The Summer of ’12 – Part 1

Edited to add pics. Now stop being mad at me.

The OA likes to say that I have just always been pregnant or nursing which is why we’ve never visited the mad sibling in the US before. He’s right, partly. But mostly, it’s because we were the first to get married and in the last couple of years there’s been a wedding in the family every year, taking up all our leave. No complaints though, because those have been great fun too. And then this year we decided we were going to go before my brother had another baby or decided to move, or something of that sort. And so we did. Observations follow.

Our first stop was Turkey. I fell in love the moment I stepped out of the airport and the Mediterranean breeze caught me. Everyone thinks they have seen the best Turkey has to offer. Each person believes they saw it in a light no one else did. At least that is what I’ve gleaned across conversations. I feel the same way. That it’s MY Turkey. The streets are clean and lined with flowering beds, the monuments sparkle and the bathrooms are clean (yay!). Bombay could have been like this if our country weren’t so overcrowded and dirty. In some ways it reminded me of Delhi, with the huge lawns where families picnicked and reminders of the past nodded benignly in the background. What really amazed me was how stylishly people were dressed. Smart cuts, clean lines, ageless styles. And how beautifully hot pants and hijab coexisted. I’ve never seen it done so seamlessly. At the Blue Mosque we had to cover our heads and I was given a scarf. Being the earnest sort that I am, I spent most of my visit nervously holding the edges together, threatening to strangle myself and in the bargain, sweating profusely. Thankfully I was in a pair of jeans but another lady in shorts had been given a length of fabric to wrap around herself. It kept opening up to reveal her legs and custodians kept stopping by to tell her to cover up. I really admire those who can do it all day. I know that my half hour there was fraught with tension and sweat and very little devotion.

Bollywood follows you everywhere and we chanced upon a team from India shooting a film with Anil Kapoor and Amisha Patel. The starstruck OA insisted on pictures while I acted snooty. We moved on to Top Kapi Palace and saw a strikingly goodlooking couple who were clearly very aware of how fantastic they were. As we neared them, we realised they were Kareena and Saif!

The food everyone said, would be disappointing and unfortunately it was. I didn’t like anything we ate, except the desserts which more than made up for the lack elsewhere. The OA, who lives by his belly was most disheartened. So when I begged and pleaded that he find a job there and move, his only argument was – and what will we eat? You don’t cook and I can’t stand the food. Oh well, you can’t have it all, I guess – hills, beaches, weather, awesome people, great transport system, history, fashion, I could go on.

We sat at cafes and ate, watched people go by and walked the days away. I didn’t have the heart to leave and the only thing that pushed me onwards was the desire to see my nephew. And so we left.

I loved how Turkey was modern yet quaint. Like this pink house down a lane, near our hotel.

My meals were all about the dessert.

The Blue Mosque by night.

My darling brother booked us the executive suite at the hotel and we got this awesome private balcony and view. That’s me having my morning chai on the railing. Later on I looked back and realised that even the nightsuit I am wearing is a gift from him! 

The view from the lovely cruise we took.

Feeding birds from our restaurant on the waterfront. Kids were going wild.

These wreaths were the rage and you could tell the tourists from the locals by who was wearing them.

Yes, tourist, that’s me. I bought the Bean a bunch and she’s had a blast dressing up with them.

CSA Awareness – Smitten

Young Zubaan’s most recent release Smitten is a bit of a misnomer, the story being about Child Sexual Abuse or CSA. CSA is a cause close to my heart as you all know and author Ranjit Lal needs no introductions. Our favourite, chez mad momma, is Birds From My Window and the Antics They Get up To. I have to admit it got us far more interested in our little feathered friends than we otherwise might have been.

Which is why I was keen to get started the moment I laid hands on Smitten. Samir, the unlikely little hero is a fourteen year old boy (15 according to the back cover – some editing errors there), interested in the usual boy things – model cars and ‘dirty’ documents. It is, while trying to retrieve those documents that he’d hidden in the empty flat across that he ends up befriending the new neighbours, the Handas, or rather, their fifteen year old daughter Akhila. The family seems nice and just dysfunctional enough to be real. A boisterous, affectionate father, a wraith like mother who is always sickly, a younger brother, Sumit who has special needs, and of course the lovely Akhila. An only child with very busy parents – a pilot mother and a banker father, Samir hangs out with the Handas all the time. Soon he and the two children are a regular item.

