January 20, 2016

T4Tales - A chat with the author, Pridhee

I have been a reader since the age of 8, or so I believe. I do not have any recollection of books before that. But, I know for a fact that I have always seen my parents reading, and I did try to read words in the newspaper much before the age of 8. When T was born, I started reading to her when she was around 6 months. I did quite a bit of research about the various kinds of books available, and wh which were suitable at each age.  These were mostly in English. The moment I sort a way to build a love for regional languages, I found books only in Hindi. These books in Hindi were paperbacks which are more suited for a 3 or 4 year olds.

Where are all the board books, lift the flap ones, cloth books and the so many options which you find in English? There were none in any Indian languages, and the ones which were available ... not something I would pick up for toddlers and preschoolers for sure. So, I resorted to digital media to bring some bits of the fun element of Indian languages to my daughter.

Almost a year later, Pridhee has brought to us, the very same thing which so many moms have looked for and now I hope that it will help the many new moms to bring Indian languages to their tiny people early on.

Speaking with Pridhee about the book, T4 Tales and her journey so far as a publisher and author.

And while we are at it, you can pick your copy at Shumee (India) or Amazon (US)

How did you turn from a biologist to an author?

I became a mom. The only way I could get my daughter to eat was if I told her stories or read books to her. I quickly realized that I was  reading only English books. That was when I asked myself if this was the end of Hindi in our family?  Will we have to rely on Bollywood movies for some exposure to Hindi? I thought maybe there are other parents who feel the same as me. I decided to give it a shot and that is how T4tales came alive.

What prompted you to go the board book and lift the flap route?

Kids from the 0-4 age love to be independent and are by nature very curious. As the Reggio Emilia approach says children learn by self exploration and discovery. They should be allowed to learn through experiences of touching, listening and observing. Board books are sturdy and allow children to practice their motor skills of turning pages without tearing a page. Lift the flap books add interactivity that keeps children involved and curious about what will come next. It helps them feel independent to explore and discover.

Tell me a little about Bolo Kya

Bolo kya started off as a riddle between my daughter and me. It was like a game of "I spy" but in Hindi. Kiki (our little T4tales bird) takes the children on a ride of exploration of animals, colors, parts of the body, opposites and of course a riddle with an answer.

What are you trying to bring to your readers through Bolo Kya?

A fresh way for children to read and enjoy Hindi. A book that would compete with the high quality English books (in illustrations) and content that does not always focus on providing a moral lesson. You do not have to know the Hindi script because we provide the english transliteration. It is not your usual moral story or panchatantra tale. Most of all it is visually appealing to the children.

How has your journey been so far? And what do you see ahead for T4Tales?

Going from being a full time scientific officer to a full time mom and now author has been quite a roller coaster ride. But I have found something that brings a smile to my face and am passionate about providing to the coming generation.  

As for T4tales, we have a long way to go but I do hope we are able to bring back the interest in learning Hindi to our children and our coming generations.

January 11, 2016

Been there, done that and still going back ...

When T was small, we rarely stepped out for a meal, and that was a conscious decision that B and I took as we didn't want that whole hassle associated with going out with a small person. But, this time around with V, we felt like trying what it would be like with 2 small persons tagging along for a meal :). We had a plan for lunch and then heading out to do some shopping for essentials, and we ended it with lunch and rushing back to the comfort of our home and breathing a sigh of relief.

Between T and V, both of us were either making a formula feed, feeding the formula feed, helping T with her food, walking V around to burp (and then followed by the spit up which never ever happens at home), ensuring T is not converting the place into a play area, rocking V to sleep as she is surely bringing the place down else ... I really wonder whether it mattered if they served us even the wrong order. And we had no time to wait around for the right now, so we just changed the order to suit what was served! Aaah... end result, we decided, or maybe it was just me who decided, to head straight back home.

And, now sitting here, I wonder, why did I even venture out to attempt the impossible!
Whoever said Nothing is Impossible!

