It was the Navratri season and it meant only one thing for Akshara – friends! All her friends came over to our house for the Golu and she had a gala time with them. We also had the get-together for the Garba event. Out came the Dandiya sticks from cold storage!
Practising dandiya at home
It seems that her dance teacher in school had taught them the basic Dandiya steps. She became obsessed with these steps and at every given opportunity, would take out the sticks and start dancing. This proved a bit risky for the golu setup with her enthusiastically waving the sticks (pretty hard ones!) in all directions.
Magarpatta organises a dandiya event every year towards the end of Navratri. We managed to find space for the kids to dance without being pushed about by the oldies. Every few minutes, there would be a photo session. As you would see later, the above photo was the only “calm” photo. After that, they completely lost it 🙂
The fun thing was to watch the kids copy the various steps the biggies around them were doing. And, they did manage quite a few of them pretty well. It was a long evening both for the dancers (the kids) and the photographer(me)!
Akshara’s birthday fell on a Friday this year. So, we had a small cake cutting event on her actual birthday. Santosh was the special guest!
The following day, we had her official birthday party. This time, we had a kids party with the theme of Princesses and Pirates. We started off with the Princess theme but later realised that the guys might not relish this idea. So, we hooked on the pirates part.
Akshara wanted a princess cake with as many princesses on it as possible!
The kids played darts and also a variant of musical chair. The older kids helped in ensuring that the little ones were not wandering off 🙂
The princess and the pirate concept helped as it was fun to see the guys chasing the girls and the girls too getting on to the act as if they were real princesses in trouble!
Treehouse was having its annual fancy dress event. Akshara’s batch (the playschool group) was asked to choose costumes of any cartoon character. We searched east, west, north and south in Pune to find a good costume for her. But, the only ones which every store had were the costumes of Spiderman and Superman! For girls, it was only the Rabbit costume! We were given the reference of 2 stores close to M.G.Road which specialized in carnival costumes. But, they were giving them only for rent and by the look of the dresses, it seemed that they needed 2 or 3 rounds of dry cleaning before one could wear it.
Finally, Vidhya decided to go the DIY way. We got a polka-dotted dress and with the help of few accessories, we convinced Akshara that she looks like Minnie Mouse. Surprisingly, Akshara managed to keep on the headgear on her head all the time.
We were very apprehensive of how Akshara would react on walking on to the stage. She had never been on a stage before and given her aversion to huge crowds, we sensed that it may not go as expected. But, she walked onto the stage, didn’t cry or do anything traumatic. Instead, she did her usual ostrich-thing (if i don’t look at you, that means you are not looking at me!). It was a great day in the end with Akshara and her pals enjoying their fancy dresses and fancy looks!
The best part was when she even uttered “Minnie Mouse” on the stage. This was it, her first words on a stage – “Minnie Mouse” 🙂
Then, one day we were told that the class is currently being taught about community workers and that the kids should come dressed up as one. So, off we went again in search of “community worker” and the shopkeepers recommended Spiderman (again!), a monkey, an elephant and few others who would be better off in the jungle rather in the city. By luck, we came across a military uniform in one of the shops. We were impressed by the dress (and also tired of searching) and agreed with Akshara that she would go as a military officer. She even practised the march past that she had originally learnt for the sports day.
But, what happened in the 30 minutes before she left for school was unexpected. We were finding it difficult to get Akshara to understand the “Military Officer” concept. So, we changed the costume name to that of a policeman (or woman). She knew the “policeman” very well, with us having used his name often while travelling in the car to get her to sit in one place. The Policewoman was all ready and we started for school. Once she got out of the lift and saw someone, she had a sudden realization! A realization that her costume looked similar to the one worn by the Magarpatta Security guys!!! So, in an instant, she rechristened herself as “Security”. We had no choice, but to go with this newly renamed costume. Thus, the story ended with Akshara dressing up as a “Security” person. She even gave a demo of how a magarpatta security person would be discharging his duties…
With Hari dressed up as a “Vegetable Seller”, Akshara good a good opportunity to demonstrate the useless activities which the security people here do, like checking each and every vegetable for bomb-like symptoms, but ignoring big packages with “bomb” written on them!
The fact that the TV channels were showing Salman’s dance in Munni Badnam Hui too often was clearly visible with Akshara displaying various dance moves in her “security” costume.
