Chart Number 202

January 21, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

One morning after dropping Seven at school, Nine and I made our way to her school. As I approached a red light, Nine said from the back of the car, “I just want to complete my goal at school by finishing the year and being a gangster.”

We hadn’t been talking about her life’s aspirations. In fact, we hadn’t been talking at all, just riding along in companionable silence. My mind was following the strains of classical music on the radio, and while I often think about the kids and their future while I drive around town on this morning I wasn’t thinking about much at all.

So the thing about being a gangster threw me a little.

“What do you mean you want to be a gangster?”

“You know, be a gangster. Get my friends to do stuff.”

I was treading lightly when I asked, “What do you mean, get them to do stuff?”

“When they’re drinking their milk at lunch, all of us say, ‘Chug! Chug! Chug!’ and be gangsters like that.”

Okay, so I could get on board with that. If her definition of being a gangster means cheering her friends on during a milk chugging contest, I’m all for her joining that gang.


While driving to the kids’ art lesson last week, we heard Ellie Goulding on the radio croon her smash hit from last year. As her vocals tackled Love Me Like You Do, Seven piped up from behind me.

“I don’t know why, but this song makes me think of Geronimo Stilton.”

I didn’t even know how to answer that. Geronimo Stilton is a fictional character—a mouse, no less—who goes on a variety of adventures that middle grade readers follow through several books. Love Me Like You Do was one of the unofficial themes of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey, which…had nothing to do with mice. I don’t think. I never read the books or saw the movie, so I could be wrong.

So weird.


During dinnertime every night, my husband picks a station on Pandora on his tablet and the music forms a backdrop to our meals. He picks Hindi stations the majority of the time, and the stations usually play the classics from the golden era of Hindi films. These are the songs that formed a fundamental component of both my childhood and my husband’s, and for me, at least, along with the songs comes a plethora of information about the movies.

Because we also have Hindi language TV channels through our satellite dish, the kids get exposure to movies and music through what we watch. A few months ago we saw the 2001 super hit movie Lagaan starring Aamir Khan as the resident of a village in 1850s India when the British ruled. Under the threat of backbreaking taxes, Khan’s character Bhuvan accepts an unusual challenge from the British commanding officer: beat the Brits in a game of cricket, and the tax will be forgiven for three years.

The movie was phenomenal. I think anyone who loves a good movie, no matter what your background, would thoroughly enjoy this one. The kids did too when it came on TV, so I bought the DVD. We’ve watched the movie a few times since then, so when we heard one of the songs from Lagaan on Pandora earlier this week Nine asked if she was right in guessing that the song came from the movie.

I smiled, and we chatted about the movie for a few minutes. Then I flipped into Bollywood junkie mode, telling her a little bit of the history behind the film. The director, Ashutosh Gowariker, had directed other films before he made Lagaan, and like the villagers he portrayed he was using the movie as a last resort. None of his other films had done well, and urban legend has it that he’d decided that if Lagaan didn’t do well either he would quit making movies.

The film went to the Oscars and got nominated for Best Foreign Film. It didn’t win, but that didn’t matter to any of us who fell in love with the music and the story. I still cry at certain points when I watch. It’s physically difficult for me to watch it with other people around, in fact, and I always get up and leave the room on some excuse at the points that make me cry. No sense in giving my family even more evidence of just how nuts I am.

As I talked Nine finished her dinner. When I rounded up the “story behind the story,” Nine grabbed her plate and stood with a grin.

“Wow, you sure do spend a lot of time surfing the Internet, don’t you?”

I couldn’t explain to her in just a few minutes that when Lagaan released the Internet was nowhere near the force it is now. That the Hindi movie industry, its stories and legends, its ups and downs, its gems of information, get embedded into the DNA of some of us. Those of us devoted to Hindi films sort of imbibe film facts like we do daily sustenance.

No, I couldn’t explain all of that in just a few minutes and make her really understand. So I just laughed.


Seven spends a portion of each day at school on the iPad assigned to her, so we often hear sentences that start with, “On my iPad, I get to…”

As I helped her get ready for school one morning, she said, “I like Safari better than Google.”

I think I succeeded in hiding my smile as I turned to her sock drawer. “Why do you like Safari better?”

“Because Safari works better at school with the programs I like,” she said, the expert lecturing a novice. “Sometimes when I try something with Google at school it doesn’t work, and it’s like aaah!”

She curved her hand into a claw of frustration and widened her eyes to show just how much Google bothered her. Oh, the trials of second grade.