Posts Tagged ‘the boys’

Many a Slip

August 27, 2016

last jack hanging

This year, our jackfruits have been ripening rather late… about a month later than in other years.
Someone got impatient a month ago and stole one of the low-hanging fruit. This roused Arunachalam, who is working for us at the moment, to a fury and he barricaded some of the gaps in the fence, through which people can get in.
And all of us (including Arunachalam, of course) enjoyed a run of 5 superb jackfruit. Till yesterday.

In the evening, I noticed one of the lower-hanging fruit was missing. Since I have passed the baton to the boys wrt checking—plucking at the right time—sharpening the knives—dressing the jackfruit and so on, I had to call Varun to confirm that the fruit was not one that we had eaten.

He came and immediately said that it was stolen, and raced off, me following, in the direction we thought that the thieves would have taken.
At some point, he told me that I could return home—nobody to catch—and that he would return a different way.

A short while later, he was shouting out to me. I stopped. He returned to say that he had seen two boys, likely eating the jackfruit, further down and would I come fast.

I slithered and skidded down the path that he negotiated surefooted as a goat. But too late. The thieves had gone.

We returned in the twilight, by a path unknown to me, and reached the place in our fence which had been breached. I struggled over it courtesy a (literal) helping hand from Varun and realised that my chasing days were over. I passed the baton, telling the boys that henceforth in such situations they should carry on and confront the people; shouting out for me whether I was at hand or not.

Varun asked me if my wish for the last jackfruit was to be able to eat it peacefully, or to have the thieves try again and catch them red-handed this time.

This morning, Arunachalam was really furious, and said that we should have given chase with a stick. Had we caught them, we could have had a “nyayam pechu” in the village and claimed to have had 10 jackfruit stolen (instead of the two that have actually been stolen)

I said that the only thing to do was to plant more jackfruit trees so that there would be enough for us, for orombarai (kith and kin), and for the thieves. He was not amused and said, “Oru tharavai pal-la vodaicha, marubidium pala-va thirudi thinga maataanga.” (If you break their teeth once, they won’t steal and eat jackfruit next time)

The score for this season is 2 stolen, 5 eaten, 1 hanging.
Dekha jayega, uska kya hoga...


C cheers for Varun

December 23, 2013


C candles are burning bright

You are C years old- Is that right?

Older and wiser, a year at a time

Now, how on earth do I make that rhyme?

B was last year, B for Bye!

D is next year when Teenage says Hi!

“The past is dead, the future unborn”

Now, where in the present has Varuna gone?

C for candles, burning bright

Varuna, blow, with all your might

Huff and puff, and blow them out

And “Birthday Boy” is what we’ll shout

C for cittens, did you say?

No, no, Varun uses a K

K for  kittens, let me repeat

And wonder how to keep the beat.

C for Calculus, acting the goat

C for cash, which you get for your vote

C for chess, the game to play

C is how old Varun is today!

Grey Jungle Fowl for Varun

Mukhtiyar Ali

October 1, 2013


Varun’s raison d’etre for the Bangalore trip, the Mukhtiyar Ali concert at Good Earth Palm Grove was superlative. For the boys, it was their first live concert; and being familiar with the songs was a great bonus. Varun was quite busy throughout; listening; trying to record songs that we did not have; clapping along with ones he knew; sketching the troupe; and all of us were completely engrossed for what turned out to be two hours. The feel of an Open Air concert is something else altogether, and Mukhtiyar Ali has a Rock Star presence.


After the show, at dinner (of Appams!) Varun spotted Mukhtiyarji and we went over to chat. Varun got the sketch he had made autographed (Khush Raho: Be Happy), and when I suggested a photograph, the boys  and Mukhtiyarji were game. So here you are, a great shot of Mukhtiyarji flanked by the boys.


In the beginning..