How do you get a bunch of 2.x year olds to understand the concept of a race with a starting line and a finish? Seems daunting, but Akshara’s school Tree-House managed it extremely well. It was an entertaining day at the races, both for the kids and the parents!
Akshara wasn’t quite sure as to where we were taking her on that morning. But, on the ground, once she familiar faces, she settled down quite well. Before the races began, Shriya and Akshara decided to have warm-up laps of the ground. But they took it too seriously and ended up making it a very tiring walk for her teachers to go and fetch them back.
Every kid was made to wear a “fruit” tag around the neck and it was called a fruit-race, probably to make it interesting for the kids. Akshara was all set for the race, but i guess the teachers forgot to teach one important thing about the starting point. They forgot to tell Akshara the direction in which the race was supposed to be run! And Hari, he just wasn’t interested in running with the girls. He wanted something more challenging!
The actual race happened very fast. While her teacher said “Ready, steady, go!” and the kids started running, Akshara was still busy waving to the crowds. So, one of the teachers had to pull her along for the race. Unfortunately, the teacher was a slow runner 🙂
So, Akshara ended up getting a participation certificate and was clearly thrilled about the piece of paper she can play with!
But Shriya had a different plan up her sleeve. While other races were going on, she decided to usurp the first place on the podium. She also tried to convince the chief guest to have a separate presentation ceremony, just for the photographs.
There was also the parent-daughter race in which Akshara and Vidhya put up a creditable effort. There was also some parents who forgot the fun aspect and were desperate to win resulting in the first-aid boxes being used!
To ensure that the parents don’t feel left out, a parents race (Three-legged race) was also organised. Vidhya and I ensured that we got enough photography mileage out of it 🙂
On the whole, it was a very well organised event and Kudos to TreeHouse for this.
Last year, it was the season of the swine flu in Pune and we had Akshara’s first birthday party in Chennai instead of Pune. This year, the media had more interesting things than swine flu to concentrate on and thus we could have a party in Pune.
On her birthday, we were in Chennai and we did a small family get-together and cut a cake. Vidhya wanted a cake with a 3d model of the characters in “In the night garden”, but finding cake shops (within few days) capable of making one based on a photo was tough. Cakes n’Bakes in Nungambakkam were ready to do it, but they wanted a colour printout A3 size! There was a shop close to our house (Cake point) and the guy said that they can put any photo on a cake and it would be an edile layout. Usually, there is a thin strip of plastic paper kept on the cake which is removed before the cake is cut. We didn’t want this, we wanted the photo to be edible and blend in with the cake. We chose the teletubbies photo and the guy did a good job.
We had filled the room with balloons overnight so that Akshara would see them as soon as she woke up on her birthday. She liked the balloons a lot and the entire day was spent in the company of one balloon or the other!
Our families (vidhya’s and our’s) also went to a dinner “party” on the occassion to GRT Grand (the same place where we had Akshara’s first birthday). Akshara and Laya had lot of fun at the dinner, which meant that more time was spent on controlling them rather than on enjoying the food. Before someone asks, yes, Askshara had a cast on for around 10 days last month, because she had hurt her elbow while playing.
Vidhya had been training Akshara for few days before her birthday on how to blow the candle. She was able to replicate the action perfectly albeit the flow of air! Sriram had also invited members of his apartment gang. Akshara was only too glad at the photo requests.
I dont know whether Akshara has been seeing too much of Jayalalitha or Mayawati on TV, but she suddenly decided to act “holy” after the crown went on her and went on a blessing spree!
Back in Pune, we had the birthday party in one of the community halls in Magarpatta. Vidhya wanted to “theme” the party on something which Akshara would recognise. Farm animals, it was then. So, we had ordered a farm theme cake at Copper Chocs and also had animal shaped cookies done at the same place. The cookies had come out better than our expectation. The decorations at the hall also included cutouts of farm animals and a small barn (with hay) at one corner. There was also a tattoo guy who gave all the kids tattoos of their choice.
We wanted to personalize the return gifts. So, Vidhya made the bags with chart paper and ribbons and got Akshara to imprint her hand on all the bags. It was a bit messy, but fun 🙂 I had also made some thank you cards with Akshara’s photo and these were stuck on each of the bags. The teddy bears were cut out from a wrapping paper we had.
Akshara’s candle blowing skills didn’t improve much, but she was atleast consistent enough for the photos to give an impressions that she is blowing out the candles. Akshara enjoyed the attention she got from her friends and had fun during the party.