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Junior Kumbhakarna by Arundathi Venkatesh

I had never seen kids in the chooku booku compartment laughing so much. The moment I said Junior Kumbhakarna my son Aarav couldn’t stop giggling. Reason being he snores a lot due to his protruded jaw issues and we at home make fun of him saying you snore like Kumbhakarna.

It had been only few months since he stopped asking me for Kumbhakarna’s story every night before he slept. So Kukku for Aarav was a character he could immediately connect to.

Darshan a child of 12 years giggled too I asked him why he said “that picture!” I said “what about it?” Darshan- “i look just like kumbhakarna☺”

While two year old Sarayu waited for me to start five year old Ansh was also curious to know what the story is all about.

We began as usual with reading the name of the book and then the author and the illustrator. Shreya Sen and Arundathi Venkatesh hats off to you both for this wonderful book.

JK is a Mythological story retold in a simple and hillarious manner. Kukku the little boy like most of the children wants his appa (dad) to tell him the story of K. Dad begins the story and mid way Kukku goes to sleep and dreams of donkeys braying, trumpets, drums, soldiers and elephants walking all over to wake up Kumbhakarana who has been sleeping for six long months.

What happens in the end is something so hilarious. Kids in the room enjoyed making crowns and kumbhakarna moustache. We even made rava laddoos. And thanks to Darshan who said “aunty shall I sleep like KK and let other kids try and wake me up,” it was sooper fun doing this. Here are some pics. Waiting for Arundathi’s next book.

Oh after the session my son wanted the whole Kk story and also what his name meant.

For those who don’t know Kumbha is pot, a kind of water pot;Karna is hearing.

For story visit http://kriyayogagurupranam.blogspot.in/p/story-of-kumbhakarna.html?

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Giraffes can’t dance by Giles Andrae

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Lesser the crowd always the better! Today for our reading session there were only five kids and oh what fun we had. Most of them who were there today were of Aarav’s age and they were just going to start school in few days. With school would come bullying and teasing etc.
This brilliant book ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ by Giles Andrae was something which kids could immediately connect to.
The illustrations and rhymes in the book are outstanding. The theme of, be yourself and listen to your own inner music is just fabulous and connects immediately to a child who is above 3 years.
We began the session with first talking about how Giraffes’ have long neck! What are some of the advantages with that long neck?
The story line was quite simple. Gerald the Giraffe was very good at ‘standing still and munching shoots off trees’. However, what Gerald wanted to be good at, but was most definitely not, was dancing. At the annual Jungle Dance the warthogs did the waltz, the rhino’s did the rock and roll and the chimps did the cha cha cha. But Gerald simply froze on the dance floor, to the amusement of his friends that were shouting ‘Giraffe’s can’t dance!’.
A somewhat sad and lonely Gerald found himself gazing up at the bright
shining moon, listening to a wise and friendly cricket. The cricket says that dancing is all about the music and that maybe Gerald hadn’t found the right song yet…. The night evolves into a triumphant encore performance by Gerald, shocking his jungle friends with his new found dance vocabulary.
The bright and colourful, fun book didn’t take time to engage the reading room kids. The youngest being Avyukt , three year old could immediately connect to not only the theme but also enjoyed the eloquent rhyming text that rolls off the tongue.
The beautiful illustrations in the book helped to carry the story when reading it aloud to kids in chooku booku. The book which opened beautifully explaining about Gerald caught every child’s attention effortlessly.
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When I read: “Gerald was a tall giraffe
whose neck was long and slim.
But his knees were awfully crooked
and his legs were rather thin.”

All of them burst into laughter just like the jungle animals. But as the story progressed  I could see that tension and sadness in the eyes of three year old Avyukt, five year old Aarav and even 12 year old Darshan. When animals booed the Giraffe they wanted to immediately know what Gerald did. And finally when we read about the helpful cricket and how the Giraffe started dancing and all animals were awestruck there was a sense of relief in Parinita’s eyes. Aaarav laughed to glory and they all agreed that the book had such a positive message and how its ok to be different.
The story promotes exploration into self-confidence, self-esteem and individuality. I explained Darshan and Aarav later about how the book talks about different dance styles; the waltz, the Scottish reel and the tango. It was soon the time to have some art fun! We made our own giraffes on a canvas paper and they all had so much fun doing it.
Check out the pics here:
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and the journey begins….

