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Archive for the category “Darndest Things Children Say”

Why The Ex-President Of My Country Talked To Me

ID-10094065When I think back on my school days one incident comes vividly to my mind. It was the time the ex-president of my country talked to me.

The centenary celebrations of my school was being celebrated on a grand scale. Many dignitaries were invited to grace the different events that were being conducted as part of the celebrations.

One person who had won the hearts of the children and encouraged them to ‘dream’, was our honourable ex-president. He was a scientist, a thinker and the beloved of many Indians. He was the chief guest at our school that day.

A red carpet was laid out for him. The students lined the path he was to take to reach the dais.

The great man arrived and walked down the carpet, flanked by the school teachers, security and of course the pushy photographers.

He walked briskly for his age, his trade mark slightly longish hair flying about. He was smiling, accepting our salutations. Then the students put forward their hands in an attempt to shake hands with him and he obliged, touching their hands briefly as he walked by, very fast in his customary fashion.

Among all the palms eager to shake hands with him was mine!

And it was adorned with Mehandi designs.

The previous day as part of our religious festival, I had applied mehandi or henna design on both my hands, from finger tips to elbows and it was turning a bright maroon the next day. Among all the plain unadorned child-like hands, my designed hands stood out.

He paused in his stride right beside me, and pointing to my hand he asked,

“What is this, what is this?” ( I am sure he knew what Mehandi was, but questioned me anyway, just to tease me )image

I stood startled. My tongue refused to move and I simply blinked and stared. My friend standing next to me came to my rescue and explained why my hand had those unique patterns.

The ex-president paused just a second to ask the question, receive my friend’s explanation and he moved on. In fact it was almost as if he had not stopped at all.

Then all my class mates surrounded me and laughed and joked and said, ‘Lucky you! The president talked to you.”

For many days after that I narrated the incident to all my family members and to everyone else who cared to listen, “The ex-president talked to me.”

When the photographs of the day’s events were published in the school notice board, I searched and searched. But there was no picture of the great man talking to me.

You know something?

The ex-president of my country talked to me.

But I did not talk to him!

This is what I rue to this day.

Story By Roshan.

Written By Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo


Image courtesy of [Aravind Balaraman] at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

PS: Mehandi or henna is a traditional art in which hands and feet are adorned with a paste made from powdered leaves of the henna tree. It looks like tattoo but is temporary. The colour fades slowly in a few days.













Pots Of Money

ID-10068770As a young boy, my brother was always up to some mischief or the other. I remember the numerous times when he was at the receiving end of my dad’s wallops.

 This incident is still fresh in my mind and I rag him about it even today.

 In those days, Guide to English Grammar by Wren and Martin, was considered to be the Bible of English Grammar. Students trying to polish their tenses or struggling with their  verbs were eager to procure one. My father got the grammar text for my brother. His class teacher asked my dad if he could buy one for her too as it was not available easily then.

 My father bought a copy as requested by her and sent it to school through my brother. He told my bro that he should not take any money for the book, even if the teacher offered it to him.

 That day mom who was standing in our seventh floor balcony looked down into the garden below and saw my brother digging the mud in one of the flower pots kept there.

 When he came home, she questioned him, casually at first, when he had taken up gardening as a hobby. But then seeing my brother stammer and swallow and come up with bizarre answers, she became suspicious.

She referred the matter to my dad. My father was a strict disciplinarian. Just a stern look and a little raised voice, my brother started spilling the beans.ID-10022913

 He had hidden money in the flowering pot.

 From where did he get the money?

 The teacher had paid him for the Wren and Martin Grammar Text. He had refused it at first, saying that his dad would be upset if he took the money. But apparently the teacher had forced it on him.

 He was sure that  his dad would be displeased if he knew that his son had disobeyed him. But the teacher would not take the book for free.

 So he did what he thought was safe and innocent at that time. He took the money from his teacher but did not tell our dad about it. Feeling too scared to bring the cash home, he had hidden it in the pot.

 I remember the resounding slap my brother received that day.

Poor lad, I still tease him about it asking him if he thought he was growing a money bearing plant, when he hid the loot there.

 My brother is a big engineer now and doing well in his profession. He turned out to be a brainy chap despite the earlier hiccups when my parents thought that he was going to turn out to be a nincompoop.

