Sunday, June 30, 2013

What did you do this weekend?

On Saturday morning, the only thing I knew about dry pastels was that they looked like crayons. Even that I knew because I googled 'dry pastels'!
By Sunday afternoon I had produced these two.

Tree of life silhouette 


No. I am not incredibly talented. But I found a very very very patient teacher. Very encouraging. Very talented. And ...very pushy. Now Kanchan is going to read this blog and say 'Pushy ... mein ... kabhi nahi'
But let me elucidate on why I needed to be pushed. You see I am not a person of details. I need to finish things quickly. I need to have a product ... feel it ...  hold it ... see it and post it!
Had it not been for Kanchan telling me 'Fill up the white ... darken the corner ... put a little yellow here ... put a little orange there .... here let me show you ... ', my 'Meera' would have been very plain.
Oh by the way ... I was the only one who needed to be pushed. If you see the paintings of the other two ladies ... they are intricate ... detailed and fantastic.
Class was supposed to be from 11-1pm on Saturday and Sunday. But we ladies were there till 2 pm both days. Kanchan even gave a freebie saying ... 'Dont worry ... if you dont finish ... you can come another day. Just call me!'
It was de-stressing and yet tiring. Tiring in a happy way - where you looked at the painting and realized you had done something! With a cup of tea and some biscuits at 12:30 ... Kanchan made sure she renewed some of our lost energy and kept us going.

Somewhere during those 5 - 6 hours Kanchan mentioned ... she didnt have an official certificate saying 'Professional Art Teacher'.
Who cares! If you can bring this out of me ... I wonder what all you can do in someone who is artistic and talented.
Very good ending to last week and definitely a happy mommy starting this week.

Ladies ... and Gentlemen. Kanchan and her friend Deepa have started something called
Creative Adda ... Unleash your creativity. I am a big promoter of small business and entrepreneurs. I encourage you to encourage these ladies by 'Like' their facebook pages.

Creative Adda 
Artsy Craftsy
Kreative Steps

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where were you born?: Quotes from Isaacland

So Suresh has just returned from an office trip. He spent a few days in Spain and a few in Seattle, US. Isaac spoke to Suresh a few times over the computer and asked him where he was. So he got the answer Spain a few days and then Seattle a few days

This morning
Isaac and Appa are checking out the World map.
Appa: Isaac where is China
Isaac points it out.
Appa: Where is South America
Isaac point it out.
Then he points at US.
Isaac: I was born in America
Appa: Very good Isaac ... Ziva was also born in America. Do you know where Appa was born?

Isaac: Spain

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Women Entrepreneurs

This blog, you could say is dedicated to Sridevi ... Yes the bollywood lady!. No she's not an entrepreneur in real life (At least I dont think so). But her character in English Vinglish can definitely inspire you to be one! An Entrepreneur. The ladoo making industry must have boomed after English Vinglish!

This blog is about three Indian Entrepreneurs I have seen very closely since I moved back to India. Whats common between them and me? They are all women! It inspires me!  You could say this is in order of physical distance from my house.

Mridula Velagapudi:
Her facebook 'About' says Self employed and loving it! When I first had a conversation with Mridula and asked her what she did, I did not realize what a big part of the writing world she had her foot in. 'Content Writing' she responded very simply, like it was a part of everyone's being.
'And whats that?' I asked naively (or rather ignorantly).
'I write content for various website' She replied. 'Companies send me stuff and I write it up so they can put it on their websites'
I did come home that evening and looked up content writing. I was part of oDesk already and had put my tiny foot into the world of blog writing. But as I searched content writers, I realized this world of writing I have never known about. Writing about a company you never knew or maybe just heard about can take a lot of skill. Especially, when by writing for them you are making the 'front face' of the matter they are trying to sell to world.
When I started writing this blog I asked Mridula whether she called her 'company' anything.
'No I am freelancer' she responded. But writes she does! From  - whitepapers, Case studies, product sheets, Newsletters, Company blogs, messages for Social media platform  - to the newsletter for our association - Mridula has done her bit of writing.
But for me the interesting part of this entrepreneur is ... I see her walking her kids to the school bus each morning and I see her pick her daughter up every afternoon at 1 pm from the school bus. Once Mridula mentioned ...
'Sometimes Ishanvi can get in the way of my work'... they way I see it - at least your home for her to get in the way of! Ishanvi is Mridula's 5 year- something little girl.

