Ask Amma

Tinkering around

In Field Notes, How on 6 January 2013 at 12:58 pm

Tinkering Around

from Peter, Bappa to 4 year old Swandana in Appalagraharam

What we like to do together ???
We actually like to do everything together… 🙂
But it is not always possible … 😦

Here are a few things we do…
As we are OFF-GRID we have to regularly check our batteries’ status as they determine how much computer time / lighting / and appliance usage we have.  Our batteries are seconds and rejects so are not equal in their readings. In order to check each battery we use a digital multimeter. Swandana is now proficient in setting the dial to the correct position for testing DC 12V and which probe is for what polarity. If it is reversed she will correct.   A small – indicator will appear along with the voltage reading.

Swandana reads out each number number on the digital display, it started out being a fun way for her to start recognizing numbers but I think now she is also starting to identify that the lower number indicates poor battery condition. Associating numbers with physically identifiable objects makes learning a fun thing . We are often tinkering with things requiring tools… and spanners and screwdrivers are commonly required.

Swandana is now familiar with the difference between a ring and open-end spanner , a Philips-head and a flat head screw driver, their use and application and also started to relate the size of the opening of a spanner with the mm number embossed on the tool shaft.

Swandana enjoys helping out when we are working on the computer and has very good control of the mouse and understands and relates many of the functions including the shortcuts. Some she discovered that I didn’t know exists. She now writes her own name at the end of emails and has started to copy printed text, she also likes to watch her videos on the computer, selecting files, recognizing videos and playing , fast forwarding, stopping, pausing, and volume control with short cuts and controller on both Mac & PC .

Swandana and BappaWhen we are not tinkering with tools we are out in the garden, photographing, videoing, and rearing insects. Swandana has a keen eye for photography and knows when “macro” setting is required and when it’s not.

She is able to now recognize many butterflies, dragonflies and variety of insects and beetles, comfortably handling them and familiar with their food requirements.

In the garden there are always things to do from planting seeds, harvesting veggies , weeding, watering, picking of pests, making and applying organic fertilizer and compost.

Feeding the fish and turtle in the aquaponic pond and just having fun. When we are out and about visiting villages Swandana likes to drive our electric scooter (under close supervision ) and of course sound the horn .

We mainly speak Oriya at home as Nirmala doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Telugu or Tamil. Swandana speaks all … Including a little “Sign” …

She is teaching me Telugu and Nirmala a little English in her spare time…

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AskAmma thanks Peter for sharing this note, part of a series on Play.
Gentle Reader, how do you play?  AskAmma will feature selected stories every Wednesday.


  1. Wow, looks like we all have plenty to learn from Swandana 🙂


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