December 17, 2012

..were two dots, perhaps 3mm apart. But we need to start the story a little before that:

On the 10th of December,after lunch, the boys packed a picnic chocolate cake, and set off to “Cycle Rock”. They left just before 11 o’clock, and were supposed to return before 3 o’clock.
Sonati and I did a bit of e-mailing and had a cup of green tea and were just going off for our afternoon nap, when I noticed Badri Baba come up the slope. “What’s up? Why are you back so soon?”, I asked. He didn’t reply until he came up to the front verandah, and then he said (incredibly calmly),”I think it is a snake bite”.
They had been crossing the verappu (verge) between two sugarcane fields, and so he had not noticed the bite when it had happened and hence had not seen the snake
He had asked Varun to be careful not to get scratched by the sugarcane leaves. Then he felt a pain travel to his shoulder, and a swelling at his thumb. And he saw the two dots.

When he showed me his thumb, I saw the two dots which to me immediately signalled: Fang marks: Don’t panic.

Sonati and I are getting ready: No torniquet, just a sling, call the hospital, and…?, when Badri says, “You have to tell me to be calm”.

Well, almost without thought, within minutes I had called Nikhil at Sittilingi to expect us, and Ramsub to drive us there on his bike. And when we got there after about an hour and a half, his parameters were normal: BP 110/70, Pulse : An “athlete’s pulse” of 60 and a Clotting Time of 5 min. Everything Normal. Phew! What a relief: It must have been a dry bite!
Regi says to wait and watch.

So we went over to Anu’s place, had coffee and dosas, and headed back to the hospital.Evening: Clotting Time is 7 minutes. But CT varies, so maybe this is a normal variation. Regi says to spend the night at the hospital, in the Guest room next to Nikhil’s. We are slated to do another CT at 6 am the next day, and if all is well, we can travel back home with the group going up to the hills.

At Dinner time, Nikhil, who doesn’t care for koozh (salted Ragi balls), asks Badri, ” Hey Badri, do you want to eat koozh (at the hospital mess) or shall we make pasta?” No prizes for guessing the answer. Badri remarks, “This morning, I didn’t know it would turn out to be such a long picnic”. (Varun, when I told him this, said ” And I didn’t know it would be such a short one”). The two of them set off to Ravi and Prema’s kitchen to cook

It was great fun to hear the exclamations and conversation between Badri and Nikhil. I heard snatches of ” OK, I’ll cut an extra onion” and “OK, I’ll search for a couple of tomatoes”. The pasta turned out to be a cheese-and-butter mush with a bit of pasta thrown in. Dinner that night was Ravi, Prema and me (who ate primarily koozh), Nikhil and Badri (who primarily ate pasta; in fact, I don’t think Nikhil ate any koozh whatsoever), and Randall who dropped by after his dinner, to lick the pasta pan clean. Dessert was chocolates.

After dinner,we went out for a walk with Randall, to see the (lovely, bright) night sky, planned on waking up to see the Geminid meteor shower one of these nights (peaks on the night of 12-13 and 13-14). Randall was going to cycle up to Karumandurai on Wednesday, and I told him to come, have dinner with us and go back the next morning…

Then we walked back to the guest room. The swelling had reduced; and there was almost no pain. We went off to sleep.

The 2nd day (11-12-12): The night was peaceful, and Badri and I woke up early and got ready. Randall said he would make me some coffee, and Nikhil took Badri Baba off for the CT.
The CT is 9 minutes.

Regi tells us to stay back; he would carry on with Nikhil to Karumandurai for the Field visits etc. and would stay in touch with us and Ravi through the day. He scheduled another CT at 10 o’clock.
We head to Thulir to meet Anu, pick up some more books and having had coffee and breakfast at Thulir, we head back to the hospital.
The CT is 11 minutes.

Ravi says that he will start administering the Anti Snake Venom (ASV), and Badri is admitted as an inpatient. This is turning out to be a curious incident of the snake in the sugarcane field.

So the ASV is given, first a test dose which shows a mild allergic reaction. So an anti-histamine/ anti-allergen/ASV cocktail is intravenously given.

