Drinking a book

Ah! Confusing?

Not its not. If you are an aspiring writer, how many times have you been told to read, read and read? But did anybody ever tell you, how?

Exactly. This article is precisely about that. How to read a book?

Reading can be of many types. It can be superficial, thorough or complete. We are going to talk about the last one. This is where you drink the essence of the book. Not to become more knowledgeable but to learn for what it is; to bring the qualities in your writing.

That’s why I chose to call it drinking a book against reading.

Activity Books

When you read a book, especially of the genre that you write or aspire to write for, here is what you should do. (These steps use the example of a picture book – that I mostly prefer to write)

  1. Make it a meditative task. Decide a longer time duration that you will spend with the book.
  2. Smell the pages. Touch the texture and enjoy its feel.
  3. Look at the cover page and get lost in it.
  4. Read the last page and the summary.
  5. Start reading very slowly, paying attention to every word trying to understand the meaning that is hidden.
  6. Count the number of pages.
  7. Count/Estimate the number of words.
  8. Understand the writer’s style, his strong areas and usage of words.
  9. Learn new words as you read.
  10. Look at each of the illustrations and their style.
  11. Understand the book design.
  12. At different stages of reading, ask various questions to yourself about the book:
  • Did writer illustrate it herself?
  • What is new and unique in the book?
  • Why audience love or like the book?
  • How different would the story look if you wrote it?
  • How is book presentable and saleable?
  • What size is the book and why?
  • Is it re-printed or printed for the first time?
  • What should be the expected sales for this book?
  • What is being said and how?

And so on..

Feel free to shuffle the order of the points as you apply them. You may also find new ideas popping up when you apply this exercise. Feel free to experiment. You can also consider it as deeply contemplating on the book rather than just reading it. This is the best way to drink a book and imbibe its essence so that it becomes a part of your life, your writing and your style. Don’t worry that you might end up copying that style but instead the more styles you understand, the faster your own style takes shape and emerges on its own.

You can use this method of reading for the books you love, you admire or ones in your area of specialisation.

 

Good Luck!

A Homemade Haircut

Last week when I dropped Krishna at school his caretaker (school nanny) looked at him and then looked at me. I was trying to guess what might have happened and then she said, “Get him a haircut, please.”

His hair had grown awfully big and was troubling him. He lost his looks and hair covered most of his face.

Once I even told him, “With so much hair covering both of your ears, you look like Bachchan.”

Anyways, he needed a haircut almost immediately. Weekend was still a few days away when we would normally go out together to get him one.

So, I had to do something. I had a plan. I took him upstairs for a bath and just before that, grabbed a stupid pair of scissors (God, I didn’t a good scissors eitherJ but a plan is a plan) and started my job.

For the next twenty minutes my job was to be a homemade barber who had to do his job i.e. cut his hair and also keep him diverted so that he doesn’t spoil the game.

Krishna hates haircuts and doesn’t like anybody touching his hair, forget about messing it up and the last thing he needs is somebody to cut them. So, the job was difficult and all the more thrilling because I am not a professional barber.

This is the first time I was about to do something of this kind. But I had the confidence. Millions of my own visits to the barber gave me the kind of experience I needed.

It happened smoothly. A little cut from here and there and on the nape and on the sides and finally a little shaping. Bingo!

Krishna had a haircut! Super!

I gave myself a collar lift and patted my shoulder.

There you go.

You can do it!

He looked much better and smart.

When I dropped him to the school today (post haircut), his teacher commented, “Ah! You’ve got a haircut.”

Then she looked at me and asked, “Who cut it?”

I blushed and said, “I did.”

She laughed and looked at Krishna and said,” You’ve got a big boy’s haircut.”

 

I still don’t know what that meant.

Sprinkle Sparkle Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies?

We all do, don’t we?

Some time back we had got a small jar of Dessert Sprinkles called as Sprinkle Sparkles. It had been lying in the kitchen cabinet safely for quite sometime before Krishna laid his eyes on it. The moment he saw something that looked like colorful candy, he immediately demanded for it.

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Then we got the idea. Krishna loves cookies. Why don’t we bake some cookies?

Bingo!

Ha! We are not that much of a chef but we love to try making and baking new things. Experiment is a part of our cuisine just as much as it is a part of Mad about Dodo.

The spree began!

