Last week I shopped for toys. Maybe you remember how successful my little spree was:
I returned home from Delhi on Friday afternoon. That night, I assembled. (Don't miss the empty wine glass, without which . . . ):
While assembling, I had plenty of time to think. I had even more time as I placed all the furniture and little dolls in the house I had put together . . .
I thought about the children at the Doon EIC who would fall in love with these toys and about the likelihood that for many of them it would be the first time in their lives they would ever have seen so many toys in one place. I thought about the fun they would have with them and then . . . well, then I let myself start thinking about all the children who wouldn't get to play with them. It's always dangerous to let a train of thought like this start. We know exactly how it will end.
It ends with a fund-raising appeal, so I'm warning you right now. Proceed at your own risk.
The next morning was Saturday. The Doon EIC would only open on Monday so I figured it would be ok to allow Lakshi and Vijay, our honorary grandchildren, to play with the toys for the weekend.
This may have been a mistake. Or maybe not.
Lakshi and Vijay were in our living room pretty much for 48 hours straight. I could see their little minds at work. Geometry puzzles deciphered
Architectural decisions made
Kids at play are the best possible argument for play itself, - and while toys aren't strictly necessary (pots and pans, sticks and stones, a bit of sand, a cup of water all work just as well), they sure do add to the fun.
I spent around Rs 46,000 on the toys and books for the Doon EIC because we were starting totally from scratch. For our other centres (Latika Vihar, Karuna Vihar, Mama EIC and Khushi), which already have the basics, I need only Rs 25,000 each. That's only $550 for each centre! A piece of cake.
But here's the story. Today is my dear brother-in-law Arun Gupta's birthday. Arun died after a biking accident in 2004, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of more people than it is possible to count. I remember Arun for so many reasons, but one of the most important is his incredible delight in life. He was born to bring joy to others, born to have fun, born to help other people (especially children!) have fun too. Every time I went home to the US for a visit, he would take my children out to buy toys and me out to buy books. Every time. "We don't need any more toys or books," I would protest. "Yes you do," he would insist.
Today, to celebrate his birth and his life, I am launching the Arun's Toy Story Campaign. In his memory and in his name, I know we will raise the $2200 we need to give our children the fun he would want them to be having.
You can send your checks made out to Latika Roy Foundation directly to us here (369/1 Vasant Vihar Enclave, Dehradun, UK, 248006, INDIA) or you can donate online here: http://www.giveindia.org/give/pledgepage/ArunsToyStory (Just be aware you have to register at GiveIndia! Takes five minutes. In the scheme of things, not much time.)