Crazy things that I do.

I’m sure all of us so crazy things, but some of us, a little more than most:)

Here are mine

– Walking into an enclosed area, holding my umbrella and walking on for five minutes before realizing why people have been giving me funny looks!

– Wearing two completely different shoes and realizing only after reaching the destination.

– Managing to burn a perfectly easy-to-make mushroom curry. I also end up messing up the simplest of recipes. Don’t ask me how, though. I’m not even consistent enough, in messing up. Sometimes, I can turn up a delicious dish and have no clue how I pulled it off.

– Waking up at 6, no matter what day it is. I wish sometimes that I could sleep in, not wake up at the crack of dawn. But I do, no matter how late I sleep at night. It gets annoying, sometimes.

– I forget what I was about to say, I don’t make lists, so sometimes end up in a grocery store, completely clueless, as to what I wanted. And sometimes, knowing that I would forget, would make a list, and then forget to check that list while I’m out shopping.

– What ever else I might do or might not do, I have to read. No two ways about that. So if you see a lady reading instead of chatting at a dance class or some other children’s activity, that might quite be me:)

– I read all the movie reviews but rarely watch them.

So that is it. The last post in the Festival of Words. It was great fun taking part, I read new blogs, some funny, some profound, some that I will keep revisiting. The only negative thing about taking part in challenges of this sort is that I get very little time to read. So I’m off to read, and lie low for a bit. See you around soon.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. Hop over to see more Day 7 posts.

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Education, here and there.

There is a reason I don’t write on topics close to my heart, these days. Once I start, I don’t seem to stop. Or so says the husband, and can’t really blame him. I do tend to go on and on.

So I was talking about teachers and schools yesterday. I’ve been asked many a time about how the schools in India and abroad compare. I can’t talk about other places, the only place I have some experience in is the UK. So here is what I found. It might be limited to the circle I moved in, or even the city, probably. Education is one area where I do feel, quite definitely, that we are better off in the UK. Here is why.

1. Focus on Reading – In India, I found that the focus was far more on the writing than reading. Children in daughter’s class(Grade 1), were still struggling with reading. Apparently during the tests, the teachers would read out the questions so that the children knew what to write. In the UK, I found that the focus was mainly on the reading. They get library books, reading books, and there is a systematic program that measures what level each child is at, and the minimum levels for each year. So most children at the same age in the UK, would be reading at a far more comfortable level. And I think it makes sense. Unless the child can read, how can he/she understand? And despite the fact that so many children couldn’t read, there was no focus on that in the school in India. My friend was trying hard at home to teach her six year old to read, when really, this should have been the first target of a school.

2. Methodology of teaching – In most of the subjects, what I found was that the teachers of my daughter’s school in India still followed the old method of writing on the blackboard and getting the children to take it down. Here it is very different. It is a lot more interactive and children seem to remember their lessons better. I’ve had several instances of daughter coming home and telling in great detail of the things she learnt. Learning was/is fun for her.

3. Student teacher ratio. There is a government specified teacher-student ratio here that all schools have to follow. I wish it were there in India.

4. Different learner levels. I really like this concept in schools here. Children are grouped together based on their abilities and then pushed and encouraged in a way that suits their abilities. This is of course possible only because of small class sizes and teaching assistants to help.

5. Interactive learning. There is a lot of interaction between the children and the teachers. There is also a lot of opportunities for parents to see how classes are conducted and for us to understand how concepts are introduced to the children and for us to teach them at home.

6. Accessible Management. Daughter’s school in India had a very accessible management. And from what I heard that was not common. Here on the other hand, all the schools, that she has been to, have had really accessible management. In her old school, the head teacher would be dusting snow off children’s boots when it snowed. Her head teacher here, was acting as the lollipop man, because the lollipop lady was late. We can go and talk to them anytime. And they do seem to know most of students by name. Of course, the fact that the schools are smaller, must help.

7. Exams. There are no exams here. Daughter had exams on India and she did fine. I’m not sure yet of the merits and demerits of exams. I guess, you do need some form of progress tracker. Are the exams necessarily the right kind, I don’t really know. What do you guys think?

How do you feel about the education system in India?

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. Hop over to see more Day 6 posts.

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Baker’s Seven

I haven’t been baking much these days. The few bakes that I tried seem to falling flat like the 4 batches of naankhatai I tried last month.

To add to that, our holidays have resulted in a lot of weight being put on. Any thing I bake, will only end on my hips. Back in Leeds, and in India, I had friends to pass it on to. Here, I am yet to make new friends. So I don’t even have the option of sharing the calories 🙂

So I haven’t been baking. But that doesn’t stop me from wish-listing what I want to bake. I could happily spend hours on baking websites. The only reason I stop myself these days is that at the end of a session of drooling over delicious looking bakes, I would need something, at least a piece of chocolate to satisfy myself with.