Now what follows are the longest hours for all of us, but I will cut a long story short. 10 vials of ASV are administered from around 10 o’clock of 11-12-12 to around 10 o’clock of 12-12-12. The CT does not fall to normal (5 min to 10 min) values ever. It is at 22 after the last vial is administered. And Regi schedules another CT for 2 pm to give the ASV time to act.

Badri and I head out of the ward to the guest room for a bath. Varun calls Badri to say that it is 12-12-12. When Badri calls him back post-bath to tell him that it is 12:12:12 on 12-12-12, Varun is in his bath, having waited for that moment to start his bath.

I am lying on the khatiya outside Nikhil’s room and wondering; and I think, “Hey if it is not a big4 bite, then the ASV is not going to work. And suppose it is a Bamboo Pit Viper, what would be the symptoms…” When I sounded Badri Baba out on this he said he had thought of it, but he thought that someone else would have also thought of it.
I call Pablo, who gives me Gerrry’s number. Gerry says, Yes that is possible. But don’t assume anything. It may be a delayed effect in a Russell’s viper bite, for instance. In any case don’t give any further ASV because it is of no use. He also gives me the phone number of Dr.Jaideep Menon, who he says is a friend and a snake-bite expert.
But I can’t get through to him. So I text him and wait.
I tell Regi what I have thought, and he says that it is a possibility. Meanwhile we head back for the 2pm CT. The CT is >45 minutes with (as usual) all other parameters normal.

Till now, Regi had held the tension, and I had not had to think at all. Now I felt the dilemma and consequent tension of a doctor who has to treat close friends and family. He said, ” Don’t worry, but it would be better to get to Salem where there are facilities and equipment for (Blood) clotters, dialysis (though at the moment kidney function is absolutely normal)”.

Till now we haven’t told anyone else of the bite, so that we can focus on it. Now I have to break it to Appa that I am coming. He was reeling a bit, but eventually recovered and it was he who met me at Gokulam when we arrived.
I also tell Sonati and Varun to come to Salem. So long as it was Sittilingi, it was fine for Sonati to be at home and get my bulletins; if we were moving to Salem, it was easier that she be on the front line.

Munish drove us to Salem. While in the jeep, I managed to get in touch with Dr. Jaidep Menon. He was the one who reassured me and said “Don’t give any more ASV, This is likely to be a Bamboo Pit Viper bite, and I have known cases where it has taken even 15 days for the CT to normalise” I asked Regi to talk to him also; and Regi texted me back that that was a great relief. (In fact, much later, Regi said that if this sequence had been played out earlier, he would not have inflicted Gokulam on me)

Anyway, this gave me the confidence to be prepared to fight and get Badri out “against medical advice” if necessary if the doctor at Gokulam decided to give more ASV.

Munish was a great help in telling me what to do. Gokulam was as far a contrast as possible from the Sittilingi hospital.It is impossible for me to do justice to the atmosphere at Sittilingi which makes all the difference. People are spoken to like human beings. The nurses are trained to make conversation with the patients. And at the moment, Ravi and Prema and Regi and Lalitha have “enthu” young blood in Randall and Nikhil which really gives the place a nice buzz. But this has to be the subject of a different post.

In Gokulam they just about stop short short of branding patients like cows.

So to get back to our story, we arrive and Badri is admitted to Emergency. I have to pay an advance in cash (Rs. 10000), then go to the lab to order tests, pay for them, go back to the lab so that they will do thr tests. Then buy medicines to be delivered to the ICU. All this money is courtesy Regi’s debit card which he gave me as I was leaving, knowing that I wouldn’t have an idea about the scale of this thing.

