Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Jinx!

I have probably mentioned this before.. but I am a very confused person. I celebrate just too many things to stay sane! Now its Christmas.. I put up Christmas decor in the form of snowmen and santa figurines around the living room and lit up the lamps for karthigai (festival of lights in South India). While I was thus balancing both cultures I made the biggest blunder.. I might have accidentally let slip to His Cheekiness that "Santa is imaginary".. GASP!!

Maybe the reason was to get credit for all the gifts Santa brings him.. I don't even get a hug or a thank you!! Or to make him tell me the gifts he wants Santa to bring No "secrets between Santa and me!" or maybe I was just tired about all the hush and secrecy of buying gift, hiding them, holding in the secret for what seems like eternity... Anyway, I tried to remedy by saying we were his secret Santa and would be the actual people buying the gifts.. So maybe it was just for some brownie points after all!

But Cheeky being Cheeky.. has made it a point to prove to me that Santa is real.. so now we have been talking about Santa every day for the past month! I have gone on my knees and pleaded to the All Mighty Cheeky that I agree now that Santa is real.. but that does not stop him from going on and on!! I took him to the mall..and even offered to stand in line so he could go through the snow globe (glittering eyes) and sit on Santa's lap (bored expression).. But the imp thinks sitting on Santa's lap is "Too Silly" and wants to stand in line, go through the snow globe and walk out.. poor Santa would be crushed.. so I had to convince Cheeky to settle for a happy meal instead!

Anyway, like the troubles in my home was not enough, I took on more.. I was going to help host the Christmas party at school.. for his class! Phew! I had signed up for this in the beginning of the year.. and as you can imagine forgot all about it till I was idly looking at the notice board last week. After a complete melt down, I rushed to the Arts Store and got some lovely crafts for the kids to do (some great sun catcher kits with paints and brushes)... and the other parent organized the food. And then the day before the party a couple of parents reminded me about the teacher's gift.. at least I had a day to rush and get something together! Whew!

But wait, this story is not yet over.. far from it ... Come the day of the party, I realized I forgot to send invites out or at least put a note up on the notice board announcing the party and inviting the parents! While I was freaking out, Cheeky's teacher assured me that most people seemed to have remembered on their own as 2 parents had sent lunches.!! Fingers crossed we got geared up for the party!

And sure enough the turn out was pretty good.. the kids enjoyed the food and had a blast with the painting.. and the parents loved the new sun catchers! But then it was too soon to rejoice! We stepped out of the class and saw that Cheeky had gifts from some of his friends! Cheeky declared "How come I did not get gifts for my friends.. that was too mean amma". A frantic call to dad and we were headed again to the store again, now to get gifts for all his friends now.. phew!!

I decided to be smart and get Cheeky's christmas gifts too.. so I don't have to be back at the store again.. "Yeah he is gonna be pleased" I told myself as I got the car and the train and the tracks.. the Sneaky Cheeky spied the gifts and let out a big whoop! So much for Christmas surprise!

Later that night as I was putting together the little gift bags for his friends..
He told me "Amma give C a red car. C is my best friend and he likes red".
Raised eyebrows.. I continued with my task.. as I was not marking the bags there was no saying who would get what color.
Later Cheeky asked "So what did C give me?"
I responded "I don't think he gave you anything sweetheart".
Cheeky replies "That's okay, best friends don't need to give anything" uh?
After such declaration of friendship, I peeked in every bag till I found the one with a red car and left that for Mr. C!

Now, the gifts have been given and school has been closed for the holidays! You would think the worst is over? Cheeky now has a new set of demands for Christmas! Tell me where I can crawl under, will you?
Happy Holidays folks!! (pic courtesy: http://i-love-cartoons.com, http://disney-clipart.com)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cheeky Tales

As the time flies by and I keep floundering with no topics to blog about.. Cheeky is growing up too fast. He is becoming street smart and quite the negotiator.
Street Smart?

Cheeky seems to have inherited our genes after all.. and can be unbelievably lazy at times.. but his laziness does not impede him.. instead he can be very sly. At soccer class every week after giving the kids instructions the coach would ask them to get a ball each from around the field. Cheeky being Cheeky would nonchalantly look around him while his friends ran around to get a ball each. True to my momma status I would fret from the sidelines at him not getting a ball .. Cheeky would sweetly declare to the coach "I don't have a ball" and end up getting the coach's ball!

