Child, the mentor of every parent : Mallika, mine

I have been deferring writing for some time. Every day brings forth so much, worth penning an article a day. Lazy or I can say misplaced priorities, I must say about myself.

Yesterday was a very eventful and memorable day for me! All thanks to our lovely daughter Mallika. She was awarded the scholarship in school for her meritorious work and excellence in Music, through her middle-school, classes 6-8, at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, her school. Music is one of those intelligence that is not so common as maths and sciences, still we usually look down upon. Thankfully at our home, it is appreciated. The right brain enriches the left brain effectiveness and we invest significant time to facilitate the right.

Collecting the scholarship from eminent public servant, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra formerly Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of India

Here are a couple of favourite compositions of the school. The school has many a music album to its credit. Mallika features in the choir..

Yes, over the last six months there has been a concern with her performance in other subjects, especially Maths and Sciences. Mallika is brilliant there too, but interest and passion is lacking. I have been running with her a little more purposefully to infuse the passion. I always feel bad if one does not perform to ones potential. I am sure she would realize hers soon.

What made me introspect more is one more episode that happened last night. We have been talking to Mallika about a great opportunity in a fellowship, Counter Speech Fellowship, that aims to expose a very young mind to a variety of perspectives, especially in the world that is getting influenced by the proliferation of Social Media. We have been having talks with Mallika about her inclinations and engaging interactions over Social Media, both overt and covert, in the last few months. We felt, some of them are not only unproductive but energy sapping and rendering her ineffective.

It was Oct 31st, the last date to fill the form for the Scholarship and time 8pm. When we went through the form, we realized it demands introspection and expression of oneself, not only in words but also she has to design a poster. Mallika was revising for her weekly test scheduled this morning. We spoke to Mallika, whether she would still like to fill the long form for the fellowship. She said she wants to. I just spoke to her broadly about the purpose of the questions and went to my room. She filled the form and did everything to be submitted before she called me to show. I said, if she is happy, just submit. It was almost 11pm.

And this morning I saw a copy of the form that came my way from the fellowship office. When I went through, I felt so inspired by Mallika’s expression, I am still overwhelmed. CHILD IS A MENTOR OF PARENT, Mallika mine. I felt like expressing. Here insights into what our young darling is blossoming into.

What excites you about the Counter Speech Fellowship?

The mind of an adolescent is always a tumultuous one, the heart is one that is often unexpressed and the thoughts are always confused ones. Many feel alone, unsure and weak. Many around us , harm those weaker than themselves to feel powerful. Many seem to feel eyes judgemental eyes on them even in an empty corridor. We are surrounded by individuals who frequently use the term “depressed” to describe their state of mind. People think its a joke and that it is okay to put somebody under a term that is not a very friendly one, something that may be racist ,sexist ,casteist or any other term which makes one feel low and discouraged. A lot of our ideas are influenced by the internet, which may or may not be giving our thoughts the right shape and direction. One always feels the need to be guarded and protected.This is the time of discovering oneself and of self-realisation . People should realize that it is NOT okay to close your eyes and take it or see someone else take it. Your voice, can make a difference.

As I see it, the counter speech fellowship is an opportunity to voice my opinions and engage with others who are my age and who believe that these same set of problems should be tackled. I want to know more about Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Well being, Embracing Diversity, Safe Spaces Online and Violent Extremism and learn better ways of making people aware of these issues .
This is why the Counter speech fellowship excites me.

Have you held any leadership position at school or outside of it? Tell us about some life lessons from that experience.

Yes, I have held a leadership position before. I have been elected as the representative of my class at school (Sardar Patel Vidyalaya) quite a few times.
Something I learnt while I was a class representative was that, all people are very very different. We all have our own set of likes and dislikes. You cannot control somebody ( it makes them rebel) and you should not take such condescending behaviour either . Everybody’s idea of an ideal individual differs. It is important to respect other’s thoughts as well as have your own opinions which one should have the courage to express. This is what, in my opinion , can make us better. I also think that one can be a good leader only when one listens to other opinions and learns to accommodate others.

The themes for the 2017 Fellowship are: Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Wellbeing, Embracing Diversity, Creating Safe Spaces Online and Countering Violent Extremism. Tell us about a personal experience that makes you passionate about one or more of these themes.

I come from a modest middle class family. Ever since I was young, I have been taught to share, to include people , to always be open to learning. As a family we travel widely and try to experience and interact with new places and people.

I have attended various workshops on a variety of topics and am interested in the performing arts (I am trained Bharatanatyam dancer, a Carnatic music vocalist and a theatre person).

All my experiences have given me memories which I will cherish forever. But would it have been as memorable if it weren’t for the people? Would it possible to learn so many new things from new places and to gather such experiences randomly?
The beauty of life is in differences. In different cultures, traditions, thoughts , ideas and lives. Differences make our life more exciting , they give us something new to learn, to behold, to try , to explore.
It is funny , that one would feel more at home with their warm and friendly neighbour than a relative who appears to be cold. Relations are made not pre-decided. Diversity should be celebrated. A canvas is more beautiful when it has many colours. 🙂

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What a clarity in the young mind. So much we can facilitate to help her blossom. I shall commit more of myself to facilitate both Mallika and Svwara, along with Indira. God bless every young mind. Love.

