it is touted to be. It is just that I had imagined this place of wonder, a paradise, an exotic escape - something that had to be seen and experienced. But in reality, it is a combination of Kerala/coastal Karnataka/Western Ghats/Goa. Once again, don't get me wrong - these are beautiful places and among my most favourite places in the world, places that I love to keep going back to. But my point is that Hawaii was not so different!

There are differences, of course. For instance, when the sun is out, the blue of the Hawaiian Pacific is such a light, ethereal colour that I can't stop looking it. Almost as good as the deep rich blue of the Pacific in California that I love so much.

Everything else brought back memories of India. The weather, for instance. You, yes you, who are standing right now in the balcony at 10 o clock at night with only a thin half-sleeved t-shirt on, you are very, very lucky. Even on the hottest days here in the Bay Area, I can't go out at night with a thin t-shirt, because the night invariably gets cold. And even if the night is warm, I have to carry a jacket with me because you never know when the night's mood will change!

Back to Hawaii - the flora was so familiar. I exclaimed at the profusion of coconut trees, mango trees, the plumeria (the place is full of blooming, fragrant plumeria!) and a host of other familiar trees which I greeted like they were old friends.

We went to the island Oahu - which would  not have been our first choice, but we were going with someone who had already been to Big Island and Maui.

Anyway, now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I'll put up some posts in the next couple of days about what we did, and of course, more pictures of the ocean!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The history of Lalbagh's trees - article in BLink

If you've walked at Lalbagh, you've seen, no, experienced those gorgeous trees. But if you're like me, I bet you wouldn't have realized that many of those trees are from across the world, and some are extremely rare. And many of them have a story behind them, and there's rich history in every corner of Lalbagh. I wrote about some of that history in this week's BLink.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Getting your child to speak to you about her day

"How was school today?"


"What did you do?"


Does that sound familiar? Exasperating, no? But how do you get kids to talk about their day?

Some time back, I read a list of questions that you could ask kids so that they open up to you about school. The questions in that link is a good start, but you can evolve what works best for you, depending on your child's age and interests.

I juggle questions, mix them up, ask some more than I do others, but here is an example of some of the questions I ask Puttachi:

- So what made you laugh today?

- Did you see anybody do something kind today?

- Tell me what the worst moment was for you today.

- Did you feel scared?

- Did anybody bother you today?

- Did you help anybody today?

- Did anybody help you today with something?

- Was the teacher happy or upset with anybody from your class today?

- Did anything make you angry/annoyed today?

- Did anything make you happy today?

- What was the best part of your day?

- If you could change one thing about today, what would it be?

Btw one question that ALWAYS gives me an enthusiastic response is this:
"Did anybody get hurt at school?"  Because somebody always falls down or hurts themselves during play break, and children are utterly fascinated by bruises and scratches and falls.

And when children open up about something, you can follow up on it the next day. For instance, if the child has told you yesterday, "Mr. M spoke sharply to D because he was disrupting the class." Today you can ask, "Was D better-behaved during class today?"

These questions are also a good way to reinforce kind behaviour. For instance, when Puttachi tells me, "G was crying today." I ask her, "Did you try to find out why, or did you say or do anything to her to make her feel better?"  That way, Puttachi knows what is expected of her.

Another thing is, when she starts speaking about her day/emotions/feelings, I try not to interrupt her for any reason. I allow her to retain the flow, though sometimes it is tempting to stop and correct her pronunciation or language, etc.

I'd be interested to know if you've tried something that works for you,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Carmina Burana live

Had a new, very beautiful experience last Friday.

Ever since we arrived here, I've been thinking I should attend a western classical music concert in San Francisco. But honestly I never got around to do anything about it. But when a friend told me that the SF Symphony is performing Carmina Burana, I knew the time had finally come.

My love for Carmina Burana began sometime in my childhood when I knew it as the "Old Spice ad music". I can see some of you nodding - if you need a memory nudge, here it is. That bit is called "O Fortuna." It has been used in many movies too, overused, in fact, as I have heard.

Anyway, I play it often on Youtube, and S and Puttachi also developed a liking for it. I have vaguely wondered how it would be to listen to it live. And now I know, because, this Friday, that is just what we did.

And it was goosebumps-inducing indeed. I'd never been to a concert hall before, and both experiences combined -- it was beautiful. I don't claim to "understand" western classical music though I try. I just enjoy it, though.

Also, since it was a choral event, the 99 singers performed several choral pieces. Varnatt by Stenhammer for instance. Andres Hillsborg's Mouyayoum was weird but fascinating. Puttachi particularly was amazed by it, how they produced all those effects without a single instrument. Puttachi fell asleep mid-way through the one-hour Carmina Burana and later claimed that it was because it was so beautiful that she fell asleep, but yet, I'm glad she got this experience too and appreciated it in her own way.

- -