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Q & A

We took the boys for Kai Po Che a few days ago, as part of a plan to get them into Hindi movies with the hope of making them slightly more comfortable with the language. V and me grew up speaking Bombay Hindi as our primary language outside home, so it’s probably even more despairing for us to see them hate Hindi so much, which is basically the result of their abject frustration with the subject at school.

They quite liked the movie, though all the conversation over dinner that night was around one question that A1 had – what is the connection between a period and becoming a father? For those who haven’t seen it, reference to the context –  the lead female character and her boyfriend are extremely stressed about the PPP syndrome, a.k.a. the post-dandiya pregnancy predicament that many young couples in Gujarat and Bombay deal with, a  few weeks after amorous Dusshera revelry. She is then relieved to know that It’s only a case of a delayed menstrual cycle, and texts her paramour with the news.

As far as asking questions goes, we have always followed the credo of ‘anything goes’ with A1/A2, which has led to many interesting evenings triggered by questions like the one above. The thread of conversation that night also led to another question about surrogate mothers – a friend had told them that Christiano Ronaldo has a baby from a surrogate mother, and A2 wanted to know what it meant. So we talked about what it meant, and all the ethical, moral and other aspects that the subject usually throws up. I’m a sucker for long conversations anytime, and thoroughly enjoy evenings like these.

Actually, these last few days at home have been more question-filled than usual. I recently ordered this wonderful book ‘ Big Questions From Little People, Answered By Some Very Big People ’. Put together by Gemma Elwin Harris, it compiles over 100 questions, real ones asked by real children across a range of ages (4-12), and gets experts to answer them. An incredibly diverse set of adults –  historians, chefs, neuroscientists, artists, entertainers, sportsmen, astronomers, authors and many more – answer these questions from kids in a language and tone that does not ‘talk down’, and at the same time brilliantly resonates with children.

Sample –

How do you fall in love?

Three adults have answers to this one, and here’s what author Jeanette Winterson has to say:

You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there, it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but them somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your old socks (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found). And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.

Another notable mention – If a cow didn’t fart for a whole year and then did one big fart, would it fly into space? The answer is unfortunately, No. Ray Arons, who tested engines for the Apollo Lunar module, works out that the cow would go only three miles and that’s not enough to reach space.

A1/A2 have been hooked, and it’s been a delight to read for me too. The falling-in-love question led me to tell them about my first crush, when I was about the age they are now. She was a couple of years younger, and we played basketball at the local gymkhana court nearby. I still have this vivid visual memory of a match that we played against a neighbouring club, and I helped with an assist for her to score a beautiful basket. I can still see her face, smiling broadly at me as we ran side-by-side back to our half of the court, and being transported into seventh heaven.

Of course, while I was dripping all this senti-ness & nostalgia, A1/A2 were rolling their eyes heavenwards. SO LAME, came the response, to this lyrical outpouring of my heart. They are still in the Calvin-Susie phase of their lives, and it’s going to be fun when they take that leap to another planet.

PS  I hope they are brave.

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  1. February 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

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