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How I taught my son his Fundamental Rights!

April 10, 2010 15 comments

The Indian Constitution, the venerable very amended tome that it is, dictates these as the Fundamental Rights of an Indian Citizen.

  1. The right to equality
  2. The right to freedom of speech and expression
  3. The right to freedom from exploitation
  4. The right to freedom of religion
  5. Cultural and educational rights
  6. The right to constitutional remedies

Why am I talking about this now? Well, I had to read, recollect, revise and drill them into my son’s “short-term memory” so that he could regurgitate it appropriately if they appeared in his Social Studies examination, the last of his “exams” before he moved on to Grade V.

Finding it near impossible to get him to list them without missing at least one of them, I racked my brains for a nice metaphor, a mnemonic, some hook that I could employ, willy-nilly, to get him to remember them right.

And, this is what I came up with.

I am talking to my son here… He is in blue!

Let us take the two hands… As shown below. One hand with five fingers laid out open, and the other made into a fist.

The First Finger:-

Let us start with the little finger of the first hand. What is special about the little finger, and what do you think it would say if it had a mouth?

“That I am the smallest? That I am not equal to the others?”

Yes! There you go! The little finger represents your Right to Equality!

The Second Finger:-

Next, move to the finger next to the Little Finger. What do they call it?

“The Ring Finger?”

Yup! What ring? Why ring? Who wears ring?

“Christians wear rings in that finger”.

Great. So, we are Hindus, Matheeha who visited us today is a Muslim. And, Christians wear Rings. So, The Ring Finger must remind you of our Right To Freedom of Religion!

The Third Finger:-

What is the next finger in your hand?

“The middle finger”.

(I make the “middle finger” gesture, and confront him). What does this mean? (A sheepish grin and a semi-shyness takes over). Come on. I know you know. I am sure you have seen this being shown, at school, TV, movies. What does this mean?

“Some senior-class friends at school do this Dad! Not me.”

I know. I know you don’t. But, this basically means I am not happy with what you are saying, and I am going to express my unhappiness about it. A rude gesture, the showing of the middle finger is to express your irritation and that is why, we will use this finger to remember our most important Right. The Right to Freedom of Expression.

The Fourth Finger:-

What is the next finger?

“The Index Finger”.

Do you remember, we all went to the voting booth recently, and came back with a dye mark in our index fingers? What did we do?

“Voting”.

Great! So, when you are unhappy with the government, and when you are looking for change, you go to the voting booth and express it. You are looking for “remedy”. A constitutional remedy. So, this finger will remind you that we have the Right to Constitutional Remedies.

“Great pa. Thanks pa. We have two more to go!”

The Fifth Finger:-

Yes, what is the next finger?

“The thumbfinger”.

What is the most common signal you give with this finger?

“The Thumbs Up sign”.

When do you give it?

“Exam time!”

Why do you give exams?

“Learning. Education”.

So there! This finger is going to remind you that you have Cultural and Educational Rights.

The Fisty Hand:-

We have just one more to go. The Fist symbol.

What does this Fist symbol remind you of?

“Fight!”

Yes. So, this fist symbol must remind you of your right to Fight Back. Against something bad. Your Right Against Exploitation.

“Wow. Thanks pa! I will never forget pa!”

I am not sure how many parents and teachers from around the world will approve of a mnemonic like this…….. But, what’s much more important? – My son aced the question when it came up in today’s exam, and called me up to say “Thanks pa! I listed all six correctly!”

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A special trip to Delhi!

January 20, 2010 1 comment

Last week, I took off for Delhi, on a special one-day trip.
Having met Ed through ToonDooSpaces, (her school is a customer, and she is an avid user of the platform), and struck up an interesting online friendship with her over the past few months), it was indeed too enticing to let go, when I came to know that she’ll be visiting India, and spending a day in Delhi too.

So, I decided to do what I had perhaps never done before!
Flew all the way across India, to spend half-a-day with somebody I thought I have come to know quite well, but somebody I had never even met once!

We had gallons of coffee, walked kilometers, rode around on the city bus, took in some good quality pollution, caught up on a hundred questions mostly about India and Indians, strolled through the National Gallery of Modern Art, crossed impossibly chaotic roads, watched touring circus children parade in front demanding money, visited a roadside temple, visited India Gate, had late lunch and discussed more about India.

The fact that she had read up so much about India (her latest consumption being “Between the Assassinations” by Aravind Adiga) added further complicating dimensions to the discussions. 🙂

We’re both well past the “romance / dating” age, but it was indeed quite an unusual feeling for me to see in real flesh-and-blood somebody I had shared a lot with ONLY ONLINE.
Now, very surely, we both know that we aren’t dogs. 🙂

Glasbergen always comes up with pithy cartoons that capture just the right emotions. Here’s an example!

She seems to have enjoyed it as much as I did too. Her blog post sounds like that, at least. 🙂

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Can this possibly be real?!

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes the technology exists, I agree. The fingers are nimble enough. The iPhone keypad amazingly predictive too. The bathroom the best place for an idea too… Will this become the next ubiquitous omnipotent computing tool? I wonder…

And another thought sneaks past.. Someday soon, you are going to have your own personal 24×7 life channel broadcasting continuously .. Will we have enough interesting things to say??

Categories: Personal Events Tags: , ,

Hidden gems stumbled upon serendipitously…

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

A friend had brought her child to work this weekend, in connection with “Children’s Day Celebrations”, and had got her decked up as a Native American.

He was sharing photos of the event with me, last night. (Featured below, Cindy Amrita, posing as a Native American).

