Category Archives: celebrations

nammashaale & professor satish dhawan

This is NOT about a Helicopter Parent.

Actually this about a Rocket parent!

Here is a blog post by Abinandan at which is reproduced verbatim:


Here’s an episode in Prof. Satish Dhawan’s years as ISRO chief:

The early days saw many failures. Through all those difficult times, Dhawan never lost faith in ISRO’s capabilities. He took personal responsibility for failure but when success came, he always attributed it to ISRO and his colleagues. Thus, when the first flight of SLV-3 in 1979 failed, Dhawan faced the press. When the second flight succeeded, Dhawan kept himself in the background while Kalam spoke to the press.

That note is from P.V. Manoranjan Rao’s tribute to Dhawan on the latter’s 89th birth anniversary. This memorable anecdote came up in a couple of conversations yesterday, and it felt good to be reminded of it again.

A longer version appears in R. Ramachandran’s obituary in Frontline.

Abdul Kalam has recounted his experiences when he was the project director for the launch of India’s first launch vehicle SLV-3. The first experimental launch of SLV-3 took place on August 10, 1979, but it was a failure. Kalam was called by Dhawan to attend a press conference. “Before the press conference, Professor Dhawan told me that he was going to handle the situation and I should be present with many of the senior scientists and technologists,” Kalam has said.

At the press conference Dhawan announced “Friends, today we had our first satellite launch vehicle to put a satellite in the orbit, we could not succeed. It is our first mission of proving multiple technologies in satellite and satellite launch vehicles. In many technologies we have succeeded and a few more we have to succeed. Above all, I realise my team members have to be given all the technological support. I am going to do that and the next mission will succeed.”


The next developmental flight, of SLV-3,on July 18, 1980, was a remarkable success. “An important thing happened then,” recounts Kalam. “Professor Dhawan asked me to handle the press conference with our team members. Dhawan’s management philosophy was that when success comes in after hard work, the leader should give the credit of the success to the team members. When failure comes, the leader should absorb the failures and protect the team members.”


Prof Dhawan was a great scientist, administrator and a leader of people. I admire him for a whole lot of other things too (like his love for literature, books, classical music etc etc). However, the one thing that I mightily admire him for is that, he never let his ideas and opinions drive his children – his children flowered on their own, ably nurtured by their parents, and guided by the inscrutable exhortations of their souls.

Perhaps many of us parents need to learn a lot from this stellar example – both the current parents and the parents (some of them happened to be helicopters in some advanced stage of crashing) who left nammashaale – some towards east of Bangalore and some others towards the due south of Bangalore.

Quiz Question: Some of you may know the Eastward-Ho folks, but…  🙂

postscriptum: Not many of us know that Erdkinder at nammashaale had the pleasure of having been taught by the sweet, affable & able artist Amrita, daughter of this incredible Prof Satish Dhawan. Amrita taught us the basics of working with clay and Oh what an experience that was – And a rather minor point was that,  she never ever did  reveal her pedigree.

Thanks Amrita, for all the fun and learning!


yet another kannada day…

Every year, it has become a practice to celebrate the ‘rajyothsava’ (read: karnataka state formation day; this is usually celebrated throughout the month of November in Karnataka) at nammashaale – generally as ‘kannada day;’ yesterday was that day at the school – with some 1.5 hours of theatricals and much else on display, by the children. All pieces were very nice, well thought out, meticulously organized and richly orchestrated as usual.

Thanks to the persistent goading, guiding, cajoling, coaxing and encouragement from Anita (of course with help from the rest of the staff) – who is the ‘chief’ kannada ‘teacher’ in the school, almost all the children participate in poetry recitations or theatrical productions or dances – during the day. Yes, even the otherwise generally reticent(!) and recalcitrant erdkinder participate.