Story by Aditi. Written by Gulsum@talkalittledo.

Photo Credit :

Photo Credit:Pixomar@freedigitalphotos,net


Where do babies come from?

sleeping-baby-100189137My niece Sophie had delivered a baby and I went to visit them. When I was there, a cousin of mine also came to see the new mother and child.

My cousin had brought her 2-year-old daughter along with her.

The toddler was excited to see the baby in the cradle and watched fascinated as the new born slept peacefully.

“Where did this baby come from?” I asked, disturbing her reverence.

“From Sophie aunt’s tummy.”  Replied the moppet smartly.

“And where did YOU come from?” I pestered her again.

The child thought for a moment. While I was waiting for a profound reply, she looked at me shyly and asked:

“From Hamleys Toy Shop?”

PS : That is a lot better than saying , a stork brought her, right?

Story By SB.  Written By Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.


Photo Credit

By Stuart Miles,

By tungphoto,

Gulsum writes. So does her grand daughter!

Gulsum writes. So does her grand daughter!.

You Don’t Always Kneel Down to Pray.

ID-100174977Have you witnessed your favorite teacher’s wedding? I have.

And in what a way!

When I was nine years old, I was in the fourth standard in a village school in Killyanur in South India. My class master was Susai Maria Das and he was my hero. I adored everything about him; the way he talked, the way he walked and his interaction with us students.

I came from a well-to-do Muslim family in the same village and everyone in and around my hometown revered my grand mother.

One day, I was surprised to see my teacher and his brother-in-law (who also happened to be our family tailor) in our house.

They had come to invite our family to attend the wedding of my class master. I was thrilled beyond words and was sure that my family would go.

But no.

My mom said that the master had come to invite my grand mom out of respect and we would reciprocate by calling the newly married couple to our house for lunch one day. But we would NOT be going to the wedding.

At that time I did not understand the significance of her firm refusal to attend the wedding. Later I realized that the wedding was in a church and Muslims did not frequent a church.

But my mind was made up. Some how I would go to the wedding, which was taking place in a nearby village 4 Km away.

My only aim for the next few days was to witness the wedding of my favorite teacher and ‘shake hands’ with him.

The wedding day dawned. It was a fine day. I remember that well even after so many years. It was a Sunday and a holiday and I was ready to go.

I was dressed in my home clothes, a lungi and shirt. I did not dare change into better clothes, or even don a pair of pants, as that would have given the game away.

My father was away in Singapore at that time and it was kind of easy to hoodwink my mother.

Pretending to be going out, to play with my friends, I slipped out and walked  all the way alone, on the dusty path leading to the next village.ID-10066234

Mind you, I was only nine years old at that time and my perseverance surprises me now.

The church in the next village did not have a proper concrete building. It was more like a garage. The wedding was taking place outside in the grounds under a ‘shamiyana.

Only the bride and the groom were seated in chairs. The rest of the congregation was seated on the floor. I quietly joined them and sat at the very last row. I was tired and perspiring but exhilarated with a sense of achievement.

Soon people began to notice me and they started to whisper and giggle among themselves. A lonely frail kid in a crumpled lungi must have looked out-of-place at church wedding, where everyone was in his or her Sunday best.

I could not see what was taking place in the very front, as I was in the last row, and every head in front of me was obstructing my view. I fidgeted this way and that. Suddenly I found some people kneeling.

I thought they were doing so to have a better view of the ceremony and I followed suit.

I witnessed my teacher’s wedding, kneeling down on hard ground and I was filled with happiness and pride.

It was only some years later, on seeing a Tamil film about Mother Mary, I realized that people knelt down in churches not to see what was happening in front.

But to PRAY!

I will not elaborate on what happened next, on how the groom’s brother-in-law (our tailor) was surprised to see me alone or how I slipped out again without partaking of the wedding feast.

Suffice to say that I was jubilant with just this thought as I walked again the 4 Km back to my village.

I had attended my mentor’s wedding!

And I had shaken hands with him on that special day!

Story By: Talha Rahman, Chennai. 

 Photo Credit: tiverylucky @

Photo Credit: Ohmega1982 @


Brothers and Twins.

ID-10036825Do you become twins, when you dress exactly like your sibling?

