Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last post of marathon. YAY! (blog marathon post 30)

It was a month ago I started
I asked if I should jump in
The marathon was going to be difficult
But your comments kept me pumpin' :-)

Posts after posts I wrote
Not even one was a filler post
Even when I was ready to drop dead
And you know this isn't a boast

Mostly I have enjoyed
But there were times when it was tough
But your comments kept me going
As you said   "More, More, not enough! "

It is  music to a writers ears
After all, blogs are written to be read
And a blog is nothing without its readers
And this has to be emphatically said.

Only a handful were faithful commenters
Others just read and went away
To these handful I owe my gratitude,
Your comments kept the blues at bay.
 Finally it is the last day of this marathon. My closest friends will know that this month has been particularly hard for me. I have been going through some real tough times.(Yeah, I don't say everything on the blog, you know, even though it seems as though I do!) Some days I really did not want to write. But a commitment is a commitment and I take pride in keeping up mine. So I wrote, even when I could not write. I did reply to almost all the comments too. (Unless you made a comment on a post 4 days after I had replied) I had begun by giving 'current mood video' which was a nice song  to match the post, but I lost enthusiasm for it a few days back as hardly anyone seemed to be even listening to it or enjoying it.

My page views have crossed 600 a day now! (which means so many people are reading what I write, though they don't leave comments always which works just as well,else I'd go crazy if I tried to reply individually :P)
Many write to me saying how much they enjoy my posts and how this marathon has made them addicted to my blog and how it has become as essential as that early morning coffee. All I can say is thank you for that and thank you for the love and affection you shower me with. It feels marvellous :-)

I will be posting regularly but definitely not daily. I have now begun working on my 3rd book (Gosh--it feels so good to be able to say that!)  which is a '2nd Jar of bubblegums and Candies'. My 2nd book is under processing with publishers and it will take a few more months to reach the stores. I would announce exact dates here. (so if you have 'liked' the page, you'll automatically be notified)

Till the next post

The Closed door (blog marathon post 29)

This is an Oil on canvas that I completed today. (approximately 12 x 15 inches)

I have called it 'The Closed door.'

Some of us are cautious by nature and some of us are more adventurous. But most of us (me included) sometimes get so busy that we rush through life, without paying attention to closed doors. What lies beyond?
Perhaps it is a wonderful opportunity to experience something new. Perhaps there is a  new magical  world waiting to be discovered. What is the worst that can happen? May be you will be chased by a Giant? :-) You can escape back into safety through the door, can't you?

Life is too short to not try new things. Do that thing you have always wanted to. Take that salsa class. Join that exercise group if that is what you wanted. And yes--smile and say hi to that cute girl or guy :-) Do whatever it is that your heart is telling you to. Follow your heart. Chase your dreams.

But most importantly, open those closed doors.
Current mood video: Open up your door--Richard Hawley

Monday, June 28, 2010

A meme tag (Blog marathon post 28)

Sunday stealing   had this meme going. I quite liked the interesting set of questions they had. Here are my very honest answers :-)

1. What curse word do you use the most?

 The most common  one F* * K (yeah, I do swear  but not in front of my kids :P )

2. Do you own an iPod?
  Yes. Two in fact

3. What person do you talk to on the phone the most?
 I talk to my closest friends. It would be difficult to identify one person but if I check my call log, I guess the four names that would appear most would be Suman, Cherissa (who have no online presence hence not linking them) , Mayank and Ajay.

4. Do you still remember the first person you kissed?
Of course. How can I forget :-) *Big dreamy smile*...*Censored* Shoo Shoo go away. :D

5. Do you remember where you were on 11/9/01?
 Yes. In Bangalore. My daughter was just a 4 month old baby then.

6. What was the last movie you watched?
When in Rome which has just released in the UK.

7. Has anyone ever called you lazy?
Never.  Not even as a joke :-) (Their teeth would have been knocked out had they dared :D )

8. Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep?
I have taken once or twice. But then discovered alcohol works just as well and  besides,its more fun :P

9. Has anyone told you a secret this week?
 Yes :P People tell me secrets all the time. Almost every single day, in fact. I am a good secret keeper. If someone were to murder me, I think secrets would come tumbling out, and not blood :-D

10. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
First thing I notice are usually the eyes. Then I'd quickly see how fit the guy is. But for me, the person has to be intellectually stimulating with a  great sense of humour but should also be sensitive (Sigh- Yeah I am so  hard to please)

11. What are you looking forward to?
Seeing my second book in stores. (It would still take a few more months)

12. Do you own any band t-shirts?
Had stolen a Metallica one from my bro many years ago. Now I own only branded t-shirts :P Not bands :P :)

13. What will you be doing in one hour?
Meeting Satish at the library. Two books are overdue.

14. Is anyone in love with you?
Of course, yes. Who is not in love with me?  Please raise your hands :D

15. Last time you cried?
A few hours ago.

16. Are you on a desktop computer or a laptop?
Laptop. HP Pavillion.

17. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
No tattoos for me, ever. When you grow old (assuming you live that long) they will  look like wrinkled prunes stuck on your skin. I don't think tattoos are cool at all. However, I do like piercings. I am considering getting my eye brow pierced but it would look odd at Parent Teacher meetings :D

18. Would you ever date anyone covered in tattoos?
No way. Tattoos don't turn me on at all.

19. What were you doing before this?
Feeding my children.

20. When is the last time you slept on the floor?
December 2009, in my mom's cottage In Kerala.

21. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
Sometimes even four works just fine.

22. Do you eat breakfast daily?
Every single day, without fail. I eat a great big huge breakfast and I eat in front of the TV watching music videos (that is the only time I watch TV too) :D

If  you have a blog then you have to  do this tag there :-)  But if you want to do it in my comment box too, you're most welcome!  To make it easier for you to copy paste, here are the questions without my answers.

1. What curse word do you use the most?

2. Do you own an iPod?

3. What person do you talk to on the phone the most?

4. Do you still remember the first person you kissed?

5. Do you remember where you were on 11/9/01?

6. What was the last movie you watched?

7. Has anyone ever called you lazy?

8. Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep?

9. Has anyone told you a secret this week?

10. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?

11. What are you looking forward to?

12. Do you own any band t-shirts?

13. What will you be doing in one hour?

14. Is anyone in love with you?

15. Last time you cried?

16. Are you on a desktop computer or a laptop?

17. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?

