Sunday, July 31, 2011

One Young Scholar, Two Young Dreamers

Every centre for poor children has at least one girl like this one - a child completely absorbed in the task at hand (a task most likely self-assigned), oblivious to the chaos around her.

I have, literally, hundreds of such photos: photos of brave, vivid children, busy with a painting or a sand castle or a game of badminton, completely and utterly immersed in a world of endeavor and achievement and imagination.

I salute them.

They astonish me.

They come in every day, full of energy and hope, ready to start all over again. They come from their homes where, in the monsoons, there may be three inches of water on the floor and they do their homework crouched on the bed, guarding their books from the leak in the roof overhead. They come from their families where Dad is out of work yet manages to find money to drink; where Mom holds three jobs to pay their tuition fees and keep them in sandals and the occasional ribbon for their hair.

They come in and they come in and they come in - day after day after day - because of an unquenchable desire for more in their lives; because of a belief that somewhere, in a book or a painting or a new vocabulary word, they may find a clue, an answer, a design.

They are our future and our legacy. They pin their hopes on us and we dare not disappoint them.

(Photo of the two young dreamers by Muir Adams)

Asian Green Beans

My sister Lucy is one of the best cooks I know. She cooks lavishly and with love and she usually has a funny story about each thing she makes.

Here's her recipe for and her story about the garlicky green beans many of us love in Chinese restaurants in the US.

I used to go to this fancy Chinese restaurant for their green beans. When we decided to move far far away from this fancy Chinese restaurant I went one last time to try to dissect this dish. I cracked the code in two seconds. I could have been making them at home all along. Quit spending so much money eating out! It's easy y'all.
1. Slightly blanched green beans (keep them crisp)
2.Chopped garlic
3.shoyu- soy sauce
4.olive oil

Get your pan or wok pretty hot, but not smoking hot.
Add some olive oil, green beans
and then a lot of chopped garlic
stir it until the garlic is golden only.

Add several splashes of shoyu (that's soy sauce for those of you who don't speak Hawaiian)

Viola! You made the same thing as the restaurant and you paid 10 dollars less.

This has become my all-time favorite recipe. SO EASY. SO AMAZING. Try it. I guarantee you will love it.

I "let them eat cake" all the time . . .

Several people have asked me recently for the recipe for the chocolate cake I always make (birthdays, special guests, Core Group meetings, just because) . . . lately, since Lakshi and Vijay have become such helpful little elves in my kitchen, I am making it a lot more frequently. That's the one thing they always agree would be the perfect "job" to help me with.

This is the classic Joy of Cooking recipe, with a few adaptations for India:

Preheat oven to 200C.

Prepare your cake pans (two 9-inch rounds or an oblong 9x13): After too many sad experiences in which half the cake stuck to the centre of the pan when I tried to take it out, I have started lining the bottom with paper. Nothing fancy - I use ordinary brown paper if I have it or even an old large-ish magazine envelope. Trace around the bottom of the pan onto the paper (use a pencil, not a marker!), then cut on the inside of the circle/rectangle you drew so it's the perfect size to fit inside the bottom of the pan. Butter and flour around the bottom edge of the pan, then place the paper circle/rectangle inside and butter and flour that as well.)

Cook and stir on a very low flame, watching like a hawk as it can burn easily:

1 cup Cadbury's Cocoa Powder (don't skimp, and don't even think of using Weikfield's)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Remove from heat when thickened.

(Sift before measuring: I'm just putting this because all the books say you must - I never do it):

2 cups cake flour (maida)

Resift with:

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Grind to a fine-ish powder:

1 cup sugar

Beat until soft (I do this in the food processor):

100 gms Amul butter

Add the sugar gradually. Beat until very light and creamy.

Beat in, one at a time:

2 egg yolks

Still in the food processor: Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with thirds of:

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir the batter until smooth after each addition. Stir in the chocolate custard. Whip (a hand mixie is best for this; if you don't have one, use a wire whisk or a fork) until peaks form and are stiff, but not dry:

3 egg whites

Fold them lightly into the cake batter (a quick whizz in the food processor will do it).

Pour into prepared cake pans and bake about 25 - 35 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn the cakes out on to racks to cool.

