Ask Amma

Archive for the ‘Field Notes’ Category

Seen in Taloda …Hirkani Kaksha (Breastfeeding Room)

In Field Notes on 25 June 2022 at 10:51 pm

A friend sent me a poster seen in a bus stop in Taloda. Indicating the location of the”Hirkani Kaksha” or “Breastfeeding Room” was a colorful poster with a picture of none other than yours truly. At first I was worried that it was some kind of advertisement. When I learned that this was a room at a bus stop to allow mothers a private place for breastfeeding I worried that breastfeeding was being pushed out of the public space. I have always defended the right of babies to breastfeed wherever they are allowed to be. As long as breastfeeding in public is still welcome, however, I can see the value of also having the option to get out of the crowd, esp if baby is easily distracted. And I am particularly pleased with the choice of the photo, showing a mother who is calmly looking ahead while baby – toddler, in fact – nurses.

Read the rest of this entry »

It takes a village

In Field Notes on 21 November 2021 at 8:00 pm

Yesterday while walking back from the library, I just happened to call a friend of mine. Let’s call her Zora. One of those friends with whom I used to have more idle time but now only interact with on tasks at hand when we are in the same meeting together. Since all meetings are virtual now there is no chit chat before or after, just abrupt starting and stopping of business. She herself has a full time job apart from this, barely makes it to the meetings and is often muted because she is holding her baby at the same time. So noticing that it was 1pm in her time zone I took a chance and called her hoping she might be on lunch break. 

Even as I was dialing I thought, I know we are supposed to text first or something like that but I am just going to play the old age card and just call her. Texting first to ask when I should call makes the call sound like something more hefty than what it is, as if I expect her to allot time for it. She picked up the phone and I tentatively explained, “Hi I just thought I’d take a chance and call ….” She replied that I’d hear her baby talk a lot and I took that as I sign that the call was on. I asked if she was having lunch. She noted that the baby was having lunch. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Trails to the Past

In Field Notes on 24 April 2020 at 8:00 pm

More on the theme of learning at home … as homeschoolers we liked to say, “but we are never at home. The whole world is our learning environment.”  Honestly quarantine would have been harder for us as homeschoolers than it is now that our (not so) little one is a school-goer.

Living through a pandemic that can be seen from space, we know these times are historic.  What times are not?

“Trails to the Past” originally appeared in Teacher Plus Magazine, October 2013. 

The ordinary apparatus of historiography is most at ease when made to operate on those larger phenomena that visibly stick out of the debris of the past. A critical historiography can make up for this lacuna by bending closer to the ground in order to pick up the traces. – Ranajit Guha1

On the ground in Pondur, picking off layers like puzzle pieces.

Read the rest of this entry »

WFH-Schooling is not Real Homeschooling

In Field Notes on 10 April 2020 at 12:28 am

Attention kids! To live the homeschooling life under quarantine, frolic from home.

So just as the Harvard students sent home to quarantine were advised to make clear that their online classes were not the same as others’ online classes, I find myself silently clearing my throat when I hear people speak about homeschooling now that everyone sent home thinks they’re suddenly doing it.  Work-from-home schooling, I am here to say, is not real homeschooling.

As everyone should already know, we true homeschoolers (unschoolers, if you care to be specific), hardly at home and never at school, treat the whole world as our learning environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Attention kids! To live the homeschooling life under quarantine, frolic from home.

So just as the Harvard students sent home to quarantine were advised to make clear that their online classes were not the same as others’ online classes, I find myself silently clearing my throat when I hear people speak about homeschooling now that everyone sent home thinks they’re suddenly doing it.  Work-from-home schooling, I am here to say, is not real homeschooling.

As everyone should already know, we true homeschoolers (unschoolers, if you care to be specific), hardly at home and never at school, treat the whole world as our learning environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Run Me Down

In Field Notes, Real Talk on 9 February 2019 at 12:38 pm

Guest post by Hema Gopinathan in a new series called REAL TALK where Ask Amma explores issues we face when engaging with womanhood.

