Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The little guide

I was standing on my terrace the other day and seeing all the fun that children in the apartment were having. Evenings are meant for fun and play. So they were there out in hordes indulging in various activities; little ones on their tricycles, the older ones on their bicycles, some zipping past on their roller skates, the older lot playing cricket and so on. Observing children can be a very enjoyable affair, don't you agree?

It was then that my attention was drawn towards an old man with a bag hung on one shoulder walking very slowly with the help of a walking stick. Holding his hand and walking alongside him was a little boy who I guess was not more than three years of age. It looked like the grandfather and grandson were going out for a walk.

As I watched them, the old man was concentrating on the path ahead, walking carefully and beside him  holding his hands was the child who was carefully guiding his grandfather along the path. He would point out and tug at the old man's arm if he thought the path was slightly uneven and veer him towards an even stretch.

After a while he let go of his grandfather's arm and walked a few paces in front of him and then turned back and waited to see how his grandfather was progressing and when he saw that his grandfather was close to him he would again walk a few paces ahead and wait. Then the little boy changed his course and started walking behind his grandfather all the while keeping a close watch. His attention was so totally focused on his grandfather that when some of his friends called out to him he did not respond to them. Such was his concentration! For a boy who was all but three, the care that this little child took of his grandfather was quite amazing. It was as though he knew that it was his responsibility to take great care of his  grandfather.

As they both progressed slowly towards the last stretch till my line of vision could follow, I could see the little boy had started marching smartly in military style with his grandfather walking behind him and when they were almost close to the gate the little boy turned back and gave a smart salute to the old man. Then I could see them no more.

I found my spirits soaring at such a wonderful sight that I had witnessed. This looked like a very small incident but the sensitivity and empathy shown by the little child was exemplary. I silently saluted this little guide and sentinel.

Friday, February 14, 2014

An ode to home scientists

It's now a little over Twenty Five years since I graduated from college! It somehow did not look so long ago. But there we were the graduates of '88 batch celebrating our silver jubilee of graduation with overnight stay at a resort planned and organised by some of our classmates followed by lunch hosted for our lecturers who had taught us. The D day was ushered in with giggling, laughing, talking, accompanied by oohs and aahs as each one of us had met after so many, many years.

As I looked around me at all those lovely faces, my thoughts raced back to those times when as gawky, gangly, pimpled teens we had entered the hallowed portals of one of the prestigious colleges in the city. There was a lot of energy, vibrancy in the huge campus which added to our bewilderment, as we had just left the secure cocoon of our school and were stepping out into an alien world.

Once we settled into the new environment, we began an exciting roller coaster ride. Our stream was Home Science which included various interesting subjects like child development, nutrition and dietetics, home management, family relationships, textiles and clothing and so on. As part of the curriculum there were several theoretical as well as practical aspects that we had to fulfill. Textiles and clothing saw us all busy trying to learn embroidery stitches, stitching frocks, blouses and so on, struggling to get things right and in accordance to the specifications that our teachers had set when we hardly knew how to thread a needle!

The nursery children who were taught by us as part of pre-school education would ask us smart questions, as if on cue, while we were being evaluated by our teachers, leaving us fumbling for the right answers. :-(

Then it was that time of the year where as part of our role to manage the cafeteria, all of us would plan out mouth watering menus, try and work out the proportions and quantity of ingredients that we required, shop and prepare, and then sell it in the campus. This was generally a big hit with the rest of the college as one can understand the enormous appetite that teens have. The quantity of food that we struggled to make from previous day would just disappear within minutes of us opening our food counters!

In our final year we had cottage stay where seven or eight of us would have to live together for a week along with one of our lecturers, in a cottage within our college campus. The idea was to give us an experience of running a home within a budget and getting our group dynamics right. Starting with choosing a name for our home, matching the decor and the interior accordingly to planning the menu, cooking, cleaning and attending classes - all at the same time. God help the lecturer who had to put up with our amateur cooking!

At the end of the stay we had to invite our parents for a party to show them how good party hostesses we were along with our cooking prowess. Elaborate party menu was planned and cooking would start from previous day. Finishing touches would still go on till the last minute as there would generally be utter chaos added with kitchen disasters. The scene would be straight out of the television programme "Hell's Kitchen". All these however added to a very exciting and unforgettable experience for each one of us. No wonder then, with these kind of whirlwind activities we did not realise how five years zoomed past. Because of all these experiences where as a whole class we were all involved in each and every activity brought us all closer than we realised.

And now after twenty five years I looked around at all the beautiful ladies picking up threads from where we had left twenty five years ago, as though we had never been apart, talking about each of our families, our dreams and our experiences with life till the wee hours of morning. Yes, we all had our ups and downs, but there was an inner strength in each one of us to surmount these and move ahead in life with a cheerful smile. And that is what Home Science as a course had taught us - to value human relationships. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bidding adieu to school years..

31st January will be etched in my memory for the simple reason that it was my son's Graduation Day. Yes! he completed sixteen long years of his school life - Playgroup to twelfth grade.

I remember his very first day of school. There was my baby, all set in his new uniform with a cute school bag and a snack box setting off to school on the first day with his dad and grandfather (I missed it as I had just had my second baby). We had photo sessions before he set out. I felt happy as he did not create any fuss and within a week he had settled down well in school and was enjoying. The journey had just begun.

Fancy dress events saw him being M.F. Hussain painting away to glory (later the teachers told us for a two and a half year old child, he really had a great sense of art), or competing as a chef on sports day activity, or reciting rhymes dressed as a fisher boy - these are but a few images that flashed through my mind.

Initially it was the carefree days which saw him participating not only in several sporting events like learning the intricacies of table tennis, cricket, football; but also pursuing art work, chess, calligraphy or drama classes along with his studies.

Attending all the parent teacher meets, cheering him on during his sports events, appreciating his art work put up during the school exhibitions, or cheering him loudly while he performed on the stage - we have been there at each and every event of his.

Finally it was the culmination of this wonderful journey on 31st January. It was a very nostalgic moment for all of us parents to see our children, walking up slowly in their gowns towards the dais. The feeling was indescribable. The inspiring speech made by the Director of the school, the motivational talk by the chief guest, and of course parents perspective given by me - all added to the poignant moment.

With dusk setting in, it was an ethereal scene when all the students with candle in their hands sang the school hymn proudly. As the final strains of the music died there was a hush everywhere as each one of us were coming to terms of our children growing up into fine young adults.

As the evening progressed there was joy and much chatter over a sumptuous dinner organized by the school. While parents and teachers were going over nostalgically over several events which they recalled, humorous anecdotes were narrated;  the children (and of course the parents) were busy capturing that one moment with their friends on cameras.

Finally it was that time - bidding adieu. I thought all these friends who have been together through thick and thin will now go their different ways. These friends whom I had seen growing up right in front of me, who used to come home either to complete projects or on night outs or on birthdays. There were many, many memories flooding through my mind. So it was with promises to keep in touch and an adventurous future beckoning them that we bid adieu.