The little one has a companion – a dear friend who is always there with her. He sleeps with her, plays with her, fights with her, accompanies her to the day care, shares her books/toys/dolls/everything, joins us for walks in the evening and best of all, takes all the blame whenever she is naughty or does anything wrong. I’m sure all parents of three year olds would describe this as an ideal situation! And all three year olds would long for such a companion. Only the companion here is a tiger!! No, we don’t live in wilderness or anywhere close to forests or woods. This is a imaginary tiger and a imaginary companion!! I mean, imaginary for the outside world. For us, he is a very real person, a family member!

The little one has been talking about a tiger ever since she started recognizing animals and started talking in sentences. I don’t remember clearly when she chose a tiger over all other friendly beings from the wild. But, its always been – tiger ne paani gira diya, tiger ne book phaad di, tiger ko music sunana hai, tiger ko baahar jana hai (tiger spilled water, tiger tore this book, tiger wants to listen to music, tiger wants to go out). Back then, this Mr. Tiger used to be green in colour. He wasn’t little one’s age, but slightly older than her. Maybe a couple of years older, or may be in his teens, I’m not too sure. And if he got angry, he’d run away to his jungle. But, he spent most of the time at our place. And just in case you’ve started wondering if he lives in my imagination too; well I used to keep probing the little one to see how far this would go and she would keep giving me these tiny tidbits.

Not sure its just a coincidence that I used to be, and for that matter still am, a great lover of Calvin and Hobbes. I particularly loved Hobbes and his pearls of wisdom. Now I have one staying in my very own house 🙂 To complete the picture, I actually got a stuffed tiger home last month. Not sure if it sounds way too wieird? Ah, well. By the way, the stuffed tiger has been a favourite at home ever since he arrived. And needless to say, he isn’t only little one’s favourite 🙂

Over the last year, things have changed. The tiger is no longer green, but he has turned nice golden yellow with black ‘lines’. When I told her, her tiger used be green when she was small, she laughed and said, “Tiger bhi kabhi green hota hai he he he. Mamma buddhu.” (Is the tiger ever green? Mamma is so dumb). And it is no longer about one little cub, sometimes it seems we have an entire family of tigers living with us. Its almost feels like a joint family! We have two “bada tigers” (big tigers), who I suppose are mamma tiger and papa tiger, and two “chotta tigers” (small tigers). Somehow these tigers don’t have a name. If asked about the name of her tiger, the little one responds – “woh only tiger hai” (he is only a tiger). Whatever that is supposed to mean! And we are spinning stories around these tigers day-in and day-out. “Mamma tiger ko bhi chocolate chahiye”, “Tiger ne newspaper phada, who suntaa hi nahin hai”, “mera tiger mujhe bahut pyaar karta hai”, while returning from the day care “Aaj tiger ki mamma tiger ko jaldi lene aayi thi”. I play along. Mostly.

At times the water starts flowing above the head when Mr. Tiger starts becoming a scapegoat for everything that’d raise mamma’s eyebrows. I couldn’t bring myself say there is no tiger. So, one day mamma got her very own companion and calls him ‘Ram’. Ram gets cross when the little one doesn’t do things she knows how to do, like – wearing her shoes, keeping her books in place, eating at the table, drinking from a glass without spilling. So, we have our house full of people, real and imaginary, all bumping into each other. Who said we are a small nuclear family?

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A lesson learnt…

May 11, 2008

When the little one started sitting up, often I would doodle for her or sit with her and turn pages of some picture-books. I would normally sit in front of her with the slate/picture-book between us. And in order to keep the drawings straight for her, I would draw upside-down. That is, if I were drawing a balloon, I’d draw the balloon on my side and draw the string upwards, going towards her, just so that she would see it correctly. Similarly, for the picture books, they were always held upside-down just so that she would see the pictures correctly. Correctly? Yes, if only I knew!

When the little one started scribbling/drawing lines on her own, I noticed her strokes would always begin closer to herself and move upwards. I was amused, but I did not realize what was happening 😦 Then one day she called me excitedly to show me a picture of a balloon she had drawn. The balloon was hanging upside down, or so I thought. Same with flowers, they were drawn upside-down. The flowers were at the bottom of the page with the stems going up. Exactly the way I drew 🙂 And it wasn’t only the drawings. Left on her own, she would hold the picture books upside-down 😦 Always.

One evening I tried to reason with her and tried to show her why the balloon should be drawn the other way round. She promptly drew it upside-down, turned the page and said ‘Dekho correct ho gaya!’. Hmm…this wasn’t going to be easy. Even to this day, she holds the book both ways, and mostly in her first instinct upside-down, and goes about turning pages and merrily spinning stories around pictures.

I’ve learnt my lesson and stopped sitting in front of her whenever we do any activity together. We sit together. Side-by-side. Period.

I had to buy some gift for the little one for Christmas. While I was busy thinking of some new and different idea, I remembered a colleague telling me about an interesting game. He had also mentioned the shop, Maharashtra Trading Corporation (Pune), where he bought the game. So, I decided to check it out. And I have to admit that I came out a very satisfied customer with a very interesting experience to recount.

