Chitra Padmanabhan

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All features, stories and articles authored by: Chitra Padmanabhan


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Summer music of the trees

Summer music of the trees

I always used to think that the drive across a four kilometre stretch from my house to the main road was a pain. Actually, not all of it was a pain. The car bounced up and down a few bumpy patches the first kilometer, then zoomed across a smooth 2.5 kilometre slope before struggling in a three-legged hurdle race at the final half kilometre. Reason: there was a traffic signal there and almost everyone in the world seemed to want to go somewhere at the same time....

A Birthday Surprise

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 met her. Tara had wavy black hair, big mischievous eyes and a ready smile on her face all the time....

How Many Greens?

How Many Greens?

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 darkest green of them all In trees majestic and strong...

Flower on the Road

Flower on the Road

Spring has come, said the bougainvillea Crimson, orange, cream and yellow Making a flower wall along the road I bring happiness to all. Wait, said the little flower on the edge of the kerb I, too, blossom though I am small Every now and then a little child walks past, sees me at her height And happily smiles. Doesn’t that make us comrades on the road! Flower on the Road

Roadside Locksmith

Roadside Locksmith

The locksmith sits on the roadside with his wares A tilted black umbrella blocks the sun’s glare A mountain of master keys heaped on the ground Some dull, some old Some rusty, some gold Roadside Locksmith [Illustration by Shinod AP] The locksmith has the answer to every locked door That can’t be opened because the key’s not there And if you have a key that is lonely and lost Don’t worry, don’t fret...

The Girl who Taught the World to Weave

The Girl who Taught the World to Weave

This is a story of the time when humans first walked the earth. And in those days they did not wear clothes, for they did not know how to weave cloth. One day, the god Matai decided to teach the art of weaving to one person. The god taught a girl called Hambrumai. And what were the designs the girl wove? She sat by the river side and saw the ripples and circles made by water....

Go For It, Bablu!

Go For It, Bablu!

It happened on the day school started after a heavenly two months of summer holidays. Shankar refused to wake up at 6 am. He wanted to dream more about his visit to his grandparents’ home. They lived in the picturesque city of Mysore in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. He particularly wanted to remember his two trips to the Bandipur National Park. It was a magical forest in the shade of the Nilgiri mountains which always seemed to have their heads in the clouds!...

The Potter

The Potter

The summer sun smiles a scorching smile The smile sends shivers through the stoutest hearts A summer smile is reason to sweat But the potter’s back with his cool lifeline! Earthen pots of every size Are piled under a tarpaulin sky Waiting to find new homes And soothe thirsty throats! Their water has a magical taste – The sweet smell of wet earth Or soil that comes alive after The first seasonal shower! The Potter [Illustration by Shinod AP] Some pots are small, like a baby’s song...

King of Fruits – History of Mango!

King of Fruits – History of Mango!

It is a tree that is green at all times of the year. But it bears fruit in the height of summer. The hotter it is, the sweeter it becomes. And, it seems we humans cannot have enough of this juicy, fleshy fruit, for there are almost 1000 varieties of this king of fruits around the world to please our tongues and eyes. It could be round, almost like a ball, or it could be oval in shape, kidney shaped or just long and thin....

Toys For a Big Boy

Toys For a Big Boy

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 mother’s old school friend had come to see her. They were meeting after 10 years. Ronit was just back from school but his ears pricked up when he heard his mother say in that goofy tone, “You know what my Ronit used to do as a baby?...

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