'Do you work?' I ask Anjali as she holds on to one of her three dogs. This passionate animal lover is an entrepreneur. About 400 meters from our home, Anjali, her three dogs, one cat, fish, daughter and husband have made their friendly abode.
'I create home furnishing' She replied, still holding on tight to the all white Boxer. That's the dogs name, not his breed!
In my head, when you say furnishing I think sofas! But when I checked out Cannanore - a lore from a loom, I realized how creative furnishing can be. Someone once said that a house becomes a home when you put up curtains. That's whats Anjali's little basement based furnishing business does. With all her pretty colors and curtains she can make a room from pure to perfect!
Anjali is a big flea fiesta person. She can be found at all events around the Bangalore city displaying her pretty products. I keep promising her that when I buy my own house, I will definitely make a huge contribution to her bank account through Cannanore-a lore from a loom.
Again a home based business. But there is something about creativity that is contagious. Yes contagious. Anjali's 12th grade daughter Shradha has her own line of designer clutches. Now that's what I call - It runs in the blood.

And then there is this enthusiastic entrepreneur about 10 kms from where I live. Yes Artsy Craftsy and its CEO Kanchan have found a special space on Dayenu the past several weeks.
You cannot miss the passion for art and craft in this entrepreneur. The living room of her house is filled with kids between 3 and 12 years of age and she still manages to get across the class contents and keep her sanity. Yet another home business!
Two things stand out in this entrepreneur.
One: she shares every thing. Her knowledge of art, her resources and details to her projects. She even has DIY (do-it-yourself) kits to get you started on your own craft classes. Of course she cannot share her patience and endurance towards the kids. Kanchan recently started Creative Adda. A place that encourages and builds creativity. I look forward to seeing this business boom too!
Two: She has a very supportive family. Her two daughters fit right into all the art and craft classes. Pihu being too little get carried off! But Kuhu all of seven not only tries the projects herself but is an excellent help to mommy! Ask Kanchan where you she gets her supplies from and she replies 'I dont know - my husband Pankaj gets it for me!' Now that's what I call a supper-supportive husband.
We were at Isaac's final day performance and Suresh and Pankaj got talking. In the conversation Pankaj mentioned 'I do my work for money. At least she (pointing at Kanchan) should do it for her passion'


So women in Bangalore --- lets find a passion --- a talent! Lets become mini-entrepreneurs!

Monday, June 17, 2013

God is so Good - Ziva's World

So I have been singing
" God is so Good, God is so Good, God is so good to me"

Ziva's rendition
"God is a good girl ... god is a good girl ..."


Thursday, June 6, 2013

The importance of Craft in a pre-schoolers life!

About the beginning of March I had started annoying Suresh. 'We need to get Isaac into some activities!'
We had decided he needed to be exposed to music, art and athletics. He could then chose what he liked and pursue it to the fullest. With the decision set in on homeschooling Isaac, bringing these activities to him was an issue. I needed a good teacher.
We finally got Isaac into the skating class in the community. He fell on his butt several hundred times. He also did not survive the one hour class. About 45 mins in he would want to go home. But we could see him enjoying it. In May the skating teacher had his own college exams and took a break. I started getting all hissy again 'We need activities for Isaac'
I was determined to get him to start Art class somewhere. Mainly because I am inspired by sister's kids who take drawing class. Artsy Craftsy came at the right time as a blessing!
When I went I had it in my head that it would be all painting. I did not realize how much craft was going to be done.
Why is craft important?
Isaac is very good with the paint brush. Very good for his age that is. He does decent cut and paste pictures. He can write Captial Alphabets except an occasional 'S' being too difficult. I thought - my son -- great chap --- excellent fine motor skills. I was ready to move on.
We always think our kids are the best, the smartest, they know everything ... blah ... blah ...There is nothing wrong with thinking that. Believe me if we dont think that no one else will. We are the first phase of encouragement our children will get.

But the day I saw him turn wool round and round a plastic 'dabba' at Artsy Craftsy I realized there was so much more to fine motor skills! Every Craft project brought in a new challenge. Whether it was sticking foam on a coaster, molding the shapes for a shape mobile or sticking small squares to make a mosaic bird! But the biggest challenge was perseverance. Especially at the age of 3.5 its very easy to give up. Craft teaches you to persevere.

After rolling the wool a few times in one direction and then rolling it in the opposite direction (which essentially undid the wool on the plastic box) Isaac started to whine 'Amma you help me'. I guiltily helped him. In my head I kept telling myself not to help and played devil advocates with 'Oh he's only 3.5!'.
The last two days at Summer camp, Kanchan sat with the young kids and I helped out with the older kids. I am so glad! Half way through one session, I could hear Isaac's distinct whining. Kanchan prompted 'Isaac finish your card' ... Isaac 'No ... you help me' ... Kanchan 'No you do it by yourself ... I know you can'
I had my back towards them ... but I smiled... I was so tempted to look at what Isaac was doing. At the end of  craft, I asked Kanchan how much Isaac did on his own 'Well most of it ... he needed help in some parts'

Craft helps your fine motor skills. I was helping tie knots at summer camp and realized how much of an effort it was for kids. I felt Isaac more nimble at the end of three weeks.  Of course I need to keep finding him something to continue his skills and challenge him.