Every afternoon I get to his school a few minutes early as all the kids are finishing up lunch... Cheeky always fumbles with his lunch bag and box.. at the last minute when till the minute before that he has been chatting with friends while ignoring the teacher's calls to pack up.. so the teacher helps him every day to pack up.. while Cheeky watches! One afternoon though Cheeky was as far away from the tables as he could be, with his lunch box resting snugly in his backpack (something that has never happened before).. I figured out why.. my son has learnt a new trick.. he tells his teacher "I am not feeling too good" and his teacher tells him he does not need to eat! Needless to say this trick did not work at home!

For a kid who used to write every letter of the alphabet with fervent enthusiasm at 3, Cheeky has turned into this imp who hates picking up a pencil now. He has suddenly developed a dislike to anything to do with putting a pen on a book, including coloring. While I am wondering how to re-entice him, he has figured out how to stay away. Apparently he tells his teacher "My hands are tired" every time he is asked to write and his teacher responds with "You can stop now". Ahaa!!

And there is more.. A Cheeky Cheeky came up to me the other day and whispered "Amma guess what I did at clean up time?" With great reluctance I asked "What?" ..
"When my friends cleaned up I hid amma".
"That's not right Cheeky, you need to help clean up.. you know that"
Still giggling "I hid under the table and no one found me" haha!!

Ouch.. the teen years are really going to hurt aren't they?
And whats more I have a nifty negotiator on my hands!
"Go to bed"
"I am not going, and that is it" is usually the reply! No tears, no fuss.. just no nonsense!

He has been asking me for a dog for months now! I told him he could have one when he was 10.. every day he re-negotiates the time frame.. its down to age 7 now.. and I have no clue how I let that slip!!

And the negotiations are on for a twin brother. How on earth am I supposed to produce that.. he misses no opportunity to point out how life would be easier if he had a twin. Like when he wants me to play with him (even after I have rolled the toy car yet again for another hour).. Amma, see if I had a brother I would not ask you to play with me.. Yeah right.. like I don't have my hands full with one boy! But the catch is the brother has to be a twin.. a 4 yr old brother is what he wants and "That's it"!

Now I am off to go worry about my pitiful state ... in a few years I will even have a teen on my hands!! boohoo!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The buzz word is Change!

Would you step out of your house today without a glimmer of fear today? Would you walk across the street without a care? Would you vacation with complete abandon or admire the beauty of India with a light heart? If your answer is no to all this, I ask you how much longer? Are we prepared to life in constant fear? Are we prepared to let the terrorists rule our lives and our earth?

So then how can we change this? How can we sweep our Indian political system clean.. for that seems to be the root cause of most of the mishaps that occur in our country.. Every morning as you turn on the news channel in India you hear about some act of terror in some part of the country.. then why aren't those acts openly condemned or spoken about by our politicians.. they are brushed away as yet another act of terrorism! For that has become a way of life... is that the value we place for lives?

I along with many others are beginning to ask this question today.. How can we change the world we live in? And more importantly how can we change our country and make it a safer place to live in? Lets not allow this date 26/11 to become yet another statistic.. let this be the day India starts her quest for greater good! Let all the martyrs of this day and all the fights against terror in the past not have laid their lives down in waste! Let their deaths inspire us to do something that can help our country! I am thinking hard.. and I urge you to do the same!

For those of you that want to help Mumbai victims ... Kiran from KarmicKids is spear heading a wonderful effort to help Mumbai. Lend your support - http://www.mumbaihelps.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ENOUGH!

As you can see regular programming has been interrupted on this site as I continue to obsess with the Mumbai Terror Attacks. I am unable to resume life as usual in the aftermath.. as I am sure many of you are too!

While I wish to focus on the positive, I am appalled by the state of the Indian Government.. what front are we posing to the world? Today the entire world is watching and pointing at our inefficiencies. Warnings months before from intelligence went unheeded... A week before satellite calls intercepted where the leader of LET was heard to be saying “cargo is on its way”. The Indian Navy increased security on the coast but relaxed it in a week's time?

“We also removed the additional security,” a police source said, “because our manpower was stretched to the limit and the personnel we had did not, in any case, have the specially-trained personnel needed to avert a suicide-squad attack.” So where is all the man power? Providing security to the politicians in Delhi?

I wonder why the police aren't well trained with firing ammunition.. Why Mumbai does not have an anti-terror force especially in light of all the attacks in the past years on this city? There were no commandos stationed at Mumbai. There were 200 at Delhi but the aircraft to transport them was in Chandigarh? I would imagine at least that would be kept handy at all times? And from Mumbai Airport the Commandos used BEST buses to arrive on scene.. Overall it took them almost 12 hours to respond while the police force most untrained to even wield the rifles with any finesse, without bullet proof jackets stood guard?