18. Would you ever date anyone covered in tattoos?

19. What were you doing before this?

20. When is the last time you slept on the floor?

21. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?

22. Do you eat breakfast daily?

Go on! Do it! You're tagged!

You have seen mine .. Now I want to see yours! :-)

Three pictures from my garden (Blog marathon post 27)

I really like these two fellows who seem to have made themselves at home in my flower trough :-)

I love the Tiger lilies which have just bloomed. I grew them from a bulb. I had planted them sometime in February.

Dinathus which has just bloomed too. I have  another one which is dark pink in colour, almost Magenta but I haven't got around to clicking a photo yet.

Hope you had a nice weekend and may these flowers kick start a refreshing week ahead!


Current mood video: You don't bring me flowers --Neil Diamond

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Three very quick portraits (Blog marathon post 26)

Pastels is a medium that I find extremely difficult. The above picture was done very quickly. I did not even take 20 minutes to complete it. The reference photo was a model from an ad for Mascara and so she had exaggerated eyes which I managed to capture. She has a kind of startled expression. Since I find the medium very difficult, I am kind of content with this attempt. (Not too bad for an almost first time in pastel)

This picture took me more than two hours to complete. This was again a completely new medium called water colour pencils. (click on link to know more) One uses it like an ordinary colour pencil but the effects ar amazing when one runs a wet brush over it. I loved the hardened expression of this wise old red Indian who seems to have really seen the tough side of life.

This is what I like about portraiture. I  make portraits of subjects that I find arresting. Sometimes it is a a strong urge that I feel which makes me want to paint something.

For instance, when I saw this profile picture of  Janani who blogs at pretty woman, I simply had to paint it. I immediately asked her to send it to me which she did. Again it was a relatively quick picture.(sometimes a picture takes more than 4 hours) This picture was done using Acrylic on paper.

I have no idea why I feel a compelling urge to paint something and am repelled and I cringe before painting another thing. In my portraiture course, we have different models who model for us, live. I know instinctively  that if I like the model, I would get a great portrait. Sometimes I dislike them (for really no reason as we don't even speak to the models when we begin making a portrait of them) and then I can be certain that my picture will not turn out well. Basic thing is I should want to paint someone --it has to come from within.

Perhaps this is what they call an Artist's muse. I do not know.
All I know is that when I paint, my heart sings in joy. :-)
Addendum: I am copy pasting Suma's (who blogs at aalochaney) comment here in this post as I liked it so much. This is what she said:

"love it!!!!! all three of them for different reasons :)

unrelated, but just got reminded of this:

i have an artist friend here and she was cribbing that she gets upset because people think that they can get freebies from her, or shortchange her, they dont realise how much (emotionally sometimes) has gone into each and every artwork."

I want to add that this is exactly how I feel too. There is a LOT which has gone into my pictures emotionally. No amount of money can  really compensate that.  For me, my paintings are like bits of my soul, really. That is how strongly I feel about my pictures (no matter what others think of them). I too, like Suma's friend, feel very upset and irritated when people ask me for freebies and ask me to 'make a painting for me na' so casually. For an artist or an artistic soul, a painting is a gift from the heart. If you  really and badly want a picture then please honour that artist by acknowledging that and  paying the price they demand.

Friday, June 25, 2010

what google does not get (blog marathon post 25)


Every morning when I wake up, there used to be only one mantra that I chanted. It is an extremely powerful one you know. It works almost every time. It has let me down only on very rare occasions and that too it would be because I was not diligent enough. The mantra is no great secret. In fact I am sure many of you would be using it too, everyday. It has be come such a part of our lives, that we wonder how we existed before it. Everything before it, seems meaningless in comparison.

What is this magic mantra? Yes! You guessed it! Tha magic mantra is "Googleaya namaha" :D

Of late though it has been losing its sheen faster than a  freshly scrubbed squeaky clean pig let lose in a puddle of dirt. Perhaps it is worn out due to fatigue or over-use. Or perhaps it is early dementia setting in. I don't know what it is, but it isn't just the way it used to be.

For starters, among my long litany of 'something -is-wrong' take the ads that it shows me on the right side of my beloved inbox.There was a time when it used to show me relevant ads, like the time it showed me an ad about pencil portraits or making cheap phone calls to India.

But now? I shake my head sadly. It is showing me underwear ads--G string,Briefs, swimwear, fig leaves. That by itself, wouldn't have been so bad too, but for the fact that they are all Mens underwears! There is Man underwear, Underwear for men, G-strings for men and even thongs for men and honestly I shudder to think which male would want to wear this. (It looks more like a torture device to me)
Poor google--it must be thinking I am a male with an underwear fetish.

As though, torturing me with the above wasn't bad enough, it has resorted to showing me Eczema photos! It has decided to offer me discounts on treatments too. Along with that it also has  Mushroom photo and a chocolate cake photo. I think I have gone off chocolate cake for life. I blame google.

Google sometimes thinks I need a new phone, even though I have a state of the art touch screen one which I am rather proud of. It shows me supposedly good deals on the blackberry and tells me about network coverage and broadband deals, never mind that I already have very good deals on both.

It also sometimes decides that I have badly behaved children and offers me discounts on videos like 'How to get your children to behave by putting them in a cage' and 'How to hang your children upside down without getting caught by the social services'. Okay I made up the titles (ha ha ha--got you there didn't I?! ) but you get the picture.

I am also convinced that google has got my age and interests completely wrong. It offers me advice on how to get my ex-boyfriend back completely oblivious of the fact that there is a reason why he is ex in the first place. It also shows me how to 'hook a man and keep him'. (No thank you, the one I have hooked is quite enough for this life time! :P :D) It tells me 'relationship secrets every woman should know' and 'how to dress to kill' and 'how to tell if he is really interested in you'.

Sometimes it shows me 'wedding planner' and 'how to have the perfect wedding' and 'where to order the perfect cake'.

Didn't I tell you? Google is overworked and stressed.

And before Rohit begins showing off explaining about  how the ads work, about using his social engineering  skills to crack passwords and several other IT related stuff  let me disclose, I have read, absorbed and understood this.

