The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’

Legend has it that Mohandas Gandhi adored Abide With Me, “a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk‘s…’Eventide‘.” I learned of this particular proclivity of the Mahatma long after I had first heard the hymn’s notes as a child attending or watching the Beating RetreatContinue reading “The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’”

An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized

In the summer of 1992, I traveled to India to visit my family: my mother, my brother, his wife (my sister-in-law), and my little, then barely six months old nephew. The monsoon lay around the corner, promising mixed relief from the brutal heat of the North Indian plains; the humidity would still oppress, but evenings andContinue reading “An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized”

Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News

On Friday morning, I finally faced the kind of problem I had heard many other parents make note of: how do you talk about the horrifying in the presence of children? On Thursday night, I had gone to sleep after reading the news reports on the murders in Nice, and on waking up, wanted toContinue reading “Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News”

Some Parental Wisdom, Easily Dispensed

I’ve been a parent now for some 1281 days. In that time, I’ve learned a few things and been disabused of many misconceptions. Here is a potted summary: Parents are important, but they aren’t the only game in town. Your child is being exposed to a great deal else: other children (the dread ‘peer group’);Continue reading “Some Parental Wisdom, Easily Dispensed”

‘But I Am From Brooklyn’

A few days ago, I reported–on Facebook, where else–a conversation with my daughter that went something like this: Her: Papa, where’s India? Me: It’s a country in Asia, sweetie, on the other side of the world. Her: We can drive there? Me: No, we have to fly. I was born there, you know. I’m fromContinue reading “‘But I Am From Brooklyn’”

On Avoiding Conversations With Children

Yesterday afternoon, as I rode back from Manhattan to Brooklyn to pick up my daughter from daycare, I noticed three children board the subway car I was seated in. One of them was a friend’s son, all of nine years old; he was accompanied by two younger children. An older woman, clearly their chaperone orContinue reading “On Avoiding Conversations With Children”

My Daughter And The Hillary Clinton Candidacy

In the first draft of my review–forthcoming in Jacobin–of Doug Henwood‘s My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets The Presidency, I had included some lines that did not survive the first editorial take on my submission (I await, with some trepidation, the next editorial lowering of the boom.) Here is how it read: Hilary is no…Eleanor Roosevelt…sheContinue reading “My Daughter And The Hillary Clinton Candidacy”

Reflections On ‘Imagined Communities’ – I: Children And Humanity

In Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Verso, New York, 2006, pp. 10-11), Benedict Anderson writes: [R]eligious thought also responds to obscure intimations of immortality, generally by transforming fatality into continuity (karma, original sin, etc.). In this way, it concerns itself with the links between the dead and yet unborn, the mystery ofContinue reading “Reflections On ‘Imagined Communities’ – I: Children And Humanity”

My First Nightmares

There are times when my almost-three-year-old daughter will wake up in the middle of the night, crying inconsolably. Calming her down and putting her back to sleep is a trying business at best. We have been reliably informed that this age sees the child experience her first nightmares; perhaps those nocturnal visitors are responsible forContinue reading “My First Nightmares”

The Most Useful Algebra Lesson Of All

I first encountered algebra in the sixth grade. Numbers disappeared–or at least, were consigned to secondary importance–and letters, mysterious ones like x, y, z, took center stage.  A mathematical expression called the ‘equation’–an incomprehensible sentence underwritten by an esoteric grammar–emerged on my intellectual horizon. (Strictly speaking, my teachers were rigorous enough to call these things ‘linearContinue reading “The Most Useful Algebra Lesson Of All”