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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Free verse Friday – Shaving in the Street

Just a look at a roadside barber shop today:

Men all have beards that grow each day
so they should shave them off, you see.
Since no water’s where most Indians stay
This barber looks out for you and me.

He sets up shop in the local streets
next to the tea and rickshaw stands
and using what he can find for seats
He goes to work with his two hands.

A bucket of water, lathered suds,
a brand new straight-edge blade
are all he needs to serve his buds
and ensure his income’s made.

A shave, hair cut, and head massage too
Check look in mirror hanging down.
Amazing what the locals can do
In this topsy-turvy town!

This isn’t the place that I go – I just took the picture from our school bus one day. Next time I go to get a haircut, though, I will bring that camera and document that adventure. Have a great weekend!

Free verse Friday – Take your child to snow day

Alea on Winter Day
There is no snow in Bombay
I know this much is true
But for spirit week, which is this week
Alea’s clothes had wintry hue.

All dressed in icicle-y silver and blue
With Santa’s elves on her ears
Wrapped in a scarf of fine white mesh
She’s pretty beyond her years.

Breck "Take your child to work" DayAnd speaking today of growing up
Breck shadowed dad and mom
As grade 5’s “Take your child to work day”
At long last was finally on.

He got to see mom teaching,
Little faces bright with glee
But since dad had no classes then
We just went and got coffee.

So much fun, on a warm Friday
Before a big weekend –
The play tonight, the fair next morn
Welcome to the festive season!

Free verse Friday – Rats on the Rooftop

Our first Christmas-themed poem of the season, relating to events from last weekend:

Up on the rooftop, barbecuers pause
Sounds like the clitter clat of little paws
Skitter cross the guard rail with lots of noise
Little ones shriek, both girls and boys

Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go? Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go?
Up on the rooftop, pit-ter pat
Down through the drainpipe with a great big rat

Dead rat in the road (not on the rooftop)We’d always thought that being ‘up’ in a building would protect us from rodential infestations, but apparently not. A group of us saw a rat running around up there while we were cooking dinner – hence the inspiration for this week’s rhyme!

And just for reference, here’s one that was outside our building the other day. Maybe this is what happens is a rat loses his grip and falls…

Free verse Friday – Oktoberfest ’09

Photo by Martin Reinsmoen

Photo by Martin Reinsmoen

With apologies to Nat King Cole and other singers of “O Tannenbaum”

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
It’s fast approaching this way
Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
A time for all to come play

Good times do always there abound:
Beer, schnitzel, brats, and oompah sounds

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
Come eat and drink on Saturday

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
I’ll have my little hat on
Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
I’ll wear fake lederhosen

Though German pictures all will show,
Alas, few women here have dirndls

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
Despite our clothes we’ll have fun.

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
This year we’ve got kazoos
Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
We’ll have the hookah too

On Kiara’s vast rooftop expanse
We’ll drink and do the chicken dance

Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
I hope we don’t get rained out

Free verse Friday – Happy Birthday, Gandhi!

So we’ll give free verse Friday another shot: no promises on how consistent I’ll be, but since we have a day off from work I’ll take advantage of it!

Gandhi WallHappy Birthday, Gandhi
I’d never heard the date
But over here in Bombay
There’s no school and that’s great.
We’ll go see famous buildings
And sightsee all around
And take our full advantage
Of a day out on the town.
Your face is on the money
And painted on our wall
Gandhi MoneyYou pushed the British out of here
And helped their reign to fall.
The only thing that bothers me
Is that no beer is sold
Because you were an abstainer
The wine shops all are closed.
So happy birthday Gandhi
From all of us to you
And now we’ll all remember
The date: October two!

Free verse Friday – Math awards poem

We had our subject area awards ceremony this week, and I presented the math department awards. While the entire event started off with a very somber intonation in praise of the importance of academics, I just couldn’t keep everything in that serious a mode.

My speech was well received, getting some good chuckles and even a round of applause from the parents. I’ve had a few students, parents, and even the superintendent ask for a copy of the speech. Math dork that I am, I have transcribed it into a poem. Not a perfect rhymer, but close enough to the spirit for the last full Friday of the school year:

Good afternoon. To more fully explain the thoughts going into the choice of students, I’ll have to rely on using some difficult mathematical terms, if you all can bear with me.

While math award choices were tougher than pi
The teachers’ opinions had no great divide.

With no subtraction at all from achievements of others,
the absolute value of the winners discovered:

  • Constants in class – high above the mean grade
  • Factors in positive growth every day
  • Multiplied the learning of large fractions of others
  • And square rooted in math fundamentals we covered.

Many variables were considered, but the greatest common factor
of the recognized students is really quite rational:
the integral role that hard work has played
in beating the curve, and getting good grades.

(and if interested, the actual speech given is here.)

(and if interested, my take on this same award last year is in this post)

Free verse Friday – Falcon out my window

Falcon Out My Window(with apologies to John Denver)

Falcon out my window makes me happy
Falcon wakes me up with his shrill cry
Falcon eating dead rats looks so messy
Falcon almost always soars so high

If I had some food that I could give to you
I’d give to you a taste of fresh-killed prey
Maybe then you’d make a nest out here
And sing a song to keep those crows away

Yes, I know they are technically called “kites,” but I simply don’t associate that word with big, killer birds of prey.

We have a couple (whether they are male and female, we don’t know) who have taken up shop on our building and the one across the road (in the background of this photo). We hear their screeching cries to each other, but luckily they are pretty daytime-limited, so it isn’t like they wake us up at night or in the morning. This big guy (or gal) was sitting right outside our hallway window last Sunday, very patiently letting me take a few pictures before flying away.

We are still waiting for them to start a nest and hatch some babies over by us – that would be way cooler than pigeons!