My son aged 4 years, was fascinated by the twins who lived close to our house. The two boys would be always dressed in similar attire.

My son wanted to wear the same clothes as his 10-year-old brother. He would plead with me to buy him the exact same clothes as his brother. But his sibling was very much against it and would never agree to it.

Seeing his disappointment I always pacified him by saying:

“Only twins dress alike.”

A few days ago, my nephew Ashiq who lived in Chennai celebrated his daughter’s first birthday and mailed me some of the photos taken then. The birthday party had an ethnic theme. He and his younger brother Shadir, wore black kurta and blue Indian jackets over dark blue jeans. They looked identical and smart.IMG_5182

My husband and I scrutinized the photos excitedly, admiring the birthday baby and gasping at the enormous cake.

My younger son with a perplexed expression tugged at my arm, calling out, “Ma, ma.”

“What now?” I asked, getting irritated at the disturbance.

His next statement stumped us.

“Ma, so now Ashiq Uncle and Shadir Uncle have BECOME TWINS!”

Story By: Shafika. Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Photo Credit:digitalart @


living and non living

2dzGN2AHow do you tell a living thing from a non living one?

When my daughter was about 5 years old, I was teaching her the difference between living things and non-living things.To drive home the point better, I told her:

“Livings things grow and become bigger.”

I quoted some examples, like a chick becomes a hen, a tiny calf becomes a cow and a baby grows into an adult.

I added: “Non-living things do not change their size ever”

My  clever daughter’s very intelligent question astounded me .

“Mummy, is a pencil a living or non-living thing? A pencil becomes smaller than it’s original size when we use it.”

Story By: SS. Written By:Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Spell Check – American or Indian?

nNaEPkqDo you follow the British English spelling or the American one?

My granddaughter, aged about six years entered the Spelling Bee contest in her school.

My daughter trained her at home. She taught her to spell a list of possible words that might be asked of a first standard student.

When they were learning words like ‘neighbour, honour and colour” my daughter told her child that the Americans spelt these words differently, while in India we followed the British English spelling.

At the completion my grand-daughter got one word wrong and that word was, “PARLIAMENT.”

When the answer sheets were handed back to the competitors, my disappointed grand-daughter said sadly: “Mama, they have spelt the word Parliament differently. They have spelt it as Parli -A –ment.”

Pointing to the saree clad judges she said thoughtfully:

“Mama, I think the judges are all Americans!”

Story by Tara.  Written By : Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

Photo Credit:

Why He Cried His Heart Out During The Farewell Speech

 ID-100217771It was a tearful farewell for this primary school boy. Or was it?

In the school where I studied some years ago, boys were allowed only up to the fifth standard. After that they had to leave our school and seek admission else where, while the girls continued up to twelfth grade.

 We had a separate SPL or school pupil leader for the primary school selected from the fifth grade. At the end of the academic year, the SPL had to give a farewell speech at the assembly.

The SPL during my time was a boy name Rama Krishnan.On the last day of that academic year he was called on to deliver his farewell address at the morning assembly.He walked up the dais, stood behind the mike and started off his speech with great aplomb.

It went something like this :

“It is with great sorrow that I stand before you all to bid good-bye. I feel like crying when I think that I will not be meeting my beloved friends and teachers again…” he began.

He paused and then he really started CRYING! Right there in front of the whole school.

He seemed so overwhelmed at having to leave his school that he could not continue with his speech. Everyone was amazed that a boy, at such a young age should feel so much at having to say goodbye.

Many teachers and students walked up to him and patted him on his back and consoled him. He was lead away from the podium amidst loud applause.

The story should have ended there.

But no, it does not. Fast forward to last month.

Few of our former school friends started meeting on Facebook.  Where else?oNtoWUK

They had this great idea of having a “get-together” of the old students of that batch. It was with the stupendous effort of some of the students that forty of us old school fellows met at a party to renew our friendship.

When we were recollecting past events, some of us remembered Rama Krishnan’s teary farewell.

Rama Krishnan who was with us at the party that evening, started laughing and he spilt the beans about that crying bout.

Apparently, our class teacher, who had a great big soft corner for Rama Krishnan had said that she would write the farewell speech for him. But being a busy woman, she could give him the copy of the intended speech only two days before the event

It was all of two pages in length, hand written in her tiny squiggly cursive writing. He could barely decipher the rambling message.