And just in case you didn't get it and did not smile at all after reading this post and are shaking your heads in bewilderment,  kindly see the labels on this post :P

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All apologies-Guest post by Prashant (blog marathon post 24)

Guest post by Prashant

who blogs at

All apologies

1.      Apologies Led Zeppelin, for using one of your songs in a game of Antakshari. Couldn’t help it, the opposite team had stooped to using regional songs. It was “Stairway to Heaven”. “The” se gaana tha.

2.      Apologies Rats. I persuaded a friend of mine to study biology. He has dissected hundreds of your lot since then. Honestly, I didn’t foresee that at all. My soul is as pure as yours.

3.      Apologies nations playing in World cup football, for one of my countrymen did this . On similar lines, if you are a proud Mallu, you better be prepared with explanations for this

4.      Apologies that person who studied Electronics for four years simply because your elder brother was a vague acquaintance of mine. Long back, your elder brother asked me whether you should opt for Electronics or Computers and I convinced him for Electronics just to see whether I could do that. I hope you are doing some kickass solid state physics work at Princeton. Fat chance though.

5.      Apologies Berlin sky, for I have peed in open, right beneath your stars and inspired three others to do the same. While we are at it, apologies Miami sky too.

6.      Apologies the interview candidate whom I rejected a few years ago. You sneezed on my hands and didn’t apologize. There is yet to be a study which reveals a correlation between bad manners and ability to crack complex algorithms. I suspect it to be positive, but clearly I got carried away with that fine gesture of yours.

7.      Apologies Megan Fox, but I can’t marry you.

8.      Apologies all those who were beaten up or appeared stark naked in my dreams. Although I seek redemption in the fact that more often than not, the victim has been me, myself. Megan dear, you belong to one of the two mentioned categories. Excluded from this apology is a fellow who was the only one to be murdered. Thrice.

9.      Apologies person X, for, well, whatever.

Thanks Preeti, for this wonderful opportunity. Apologies dear readers, if the post didn’t meet your expectations :-)

Current Mood Video: Led Zep: Stairway to heaven.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tactfully and Strategically (Blog marathon post 23)

Getting your friends to do a guest post for your blog marathon is as hard as getting Diego Maradona to play football for India, especially taking into  consideration the fact that we do not have a team that has come even close to qualifying for the  FIFA world cup.
But I thought this would be different. My friend Prashant does have a blog after all and to draw parallels here, it would be a front runner for finals, and not even the also-rans. Everyone also knows he wrote some fantastic stuff for the Royal Challengers blog, although I am sure being in the esteemed company of Kumble and Ray Jennings would have been motivation enough for him, apart from the luxurious five star hotel stay that they had ensconced him with, from where he churned out posts after posts.
Still, there is pure bribery and then there is a thing as friendship, I thought. And I waited patiently while the man busied himself, acquiring a degree in Math and Economics from no less than the London school of Economics. Like a sincere friend should, I extended my support and remembered his exam dates (too) and texted him, taking care to even text him my best wishes, at an appropriate time (which was rather hard considering we are in two different time zones) so that my text wouldn’t wake him. I also followed it up with a phone call, the day his exams got over. But tactfully and strategically I must add, I did not mention the guest post request, even then.
Then I made a truly wonderful, marvellous and outstanding portrait of him.(Click here to see it)  He was delighted. He even had it as his Facebook profile picture for a while.
Now was the time to strike. How could he refuse me a guest post now? So I sent him a very casual mail  asking if he would like to write a guest post  for me and very casually  I also said that he could definitely say a no and I wouldn’t mind at all. (Of course, I did not tactfully and strategically again, mention that if he had said a no I’d have smashed his head with a bludgeon)
Turned out that the bludgeon wasn’t needed after all. He agreed sweetly (the gentleman that he is), blissfully unaware of how close he had been to having his head smashed. :-) But experience has taught me that promising is one thing and actually getting the guest post in hand is another thing entirely. He is adept at being invisible on g-talk and he gives darshan to his devotees very rarely  and even when he does, it is usually like a  sheegra darshan of Lord Ventateshwara . :-)
So the other day (which must have been a sheegra darshan  day for him) on G-talk , he  saw me online and he made the error of saying a ‘hey preeti’ to me. I pounced on him faster and swifter than the Sudarshan Chakra of  Lord Vishnu and thundered   a “ WHERE IS MY GUEST POST?”
He was silent for 3 seconds.
Then he went offline!
I could only imagine his agony/ misery/fear/terror. On hindsight, maybe I should have strategically and tactfully said a “hey prashant ” to him, before asking for my guest post.

Picture of prashant and me, clicked on my b'day at Bangalore.

PS: 1.Watch this space.Guest post by Prashant Dhanke .Coming up tomorrow.
2. Gillian Da Silva and Ajay Chauhan, be afraid..Be very afraid. It's your turn next to do a guest post. *stares with eyes narrowed and the meanest face*

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lost--Reward if found (Blog marathon post 22)

Lost: A sense of humour
Last seen:  Buried  somewhere in in the stack of dishes to be washed /pile of laundry to be done/room to be cleaned
Reward if found: A big wide grin

Lost: Enthusiasm that had been taken for granted
Last seen: Flailing its arms and running away to Himalayas
Reward if found:  A cup of coffee (err... can you make it yourself? :P Enthusiasm might run away again if I take my eyes off it :P )

Lost: Ability to take criticism
Last seen: Being bashed up, bloodied and being badly beaten in a volley of words
Reward if found: A good dose of cattiness--I'll even throw in some verbal volleys, too.They're free.

Lost: Patience (Especially with people who do not read up and instead send silly mails expecting answers to silly questions)
Last seen: Buried in the pile of mails that ask me all kinds of things just because I have a policy of 'responding back'
Reward if found: A personalised poster of Mr. Silly?

Lost: Willingness to continue with this marathon.
Last seen: Buried in the archives of this blog
Reward if found: 8 more posts till the end of the month.

Now, quick, quick..Are you going to help me look for all the lost things or are you just going to read and leave?  :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another pencil portrait and some more tips (blog marathon post 21)

This post is a kind of sequel to  this one (A pencil portrait and what goes into it).

This portrait of Keira Knightley, I finished just this morning.I took about 2 and half hours to complete it. It is again A3 size ( 42 x30 cms approximately). I have used Bristol board extra smooth paper. This time I also used a graphite stick as I wanted the dark of her hair, very dark.

