Mermish Dreamish

“Ohhhwwwnn! What do you want us to get you from the labally?”, the son’s voice wafts upstairs to his teenage sister. She cannot make it to the library and her little brother feels bad for her, like she has been denied candy on Halloween. 

“Anything on Mermaids dobucles! From the Teen section.” 

The son and I exchange knowing smiles. 


I watch amusedly as the half teen swells with self importance: Oh! The glory of being given the esteemed task of picking out books for his teenaged sister from the teen section. 

“Mermaids! Really? Again? Still?” I ask, and I get a “Yessss!” accompanied by an eye roll, that I cannot see but can imagine, in response as we head off. 

A random doodle by the daughter when she was knee-high

The oceans and seas enthrall her, they exert an influence on her like no other. And it started young. Thousands of viewings of Finding Nemo, hundreds of The Little Mermaid later, her first choice for drawing anything is still marine. 


I can hardly blame her, I find the oceans fascinating myself.
Gerald Durrell’s Enchanted World Essay
Carl Sagan’s Essay on his interactions with Elvar The Dolphin
Epic of Whalayana – Carl Sagan

I have been seeped in books on Whales of late. Ever since I read Carl Sagan’s beautiful notes on these gigantic, intelligent and curious creatures, I have become half mermaid myself. I see the allure that sets the daughter’s heart beating. Regular readers know that I have often described that child as one who should have been born a mermaid.

Nick Pyenson : Spying on Whales:

Astronomy and Paleontology are sibling fields really: they take human imagination to places where no person has ever been.

Some writers have the knack of saying the most profound things in passing. 

It is true isn’t it? The reason we gaze longingly at the night skies, charting out the constellations, having myths that surround them is the same reason we have stories of oceanic splendor. The reason we listen in awe about Noah’s Ark, Mastya avatar, Kurma avatar and myths of a milk churning ocean coughing up ambrosia for things that seemed nigh impossible like immortality is the same reason we imagine The Great Big Hunter going after the seven sisters. It is magnificent and unimaginable.  

“This must be something to do with the Sea. It has the word Tempest on it and there is a mermaid like thingy on the front. “, said the little fellow handing me the book he had picked out for his sister. 

“Should we get one or two more just in case?” 

We agreed and off we went looking for mermaid like ones, oceanic tales. I fell back upon Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne in case all else failed. That was the choice that earned me a loving “MOM!” look.

We needn’t have worried, the little fellow was given glowing tributes for selecting the best mermaid book, and we all settled down to read that evening. 

Taking a deep breath we dived deep into the rich oceans. 

I was trying my best to keep up with Nick Pyenson and his colleagues as they tried to find and relocate some of the largest whale fossils on record. More than 2 million whales had been lost to Whaling in the beginning of the 20th century, and only about 200,000 remained. What have we done? Another silent lament in my mind that will not have an answer. 

The son had a thoughtful crease after reading his book, A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch. I could well imagine his feeling. It is one of those books that in ten flips of the page leaves you wondering and marveling at so many things – the climatic conditions because of the geography of the story, the sounds of nature surrounding the little village, and the sounds of the living in the churning waters calling out to little Glashka who is a little girl blessed with the ability of hearing different frequency voices like the song of the whales stranded in the bay and iced in. Accompanied by illustrations that take you to the little Arctic village, this book was the perfect marine choice for the little fellow.



Little yawns appeared on our faces and we smiled sleepily. When we resurfaced from the waters, feeling refreshed after a cool dip in the oceans, we slept dreaming the dreams of the unimaginable. It was marvelous.

The sea is as near as we come to another world. – Ann Stevenson


From Divine Mermaids To Almighty Dashed Cars

I have written about the pace of life in the nourish-n-cherish household before and I shall do so again.  Never a dull moment about sums it up. Now, of course, there are folks who have more kids than we do, and more pets than we do (did), and yet manage their time more efficiently than we do. One can either sigh and wonder where the time went, or simply muddle along and try to throw in a lazy afternoon or two if possible and make the best of things. That is what we do.

The daughter’s school had put up a truly marvelous play. The children were fabulous in their roles and it was heartening to see how the props were changed, the lines memorized and the whole play was worthy of the standing ovation it received.

To my mind,  with out her (the daughter), it seemed the play could never have gone on. I mean, she played a half dozen roles in the same play. There were a dozen sailors on the stage, and sure enough, there she was: The sailor with the curly hair, which was hard to spot as the daughter has straight hair. The next minute, it was a school of fish (the orange one with black stripes for the critics). There a sea-gull, here a sous-chef, elsewhere an unfortunate soul. The play was titled ‘The Little Mermaid’ and of course enthusiasm for the production ran high in the daughter’s mind. She has always liked the mermaids.