The shopkeeper is a very typical Puneri, aajoba-like (grand-fatherly) person. When I entered, I was the only customer in the shop. I asked the shop-keeper for the particular toy my colleague had suggested. He immediately understood, showed me the toy and as soon as I replied in affirmative, an attendant was dispatched to fetch a packed piece. That gave me a pleasant surprise, because very often shop-keepers happily shove already opened items in your hand without even bothering to re-pack neatly. And you have to explicitly ask for a packed piece. As I stood there looking around he asked who was I buying the toy for and if I would be interested in looking at some other things; I agreed. He very enthusiastically got into the act- pulling out boxes, giving various details, very animatedly explaining and exhorting me to try each toy/game out. Another elderly lady entered the shop. She described a particular item she was looking for and asked him to hurry up. The elderly shop-keeper chided her for hurrying him.

This is how the conversation went-

Elderly lady: Aaho jara ghayi karta ka, malaa kuthe tari pohchayecha aaye. (Could you please hurry, I have to reach some place.)

Shopkeeper: Mazhya dukaanaat ghayi ghayi ni yaayech naahi. Me yanchya shi boltoye. Jara thamba. Yanchyashi boloon jhala ki tumhala je paahije te daakhavto. Mazhya kade nehami ved kaadhoon yayacha. Mala ghayi karnare lok aavdat naahi.

(Don’t come to my shop in a hurry. I’m talking to this young lady, so wait for a while. When I’m done talking to this lady, I’ll attend you and show you whatever it is that you want to see. When you come to my shop, ensure that you have enough time in hand. I don’t like people who come to my shop in a hurry.)

People who’ve never been to Pune will probably find it difficult to believe that this conversation actually took place between a customer and a shopkeeper 🙂

And aajoba, very nonchalantly, continued showing me various items. He not only explained and demonstrated various toys and games to me, but also gave tips on how to store the toys/games at home so that various parts and pieces of games don’t get lost making it useless. Make a toy-box out of a shoe-box, decorate it brightly for the child and store this toy in that toy-box, use a ‘potli’ for storing tiny pieces of this game.

I started feeling comfortable taking his time while there were other customers waiting for him. So, I quickly made my selection and came out smiling, four neatly packed boxes tucked under my arm and a promise to re-visit the shop 🙂

The shops has a nice variety of toys and games. If you are a young parent and are bored of the standard toy stores that only sell soft toys, Barbie dolls and Beyblades in the name of toys – do check-out this place once. Heck…you may be any age, if you are looking for some interesting, affordable, locally made toys and games of decent quality- head here.

Ae zindagi…

December 11, 2007

Theres inherently something cute about a two and half year old singing a song on zindagi 🙂 Yesterday I caught the little one singing to her doll-

Ae zindagi…na naa naa, naa naa

(continuing in the same tune…)
row row row the boat, gently down the stream…

Over the weekend, my record was stuck on “Ae zindagi gale laga le” and I just couldn’t get the song out of my head. I think the little one picked it up from me. It was so damn cute hearing her utter the word zindagi 🙂

The toddler at home is forever coming home with a cold, that invariably means a cranky child. I was getting uneasy feeding her one cough-syrup after another – its a different story that she just loves medicines! (Looks like the child has taken to her father’s family in these matters.) So, I decided to give my mother’s home remedies a chance. I started off by taking them myself, and they did seem to work!! So, Ma was actually right! I wouldn’t say they cure cold, but they do provide much needed relief and a significant cut down on doses of Dilosyn, Tixylix etc.

So, here goes a list of some –

1) Adrak (ginger), Tulsi (basil) and Honey mix – Take half-inch adrak (ginger), 2-3 tulsi (basil) leaves. Wash them. You may have to scrape the adrak if it is particularly muddy. Crush them together in a small khalbatta (Mortar and Pestle). Take the crushed adrak and tulsi and squeeze the juice in a small bowl. You can put the crushed adrak and tulsi in a strainer and then squeeze it to avoid pieces of adrak falling into the juice. Let this juice stand for 2-3 minutes. Some sediments will settle in the bowl; discard the sediments and put the juice in another bowl or tablespoon. Mix this juice with little (1/ 2 teaspoon) honey and drink it. (The honey is used to sweeten the otherwise bitter juice.)

This is effective if you have minor cough. You can take it 2-3 times in a day.

2) Dalchini (Cinnamon), kali-mirch (Pepper) and Lavang/laung (Clove) kaadha (decoction) – Take half-inch dalchini, 2-3 kali-mirch, 2-3 lavang and crush them in a small khalbatta (Mortar and Pestle). Take one-and-half cups of water in a container and add the crushed material to it. Boil the water till only one cup kaadha remains. Add 1/1 1/2 teaspoon sugar and drink it while it is warm.

If you have a cold coming, this will surely take care of that and you will get up no signs of cold. If you already have a cold, this does provide a lot of relief. Once before bed or twice a day should suffice.

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