Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Whole Nine Yards - 4

Draped by the River

“Promise never to leave me alone and I will marry you”
“I promise”
“But if I ever find that you are not by my side, I will leave you for ever”
“It will never be so”

And the beautiful Cauveri, daughter of Kaver Muni, the benevolent sage of the Brahmagiri forests, was married to the powerful Rishi Agastya, besotted by the enchanting vision of Cauvery the moment he laid eyes on her.  


But this marriage, made in heaven, had a destiny to fulfil on the blessed land of Kodagu. The very first morning after their wedding, Rishi Agastya realised what he had got himself into. As usual, he was awake before the Sun and his prayer ritual needed him to take a dip in the mountain spring. He would fill his little kamandal (kettle-like container to carry holy water) and take it with him for his prayers. But Cauvery was still asleep and he didn’t want to wake her up. So, he used his powers gained from years of tapasya (penance), collected her in his little kamandal and took her with him. He was pleased to have found a way to keep his promise of never leaving her alone - yes, men have always tried to have their way ;)

This went on for a few days and all was well. Cauvery proved to be as wonderful as she was beautiful and Agastya fell deeper and deeper in love with her, until one day, his perfect plan fell apart. 

He went for his dip as he did every day, placing the kamandal, with Cauveri in it, by the side of the spring. Cauvery woke up unusually early and found herself trapped in a strange way. She looked around for Agastya and couldn’t see him anywhere. She was alone. 

Agastya had broken his promise, but she was going to keep hers. With all her strength, she tossed the kamandal, spilling herself out of it. Agastya was distraught and tried his best to get her back into the kamandal, begging her forgiveness but Cauveri wouldn’t have any of it. She flowed down the mountain, away from him, gaining velocity and girth as she advanced down the hills as a river in full force. When the people came to know of this catastrophe, they rushed out in their hoards to stop her, pleading with her not to abandon them and the land. 

Her love for the people made her stop a while to assure them that she was merely living out her destiny, that she was born to bring water to the soil deprived of rain by evil demons and that it was the purpose of her birth to sustain the bounty hidden in the hills and fulfil her father's desire of serving the people of this mystical land. That, she was always going to be by their side and in their lives, as their river of life. 



She promised them something else then, that holds as dear and strong today … she gave them a unique identity that would make them be known and recognised as her children, for all eternity. Gushing down the contours of the Brahmagiri, her waves forced the flowing garments of the women folk around, turning their pleats to the back and the pallus across their chests, looping over their shoulders.
                                             
Mythology has it that from that day on, the martial women of Kodagu have worn their saris, the Kodava Podiya, in this unique and graceful style that many admire. See how they like to don it today, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRu3Xph3Xl8

There are many delectable twists to this myth but the more modern theories are based on the practical requirements of an agrarian lifestyle and cold mountainous terrains - women needed to be warmly clad and hence the full body-wrap came about and as pleats in the front came in the way of navigating steep hills and work in wet paddy fields, it was more sensible to turn the impeding pleats to the back, away from the rough paths and crops in the front. 

So you see, there is a lot more to the sari than meets the eye! Stay on loom for more :)

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Previously in The Whole Nine Yards series:
The Whole Nine YardsOnce Upon a Pallu, Six Yards of Simmering Svelte

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Serendipity

Give it up indulgent Sun,
you've parched the land aplenty.
The mountains beyond pull their misty curtains tight
and a million greens dance in glee.
You've been harsh but Mercy's time has come.
Retreat. Desist. You're undone.

Hear the Thunder roll - heed its word.
Even Lightning streaks its say.
The Clouds have broken their pregnant pause...
how long would you bind them away?

Ah! The joy of sun-kissed trees,
that flash of gold in grey when
the clouds part just to let you in
so your presence still holds sway...
If only you knew your place in time
your glory could still reign.
Alas! You lost your plot today -
Depart. Stay sublime.

The mountains crave a drink of life.
Begone and let them be.
The rain is come and the land is numb...
in relief, in respite and peace.
It's kept its promise to its lot.
It's kept the Earth here green.
The Sky will testify to your ills,
the Winds will heave a sigh.