Variation: You can also make cupcakes, which children adore. If you don't have a cupcake tin: use katoris, being sure to grease and flour each one carefully. Lining with paper doesn't seem to be necessary for small cakes. Cupcakes are fun to try different color frostings and decorations on - with a plate full of these, you don't need to worry about decorating the table!

When completely cool, ice with:

100 gms Amul butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup Cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsps Hot Coffee

Beat it all together well, add vanilla (1 tsp) if you have it (I usually don't, so I leave it out)

Taste to make sure it's the way you like it (add more sugar or more cocoa if necessary)

Ice the cake and decorate with sprinkles, fresh pansies, an artfully placed green leaf or two.

Serve generously!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wordless Love

Moy Moy used to talk. Most people who know her now have no memory of how she once was, but a devoted little group still does. We tell the stories often to keep the memory green.

Moy Moy used to talk. She used to tell jokes; she even had - at four - a flair for the dramatic. Once on a Sunday, I asked her: "Moy Moy, are you ready to go to Church?" She raised both arms over her head like a born again zealot and said fervently: "Hallowed be Thy Name!"

And she had a sly sense of humor. Once I found her with both hands in a katori of salt - I said, "Moy Moy, no!" She looked up at me and said "Cake!" I said "Moy, that's not cake." and with a fetching little smirk, she said, "Fooled you!"

She was four years old.

At five, her sentences became phrases. A few months later, she only had two words at a time. Then one. And then it was back to babbling. She lost her language in the same order in which she had gained it.

As it became clearer to us that Moy was losing the ability to speak, that she was regressing, I often told myself I should record her, that I should capture the sound of her voice to remind us later of what she had once been like. I never did it. At the time it seemed like too much of a concession to reality, an admission of what we weren't yet prepared to acknowledge.

But now Moy Moy is 21 and she doesn't speak at all. I can still recall the last words I heard her say, after the prayer I would recite for her at bedtime:

Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom God's love entrusts me here
Ever this night, be at my side
To light, to guard, to rule, TO _ _ _ _

I would leave the blank and Moy would fill in: "GUIDE!" with a shout of pleasure and triumph. Then she would say:

"Goodnight. I love you."
That response got shorter and shorter. The last time I remember actually hearing her speak it was those two words that she chose: "Love you."

Whether it's what I now choose to remember or whether it was what she actually said last doesn't matter. She loves us. We love her. It's the truth and, last words or not, it's all that matters.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Can We Know the Dancer From The Dance?

When beautiful Meera came to visit, all I could think about was that she was a Speech Therapist. There aren't many people in the world who can appreciate the way some of us think about Speech Therapists, so don't laugh.

We always capitalize their title. They are Speech Therapists. We restrain ourselves from writing it as SPEECH THERAPISTS.

For us, they:

Walk on water

Are worth their weight in gold

Speak with the tongues of men and of angels

High school students, take note. If you want a career with respect, adulation and a sense of purpose from here to eternity - it's Speech Therapy. (Got that? SPEECH THERAPY.)

But back to Meera. All I could think was Speech Therapist. How did I forget that she was also a professional dancer?

So when I took her to Latika Vihar, I was surprised by the way she stood observing our young and trendy dance teacher (the one we are sending to Bharatnatyam classes to widen her amazing natural talent):

When I got a moment to speak with her, she said, also surprised: "I didn't expect to see Bharatnatyam here!"

"Oh." I said, blankly. "Is that what it is?"

"She's great, Auntie! She's doing it just exactly right!"

That's when I remembered. Meera is a professional, a Bharatnatyam dancer with a degree, who performs in public to wide acclaim. Immediately, I thought about how she could perform right here at Latika Vihar, how she could share her amazing talent with the eager children who would love to see her in action.

But before I could even suggest it, she had her own idea:

"Do you think they could teach me a Garhwali dance?"

Why hadn't I thought of that? Bring in the expert! was my idea.

But Meera, like a true therapist, preferred to build on someone else's strengths.

Because Speech Therapy isn't about showing off. It's about communication. It's about sharing gifts. It's about the joy of language and spoken thought and revealed wisdom.

It's about helping other people to celebrate what they already know and giving them ways to offer it to the wider world. It's about joining in and reflecting back what people already know but have lost sight of. It's about giving people a platform, a stage, a voice.

