Vern, the turkey in this picture, has been the subject of conversation in our neighborhood for the past several weeks. This big bird has been parading our streets up and down, halting traffic, pecking at cars, and terrifying passersby with his fearless and determined strides for the past few months.
To strangers, he is a menace. To folks in the neighborhood, he is a pet that they don’t own. He is considered a blessing in disguise (slowing down traffic and making the neighborhood safe), his safety is on the top of the residents’ minds (a turkey crossing traffic sign has been posted on a busy street), and why, his picture is featured as the cover photo of the neighborhood Facebook page! All fingers are crossed on what his fate might be given that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
As for me, but for the pictures I take of him, I follow the principle of – you stay away from me and I stay away from you. But even I wonder – what it must be like to be the lone turkey? to be surrounded by creatures from a different species? to be in a habitat that is different from his natural home? is he lonesome? is he adapting? is he seeing a mate in his own reflection on the cars that he is pecking? Vern, the traffic zen master, alone knows!
We write about things that we strongly feel about. For some, it is people. For others, it is life experiences. Yet for others, it is places, books, movies or food. Want to know what evokes strong emotions for my 10-year old?! Check out the blurb he wrote in his school writing journal.
“I glared at my plate of brussel sprouts, my eyes narrowing into slits, my nose twitching at the putrid odor of the lime green nightmare. I couldn’t bear to imagine how it tasted and I could swear there was steam coming from my ears. “WHY DOES THE WORLD HAVE TO BE SO CRUEL!” I screamed.”
I laughed my heart out. And just for the record, I have made brussel sprouts a grand total of one time in all the ten years of this child’s life. It’s not the cook, it’s the vegetable!
On a related note, at the start of every school year, kids are encouraged to think about their hopes and dreams for the school year and are required to set one academic goal and one social goal. Hari’s academic goal for this year is to enjoy writing. He told me that the voice in his head moans and groans when he is asked to write something and that he wants to work on that attitude this year. It made me happy on several counts – that he is aware of his attitude, that he is willing to work on it, and that it has to do with writing. His social goal, in his words, is to hang out with kids that he has not hung out with before. Here’s to achieving those goals.
I was going over the Indian National Pledge in preparation of my culture class. This is how it goes.
India is my country.
All Indians, are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and, I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well being and prosperity alone; lies my happiness.
A part of me felt very sad that the pledge left the most important piece – self-respect. Respecting parents, teachers and elders are important and I stand by those values but isn’t respect for self equally important? Why does our culture not teach us to nurture the self? After all, aren’t we our worst critics? Isn’t self-compassion the hardest practice? shouldn’t we all be taught to listen to our inner voice? Isn’t being true to oneself the noblest of all virtues?
Well, I am not going to start a petition for changing the pledge. But I am a mom and I am a teacher. I can kindle minds, and that’s precisely what I intend to do!
It’s supposed to be bed time but the kids are as awake as a pair of owlets. There is some serious mulling going on with the topic being what to dress for halloween. The younger one has made up his mind, “I am going to be a superman with a light saber.” I smile and think to myself that that’s SO Ram. Give him something and he will personalize it to suit his fancy. Imagination is never a barrier for this kid. Hari is considering his options some of which include avatars of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. I am amused by his choices as we don’t discuss politics nor do we turn the TV on for news. But then this again is SO Hari. This child has a 100 eyes and a 200 ears, he is always hungry for information, has an elephant memory for details and is very observant.