No thanks to you, the soil will sing
as Hail raises a toast.
Fog's blanket spreads its span again
for Night to calm all nerves.

And Man will think upon his greed...
He must. If he must be.

So, go now, overbearing Sun.
Go, till morning's due.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

App Review - ABC MULTILINGO

ABC MULTILINGO
Language Learning App for Pre-schoolers
Review




Language proficiency is important today with travel starting young and global experiences becoming an integral part of growing up. Knowing multiple languages and speaking them comfortably help the dynamic process and build confidence. As children begin to recognise faces, places, things and their differences, they begin to imbibe nuances in speech and phonetics as well. Educators believe that multi-lingual children have a cognitive edge over others and tend to be better adjusted socially and emotionally.

Though language skills are a natural process of development, today, children are exposed to a much wider spectrum of languages at a very young age – it is essential that teachers and parents provide the right tools, at the right time, to hone their natural abilities so that the static of multiculturalism serves to homogenise, rather than ruffle the learning experience. Being a hands-on mum, I personally prefer outdoor and inventive play and do not subscribe to children being glued to screens for long. But we do live in a technologically charged world and living spaces come with scarce outdoors. Screen-time is the inevitable play-time.

Fortunately, there are some savvy aps in the market to make screen-time worthy and I found that ABC MultiLingo by Gurusqueaks stands out as a sensitively designed, high-quality international product, beautifully packaged for tender pre-schoolers and early learners.

12 languages

Your child learns the English alphabet, letter by letter, co-relating its use in everyday activity, through cartoons and realistic pictures of familiar objects. But as we are a multi-cultural society, it is important to know what these objects are commonly referred to as in our mother-tongues and other languages as well. With 12 languages to choose from, ABC MultiLingo is perfect for the little linguist in the making.

Native diction
Is it toh-maah-toh or toh-may-toh? An acquired language comes with such uncertainties but your child will know better because each of the 78 words featured in ABC MultiLingo is articulated by native speakers. Your child will learn the most widely accepted native pronunciation and speak it naturally.

Three-level fun-filled gaming


We all know how difficult it is to get a toddler to sit still for more than a few moments. And for parents like myself who do not believe in using the iPad or telly to keep a child ‘occupied’, ABC MultiLingo’s fun, theme-based three-tier game module takes little minds through an entertaining world of words, fun and entertainment. They are engaged with colourful pages set to peppy music so that they will not even realise when study time comes and goes. While they enjoy the singing, dancing and playing, you will notice them spouting new words and speaking like little aces, thanks to balanced cognition and robust retention. Oh! And if you want to be part of this learning process as well, just switch off the background voice and let the music accompany your teaching. The vivid pages are easy to shift back and forth and you will have your share of parent-child time as well. This feature (among many others) also makes it apt for use in pre-schools and other educational establishments. 

Easy does it
ABC MultiLingo can be easily downloaded via in-app purchases off App Store and Google Play. It comes with various options and is easy to navigate, has an engrossing interface with catchy page layouts, eye-friendly colouring and a very clever transliteration option that doubles up as a ready reckoner between English and the other 11 languages offered. How else do you think I know that apple, ‘simply said’ in Spanish, is manzana

And did I mention that the first three letters of all languages can be downloaded for free? Well, though this app is very economically priced, it is still always good to be able to take a test drive before buying.

COPPA compliant
Apart from design and quality, ABC MultiLingo wins on safety as well. Compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, this language-learning app will safely navigate your child’s curiosity without unwelcome plug-ins, ads, rating requests or inappropriate content. So, when I do need to leave my child alone for a few moments with this app open, I can breathe easy and get myself a cuppa tea.

Whodunit
The brains and brawn behind this learning app, Gurusqueaks, is powered by well-respected media veterans. This inspires the confidence that ABC MultiLingo will become more and more engaging with every new release. 

Aye or Nay
Aye! ABC MultiLingo gets my un-reserved ‘happy mommy vote’

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Also published in the May edition of Emirates Parent Plus.