Will add videos to this, as and when I find time.

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On the verge of second rebirth… reminiscing last eight years with Mallika

One of my dear friends, Geetu, when I appreciated a lovely portrait of her with her daughter, stated –

“Yes Vasan , it is only when we are in our parent’s shoes that we appreciate them even more. Am thankful to my parents for being there for me and also to God for giving us the opportunity to impart the similar love and affection to our little ones “,

I responded – ” I understand – the rebel is introspecting!! ;))

Geetu- “Vasan , I almost forgot abt the grief I gave my parents”.

This interaction made me write this piece. Thanks Geetu.

Indira, Mallika and I are waiting the arrival of our new family member any time.  I have been completely grounded. It has been a fortnight since.  I have been working from home mostly, in anticipation of the arrival.

As we have been waiting for our second child, I was reminiscing the last eight years of journey with Mallika. What a journey has it be along with Indira.  It has been no less than a rebirth.  I loved every moment. Indira, I am sure, enjoyed more than me for she has always been there for and with Mallika.

My forced break from hectic activities has proved to be invaluable in enriching family bonding – with a couple of false alarms on Indira’s front to helping Mallika find her feet in the real world. The fortnight has been very action packed and very significant in Mallika’s life too.

For Mallika, we were keen to find a school that is in sync with our value system, yet that would help her blossom as good a human being while stoking her creative self. One such school we identified was Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (SPV). As the luck would have it, suddenly SPV opened admissions in the middle of the year for classes 1-3 and invited us also to fill the form. Mallika was not so keen initially.  She really enjoyed going to her current school, Billabong high, as she loved her friends. Indira was instrumental in softening Mallika by taking her to a couple of events at SPV. Mallika started liking SPV as a result, though  still ambivalent.  Slowly we convinced her to take a shot at it.

We filled the form and SPV took all the aspirants through the process of written exam. This was her first face-off with the real world, with about a 100 aspirants for 25 seats. After her written test, Mallika was a little disappointed as she herself felt, she could have done much better. She performed below her potential. But when the results of written exam was announced, Mallika made it to the shortlist of 40. It was a good boost to her confidence. She then jumped into it headlong. Then the face2face interaction followed.  Finally, we found Mallika in the selected list. She found a good school for herself and hope it will turn out to be a great one.

While the school admission process was on, we came across an advertisement about the selection process for summer theatre camp of National school of Drama. We went ahead and brought two forms, one for Mallika and another for her loving cousin Anandita. We applied keenly for both, though we were not sure whether Anandita will be able participate in the month-long programme.  An audition was conducted for all the applicants and results were announced. Anandita made it to the final selected list, but Mallika was wait-listed. Mallika was really dejected. Since Anandita made it and she could not, it was all the more hurting her. She came back home and started painting with purposefulness. Indira and I were discussing, that perhaps it was the best result that could have happened, as Mallika was taking things for granted – parents exposing her to too many avenues!! This is a great lesson for her to reflect upon and take corrective measures.

I went for the inaugural session of the summer workshop to see the possibility if any of the selected candidates do not turn up. It may give an opportunity for Mallika to squeeze in. Yes, indeed two of the selected candidates did not make it, and Mallika was the third in the waiting list. It is still a touch and go affair. NSD called us to be there in the evening to take stock and announce the status of the wait-listed.

Mallika was sitting beside me waiting for the status, praying with folded hands and closed eyes. I have never seen Mallika so eager. So desperate to have it.  She wants to be in the workshop along with her loving cousin Anandita very badly.  As luck would have it, again she just managed to make it as the last selected candidate… Her joy knew no bounds. In a matter of a week, she grabbed two trophies – School and NSD theatre workshop.

The journey of these eight years have been very very enriching. Got a great deal of opportunities to explore, experiment, experience and enliven our own lives.  Music, dance, painting, photography, puppetry, poetry, story telling, unraveling science..traveling and living in country side, abroad…  I recall every single moment with Mallika and Indira. My camera has been able to capture all these moments… What a journey it has been… The visual documentation is here for all to see..

Mallika's JourneyAlphabets - New Age NurseryMallika in her creating spaceMallika in her creating spaceMallika in her creating spaceAnandita and Mallika getting ready for NSD rangtoli audition
Mallika at IIC and IHCMallika at IIC and IHCMallika at IIC and IHCMallika at IIC and IHCMallika at IIC and IHCMallika at IIC and IHC
Maagu and NanduMaagu and NanduMaagu and NanduMaagu and NanduMaagu and NanduMaagu and Nandu
Maagu and NanduAakhyan - India traditional story telling -  @ IGNCAAakhyan - India traditional story telling -  @ IGNCAAakhyan - Indian traditional story telling -  @ IGNCAChildren in SikkimDarjeeling, Sikkim - People, places and lifestyle

Life and times of Mallika, a set on Flickr.

