Of how children make you philosophers!

I’m at the Open Day at my children’s school. The kids have been at it since the morning – each of them manning their project and explaining to a steady stream of parents, grandparents and visitors the Pythagoras theorem or how to do something with potatoes and electricity or reading out a poem they’ve written. It is hot (when in Madras is it not??!) and the kids are sort of wilting in the heat. Also they want to go to other classrooms and see what their friends are doing!

Unfortunately having had a meeting I couldn’t skip in the morning, I’ve reached school only in the afternoon and end up feeling guilty at having to ask obviously tired children to explain their experiments to me! Scuttle through classrooms furtively, with a sheepish grin to compensate for stopping at various tables on the way!

So I stop at this one table which has an interesting set of tubes and pipes and wires rigged up to produce… something! It looks intriguing and I query, much to the despair of the ten year old manning the counter. So what does this do?

“It makes something, something… by doing something, something…” he rattles off at top speed. I look puzzled. He looks desperate… looks around… no teacher in sight… “pssst, auntie“, he whispers. “I know you want to know but I really want to go to see my friend in the other classroom… so could I pleeez go? I’ll tell you about this thing later if you want” he offers generously.

I scuttle quietly out of school!

On another occasion, I call up a friend at home. The call is picked up by her two-and-a-half year old grandson, who tells me his paati (grandmom) is not at home.

“So who is this?” I ask.

“This is me”, he says – wondering what kind of nutcase wouldn’t know the answer to such an obvious question!

“What’s your name?” I ask him.

“V…”, he says.

“And what are you doing, V…?” (snoopy adults – he must be thinking!)

“I’m working”!

“On what?”

“On repairing my cycle!!”

“Ah… and who else is at home with you?” I ask.

“S… akka”.(their cook).

And to forestall any further questions, this sub-three-year old tells me, very patiently, as he might explain to a rather dimwitted adult, “I know you want to chat, but I’m really rather busy right now. So could I please go?”!! Phew!

Further mental scuttling away happens on my side! Lesson is learnt!

Comfort is sought… in food, of course!

In this simple but delicious…


  • 1 1/2 cups toor dal and a generous pinch of turmeric, pressure cooked till soft.
  • Peanuts – optional – 2 tbsp – cook along with the dal
  • 3 large tomatoes – chunked.
  • Garlic – 3-4 large flakes – about a tbsp of paste
  • Red chili powder – 1/2 to 1 tsp – depending on how hot you want it
  • Jaggery – 1 tbsp
  • Tamarind paste – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Kasooti methi – 1 tbsp


  • Ghee – (no oil!) – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs

Grind the tomatoes and garlic together to a knobbly puree. Set aside.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the tempering ingredients.

When they splutter, add the tomato puree, jaggery, red chili powder and cook till the raw smell is gone – about 7-8 minutes.

Add the dal and the rest of the ingredients along with 1.5 cups of water.

Bring to the boil and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

All it needs is hot rice – or in this weather, cold rice is welcome!

And accept philosophically that kids will always get the better of you!