Craft helps build perseverance. All projects at summer camp had to be completed. Not one kid left with a half finished project. Every day someone needed help to finish up. But no one was left alone. It was also a different child every day! It made me realize how different kids were. There was also a sense of exhilaration at the end of art and craft session.
Exhilaration and exhaustion and they were all famished .... Perfect time for a snack to treat those nimble hard-working fingers.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lesson 3 : Artsy Craftsy : Don't waste your time being sad.

By week three the group of 16 kids had set into some sort of dynamics. I never knew kids could have such dynamics. There were sets of friends, the one single one left out, there were the ones dedicated to their work, there were the ones getting into trouble constantly. And then there were the moody ones. These were the ones who stood in a corner refusing to be part of the group. These were  ones who did not want to do what Kanchan said .. but had their own agenda. Everyone had a mood swing day. Surprisingly all the crazy characteristics came out in the last week. I guess we had all gotten comfortable with each other! In between all these sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic personalities I found myself being very very cheerful. (Thanks to e-City NLF for introducing the personalities to me - I think there was one week where I was sure that 'sanguine' was the toilet paper word of the day for all the folks there!)
I think art does that to you. It bring you together in a strange way.  Or I just like hanging out with kids!
It was one of those days when Kanchan turned up her volume and said 'Why are you sad ... dont you want to have fun! Don't waste your time being sad!'
It was a life lesson right there. I don't know if the kids got it. But I hope they remember that line all their life ... because that is what life is about.
Lesson 2: Don't waste your time being sad .... there is so much to be happy and thankful for.
I had been sad on Monday morning that week. I knew this was the last week at Artsy Craftsy and while I knew I would be back for art class with Isaac, I knew I would never see the 16 kids together in one room again. As I spoke to 'A' a 12 year old on the last day ... I told her 'Oh I will see you again.. I am coming for Kanchan aunty's art class' . 'A' reminded me ... 'Aunty you will go for the adult class and Isaac will go for the kiddies class ... I will never see you !'
But with one sentence from Artsy Craftsy's CEO ... I was back and jumpy again. I had so much to be thankful for and I had learnt so much the past three weeks. Here is what week three looked like.

The younger kids made coaster of foam paper and old CD's. It was so innovative and an excellent way to recycle CD's. I always wanted to do something  with old CD's and here was the perfect craft project. While putting them together 'R' got especially excited .... 'Pizza he yelled out'. I said ... 'No R I think its  a flower' ... I hear a chuckle behind me and I realized I was so wrong. I look at Kanchan .... 'What is it then?' ...' 'Lemon and orange slices!.'

 The older kids worked on Jute coasters. One coaster was a Warli painting and the other was pretty flowers.

The magnets were my favorite. For the Juniors it was so simple and pretty. A smiley face and a strawberry.

Isaac gladly shared the strawberry with Ziva keeping the smiley face for himself.

The older kids had a little more intricately designed fridge magnets. Kanchan kept the finished products and glazed them overnight with Varnish! I never knew you could do that. They were so pretty the next day ... all shiny and looking very professional. It was almost like someone had fired them up in an oven.

One the third day, the juniors made folding cards with nice thick paper and pretty flowers.

The older kids drew a pretty tree with some blossoms and then folded them up into pretty fans.

Day four brought in some no-heat cooking with bread and vegetables. There was cheese too which got nibbled on the way and some never made it on to the plate.

Day five was yet another favorite! Two hangings ... and its hard to decide which was prettier! The Sunlight catcher by the little kids was so pretty and looks even prettier as it hangs on the door in our balcony.

The starry night hanging was very pretty with blues and gold mixed together.


And just like that ... summer camp was over. I came home to get online and check when the next camp would be and saw that Artsy Craftsy does camps in the Diwali and Christmas holidays too! While both Isaac and I may join regular drawing/ Art/ Craft classes ... there is something very special about a camp.

Is it that you spend three hours a day with  a few people?... Is it that you learn so much ?... Or is it that you make such nice friends that you can't stop talking about them?  Isaac woke up on Monday morning one week later and while speaking to Ziva promised her 'I will take you to Kanchan aunty's house Ok Ziva. We will go for summer camp  and do painting and coloring!'

PS: my two cents ... I dont think anybody can be categorized into one of the four-personality types mentioned in the beginning. I think our life circumstances push us to being being more of one than the other in each part of our life. So we are technically all four mixed together ... bringing out one dominant personality depending on what is going on around us .... my two cents!