Sonati and Varun arrive with Amma. Sonati, Varun and I go to the ICU (to which Badri has been moved) and somehow ghiss in to meet Badri.
The head of the ICU met us, and said that all is well; ASV has been given within hours of the bite (which is totally wrong: It was started almost 24 hours after, since there were no symptoms to warrant it till then) and the patient is stable. I said that we think it is a Bamboo Pit Viper to which he says that there are none in India, that he is on some UN panel on toxicology etc. He says that it must be a krait viper. This blows my mind. His arrogance and ignorance is mind-blowing in the extreme; but … Look at our position. Anyway, I said I would send him pictures (which I have since done; and he has thanked me for it and said that it would help the cause of epidemiology in India)

We are shunted out onto this railway platform like area which is all that the ICU “attenders” have to sit on. And it is sloping like a ramp!
I talk to Amma and Appa, a short lecture on Big4, Bamboo Pit Viper; then send Varun off with them and return to wait with Sonati for the physician to come.

When we meet him, he says all is well. When we ask about the clotting time he tells us not to worry. But doesn’t tell me any numbers. Anyway I am relieved that he is not going to shoot more ASV. And he tells us to go home and sleep and come back next morning, Badri will be taken care of. So we give Badri his dinner of Thayir Saadham which Amma had left and go home (Can you believe that?). Badri Baba was incredibly unfazed through all this. And in fact so was Varun, for whom it must have been a more difficult thing since he was a bystander.

So, home to Amma and Appa’s place. Sleep. Next morning, we have breakfast and head for the hospital with Badri’s breakfast. All the monitoring equipment is off, but the IV line is functioning with some antibiotic, whose function is to make sure that the patient cannot run, I think. Badri is reading, and makes a good breakfast. His neighbour is some poor old man with all manner of tubes, a respirator,and what-not who is mumbling to himself.


Sonati does a sketch of Badri in the ICU. But soon enough,we are shunted out to wait on the railway platform. When the physician comes, we are told that Badri is discharged and that we can take him home after the formalities are complete.

It is only at 5 in the evening that I get my hands on the lab reports (that after threatening to sit down in the ICU till I get it) and see that the clotting time when we got in was 24 minutes. The drive from Sittilingi to Salem had bucked the rising trend.

So there you are. Places like Gokulam are Hell because the expert claims to have a knowledge which you may not really be in a position to verify. Decisions are made for you which are out of your control. And if you are poor and don’t speak English, then the situation is even worse.

So that was 13-12-12. On the 14th we headed back to Sittilingi, visited the hospital, said our thank-yous to everyone there, and headed to Regi and Lalitha’s house. We spent the night at Regi and Lalitha’s place. Anu in spite of being very much under the weather, came and spent time with us there. We talked of various things: rural India, emu farm scams, the utter and bewildering contrast the tribals face when they have to deal with the big city doctors and nurses, the necessity of having a social basis to medical treatment, and the issue of a dignified death among other things. Those are subjects for other blog posts.

On 15-12-12 we had breakfast at the hospital, and Badri headed off for his CT. 12 minutes. Still not normal, but getting there. Creatinine is 1 which is a bit high but well within limits. His kidneys have been doing a champion’s job. Regi says to come next Friday for a (hopefully) final test. He says that Badri should drink plenty of water, fluids and the juice of vazha thandu (banana stem). He needs to be careful not to over-exert.

We caught the bus outside the hospital to Thumbal, a connection to Karumandurai, visited the shandy where the boys ate popcorn and then caught a “pick-up” back home to Thekambattu. I lit the fire and after a nice hot oil bath each, we had dosas thanks to Rama and Ramsub who delivered the maavu...

Thus endeth the sixth day. And on the seventh day I blogged.(And He, perhaps would have too :-))

Last things first or A touch of Kafka in everybody’s lives

December 14, 2012

Sonati and Badri Baba headed home to my parents’ place in Salem after a hard fought battle with the machine that is Gokulam Hospitals. When we were admitted at “Emergency” on 12-12-12, I had had to pay an advance of Rs. 10,000. On the morning of the 13th, when the doctor said that Badri could be discharged, the system took over.

