Porcupyn's Blog

September 28, 2015

Countries and capitals

Filed under: Family,Humour,Parenting — Porcupyn @ 7:47 am

I have started a new game with Katya and her carpool buddy. I say the name of the country and they have to come up with the capital. To provide some background, Katya is not into geography and bees (of any kind) – carpool buddy, though three years younger, is into the Geography Bee (at his level). Needless to say, the experience has been slow going so far and fun. Sample these:

Porcupyn: What is the capital of Pakistan?
Katya: Give us a hint …
Porcupyn: Isss …
Katya: Islamabad. ding-ding-ding

Porcupyn: How about Afghanistan?
Katya: Give us a hint …
Porcupyn: It ends with ‘bul’
Katya: Islamabull? boink-boink-boink

Porcupyn: Capital of Russia?
Katya: It starts with an M …
Porcupyn: Yess … complete it!
Katya: Give us a hint …
Porcupyn: It ends with ‘cow’
Katya: Mocow? boink-boink-boink

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September 29, 2013

A Mahabharata weekend

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Religion,Sports — Porcupyn @ 6:38 pm

It all started with a ploy to get Katya motivated in her football (soccer) game. This is the third week of the current season, and – after two weekend games and a weekday game – Katya’s team was still scoreless. As one of the older, taller and swifter girls on her team, the coach had put her in the center forward or flank position in all those games; however, the team was yet to score a goal.

So, in order to motivate her and to try to make her understand what she was missing (a razorlike focus on the goal), on Friday morning as the kids were getting ready for school, I decided to tell her the story of Drona’s test for the Pandavas and Kauravas; how Arjuna displayed his focus on the target and did not let outside distractions to stand in his way; how Arjuna never looked away from the target and was even unaware of the tree that the target was hanging from.

Given how well that story telling session went, that evening on a car-ride home from the local Indian grocery store, Mrs. Porcupyn decided to tell Katya a story as well. For some reason, she picked Abhimanyu’s story and finished it by the time we got home – after many interruptions by my (for corrections and, in general, comic relief) and Katya (for extra knowledge). it appeared that Katya finally got the import of this story also and it whetted her desire to learn more about the great Pandava warrior.

With the backdrop that Katya has not really been exposed to our vast treasure trove of religious texts (in any format other than Amar Chitra Kathas, which do not go too much in depth), I was surprised at the eagerness with which she devoured it all and wanted to learn more. We have the entire set of Mahabharata DVDs at home; however, until now, she had been interested in watching one and only one episode – “Krishna jumping on the snake,” DVD #3. Whenever either of us parents had hitherto brought up the Mahabharata  DVDs on weekends, her refrain was “Krishna jumping on the snake.”

Now that the opportunity appeared to have presented itself, I took the next logical step and reminded her of them. So, yesterday afternoon, after her football (soccer) game, I got her to watch the Abhimanyu episode with subtitles. There were many pauses along the way where she stopped the DVD to ask questions about what was happening and why. We watched the gruesome scene (in all blood and gory detail, Indian movie style) of the disarmed Abhimanyu being killed and mutilated by the Kaurava warriors. Later, we went shopping, daughter and I. Along the way there and back, while we window shopped in the local mall, I was peppered with question after question about Abhimanyu, why he was killed, why he was defenceless, why Arjuna was pulled away, why no one tried to save Abhimanyu, what the Chakravyuha is, etc.

After a second (late night, for her) session with more Mahabharata episodes, Katya got started early this morning with her Mahabharata marathon. Folks who go on a James Bond or Indiana Jones or some similar all-nighter binge will appreciate her concentration and desire to sit through the whole epic. [Latest update: we are now at the end of the tale, only Duryodhana is alive.] Questions have been streaming from her all day; the DVD remote pause/play button has seen a lot of action. Now, I can safely (and, I must add, happily) say that my daughter has become a Mahabharataphile.

Oh, and BTW, Katya’s team scored its first – and, as of now, only (but, hopefully, the start of a deluge) – goal of the season yesterday. No prizes for guessing the scorer (and I would like to hope that the story of Arjuna was the catalyst). 🙂

August 14, 2013

A Tale … of two kids

Filed under: Family,Parenting — Porcupyn @ 1:02 pm

He was scared of his naughty nephew, who was prone to have ‘accidents’ with household objects (especially toys) that led to the decimation of said object. So, he would always keep nephew at arm’s length.

Then one day, he fell off the stairs* and hurt his back. He needed hugs from his little daughter for comfort; however, daughter being the diva that she is, refused to give him one (after her tolerance limit was reached).

Seeing him pleading with his daughter thus, naughty nephew said to him, “You can hug me whenever you want!” and won him over!

* – only three steps and all is well now 🙂

October 30, 2012

Dilemma for Katya – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? [Tales of Katya]

Filed under: Family,Humour,Parenting — Porcupyn @ 9:37 pm
Tags: ,

On the way back home earlier today, Katya informed me that the class was conducting a mock vote for the President today. Well, she added, the teacher did not have time for the vote today, so maybe she would do it next Tuesday. “Next Tuesday?,” I asked. “No, I mean tomorrow,” she replied.