We searched a basic recipe for cookies from the Internet and we liked the all-in-one mixed fruit and nut cookies. A basic idea from the recipe and a little bit of experiment is what we needed.

We gathered all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. Here’s a rough list for you.

All-purpose flour (maida), Fruit and Nut Muesli, baking powder, dry fruits and nuts, milk powder, eggs, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla extract, shredded coconut and Sprinkle Sparkles. All we needed now is a baking tray and oil for lining it up.

 

  1. Mix about 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1-teaspoon salt, 1-teaspoon of baking powder and 3 teaspoons of milk powder in a bowl.
  2. In another big bowl, add 1 cup of butter (softened) and mix it with electric mixer or eggbeater for few minutes. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and beat for another 3 minutes to make it pale and fluffy.
  3. Add 1-teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix it further.
  4. Chop all the nuts, dates and dry fruits and keep separately.
  5. In the butter mixture, add 2 eggs one by one and beat them for 3 minutes to make the mixture fluffy.
  6. Pour the butter and egg mixture in the bowl with the flour and make dough.
  7. If the dough seems too liquid you can add some more all-purpose flour to make it malleable. Since we had no more all purpose flour, we mixed some wheat flour in to experiment.
  8. Add 5 teaspoons of muesli and chopped nuts, dates and dry fruits (1 cup) in the mixture. Whisk the batter in a single direction, clockwise.
  9. Line up the baking tray with oil. Use your palm or cookie cutters to make a flattened round cookie and place them on the tray spacing 2 inches apart. Decorate with Sprinkle Sparkles, as you please.
  10. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes until cookies turn golden brown.
  11. Here come some yummy cookies, straight from the oven.
  12. Cool completely and store in an airtight jar.
  13. Serve your little one with love.

Whoopie! You have some great smelling cookies!

Meal Time!

It has always been an arduous task to feed Krishna since he has turned two. It was difficult earlier as well but recently this has been our most important challenge. He is not more of a foodie kid hence he always wants to play but hardly wants to eat.

We thought about this quite a lot but had no clue what to do. We tried stories, fantasy characters, videos, movies, pictures, funny faces and almost everything that parents could try but things didn’t work as much as they should. He hardly ate. Even if he did, it took two hours of herculean effort and patience to have him do that.

Then something amazing happened. He started going to school. After couple of days of school, the idea dawned. Why don’t we just follow the rule of the school? It would help him learn and adapt to the school quickly while he’ll eat as well.

So, we decided and followed the school principle. Dedicated Mealtime, separate chair, full plate, freedom with little bit of encouragement and presence. The recipes changed everyday but not the rule.

Now we serve him a plate full that has at least 5 different eatables, one potion each. The plate mostly contains a main course, a salad, a fruit, a junk (crisps, biscuits, rolls etc.) and a dessert.

 

The plate is served at proper time, while he rests on his meal chair along with colorful kid spoon and fork with a glass full of juice or plain water. This does the trick. Mostly he eats a little bit of everything, sometimes most of few things, and rarely everything and very rarely asks for more. But things are getting better. The idea is not to leave him alone, but eat with him in your plate and be present even when you are done and keep encouraging him. As time passes, he’ll feel more confident and independent to eat himself without any assistance.

Notice how he plays and enjoys every bite, plays as he pleases and relishes every new dish with curiosity. It is sight unto itself that every parent would love to see.

Bon Appétit!

 

 

The Magic Box

Krishna has a habit of throwing things here and there. Also, he throws the thing he holds, very hard on the ground, when he is angry to express himself, to express his disapproval.

We used to think what should be done about it? An idea came to mind. Let us create a magic box. A box that is creative and magical and can hold all his toys. The idea is, he himself should make the box and use it to keep all his toys together. Whenever he wants to throw a toy, he should throw it in the box and not outside.

Sparing some time, we immediately started. Here’s the recipe –

  • Get hold of a huge carton box.
  • Have some colourful paper and craft paper ready.
  • A bottle of glue, scissors, cello tape and stapler.
  • Get some stickers, animals, cartoons, numbers, smileys or anything else you can get hold of.
  • Line up the box from the outside and the inside using craft paper, tape and glue.
  • Stick up the stickers that you have on the outside walls of the box to make it beautiful.
  • Ask your little one to put the stickers wherever he likes and pleases.

Bingo!

Thats about it.