In fact I question myself why I ever did think this time would be anything different. I remember once I did take T out when she was something months, and after that decided that a repeat of that meal out would be after she is at least 2 years. And since she has been 2, we have been regularly going out for weekend meals, and now I believe T misses that the most. I really need to figure out how to incorporate those outings for her.

But, all of us going out for a sit down meal, not in the next year at the least!

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January 7, 2016

T & V

When T was born, I was overwhelmed for sure and completely dependent on so many people to settle me through that phase. But when V was born, I was more prepared, but the haze which sets in was just the same. And now added to it was the guilt that I was not giving any time to the tiny 4 year old who was hoovering about endlessly.

The way T took everything which was and is being thrown at her completely in her stride, really makes me appreciate her and wonder at how she agrees to my requests. I can completely imagine myself throwing a tantrum about why my things are not being attended to... but she rarely goes that route. So, now we have a routine that once a week, I drop and pick her up from school as a special something for her, in the midst of all this craziness.

And after two kids, I feel now what it really means like having no time for myself. At the end of the day, I am just exhausted to the extend that watching half a movie does not even appeal. So now, we have moved from movie marathons, to a movie night once in a while to nothing. And as I see it, its going to be this for the next 2 years. Frankly speaking, movies I am more than fine letting go, but I wouldn't want to lose on 2 years in terms of travel. Age just moved ahead, and I want to enjoy some things with Trisha before she grows up too. I hope I do not forget that T is also growing up in the midst of the V-time.

There was a lot which I fathomed prior to V's arrival, but there are many more instances which I still stare at blankly wondering how to tackle.

I believe it will be a long journey of discovery...

September 19, 2015

Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

When I first came across this book, I was very unsure whether I would enjoy this book, in spite of adding it to my to - read list. And I must say, it has been on that list for a very long time, and each time i read the synopsis and put it off thinking its too romantic for me and Sufism is something I really have not much idea about. This time around, I had ample time on hand and my mind was free to concentrate and read a trying book ( as that was the impression I had gathered).

The Forty Rules of Love is a story of self discovery and freedom for a 40 year old housewife, from the shackles of daily mundane activities and a loveless marriage. And she discovers love and a deep understanding of self through the story of Rumi and Shams, via a work of fiction which she has to read, to write a literary review, in her capacity as an assistant to the editor of a publishing house.

Sufism, what does it mean? Where do these people dwell? There were so many questions when I think of Sufis and now its a world which I have been given a peek into, through the work of Elif Shafak.

This book speaks of the meaning of being a Sufi, and why they are many times misunderstood, but yet revered as they are considered very close to God and his teachings in Islam. Spiritual, psychic and drawing on the inner energy, Sufis are at times said to have special capabilities, but most often, they just have an aura about them. The author speaks of those who are born with a Sufi heart, and others who choose the path to become a Sufi, by following strict conducts and rules.

We are thrown into the path of Shams, from 13th century Persia, looking for the One, to share his knowledge with and someone who he will connect with at a spiritual level. The journey he makes looking for this person, and how he identifies Rumi when he meets him, as his true companion is a journey which when I read, brought me to think about many ideals that we follow in life, and how they can be changed, modified to bring peace and love around us.

One of the forty rules that Shams talks and which spoke to me, was submission. When I think of submission, I think of giving in, but why not look at it as trust. Its a difficult task, to believe and trust someone to know what is right for you. It speaks of love and oneness between two individuals, maybe something which we have not given to in today's world. This is demonstrated between Shams and Rumi, across many situations, and you are left wondering how can you manage that level of trust.

Is it that the world today does not allow for it? I am not sure whether thats the reason, the world depicted around Shams and Rumi is also dotted with people from varying backgrounds and hidden motives. I think its a matter of the mind, and as Shams trains Rumi to accept, love and forgive, it left a huge impact on me, and has led me to look for more works by Rumi.

This book speaks to you, the author does a fantastic job of bringing together so many different aspects, and very seamlessly at that. This will be one of those books which I will recommend to many when they ask me for a suggestion on what to read next!

Rating: 5/5