Monday, November 11, 2013

Don't Let-go this Wonderful Work of Art

My nephews, 6 and 9, started building with Lego some four years ago. They started and never let it go. Till date, their eyes sparkle at the sight of Lego. Some new Lego on the block, is always on their wish-list, and all their earned points at home go towards procuring more Lego sets. Their house is full of the most outlandish Lego creatures, which the boys nurture with utmost possessiveness. Afterall those multi limbed rocket propelling outrageously ugly creations with lighted noses or whirring eyes, have each been created by a persistent toddler, bent over a copious amount of instructions, piecing together one brick at a time, for durations of time that could be considered mini-lifetimes for these kids! And then, just when it was high-time, Lego introduced a whole series of building sets with more 'feminine' themes---like friendship and fun, aimed precisely for the little girls. And just as it should have been, the aunt of my kids---the lady with two Lego fanatic boys, presented my five year old daughter with her very own Lego for girls. Bingo! the girl cousin was hooked. Like my sister--the aunt---I am now collecting minute pieces of Lego---no really they have Lego hot dogs, and Lego flowers-----from the dust pan every time I sweep the floor. If I let those pieces go, I am considered a negligent mom--by my daughter.

The moral of the story thus far is, that if you are a mom/dad, or an aunt/uncle, of a Lego crazy kid, then chances are you are just as bugged with this Lego fervor as I was. After all the Lego sets are NOT inexpensive, and once the set is made, that's it---what next? Nothing. The creation needs its own space, and the child now needs the next Lego set. Of course we encourage the kids to re-use those pieces, and sometimes they do, but their thirst for more pieces and more sets is hard to quench. In this context, I want to write here about Nathan Sawaya's work. He is better known as the Art of the Brick guy. I had the fortune of visiting his exhibition currently running at the Discovery Museum in Times Square, of course with my five year old. And was I impressed?

Beyond that! The exhibition was a delight, because what we get to see there are world's famous landmarks, and works of art, rendered now in this medium--of the Lego. So we have a Lego Statue of Liberty, and we have a Lego Mona Lisa, and a Lego David, and tons of the familiar traditional and modern musings in Lego. And the precision of these reproductions is simply breathtakingly accurate. To be in that hall looking at 'paintings' created in Lego, framed in a 'frame' of Lego, is to suddenly be reminded that creativity literally is thinking out of the box, even when the building material may come in a (lego) box! 

I was happy to be there with my kid who I could orient at least in two ways: I was able to talk with her about some renowned pieces of art (without having to fly to the Louvre), and I was able to be amazed with her at how a person can use creativity in so many different ways. This was one exhibition where my kid was rapt with curiosity from start to finish, and I didn't even have to promise a candy at the end.

I loved the exhibition, but I have to say that it is a small will not take anyone more than an hour at most to see it all (and there is no re-entry once you exit it). In that light, I feel the price of entry is somewhat on the higher side ($23 for adults and $18 for kids). I know there are Group discounts, and I highly recommend availing those discounts and NOT missing this visit.

Overall, Nathan Sawaya's catch-line says it all, and is worth coming home with to inspire all kids: Holding a tiny red Lego brick in his large hand, he says, "Every dream starts with a Brick"......Indeed. 

For me, his rendering of Girl with the Pearl Earring--that famous painting by Vermeer, is so lovely, and so beautiful that I know that even when the original Vermeer is on loan for this winter to the Frick Collection in NYC (from the Dutch), I think I have seen it already--at Discovery Museum!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Re-kindled Affair with Books in Paper and Ink

It happened on the spur of the moment. I was browsing for a new book to read. I came across a book review on the Times or the Post, I forget, and I liked what I read about the book. I wanted a book to read so badly, that I just had to do it. I went on, and gave that defining peck on the keyboard. I had bought my first Kindle book.

The book was mine now. The device Kindle was surprisingly home, and not at work with hubby. So, I grabbed the reader, planted myself on the sofa with my feet tucked under me, and began to read. The kids were asleep, the afternoon sun kissing the room was lovely, and the book was absolutely to its promise. I did not put down the e-reader at all! At night, when all the lights in the house went down, I still wanted to read, even while the kids slept next to me. And I did, in the illumination of the i-pad this time. When I first picked the i-pad, the software even asked me, if it wanted me to start the book from the beginning, or from the page that I was on on the Kindle. (How thoughtful, I thought!) I loved the book, and when the book was finished, I realised that I was almost a convert---I think I am not so much against e-books anymore.

And then, the other day, as I was about to recommend that book to someone, I realised that I didn't even know the name of the author. The entire process of reading the review, buying the book and reading it had been so quick, as to seem almost surreal. Even while reading the book, I was actually taken by surprise, when the book ended. Not because the story line did not lend itself to an end then, but because my fingers had not felt the weight of the book shifting from the left hand to right. That percentage estimate of the portion of the book read, that shows at the bottom of the screen on Kindle, is a good way to know how far is the end, but its not enough of a tactile experience to fill up the senses with the book. And last, but not the least, I dislike now the fact that I can't see the spine of that book on my book shelf, from where I can simply pick a book and read a favorite line or a favorite page. I always have to ensure  that the kindle or the i-pad are charged enough unless I want to read plugged into an electrical outlet.