Well, every year after such a show, I do resolve to myself that I would at least become literate in kannada, ready for the following year’s programme, to appreciate correctly what’s going on, on stage. That I would be able to read in the original, the likes of D R Nagaraj, Masti, Kuvempu, GP Rajarathnam, TP Kailasam, SL Bhyrappa, Girish Karnad et al, et al. As usual, I solemnly resolve to myself, this year too that…

I have read the translated works of these folks, but I know how difficult it is to translate the culture behind the text and linguistic nuances and the cultural richness in to a rather sterile language like english. I have read quite a few of some original pieces of real literature (in Tamil) and their rather sad translated versions (in english), and I know how much goes missing in translations. Frankly I don’t know whether there is any other way…

On the contrary, I read Marcel Proust, Italo Calvino, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka et al, et al – all in ‘translated into english’ versions, and they are delicious and mind boggling.  I think, the magic of the original is perhaps almost faithfully translated by the master translators – may be more on this, in some other post… But I still wonder how great these tomes will be, if read in their native tongues.

Now, for the reportage (finally!):

The celebration started off with a ‘free’ kannada adaptation of that well known Katha Upanishadic verse: sahana bhavatu. The ‘senior’ erdkinder along with Anita and Soujanya recited the verse. Nice. (Was informed that it is the incredible Da Ra Bendre who did the adaptation)

The primary children sang a kannada song (on ganesha, I think), unfortunately I do not remember the title. Sorry.

The elementary children did a fantastic job of the following:

  • A theatrical adaptation of the poem – ‘Kumbhakarnana Niddhe’ (Kumbhakarna’s sleep; author: Srinivasa Udupa) – an imaginatively produced, well acted one, comprising hilarious attempts at waking up Kumbhakarna. The refrain of ‘Kumbha karnanukku Goththe Illa’ is still ringing in my ears. And I continue to chuckle when I think of how Ravana’s mustache suddenly fell off and the unflapped child had to make do and continue to twist an imaginary mustache and deliver the lines… what is drama (or life) without such snafus…
  • Another adaptation ‘Puttu Kittuvina Knicker Jebu’ (In the pocket of the little one – again by the same Srinivasa Udupa) – is about some 23 items carried by a child in its pocket, including a mouse. The elementary children came armed with all these items and were busy showing them off, throughout the recitation. I was half expecting to see a display of a real mouse (the computer peripheral, I mean) but then…
  • There was this rendition of Gadagada gudugudu uralithu goli (roughly: ‘tumbled along, the rolled marble’  — Jeeva Raghunath – english version: – kannada translation: Ashvini Bhatt) by the elementary children – about all the transactions involving the exchange of a marble will all kinds of things. Memorable.

The erdkinder put up a theatrical presentation of a work of Chaucer – adapted by Bagalodi Deveraya as ‘Donney Guddhappana Akaala Marana’ (roughly: ‘The sudden death of rowdy Guddhappa’); this was quite hilarious. The adolescents love for theatre shown through. Really.

The programme ended with the distribution of  lovely (and sticky) besan laddoos from Kanti Sweets (sadly only one per head was dished out; wish I were a clone of Ravana)


The children and the adults who were involved in organizing the event must really be congratulated for the sumptuous treat. Thanks folks!

A few parents had come for the programme and some of them were seen clicking pics – and these will be shared on the blog, if these parents choose to share them.

(a report on a previous ‘kannada day’ celebration here)

more pics: 15th august, 2010

The original and offending post is here: 15th august, 2010 – this being the jaundiced coverage of the celebration of  the 63rd anniversary of Indian independence at nammashaale.

And yes, young Vinod too has uploaded his photos at:

Thanks, Vinod!

15th august, 2010

This year too, at nammashaale, we ended up celebrating the anniversary of Indian independence from the bdastardly British Raj.

There was a de riguer flag hoisting & unfurling, distribution of the (my) dear Kanti sweets, singing of some select patriohic songs in Hindi, Bangla & Kannada (yes, even the erdkinder, our dear (oh dear!) adolescents – sang too, okay, okay – they were only slightly offkey and all that, but then their spirit counts more than anything else, eh?).

a section of the gathering (thanks, Sanjay)

The highlight, in fact, highlights of the programme were two flag hoistings – one of the national flag and the other – that of the Bharath Scouts and Guides movement.

