Monday, July 21, 2008

Technosqueak meets her nemesis

Though I use comps all the time, I am a certified, card-carrying techno-duh, a techno-phobe, a techno-squeaky-scaredy-cat. A friend once observed that I will learn just as much tech as I need to get by, no more. Over the years, I've been both proud and ashamed of this. But always, always I've been hopeful of one thing - that my daughter will be like me: wiling to learn, able to, but not, like, champing at the bit to get at a comp, dreaming of macs, willing to spend hours figuring out comps, etc., like her dad. I'm terrified of exposing kids to tech too early, because we all know, don't we, where that goes? Addiction to gaming, refusing to write on paper, whatnot. I've seen kids as young three years figuring out games on cel phones (and playing them obsessively). It freaks me out.
Amit was saying something the other day about the level of tech knowledge of the youngest members of society being indicative of the tech awareness of that society. I got an insight into that recently. To get to our house you have to climb interminable stairs. It fatigues everyone, esp n with her small legs, and no one ever carries her up. As she climbs the stairs holding the shiny metal handrail, she says with a smile: See, I'm loading, amma, slowly, slowly. While going down to school every morning, she says, See, I'm downloading.
Who's to blame for this? Me of course. Trying to distract her by showing her the Dora website on the laptop, and when she says, Where's Dora?, telling her to look at the bar sliding up slowly, slowly because it's loading.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Through a fishbowl, darkly

What do you do with an empty fishbowl? What, for that matter, do you do with a hole in your life that measures about 6 feet? Nothing in the case of the latter except avoid looking at old photos like they were a portal into a spiral of tears, guilt, more tears and depression.
For the former, you make a plan to grow something else in it. A terrarium maybe, which could be assembled at the local nursery. We had gifted Siya one - where the nursery owner promised to make it in front of her (I am ever the educative auntie)- and being slightly fey, she handed them a care sheet that suggested they find a name for their terrarium - like say Terrarium Bob. And where are we, I asked? In New Texas?
When ours came home, we kept joking and calling it Bob, till n declared that no, not Bob, but Tinkle. Terrarium Tinkle. I love the sight of a terrarium, and had many ambitions to make one on my own in a large, broad bottle used to transport acid; make it the old-fashioned way, with self-crafted tools (basically, spoons, forks tied to a strongish stick); putting in layer after layer of mud / compost with care, and planting low-growing plants in it. But apart from lack of enthusiasm, I see myself as a bit of a Typhoid Mary just now - one who shouldn't be allowed near delicate things that might need nurturing.
So here's our terrarium, nothing as handsome as my acid-bottle-dream, but still, a good thing to do with an empty fishbowl, no?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Girl with the Camera...

…shoots a favourite subject: Sangita Maushi, our sweet, diligent cook. They really have a great rapport, and after the first pic she clicked of us, n wanted the second to be of Sangita, since, I think, the grandma wasn’t around. What with one thing and another, Marathi is n’s second language, English being her first (please don’t even ask about Malayalam and Gujarati – we had wanted her to speak fluently in those two first – or at least Malayalam for now – but we were told to put a sock in it till she was four by People Who Know).

Since mom and me speak Marathi ranging from extremely well (mom) to passably (me), we’re most thrilled. N has learned many Marathi songs from mom and another maid, Kalpana. Sangita, apart from making the world’s thinnest chapattis and its dullest dals, is a great purveyor of Marathi songs. I’ve forgotten many, but, deviyon aur sajjano, paish karte hai, what I remember of the Marathi hums which n hums (all errors in transcription, translation and lyrics are mine):

They range from the sweet –

Ye, ye ga sari, majhe matke bhari,

Sar aali dhaavoon,

Matke gele vaahoon!

Come, come, waves, fill my pots,

The wave came rushing,

And my pots went off!

To the cute –

Naach ga guma, Kashi mee naachu?

Ya gaavcha, tyaa gaavcha,

Aala nahi maali, ani mala nahi veni.

Naach ga…

Aala nahi shimpi, ani mala nahi choli.

(from Kalpana)

Dance little girl! How will I dance?

This village’s, that village’s

Gardener hasn’t come, and I don’t have a flower-garland.

Dance little girl! How will I dance?

This village’s, that village’s

Tailor hasn’t come, and I don’t have a blouse.

To the cloying –

Pusa dole rumaalane,

Radathe kashaala,

Shaleth jani N, chukena kunala

Kelisarkhi wadavili, jai sarkhi phulavili,

Aai bole n majhi, shalela geli.

Wipe your tears with your kerchief,

Why do you weep?

N goes to school, never harms a soul,

She’s grown like a banana plant,

Blossomed like a jai flower,

Mom says my N, she’s gone to school.

To the obscene –

Aalyacha mala madhe kon ga ubhi?

Vaangi todathe mee, raavaji, raa-va-ji,

Haath naka laavu, bagheen konitari!

Who’s there in the vegetable garden?

It’s just me, sir, just plucking a few brinjals.

Please don’t touch me, someone will see!

(A highly feudal song, sung in the original with an erotic, false sort of coyness… Positively EWWW when your 3.5 yr old sings it.)

To the bawdy –

Ye, ye ga pahune, Sakkuche mehune,

Sakku la baghoon hastoy ga,

Kaay tari ghotala distoy ga!

(This is an Omana-ammu rendition of the Dada Kondke classic.)

Come, come dear guest,

He’s Sakku’s brother-in-law,

Look how he’s smiling at Sakku,

It looks like something’s up!

And the hilarious:

Ambyachi ddhalki var baslaay mor,

Navryacha bapoos kaute-chor!

Ambyacha dhalki halveelli,

Navryana navrili palvili.

There’s a peacock on a mango-branch,

The groom’s dad is an egg-thief!

The mango-branch was given a shake,

And the groom ran off with the bride!

There’s also the odd ethnographical one –

Dokevari paati maura chi,

Kaay kolin chaalli bajari.

Yevda vata laavlay mota,

Aavar ye ga maushi, aavar ye.

On my head is a basket of fish,

I’m a Kolin setting off to the market,

Look at this large array, Auntie,

Come, come and finish it off!

The maniacally religious –

Hey Bhole Shankara,

Aavad tula belachi, aavad tula belachi,

Belacha paanaachi!

Oh Bhole Shankara,

You love the bela flower, you love the bela flower,

And even the bela’s leaves!

And this one which makes me cry – for obvious reasons – even as I type and translate it -

Sonya cha thati, ugalleli jyothi,

Ovalhathe bhau raja, yevda bahinichi vedi maya,

Gaadi ghunghurati, majhya maherachi,

Ovalhathe bhau raja, yevda bahinichi vedi maya,

A plate of gold, and a circling lamp,

I’m doing an arati for my prince of a brother, for that’s how much I’m devoted to him.

The tinkling bells of the cart from my mother’s village,

I’m doing an arati for my prince of a brother, for that’s how much I’m devoted to him.

(I’ve kept the translation bare on purpose – didn’t want to rhyme and poeticize unnecessarily – because I wanted to keep the Marathi meaning untouched.)