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6 Animated movies that children should watch

Stories have the power to convey subtle messages to people. Isn’t that why stories have always been the means of preachers to easily send a message across. Jesus conveyed his message through parables, Buddhist monks preached “Dhamma” to the people through the Jataka tales, the humorous Mulla Nasruddin stories embodies Sufi teachings and Vishnu Sharma sought to impart the principles of “Niti” to the 3 ignorant Princes through the Panchatantra tales.

But now movies have overtaken orally narrated stories as the primary source of entertainment for children. So why not make the best of the situation and use what we have to convey some good messages across to our children.

So this is a list of 6 movies which in my opinion has a good value to teach to children, and of course they are quite entertaining. No, i have not watched all the animated movies in the world, so I may have left some good ones out. (Please leave in the comments any other movie which you think worthwhile) Nevertheless here goes, 5 movies that children should watch, in no particular order.

1. Cars

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This 2006 animated movie is about a world filled with anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. It is about a race car trying to win a race. Problem is, he knows only to win a race and nothing else. Sounds familiar, right? I mean, who in this social media age is not running a race? And many of us may not be lucky enough to get an intervention like Lightning Mc Queen. His encounters with Doctor Hudson, Sally and Mater, makes him understand the finer, better things in life. Which leads to the climax, the true culmination point of his learnings. I might have watched the movie at least a dozen times. But every time, it never fails to draw tears.

2. Iron Giant

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Hogarth Hughes: [to the Giant, in battle mode] It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.

A little known movie from 1999, this movie is about the friendship between a boy and an alien iron giant. Moral conflict has always been a core issue in most animated movies where the protagonist finally does the right thing. This is movie is no different. When a robot built to be a weapon, is faced with mortal threat, what will it choose to do – to behave as it is programmed to do or do what it feels it should do? This message can be interpreted with multiple layers of complexity and hence a good movie to show children and adults.

Considering that my children are seeing guns everyday, it is specially enheartening to hear them mouth the words above in their play time.

3. The Lion King

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Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

Young Simba: But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?

Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

As a young child, I loved The Lion King and I still do. The Circle of Life is the reason why I put it in the list. But there are so many impactful scenes. In fact one of my most favourite scene of all times is the segment where Mufasa reprimands Simba after rescuing him from the elephant grave. It is a perfect Masala movie with laughter, sadness, love, family, betrayal etc.

4. Frozen

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Finally Disney has started rectifying the wrong that they had perpetuated though the decades from their first movie – Snow white and the seven dwarfs. Finally they have started making movies echoing contemporary thoughts and not just building on the fantasy and illusions spun around “Love”. Finally they made a movie, where “love at first sight” is not glorified, but actually teased at.

Anna: Oh well, it was all my fault. I got engaged, but then she freaked out because I’d only just met him, you know that day. She said she wouldn’t bless the marriage and…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?

Anna: Yes, pay attention, but the thing is she wore the gloves all the time, so I just thought, maybe she has a thing about dirt…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?

And they also gave a new twist to the phrase “Act of true love”. Frankly one shouldn’t have been surprised by the twist. But the fact that movie makers have started considering other “acts of love” worth making movies about, is actually giving me goose bumps.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

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Animated movies have always been about the underdog, how David wins over Goliath. How good triumphs over evil. But recently there has been a slight shift in the portrayal of underdogs. For e.g., Despicable me was about a villain, Wreck it Ralph was about the “bad” game character, How to train your dragon was about the evil dragons. Just that once you get to know the motive behind their actions, it does not feel so evil anymore, and in fact you start sympathizing with them. I have always felt that this is the truth about our world. Nobody is particularly evil. Just that their lifestyle is different, it may sometimes clash with ours and that a little understanding and an open mind can do wonders in bringing peace.

6. Lorax

Dr. Seuss imaginative characters and alliterating rhymes have brought pleasure to many a young reader for many decades. His Seuss-isms are indeed a treasure chest full of fantastical rhymes and immeasurable meaning.