He tried to memorize the speech as best as he could. But on that day, he could not recollect anything of it, beyond the first few lines.

He had actually cried because he could not remember the speech!

He had felt ashamed that he was letting down his teacher. Also after a sterling innings at the school he was going to cut a sorry figure on the last day.

But when the teachers thought that he was crying because he was going to part from his friends and teachers, he decided to play along with their wrong assumption.

“When the teachers patted me and consoled me, I cried some more and every one thought what a sweet little boy I was!”

He laughed so much as he recollected that day and we all laughed with him.

We wondered what the teacher would have done if she had known that Rama Krishnan had failed to memorize her thoughtful message.

Or that he had shed just crocodile tears!

Story By : SM. Written By: Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit :rakratchada torsap @



Not Just A Mathematics Teacher.

mflh6BGHating a certain subject doesn’t entirely depend upon the contents. It also depends upon who’s teaching you and how you are taught. 

Usually people hate math. But I am not one of them. I love math.

I shouldn’t really brag, but I’m actually really good with numbers. Sometimes (by sometimes I mean very rarely) my friends call me Aryabhatta.

But I love the subject more because of Mr. Syed-ur-Rahman, our Math sir.

If you are in his class, math is fun.  You can trust me on this one.

Rahman sir is one of the tallest persons I’ve seen. Also, he is humorous, practical and an amazing teacher to top it off.

Sir tries his level best to keep the class in sync with him and make it lively and humorous as much as possible. He’s one teacher who feels the pulse of the students.

One day in class, Sir was teaching statistics. You just needed to know the formulas and  in statistics, it’s just addition and multiplication! So he asked us to finish up the exercise.

Now there are few things in math, which annoys me the most:

1.   Writing actual words in a sum. I prefer math when there are just numbers in it.

2.   Adding a bunch of huge numbers. You miss a number or do a small mistake, your whole answer goes wrong and you would have to do it all over again. It’s really frustrating when that happened.

We were in grade 11 then. Most of us in class brought our phones to school. Our phones really came in handy as calculators.

Sir found this boy using his phone for adding a bunch of numbers. Obviously, he didn’t have the brains to use it in a way that Sir could not find out.

Sir looked at us and asked, “Has anyone brought their phones to school today? There might be an inspection after break.”

We didn’t really fall for that trick, but all of us just shouted out random things.

“No sir. Not today!”

“My mom took away my phone last night!”

“Sir, I don’t even have a phone!”mi2Zavo

Obviously no one ‘surrendered’ his or her phone to sir.

Sir just gave a smirk and turned to answer a girl who had raised a doubt. Mean while, all the students tried to find ways to hide their phones, in case there really was an inspection.

The class continued to work on their math problems.

 After sometime, I noticed Sir with a phone in his hand. I was sure it wasn’t his, because he had a blackberry and that phone in his hand was Nokia.

He dialed a number, referring to his blackberry. Something seemed fishy.

But I just continued to add that set of ten 4-digit numbers.

All of a sudden, a boy sitting in the middle row ducked down. His phone was vibrating. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and whispered, ‘hello.’

There was no reply

I could guess it was an unknown number looking at his puzzled expression.

 The boy straightened up and found our 6-foot tall Math Master looking down on him with a grin.

It was Sir who had called that boy. He had been caught red handed.

We couldn’t stop laughing. Sir took the boy’s phone and put it in his pocket. He didn’t utter a word, while the students around that boy continued laughing.

Now, if it had been any other teacher, we all knew what would have happened next. The phone would have been handed over to the authorities; parents would have been called … the usual stuff.

But to our surprise NOTHING like that happened. Instead Rahman Sir returned the phone back to the boy at the end of the period.

He just said, “I know you won’t stop bringing your phones to school no matter how many times we warn you. So I’m just going to ask you all not to use it during class. Thank You.”

Wasn’t that magnanimous of him? Did I not mention that Rehman sir was the BEST!

PS: For some days we abstained from using our phones in class and then we were back to square one. You see our frequency with grown ups just does not match. So what ever they say we just listen but don’t dwell on it.

I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it when we become grown ups.

Guest Post By: Rumanaah Ruqaiyah. UAE.

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