November 22, 2011

That infectious gesture

Roaming aimlessly at the promenade near symphony of stars in HongKong, we noticed a little frenzy. An organization had setup kiosks where kids were painting and playing games. Interested, we enquired whether Pranav could participate.

'Of Course!', one of the volunteer beamed enthusiastically.

She started to explain Pranav, 'When children have a disease or fracture etc. they feel discomfort. We will try to paint with that discomfort to better understand what they go through.' She showed him eye glasses which were opaque and had only a tiny hole to see through and asked whether he was ready to wear those for few minutes and paint ?

Pranav listened every word attentively and nodded his head gently. I could see it was like a challenging game for him and he was obviuosly interested. I waited for the lady to give him the tools to start. Instead, she smiled, looked up at me and said, 'I think he does not want to do this. He is saying NO'.

Umm...what was the confusion ?
And then it dawned on me suddenly ... Pranav was nodding his head from left to right all through the conversation. I muffled the itch to laugh out loudly...and said...well what he means to say is ..'Yes'..he understands and he is ready to take it up. She looked confused but gave him the paints and got busy with another child.

A lot has been said about this typical Indian way of nodding the head sideways to mean 'Yes' or 'I understand' or 'I agree'. But this was my first time to actually witness a confusion because of this. What I wondered most is how kids adopt these ways ! This isn't something that we have taught him and I never realized when he picked this up. It's an infectious gesture which we all indians just pick up, unconsiously.

Rest assured...the faster the head moves...the more the understanding !! This head Wobble crosses the language and cultural barriers and unites India....second only to cricket !

November 11, 2011

Thus starts the Cycle of Money

"Will you give me 10 cents for school?" Pranav, now 6, asked, lying lazily on the sofa one morning. "With 10 cents I can buy a super lemon candy in recess. If you give me 20 cents I can get 2, 3 for 30 cents, ... and 10 for 100 cents. But actually to buy 10, you will have to give me one dollar. Yesterday my friend bought a super lemon and he did not even share with me." The monologue went on.

Overall, I was happy that he could do this much of practical math and after some dos and donts talk agreed to part with 10 cents.

In the evening, we were super excited to hear his story of how he could not eat his lunch because he had to stand in the queue for a long time to buy the super lemon which was oh sooo lemony. How he sweated because there was no fan near the queue. How super lemon can be eaten by only older children like him because the kindergarten kids will find it very spicy.

After a few days, while running already late for the school bus, he asked for 20 cents so that he could share a super lemon with his friend. There was no time to argue and somehow I could not ignore the cute request. I handed him 20 cents just in time before the lift door closed. This time it was a sob story in the evening as he dropped and lost those coins in the bus. After some thought he said "If you can buy me a wallet, I will never lose money like this". We ignored it, but his request continued day after day with daily calls in my office - "I really hope that you can get my wallet today". I finally bought him one which has become his proud prized possession and he now refuses to wear any shorts or pants that do not have a pocket.

All was well till Pranav dropped another bomb - "See how empty my wallet looks with only a few coins.I want some 'notes' for my wallet. Will you give me one?" Welcome to the cycle of money and possession. What started as a  'request' for 10c has now become a 'demand' for 2 dollars (In SG lowest note is $2 ) and the battle of wits continues....!

We have been trying to avoid the topic for a while. 
No prizes for guessing who will emerge as the winner in due course !
Looks like the time has come for some serious money talk.