My Second Childhood

I grew up in India. All my education was in India. The only reason I got out of country was for opportunity and better life. With Sahana in my life I am experiencing something extraordinarily new that I believe wouldn’t happen again in my life. I am experiencing a second childhood. I have many bits and pieces of memory from my childhood. I remember some sweet ones and some sour ones. But what I am experiencing now is totally different.

I am part and parcel of American culture, but mostly contemporary. I mean if you refer to something from India which has roots in every kids childhood there, I would get it – but if you refer something related to American culture which every kid born here gets it, I probably wont. I mean I can read up history and politics and understand it – but I won’t be getting the essence of growing up here in this country – ever. Well until recently.

After Sahana turned like 14 months old – she has become more active with couple of things – TV shows (not much), language & education. Tv shows are fascinating because I had the same response Sahana has when she watched Elmo. I was surprised how well made is Sesame Street. When we watch Elmo – trust me I watch it with same intensity like Sahana does and I love it.

Language – Talking with Sahana and teaching her words has been a totally unique experience. The way she is picking up words and the way she remembers names is very interesting. Like many Indians who don’t speak much English but only written – there are some things which I do which usual Americans don’t do. A lot of Indians convert questions into statements and then add a visual or verbal cue in the end – signifying it’s a question. Like for example: “Do you like this?” becomes “You like this? No?”. I know it’s confusing. Similarly, when I ask Sahana – ‘Do you like this?’ – she would say “No”, and when I confirm by asking ‘So, you don’t like this’ (a statement) – she says “Yes”. I know this may not be special but thats just fascinating. I mean she understands – a question from a statement. And it took me 25 years to see the pattern in me (and other Indians) about that.

Education. I have always been fascinated by Education. I mean the whole idea of receiving knowledge from outside source. I mean a source outside of me other than my intuition and my reasoning. I don’t mean that the outside sources are bad but it’s been interesting to test out a lot of things at least for me to see how I learn better and how having better education changes things. My education made me who I am today. Escaping middle class in India. But I did had a crazy education. I was part of the boarding schools which competed on how long can you keep a student awake and make him sit in front of a book. They would make us get up like 4 am and would not sleep till 12am. Those were some crazy 7 years of my life.

But what made me stand out from the crowd during the period was how I was internalizing my learning and how I was spitting out a completely different notion of what I was learning. For example – they would teach us from 2-3 text books for a subject and we are supposed to write up what we understand. Instead of just filling up all the junk from remembering, I would draw stuff and make comparisons which was at least new to my teachers and they loved it.

Anyhow, when coming to American education – I am excited about how I would participate in Sahana’s learning and have my say in it. Only last year I learned the school system here and picking up on a lot of information from what Sangita tells me. I think I want Sahana to learn 3 things:

1. Mathematics – Whether or not if it’s a queen of sciences – Math is definitely needed not for calculating stuff but to expand ones imagination. I mean math is a science about perfect world. It proposes an alternative reality, one better than what we experience – but in a sense it’s perfect. I believe Math would teach Sahana how to imagine better and see things in her mind’s eye. I want to introduce Math as an art form and let her deduce her own things. Learn by exploring.

2. Science – If Math expands imagination, Science expands reasoning, causation. Science is cool because there is no BS in it. It doesn’t fool around. Whether it’s there or it isn’t. I want to teach her the curiosity through science. I want to strengthen her rational thinking through Science.

3. Computation – I think computation is nothing but problem solving. The tools, utilities and┬áreminiscents are actual physical computers, programming languages etc. But where else would you get a world for yourself to create, craft and test out solutions for problems. Computation is tightly packed with Math and Science. Math gives one a liberty to imagine things and craft an ideal solution, Science builds limits and makes it more creative to solve it within the limits.

I know I am missing a lot of stuff in the list. The above 3 are the ones I am most excited about. I am having a second childhood experience through Sahana and what’s coming up for her. Super exited!

Sahana turns 1

Sahana turned 1 this week. We both made it as parents so far. She has been very different in the past couple of months. Especially after the visit to India. She is more active and she has grown so fast and so much. Only today she started to stand up by herself. It’s just fascinating to watch her do that. It takes everything in her to stand up and she loves it so much. Love from our families and friends have kept us sane with parenting so far and we enjoy every moment with Kunjus.

Last night was Shivarathri – I took Sahana to temple. It was very auspicious. Just sitting there among those chants and abhishekams – it was divinely peaceful. I felt like I didn’t need anything else. Shiva is a God signifying the “shivam” nature within us – the pure spirit that lays in us. When you seek Shiva – you seek nothing else other than this purity. It was just blissful to sit there for 20 mins and watch Sahana trying to stand up and playing.

I did think of staying up late as much as possible as one is supposed to stay awake all night and spend time in Dhyanam. I was knocked out by 10. I think my body never got reset from my recent India trip. I was thinking of 8 years back when I was in NY and part of Swami group. I was able to sit in Bhajans all night. Oh my, how times have changed. It’s good to know the feelings of devotion and piety are still the same but more intense – mentally.

Here is a video of Sahana stepping down on a stair.

Here is a picture of her standing by herself.