It took me a while to learn that this “Discharge process” could take hours, so after about half an hour, and  a few unsuccessful attempts at the ICU itself to get some idea, I head to the Cash-man and asked him to give me  a rough estimate of the bill so that I could go to the bank if necessary. He said that I was due a refund, so I (rather blissfully) head back to the ICU and ask the “on-duty-nurse” to please let Badri Baba go, and that I would wait for the Discharge papers. She said that she would ask some one and let me know. But that never happens. She just goes off duty. This rigmarole repeats in some rather fascinating permutations and combinations.

Finally I walk in to the Cash office and head for the “boss-man”. I explain the situation and say that my son is being held hostage in the ICU and could he please do something. He says not to worry he would do it, but I should ask the “on-duty-nurse” to call him. ( Why he could not call her,is just one of the things I never figured out). I go back to the ICU and explain the situation to the (newest) on-duty-nurse. She says that she is sorry but that the procedure is that the bill has to be settled before she can release the patient. (I am reeling by this time, but the show must go on…). I ask her to please call the cash boss-man; and she says that I should ask him to call her. I repeat the word hostage a few times, and finally she calls him; he okays it; and I get Badri Baba dressed in his own clothes and he walks to freedom.

Me, I am left outside the ICU to stew for another three and a half hours on a railway platform, for all practical purposes. That will make another story.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

February 1, 2012


This one is for the boys for whom details must be detailed. I had to collect all my tickets and keep them safe for them.

After having made and partaken of Varuna’s birthday masala dosas, I started off from home, walking. The first two bikes to whiz past had three men on them, the third had just one: Perumal. I waved him down and asked for a lift to Karumandurai. He said that everyone was going to the ration shop for kerosene. I walked on.

After I had walked about a kilometre, and was just outside Thekambattu, Perumal drove up and asked me to sit. He had organised someone to get his kerosene and was going to take me to Karumandurai. Very sweet of him, indeed. So, pillion ride to Karumandurai.

Ramani to Salem. 13 to “Sona College”. Walk to Amma and Appa’s place. Post-dinner, 13 to the Railway Station. Yercaud express to Chennai Central.

Next morning, A1 to Tiruvanmiyur. And Madhavan picks me up there in response to my cell phone call as I am crossing the Adayar river (Technology in the service of Man:-).

After breakfast, I head to Mama and Mami’s place. I am dropped by Madhavan, Meena and the kids at the Kasturba Nagar MRTS station. MRTS to Fort. And the local to Kodambakkam. After coffee and snacks there, I take a local to Tirisoolam, and walk across to the airport.

My first flight in about fifteen years. Madhavan had web-checked me in, so I collected the boarding pass, cleared security, and was in, with an hour to go before the Boarding for the flight. I spent the time reading Molesworth, and laughing out loud at times, much to the amazement/amusement of the others waiting. When the flight was called, I went to the gate, presented my boarding pass: smiling faces, nodding heads, “Thank you sir, have a good flight” and all…As I have one foot on the footboard of the bus, a fellow comes running: “Saab, apko saab bula rahe hain”. Someone had noticed (rather late in the day) that my backpack had not been stamped by the security chaps. Rush back, get the stamp, back to (another) bus…

We reached the plane: “So-and-so numbers board from the front, such-and-such from the back” etc. People board. I am behind a nervous lady, who asks the person at the steps (much as one would ask at the Salem Bus stand, “Intha bus Karumandurai pogumaa?”) “Is this the flight to Bombay?” Pat comes the reply, “Sorry, madam, you are in the wrong place, this is the Delhi flight!” Well, it wasn’t she alone, but the busload of us who were in the wrong place. Panic amongst the personnel. A quick check to ensure that it was the Delhi flight. Then, prevent further boarding. Then, get the people who are already in, out. Back to the bus. To the right plane. Board.

An antiseptic journey leavened by Molesworth. Land in Bombay.