The residential complex also has two big bullies, and their father, a top cop. The odds are stacked against them the day the two bullies catch hold of little Sumit and begin to bully him. Akhila and Samir throw themselves into the fray to save him. Samir is stripped and beaten till his arm breaks and that is when the top cop father charges in and catches his sons red-handed. At this point, contrary to the corrupt capital city background, he does the right thing and throws his sons in jail, saving the three younger children. Samir is a hero and even more a part of the Handa family than he was to begin with.

As luck would have it, a few days later Samir’s parents both need to travel on work and he can’t be left to fend for himself with only one functioning arm so the Handas offer to take him along on their vacation. It is around this time that Akhila realises that something is wrong. Her father is now sharing her room and she wakes up with her clothes unbuttoned and in a state of disarray. She turns to her only friend, Samir, and they work out a plan for him to spy on her at night and figure out what is going on. The answer of course, is that her stepfather is abusing her. But now that they’ve confirmed it, how do they save her from her father?

Author Ranjit gets a lot of it bang on target. A non-stereotypical family, with a pilot mother. A budding romance between a couple of teenagers, where the girl is *gasp* a little older. Also, a dysfunctional family with a weak mother who does not interfere in her second husband’s relationship with his step daughter. A mentally challenged child whose needs must be considered and for whose sake the boat must not be rocked. An all powerful male figure whose word is law.

The story explores many aspects of CSA, from the power games, to the secrecy, to fooling a child into believing that what you are doing is for his or her own good and that they’ve got it all wrong. You see the confusion in Akhila’s mind, the horror when she realises what is going on and the revulsion too.

Being fiction, the story naturally comes to a conclusion, but I feel a lot of the real life nuance of CSA was lost for that very reason. The ends tie up too neatly and there is no hint of the despair and trauma and scarring that CSA leaves behind. Most children in a similar situation would not find such a convenient solution so it is a little misleading in the pat way it ends.

It’s not exactly recommended reading for the early teens, as some of the language is a little objectionable even though the topic is relevant. But it fills a gap in the market and is definitely an interesting read for the mid teens and above. My wish would be to see a book that helps keep the little ones safe because that is the age group most vulnerable to CSA.

Bring your kids to the Young Zubaan event

Delhi Parents, don’t miss this one. Young Zubaan organises a great day for kids of all ages.

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After a really fantastic Take #3, The Feminist Kitchen, we’re getting ready for a children’s special Talkie on Thursday, May 17, for kids from 6 to 9 years. We’ve teamed up with The Pomegranate Workshop who are really professionals in the field of kids’ workshops and we’re really excited to present to you two very unique sessions that will unleash your kid’s creative and imaginative spirit.

Do spread the word. We hope it will help kick off a great summer!

You can register for either one or both workshops. They’re on the same day. Registration is compulsory, along with advance payment. We’ll be providing all the materials, and every kid gets a “Tales of Historic Delhi” notebook free!

BUILD YOUR OWNDELHI

Age Group: 6-9yrs

Session Duration: 11 am to 1 pm

Fee per child: Rs. 370

15 Seats Available

Premola Ghose’s Tales of Historic Delhi traces the journey of a group of friendly animals across the historic and cultural splendours ofDelhi. The book explains how different rulers acrossDelhi’s history have attempted to stamp their claim on it by building and rebuilding the city in their own style and to their own ends. As the character of Dr. Kamala states: “…it’s not even one city: it’s lots of different cities built one on top of the other.”

Through various extracts and pictures selected from the text, the children will be introduced to the story and to the many layers of the city built on top of each other, playing around with snippets of information and fiction that form the text. The children will then be asked to imagine themselves as future Kings of Delhi, and design a Delhi in the style that they would like it to be – replete with its structures, its monuments, its bazaars and of course their own palaces. The point of the session is for children to arrive at a deeper understanding of the city and also have fun playing around withDelhito make it their own.

The workshop will be conducted by a facilitator from the Visual Arts stream who will get the children to visualize a city of their own and then render it in their own inimitable way using a variety of art materials geared to stimulating the imagination and encouraging spontaneous expression.