Meera, for all her youth, already knows that. Here is one SPEECH THERAPIST I'm keeping my eye on.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Guest Is God

No matter how many toys and books we buy, children always out-fox us by preferring:

1. our company
2. water
3. mud
4. pots and pans
5. real, concrete tasks
6. our company

At least, that's been my experience.

Lakshi and Vijay love it when we have guests because they know that means I will be baking at least one cake, there will be lots of kitchen work to "help" with, the guests will find them amusing and entertaining and they will probably get a few treats. WIN-WIN-WIN!

These particular guests - Meera, Kiran and Ravi - were a particular treat for all of us. Meera is a speech therapist and the daughter of my dear friend Shoba Srinath - one of the finest child psychiatrists in the country. I've had my heart set on getting Meera to come and work for us ever since I first heard of her career plans (which, she told me this weekend, she decided upon in Class Nine!).

(I'm still working on that angle. Watch this space.)

In the meantime, in the present, with no matlabi fantasies of my future capturing of the most gorgeous speech therapist I have ever laid eyes on, they were a delight to have around.

For Vijay, in addition to the amazing experience of having two grown up men sit and listen to him, there was the thrill of Meera's uncertain Hindi. She had enough to keep him engaged but with just enough mistakes to give him the pleasurable feeling of setting her straight. He corrected her verb-noun agreement frequently and gleefully and she - like a good sport and a very quick study - improved enormously in only three days.

And for Lakshi, there was the pure joy of Being. Not yet four, she is still the absolute centre of her universe. She focuses on whatever task is at hand with her entire heart and soul, enjoying others' involvement, but not requiring it.

She moved in and out of the circle the guests created with a cadence determined by her own inner life - sometimes right there in the middle of it all (pretending to be the sabzi-walli and issuing instructions to her many customers) and sometimes, as in this picture, oblivious to us all, intent on her self-imposed dish-washing duty.

I was thinking about guests, and the place they hold in the North Indian home (the South Indians tell me it's not the same where they live), about children and the place they hold in our hearts.

Looking at Lakshi, the two merged into one: "The child is the guest and the guest is God."

Monday, July 18, 2011


You worry about a bird that doesn't fly.

I saw this little fellow perched on a potted plant in our garden yesterday and I thought - "let me just run inside and grab the camera," knowing he would be long gone by the time I got back.

When I returned, though, there he still was. Breathing rapidly, obviously frightened and distressed. This wasn't a normal bird, I thought. Something was wrong.

Or is it only mothers who see such a sight and immediately think: "Catastrophe!"???

This mother did. I assumed that death was imminent. I stroked its little back and tried to think of soothing things to murmur.

No one else seemed too concerned.

Vijay, for example, was all calm curiosity - first from a distance, and then coming in close to see what was happening..

It was when he brought Lakshi that I began to think maybe I'd gotten the wrong impression.

Her first response was like mine - worried, holding back, anxious:

yet quickly turning to interest:

and then delight, almost recognition:

When my friend Nicola told me later that one of the biggest problems fledglings have is well-meaning humans thinking they are ill and trying to rescue them, many things fell into place.

In the heat of the moment, for example, it hadn't registered, but each time I got close to the little bird, a racket of squawking would start up from the other side of the garden. Nicola told me that mother birds are always close by, hovering anxiously, trying to protect their newly-launched offspring. If they sense a predator (that would be me) they set up a distraction, hoping to draw the danger to themselves.

And all that quivering and heavy breathing?

Perfectly natural if you consider what this little bird is about to do: leave home for the first time, fly off alone, commit to finding his own food, be a grown up. Daunting. Shocking. Overwhelming.

No wonder he's a bit anxious. No wonder, times ten, his mother is flapping and scolding frantically off on the side. Yet this is the only way it happens in nature. Pushed out of the nest, the fledgling must fend for himself or die.

I like to find "sermons in stones, and good in everything," but this one is a stretch.

Today, Lakshi and Vijay, tempted by an older child, ran out of the garden and took off for Latika Vihar without telling their Mom. She came down to check on them a few moments later and found them missing. Frantic, she set out searching and caught up with them fifteen heart-pounding minutes later, safely at their destination.

Sometimes the fledglings decide for themselves, long before they are really ready or capable.