An interesting series of mini-discoveries, happened soon after, that I would like to share with you all.

The moment I saw this photo, I was reminded of the very beautiful and silently smart woman I saw in the “Night At The Museum“, the native American lady who comes alive from the exhibit..

The name was complex, was all I could remember, still Google was helpful – Sacagawea was the name, I knew in just seconds..

Googled for her further, and learnt that she was the famous guide who helped in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Then, tried to learn a bit more of the connection between her and the movie. And, landed on this article about Mizuo Peck, the Japanese-Caucasian actress!

And, hidden, like the proverbial diamond in the rough, was this article by a learned woman of Native American origin, elaborating, among many things, the responsibility borne by media story-tellers.

I was amazed at her command over the language, her ability to express forcibly, politely, yet sternly, what the right thing to do was.

The best thing about the web is this. The ability to level the playfield, to provide each an equally loud mouthpiece, and the once-in-a-while discovery that comes by laden with serendipity where each turn around the corner provides a more interesting vista and a greater learning experience!

Jai Ho!

Pretty Woman, Walking down the street..

October 2, 2009 5 comments

The morning started today, just like most mornings of days-of-note start these days.

By spending a pleasant moment at Google’s homepage, appreciating the creativity of that much-envied logo designer with way unhealthily too much time to kill in his hands.

Today, it was Bapuji himself, the Father of Our Nation, greeting us with his hollowed hallowed smile.

After many other chores and bores that I won’t burden you with, we reached the evening of the day.

Radha, my loving wife, planned to visit the nearby groceries shop and bring home veggies for tomorrow, while I ‘did time’ with my son Aditya and ‘his sister’ Ammu.

And what I relate here below, is a faithful reproduction, scene-by-scene, hopefully uncoloured, of what transpired between 7:30 pm and 7:35 pm today, the second longest five minutes, perhaps in my sweet wife’s life.

  • Overcast sky. Belying the promised full-moon of tomorrow.
  • Dark street with very few streetlights. Darkened further by overhanging branches from trees on both sides of the road.
  • Very few people on the road.
  • The occasional stray dog barking at some imaginary enemy.
  • The cricket ruing India’s unceremonious exit from the Champion’s Trophy with its own high-pitched elegy.
  • Radha, my beautiful wife, walking down the road, in a fast pace, burdened by three plastic bags full of unpalatable goodhealth.
  • And yes, happily burdened further with thoughts about family, and her product’s future (She is Product Manager of Zoho Mail, at ZohoCorp).
  • Suddenly, her uncanny sixth sense tells her of some unusual activity and she looks askance.
  • Three teenage goodfornothings perhaps half her age, clearly NOT inebriated but trying hard to LOOK SO, are giving her the look.
  • Pulse and pace, a bit aquicken, she overhears snatches of the conversation.
  • (GFNKid – short for Good for nothing Kid, okay?)
  • GFNKid1 to Kid2 – என்னடா  100  ரூபாவா 200 ரூபாவா? (Whatsay, A hundred bucks? Perhaps two hundred?)
  • GFNKid2 to Kid1 and 3 – nondescript laughter and villainous guffaw.
  • GFNKid3 to Kid1 – டேய் வேணாம் விடுடா போவட்டும்! (Hey, let go maan, why bother!)
  • GFNKid1 to Kid2 – ஏண்டா rate தானேடா பேசினேன் rape-aa பண்ணறோம்? (Why the hell man? I am just discussing the rate, we aren’t raping after all!)
  • Quickly deciding discretion to be the better part of valour, weighing the bags in her hands and mentally testing their coefficients of restitutions when banged forcefully on bony-boxes filled with unused clay, Radha just decides to let them know she has heard, and quickly turns the corner, avoiding confrontation, letting them live to see another day.

So, a happily married, 35+, well-educated, bold woman wearing normal work-clothes, in the middle of a well-trafficked street, in the center of the city, quite early in the night, is not safe from urban werewolves.

It is credit to the stainless steel in her nerves that she recounted this event to me with a hint of a smile rather than shaking like the proverbial leaf.

Like any self-respecting husband would, outrage made me want to dress up and run down the road to get her to spot those chaps. But she didn’t want me to. They didn’t look like kids from this locality anyway.

So, I am just letting my steam out by shooting imaginary bullets at those perpetrators of this crime of indecency. (Why else do you think I made that story a “bulleted” list!)

Readers might wonder what’s up with me. I don’t seem to have felt it deep down, I am turning it into an occasion for a blog post for godssake!

But, that’s what happens I guess, when repeated exposure to shocks and disbelief inures you to further pain. Like that bite-of-the-new-shoe, it is gone the fourth time you experience it.

Sorry MK, O Father of our Great Nation, we aren’t independent yet, if we are to go by your dream-dictum about the true meaning of independence. FAAAR from it!

Seems you said, “India will be a truly free country, only when a woman can walk its roads alone at midnight, with not an iota of fear”..

Bless you, that you are gone, not to see this day.

And, now, when I look back at the Google Homepage, I think, Dennis Wang was right… We gotta Google for Gandhi.

SEARCH for him, yes we can.  But, FIND him, can we?

Rajendran.

Update 1:- I asked her permission before blogging about it, and that wonderful epitome of modern womanhood said, “Why on earth should I be feeling ashamed about what three addle-pated street rascals had to say? Go ahead, if it will bring you back to blogging!

Update 2:- Yes, I said second-longest. For those still wondering, 8:40 pm to 8:45 pm, May 14th, 2000, was the longest ever! Aditya came to this world, that happy moment!