HOW TO BECOME ALIEN

Age Group: 10-14yrs

Session Duration: 3-5pm

Fee per child: Rs. 370

12 Seats Available

Thanks to a profusion of films and books for children that are centered on Extra-Terrestrial beings, we’re fairly familiar with ‘The Alien’: A weird looking creature descending from a futuristic spaceship and bearing hi-tech gadgetry. Which is interesting because to an extra terrestrial we would seem to be a weird looking creature lacking even basic interstellar transport and wielding primitive gadgetry. In other words: to an alien, we’re alien.

You can be alien without being an alien. Monideepa Sahu’s Riddle of the Seventh Stoneshows puts us in the minds of two creatures who feel so alien that they might as well be aliens: it is a story of a rat and a spider who are suddenly transformed into a boy and a girl, and how they find it difficult to reconcile their new identities with their old ways.

This workshop focuses on Point of View as a means to exploring character. Children are encouraged to imagine themselves as different characters – from extra terrestrials to earthly animals to any weird beings that they want to be – and write short descriptive and narrative passages in the voice of their alien character. The children will read extracts from the novel and also from other stories about such sudden transformations, discuss their ideas on what it means to be ‘alien’ and also explore the concept of ‘alien’ as ‘different’.

The workshop will be conducted by a facilitator from the literary field who will get the children to flex their creative muscles, invent characters and create original stories.

Participation by registration only. Call Akshat Nigam 9582590444 or email akshat@tpw.in to register. Payment to be made in advance only, either to The Attic 10 Regal Buildings, New Delhi 110001 or to Zubaan Books, 128-B, First Floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110049

Cash or Cheques in favour of “Amarjit Bhagwant Singh Charitable Trust”

Interviewed on Blogadda this week

I do have something for you to read today, but it’s not here, it’s an interview on Blogadda. Regular readers probably know most of what I’ve said but you might want to drop by anyway.

What you don’t know though, is that I’m obsessing over this song from Agent Vinod. I’m going to smack the person who asks if it is Pyar ki Pungi. It’s Shreya Ghoshal’s Raabta. I asked around and learnt that raabta means connection. Have been striking poses and singing it to the OA who is most amused. The kids however, are not. They think I’m nuts. I guess it was only a matter of time before they came around to the realisation that their Momma is really Mad!

The word Raabta comes at a good time. I was just complaining to anyone who would listen on FB that I am sick of songs that have khumar rhyming with beqarar and zindagi with bandagi. Show some creativity, lyricists! The OA on the other hand, has been complaining that too many of the new songs have words he’s never  encountered, taking away from the experience. What new word have you encountered in a song and have you figured out what it means?

And oh, Agent Vinod? Sucks. Complete waste of money. I really should have trusted the reviews. Now run along and drop by blogadda.

Ahoy NCR walas

If you’ve not read Icky, Yucky, Mucky to your kids, they’re missing out on some good, disgusting fun! On the other hand, who better to share the story than the author herself? Catch Natasha Sharma telling the tale of the disgusting King of Ickhtarpur across a number of venues in Delhi. And read my review of the book, where else, but on Saffron Tree.

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month

 

Remember April 2011 on Twitter, Facebook and blogs? We talked about Child Sexual Abuse – the hows, the wheres and the whens. We were overwhelmed by the response it generated, humbled by the weight of the personal stories of despair and courage.

 

It’s that time of the year again and we’re going ahead with Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – April 2012.

Do you have a story to tell? Tips to share? A video, a link, an ebook? As a parent, as an adult, as a child? As before, we honour all requests for anonymity.

Bring your experience and your expertise to this awareness initiative via

Blog posts with the logo (you can copy the image above), linkback to our blog, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title.

Twitter posts or links to @CSAawareness, tagged “#CSAAM”

FB notes linking to our Facebook page
Emails to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com

Grab this code to display the logo on the side bar http://csaawarenessmonth.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/batch-code-txt.docx
Or just simply show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile -http://www.picbadges.com/csa-awareness-month/1514077/

This year, we hope to increase our focus and reach with our new CSAAM App and our sensitisation workshops. You’ll find both in our blog come April 2012.

Stay tuned.

We’re kicking off our events with one in Delhi, in collaboration with Rahi and Fleximoms. Do spread the word.