To get the lights in her hair, I cut out a triangular piece from a good quality eraser, using a Craft knife. The pencils I used for this portrait were
1. 2H for the initial drawing outline
2.4B for darker shading
3. 6B Graphite stick
4. 5mm Staedler clutch pencil for finer hair

Apart from the above, I used the usual blending tools, namely chamois leather piece and tortillons.

If you are interested in pencil portraits (and from the excellent response I got from my last post, I know many of you are)  then here are a few tips which worked very well for me.

1.The basic drawing, before you begin shading has to be accurate. Draw the outline and compare it constantly to your reference photo to try and find the mistakes. It is really really important to have a perfect outline of the features, before you think of even shading. For a good portrait, an accurate outline is 60% of the work really.

2.Holding up your drawing in front of a mirror works so well to find the mistake. Thanks to my good friend Niall who is an amazing artist, who told me to do this, when I made my first portrait and sent it to him. If you think my pictures are good you should check out his. He is simply brilliant!

3. When you draw the eyes, pay attention to the size of the eyeball. Also pay attention to the direction of the gaze.

4.Blending is very very important to get the three dimensional effect and a good likeness. To see the dark and light in your reference photos squint your eyes and look at the picture. The dark and light areas will leap out at you.

5.Key to good portraiture is observation. Observe, observe, observe. The tiniest of details matter in portraiture. What I have learnt it that even one millimeter can make a huge diference to the likeness. The features have to be exactly in the right place.

6. You have to love what you're drawing. Somehow I feel, if you like the picture that you are drawing, it is bound to show! There will be that much more effort going into it. So choose a picture which you feel happy looking at. When I started portraiture, I started first with a portrait of Satish as I wanted to see what mistakes I  made. I would stare at him for hours analysing his each feature, studying his face :-) He agreed very sweetly to be my first model :-)

7.Practice, practice and practice. I can see very significant improvements in my own work from when I first started to now.

These are some of the things that worked for me.

Hope they help you as well.
Now I have to run as I have a portraiture course to attend.

Thank you to all those who read so regularly and leave me such nice comments on almost all the posts. I do appreciate and it is a lot of encouragement.


Current Mood video (see right or click on link) : Shout for England!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

100 years of Fathers day.( blog marathon post 20)

Today is actually the 100th anniversary of the tradition of celebrating Fathers day which is observed in about 55 countries on the third Sunday in the month of June.It was started by Sonora Dudd on 19th June 1910, who felt strongly, after listening to a Church sermon about newly recognised Mothers day that fathers too need to be honoured and recognised. Her own father was a civil war veteran who  was left to raise a family of 6 children alone after his wife died, giving birth to the sixth child.

Today a lot of commercialisation has taken place with promotions in stores beginning weeks in advance, at least in the U.K. One would have to be blind to miss the offers, the gigantic banners, gifting suggestions, attractively arranged displays at shop windows and even mails landing in your inbox luring you to buy, buy and buy. If you have missed buying out, they even have 'late deals' where you can gift you can print out gift vouchers and give them to your father so he can buy what he wants.

How important is it to buy a gift for your father on Father's day? Personally I think, my dad would really have not cared whether I had gifted him something on father's day or any other day. He would have valued it just the same.

However I guess, it is nice to do something different and who does not like to be pampered a bit? Also it is difficult to escape the barrage of emotional deluge which seem to suggest that  you are somehow less of a son or daughter if you do not do something for your dad on fathers day.

What I would believe is more than a hurriedly bought last minute gift, what a father would truly appreciate is some time of yours and would love listening to what has been going on  in your life, your work, your career and other things. He would love it if you asked advice from him in an area of his expertise.

Do it  if you are fortunate enough to have him , no matter what kind of a father he has been.Value what you have, while you still have it.

I cannot do it any more even if I want to, though I wish with all my heart that I could. I would give anything I have, just anything, to be able to talk to him for just 5 minutes. When you lose someone who means the world to you, the pain never really goes away, you just learn to bury it deeper.

A very happy fathers day to all the dad out there, especially to the father of my children. You are valued, admired appreciated and loved a lot.

Current mood video (see right or click on link): Dance with my father

Do you know how to wear a sari? (Blog marathon post 19)

Really sorry.
I had to remove this post as it is selected for publication elsewhere and making it available online would be unfair to my publishers.
Thanks for the interest!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Best friends (blog marathon post 18)

When I was younger and  in school, there was always a 'best friend'. It was mandatory. Everybody had a 'best friend', a partner, an inseparable part of yourself, whom you shared secrets about the opposite sex with, whom you told your dreams to, whom you could not wait to meet the next day day, just because within a short span of  12-14  hours (the time between when you saw them last evening and when you would see them again the next morning at school) there would be so much that has happened that you would want to share. Every trivial little thing, every incident, every minor and major real and imagined mishap had to be narrated with detailed precision.

I don't know as adults if people have 'best friends' any more. Do you?

I certainly have 'very close friends' and 'good friends' and 'friends' and 'neighbours' and 'people living in neighbourhood' and now  in the Internet  era 'online friends'  too. (But I prefer meeting 'online friends' and have indeed met most of the people who used to be 'online friends') Today if you were to ask me who my best friend is (and my daughter asked me this a few days back) it would be hard for me to name one single person. One of my closest friends and I had a discussion about this once. She said that for her, her spouse was her best friend. So I asked her if she told every single detail about her life to her spouse. She laughed and said that would be so boring. I agreed and we both giggled over it. (Incidentally she has been married even longer than I have--and I have been married 15 years) Then I told her that even though I am one of her closest friends, if she were to tell me  every tiny detail of her life, I really wouldn't want to know :-)

Kahlil Gibran had once said on marriage

“ Let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”


 I think the same applies to every relationship that you have too.

For a relationship to grow, for the people in it to grow as individuals, for the bond to grow stronger,there has to be  at least a few things  that are separate, which the other person is not a part of. I think one should allow that other person that space and time.

In school, we did not need it. We had not yet evolved as people. We did not have many aspects to our personalities. Therefore we needed that security blanket of a 'best friend' without whom we could not imagine life.We held on to it as tightly as a drowning man would clutch a piece of floating wood which would take him to safety.


As adults we know that nothing stays the same forever. 

Not even Best friends.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Winni and Jap (blog marathon post 17)

Can you guess what this is?