Also today, I talked with a grown woman whose parents are still making all her decisions - whom she will marry, where she will work, how late she can stay out. Today's discussion was about the trouble she had gotten into by staying at a friend's house past nine o'clock.

Sometimes the fledglings opt to stay in the nest, long after they should be out on their own.

Nature's relentless time-keeping (DING! Out of the nest! DING! Fly or die!) doesn't suit most of us. We are left with this extreme risk: the balancing act we constantly maintain between love and safe-keeping. Breathless at the beauty and precarious nature of childhood, we would do anything - anything - to protect the ones we love. Yet without that inner Mama Bird, prepared to watch the little ones fall down from great heights, we could end up protecting them so much they forget how to fly.

I took the above photos of the fledgling from my verandah. And the view was a safe one, limited by the walls of the garden. But when I came into the garden myself, to catch him from another angle, I got this one:

. . . shining eager eye and all. Posed against a rainbow, this bird looked totally different. Not pathetic anymore, but poised - gathering strength and courage for the inevitable next step.

When I came out an hour later, he was gone.

Friday, July 15, 2011


What goes on in the mind of a child? Why is a swing so compelling, why does a mud puddle demand to be jumped in? What makes a a child kick a stone as she walks? And why-oh-why is a walky-talky so irresistible?

A walky-talky is the term my friend Chris Neiman coined over 50 years ago (age 4) for those little walls children love to walk on - so daring! - while their parents keep to the safer wide pavements.

There is one on the main road of Vasant Vihar, where I walk almost every day (it's a fallen street light pole which the electricity department hasn't bothered to pick up) and even now - age 53 - I can't stop myself from hopping on it for the seven steps of joy it gives me.

I can't believe I'm alone in this delight. But what is it? The swoop of the swing, the abandon of the mud puddle, the careful precision of the walky-talky steps - so daring, yet so safe - . . .

A red car in the distance to look at while mincing along the little wall. Or a red tail-light on a black car. . . it doesn't matter. The joy is in the steps, in the mincing. Children keep it simple. They remind us of uncomplication. They keep us pure: a swing for the freedom of being lifted in the air, weightless and unencumbered; a mud puddle for the love of mud puddles; a walky-talky to help us to remember to pay attention to our feet as they step proudly along the narrow beam, amazed at their own prowess.

Sometimes I want to start all over, to be a child again. Because that's not possible, I hang on to mud puddles and walky-talkys.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


When Ravi was in his teens in Mumbai (and I was still an innocent babe in Fall River), one of his favorite pastimes was going to the movies. In the late 50's, American movies were in Technicolor while Bollywood's were still black and white. So he and his friends were thrilled when they arrived at the theatre one afternoon and saw a big sign that read: SOME SCENES IN COLOR!" scrawled across the posters on display for that day's feature.

The first one they watched was a maudlin tearjerker in which a very sad woman wanders down to Juhu Beach, bent on killing herself by plunging into the sea. There she is, all in black and white, slowly making her way toward the water, when suddenly the scene bursts out into color:

and there is Marilyn Monroe, perched first as here, with the Niagara Falls as her backdrop, and then shown lying on a raft being buffeted by waves and holding on for dear life.


The next one was a crime thriller, starring Kishore Kumar. There he is, all in black and white, making a tense, suspense-filled getaway from the bad guys. Suddenly! TA DA!

It's Cary Grant, running desperately away from the evil crop-duster plane bent on snuffing him out.


So I'm thinking there has to be a lesson here for the rest of us. When life gets too difficult and suicide is your only option - change the scene! You are actually a pin up girl in living color!

(But she committed suicide herself. Hang on. Maybe this doesn't work.)

Well, Cary Grant, then.

There you are, fighting evil, warding off the dark forces, but - wait a minute - they still seem to keep winning. No worries! Become Cary Grant! In Technicolor!

(Except for this: Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant," Grant replied, "So would I.")

Technicolor or not, Cary Grant was actually a man named Archibald Alexander Leach who married five times. The sexiest man in America, yet divorce followed divorce followed divorce. Marilyn Monroe, whose brief, poignant life ended tragically in a drug overdose, and whose name was linked to baseball star Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller and President John F Kennedy, was actually Norma Jean Mortenson, and who has ever heard of HER?