So, my verdict is that I would still like to lay hands on a real paper and ink book, if I can. However, for those 'right-now' moments, its always good to have somethings a mere click away.

Oh, by the way, the book I read is: Tomorrow There will be Apricots, by Jessica Soffer.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Morning to Reclaim

Anu Garg's Daily-word mail always ends with a quote, and usually these quotes are absolutely fantastic---simple and truly pearls of wisdom, without the sermons. I try to make that mail one of the first things to read, and of course read it from top to bottom, savoring the end quote throughout the day. Today's was just as poetically lovely:

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. -Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892) 

This used to be so true for most of us in the bygone in particular, would sit with my warm glass of water, and look out at the greenery, or at the sky or at anything that was outside my house, outside my mundane existence, and that which was full of fresh air. Even with the glass windows shut tight, I inhaled a freshness through my eyes and my ears. I was perhaps still but not lifeless. I was filling my limbs with my share of the undivided nature. 

Today, I often do check the measurements of nature in the morning, before stepping out of the house: the weather forecast, precipitation chances and temperatures, but the shade of greyness in the rain filled clouds, the height of waves on the Hudson river and the newest cherry blossoms---still not as profuse to be pictured, but getting there, are lost to me. I am forever zipping to some place, for something. 

And we are all doing that most of the time. Our urban environments and life-styles are of course dotted with time accounting---and urban mothers' schedules are going beyond the roof. Between ferrying kids to school, grocery, enrichment classes, ped visits and playdates, there is almost no breather for the bees and the birds. And yet, it is our little companions--the children, who most need that time to take their steps, make their impressions and indulge their senses. They need to be shown the waves, their fingers need to touch the water, their feet need to jump into and out of the puddles and their hair need to get wet for them to even know what  a lovely earth they are born into. And as their moms, we need to first start, to start our days soaking in the glory of the morning glory. Time to make a trip to Home Depot to buy some potted plants? No, not another car-ride.....not for now at least.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A List of Books I Want to Read

I am going to keep adding to this list as and when a title crosses my eyes, and publish it here, so that I am openly challenged by myself to get to these books some day:

  1. Something of Myself----R.Kipling
  2. Any book by Joan Didion

Thursday, March 14, 2013

V Senior = V Junior = Love Infinite

This is to establish, for all times to come, that my littlest kid has touched my heart in just as many unexpected and beautiful ways as my older kid has. I don't write a lot about her (have long stopped the logging of a weekly journal on child, and neither do I blog often about her here), but this does NOT mean that she is less enjoyable or less loved by any means. 

She evokes poetry in me, just like the older one did, but most often those moments of poetry are super swamped by moments of chasing the older one with fruits to eat, and keeping away Cheerios for fear of overdozing from the younger one. I wish I had a dictaphone on me all the time, to record the sheer sweetness that this little person's antics flood me with, but then I wonder if amidst the shrill cries of resentment being voiced by older one as the little one matter-of-factly destroys yet another of her Barbie set-ups, any of my soliloquies would get recorded at all. Their trivial fights and accompanying displays of all sorts of emotions are tragicomedy and on this soundtrack of life, I find myself empowered each day as a mother of two lovely children. 

Both my kids are equally loved---who could prefer one eye over the other? (Here, I do wonder what parents with three children use as analogies for precious things? I mean, for four children, you can say, four chambers of the heart, for five kids, you can say, five fingers, and for more than you or the children even have the time to converse? What in our body comes in a precious set of three?)

I find myself doting over V Jr. in playdates at other's places, when I have the time to just sit and watch her, and not worry about who is breaking whose toys. She fills me up with funny, fuzzy affection and all I can say is 'Thank You God, once again'.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No More Bucks for Starbucks?

I guess this is what they call 'divine intervention'. Starbucks and me had become such close pals, one of their paper-cups held in my hand so certainly most of the time, as to appear an extension of my arm that my husband would often suggest we buy shares of the coffee-company, since the company's value could never go down with loyalists like myself. And to think that I picked up drinking coffee just some ten or so odd years back, when I came to this country as a graduate student? Until then, I was all about tea only. Anyhow, so the bottom line is that I was a S.bucks coffee addict--every time I stepped out of the house (this habit was only fueled by the fact that there is a thriving (aren't they all?), bubbling, bustling and of course brewing Starbucks just outside my building). Mind you--it wasn't just any coffee---it was typically S.Bucks. 

And then, out of the blue around the end of last summer, I began to lose my singing voice (yes, I believed, I was an OK crooner), and then just like that, I developed a revulsion for S.Bucks this again is only for the S.Bucks java.....I can tolerate other coffees, I loved the milked version of coffees in India, BUT S.bucks regular coffee?----my body system just repels now. That S.Bucks outside my house is still 'in business' but it is strange that I don't even as much as look in that direction...something within me has just switched off from the Star-topped lady. I have to say, I had had my share of this life-time's S.bucks perhaps time to get addicted to McDonald's coffee?