Free verse Friday – the fish in Colaba song

(with apologies to Rupert Holmes)

I was tired of my old city
We’d been together too long
Like a worn out recording
Of a favorite song
So one day during prep time
I surfed the internet instead
And in the overseas section
There was this ad I read:

“If you like fish in Colaba
Getting caught in the rain
If you’re way into yoga
If you love crowded trains
If you’d like Bollywood at midnight
In the bars of Bandra
Then its Mumbai that you’ve looked for
Hop your nearest rickshaw.”

I didn’t think about the slum towns
I know that sounds kind of sad
But on Slumdog Millionaire
They didn’t seem all that bad
So I wrote to the agency
And sent in my resume
And though I’ll not get my hopes up
I thought that it really was ok:

“Yes I like fish in Colaba
And getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into boring food
I take my bhang lassis plain
I’ve got to hear the rockets every night
And bang the drums every day
Swatting cricket balls for sixes
Mumbai’s where I want to play.”

I could go on with the rest of the song, but I think I’ve used up my cheesiness quotient for the week. To get another look at life in Mumbai, check out the video below. This was made by Tony Pappa of Conceptually Speaking when he came to Mumbai to make a promotional movie for our school. It was posted on Facebook to rave reviews – Great stuff!

Free verse Friday – Alea and the stray dogs

Alea and the CSR catAlea’s class went to care for stray dogs
at a shelter in downtown Mumbai.
Kids fed them and cleaned them and petted them all
to help them they really did try.

But Alea is truly a Stutz kid at heart
the reason I know this is that:
in the middle of a barking stray dog home
she tracked down and played with a cat!

Free verse Friday – Important lessons from our time in Egypt

Kids with ice cream in EgyptThe Sphinx is real old
The pyramids too
The Nile’s the world’s biggest stream.
But better than antiques
The temples and backstreets:
We ate McDonald’s ice cream!

For a sample of our visit, I’ve posted a few pictures on Facebook. These will not replace the webpages to document the trip; they are better considered as appetizers…

Free verse Friday – Cairo’d away

The Stutzes have all gone to Egypt
We’ll get home tonight too whipped
To write poems unique
So wait ’til next week
This blog to be rhythmically equipped.

Free verse Friday – Good news/bad news

The kids are busy growing up
Its hard to realize that
Where once they played with dolls and balls
Now its games and skype-based chat.

Double digit ages loom
They once were far off goals:
“You can use an ow-ey knife then,
watch unedited Disney shows.”

But time moves on, and kids grow up
The thought that leaves me cold:
Because they are no longer young
It means we are getting old!


Free verse Friday: Technology

In ancient times it was “the web”
it crawled at speeds so slow
a class website with webquest links
was as far as you could go.

But times have changed and now we’ve found
tech expectations grow
now its no longer good enough
a powerpoint to show.

A class must have a daily blog
among so many things
like social network buddy lists
and teacher-student nings.

Forget a course description?
just check out the school wiki
and if there are errors, we’ll sure fix ’em –
with Google docs, real quickly!

Can’t come to school? Just Skype or tweet
(coolspeak for using Twitter)
If you post your status on Facebook
no pictures ’til you’re better!

Laptop’s down? No internet?
Blackberry to the rescue.
No peace of mind, no extra time
Just check your email, won’t you?!

Jing, Wink, ALEKS, GoGo Frog
Schooldude, DyKnow, VC
Scratch and Atlas, Portal, Pivot
Please, please, please stop the insanity!

Free verse Friday – Dancing in the streets

Not just any kind of dancing – but the Big Dance kind of dancing. Dick Vitale screaming and spitting kind of dancing. Christian Laettner shooting for the win kind of dancing. Phi Slamma Jamma, Tark the Shark, undefeated Bobby Knight, and all the other old school high shorts wearing, plaid jacket bearing, folding chair throwing dancing.

Yeah baby – Let the games begin!

Louisville, NC, UConn, and Pitt
The number one teams in this year’s bracket
Who’s gonna dance in the next few weeks
And whose team’s destined for tears on their cheeks?

March Madness is here, the pools are all set
Seems everyone’s got a little money bet
The water cooler talk is about B-Ball
And when the number one seeds are going to fall

Cinderella stories and nail-biting games
Still something ’bout the season’s always the same:
The best of times – all the games to see
The worst of times – none on Indian TV*!

For what it is worth, my NCAA Bracket

*and for those that doubt me, here is what was on the ‘sports channels’ last night as the tournament got under way:

  • DD Sports: 2008 Olympic highlights (women’s long distance races)
  • ESPN: Sportcenter India (cricket highlights)
  • Extreme Sports: FAI World Cup of Artistic Events (skydiving!)
  • Neo Cricket: Dial C for Cricket (cricket)
  • Neo Sports: Italian Football (soccer highlights)
  • SS1: Rugby (rugby)
  • SS2: ICC Women’s Cricket (women’s cricket)
  • SS3 Premier Lead=gue World (soccer)
  • SS4: Chevrolet Warriors Cricket (cricket)
  • Star Cricket: Cricket Jukebox (cricket)
  • Star Sports: TNA Impact (fake wrestling)
  • Ten Sports: WWE: Raw (fake wrestling)
  • Zee Sports: DLF Women’s Golf (women’s golf)


Free Verse Friday: Pig in a Sty

Breck and the PigOK, not really free verse, but more like “Poetry Friday.” Since that’s not really too alliterative, however, I’m taking creative license to change it. Thinking that we need a little shake up around here, we’ll be posting poems on Fridays to help ease us into the weekend.

The inaugural contribution comes from Breck, in the form of a limerick he wrote for class:

There once as a pig in a sty
Too happy to ever cry
‘Cause the oinking noise
He made with his voice
Was bright as the sun in the sky.