February 2012


Dripping with passion!–a phrase that best describe the people I worked with today, a phrase that used to describe me, and words to describe what I hope to get back!

My morning started off with a visit to Fazlani L’Academie Globale to attend an IB Asia Pacific regional visit. These visits usually focus on the diploma programme, which isn’t my area of interest. But today, Mignon Weckert and Kathy Derrick, PYP (Primary Years Programme) regional managers who are dripping with passion! when it comes to learning and the PYP led more than half of the meeting. PYP Coordinators from all over India flew down to Mumbai, and the kindergarten room we sat in was charged with excitement, burning questions, and a passion for teaching students! It’s good to be in the company of like minds.

When I returned to school, the fifth grade teachers pulled me into their room and we put our five heads together to try and come up with statements to help students build on their inquiries and conceptual understandings. Yup, I know a lot of jargon. Let it suffice to say that we pondered on concepts, words, learning. It was very much like trying to solve a puzzle.

Time stopped. Nothing mattered outside the four walls of S’s class. Nothing mattered except student learning.

That’s why I’m in education.
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I was very impressed with the art work in Fazlani. The focus was more on expression and creativity, rather than technique, which to me, is the purpose of the art. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Fazlani's first grade students created this ostrich to communicate awareness on the ill effects of junk food.

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Nobody ever talks about Catching Fire, the second book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. It is the middle child of the series, the one which needs to fight its way for recognition.

After the other day’s pigeon poop stress, I did my necessary household chores then curled up in bed with Catching Fire.

Here are five reasons why I think you should read it:

1. It’s entertaining. If you’re looking at jumping back into the reading bandwagon, the second book of the The Hunger Games trilogy is perfect. Although the beginning is a little bit slow because the author spends a lot of time telling us about Panem’s (the setting’s) history, it picks up in the middle and the third part is an absolute page turner! As I was reading, I felt like I was watching a reality show!

2. It reads like a film. If you close your eyes and picture the setting Suzanne Collin’s describes, it is vivid, colorful, futuristic. The costumes the character Cinna designs-wedding gowns turning into smoke and mockingjays-are absolutely riveting! The auditorium where the Hunger Games takes place is full of clocks, forests and lightning bolts–the perfect escape from the reality of pigeon poop!

3. There are conflicts on many levels, the perfect ingredient for drama! There’s a conflict between the Capitol and Panem’s ordinary citizens. There’s a conflict between President Snow and Katniss, the protagonist. There’s a conflict between Peeta, Katniss’s love interest, and Katniss. Peeta’s intention is to keep Katniss alive during the Games, and Katniss’s purpose is to keep Peeta alive. Who wins? Not going to tell you…

4. I’m no pop-culture fan, but… The Hunger Games film is coming out this March in the US. (Not sure when it’s coming out in Mumbai.) It would be good to see and compare the book to the film adaptation

5. As a writer, I like Suzanne Collins because she can connect to her audience through a compelling character, simple language, and imagination. I can certainly learn to do the same.

I can now highlight and link another book on my Leftover Book Challenge. Two books in one month! Not bad for someone who has a fairly tight schedule.

I do admit to now cheating on my Leftover Book Challenge and treating myself to Mockingjay (and Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, but that’s another story), the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy! So now as I curl up on my couch with a Kingfisher and Mockingjay, I’ll let you know how this goes!

Last September, I went to Hyderabad for a workshop. During one evening, we visited the Faluknuma palace. One of the room’s was used for studying. This is a guest that posed for me. She asked for my email address so I could send her this photo. I am still waiting for her email.

Guess what I found in Hypercity today?

Our famous Philippine Century Tuna!

Century tuna has always been a staple in our family kitchen cupboard. Century sells tuna in water, tuna in vegetable oil. Tuna cooked in adobo or menudo style.

It was good to see it on the Hypercity shelf but I wasn’t too happy about this label–

It’s a Philippine product! Why is advertised as America’s number one brand?

Because no one really talks about the Philippines in Mumbai, Sacha. It’s marketing marketing marketing. A tiny voice in my head says and of course, the tiny voice is right :).

Did I end up buying the product? No, first because of its price, and second, I’ve stopped in eating tuna in cans because of the sodium content.

But still, it was good to see a little piece of home in the grocery store.

“If you don’t clean it up by Saturday, the fire brigade will break into the apartment and clean it up.” My Dad. Over a long distance call from Manila.

So with fed-exed keys in hand, I braved apathy, took a cab to Breach Candy, and unlocked my aunt’s apartment. She moved to Manila five years ago so the pigeons have broken in.

The perpetrators

This is the home where my father grew up in. My mother lived here for a year when they were newlyweds. My aunt took very good care of it when she lived in Mumbai, asking house-cleaners to come twice today.

For the past year, our Breach Candy apartment has gone to the birds.

Today, with the help of my aunt’s neighbor, Varsha, we hired some cleaners who picked up dead, half-dead and live birds. They swept and wiped away as much poop as possible.

At this point, I can’t look at pigeons without shaking my head and feeling a deep sense of disgust.

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