I look wistfully at the cute pair of neon running shorts with its matching tank top that I picked up from a big fitness brand store. An expensive waste, when I am fully aware, having been told over and over, that if you want to run you can even do it in a salwar kameez or a saree. The critical point to remember is to never call attention to oneself. Because that’s very bad, calling attention and any consequence would entirely be my fault. So I put on a pair of leggings long past their lycral prime and a XXL t-shirt in a colour that can be only described as puke-sia. The hair is bound tightly as are the breasts, so as to not swing and you know, call attention.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bel Air loves idli-dosa batter

In Field Notes, Recipes on 8 January 2019 at 2:07 am

Idli-dosa batter is like a hidden treasure that we can produce from scratch any time. A special bit of fun about being a South Indian outside of South India is the way you can win people over with the most staple of staple foods, idli and dosa. And for the truly smitten (and aren’t they all?), idli-dosa batter.

Idli plates are filled with freshly ground batter.

Read the rest of this entry »

And yes, we persisted!

In Field Notes on 15 June 2017 at 11:14 am

Chetana Amma’s latest despatch!

Source: And yes, we persisted!

For pocket, planet and a happy period: Nirmala talks about the menstrual cup

In Field Notes on 5 April 2017 at 10:41 am

One form of untouchability that we must work to eradicate is menstrual untouchability.  Unique to women, this oppression is based on the idea that a woman’s body is defective and dirty, and can pollute people and spaces if not kept in check.  A recent incident in a school in Uttar Pradesh highlights the need to fight the notion that menstruation is a cause for shame or punishment.  The principal of Kasturba Gandhi Residential School in Digri village made 70 girls strip and be searched for menstrual blood.  Following complaints by students and parents, the principal was fired.  Parents and teachers of  girls should help them to manage periods comfortably and to value the vitality in their bodies, including their menstrual blood, which makes it possible for a woman to nourish new life.

It is good that the community in Muzzafarnagar took decisive action against this outrage; yet menstrual untouchability persists in stark and subtle ways, not only in far flung villages but also among the urban educated.   In the march to consign menstrual taboo to the dustbin of history, one important step is to make periods more comfortable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sari Sling in a Jiffy

In Field Notes, How on 14 March 2016 at 6:29 am

Arpitha Shankar, Amma to two daughters, aged 4 and 2, in Bangalore, shares her family’s experience trying out baby wearing using a sari wrapped around baby’s Appa!

Our daughter loves to be carried everywhere… although we used to enjoy it when she was a baby, as she became heavier, carrying her for long periods left us exhausted quickly especially when we used to go for short hikes. Thats when we came across baby wearing. The DIY youtube videos are so simple to follow and a cotton saree is enough to make a comfortable sling to carry her around. The first time around we didnt get her to sit in a deep seated position so that her legs are in M position, but nevertheless, both my daughter and husband were ecstatstic. The best thing was being handsfree and doing the other chores freely with the baby happily in the sling.

Arpitha Shankar sling

Vel and his 4 year-old daughter are ready for a hike!


 

Ask Amma thanks Arpitha, Vel and their daughters for sharing these lovely photos.

Amma Dudhu: A Farewell Poem

In Field Notes, Poems on 14 December 2015 at 2:42 am

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years and beyond for as long as mother and baby wish.  The benefits of breastfeeding do not disappear at a specific age, but rather continuously prepare children physically, intellectually and emotionally to digest what the world has to offer, literally and figuratively.  Curiosity, experimentation, illness, growth spurts and adaptations to circumstances will prompt children to modulate breastfeeding and eventually outgrow it.

And how do you say goodbye?  In this guest post, Divya Singh, Amma to 3½ year-old Navya in Portland. shares her story along with a poem. 

Last week, my 3½ year-old and I said bye-bye to our breastfeeding relationship on a very happy note…wanted to share this for Ask Amma.

Here’s how it worked out-
Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: