I once had an ambition to write children’s short stories and someone on my twitter TL had suggested that whatever I write must have dragons, because they held an unfailing enormous charm for children. At the time, I wondered. But I thought of his advice the day we visited Efteling, the 60-year old veteran of amusement parks located in the southern part of The Netherlands.
I’d been there before and knew what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the high levels of excitement and energy from the children that day. It took us over two hours to get there from Haarlem on a warm day, but no one minded. And how could we, when we were greeted by the most fantastic dragon ever, one who looked oh-so fierce and belched flames too!
Efteling’s architecture recreated the magical world of castles and dungeons, ogres and knights, elves and goblins and my children were absolutely charmed. Udai, especially, could imagine himself inside one of his books (Harry Potter, Eragon, Lord of the Rings…you get the drift) and his happiness knew no bounds.
For Aadyaa, the focus of excitement were the roller coasters, the crazier the better! And we were really glad she was tall enough to do them, In fact, Rahul had asked her to pull herself up to her full height if someone came with a measuring stick. And she did! A full 120 cms little Aadyaa was on the day we went to Efteling, aided a bit by her sports shoes and her gymnastics training! We did three roller coaster rides back-to-back, waiting for about 30 minutes for each one (not tiring, just builds up the excitement!). They were bizarre, topsy turvy and scary, in that order. We all loved them and the rush of adrenaline stayed with us for a long long time!
To wind down, we took a serene boat ride, saying hello to all the ducklings and geese we met. And the final elevator ride high into the sky that offers a bird’s eye view of Efteling and beyond. It is then that we realized that the park is located deep inside a protected forest area and all we could see was the dense green cover all around. All the easier for them to create the magical feeling that makes Efteling so special!
If you live by the water, you have no idea how those of us who live in landlocked places long for the open sea. No matter what age we are, no matter what state of mind, just take us to a beach or jetty and watch us go wild!
One morning in Goa, this past week, we were out to fill fuel in the car and decided to visit Miramar, which is a beautiful stretch of beach next to Panjim, Goa’s capital city. Within minutes, the children had walked out into the waves, sat in them, jumped in them, rolled in them, and well, thoroughly soaked themselves into the experience of being on the beach. I walked around in my shoes (why was I wearing them exactly?) collecting shells, which Aadyaa really wanted but didn’t have the patience to collect, preferring to frolic in the water instead. Udai wore a silly grin while Rahul had a beatific smile stuck on his face. I took pictures of my beautiful family as we all thoroughly enjoyed some peaceful time on a nearly deserted beach!
Aadyaa is raring to go! She is a few months beyond five and studies in a progressive school where they take it fairly easy in introducing basic concepts and she has just about finished covering the alphabet. However, she is a big fan of Udai, who is nine and is grade 4. Result: We have a super aggressive learner on our hands right now. She wants us to assign her 3-digit addition problems and we struggle to ensure that they do not have the carry-over issue to deal with. She wants to read and write.
Today she has been working on writing out a description for an illustration she has made. This is happening in the other room. So there is a writing pad going back and forth in which I write out a word and she copy-writes it onto her creation. I haven’t yet seen the product of all this activity, but am totally amused by her little frustrations and triumphs.
Learning is such a fun process. Why do we make it such a drudgery? Why do we link learning to fear- fear of failure, fear of punishment? I see the joy Aadyaa takes in discovering each new fact, each new formula (Udai was the same in pre-school) and in contrast, I see Udai starting to get bogged down by the compulsions of learning, and starting to somewhat lose the excitement to discover new ideas. There must be a good way to keep excitement levels high through middle and senior school! Technology, perhaps, could be a good tool, but I see school hesitate to go that way for various reasons.
Thinking back, I found some subjects painful, especially in grades 11 and 12, but now I see the lethargy was either because of poor quality teaching or too many distractions and I’m none the worse for that short phase. For the most part, I have found learning a lot of fun and continue to do so. In fact, I can learn and study all my life! On that note, let me get back to my work….a part of which is trying to find flexible ways to pursue a PhD in migration and urban planning.
Ok, I managed to click a few pics of what she is upto….here you go!
I was handed over by Rahul the inaugural issue of the National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s India edition. I die-hard lover of travel and the idea of travel, I’ve been a regular reader of the Lonely Planet Magazine, which I simply adore.
I have a relationship with the LP Mag. There is this life cycle thjat I must describe to you. LP Mag arrives. Excitement. Open it. Flip through pages. Slowly, wonder gives way to depression- so many places to visit, one short life! The LP Mag lies around unopened by me for the next few days. Eventually, the melancholy wears off and the featured get a thorough reading, every picture gets a thorough look and the soul experiences an intense sense of travel-induced gratification, even though through the eyes of another.
I flipped the Nat Geo Traveler Mag cover to cover, read snippets here and there and was sorely disappointed. The writing isn’t fresh and frank the way I like it, and that’s why I love the LP Mag. Some contributions are superb, but most of the images are smaller than I like them and not nearly as breathtaking as one would expect from Nat Geo, the God of the Gods of nature photography. There is one fantastic poster insert though! Also, the practical info is not really there. You could argue we don’t need it given that we Google everything anyway, but when you get the info while you read the article, it makes the wheels in your head turn and you can analyze whether the trip is practical for you in terms of travel time, budgets, specific interests, etc. I am not aware of the brand identity iof the Nat Geo Traveler internationally, but I expected a little more focus on what I think are Nat Geo’s core strengths in terms of content-sustainability, biodoversity and a deep love for nature. I guess they put all that conscience stuff in the Nat Geo Mag itself! They did do a good job of profiling a wide variety of travel experiences though and refrained from talking about the typical family-type holiday experience. That makes sense,because it inspires a whole lot of us to try new things.
I already had the beginnings of the itch this week, and the Nat Geo Traveler just got me started on a full fledged travel deprivation attack! I think I will grow to love it in time. Meanwhile, I’m planning my next adventure tonight!