Recycling flowers for Holi

With the festival of Holi a fortnight away, the balloon battles had begun. These days, they’re not balloons but small Made-in-China plastic packets filled with water. Not even the COVID-19 is a deterrent. Fill, twirl, knot, aim and throw with all your might to hit the target with enough force so that the balloon bursts on impact. It’s a lot of fun, but if executed well, it could be a most painful sting that could last a while. And if the balloon lands on an unintended target, well, God save everyone!

The children of Riviera Tower and Alica Nagar (in Lokhandwala Township, Kandivali East) are separated by a weld-mesh fence that provided just the right battleground. Things were getting out of hand. Balloons were confiscated and there were firm orders to call a truce. With this entertainment snatched away, the adults at Riviera were looking for something productive that could engage the children.

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The Death of An Unconventional President

My earliest memory of the death of a “famous person” goes back to 1977. We were in school and suddenly in the middle of the day’s lessons were told that we could go home. The President of India had died of a heart attack and it had been declared a holiday. Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was the incumbent President, and to date is only one of two Indian Presidents to have died in office. This was when I first got to know that when an important person in the country dies, a holiday is given, especially to school children, as a mark of respect to the person. (These days, it is also to keep the children safe from possible violence.) For students like us, the thrill of an unexpected holiday would cloud the solemnity of the grave event.

Livable planet earth

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Plagiarism, children and the pressures of social media

According to The Oxford Dictionary, plagiarism is:
The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

If we look back, many of us have been plagiarists, or more simplistically put, copycats, at some time in our lives, probably during childhood. Those who have judged children’s drawing / painting competitions will agree that they inevitably encounter similar artworks, though often of varying standards. Teachers will agree that sometimes they think they are reading the same student’s assignment again, only to see that it is from someone else.

By the time children are old enough to understand right and wrong, it is expected that they will realise that stealing is wrong, and recognise that plagiarism is a form of stealing. However, this is often not the case. Continue reading

Politics and children

“If Modi does well, then I’ll vote for him when I get to vote.”

“After 10 years? You can vote only after 10 years. And by that time you think Modi will still be there?”

“Why 10 years?”

“Elections are held every 5 years, so while I’ll get to vote in 2019, you won’t be 18 then… so you’ll have to wait till another 5 years.”

This was Gautam, aged 11, and Siddharth aged 13, discussing the upcoming elections. The conversation seemed interesting so I stepped in. Continue reading

IRHA – Helping to catch every drop

“Our vision is a large use of rainwater in every field of life.”

This was the basis of the formation of the International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) in Geneva in November 2002, following recommendations formulated during the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg two months earlier.

In the ten years of its existence, IRHA has been providing lobbying support and a platform to promote rainwater harvesting to address water supply problems.

In ancient India, human cave settlements, villages and kingdoms were built on the foundations of efficient water management.  Those that were not near rivers were Continue reading

Reviving the game of Elastic

These winter holidays I introduced my two boys and niece to Elastic. And enjoy it they did! They’ve decided that their friends need to learn this “cool” game so they each have their own elastic ropes to use with their respective classmates and friends.

Enjoying Elastic

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Real people please!

Movies for children with real people in them. Is this a thing of the past? TinTin, The Lorax, Brave, Madagascar, Ice Age.

Though I appreciate the story lines and messages conveyed, and the technical skills displayed in all these movies, I realized that something was not quite right when the most enjoyable part of Ice Age for me was when the credits appeared. The end of the movie? Yes! I realized that I would not be able to sit through another of these animation films, 3D or otherwise, in the near future, when the highlight of Ice Age was the credits … where one gets to see the voices behind the characters. You get to see real people!  Continue reading