Like all good books which gets a movie adaptation, Lorax is one such movie based on the book of the same name. It tells the story of the Once-ler who had a great idea and built a whole new industry around it. But along the way, he forgot to – care. And what happens when finally someone does care… it is a fun movie with catchy songs and introduces children to the concept of pollution, deforestation etc.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

These are the 6 animated movies in English that children should watch (for their good message). I will follow this post soon with 5 live action movies in English on the same subject. Please feel free to name other movies in the comments section.

The Forgotten Friend

Boys and their toys. As if spending some 8 hours on the phone is not enough, my husband decided to go for some good earphones, coz he is not able to “enjoy” his movies with all the “noise” around. So he buys a Sennheisser. And he is not been able to stop extolling it’s greatness. While I was trying to get a decision from him on who is going to a meeting tomorrow – but, who was I talking to… He was tone deaf to the outside world. Seeing my irritated face, (coz, I put a lot of energy into my conversations. I don’t know understated.) He said, “here, try this”. And he places the earpieces into my ears. Few seconds into the song and I was stunned. No, it’s not the Sennheisser. I mean, it was awesome as always, but that was not the reason I was stunned. Nor was it because my tresses got static haired listening to the thumping OST of Mad Max. I actually like rock music, as long as it does not involve screeching or people like Gene Simmons (this crazy rockstar has insured his tongue for a million dollars… Ugh)

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The thing that stunned me was a sense of loss that I felt while listening to the music. Like I had serendipitously chanced upon a long lost and sadly forgotten friend. My friend, my love – for music. Books and music were my steadfast and sometimes only companions during my growing up years. How many hours I have spent – working on boring assignments, walking from hostel to college and back or just lying down, staring up at the ceiling and trying to drown my loneliness in the ocean of music…

When my children were born, I had taken a conscious decision not to use the earphones, lest I do not hear my children. Its not like I have given up listening to music completely. But when I listen to it through earphones… It’s like I have cut off everybody else from the world, wrapped a cocoon around me and now it is just me and the music.  Sometimes i get a high listening to music, that i have often wondered whether this is how it actually feeIs… To be intoxicated?

So yeah, that is the reason, for it was in that stunning moment that I had realised that I had missed my friend, so much and the sad part is… I never realised it at all….

In search of a song

Sometimes inspiration or a memory hits us at an unexpected time and in an unexpected place. (Not unlike writing this blog post at 11.30 in the night)

A few days back, around the same time (looks like my inspiration clock is set at a weird time), while I was half asleep, I heard a few rusty cogwheels in some forgotten part of my brain creaking – ta-ta-ta-robot, ta-ta-ta-robot robot… I immediately sit up straight, like some electric current had passed through me, smiling broadly.

Now, I think is the time for a lengthier explanation. Two months back, my husband asked me, “Do you know the name of this music ?”, and he beat boxed it. Yes, I knew it. This was something I had heard a loooo..oot of times at the theatres some twenty years back. The single screen theatres during their hey days, used to open the screen for the first show with much pomp and fanfare – this electronic music, lights, the works… But what was the name of the song? No idea…

We had searched through YouTube, video by video, trying different combination of keywords – best electronic music, old electronic music, dance music etc. We tried googling, Yahoo answers, but no luck. (Apparently, my husband had spent 12 years and a lot of money buying music records, just to get that song!)

Coming back to the story, I started laughing, feeling exhilarated (I guess this is how Archimedes felt when he jumped out of the tub and shouted “Eureka”), that I at last cracked the ‘Mystery of the  elusive song’. I googled ‘robot electronic music’ and viola!!! 👇

Robots – Kraftwerk

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I just played the song loudly on YouTube (he was already asleep), and he sat bolt upright, wide awake and excited, ” How did you find that song?!?”. I was so happy and the best part was to see my husband’s boyish enthusiasm and his goofy grin… Ah! Small, small things can bring so much joy in life.