Life, it turns out, isn't easy for any of us - black and white, brilliant technicolor or anything in-between. Life is hard. The best we can do is to reach out to those on the road beside us and reassure them - black and white, brilliant color, and all the shades of grey in-between: we're in this together. We don't judge. We don't point fingers. We're in this together.

The Cup of Grace

I woke this morning feeling sad - you could almost say bereft. Swimming up through the waves of drowse and languid torpor, I couldn't put my finger on the cause of the problem. I climbed out of bed, thinking it must have been a dream. While brushing my teeth, I remembered.

My tea cup was missing. My most beautiful tea cup, given to me by Marcie, Paula's friend (and now mine) who had come with her on her historic return visit in April and whose presence here in Dehradun somehow created the bridge between two worlds which had been lacking during Paula's time with us.

Not that Paula hadn't had visitors while she was here. Her mother had come three times; her daughter Carol came too. But we take family for granted for a reason. They come wherever we are. That's why they are family. When a friend comes it gives a different stamp of approval, a different kind of validity. It says our choices have been good ones, that someone whose only bonds are of friendship and affection wants to know what we've been doing for 12 years in a foreign land. And for those of us IN the foreign land, it says we are important parts of a dear friend's history and that it's vital for us to meet.

So Marcie's being here was special for all of us - Manju, Savita, Moy Moy, Ravi, me - all of us who owe Paula so much.

That's to explain the connection I felt with the tea cup. Paula and I had had thousands of cups of tea together over the years. Tea was my connection with my mother; is my connection with my daughter. Marcie pulled it all together with a gift of the most beautiful cup I had ever seen. And this morning, as I realized with a thud, it was still missing.

Had one of the staff broken it and feared to admit it, knowing how I prized it? The most likely explanation. A.W.O.L. for 36 hours? It seemed pretty clear that it had vanished for good.

For the next ten hours, the vague sadness remained. So silly. Only a cup. In the grand scheme, how did it matter? Marcie was still there. Paula, God Knows, was still there. Mom was watching over me. Cathleen and I predict each other's thoughts and dreams. I scolded myself every time the feeling of loss surfaced again. It's only a cup. Down, girl!

I came home from work today at 5:30. Creature of habit, I went to the shelf to take out the cup for my evening tea. Not there. Sadness. Then I wandered into the living room for one last search. And there it was, hidden on the mantelpiece behind the candle stand, exactly where I had left it, I now remembered, when the phone rang and I had run to pick it up.

I washed it carefully and prepared my tea, each step in the process a mindful, grateful one. Another moment. Another day. Another grace. Another cup of tea. My dear ones drinking with me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vina Srivastava Is My Hero

Please look carefully at that face. Vina is one of the most beautiful women I know. It goes without saying. It's something anyone with two eyes can see.

But there is more to it than that. Her beauty is a reflection of an inner life which is complex and thoughtful, full of depth and mystery. The way that she thinks, the values she holds dear and lives out in her everyday life, the connections she makes and the understanding she brings to things both political and cultural amazes me. I admire her more than I can say. I learn so much by watching her move through the world.

Start with the garden.

Hers is a kind of metaphor for her life. Its abundance and exquisite design speak to the amount of time and energy she puts into it (she's up by five AM and out there first thing, inspecting, encouraging, training and pruning) but it is also a testament to her generosity. Her plants have offspring all over the city because she thinks nothing of sharing the wealth. My own garden not only got the bulk of its seedlings and cuttings from hers, but was actually planned and designed by her as well.

Second: Vina has young friends. I am one of them (at 53!), but she is also close to the next generation - like my children, her own grandchildren, and their friends too. She knows them all. But it's not a passing acquaintance where they say "Good evening, Auntie" as they move on to the next, more interesting thing. It's a cultivated friendship and she puts time and effort into it - as she does with everything else.

When the kids are in town, she makes a special point of coming to visit them. Whenever she can, she invites them over on their own - she wants to know what they are thinking, what they know about, what she can learn from them. This is a huge clue to her own vivid personality. She stays current. She's ready to try anything. 80 years old and one of the most active facebookers I know. On her ipad, no less. Yet with no hesitation at all about asking for help when she needs it. It's the perfect example of inter-connectedness. She knows how to network - it comes naturally and it's all about giving and taking.

