Monday, August 18, 2014

The Hottest Time of the Day


I wanted to get this post out before hot summer turned into cool autumn.

Sometimes we tend to skip a column because we know the answers, we don't care, it is what it is, it goes too deep in math and science, any excuse to avoid reading.

Sagar generally reads it.


Hottest Time of the Day

Twelve-year-old, Sapna, stirred the batter for the cake she wanted to bake for her eight-year-old, twins sisters' birthday. She figured out a way to make it an ice cream cake. The summer temperatures kept rising.

Her sixteen-year-old, brother, Sagar walked in, "Do little Soham and I get to lick the batter spoon and the ice cream scoop after you are done?"

Sapna scrunched up her nose, "How can I give you free licks? I waited till four so I could bake it in a cooler weather. I wish I could wear Audrey Hepburn's Tiffany sunglasses to avoid this heat. "

Sagar laughed, "Don't be silly about the sunglasses. Okay then, no licks but four is not cooler than noon, infact, it is the hottest part of the day in our part of the country."

"Says who?"

Sagar sat down and dipped a finger in the batter, "Marilyn vos Savant, the lady with the highest IQ."

Sapna gave a tap on Sagar's hand, "Hey, stop that, you'll get a piece of the cake. Tell me why four in the afternoon is not cooler than noon?"

Sagar licked his finger, "Mmm...tastes good. Well, she said that even though the Ultra Violet radiation of earth and air peaks at noon, the surface temperatures keep climbing for hours."

Sapna covered the batter with cellophane, "Well, I need the cake for tomorrow evening, I can't do it tomorrow at noon."

Sagar rinsed the spoons without licking them, "Well, the delayed heating is called thermal response and often it's the hottest around four p. m."

Sapna put the bowl in the refrigerator, "In that case I will make the cake at seven when it is definitely cooler."

Sagar said, "I'll help you then, Soham and the twins will be getting ready to sleep. Mom and dad won't be back till after midnight."

"Thanks, that would help. I need someone to wash the pots." She gave a sly smile.

Sagar shrugged it off, "No problem. Sapna, do you know recently Bill Gates poured a whole bucket of ice on himself?"

"Why? Was he feeling too hot in his mansion? Ice is cold at any time of the day or night."

Sagar said, "He did it to raise money for Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS. I think it's a disease where progressive degeneration of motor neurons occurs."

Sapna nodded, "I feel like the twins, too many big words."

Sagar said, "The neat thing is, no one poured the ice on him."


"That's right. He came up with this gadget that poured it on him."

Sapna shrugged, "Ha, big deal for a guy who thinks up these fancy computer things!"  

"Ha to you. Never mind, do you want to look it up on the computer and understand it better?"

Sapna took off her apron, "Okay, I have nothing to do except kill some time."

Sagar said, "Did you know that Monaco has the most packed population per square mile and Mongolia has only five people per square mile?"

Sapna shook her head, "Why in the world do you keep learning these useless facts?"

Sagar laughed, "Maybe, one day I'll go on Jeopardy."

Sapana also laughed, "Sure and then I'll bake you a cake. But tell me how many people does Monaco have per square mile?"

"Ha, you are curious too, Monaco has 42000. and the US has 87."

Sapna smiled, "Now we can both go on Jeopardy."

Sagar said, "While we are getting ready for Jeopardy, might as well tell you that in the 12th-century China, judges wore dark quartz lenses to hide their emotions in court. The lenses came to the US in 1929, and plastic giant Sam Foster sold the first pairs of mass-produce shades in Atlantic City."

Sapna put her fingers in her ears, "La.. I don't want to hear any more of your factoids."

Sagar waited till she had her fingers out and said, "And they are going to map the oceans just the way Google has done with earth."

Sapna put her fingers back in her ears, " you are so"

Sagar laughed again and they turned on the computer.

The End

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's All About You, Dr. Randy Pausch


Today's post is a conversation that the mother has with her older children, Sagar, 16 years and Sapna, 12 years.

In 2008 a writer, philosopher, Dr. Randy Pausch died of pancreatic cancer. His book, The Last Lecture, was a bestseller. I have taken his thoughts from the letter he left behind to his three children and wife.


It's All About You

Sixteen-year-old, Sagar came home from a jog on a Saturday morning.The exercise and the summer heat left him sweaty and breathless.

His sister Sapna was sitting in the kitchen with their twin sisters, eight-year-old, Suchi and Soori, eating cereal and milk.

Suchi covered her nose with a napkin, "Yuck, Bhaiya, you stink."

Soori also covered her nose.

Sapna said, "I don't know why you overdo it."

Sagar mopped his arms and neck and patted his belly, "Yeah, sure, you see this pot? I want to lose it in three weeks, before the school starts."

Sapna shrugged, "Maybe you should set a limit or something on your running."

Mom walked in with the four-year-old, Soham, trailing behind her. "Sapna is right. Dr. Rand Pausch, a philosopher, said, Don't over-do, keep your limits."

Still wiping his face, Sagar sat down, "Randy Pausch? Never heard of him."

Mom said, "He wrote some very valuable advice."

Suchi-Soori looked at each other, "Let's rearrange our desks, sorry mom, we are outta here." And they left before anyone could stop them.

Sapna got up, "Shall I grab them back? Why do they always get away? I hated it last week also, they ran away when it was their turn to empty the dishwasher, and also... "

Mom said, "No, let them be. Their time will come. Forget the issues of the past, they will ruin your present. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone."

Sagar said, "Yeah, Sapna stop hating your sisters. I don't hate anyone, but I am envious of these three girls who are so skinny."

Mom laughed, "They will also gain weight if they don't watch out about exercising but You Sir, stop being envious, you are in charge of your happiness. Envy is a waste of time."

Sagar rolled his eyes and plopped down with a bowl for cereal, "Sure, next you are going to say, you are here to learn." 

Mom said, "That's right son, don't take yourself too seriously, no one else does."

Sagar frowned and Sapna smiled. Sagar made a face at his sister, "Yeah, mom, next you are going to say, don't compare yourself with your sisters, You don't know what their journey is about."

Mom smiled and patted his shoulders, "That's right son, you got it, smile and laugh more. Invest your energy in the positive present moment." 

Sapna pushed her chair back, "That's right Bhaiya, get rid of your negative thoughts about things you can't control.  That's just me saying," She pushed her chair back to put her cereal-bowl in the sink.

Sagar leaned to pull Sapna's long braid, Sapna laughed and moved out of his reach.

Soham sat by Sagar to eat his cereal. Sagar put an arm around Soham, "Come on buddy, you are the only friend I have left in this wide world."

Soham smiled and they continued with their breakfast.

Mom also smiled and sat at the table to finish her  work.

The End

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah

Monday, August 4, 2014

Counting in India, part, II

Last week the siblings, Sagar, eight-years-old, and Sapna, four-years-old, went with their Grandmother in India for vegetables-fruits shopping at the local market.
They continued their counting, from where they left off.
Counting in India, part II 

Lorry = truck. Accepted in most Indian languages
Baer = a little fruit with an oblong or a round pit, depending on the variety
Chiku = a fleshy sweet fruit with brown skin

SIX women sat on the sidewalk with huge cane baskets.
One woman sold big squash-like papayas. She cut one open and offered a bright colored orange piece to Sapna. The girl shook her head and moved on.  Mummy had said: don’t accept food from strangers or ever eat an unwashed fruit, and in especially in India, never eat uncooked food.
The second lady separated guavas from an oblong as well as round fruits called baer.
The third woman offered a kiwi like fruit with a smooth-skin to Sagar. “Take, take, very sweet chiku, for you.” Sagar hid behind Granny and pulled Sapna with him.
The fourth woman had ripe mangos. Sapna stood by the basket and sniffed. “Granny, can we buy some mangos?”
“Absolutely, summer's the mango season.” They bought one dozen mangoes.                
Sagar whispered to Granny, “What, no custard apples?” 
Granny smiled and answered before moving on, “They come only in winter.” 
Sagar frowned. "Oh, too bad, I love those.” 
The fifth lady was rolling newspaper sheets to make packets of salted peanuts, roasted chickpeas and crispy rice, all mixed together.
The sixth lady sat with a basket full of bright marigolds, fragrant roses and jasmine. She strung them in garlands for women to wear in their hair.
SEVEN kinds of vegetables sat in neat piles in an old, beaten cart.
fresh, fresh, very fresh vegetables, just for you,” a man shouted.
Sagar and Sapna helped Granny pick some green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, carrots, eggplant and bunch of leafy coriander and spinach.
"Hey, Sagar, check out those ladies in beautiful saris.”
“Sorries? Oh, saris.”
EIGHT women wore colorful saris.
"But Mummy rarely wears one.” Sapna whispered to Sagar. 
“I think she finds shirts ‘n slacks more comfortable.”
“I guess so.”
At last they were out of the market. Sagar grinned and touched the two mangos in his shopping bag. Sapna had some vegetables in a bigger bag while Granny carried the biggest bag with the rest of the items.
Granny sighed, “Oh my, it’s hot and the bags are getting heavier by the minute.” She wiped her brows with her sari. “Let’s take a rickshaw.”
“We love rickshaws.” Sagar and Sapna said together.
They walked past NINE yellow-black three wheelers and stepped into the first one. Sapna sat in the middle, Sagar and Granny took the sides.
Once again the they weaved through the crazy traffic and reached near granny's bungalow. They stopped.
Sapna opened her eyes wide, "Look at those fat, black cows, Bhaiya."
Sagar laughed, "They are not cows, but Indian buffaloes. How about you count them?"
Sapna counted TEN buffaloes that kept their rickshaw from entering the bungalow.
At last the rickshaw stopped in the porch. Granny paid the driver his charges and they went in the house. Granny put different sized stainless steel bowls on the dining table and they emptied their wares into the empty bowls.
Sapna looked up at her grandmother, “That was so much fun.  I can’t wait till tomorrow to go out and count some more things.”

The End

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah

6: six: chheh: छह:  ६    O O O O O O

7: seven: saat: सात: ७   O O O O O O O

8:  eight: aath: आठ: ८    O O O O O O O O

9: nine: nou: नौ: ९         O O O O O O O O O

10: ten: das: दस: १०      O O O O O O O O O O