  It is a birth certificate. :-)

Do you know whose?

It is Jap's. Did I hear you ask Jap who?

Well, meet Winnie and Jap. They live in my children's room.

Jap was created at Build a bear workshop where children can create their own bear. He shares a birthday with my son :-)  He even has a heart inside which both my children kissed before they put it in and created him.

Winnie has a large heart but he  does not have a birth certificate . Everyone knows A.A.Milne created him :-)

Yesterday after the children left for school, I found Jap and Winnie neatly tucked into a bed which my daughter had created using her old t-shirt, her toy crate and her favourite fleece blaket. I smiled and meant to ask her about it but  I forgot.
I remembered only three days later and they were still in bed, neatly tucked.

"Oh my God!  Look at this.Aren't you going to wake Jap and Winnie ? They have been sleeping for three days. What is this? Wake them up now. They have slept enough." I playfully told my daughter.

"Maaa" she said in a slightly amused tone, "Don't you know bears hibernate? They can sleep for months."  When did my little girl become  little  miss smarty pants? I had never noticed.

I am still smiling :-)
Current Mood video (see right or click on link) : Let me be your Teddy Bear--Elvis Presley  (a lovely song!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What being a father means.A guest post by Satish. ( blog marathon post 16)

One of the pieces that Satish wrote will soon appear in Chicken soup for the Father's Soul. He has written another piece on similar lines and I am sharing that with you. Here is a Guest post  by Satish.

 On being a Dad

Why are you not in bed? Do you realise you have school early tomorrow morning?
Why have you not studied today – you need to ensure you do well in life my darling!
Don’t climb that tree. You may fall and get hurt.
Why is this mess in your room? Look at the crumbs on the sofa and your clothes thrown here.
Why did you crawl in the bed between Mum and me last night?

Sounds familiar right? Typical father things, one would say. Mothers go through a lot for the 9 months prior to the birth of the child. They do afterwards too, but a fact often overlooked is that for a father too, the birth of a child is a complete change in life, forever. It is an extremely onerous responsibility which includes ensuring that the children are spoilt rotten and have everything which they themselves did not have as a child, protecting them from the minutest harm possible, trying to ensure they do better than everyone else in life and of course providing the right balance of attention to them.  

When my son was born it was one of the best and definitely the most amazing moment in my life. The 3.4 kg wonder the nurse carried straight from the delivery room to show the proud father (bawling because he had been brought out from the comfort of  Mom’s womb) was absolutely a marvel and I used to spend hours just watching his tiny hands, his movements, the gurgles and faces he made. When he walked a few tottering steps for me it was no less than Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. When a man playfully manhandled my son and he came crying, I was so enraged and went straight across to this person, screamed at him and asked him to take me on if he had the guts, at that moment coming close to hitting someone physically for the first time in my life.

I was watching a programme the other day on TV which advises parents to let children make their own mistakes and learn from them in order to let them become more independent. I realised that there were quite a few times when I told my children not to do a lot of things and was therefore, probably not allowing them to make mistakes and learn from it. My wife is completely the opposite of me and feels that they should learn their lessons in life and that I should not be so restrictive in my outlook. I tried to understand what caused me to worry so much about them and thought back to when I was a child. I realised that my father had done quite a few of the same things with me and in fact, even now worries daily about me, my job, my health and a million other things even though I am now a father of two and have my own family. At times I do feel that he should let go and let me do things my way and if required, learn lessons the hard way but then it struck me immediately that my son too could be feeling the same way. Make no mistake, I think my dad is the best dad in the world – a caring, considerate and lovable individual and I do love him a lot as my son loves me too no doubt. But then why do we do what we do?

I am very proud of my son and when he gets recognised in school, holds his own with some bully, looks after his sister and someone comments on how well behaved he is then my heart swells with joy and pride. I realise then that I have had the best of both worlds – A great dad as well as a great son. What more could one ask for?

There are some good days when everything works like clockwork – when the homework gets done, rooms are cleaned up, chores are done, Xbox gets switched off immediately when told, food is not dropped on the carpet and clothes are picked up from the drawing room among other things. Then there are some days (though very few) when I tear my hair out especially when I get back from office and find my wife stressed because of a number of things the kids have done and I tell my son that when he becomes a man and has his own family, I as the grandfather will come to his house, throw popcorn on the sofa, send his child to his room to disturb him during the night, pamper my grandson a lot and watch with glee when he goes through what I am going through right now in terms of studies 

I realise that we do all of this because we care about our children, want to protect them from any pain or discomfort and want only the best for them – in short we love them a lot. Life is, I guess, ensuring the fine balance between loving them and ensuring we don’t end up smothering them completely.

Kids will be kids and we should I guess let them be. If they don’t do a bit of mischief when they are small then when would they do it? When they are big?! Naah. But then hopefully my son also realises that Dad will not be Dad if he didn’t do what he did-- worry, care, love and panic with a bit of scolding thrown in here and there. Maybe the realisation will dawn when he reaches where I have and can look back on what I went through and see what my son is going through at the same time. Whichever way you look at it, I love you Son and I love you Dad – I am just a father as my father is and as my son will be in the future. That is life and the phases of the Past, Present and the Future, so don’t judge me harshly.     
Note: This post is also an entry for Blogadda's  Father's day Contest in association with Pringoo

Number one dad

Number  One

Current Mood Video (see right or click on link): Rod Stewart's Father and Son (I love Rod Stewart's version more than Cat stevens or Boyzone. Absolutely love Rod Stwart's voice. This song makes me want to cry sometimes)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In the summertime :) (blog marathon post 15)

It is summer in U.K. You can usually tell by the length of the skirts women wear. It would be hard to tell by the temperature though because it is still 13 degrees centigrade :-) Friday is supposed to be a warm day. It is expected to touch 19. :D

When I lived in Pondicherry (God, how I loved that town!) summers used to touch a  scorching 48 degree centigrade (for those in the U.S that is a 118 F). So when  I moved to U.K and I heard people complaining about how hot it was, I smiled. "You should go to India," I thought I my mind, but did not say it aloud.