“Appa,” she asked, “who should I vote for? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?”

“Well, ” I answered, diplomatically dodging the question, “you should ask your mother.”

Katya: “But who should I vote for? Who is the right person?”

I replied: “There is no one right person. If there were, why are they holding the election? They should just make the right person the President.”

It turned out that Baab’s class had also voted. So I asked Baab who he’d voted for. Barack Obama, was the answer. At that, Katya piped up, “Lexi and Amanda are voting for Romney.”

“How about Salma and Sieana?” I asked.

Katya: They are both voting for Barack Obama.

“What about Katya?” I shrewdly threw in, knowing that the answer might just be lurking there, waiting to come out.

Katya: “I am thinking of voting for Barack Obama as well, but Giovanni said that Obama says bad things.”

Now really curious, I blurted out, “What bad things has he said?”

Katya: “Well, Giovanni says that Barack Obama said that girls can kiss girls and boys can kiss boys.”

At this point, I started to get the impression that if we were to waterboard Giovanni, all the truth will come out about how Barack Obama wants the following gifts from Santa for Christmas:

mothers who can kill babies
doctors who can treat patients for free
a Cruella De’Vil who hands out Halloween candy
Cinderella can ride only a pumpkin, and
Beauty cannot kiss the beast! 😉

[Edited to add]: Thank goodness Katya is older than this girl!

June 21, 2011

How well educated are you?

Filed under: Humour,Parenting — Porcupyn @ 10:08 am

Or, should I say, what has education got to do with it?

A minute later, there was an announcement asking all passengers to please not use profanity on the train, ‘especially those people who went to Harvard or Yale or are from Westport.’

The great Saint Kabir once wrote (or said, I don’t know which, as I was not around back then):

जात न पूछो साध का,
पूछ लीजिये ग्यान।
मोल करो तलवार का,
पड़ा रहन दो म्यान।।

Quick meaning: Appearances can be deceptive!

Long form of meaning: Don’t ask a sadhu/saint/hermit what his antecedents are, i.e., who his parents are, what his caste is, what his lineage/pedigree is; rather, sound him out for the knowledge that he possesses (and seek some for yourself as well). Just as when/if you were in the market for a sword, you ought to check out its worth/attributes (sharpness, length, warranty, etc 😉 rather than that of its scabbard.

However, when Kabir refers to knowledge, I doubt very much that he is talking about how well educated the sadhu is (or you are)! Actions always speak the loudest. Don’t forget what Rahim has said:

बड़े बड़ाई ना करें
बड़े न बोलें बोल।
रहिमन हीरा कब कहा
लाख टका मेरा मोल।।

Those who are classy (classier) do not flaunt their classiness, just like (Rahim points out that) the diamond never touts that it is worth a hundred thousand Takas/Rupees/Dollars/Shekels/Yuans/Yens/Drachmas!

July 2, 2009

Are you smarter than a third-grader*?

Filed under: Family,Our Languages,Parenting — Porcupyn @ 5:24 pm

A mother who can talk Hindi without an accent, but stumbles when faced with high-falutin language, forwarded the following question to a father. The father who claims proficiency in the language (on the basis of a “distinction” in Class Xth CBSE boards now nearly three decades – has it really been that long? – ago, plus because he grew up north of the Vindhyas!) tried and failed to express full confidence in his picks.

He forwarded the list to his sister who, because she converses with her kids in Hindi and has a bunch of Hindi-speaking friends, is more of the bona-fide Hindi guru of the extended family now. She promptly wrote back crossing out a couple of her brother’s picks. However, she had to use the process of elimination to complete the matches. So, the jury is still – tentatively speaking – out on the veracity of the final picks!

Anyway, let’s see कौन कितने पानी में है, shall we? Without consulting brother, or बिरादर google (FYI, mother tried her usual tried-and-tested tactic but failed this time) or the nearest copy of your आदर्श हिन्दी शब्द्कोश, would you try your hand at matching up the following?

To ensure a level playing field, only the e-mail is paraphrased. The rest is just as I (the not-so-smart-after-all father, in case someone is unsure as to who is who) got it, i.e., it is one whole “sic” question!

As part of his homework, Baab needs to match these sounds with the animals that make it.

Chinghaadtha Hai
Rumbhaathi Hai
Dundaktha Hai
Mimiyaathi Hai
Hinhinaatha hai
Bhonktha hai
renktha hai
dahaadtha hai

The above are to be matched with these animals: Baagh, Haathi, Kooker, Gadha, Bakri, Bhains, Ghoda, Gaay

Bonus points: Pick the odd animal out of these three … (when last seen, brother and sister were still arguing over this one online!)

– बाघ
– शेर
– सिंह

* = in Hindi 😉

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