An auto to IIT, and there I was in the middle of the Class of ’86 Reunion…

A Night in the Life of …

August 15, 2011

One night last week, Bagli started barking and we went out to the Front verandah to investigate. It was her “snake bark”, and sure enough, it was a snake in the flower beds under the Front verandah ledge. We could hear it clearly, and see it vaguely, but none of our torches was bright enough to identify it.

We called Bagli away and tied her in the front verandah. Comet, who was visiting us was tied in the cowshed. He heard all the commotion, wrenched himself out of his collar buckle and came to the Front verandah to join the party. Badri Baba got the camera and took a few pictures: That was when we identified it as a Russell’s viper.

I took a stick and tried to nudge it away from the house. It started its characteristic ‘Pressure cooker” hiss and kept it up for  a couple of minutes. Bagli started barking and the snake stayed put. We have never had this problem with snakes before. Next we tried splashing it with water ; but it just hissed and stayed put.

The boys decided that it was too scared to move and that we should just leave it alone for a (long) while. Finally after about 45 minutes, it slowly inched away from the house . And we released Bagli, and returned to bed and story-reading.

Did Obama feed the pigeons?

January 24, 2011

After all the dramatic changes at Powai and at Vashi, where I could not find my Athai’s house since it had all metamorphosed in the last twelve years, it was a comfort to see Colaba much the same as when I last saw it.

The trees at the BPT park had grown in the twelve years  since we used to take baby Badri there every evening: much as he has! The garden on Garden Road where I used to play 40 years ago, was still there much as I remembered it,  a patch of green in the sea of buildings. The museum had a cared-for look and things were in better shape than when I used to visit in my school days.

Jogesh and I even managed a trip to Strand Book Stall and People’s Book Depot ending up with a Bun Maska and Chai at Yazdani’s (the chai surely in a cup from 15 years ago). We also bought some Fiery Ginger Biscuits to take home.

The sea at Gateway had a lot of plastic garbage.  And many more people than before. But it was great to walk to the Gateway every morning with Mahuli, Varun and Badri Baba.

On the first morning, we saw the pigeons being (over)fed. By the tourists who wanted their picture with the pigeons. But mainly by  a man in white kurta pyjama who drove up in a car with driver, attendant and (literally) a sackful of food for the pigeons. Besides channa, the pigeons got jowar, bajra and wheat. The crows, whose territory was different got broken biscuits, the stray dogs got chapatis, and the fish got Nutri-nuggets. But no-one got so much as a smile. Least of all, Mahuli, who tried to wangle a handful of grain from him. She was shooed away peremptorily.

Next morning, at Mahuli’s request, I carried money to buy channa for the kids to feed the pigeons. But alas, the channawallah wouldn’t sell me 5 Rs worth. He insisted that the minimum was Rs 10 worth; and stuck to his guns even when he realised that I had only 5 Rs on me. We had to be content watching White kurta-pyjama dole out his largesse.

Third time Lucky: The boys and Mahuli eked out the 10 Rs worth of channa, getting the pigeons to eat out of their hand; retrieving what the pigeons dropped or what fell from their hands to recycle. A great contrast to the white-clad seeker of “punya

A related question that arose: Since South Bombay  and the Gateway area in particular was shut down for Obama’s visit on the 7th November (when thankfully we were at IIT), Did the pigeons starve that day or Did Obama feed the pigeons?

IIT campus: pandrah saal baad

December 1, 2010

For me, it was a visit to the campus after more than 15 years. The first thing that struck me was the traffic on campus: I think I saw more vehicles in a day than I did in all four years of my B.Tech. I later heard that the situation had been even worse before motorbikes had been banned for students. Perhaps the campus should have a no-motorised-vehicles Wednesday or some such for people to realize what is possible with cycles.

The other thing that strikes one is the number of new buildings and buildings-under-construction. Infinity corridor seems to be acquiring an infinity of buildings. I suppose this is unavoidable given the four or five-fold increase in the number of students and the concomitant increase in departments, faculty, administrative staff, what-have-you. After all outside, too, things have changed dramatically: One night on Gulmohur Terrace, I was stunned to see the lights of “Hiranandani”: The last  time I looked, it was undulating hills as backdrop to the lake.