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom. I usually say the same thing. “I don’t stay home with my kids. I go to Forum Mall almost every day.”

It’s not really funny, I know, but it deflects a conversation that can be surprisingly awkward. You see, I love being home with my kids, now 5 and 2.  I’m just not such a fan of telling people that’s what I do.

This is new for me.

A part of it is I miss telling people about my cool job as a city editor at Deccan, Chronicle, which is what I did until about 5 years ago. This is Bangalore, where nothing about you is more important than your job, or at least that’s what people always say. And being a full-time mom doesn’t exactly up my Q score.

Before I made the decision to quit, some people were quite direct with me. More than one woman at work pulled me aside and told me, essentially, not to do it. Such conversations are fraught because I want people to know I’m not giving up my identity as a strong, smart woman. Cue the eye roll.

And I did wrestle with whether I was selling out the feminists of my mother’s generation — and mine.

The Forum mall line doesn’t always work.
Occasionally someone at a party abruptly ends a conversation with me after asking “What do you do?” And some working parents, no doubt also feeling the creeping possibility of awkwardness, give me what feels like faux praise: “Oh, I could never do what you do. I don’t have the patience.”

But also, can I really explain why I’m staying at home? The whole involved, difficult, ultimately exhausting and fulfilling truth?

My decision to leave work was personal.
As a city editor, I was always running in 10 directions, even before kids. After kids it was 20.

I cobbled together a delicate system to make things work. You working moms know the drill: Fit 10 hours of work into eight hours, and secretly spend two of those hours doing something kid-related; come home harried and then try to find the reserves to play with the kids, make dinner, give the kids a bath and put them to bed, and secretly spend some of that time tying up lose ends at work. Then clean the kitchen and pass out from exhaustion as your husband walks in the door. Mumble to him that he is on his own for dinner. If you both have the energy, argue for a few minutes about the familial division of labor.

Repeat. Day after day.

Then one day it occurred to me: I wasn’t happy and I didn’t have an end game. I was too frayed to find any joy. Pulled in too many directions to enjoy any one of them. Apologizing to my kids for taking a call during dinner yet again, then apologizing to my editor for hanging up on her to stop a hair-pulling incident. (My kids figured out how to get me off the phone quickly.)

And then there was my sons first birthday and i spent more time over phone checkimg on what my team was upto than on the table.

I walked out of the party hall and decided this seemingly small moment, for me, was a big moment. I was starting to lose myself in all of it. I needed change.

My husband and had I talked about getting more help around the house. Turned out I didn’t want more paid help around the house. I wanted to spend more time with my kids. I wanted to have more focus and energy when I was with them.
We could run the family with one salary anyway. My husband was supportive of that. I felt a rush of excitement and good fortune. 

When I told my editors they were kind and wonderful, as they always had been. I’d wanted to do this for a while but I was afraid, fearful of what my days would look like and how I would see myself.

It was scary. What am I if I’m not a journalist?

I’m a full-time stay at home mom. I’m trying it out. I still write some as a freelancer. I had a period of deprogramming when I trained myself to take a breath instead of blow a gasket at every little thing I saw.
After all, I had to transition from writing about murder and sex assaults to sitting on the floor and doing sand art with my kids.

Being with my kids makes me feel good about the world. I know it’s corny. Maybe that’s why I don’t like talking about it too much.

Now, after this five year of break up with my journalistic career have found a new job. This time my own and something my kids will love.

I have started a book club hoping to get as many stay at home mommies imbibe the habit of reading to their children as young as a year old. Hopefully my journey with ‘Chooku Booku’ reading train for kids will be a successful one.