Now  having spent more than a year, I seem to have got used to it. The other day, I too found the weather slightly warm! :D  What I truly love about this time of the year is that it is bright for so long. Even at 9.30.P.M here, it is still so bright and the sun has not set. (The brightness  outside at 9.30.P.M would be similar to the brightness in India at 5.30.P.M)

We have a nice seating in our garden.(see picture above)

We managed to finally buy mangoes from the Indian store and bliss--mango milk-shakes! How can summer be complete without them?
Current mood video (see right or click on link) : In the Summer time Shaggy :)

Everybody needs a personal sanctuary (Blog marathon post 14)

The English Dictionary defines a sanctuary as a sacred or Holy place. I think everybody needs a personal sanctuary of their own. A positive happy place, where you can take refuge, when you get a few knocks from life. And trust me, sooner or later we all do. If you haven't I'd just say that either you haven't lived long enough or you haven't lived at all.
I am fortunate enought to have my own private room which I call 'my studio'. It is equipped with a nice comfortable double bed, my desk, a cozy bean bag, a chest of drawers that houses all my Art supplies, a wardrobe/cupboard which has my favourite art books and also my paintings which I store.(as I have painted at least a 100 pictures and I cannot possibly hang up all of them) The picture you see above is a picture clicked on a rainy day when I was sitting at my desk. (It is an antique desk the top of which can be folded. I absolutely love this piece of furniture). I like to sit at my desk and lose myself completely in creating stuff. It matters so much to me. If I do not create I go mad.

I think everybody needs a place like this, where you can escape to, when life gets to you. If you live in a small apartment with space constraint and if you aren't particularly fond of creating stuff, perhaps the best solution would be a 'peaceful corner'. Keep your favourite things there--a bean bag maybe and maybe that favourite photo which makes you smile just when you think of it and a couple of favourite books? Whatever makes you happy really! Make it a 'sacred space'. It is your space and your time there is your time. No interference from friends, spouse, off springs--no-one really.When you need some pampering, spend time there.

It works for me. Every single time. :-)

Do you have a sacred space/ritual to recharge yourself? What do you do? If you share I am listening. :-)
ps: 1.I have been asked to judge the Blogadda contest .It would be fun to read all the different  posts about 'first crush' by so many people.. Follow the link in case you want to read the posts.
2. I would be replying to the lovely comments in my previous post tomorrow. Thank you so much for the comments. Much appreciate the encouragement.
Current Mood video (see right or click on link) Its impossible-- Perry Como

Monday, June 14, 2010

A pencil portrait and what goes into it (blog marathon post 13)

This is a portrait in pencil and graphite which I completed  last night. It took me 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete! It is an A3 size which means it is about  30 cms x 42 cms approximately. This is a portrait of a good  friend  Prashant who blogs here and regular readers will also remember that he was also chosen the chief blogger of Royal Challengers Bangalore.

I started making this last night around 10.00 p.m and just could not stop till I finished it. When I put it up on facebook this morning, delighted compliments began pouring in and one person mentioned it was a nice 'sketch'.  The artist in me, could not tolerate a portrait being referred to as a mere sketch and I quickly corrected him. He said he was glad he did as he was a complete layman when it came to art and that he was happy he learnt something new.

That set me thinking. Most people would not know how many tools go into making a pencil portrait. I thought I'd click a photo of the stuff that I use and tell you about it. I usually organise this neatly into a tiny stand which has three drawers. On top are my pencils, in the second one are my blending stumps and the third has my other tools like kneaded erasers and other stuff which I will tell you about shortly. For clicking a picture I spread them out like this, so you can see easily.

Right at the bottom of the picture you can see my grid sheet. I use this as a 'map' to see where exactly the features like eyes, lips nose etc will be placed. Before this I have to study the photo or the person (if it is a live sketch) quite well. I have to observe each thing and see what is it that make that person unique.

You can also see the paper that I use which is really expensive. I use Bristol Board extra smooth drawing paper which is acid free and 250 gsm. ( a measurement of thickness of paper. better quality paper is thicker)

You can also see my tortillons (blending stumps) which are right on top. These are very important tools when you make a portrait in pencil or graphite or charcoal. You can see a small piece of cloth  like thing which is black with graphite. This is a chamois leather piece. It is very useful to blend the graphite  smoothly. You can see a larger paint brush which I use to dust away the erasing. Since it is graphite it smudges easily (after the portrait is complete I use a fixative to spray it) and I 'tidy up' my work by erasing. I don't want to blow into my drawing and so I use a brush.

You can see a white pencil like thing with a brush at the end of it. It is an eraser which can be sharpened! :) I use it to  'lift out' fine lines in my drawing.
I use a kneaded eraser too (the grey thing at the bottom left of the photo). A kneaded eraser is like clay. you can change it to any shape you want!  This is particularly useful for doing fine features like eye ball.

You can  see a stencil of circles which I use for getting perfect rounds for eye balls. Trick here is to know which circle to use as the slightest millimetre of difference can change the picture completely.

Then I have a very cool thing which is a battery eraser.It is again at the bottom left right next to the kneaded eraser. This is battery powered! It is amazing and erases so well. It has a little eraser that rotates at a very high speed when switched on. When it wears out, you replace the end (just like you replace blades in a shaving razor).

Pencils and graphites are considered a very difficult medium to make a portrait simply because you have to get every tone and every shade right without the use of colour and with just graphite.Most people dread working in pencils/graphite.

But me--I love it completely! :-) And I guess that shows :-)

And I bet you thought it was just a picture right?  :-)

Since I got a few mails asking if I will make a portrait of them, I thought I'd add this. Yes, I do accept commissions ('order' for a portrait  in layman's terms :P ) and if you are interested you can mail me for rates and other details.

Current mood video (see right or click on name of song) Starry Starry nights --Don Mc Lean
(one of my absolute favourite  songs)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A catty picture story (blog marathon post 12)

There used to be a cat which used to regularly visit me in India. Everyone thought she was my pet. She even gave birth to kittens once in my patio and once in my son's wardrobe! But she was just a stray who had adopted me  and let me think that I had kind of adopted her :-) There are many adventures which have happened with this cat which i will save for another post.

Here in the UK too, one cat visits me regularly. It is a pet cat as there are no strays in UK and it is fat and well fed. Reminds me of Garfield (and I love Garfield, btw) and that is what I have named this cat.

Here is a picture story of one of Garfield's visits  :-)

 Hey you--Do not click my picture please!

 I told you No photos. I don't like photos. Put that camera down and pet me right now!