The lake: Well, now that Vihar is out of bounds, Powai lake is the only lake accessible to campus residents. Surely the uncared-for look of the lake is avoidable. On one of our morning walks, Varun actually burst into tears and said, “The next time we come, there won’t be a lake”. From various conversations I had with faculty and students (I won’t quote anyone:You are free to comment on this post if you like) I too got a discouraging picture. The students claim they are overworked, and have no time for extra-curricular activities like cleaning up the lake or anything else. The faculty seem to suggest that students inhabit a certain “comfort zone”, and the sense of “One person can make a difference” has disappeared.

This sense of disempowerment, I am quite familiar with, living in Thekambattu: People feel that one person cannot make a difference any more; so one may as well join the herd where there is safety in numbers. It is quite possible that the increase in size of IIT-B with the increase in bureaucracy has given rise to this sense of disempowerment.

As I see it, the two stakeholders who can be prime-movers are faculty and students. The faculty are the long-term residents and the students are the most numerous. It is obviously impossible for fifty faculty to gather on a Saturday morning to pull water hyacinth out of  the lake, but three or four faculty working with fifty students can make a great difference. Together they could create a sense of community which could come to include mess workers, non-academic staff, and just about anyone who enjoys an evening walk or a morning run along  the lake.

I know of one success-story-in-progress at Baner Hill in Pune which started with Rohit and a handful of people and now boasts involvement from people from all walks of life.

And, who knows, if the campus residents can script a Powai Lake success story; the next time I visit, I could perhaps take the boys out rowing from a functional boat-club rather than having to tell them 25-year-old stories about it while showing them the unused jetty.

Damroo workshop

November 27, 2010

We just got back from Bombay, having attended a workshop on “Creating Content for Children” at the IDC at IIT Bombay. When Monty (Raja Mohanty) invited us, it seemed that it would be really interesting; and so it turned out to be… A get-together of so many people doing so many interesting things. It was quite overwhelming to see the work of so many creative people.

We staged Macavity; for the first time outside Thekambattu, and so The Thekambattu Travelling Theatre became a reality. Then with great enthusiasm on the part of Swati, Nitin and Roma, students at IDC, we helped produce “Catch that Crocodile” as a shadow puppet show. That was performed to a packed house.

And a rather noisy audience: Actually a few rowdy kids  kept up an insistent cat-calling; luckily my voice rose to the occasion. Twenty years ago, I might have stopped the show to throttle the kids: Alas! for the respectability of age…

The boys, each in his own way thoroughly enjoyed the workshop (and the IIT-B campus), though except for Rahi, they were the only children in a sea of adults.

Badri, literally, kick-started the workshop by knocking over a few of the “inauguration” diyas. Then he settled into doing his own work, attending some of the sessions, and working in  a group with Ajit Rao and others. He also showed  a short clip of “The Sponge Cats go to Gegypt” and made  a neat presentation on its making starting with “Can everyone hear me?” and winding up with “Any questions?”

Varun hung around the venue with a chessboard, taught some people chess, played with others, played with the dogs and generally had a blast. He made his own arrangements for lunch with Siddharth and Srirang, and did not condescend to eat the workshop lunch. He suddenly woke up to his “responsibilities”  and gave Shilpa a hard time towards the end of the workshop; insisting that he finish his story, and that she scan his drawings, and what-not.

As for us, the time was too short to meet everyone and see all the work going on, but we managed by playing hooky amd leaving the puppet show production in the hands of Nitin, Swati and Roma at times.

All in all, a great workshop: the open-ended approach was  a success. It is difficult to approach such a workshop without pre-set goals and pre-conceived ideas, but the eclectic group of people assembled by Monty, Shilpa and others pulled it off.