Cycling To The Lake

Though, soft-spoken, Cherry is a bright and eager seventh-grader at my Feeling Bookerish workshop. For her blog-post she decided to write about a cycling trip that she took with her dad and few friends.

“I still remember the time my father and I went on a cycling trip to a lovely spot in Central India, known as the Berchha Lake. One the day of our trip, my father and I got up at 6:30 in the morning. After prepping our cycles, we were ready to start with packed breakfast. We waited at a spot for some of our friends to join us. Soon we were on our way to the lake.

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Warm-up before the trip

In a short while, I was sweating steadily as this was my first cycling trip and that too, on a regular and not a gear bike. Even then I tried my best to keep up with the more experienced cyclists. On one occasion, one of the cyclists had to stop because of a puncture and we had to spend some time looking for a repair shop. Fortunately we were on our way again, though this time I kept nagging my Dad about how much further we had to go.

At last the lake came into view – and what a sight it was! After enjoying its scenic beauty, we wolved down the all the food that we had got with us – with me especially enjoying my mommy’s delicious ‘chicken keema’ and bread.

After lunch, an uncle decided to try his hand at fishing. To our collective amazement in just ten minutes, he actually had a fish flipping at the end of the line ! Though we decided to let it go, incredibly, he caught another again just after five minutes – it sure was his lucky day!

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celebrating after making to the lake

Soon, we started back and after a long ride, finally reached home. With my limbs aching till bedtime, I asked my father that how many kilometres we had covered that day. Ten kilometres, one way. This meant that I had actually cycled twenty kilometres in all – not bad, considering this was my first cycling tour – and with that happy thought, I fell into a well-deserved slumber !

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Music and Mood

Yet another participant of Feeling Bookerish came up with a write-up on music. Adhiraj, a perceptive and inquisitive seventh-grader, is himself a passionate musician and hence he explores the intense relation between a listener’s moods and choice of music.

“Do people listen to music according to their mood?

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Almost everyone listens to music. But did you know that the music you hear is largely determined by how you are feeling at that particular moment – in other words, your choice of music is usually a reflection of you mood. For instances people tend to prefer slow songs when feeling sad; on the other hand, when happy they are likely to choose upbeat songs that may even move them to get up on the table and jive.

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Interestingly music is not just influenced by the listener’s mood but in turn has the power to move people to a particular frame of mind. So if a person who is feeling quite alright to begin with, starts listening to sad songs, it is quite possible, he/she may get pensive too. Likewise a reasonably happy listener after listening to a few intense rap numbers may start feeling restlessness and angry.

All this goes to prove music is a powerful force with strong connections to mood, feelings and emotions of the listener.

 

Joys of travelling

With the year coming to an end, I got busy wrapping up my Feeling Bookerish workshop sessions. Blogging tips turned out to be a popular topic and I agreed to the kids’ demands on condition that they each write a blog post. The first to submit was a quiet and graceful seventh-grader Sana who wrote about a memorable Trip to Kerala

“I get bored cooped up indoors – day and night – especially on weekends or on Sundays. Imagine sitting at one place for hours and not doing anything ! No wonder then, I am often pestering my parents to take us exploring new places. Travelling refreshes my thoughts and ideas as well as calms down my restlessness.

I would want to tell you about my trip from the pretty hill station of wellington in Tamil Nadu to the neighbouring state of Kerala. One bright morning, we took our packed suitcases and started off at around 7:30. After passing through picturesque tea gardens we reached Coimbatore in a couple of hours  and decided to check out a mall. A whole lot of shopping later, we were on our way again and reached Palakkad late afternoon.

Eventually our journey ended at Thrissur- the town of my ancestors. There i met my grandparents and cousins. One of the highlights of this trip was a leisurely cruise on a house-boat. Sailing through the calm backwaters of Kerala,  I took many photos of animals and birds.

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Through the backwaters of Kerala

The following day we decided to have some fun and thus found ourselves at an amusement park called Wonderla in Kochi. The rides were hugely thrilling and the day rushed by in a haze of excitement. Imagine my parents being afraid to get on rides which I found so easy – it was hilarious!

Next day it was time to head back to Wellington – but with a load of good memories. So friends, put that tab or smartphone aside, pack your bags or at least put on your walking shoes and just head out – you are sure to have a great time!

 

 

Dream On…

Can it be really true?

That every face from your dream has crossed your path in real life – sometime, somewhere…?? Ok that thought now gives me the shivers! What about the skeletal person I encountered at an empty circus ground in my last dream? Or the old crony from a familiar nightmare? Is it possible that I have actually come across them in my waking hours.