Yes. The scout and guides (actually for bulbuls (for the little girls) and cubs (for the little boys), right now) programme was formally launched at the school – under the able guidance of the ably trained  Sudha (bulbuls in-charge) and Vasu (cubs in-charge). It was a sight to see the children wearing the uniforms, strutting about like peacocks and going thru’ the motions, cheered on by some enthu parents!  (thank God, there were no offbeat drums and offkey trumpeting and marching-past and all that racket that usually accompanies formal celebrations like this)

an impromptu marchpast (Sanjay's handiwork)

And um, it is another story as to how, during the previous week of the run-up towards the inauguration/launch, the parents were endlessly harassed by the children (nono, not by the nammashaale school) about getting the darn (not darned) uniforms from Seshadripuram, which I think is near some war ravaged godforsaken battlezone  in Iraq. The only saving grace for me was the fact that, in Iran, there was this NavaKarnataka Booksellers and I could pickup some good ol’ Russian titles on science and yes, some nice novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky! Lovely.

Well, I actually used to think that these montessori children would not condescend to even think about wearing an uniform, leave alone actually getting down to wearing them – how silly of me!

I have since been thinking a lot about this puzzling thing & the future. And, you know how difficult it is for me to think… Now, after a whole lot of  such difficult cogitation, I have come to the conclusion that – defying all Darwinism, Genetics and all the other realms of science, eventually the bulbuls will become cows and the cubs would become bulls, not. Sorry.

the chubby and cherubic chief guest, driving by on Charles SUV (Thanks, Sanjay)

Thanks to young Sanjay Nambiar of FilmCamp.TV, we have a slew of photographs at:

I think, young Vinod would also eventually upload his photographs to some suitable site and let us know the url. He was seen wildly clicking away to glory, along with a few others. Vinod?

Sanjay and Vinod are both nammashaale parents. (and NO! They are happily married – but NOT to each other, sorry to spoil your wildest dreams)

theatre day, a treat that was…

Today, we had an yet another day of ‘plays’ by the wards of young Manjunath.

Manjunath of course, never fails to surprise us with his incredible  improvisations & narratives – and his  wards, meaning the children of NammaShaale, also never fail him, I suppose. They generally turn in stellar, unselfconscious performances.

This time also, it was the same, I am happy to say. The parents were also present in good numbers and did the usual parenty things at the event, just like yours truly. Life goes on.

Unlike the previous stagings at NammaShaale, this time, vertical groupings were experimented with. Children from lower elementary and higher elementary were made into three groups with mixed age bands – addressing the dynamics within various groups. This appears to have been successful, with children happily working with each other, establishing new friendships and acquaintances beyond their comfort zones and groups. Nice.

Each grouping staged a drama – the common and binding theme being development:

  •  the first one was about the development of the soul (or ‘spirituality,’ if you will),
  • the second one about the idea of development as ‘old order changeth, yielding place to the new’ kind – with a good ending
  • the third about the environment oriented ‘development debate’ and its pros and cons – again ending with a message of hope…

The first play was about the transformation of the invincible King Kaushika into Sage Vishwamitra. Apparently the child who was to have originally donned the central role of Vishwamitra could not make it to school today. But, another child valiantly volunteered,  and did a damn good job of it.

Sage Vishwamitra in a previous Avatar!

The visualization and staging of Sabala (D/O Kamadenu, AKA Nandini) that was creatively interpreted by two children prancing around was also sweet, as also the artful & creative rendering of the skirmish between Sage Vasishta and King Kaushika…

The next staging was a rendering of ‘And still, the turtle watched’ by Sheila MacGill-Callahan – which is a very nice & moving story about a turtle carved on a river bluff over a river in Delaware (USA) by lenape native americans; the story is about how the turtle watches with mounting sadness, the goings-on around him – a commentary on development.  Finally there was a happy ending – the turtle is able to reconnect with children, though from a different age and time. Even the great spirit Manitou would have been pleased to view the dramatization!

The third one was a dramatization of Lorax -an unusual story from that insufferable Dr. Seuss. When I first came across this book some eight years back or so, I was shocked to find the book not only readable, but also enjoyable and ‘reflectable’ – so much so that I actually bought a copy and read it to my daughter (you know how mindnumbing it is with children, wanting you to read books to them over and over a zilion times!) – it is a very nice (and hope giving) story about the dangers of mindless destruction of habitats in the name of development – and offering correctives. The Onceler and Lorax came alive as also the rest of the crew.

