Learnings, Life, Writing

Quotations – Day 3

The Sunday school is held at the local high school. Before going to my class, I generally stop by the “Collage of Voices” board where comments from high schoolers (from regular school) are posted anonymously. The theme seems to vary periodically and captures the voices of the kids on matters that matter to them. Eg. what stresses them and how do they destress.

Every weekend, I linger in that area to read and reread the collage by way of grounding myself in reality. Hari will be in high school before we know it. He will have enough stress of his own. The last thing that we want to do is weigh him down with our expectations and judgments. Easier said than done, which is why I go here often so I can internalise the messages that these kids are brave enough to voice out.

Today, the board had the following comments under the topic “Words of Wisdom”

voices1voices2

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Uncategorized, Writing

Blogging

WordPress had a little trophy for me at the upper right corner this morning. Apparently, it’s my eighth anniversary at wordpress. That makes it 11 years of blogging…!  I am grateful for this space where I get to write what my heart pleases, the way it pleases, and when it pleases. I am thankful for the handful of readers I have. And I am thankful for the friendships that this blog has given me. 

Note: With this post, I am concluding 31-days of gratitude journal. Thanks for walking with me on this journey. I hope to continue writing on a different theme, perhaps after a little break. 

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Introspection, Uncategorized, Writing

The irony of it all..!

There are days when all I want to do is write, write and write. Simply because I want to. The mind would not rest till the words come tumbling out. Till I have shared the stories of my life. I want to write about this. I want to write about that. I want to write about everything. The pull  to write is so overwhelming that running away from it is easier than quietly working on it one word, one sentence, one post at a time. So the lazy mind starts making excuses. Why bother? What’s the point? Who cares? What if I don’t find the right words to express the right emotions? In all this drama, the overwhelming urge to simply write has evaporated unexplored leaving me with a pang. So yeah, some days are like that!

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Family, Kids, Little Moments, Memories, Uncategorized, Writing

Prayer Book

If you were born and brought up in a tamil brahmin household, then chances are you have seen your thatha, patti, appa, amma or other kith and kin dutifully write Sriramajayam daily in their best handwriting in a book exclusively dedicated for this purpose. I know I have seen both my paternal grandpas and my appa follow this practice. And when I got married, I was pleased to see that my father-in-law practiced this daily habit as well. 

I don’t know when it rubbed on me,  but I too have a prayer notebook in which I pen the name of the deity that I heart – Ganesha. I am not as dutiful, I don’t write everyday, not necessarily in my best handwriting, but I do resort to it especially when I have the need to tangibly express my faith. There is so much peace in surrendering, in letting go, in accepting that you do not control everything, and that it’s going to be ok. My prayer book is the thing I resort to when I am in need of a security blanket.

Hari has seen me write in that book for the past 10 years. It has his 5 year old handwriting in it. The practice has intrigued him, and now Ram is curious too. Why do you write that? What will you do with the book after you have completed? How many times have you written? So on and so forth.

This May when it was my fil’s b’day we were debating about how we wanted to celebrate the day? The popular vote was for appa’s favorite snack – onion pakoda. Noooooooo! Right suggestion to the wrong person. I dislike deep frying from the depths of my heart, so I vetoed it in a heartbeat and came up with an alternative, expecting it to be shot down – “Hey guys, thatha used to write Sriramajayam in a notebook everyday, may be you should write today by way of thinking of thatha.”  

Ram wrote Ram five times on the back of an envelope and Hari took a new ruled notebook and proudly called it Hari’s Prayer Book and wrote his first set of  Sriramajayam. Since that day he has been dutifully writing everyday. It has been more than a month and he is going strong. All on his own accord. When I asked him why he chose to keep up with it, he said “I don’t know. I just want to  write” And that’s as good a reason as anything else.

 

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Experiences, Hari Katha, Learnings, Research, Writing

Annual exam

Hari will have his first standardized test for the year tomorrow. The learning and practice for the test has happened over the academic year at school. Additional preparation at home is neither required nor expected. I have not spent a minute coaching the child at home.

Tomorrow’s assessment will be long composition. A writing prompt will be given based on which children will have to write a two-page essay. Most of the school day will be spent in writing a first draft and editing it before it can be finalized. The essay will be graded based on idea development, organization and use of rich language.

This was last year’s writing prompt.

You are finally old enough to baby-sit, and your first job is this afternoon! You will be spending the entire afternoon with a one-year-old. When you open the door you realize that instead of watching a one-year-old child, you will be watching a one-year-old elephant!Write a story about spending your afternoon with a baby elephant. Give enough details to show readers what your afternoon is like baby-sitting the elephant. 

And here’s description of the essay that got the perfect score. I am not reproducing the essay here, but check out the comments to give a sense for what’s expected – pretty sophisticated writing, I would say!

This richly developed and carefully organized composition begins with the engaging introduction, “‘WOO-HOO!’ I’m finally old enough to baby-sit!” and immediately draws the reader into an unfolding adventure. The plot continues to develop as it is discovered that the object of this babysitting adventure is an elephant from a family zoo. Effective description of the elephant follows with phrases such as “with ears too big for her head” and “all I could see at the moment was a gray lump wriggling around and trumpeting loudly.” The voice of the writer is apparent as the audience experiences the feeding of this “cutie-pie.” Subtly, the writer strategically places her salad recipe on the counter, leaving it to play a later part in the conclusion. After lunch, the story continues to the backyard kiddie pool where splashing and bathing prove exhausting. The writer uses effective word choice to show that the job is not that easy: “She cried and twisted, yelped and pulled. I put up a fight sometimes, but this was one tough elephant!” It is evident that the relationship between the two deepens in the writer’s thoughts: “she snuggled up to my hand,” “wow, she is adorable,” and “I pulled up her blankets and patted her head.” There is an effective interaction of dialogue between the sitter and the family when they arrive home, as everyone is shushing everyone else in an effort to keep the “baby” sleeping. The writer is praised and invited to babysit the next Saturday. Suddenly, the salad recipe left on the counter is of great interest to the mother. She would like to use it to make a salad to feed “the other herbivores at the zoo.” She also notes, “[G]et rid of the hay[,] add some chicken and almonds and you’ve got a salad for the rest[a]urant!” The writer’s conclusion finishes with the clever comment, “Well, as for the other animal I’m sitting for on Saturday, I’m praying it’s not a tiger. A monkey would be nice though.”

I have always felt like I can get better at writing by following tips taught at Hari’s school. They are taught to have a strong beginning, a powerful ending, to appeal to all the senses , to use vivid words, and what not. I love love how writing is taught in schools here…!!!

Wish Hari all the very best for tomorrow.

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