Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Little Sandhya is four and barely taller than the tables of the Reading Room, where she has been making a drawing for the last 20 minutes.
Now, volunteers are telling her it’s 6pm. Time to wrap up. But Sandhya’s not going to leave without signing her name on her masterpiece – a hut and mountains, with a shy sun peeping through.
A volunteer steps in to write her name but Sandhya’s not having any of that. “Mai khud likhoongi” – I will spell it myself.
Alright, says the volunteer, go ahead (it may be pertinent to note the hint of scepticism the volunteer feels, looking at this wisp of a child).


The volunteer is impressed (and not a little bit ashamed of her earlier skepticism). The four year old has got it almost right and her mistakes are delightfully on point.
A ‘b’, which is nothing, if not an inverted ‘d’.
And ‘g’, which let’s face it, sounds a lot like ‘d’.
As the volunteer corrects Sandhya’s spelling, the child leans in with full concentration and one knows, in that very moment, who is learning from whom.

There is a wonderful program - no, a growing library movement - that's bringing the joy of language, literature and expression to kids that may otherwise not get that learning in their early lives. If you are in Delhi and would like to see, volunteer, donate, read or even be hall monitor for a day, reach out to the good folks at Deepalaya Community Library Project.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Cultural Imperative Song

You should get married.
You're 36 you should get married.
You're overweight you should get married.
You can barely make rent you should get married.
Your job is stressful you should get married.
You have subclinical hypothyroidism you should get married.
Kashmir, Palestine, Yemen, Syria you should get married.
You burned the dal you should get married.
Your parents are going to die one day you should get married.
Your friends' marriages are in trouble you should get married.
People will think you're a lesbian you should get married.
You won't be guaranteed happiness but you should get married.
The share market is falling you should get married.
That'll be Rs.500 you should get married.

You're married you should have babies.