<< End of Story >>

Epilogue: First thing my husband did was to share this info with his brother, and guess what? He had known all along the name of this song. Talk about communication gap. 😤

Remembering, on Mother’s day 👪

Happy Mother’s day!

I didn’t know it was mother’s day today. It was Amazon, Flipkart and Hopscotch that reminded me about this day. And also a cute little card that my daughter brought from school.

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(Of course, the words were written by the teacher; my daughter’s current handwriting looks like this 😉👇)

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I still remember the days soon after my son was born. Questioning my every move, bombarded with suggestions, sometimes conflicting, sleep deprived and totally stressed (just like every other new mother) I had a totally confusing start. Finally I decided, the only thing that I am going to listen to, is this –

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I used to feverishly pore through the pages of the book for every sneeze and every cough. What if I did something wrong. My husband was even worse – why is his leg crooked? why has he not turned? Why has he not gained weight? Why… Why… Why? By the time our daughter arrived, things were much more relaxed.

(At this point, have to acknowledge the sleepless nights, the confusions and the back breaking work, my mother and my father went through with me. My father was a like a surrogate mother to my son during my second pregnancy. So I think I am not much mistaken in wishing both of you today. Happy Mother’s Day. 😊)

But all this was not my biggest concern. I knew somehow we will scrap through. The biggest concern, problem, confusion, tension was – to work or not to work. I had reached a point where finally, things were looking up and I may or not may not have been considered for the next rung in the corporate ladder. And I loved my job and my company. Also, despite working in the male dominated FMCG sector, I have never ever been mistreated in any way (oh, I’ve had my fair share of month end rebukes, outbursts and fights 😁, but you know what I mean). My company was very supportive during my whole pregnancy period and they were ready to make some allowances to help me dive into my new designation of a working mother. So the thought of leaving everything behind was a torture to me. How many sleepless nights I had spent trying to make up my mind! Do I aspire to be a woman who has it all or do I take one thing at a time? Will I be doing an injustice to myself, my work and my education or will leaving, for now, be the right thing for everyone? How could I just leave behind everything I knew, what about my identity? Ah, Identity! It is such a powerful emotion. While I was working, I was not S’s daughter, M’s wife or A’s mother. I was Jyoti and I was recognised as such.

Finally, my back pain literally became the last straw on my back, and I quit. Though I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I remember quitting my job, looking back, I have no regrets. I am gainfully employed again, in a job that constantly challenges me and everything has fallen in place much better than I had imagined.

This is how I began my journey of motherhood and there are miles to go before I sleep. So… what is your story?

Burundi – a paradise in the middle of nowhere -2

Paradise elicits images of beauty and peace. But this world is not a utopia and neither is Burundi. If I want to crib, I can crib, for a long, long time. The easiest example being, day before yesterday I went to 3 supermarkets searching for a hairbrush and I found… NONE. Zilch. Zero. Nada… And this is just the least of my grouses.

But every thing in this world, including you and me is not perfect. So why focus on the imperfections?

Coming to Burundi has given me many conveniences, which I don’t think I can  get in present day India. For example, domestic help. Any woman, working or not, will testify, what a big blessing having a reliable domestic help at home is. Right now, in India, I cannot even imagine having a full time domestic help at home, let alone two, without having to shell out an arm and a leg. Frankly, sometimes I feel I am having the Royal treatment here. 😎

And speaking of costs, everything is expensive in Burundi, except for fruits and vegetables. There is a lot of locally sourced fruits here – buttery avocados (big ones that resemble a medium sized papaya), sweet pineapples, succulent mangoes, fresh red strawberries, crunchy guavas, fleshy jackfruit (!), ripe papayas, saccharine soursop (a fruit that looks similar to a small jackfruit and is touted to have amazing medicinal value for treating cancer), tangy oranges, sweet lime, passion fruit, tree tomatoes and the like. Since the land is rich and fertile, there is an abundance of produce, and since the country is poor, there is not much fertilizers and pesticides. I don’t think my generation of urbanites has had access to such fresh, chemical free produce; at all. No worries about endosulfan, no worries about cancer.

