Chennai is in the midst of the gruelling heat of summer. People avoid going out during the hottest part of the day and the streets look deserted. At my age, I avoid going out during the day even if the weather is kind. Today has been an unusually hot day and I just switched on the AC and stuck myself in like it was a cocoon. I just switched on my computer to listen to some music and I chanced upon this song from Sound of Music: Climb every mountain, Ford every stream, Follow every rainbow, Till you find your dream A dream that will need All the love you can give, Every day of your life, For as long as you live. I first listened to this song a few decades back and I didn’t give it much attention then. I just dismissed it as yet another church song but listening to it today stirred my heart. It brought to my mind the powerful oration and writings of Abdul Kalam to keep dreaming and I was struck by the similarity of thoughts. I remembered someone telling me that dreaming lifted you to a sublime level but day dreaming just destroyed you! When I was just out of college, my mother wanted me to become an IAS officer like my elder brother. My father who was working in a Bank wanted me to become a Bank officer. I was for a while preparing for the IAS exam and in one of the model English papers there was a question on Nursery rhymes and their significance and that was the end of my desire to become a Government officer. I suddenly remembered that question on Nursery rhymes today and I searched the web for some information on Nursery Rhymes. This was what I found about ‘Ba, Ba, Black sheep’: “Aw, how sweet -- a talking sheep with enough wool for everyone! Talking, generous animals must be the most appropriate fodder for children’s literature yet. Of course, there are some unpleasant theories as to the meaning of this rhyme. Perhaps the most convincing is that it dates back to feudal times and the institution of a harsh tax on wool in England. One-third would be taken for the king and nobility, and one-third for the church, leaving little for the farmers. Some early versions evenend with “But none for the little boy / Who cries down the lane,” emphasizing the apparent complaint about the demands of the “master” and the “dame.” Similar explanations were given for every conceivable Nursery Rhyme! I was just thinking of the Tamil rhyme in which the mother pleads with the moon to come running without stopping anywhere and climbing mountains if needed to bring jasmines for her child. My mother used to sing to her younger sister’s son about the making of Dosa and what struck me as most significant was the sharing pattern of dosas! It gave four for the father, three for the brother, two for the sister and one for the child and that they would all sit together and eat them with ghee and sugar in joyful unity! It was how subtle messages of harmonious living were imparted to the children. I do not have to tell you about modern children’s addiction to cell phones and computers. If a child gets a little difficult to handle, the mother dumps a cell phone with the kid and it becomes instantly quiet. I have seen houses where each child is confined to its own corner engrossed in a cell phone. They hardly converse with each other unless it is to share a ‘good one’ with other children. That’s about the only time that they talk to each other! I have no doubt that new rhymes to suit their high tech life will follow. ‘Cell phone, cell phone, have you any jokes?’ will replace the Black sheep rhyme! They will have no time to climb every mountain!