 Hmppph. You can kiss my ___________  ! 


You are not listening to me, you crazy woman with the camera. I asked you to pet me, not click my picture.

 If you do not listen to me I shall go away. 

Okay--I am giving you a last chance. Will you put that camera down and pet me or no?

 You have had your chance and you have blown it! Good bye, you crazy woman with the camera...

And yes, the pictures better be good! I have a reputation you know!

Psst: Pay no attention to Garfield.. He will be back tomorrow. Who can resist my charms? ;-)

Current mood video: (see right) : Everybody wants to be a cat--the Aristocats

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hand-crafted Jewellery (blog marathon post 11)

Jewellery is something which will interest most women. It always makes a perfect gift too.No matter how many pieces of jewellery a woman has, yet another one is always welcome. And if it is hand-crafted and does not cost the earth, it is indeed the icing on the cake. When I saw these initially in my cousin Sandya's album I was totally blown away. She was making them and had sold a lot of pieces too.

Sandya and I have always shared  a special relationship. She is my mother's sisters daughter and as children, every summer vacation would be spent together. We have countless stories of mischiefs , laughs and giggles and even now, when we talk about it, we laugh uproariously! After she got married and moved to the U.S, we somehow  lost touch and we re-connected only recently (thanks to Facebook) which was when I came to  know about her jewellery making. I was instantly fascinated.

It is indeed wonderful when someone converts their hobby into a business and I asked Sandya if she was willing to share her experience. She sweetly agreed. You have seen her creations (if you haven't do see the video above). Now meet Sandya Shenoy, the pretty lady behind these exquisite creations!

1. When did you first start making jewellery? What prompted the interest?

My friend and I decided to do something fun for the weekend.  We then decided to take a class on the basics of Jewellery making at the Arts and Crafts Store called A.C.Moore.  It was a 2hour class and we made a necklace and a pair of earrings.  They showed and made us familiar with the tools and basic supplies that we would need to get started. After the class we ventured to the Jewellery and bead aisle of the store and then went crazy buying supplies to make it our selves at home for our own use. 
Once, I started making jewellery I could not stop and before I knew it I had a hand full of jewellery sets.  I started showing it off to my friends, and they loved it. I started giving it off as gifts to my close friends and neighbours.

2.How did you think of selling it as a business?

Gopal pushed me to put a few on sale and this is how I put up a few on and many more people started looking at it.  They started sending me emails when they saw something they liked and this is how I sold my first set.  My friends placed custom orders as well and they were asking me to charge them for the services.  It made sense since jewellery supplies don’t come cheap.  I even redesigned old beaded necklaces.

3.Do you face any difficulties or setbacks?

The difficulties that I face is promoting myself and getting more people to get to know about me or about seeing the sets on my Picasa website and ordering a set after they see it. on line.  The challenge is to stand out, since there are so many websites that sell handmade jewellery. 

4.How do you manage to make time since you have two small children?

It’s hard to find the time to make the jewellery. I make sure that my kids are done with their homework, dinner etc  before I can even think of making any jewellery. It’s 10:00 in the night by the time I get around to making my jewelry. 
In the morning when I have a set or 2 ready, I have my critics (my kids and husband) looking at it and telling me about what they think about it.   I really like it when they try to advice me on what could have looked better and what combination would look good etc

5.Any advice for women wanting to do something on their own?

I guess my advice is if you are passionate and dedicated enough about something that you really want to do then just go for it.  Take that first step. It is not going to be easy but you will learn a lot along the way.  I learned a lot from my mistakes and with time have come a long way.

Thank you Sandya!
To see more of her creations and to see what is available for sale and the prices click here. In case you wish to buy it, the easiest way would be to get someone coming from the U.S to bring it for you. She does ship to India, but the shipping charges will have to be added to the cost.

If you wish to mail her you can contact her on sandya(dot)shenoy(at)gmail(dot)com

If you liked reading about this, and if you liked her creations, do take a few moments and do leave a comment. It would really be a lot of encouragement for my cousin Sandya. (I am so proud of her!)


Current mood video (see right) : A remix of Jhumka Gira re! (asha bhosle)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time management (Blog marathon Post 10)

Time Management Pictures, Images and Photos

"People ask me how I do so much. I wonder how they do so little." This is a quote I remember reading somewhere. If anyone knows who said this please let me know. (I tried googling but it did not help)

The reason this quote came to my mind today is because of yet another e-mail that I received (and I love hearing from those who have read my book and I do try and respond to each and every mail I get)  asking me how I manage to do so much (painting, blogging, exercising,reading ,watching movies, doing yoga and being and  being a full time mother and a wife).This person had asked me to write a post on time management. Many people have made this request  in the past too, asking me to share my 'secrets'. So here goes.  :

A day has 24 hours. Deduct 8 hours for sleeping and an hour for other activities like grooming etc. You are still left with 15 hours which is a LOT of time!

1. No television: I watch absolutely no TV at all. I have not seen Friends or Seinfield or Big Bang theory or How I met your mother Or Scrubs or any TV show. But I read up about them (and I read a lot) and watch bits of it, so I'd  be able to discuss it in a conversation. If I know that I will positively like it then I' get the entire series and watch it like a movie. (Probably the only Television series I have seen fully would be Band of Brothers which I loved) The only thing I watch on TV are the music videos and usually while having breakfast. (so the total time spent in front of TV would probably be 10 minutes at the most for me) (But I do watch movies and love them :P but again I am extremely selective)

2.Organise a lot:  I save a lot of time by organising things in advance especially in my cooking. My meals are all simple, nutritious and fast. I would usually grind dosa/Idli batter (yes, I grind it traditionally at home in a wet grinder)  which would last me a week and so a quick meal when kids are ravenous would be piping hot dosas and sambar. (Again I would have boiled the tur dal needed and it would be stored in the fridge). If I am making paranthas, I would already be having the dough as well as the aloo/gobhi mixture which goes into it, prepared in advance. So I save a lot of time even though I make traditional food. In a day the maximum time I spend in the kitchen would be at the most 1 and half hours and this would include cleaning up (as I have no maids here). I will usually have my laptop on the kitchen table too. So while I wait for the rice to boil, I can still check my mails :-)
I must mention here that Satish helps me a lot and we enjoy cooking together when he comes back from work. During weekends he takes over almost always.If I am working on some thing he will fully hold the fort down and give me my time and space. I am fortunate that way to have a very supportive spouse.(Yeah, he even wakes me up with coffee each morning)

3.Phone calls only rarely: I hardly spend time talking on the phone.The only person I call  regularly is my mother.If I talk on the phone, it is usually while walking to my Art-course (I am doing a course in Human Portraiture). Only very few people (two to be precise apart from my mother) call me from India and usually while I talk to them I am cleaning up my bedrooms or making beds or putting the laundry for washing as I speak!

