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Chitra Padmanabhan

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A Birthday Surprise

When you live in one place for as long as I have, you get to know everyone in the locality. I have lived in one house for 25 years now. When we moved to this house, the first person I met was Tara. Her parents lived in the next block. I think she was about eight when I first...

Man who was a mountain

Where: state of Bihar, India August 19, 2007: It’s the kind of superhuman deed that seems so hard to believe because it is true. One man hacked away at a rocky hill for 22 years to create a three-km-long road linking his village to the outside world, armed with nothing more than a hammer and a chisel. What drove...

Chess for Children: A Smart Move

When we think of chess we think of two adults sitting opposite each other, thinking of ways and means to outsmart the other. Many people feel it is a very difficult game. But do you know that most chess players and champions start very young? Viswanathan Anand, number two in the world, played his first chess game at the age...

The Adventurer

I am sure all families are interesting. But I like to think that my family is especially interesting. I have such great nephews and nieces because of whom there is not a single dull moment in life. Two-and-a-half year old Arshiya goes around asking everyone a very serious question, “Are you happy?” If you ask her to exercise, she says,...

Pretty bird no more

Where: London, England April 24, 2007: For 40 years, the people of London have been happy to spot in their parks a bird that seems to have made its way from the Himalayas to the capital of England. With its shocking green body, red beak, long tail and noisy screech, the rose-ringed parakeet brought a vivid splash of colour...

Women’s hockey steals the show!

The year was 2002. The Commonwealth Games were on in Manchester, England. A nail-biting hockey final was being played out between the women’s hockey teams of favourites England and underdog India. England had defeated the reigning world and Olympic champions Australia to reach the final. India had come from nowhere to defeat stronger teams like New Zealand, South Africa...

Crafts kits for kids

I live in a neighbourhood of Delhi which is full of children of all ages, shapes and sizes. In the evenings, the quiet of the place is shattered by the blood curdling cries of boys and girls let loose in the park. They play games that are certainly not for the fainthearted! Ishaan and Tarini are no different. This brother-sister...

Is Tomato a Vegetable or a Fruit?

We think the tomato is a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit. Because it is not sweet and is used for providing flavour to food, we think of it as a vegetable. The tomato is originally from Mexico. The word "tomato" comes from the Spanish tomate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word tomatotl. Spanish explorers who went...

Programmed to learn

Two boys and two girls. They were to be found at one of the busiest traffic signals in south Delhi. The boys were about five or six years of age. The girls looked older, about eight or nine. As the traffic zipped along on the road, the four of them would play their own games on the divider. As...

Angry Little Girls

August 26: She is a cute little Korean-American girl with pigtails, and her name is Kim. Like so many others, her parents, too, went to the United States of America as immigrants and settled there. Kim, who was born in the US, is American. And anyone who gives her the feeling that she is not a true American, or...

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How does a Submarine Work?

Jules Verne in his science fiction, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, mentions a ship, Nautilus, which could dive beneath the waves and...

Dress like an Egyptian

I am writing this as I am travelling in my time machine. I know how important it is to keep a diary of happenings....

The Birth of Christ

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Everyone knows that. Do you know the entire story of his birth? Let me narrate it in brief....

Why is Halloween Celebrated?

"Trick or Treat!" shout little witches, paper-bagged goblins, rubber-masked imps and bed-sheeted ghosts as they extend a bag across for candy. It is October...

How Far Away are the Stars?

The sun is a star, just like the thousands of others we see in the sky each night. But it looks so very big....