In fact the Mermaids may once have saved us – read on in this thrilling tale:

There were rehearsals to attend, costumes to try on, back stage friends to rib, camaraderie between scenes, forgotten cues, not yet perfected dialogues, and much more excitement. I was really happy that she had an experience like this, for performances form a bond forged of nervous anticipation that is difficult to simulate elsewhere.

I quizzed her about how she came to play this many roles later, and she said that when she joined the Drama club, she had auditioned for various parts. She was selected as only a sea-gull at first. However, the Drama Club had not quite expected a steady stream of folks to leave over the following months, and she was given more and more roles to fill. I had no idea the Theatrical industry worked so much on Corporate lines.

Between Drama productions, Science Fairs, Basketball games lost, tied and won, life has been a series of waves. The past Saturday was probably the first one this year where we did not have anywhere to rush off to, and the son lay belly down on the mat blissfully arranging and re-arranging his cars, while his mouth was set to ignition-on. The fond grandparents looked at him playing with his cars on the floor, and gingerly picked their way through the pile lest they take a spin like Lightning McQueen in the Cactus patch.

Vroom! Vroom!

Looks like it is a ‘No’ on the tires for Lightning McQueen again


Every-time the ignition sounds died from him, a running commentary started up telling us all about that blasted tire of Lightning McQueen that burst during his final lap in the Piston Cup race.


I yearned for an afternoon nap that Saturday. How delicious it is when there is no plan other than to take a walk and read? The mother, a relentless cook, was already thinking of the evening meal, but I shushed her with a smart, “We’ve just had lunch – relax!” and went upstairs singing to bed.

In case you have missed the narrative thus far in the blog, the son is somewhat singularly focused in his interests. He plays with Lightning McQueen or Dusty Crophopper loyally ever since he knew how to hold a toy:

When one comes up to bed yearning for a nap, one wants to take a nap, does one not? Does one want to spend time clearing the bed to make it look less like a freeway and more like a bed? One does not. After the fifteenth car was removed from under the blanket, I felt justified in swearing:  “I swear to the Almighty Car Lord that I shall kick Lightning McQueen  if I find him in my bed again. ” Even if it stubs my toe, and I have to hop around holding my big right toe in my left hand for a few minutes.

P.S: Please catch a good nap when you can folks. It is wonderful.

The Polite Goggles

The summer heat beat down on the grasslands, the ranches and the river flowing nearby with a kind of fierce energy, determined to show us both how hot and long it can go on, on the summer solstice. We were out on a camping trip, and I cannot imagine how it would have been had we been pitching up tents and hitching it in the heat. As it turns out, we went in for cabins with full blast A/c and bunk beds that provided hours of entertainment to the bendy amongst us. The children want to climb something. If trees are not available in the searing heat, the bunk beds were just fine too.

Reminds me of this cartoon I saw at


The campsite was near a river and the thought of flowing fresh water nearby is always a calming influence.

Camp River

We played by the river for some time.


Then someone suggested that we beat it to the swimming pool instead. So, we did. I had brought along a pair of pink and blue goggles and the children were remarkably well-behaved around them.  When I had the extra one in my hand, one child asked me politely whether they could please use it, “By all means!” said I beaming. A few minutes later, another mermaid swam up to me and said, “Could I have the pink ones please?”

I beamed again and gave the pink one. This is when things started getting complicated. The mergirls and merboys were having a go in the swimming pool and every now and then, one of the merfolk would splash up to me and ask, “Aunty, can I use the pink goggles?” I’d say ‘Of course’ and go on chatting with my friends. A few minutes later, another merchild would ask “May I use the blue goggles please?” and I’d nod my consent to that too, little realizing what my little assents were causing inside the pool. It turns out that there was a fierce war raging around the goggles. One group wanted to use them and the other did not. The game had me fogged when the details emerged. So, every time somebody came up to me and asked me whether they could use the goggles and I said ‘Yes’, the folks went to the opposing lot and said that I had allowed them to use the goggles and the rightful owner of the treasure was their team. Then, another one would come up to me and I would nod again and the drama would start all over again.

When did I catch on, you ask. Well, to tell you the truth, my school teacher parents would have detected the war a mile away, but I was so intent on chatting with my good friends  and it had been such a long time since I spent a summer teaching children, that it took a large-scale splash party in the pool to make me stop and think. What helped was that two folk were swimming up to me in great speed clearly trying to get to me first. The moment I had nodded my assent to one, child 1 whipped up a victory splash and whooped in joy. I saw the crest fallen Child 2 and only then realized what was going on.

This poster should have come to my mind a little earlier, but it didn’t.

Camp girls

Well, if anything, despite their struggles to get all the goggles to their own teams, they had been exceedingly polite and had maintained the quorum of splash-envy, and so deserved a goggle each whether they wanted it or not.

The waters don’t always show the currents and depth, do they?

Pictures: Courtesy one of our friends

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