4. Focus and intense focus:  If I am doing my yoga, I give it my 100% for that half an hour. I will shut out everything else and do only that. In India, people used to constantly ring my door bell but if I was doing my Yoga or my work-out there are times when I have not bothered to open the door :P :) If I am working on a piece of writing, I do not get up till I finish it. If I am doing a portrait, it will take a really important thing for me to get off it!

5.No fixed routines: Some people thrive on routines and feels that it saves them time. But somehow I detest routines.To me, routines are really boring. That gives me a lot of flexibility and a larger time frame to do things I want to do. In the gaps of time that I save, I fit in other things to be done. There are days when I paint a lot and write a lot and there are days when I do nothing but 'waste time' the whole day.(If 'wasting time' is really possible for a full time mother :P )

This is really all that I do. I rarely sleep before 12.30.a.m and I am up by 7.15 a.m. On weekends I sleep very late. (I hate waking up in  the mornings. I am a total night person)

I am sure these are no 'big secrets' and this is what most people who run a home must be doing.

If you have any tips on how you efficiently organise your time or if you have any questions that you would like to know, I would be happy to answer!
Current mood video (see right): Barry white Practise what you preach.

Flowers--a gift from Nature.Wordless wednesday No.22 (Blog marathon Post 9)

To know more about Wordless Wednesdays and to see other participants go here.

My good friend Niall gifted me these bulbs when I visited him in October, last year. They bloomed in February this year. What a wonderful gift idea! Thank you Niall!

This was clicked just outside my house on the side-walk. I pass this every day when I walk my daughter to her school.

A close up of the same flowers.

Khalil Gibran put it beautifully when about flowers he said the following

I am a kind word uttered and repeated
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
Read the full poem here
Current mood Video (see right) Love story-Taylor swift

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

On the role of pictures and picture books and comics in raising a child (blog marathon post 8)

If this is the first time you are reading a parenting post on my blog, please see these two earlier posts  both of which got a large amount of responses and requests for more posts like them.  If you do not know me, please read disclaimer before you proceed.Those who read me regularly, welcome back and read on :-)

What role do pictures play in raising a child?

"Pictures? Picture-books? Why? I'd rather show my child the real thing," exclaimed a mother once, in a course  that I was attending for Glen Doman method of education. (which I am a big fan of as have I used it for both my children when they were toddlers)

The lady who was conducting the course is someone I respect a lot and whom I later  had the opportunity to work with closely. She smiled . "If you do not show your child picture books, there is vast universe out there which you may miss. Think of the Solar system, think of Antartica, think of polar bears, why simply think of Issac Asimov, " she said with a wink.

Later I thought about what she had said. I had always used picture books for my children right from the time they were babies, without  thinking much about it, without realising the importance of it  and also without knowing  that I had indeed been unlocking a vast door to a new world for them. She was so right!

I, guided by my mother,  had started showing board-books to my son right from the time he was a  4 or 5 month old baby. The books I chose were picture books with eye catching colours and illustrations, usually one on a page, so as to not distract the baby with too many visuals. The books were tiny books that would fit into an adult's palm. I would show him a picture and if it was the picture of a pig, I would  say (in my mother tongue)
"What is this? PIG" (with PIG being said in a slightly louder tone), and then I would say "What does pig say? OINK OINK". He would delightedly chuckle and would try to imitate the sounds he was hearing. Two things were happening here though he and I were both not aware of it.
His brain was making a connection between a picture and two sounds (PIG and OINK) and relating the two. His visual sense was being stimulated along with his sense of hearing and co-relating.

Besides, we were enjoying it so much and also I was establishing a connection of happiness to  books and reading. Early on, I was conveying the message to my 5 month old infant that books are fun and reading is fun. I was doing this solely through pictures. What a marvellous tool pictures are!

Now my son is 12 and recently he brought this picture back from school which the History teacher had made them do. It is about the battle of Hastings.

I found it  indeed a wonderful way to teach history to the children using pictures. The teacher had explained the incident which happened and its historical significance and the children were asked to reproduce it through their own cartoon strip. What fun! More importantly one can be sure that the lesson learnt here would remain with him for life. (Unlike when I had to memorise the dates of battle of Panipat as a student  which I don't recall up to this day! Had I drawn a picture comic strip I'd have probably remembered even now!)

As children, we read Amar Chitra Kathas and Indrajaal comics (Phantom and Mandrake). I still swear by them. I read Amar Chitra Kathas without fail to my children. There is a wealth of information, great language, History, mythology and even true inspirational stories of real life heroes, buried in them. They are indeed a treasure and they are so interesting because they are pictorial.

Another amazing series which hones the observation skills of children (which can later go a long way in developing quick reading skills) is the 'Where is Wally?" series of picture books. If you have not seen them as an adult, I suggest you quickly grab one from your nearest book store. They are indeed brilliant and simply amazing and if you haven't done one Wally , you truly are missing something in life :-) Don't take my word for it, grab a Wally book to see what I am talking about.

If you have very small children who are just learning alphabets, then the book Chica chicka boom boom is a must read one. It talks about all the alphabets having a party! It starts this way "A told B, and B told C,  I'll meet you on top of the coconut tree." :-) My children used to love this book. Similarly Dr.Suess's book of alphabets is a great way to jump start vocabulary and imagination instead of the usual 'A for apple.'. This book has amazing things like I for an' itchy ithcy ithchabod' with suitable pictures to match.

Pictures speak louder than words. Pictures grab your attention. Pictures are powerful and a very important tool is raising a child if used well.

Fill their world with pictures, but choose the pictures well and most importantly spend lots of time with them (with the pictures) and you will be pleasantly surprised  and may gaze in amazement at the magical worlds that you can explore along with your child.
Current mood video (see right) : I can't help falling in love with you. Elvis presley (one of my all time  favourite songs)