The background music and sound ‘effects’ were all provided by Manjunath as usual, including discrete prompting from the side. All children did very well, including the primary children and the erdkinder, who were the cheer-followers of the presenting teams. Good.

The interesting thing was that, even though the children in these vertical groupings were / are in different ‘developmental’ stages, Manjunath did a remarkable job of appropriately positioning the children, seamlessly weaving them into the stories and making everyone joyous in the process!

What do I say? AttaManjunath??

I am making the usual request of requesting the parents / others who clicked photos during the event, to share them if they could, with the rest of the community. I know that as usual, thundering silence will be the result, but what the heck.

One sad news though! There was a not so sweet surprise at the end of the theatre performance – there was no statutory distribution of laddoos from Anand Sweets or Kanti Sweets. I think the school should not take the non-junk campaign this far. It is too much. grrrr.  Cholestrol will set us free, dammit!

hindi day, janapada kannada day, images…

The month of November saw the efforts of the NammaShaale language specialists in hindi and kannada come to fruition; during the third week of November, we had the hindi day, and during the fourth week (I think, on 25th of November) we celebrated the kannada rajyothsava in terms of folksy themes – call it janapada day, if you will…

The efforts of Mamta (Hindi), Anitha and Soujanya (Kannada) were commendable – they must have really slogged it out, during the run-up to the events; the children of course effortlessly delivered on their roles… Actually the children were all on a roll! There were some cute hiccups, children forgetting their lines and kind prompting from the sidelines – but these were enjoyable too!

tense audience waiting for something to happen...

The audience for both events  almost eniterly comprised of children and the school staff. Some parents were able to make it to these events perhaps because they stay closer to the school or by some sheer chance.

tension relieved! Obviously...

At one level, it was a pity that not many parents could get to participate (read: gushing over their children) in these events – but then, inviting parents formally would entail in a lot of planning – and to that extent the flexibility of having the event ‘the next day’ as and when the children are ready & enthusiastic, will be lost. And, in any case, the children want to perform, improvise, learn for the joy of doing them, and not necessarily for some audience and ‘appreciation from others’ and all those peripheral thingies…

The incessant external approval seeking mentality’ & the fragile/insecure mind it creates  – is the bane of most of us adults; we feel great(!) when someone says good things about us, never mind the reality – likewise, we wilt when we think we have been unjustly targetted, again, never mind the reality! However, I am glad to say that this chronic disorder is yet to seep into most of our children- and I sincerely hope that these children (and other children too!) would never get into this insidious disease mode! I also pray that I get out of this mode.

Okay, getting back to the ‘report’ – the process of children preparing for the event itself was quite nice – like the other day, when a group of children were practising their ‘kolatta’ near the front gate – full of swirls, joy, colours, clackety-clacks, singing and rhythmic movement – a veritable symphony in motion. I recollect that quite a few times, the traffic slowed down on the highway in front of the school because of the curious onlookers, even as the children didn’t at all notice what was happening around them… Perhaps, for true performers, there is no need for any audience, they are obviously oblivious to their surroundings!

But yes, the audience  of course want to partake of the joy & be appreciative. But that is merely a secondary event, don’t you think?

The Hindi Diwas event was a motley collection of recitation of verses, plays, singing, dancing etc – the children, given the time and preparation that they had, did a remarkable job of them – and, we should understand that Hindi is slightly more distant than Kannada or say, Telegu is, to most of the NammaShaale children.

Hindi is obviously not part of the daily life or culture for most of the children – so there may not have been a collective internalization of Hinditva (HaHa!). In spite of this fact (I call it a fact because, I didn’t bother too much to verify it by conductung surveys etc) I think children did a damn good job, ably aided by Ma’am Mamta. As all thoroughbred North Americans (such of the our own teenagers from India) would say, Attagirl! Ha!!

Kannada day was a tapestry of star performances of the children – drama, music, dance, younameit… The central theme was the unending story of the human condition, the spirit of life. Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

Yes. Even the erdkinder participated – among others, they staged a fiery speechification of Kittur Rani Chennamma (The dialogues reminded me of ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan pouting patriotism in the olde Tamil flick ‘Veerappandiya Kattabomman’) and a hesitant & cowering British Officer trying to collect taxes/tributes from the Rani. Poor chap, so startled was our young Officer by the erudition and emotion of Chennamma, that he actually forgot his lines and had to read his response!

