Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Family That Whistles Together....

....Stays together. This is the logic that Mahesh gave to both the kids while counselling them to learn how to whistle using their fingers and their mouth with their tongue twisted inside the mouth.
Last year, he had challenged me to teach the kids how to whistle. “Mampi, YOUR kids should know how to whistle.”
“MY kids? Wow... And by the way, how do you expect me to know how to whistle? You mean I have been whistling at people... Bole toe MEN? You are the man, you are the father, YOU teach them how to whistle.”
This touched a raw nerve somewhere, “I don’t know how to. Otherwise I wouldn’t bring you in picture.”
After an extensive session of YOU YOU ME ME, we finally decided to take some professional help in teaching the kids how to whistle. That was much easier than convincing kids why they should learn how to whistle. My funda is straight. If you can learn to whistle, you can bully people, you can tease people, you can hoot in the auditorium. My kids are rather worldly less wise, so I believed that the ability to whistle would make them more confident human beings.
Once Mahesh expressed his inability to whistle (and believe me, with that he absolved himself of ever having teased a female on the road, or ever having made a pass at one of his pretty classmates), I had to look for someone who could teach the kids the fine art of whistling. Once I found the boys who would help me in doing that (no girls knew how to whistle real loud). But as they say that you can bring the horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. So I, too, could not. My kids were shy, they were reluctant, and they enjoyed cycling more than whistling. So here comes Dad with his logic that I mentioned in the very beginning. He said, “Look, if you learn to whistle, you will have a survival tactic right within you. You can raise an alarm, you can catch someone‘s attention if you need to. If you are stranded at sea, you can even bring down a helicopter.” Okay, this last one was exaggeration and he didn’t say this. Jai was totally exasperated at his father's convincing tactics. "Papa, why dont you just buy us a whistle if it is so important to learn how to whistle?" Anyway, the persuasive devil that he is, Mahesh made both the kids go with me to the ‘whistling classes’. The whistle teachers are my college Bhangra Team. The boys are usually in the auditorium, preparing themselves for the coming Youth festival.
They all know me as a rather weird teacher, but this? They were all wide eyed.
“ Teaching your kids how to whistle? Ma’am, how can we whistle in your presence?”
“OK guys, I can pretend I cannot hear you.”
Most of them were on the verge of crying. “Ma’am if our parents had encouraged us to whistle, we would have reached places. We have been beaten mercilessly for having whistled.”
My heart went out to them. Poor Boys!! I said, “Consider me your mom and whistle away to glory. Practise, practise till you make my kids really good at whistling.”
Every day, in the evening, after swimming class, both my kids would stand with their fingers in the mouth in front of the auditorium and try to whistle. Initially, the whistle was only a forceful breath and the fingers got wet with the saliva they forced out of the mouth. With a day or two of practice, Rasan was able to bring out some semblance of a whistle out of that breath. Another day and she could produce a loud shrill whistle. Then there was no stopping this girl. She would whistle for visitors, she would whistle for parents, she would whistle in the car, in the pool, on the road, on the phone, at night, in the morning before brushing and after brushing, before meals, after meals, in the bathroom and even in the restaurant. “Papa, if I whistle here, nobody would suspect that a little girl with innocent looks has whistled.” And I thought of the group of boys who would get a sound beating for having whistled in the restaurant.
No, Jai cannot whistle yet. He should have learnt it before her; after all he is a Punjabi Boy. But given his dad’s track record, I am rather apprehensive that he would. Coming back to the Family Whistling mission, I am midway into the lessons but Mahesh has withdrawn from the whistling club.