At this juncture, I have to tell something that I say to anyone who gives me a willing ear. It is about a co-operative named Mutoyi, which has an outlet in my neighbourhood. Run by Nuns, this co-operative utilises the locally sourced produce and milk for making end products like juice concentrate, jam, fruit flavoured and plain yoghurt, different kinds of cheese, butter, fresh cream etc. (Their yoghurt tastes so much like my mom’s curd). The best part is, they are all preservative free!

Another precious commodity, which is becoming very scarce nowadays is found in abundance in Burundi. No, no, I am not talking about diamonds or gold or even dollars. I am talking about time or rather the utilisation of time. Life here is quite laid back, therefore making leisure a habit not a luxury. It is like somebody has put sudden brakes in our lives. We swung from one extreme to the other. From leading very busy metropolitan lives, where we didn’t even have time to look at each other’s faces we went to having too much time on our hands. I am not spending all my waking hours running from errand to errand. Now, I have the time to spend with my family, I have the time to think, I have the time to read… ( ONLY e-books. I guess this is the only country in the world without a bookshop.) Also I am able to clock 8 hours of sleep everyday.

Burundians generally follow the healthier early to bed, early to rise routine. Also they understand the value of exercise in their lives. Jogging or running is their preferred activity and it was not uncommon to see groups of joggers, old and young, men and women, jogging early in the morning on weekends, a year back. Even now though we don’t see groups anymore, Burundians still lace up their sneakers and run.

Sometimes people understand the value of something, only when they loose it. Today’s urban Indians have woken up to the evils of chemicals in food, lack of sleep etc. There is not a single day that passes me by without seeing a health related forward on fb or whatsapp. Healthy food and body is something that should be a given, a part of daily life. But now these have become something we aspire for. So yes, in a way Burundi is a paradise for me, because it has brought me closer to pristine, natural beauty and has given me peace of mind regarding my family’s health….

Burundi – a paradise in the middle of nowhere – 1

The first time we heard of Burundi, we were all like – what? Where is this place? 3 years down the line, things are no different. Even now when we stand at the immigration counter, the officials go – “Burundi? What?….” Or worse still, people say, ” Ah, Brunei. Yes, I know that place. The Sultan of Brunei. Once, the richest man in the world!” Sometimes, I correct, sometimes…. I just let it go and smile, “Yes. Yes.”

Burundi is a tiny country, in central-east Africa. The country is land bound on all sides except the West. On the west is Lake Tanganyika. How do I explain this lake? A simplistic way of saying is, it is HUGE. I am not going to give the dimensions here, anyone interested can always Google it up. Let me put it this way, when i was talking about the lake to one of my friends back in India, she said, “oh yes, like our Mettur dam Lake!” How do I tell her that the Mettur dam Lake is akin to a tiny fishing pond when you compare Lake Tanganyika. I mean, you have beaches in the middle of the African continent because of this Lake. Beaches with non-salty, freshest, bluest water. If this was a more developed country, movie-makers would be clamouring here for their shooting schedule.

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Which brings us to another statistic: This is one of the least developed and  one of the poorest country in the world. (Hey, World Bank says that, not me). The irony is, the land is so fertile and there is no scarcity for water. Even the poor do not go hungry because they can grow anything on this land. (Of course, I am not talking about the urban poor or the nutritional value of their food – I am just talking about hunger). But there is no gold, diamond or oil deposits here; maybe that’s why no one is much bothered about this country.

Every time, we travel, we just can’t help admiring the beauty of this country. It reminds me so much of Kerala, by the way – lush green vistas, misty hills, red sand… And every time, we (my husband and I) say to each other, “When development happens (which I am sure, it will, some day), I hope they respect this beauty and work around it and not against it”.

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