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Chitra Padmanabhan

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The Boy Who Could Do Nothing Right!

Portrait of a child performing yoga asana
Do you know of anyone who stumbles on a flat stretch of road, or walks into chairs and tables all the time? I knew one such boy. His name was Tarun. I met him in the hill retreat of Shimla in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. I had gone there for a holiday some time ago.For...

Jealous ambition of a father

August 20: Until recently, 13-year-old Varun Sharma was an eager young national-level swimmer and Delhi state champion, with great dreams for the future. On August 10, mad at the winning exploits of this Ramjas School boy, a competitor’s jealous father made a failed attempt to kidnap him. In shock, Varun has not entered the Talkatora swimming pool, since then,...

What is the origin of OK?

What is the origin of OK?
‘I’m OK means ‘I’m fine’. But if you say the weather’s OK in a lazy drawl, it could mean 'so-so'. When you respond with an OK at the end of someone’s explanation, you could be saying, ‘Alright, I get what you’re saying’. And when someone explains that ‘This is the way to do it, OK?’ it means, ‘Have you...

Starving in the Midst of Plenty

May 19: People in the rural areas of six states of India - Orissa, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra - are experiencing famine-like conditions. But the governments are refusing to give them relief. The terrible thing is that they are doing so at a time when their godowns are overflowing with grain.Which is why an organisation called...

Testing Times for Indian Sports

August 6: It was the sort of news that makes everyone sit up and take notice. No wonder the Indian newspapers have been full of it. Some time ago, sportswoman Sunita Godhera submitted an explosive petition to the Delhi High Court. In it were the names of 144 sportspersons who, she says, have been found to be taking banned...

The Peacocks are Dying

May 11: The residents of the Rajasthan State Electricity Board colony in Heerapur, 12 km from Jaipur, are in shock. They don’t know how to reconcile to the sudden, unexplained deaths of 19 peacocks in their colony in the first week of May. The priest at the Radha Krishna temple in the colony is inconsolable: there are no more...

Seeing the City

Amaltas (Cassia fistula) also known as the golden shower tree.
I have a friend with whom I argue a lot. No, that seems as if I am the one who does the arguing all the time. Half the time it is he who says something ridiculous, and then we start arguing!There is one topic that we keep coming back to argue upon. I have stayed in one city all...

How Many Greens?

Is bamboo a grass?
How many greens are there in the park? Can we count them - one by one?There’s the light, light green of the tender little grass I would like this green For the walls of my house!There’s the darker green of the older plants that have flowered for many years I would like to have them as friends For the numerous stories they can tell.And there’s the...

Toys For a Big Boy

Stuffed toy dog: Toys For a Big Boy - A story for kids
Ronit Subramanian was seven years old and he was the tallest student in his class. It made him feel very proud. But when he remembered some of the things he used to do as a small kid, he felt a little shy. He wished his mother would not tell those stories to her friends again and again.Last week his...

Making Light of Darkness

May 11: Till five years ago, the Male Kudi tribals of Kodyadi, in the Western Ghats in Mangalore, lived in darkness. The government had never switched on to their needs. But now, thanks to their leader, Elyanna, the first graduate in the tribe, they have invented an ingenious method of electrifying their village - and their achievement has electrified...

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