You can be as creative as possible. Two birds with one stone. First of all, creating the box itself is a great craft activity and gives your kid a chance to learn new things. Second of all, the box servers as a placeholder for all the toys. It is also an ongoing activity and not a one timer because you can keep decorating and re-decorating the box as please.

You are welcome to share your own creative activity recipes!

Good Luck!

 

Good Morning Trees!

Well this happened quite some time ago but not too long either. About 2 weeks back or so, I would say but happens to be one of the finest mornings I have lived. I dedicate this to Devi and Krishna!

We live in Leeds and it is quite cold here during winter. The onset of summer is beautiful and graciously welcome by the inhabitants. Normally I am quite lazy to get up in the morning but Krishna, my little one, loves to go outside and play with nature.

He has school two days a week and rest of the mornings just pass by, sleeping or doing nothing.

It was a fine day and my wife was leaving for office in her regular routine time while me and Krishna waited by the door to wave goodbye.

She started walking outside and said, “Hey, why don’t you come along with Krishna? The weather is good. Take him on the nearby hill!”

Normally I would just pass by on these kinds of suggestions but that day was different. I looked at Krishna and he seemed to say, “C’mon, mom is right!”

Then I looked at myself and heard a voice “Go on, How long would you wait? Take a new step. Go ahead immediately without losing a moment!”

Well, off we went together, until the bus stop where Devi said goodbye and changed her way and I started climbing a nearby hill.

When we reached on the top, I suddenly felt a fresh source of energy inside me and started playing hide-and-seek with Krishna. He seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

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Then we did chanting on “The Rock”. Then he ran and took long rounds on the free flowing grass while I, meditated on the rock.

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The morning started opening in a more beautiful way and we saw some kids, people walking their dogs and employees leaving for office while we just relaxed. There was nowhere to go, no hurry and no fixed plans. Krishna loved it while I left everything to his mood.

Then suddenly there was a new idea. We started walking along the grass in the farther direction and there were new trees that were planted by the council, every 100 yards or so. We would go upto the tree, touch it with love, and say the following words –

“Good Morning Tree! How are you doing? Where are your flowers? Grow safely. Thank you for giving us oxygen. Thank you for everything. You are beautiful. Thank you God!”

And, Krishna would repeat after me. The best part is, the trees seemed to respond. They do anyways. They have a life flowing inside, just like us and they respond to love, like we do. Then it became a routine and we did that to about 10 trees. We saw new flowers, different barks, different cars, snails, butterflies, flowers in the woods, a pair of unique black and white birds and much more.

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Only when Krishna felt tired, I decided to walk back to the house. On the way back, we saw a big bird egg, a lost orange football in the woods, a harmony of different trees growing together and a water stream. We sat by the stream and heard the trains going by. It was a wonderful experience.

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I never knew that going by the hill with Krishna would be so lovely and enchanting. Then, I made it a point to visit the hill and do new stuff everyday with my hero. He has taught me many things.

You just have to be present with the little one. He drives, he guides and he directs!

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Good Morning Trees!

A Recipe to learn shapes…

It’s wonderful how toddlers learn new things so quickly. But what most of us miss is that they could learn a lot if we teach them creatively because creativity leaves a longer impact on the young mind.

Today we tried a new experiment. If you want to know, keep on reading and follow the recipe:

  1. Mix wheat flour with salt, pepper, little oil. Pour some water and make a dough.
  2. Make small dough balls and roll them on a rolling stone.
  3. Use cookie cutters if you have or cut different shapes using some household items – triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, flower or any shape that you can think of.
  4. Heat oil in a pan.
  5. Fry these shapes and give it to the little one. Keep saying the shape as you serve them.
  6. Bingo! He learns new shapes and he eats ! It serves both the purposes of teaching him something new and making him independent to eat by himself.

Hope this helps. Do share your recipe to teach a young mind!

Author meets an Author

A wonderful chance to meet a self-help author.

Devi smiles and shares a warm hug with a self-help author during the “Thought Revolution” book distribution event outside Kensington station, Olympia, London.

Pic with SelfHelp Author

Thought Revolution is a miniature international version for “The Source”, one of the most powerful teachings from Sirshree, our master.

About 325 copies were freely distributed outside London book fair to create awareness and add value to people’s lives. The book is an alchemical tool to transform lives when applied.

Thought Revolution

Help yourself with a copy.