Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Shape is An Elephant?

Some good things came out of the swine flu! Kids were on forced holiday and flocked to the library to find shelter in books.

It was on one such morning that I sat down the motley bunch to a reading of " What shape is an Elephant?" : an adaptation of a poem by saint-philosopher Rumi.

Its a story that we have met in school text books for decades. An elephant is a novelty in Persia and in the dead of the night a group of curious men and women enter the tent where the gentle giant is kept to find out what exactly this animal from India looks like.

"Its like a Pillar!" exclaims one who feels the elephants leg. The other rubbishes his claim quickly and says the elephant is much like a fan, for he felt the elephants ears in the darkness. The argument continues as each man claims he is right. "If only one of them had brought a candle along" says Rumi....

"So what does this story mean?" I asked the kids. Pat came the reply from a corner: "Aunty, it means the real truth is always something else!" I marvelled at how the simplest of stories can result in the greatest learning. My young friend did not know how big his discovery was when he used the word "real truth". For it implies, that each one of those men in the story spoke the truth when they touched and felt the elephant. They were not wrong for their truth was determined by the width of their palms and what it could feel. But their folly lay in insisting that theirs was the only truth!

I love story sessions because they always end like this: the kids take away whatever they can by the discussion and say the most amazing things and I am always left with more learning than I ever imagined would come out of a simple poem in translation. So the next time we argue and fight over what we "believe is right", we would do well to pause and wonder what shape is our elephant ?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Gulmohar Days Library for Children

August 2009 has been a month of change. Gulmohar Days has taken a step forward and it is with great joy that I invite you to take a look at the new centre that now boasts of a wonderful library for children.
Each book has been handpicked and arranged with care so that there is enough to tickle the curiousity of the 6 month old as well as satiate the appetites of the young teenage reader.
Like so many of you, I had often found it irritating that taking the kids out, often ended with a trip to the mall. I am hoping the library gives us an option.

The endeavour at Gulmohar Days is to provide parents and kids with a place where they can spend a calm hour or two reading a book, playing scrabble or chess, browsing through comics and having a fun time together.....all of this without the smell of fries or burgers!!

Our special Parents Corner stocks the latest Business and leisure magazines, a selection of fiction, health and fitness, philosophy and cook books for the Mom and Dad who accompany the child to the library.

All our Activity clubs will now be conducted at this venue starting this week. Please do come over to visit and gather further details on the library programme.

The library timings are as follows:
Mon- Friday: 10.30 am to 1.00 pm and 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm
Saturday: 10.00 am to 7.00 pm
Sunday : Closed
Please email your queries to