Oh, one more thing: she never complains. At 80, she surely must have all the same aches and creaks that anyone else would at that age. But she knows - and remembers - that aches and creaks are interesting to no one other than the person experiencing them. I recite this truth to myself daily. "Be like Vina," I keep saying. "No one needs to know."

And finally, her amazing relationship with her children and the wonderful people they have filled her life with.

Everyone wants to be part of the Srivastava circle because they all have so much fun with each other. They travel in packs (dozens of them sign up for the family excursions to Tuscany, to Nairobi, to Portugal because none of them can bear to miss any chance to be together). Those of us on the periphery get in as close as we can, to bask in the reflected glory. They are generous. They welcome us and make us feel a part of the circle.

And the centre of their turning world? Vina. Is me koi shak hai?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teachers Are Like Gardeners

Getting Vibha Krishnamurthy to come to Dehradun, on any pretext, is always worth doing. She is one of the smartest, funniest, most enchanting people I have ever known and the fact that she is also a developmental pediatrician is the icing on the cake. I can get her to come here for work and I can justify going to visit her in Mumbai for the same reason.

So anyway. I got her to come this past weekend. Not only that: she brought her whip-smart colleague, the young and gorgeous Roopa Srinivasan, also a developmental pediatrician, also brilliant.

These two were to be our secret weapons, our magic wands in the battle to win over the hearts and minds of Uttarakhand's physicians and to convince them to refer babies to us at the Doon Hospital EIC. They did just that, but the magic turned out to be not only their amazing wealth of knowledge. Nope. What really astonished and moved the doctors was their amazing command of Hindi.

Vibha and Roopa are both from Chennai, a city not noted for its Hindi. So the doctors came prepared to be lectured to in English. One of them told us he liked these sort of workshops because they gave him a chance to catch up on his sleep.


Not only was their Hindi flawless, witty and entertaining (Roopa actually grew up in Jabalpur; Vibha in Delhi) but the content of their workshop was too. The doctors were mesmerized. "It wasn't us," Vibha insisted. "It's the material. I mean - child development! How could people NOT be interested?""

We all know, however, that even the most interesting material can be put in a boring big package and delivered like a lead balloon. Obviously, that's what the good docs were expecting. What they got instead was insight, wisdom, compassion and cutting edge medical information - delivered by seasoned story-tellers, show women with a sense of drama and timing and the perfect one-liners. A tour de force!

The workshop was for government doctors of Uttarakhand and they had no choice about attending. Their seniors ordered them to come and so they did - some from many hours away, in the remote areas of the state (Precisely the ones we've been so eager to get to). For us, it was almost like a miracle to walk into a doctors' workshop assured of a full house. Our previous efforts with private sector doctors have always been disappointing. Only the same faithful few keep attending and there is always a sense of preaching to the choir.

So this time, there was a special challenge: how to create an electric atmosphere, a buzz, an excitement about the topic and an eagerness to learn more. Because we want them to come the next time - even though they HAVE to - with a sense of anticipation, the knowledge that this is going to be fun.

Who better to set the tone and raise the bar than Vibha and Roopa?

A little aside, a kind of metaphor for what they did here.

They stayed in my house, where as luck would have it, a Brahma Kamal (Flower of Bethlehem) was about to bloom. I had spotted the bud a few nights before and prayed that it would do its one night performance while they were here (this flower blooms in a spectacular one-night performance and it's easy to miss).

But it was not to be. Almost as if it were taunting me, the flower stayed resolutely closed for the three nights they were with us:

opening in its show-off style the night of the very day they departed:

It struck me as I stood there looking at it, shaking my head a bit (Come ON! You couldn't have done it one night earlier?) that this was a metaphor for the life of a teacher, which is what these two are, in addition to being gifted and caring physicians.

They go all over the country, training other people to see children as they do - marvelous, incredibly interesting little beings with worlds within them to be discovered and understood. They sow seeds in the minds of their audiences - an act of faith in their students' good sense and willingness to learn and then they leave. So often, they don't get to see the flowers - the sudden and magical dawn of awareness, the click, the ah ha!

So Vibha, Roopa: I want you to know. The flower bloomed the night after you left. The fragrance still lingers. We'll make sure the seeds you planted will flourish and thrive.