Angry Rani of Kittur and the hapless Brit officer! (who is that cheeky lad grinning at the predicament of a fellow-man?)

Well, one can’t really blame him though. Even I felt like running away to England in sheer terror! So furiously incendiary was this little (um, not really) girl delivering cannon balls with effortless ease!

Kittur Rani and the Brit Officer have obviously made up; apparently it was only a theatrical performance!

All’s well that ends in laddoo distribution (from Kanti Sweets). Yeah. (Scroll down this post for the image_archive_link, not for the delectable laddoos!)

a very valuable & frank review comment on the proceedings by a child! (not really)

Thanks to Sanjay Nambiar (of fame), a NammaShaale parent, there are some 135 pics from the Kannada Day event. I must add that these pics are professsionally shot and capture the children and a/the few adults, in their myriad moods and hues.  Excellento!

Almost all children from the school have been captured in one way or the other and the parents (including yours truly) can rejoice in gawking at the frames. I personally like the last two pics with the clouds capping the school’s tiled roof.

The link (you can even download all the photos as one zipped fly (sorry, file) from this page) is here:

Thanks again, Sanjay – for sharing your labour of love.

some photos – indpndnc day clbratns

This is a follow up post to:

The following 4 photos, courtesy of Brinda Pathy, a NammaShaale parent – they were taken during the events of that day by her friend, who apparently was a first time visitor to NammaShaale. Brinda also mentioned that they took a lot of photos of the flora and the fauna. I now demand that my photos be shared too!

As a wag said: Each picture is worth a thousand kilobytes… Please bear with me while the photos load…

Thanks, Brinda.

a section of the children

a section of the children.. considering the fact that I am not at all in their line of vision, why are they slightly tense? some onstage 'impending doom' gripping them or what?


some aroring parents and admirable chikdren

some adoring parents and admirable chikdren; if you look close enough, you can spot some brand new, edible children...

this is a scene from the bapuji series, you can see the young karamchand with a topi...

this is a scene from the bapuji series, you can see the young mohandas karamchand with a topi...

very young ladies, admiring their and others' costumes (!) - I think they are they preparing for their madhappa dance?

very young ladies, admiring their and others' costumes (!) - are they preparing for their madhappa dance?

 In fact, I had specifically requested two young gents (who I shall not name – but may be we could just call them Vinod and Ashok, only for the purposes of this post) for photos, and I thought, they cheerfully agreed. But then, grahasthidom must be catching up with them…

I hope, they do remember and would deliver…

celebration: independence day

NammaShaale celebrated the Independence day of India (‘Whose Independence?’ – a dialogue/quote from Pratidwandi – or ‘The Adversary’ (1972)  of Satyajit Ray) a couple of days in advance – on 13th August, 2009. And as usual there was a lot of food for thought, as well as, well… food for food too.

Manjunath’s magic was once again at work and it was truly spellbounding to see his wards  giving theatrical performances with much panache and aplomb.

After the previous academic year’s last show at NammaShaale, we were left wondering whether young Manjunath would continue to work with us – as he had kept us kind of guessing. He had/has plans of working with seed saving movements – for the preservation & propagation of indigenous varieties of  desi cultivars of various grains / vegetables / fruits.

And so, it was a pleasant surprise to have him back and work with our children and adults for the past few months. Obviously he would continue to work with his passion – theatre – as well as with bheej bachao andolans.

Getting back to the celebrations, the performances of the NammaShaale children were compered by a couple of erdkinder, with the constant background music with various instruments provided by that one-man-orchestra, called Manjunath.

First on the agenda were a couple of recitals of hindi poems by the primary children; nice ones, at least one was an old hindi ‘patriotic’ film song.

Next in the line was a series of vignettes from Bapuji’s life – with minimal props but aided by oodles of imagination. I think this was totally ‘stage-managed’ by the elementary children.

It was followed by a rendition of the legend of ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’ – I didn’t exactly get the connection between the Piper and our Independence day – but then, I thought about it – at one level, Piper actualy provided independence 1) to the townsfolk of Hamelin from rats and 2) to the souls(!) of rats from their bodies (serious) & 3) to the children from their bondage; so this play did  fit in to the celebrations, after all!

