Monday, August 24, 2009

Machines and swine flu vacations

In the absence of a vaccination, a vacation it is! My son is now in that stage of life where all children, most especially little boys, are interested in the mechanics of mechanical objects - the larger, the better. This enforced vacation provided the perfect opportunity for his unending quest for earth moving equipment in our tiny flat. His final vote went to the washing machine. The day I discovered this new passion of his, I went to retrieve clothes from the said machine, but it refused to open up. Now I have a nearly non existent short term memory and didn't recall which cycle I had set it on. Muttering and cursing, I went about my other work trying to figure out my next course of action, when I espied the little fellow watching me curiously from the corner of the eye in between the 1000th rerun of Chota Bheem in the "Crazy Hunter" or some such... So, I moved off from the W zone and continued pottering around...Presently, he crept in the direction of the machine and stabbed various buttons...when I heard multiple beeps I knew it was time to interrupt and he admitted to "helping the washing machine wash clothes!". Among the non earthmoving but handy category is the cell phone, and mine is always with him. He answers all my calls, sends blank messages to various members of the family - sometimes calls them- and uses it as his clock, Since then I have had to keep an eagle eye on him, the washing machine, the computer, the cell and various other machines which fall under the "must be tortured" category, making it impossible to take a deep breath, let alone blog.
Well, what's different in this very mundane picture of childhood... just that my son is a special child. Doctors, even in this day and age assure you that special children cannot do various things and that the society at large has to be completely sympathetic and tsk tsk away at them. Au contraire, praise, scold and encourage the special child as much as you would a normal one and he/she will definitely take apart a cell phone and reprogramme the washing machine. Read to them all the time from birth. It is theraupetic and develops this great and almost extinct habit - Reading! I did and my son at nine, is an excellent reader, who has now moved to Harry Potter. Every question elicits an answer of "Never ever ever" like Dobby in Harry Potter. Even though I write this in a lighter vein, the above is all true... Anyone who has a child with special needs should just take the child along in every mundane activity in daily life explaining all that is going on.Yes, a very difficult and seemingly futile exercise, but persist and wait.The children surprise you and how! Most importantly, patronising any child definitely makes them feel small and useless, just like us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reality check!

On my daily route is what I call a semi-village. Semi because it is situated all along the alley that links two arterial roads of the bustling city. A quaint place where time manages to stand still for a few minutes in the form of languid cud-chewing bovines and minute chicken scratching the ground, before rushing on. Here, goats test their mountain climbing skills by scaling dangerous mounds of foul smelling garbage that passes for the banks of an equally foul smelling greyish "river". For waterfalls, we have a huge rotting pipe which spews copious amounts of brownish effluents into this toxic stream. Assorted cans, plastic bags and other flotsam add to the charm of this river.A rickety bridge; with twisted steel pipes for side supports serves to cross this Poison River.
Humans being humans have no qualms about living around this exotic scenery and go about their business of selling fish, joints of meat, vegetables, flowers and assorted candy.The locals seem completely immune to this breeding ground of unnamable viri, since all children roaming about look uniformly healthy and well fed! Curiously all vegetable and flower shops are clustered around the river banks as if this could take away from the overpowering stench of the water! Street dogs fight for scraps of meat while matrons fry huge mounds of golden bondas in ancient and huge kadais. The metre coffee is alive and kicking here!
Running through the length of this village is the remains of a road. Every year a layer of tar is carefully added just before the monsoon so that by the end of it a bit of gravel is visible here and there. It would seem that the very idea of laying a road in this fashion is to spin an industry out of it. The shops that sit cheek by jowl along this "road" certainly suggest it.
"CAR REPAIR" says a signboard on one,"PAINTING AND TINGERING WORKS"! While another proudly proclaims itself as a shop for "VALKANISING" and " WHEL TRUVING". I didn't get that. Anyone who understands please do decrypt!
This thriving industry has spawned another - building materials. Each shop sells the same materials, remarkably, they are in complete harmony in spelling out the materials they sell with one exception..... "RUBBIEZ" "RUBBEES" or simple plain "RUBBIS"! Spanking new "villas" erupting all around the bridge suggest that recession is a word that this village does not have to contend with.
Every now and then this happy scenario is punctuated by a traffic jam at the bridge and the whole village including the cud chewing bovines stop to comment on it and eventually untangle it! Must say, we city types are the ones that cause the pause!