So here are the top seven on my list.

1. One successful batch of Naan khatai. Whatever I try, it is turning out too crumbly. I so need to make this, I have a promise to keep. Anybody with a fail safe recipe? The ones I tried were fail safe ones but something goes wrong every single time.

2. Baked doughnuts. Daughter loves doughnuts. Actually all of us love it. So baked ones seem like a better option, doesn’t it?

3. Caramel Custard – Just thinking of it makes me want to have some. Maybe I should make just two pots, one for husband and one for daughter, so that I don’t get tempted. At the very least, I will only taste a bite or two 🙂

4. Angel Food cake – Also known as Chiffon cakes. This has been on my list for ages. The only thing stopping me is that I can’t seem to get hold of the pan. A couple of weeks back I saw the bakers in the Great British Bake Off asked to bake them. I almost cried with frustration. I so want to bake them.

5. Danish pastries – The mere thought of them makes me drool. One day…

6. Choux Pastry – This has been on my list for ages as well. One of these days, I am going to give it a try.

7. A Decadent Chocolate cake – No matter how many chocolate cakes I bake, I think I will always lust after a gooey, rich, chocolate cake. Just thinking about it makes me want a slice now 🙂

So do tell me do you have a wish-list of bakes or things you want to cook?

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. Hop over to see more Day 3 posts.

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Seven Holiday Souvenirs

I realize that I haven’t written about our holiday in August. We spent 2 weeks in Scotland and a few days down south in Bournemouth and Isle of Wight.

I keep planning to write about the holiday but that involves photographs, and somehow, I just don’t seem to have the time to go through hundreds of pictures. So I keep putting it off. Now, it would take me a lot of time to go through hundreds of pictures, but I figured how I could manage a post. I could talk about souvenirs.

There was a time when we used to come back with loads of souvenirs, all sorts of stuff which gets put away for the moment or displayed the moment we get home. These days, things have changed a bit. Or may be we have got a bit jaded. A lot of things seem similar or repetitive. I prefer picking up something really different, rather than the same old stuff. But that’s us. Daughter, on the other hand, can’t have enough of souvenirs. So we let her pick up a few things.

1. Fossilized Shark Teeth.
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She is going through a phase where these are the things that interest. Fossils, stones and dinosaurs. All set in her plans to become a dinosaur scientist, apparently. I’m certainly not complaining. I’m so glad that her Barbie and all-things-pink phase has faded away.

2. Shells from various beaches. Some from Scotland, some from Bournemouth. All equally precious for daughter.

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Those bits that look like little corals are actually crushed shells that look like coral. We had been to a coral beach on the Isle of Skye and it had these instead of sand. It was lovely and different!

3. Stones from pebble beaches. One of the beaches we went to, had the prettiest stones. Needless to say, Daughter had a ball. Some of the stones that she collected. The rest, I’m afraid, I might find only when we move houses 🙂

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4. Souvenir Gemstones. Daughter picked these from one of the souvenir shops, and she spends hours playing with them.
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5. Dinosaur Fossils, or so she believes. We went to Isle of Wight, which is the dinosaur island of Britain. Now they say that it is easy to find dinosaur fossils on the beaches if you know what you are looking for. Daughter found these which she is convinced, are dinosaur fossils.

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We thought we were the only ones with a dinosaur mad daughter, when another family walked past, with a little girl picking up stones and exclaiming, full of excitement,’I found another dinosaur fossil!’

6. A fridge magnet.
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We have a huge selection of fridge magnets from places across the world that we visited. The only places we don’t have any from is the UK and India. Guess the grass does seem greener across the fence. So now I have one from the UK. Although I have to say, this isn’t the best. I’m certainly on the lookout for more interesting ones. The best ones I had were from Paris and one from Las Vegas. Both, I seem to have misplaced. I just need an Indian one now.

7. Pictures! But of course. That has to be the best part of the holiday, trying to capture all the memories we can, and then reliving it. Sigh. Nothing, absolutely nothing is as good. A lot of times, the pictures don’t come close to capturing the beauty or the emotions that we felt, but they still serve as memoirs of a happy time.

Most of the stuff we dragged back are things which Daughter dug out of sands or selected from millions of pebbles in a pebble beach, but I suspect what she will remember is the fun she had collecting all this.

So are you a souvenir enthusiast? What kind of souvenirs do you look for?

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. Hop over to see more Day 2 posts.

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Sevens in my life

Today is the first of September. The first day of the Write Tribe Festival of Words, which is a seven-day blog festival. And as usual, I went a little crazy and signed up for it. At a time when I shouldn’t have been busy, but as life is, things come up from everywhere. Fingers crossed, I should be able to get through it.