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This time at the Feeling Bookerish workshop, the theme was “Dreams” and looking for some trivia about dreaming, I came across this page. We also discussed a few more interesting  tid-bits like how people who are born blind can also dream, one cannot read or tell the time in a dream and especially the phenomenon of sleep paralysis when you most wish to escape your pursuer in a dream, you find yourself unable to move.

But how strongly are these fun ‘facts’ backed by science? Not much – I could not find any news or institutional source on the internet where these have been proved by  systematic research. That my workshop participants and I had a lot of fun, imagining fictional situations bearing out such ‘facts’, was another matter!

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Additionally we discussed books where dreams play a crucial part in the theme or plot like Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, The Mummy’s Foot and, of course, the inevitable Interpretation of Dreams. Personally I came away delighted having made my acquaintance of a new word, “oneirology,” – the study of dreams – and loving the roll of the word in my mouth – “oneiron” !

Mythology with Kids

 

This time the topic of my Feeling Bookerish workshop was ‘Mythology’. Almost all my young participants fell back upon the familiar and turned up to discuss the Ramayana and Mahabharata – the two epics of ancient India.

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From ‘Mahabharata’ – Draupadi’s humiliation

Of course these texts are an endless source of delight and entertainment for Indian kids – with myriad stories within stories but in the end the good winning over the evil. Thus Mahabharata unravels the genesis of the Great War between two families – the Kauravas and Pandavas – while Ramayana is all about the victory of heroism and the just over treachery and the unjust.

Somewhere along the way, we also got discussing gods and goddesses of Greek mythology and their Roman counterparts – Athena/Minerva with her wisdom and quiet courage turned out to be a particular favourite of the older girls in my workshop, especially in comparison to her brawny, vain brother Ares/Mars. Zeus and Poseidon were the subject of numerous anecdotes – thanks to teen fantasy fiction and movie representations which seem to have become more popular than the original mythological stories.

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Egyptian Sun-god Ra travelling through the Underworld

 

But where were the fascinating tales of Arabian adventure from 1000 and I Nights, brooding heroes  like Odin and Thor from Norse mythology, the complex facets of Egyptian gods like Ra, Isis and Osiris and fascinating Native American creation stories? I wish the participants had taken a bit more effort and ranged a bit further in their reading. But as the session continued beyond its scheduled two hours, I realized that at least a spark had been lit and the next time the kids would find themselves in a bookstore or a library – virtual or real – they just might reach out for that book on mythology that is unfamiliar, remote and strange…

 

“Sleep: An Addictive Passion…”

Freya – an eager sixth-grader of my Feeling Bookerish Kids club – writes about the joys of sleeping and in the process reminds me of a delightful essay by G K Chesterton, “On Lying in Bed” that I had once taught to undergraduate B.A students.  But here is what Freya has to say:

Don’t even dare to think that sleeping is my favourite pastime – Oh no, it’s the most important activity of my day!

All the studying and stuff are the really boring pastimes. I don’t think these are compulsory in one’s life but sleeping is. Every  morning when I am nestled softly in the dreamworld, my mom comes and yanks away the fluffy dream blanket by saying “Good morning darling, time to get up”.

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“Let me sleep, Mom!”

Sometimes, she says “Don’t you want to go to school, study well and become someone great?”  Personally, I think that it is only when you sleep that you dream and set your goals for life. Let me tell you all, even if you want to excel in physical activity, you need to sleep because that is how you can replenish your energy.

Sleeping helps in many ways – it keeps your mind healthy and helps you forget your troubles so that you can wake up to a new day with new hopes.

So enjoy your sleep – and dream big!”

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“MY MOTORCYCLE TRIP…..”

Quiet and gentle, Udita is an eighth grader of our Feeling Bookerish with Kids club and is a keen outdoors girl. Here is a blog post by her…

 

“Pack your bags, we are going for a motorcycle trip!”

One fine day, my dad stunned me with these words. So there we were on the road on 14th may 2017 – doing a trip from Bareilly to Puh via Dehradun, Rohru and Sangla Valley. As we advanced, the gentle slopes of Himachal Pradesh were replaced by tall, rocky, cliff mountains.

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On the road!

The way was full of ups and downs – both literally and figuratively. We had a flat tyre, the chain of our bike came off and, to top it all, we even had a bad tumble. Thankfully none of us got hurt. We had to stop at many shops since it was raining. But the friendliness of people everywhere lifted our hearts – they always helped us out with information about the places ahead.

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Making friends along the way…

At times, the roads were really smooth but then quite bad at some places. At Sangla Valley, we enjoyed the local cuisine of the hills. After we returned, on 20th may 2017, I was so tired that I could barely walk.

There was so much I learnt from this trip. – India is beautiful. Live in the moment and enjoy life. Dare to take challenges in life. Many  difficult situations will arise along the way but don’t back down, laugh a lot and keep moving ahead with a positive attitude!