I am eagerly looking forward to years and years ahead, with Mallika and the young one who is going to arrive this week. I want to see how Mallika bonds with the young one. It was here insistence to have a playmate, a sibling, that made Indira and me go for our second child. I am sure the journey ahead is going to be doubly enriching…. Welcome life….

Thanks Indira and Mallika. Love you…

What we would like the school to be, for Mallika..

We strongly believe that, family and the school together create a wonderful learning environment with plethora of opportunities that initiates a young and growing child into the journey of self-discovery. That is a life long journey: The journey of realizing ones infinite potential. The environment thus created is full of joy, stokes inquisitiveness, and provides spaces for the child to explore, experiment, experience, introspect, imbibe, apply and thrive in life.

Evolving child being facilitate by family, school and the experiences in the world

Evolving child facilitated by family, school and her experiences in the world

For us, child (LEARNER) is at the centre. Everything else exists for her learning, joy and growth. PARENTs, CURRICULUM and MENTOR actively collaborate to work in sync to facilitate the learner evolve.

“Real world does not have any syllabus”  – Curriculum is not limited to books and school. It is beyond – every sensorial encounter for the child is part of her curriculum. We need to facilitate the child evolve to explore and learn from every interface and interaction, that may be structured or unstructured.

Mallika and Family

As a family, we have made it a point to explore the world with Mallika, ever since she was born. It has been a rebirth of sort for Indira and me.

The first eight years of Mallika has been filled with joyful learning. She is hooked on to books. She lives, eats and breaths books. Indira has contributed immensely. Books have helped us stoke her Imagination and creativity, as much as hone her language skills.  Her imagination takes shape of an art and craftwork, a poem or a skit that is very spontaneous and free flowing. Once, she gets an idea she jumps headlong converting it into a reality. She is very focused on any work at hand.
 
 

Mallikamaginations - The tricolor installation
Mallikamaginations – The tricolor installation

 
 
Visit the Mallikamaginations stream on Flickr
 
 

Mallika takes immense interest in music and dance too. She has the ability to grasp the nuances of music, rhythm and beats. This year, she has been initiated into learning carnatic classical music and Bharatanatyam. She has been a regular to SPIC MACAY national convention for the last three years and has participated in intensives in painting, odissi and Koodiyattam under eminent gurus.

Mallika and her cousin, Anandita, who will be nine soon, get along like house-on-fire. They together use all their creative instincts to create skits and dance dramas and enact in front of family audience of four to six of us. Mallika is physically active too – loves swimming and football.

Thanks to her parents’ love for travel – long four-wheel drives and adventures – she has been exposed to harshest of the environments and to her credit she takes everything in her stride like a seasoned campaigner. These travels help her explore the socio-cultural-economic dimensions of the places (over 10 states have been covered by road and a couple of countries). She has explored paddy fields and rice mills, pomegranate and coconut farms, mango and apple orchards; coffee and tea plantations; She has sat with weavers, kalamkari artists, toy makers in their homes and tried her hands. She has accompanied us to many out-bounds and experienced rappling, rafting, river crossing etc.

Though Mallika enjoys watching television, her choices are mythological cartoons or shows like back-yard-science, MAD and a couple of other such shows. She loves creating the contraptions or applying the concepts that she comes across in these shows.

Her mentors in the school describe Mallika as –

  • Having high level of independent working skills
  • A very well behaved child and that she always acts in a sensible manner
  • Very creative and individual thinker
  • An excellent performer
Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Mallika, now entering class III, is moving into the phase of Jigyasa (age of eight to fourteen) – need to stoke inquisitiveness is very high. Yes, her initial eight years have been full of joy, curiosity and exploration, and it is time to take her to the next level. It is time to build on these basics – to help her to get into purposeful hands-on experimentation, focused observation, introspection and learning; to develop a healthy and all-round personality. To enable her to push her boundaries, enjoy and learn from failures as much as from successes.

The School needs to be –

We would like the school to be one that our value system matches with. It is the most important criterion for us. The school need to facilitate students to be humble, friendly, collaborative yet competitive, to explore avenues beyond the books and classroom, to develop scientific temper and analytical frame of mind that will be life-oriented through many activities they involve in, to be healthy and develop oneself to be an independent, thinking and all-round person.

  • Indira, having been involved with Bookaroo, ITIHAAS, SPIC MACAY, Jodogyan has seen over a hundred, so called ‘good’ Delhi schools. She has gathered a lot of insights during interactions children and mentors. Indira and I have discussed many a times about the probable school that we would like Mallika to be in.
  • Being in Education space for over a decade and half, we have had opportunities to interact with people of eminence who have been associated with the schools over the years. They always shared a great deal about a  couple of schools that they felt,  “Would be a wonderful place for Mallika and us, as parents.”

We as parents, contribute to Mallika’s school in every possible way that the school encourages us to, in contributing to every child, parent and mentor in discovering ones infinite potential.

Thanks.

Sreenivasan                                                Indira Ganesh

sreeni@iwsb.in                                         indira_ganesh@yahoo.com

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