Now I should have planned ahead and scheduled a post well in advance. But. Old habits die-hard, I suppose. So here I am, wracking my brain for some 7 related inspiration only to realize that I am surrounded by 7s.

– My birth date, the month and the day adds up to 7.

– My birth year has 7 in it.

– My house number is a multiple of seven. And when I thought back, quite a few of the houses we lived in had house numbers of 7 or multiples of 7. Somehow it had never struck me before. And no other number made as much an appearance as 7.

– My current phone number has two 7s and so did my old number in the UK. Husband’s number has five 7s in it! I would love to tell you that my land line has 7s as well, if only I could find it! It is the most disused phone in our house. Every time I need to tell someone my land line number, I have to perform major searches and number identifying operations. It doesn’t help that I have all the landlines I ever had, stored in my contacts, under the same name. I definitely need to do some clearing up of contacts to be done!

– Daughter entered our lives and completely transformed it 7 years ago 🙂

– My weight recorded a decrease of 0.7 kgs this morning. I have to say I was delighted, after no signs of weight loss for weeks. It is another story that I didn’t do anything that accounts for this loss, but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating:)

– I’m trying really hard to find just one more point to make it 7 points on my first 7 themed post. Looks like I will have to just give up! Unless of course, I can throw in the fact that we have seven days of the week. No? Alright then. Surely, so many other sevens in my life makes up for it, yes?

So tell me, is there any number that appears a lot in your life? I had no idea that the number 7 features so much in my life.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. Hop over to see more Day 1 posts.

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Food for the Soul

Done with her shopping, she glanced at her watch. 15 minutes till the next bus.

Can she make it in time?

She darted into the library, strode to the ‘Just Returned’ section with the practiced gait of a regular. There nestled books waiting to be picked up.

Aah, there were some interesting ones. Grabbed three and rushed to the issuing machine.

Job done with minutes to spare. Just in time for the bus, with the comforting, satisfying weight of the books in her backpack. Books just waiting to be savored, waiting to get lost in. Pure bliss. Food for the soul.

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Lost Treasure

Nikhil sighed. His son, Akash had forgotten how to smile after his mother passed away.

Gone was the cheerful Akash. In his place was a sad, quiet, pale-faced boy. Nothing made him smile, or talk.

Lost in thoughts, Nikhil tripped and heard a squeal. ‘Dad! You almost hurt him,’ cried Akash, scooping up the little pup that ran into their way.

Nihkil stared, transfixed. For the first time in 2 months, he saw his son’s eye’s sparkle, and a smile lighting up his face as the little pup lay cuddled in his arms.

Seeing Akash smile was like finding lost treasure.

This was written for the prompt – Lost Treasure for 100 words on Saturday on Write Tribe.

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

The Smallest Things

‘Rich doesn’t seem your style, Ellen. I was surprised when we met. Don’t you normally go in for more flamboyant men?  I mean, Rich is the sort of guy, you would normally steer clear of?’

‘Emma, he’s not the sort of person who I would normally go for, but he will make a wonderful husband.’

‘Yes. For someone else possibly, but for you?’

‘He’s rich’, said Ellen.

‘Yes, I have figured that his name is Rich’

‘No no, silly, he’s loaded!’

‘I cannot believe that we share the same set of parents! How can you be so mercenary? Don’t you realize that happiness is what matters, that money isn’t enough make you happy? You know, sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart!’

‘You know, sis, for a change,I agree with you. I was waiting until we meet Mum and Dad for this,but..’ Ellen fishes in her handbag and pulls put something.

A twinkling diamond engagement ring.

‘Small enough, my darling sis?’

Written as part of the Write Tribe Wednesday Prompts.

Write Tribe Prompt

7x7x7x7

This week’s Write Tribe Prompt is the 7x7x7x7 prompt. Here is how it goes.

Grab the 7th book from your bookshelf.
Open it up to page 7.
Pinpoint the 7th sentence on the page.
Begin a poem/a piece of prose that begins with that sentence
Limit it in length to 7 lines/7 sentences.

The seventh book on my shelf is Lucy Diamond’s Summer with my Sister. And the seventh sentence on the seventh page is

‘Not taking her eyes from the monitor.’

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Not taking her eyes from the monitor, Shobha yelled, ‘Maya, could you get the door, please!’

Silence. The door bell rang again, more urgently this time.

‘Maya, Maya!’

She would have to get it herself. Self absorbed teenagers!

Opening the door, she saw Maya. Her clothes were covered with blood.
‘Mum, I had to run out, a car hit him’,explained Maya, cradling her new cotton-lined laundry basket, in which nestled a tiny pup, badly injured and whimpering.

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