Actually the original version of Grimm brothers is rather grim, but Manjunath chose the version where the children are retrieved by the townsfolk from the Koppenberg mountain cave – after payment of a huge penalty by the townsfolk. The ‘mayor’ who earlier shortchanged the Piper also gets reformed. Happy ending. But I personally like the version where there is this mystery of missing children, who never come back  – the danse macabre. But then, I am an unabashed admirer of HP Lovecraft and his incredible stories.

The Piper was followed by a a kannada song and dance – about this farmer called Madhappa – who struggles to grow brinjal and then gets royally shafted while trying to sell his brinjal produce. This was a realistic rendition – with the vocals provided by the adults (teachers) and dance movements by elementary children. I think this piece captured the essence of the dire state of agriculture in our country, post independence, with a lilting melody. The refrain is still ringing in my ears. Nice.

The programme of the day ended with the singing of our national anthem – and was topped up with laddoos from Anand Sweets of Kammanahalli for good measure.

The End. (of laddoos, that is)

PS: As always, there were folks who were taking snaps and shooting video clips during the event; if they feel like sharing them with the rest of the parent communit, they may please contact me.

celebration: Ganesh Chaturthi

As in every year, this time too we had a nice and gala celebration at the school – on 21st August, 2009.

The earthen idol of ganesha, the elephant headed god (plain, shweet, no garish colours or stupid themes like a swineflu mask) was erected in the elementary environment and from noon the chidren got busy decorating, arranging, practising their songs,  excitedly moving about.

Practically everyone sang some song / invocation or the other,  except one person, who was compassionately concerned about the after effects and unclear fallout, in case he dared open his mouth… It was difficult for him to control himself, I understand, but he works for greater common good, at least he thinks he does!

Well, and to be honest most of the songsters and invocators were good and ebulliant – and only some were off tune. But that is fine. We require diversity and some little bit of comical undertones too! Ganesha is a god of the current times and endlessly adaptable – so he would not have majorly minded too…

Not many of us knew that young Anthony could sing well too! He belted out a nice invocation to Ganesha – later I hustled him and got to know that he regularly sings for his Church Choir – & can play on many a musical instrument… Nice!

Once the songs were over, the god was ready to leave (he must have been terribly impatient, besides the weather was muggy) for immersion. Wait,  it is NOT all that’s well that ends in a well!

Oh well. We actually took him to a nearby lake in a convoy of our vehicles and immersed him.

The erdkinder were the ones who had the honour of gingerly wading into the muddy waters of the shallow lake and immerse the idol… And it was hilarious to see them all wet their pants & salwars, in front of the whole crowd of the boisterous primary & elementary children. Sorry. Oh, how I hate this wicked English language!

We then came back to school and got to eat all kinds of sweets and savouries (‘prasaadam’), especially brought for the purpose by  Sowjanya – the in-house resource person for tasty and eclectic food, she somehow manages to source tasty and healthy stuff from all over Bangalore!

Some photos were clicked, I know, and if I could access them, they would be posted.

PS: The ganesha idol was too cute and I had half-a-mind to go right back and retrieve it back from the lake, but  then… He is also eminently recyclable.

joshua rings a bell – western classical music…

A couple of days back, ‘wordrunk’ – a nammashaale ‘aunt,’ sent me a link.

Apparently, Joshua Bell (in my opinion, one of the finest violinists) played to the gallery one busy morning –  near a dumpster in a subway station at Washington DC a few years back, arranged by The Washington Post with the teaser:  ‘an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The link is here, thanks to ‘wordrunk’ : Pearls before Breakfast.  Apparently, this feature article won a Pulitzer in 2008.

May be we should have an evening of choicest western classical music renditions (um, unfortunately at best, it would be restricted to a annotational presentation and playing of the musical pieces on an audio system – say, may be for two hours?). Images of rapturous music of Bach (the father), Beethoven Mozart and Brahms float by… Synesthesia indeed!

Would you say aye to this?

May be we can even follow this up with evenings of Indian Classical Music – both Karnatic and Hindusthani?