After public outcry and media frenzy, the Home minister and other officials have offered to resign. But is this enough? What about the new team that comes in? If you are an Indian who has witnessed first hand the Indian political system.. you know there is a lot of sweeping and cleaning to be done in our political parties!

After all this.. only one hard fact remains.. hundreds of lives have been lost! Hundreds of families lose their income. And we talk of the resilience of Mumbaikar's.. for after all what other choice to they have? For life must go on! But it is time we say ENOUGH! It is time for India to speak out.. this coming elections use your right to vote.. and make a wise choice! Speak Up and Be Heard! In this era of electronic media.. it is easy to raise your voice! Join the millions of Indians who are raising their voice today to say ENOUGH!
[Img Courtesy: http://www.gmba.uwosh.edu/currentstudents/india/about.php]

[Edited to add: For all of you out there wondering what are our choices.. and how to choose best among the worst, here is Sumana's suggestion

Sumana said...
We definitely need to have our choices right. You know indian constitution has something call null vote or I Vote Nobody!!! Yes such a feature is available, but obviously these seemingly notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called "49-O". Why should you go and say "I VOTE NOBODY"... because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received "49-O" votes more than 123, then that polling will be cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them. This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way; of our whole political system... it is seemingly surprising why the election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public....

Thanks you Sumana]

Friday, November 28, 2008

I salute thee!

In every place where terror strikes, heroes come through! The hotel staff at Taj and Oberoi some of whom are said to have literally put themselves in the line of fire to save the guests. The Police, Special Task Force, Army who put themselves at risk while they meticulously saved the innocent victims one by one.

As I sit here watching the news.. the seige goes on, people are expressing displeasure against the Commandos for not ending this faster! But the intensity is unimaginable! Crazed Killers, Brutal killers who hold no value for life sit there with weapons and explosives. Lives of innocent hostages lie in balance. If you need to detonate this with as less damage as possible, it does take time! You can't really expect them to run in guns blazing and take them down!!
(img: http://www.timesrelieffund.com/)
I am proud that I belong to a country of such heroes. A country that refuses to bow down in the face of terror. And I hope this episode only makes us more resilient and urges all Indians around the world to look at your nation with pride at their armed forces and execution in such a tense situation! I am aware that there is a faul finding exercise going on.... about how the Indian Intelligence failed. But lets focus on the positive and grow stronger for this experience!

Even in the face of terror, life goes on.. and such episodes only show us the value of life and the need to shed fear and fight back!

Indian Security Personnel and all the unsung heroes of the past 2 days... I salute each one of you!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why? Seige of terror!

All it takes is one moment, one gun and one crazed killer.. and the world can go berserk for many... Throw in months of planning, loads of ammunition, 2 dozen trained killers and a busy city...what ensues is complete chaos. And 24 hours later the stand off continues.
I turned on my computer last afternoon randomly surfing the net when MSNBC sent me a note.. Breaking News they proclaimed... Terrorist shootings, bombings reported in Mumbai, India. I was unable to find much information over the net.. but as the story unfolded and CNN kept at it all night I was shocked and at loss for words to describe what I was feeling. I called my dad in South India at 6 am and asked him to turn on the television. Although my family does not live in Bombay I felt the need to connect to them.. the need to bond with them! I can only imagine what people on the ground are going through. As I watched the news late into the night and turned it on again early this morning.. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of utter helplessness.. what use is security measures and elaborate screening mechanisms in airports.. the terrorists continue to meticulously plan and execute their attacks!
Many movies have been made about how the Islamic militia recruit young kids and brain wash them to make them believers in a so called ideology that calls for the blood of innocent bystanders. These kids whether or not they have sight of any purpose have turned into crazed killers.. attacked by what seems like a permanent case of insanity. I was only reminded again as the TV flashed images of this boy with a crazed/glazed look who is believed to be one of the terrorists!
Not so long back I wrote a note on the world being in wrong hands. It still stays posted on my blog Creative Outbursts as the last piece written by me. Maybe a Deja Vu? I have always been at loss to understand what motivates these guys? Religion? Politics? Quest for World Power?Thirst for blood? How can they live with themselves at the end of the day? I know I am joined by millions others who are also trying to make sense of this crazed world we seem to live in! If you havent already read my poem, do read it and tell me what you think?
CNN reports that many bloggers have been expressing concern and fear about living in Mumbai which has lately turned into a volatile city. I wonder, where is it safe to live in the whole world? And this makes me ask how can I help? How can I help making this world safe for my children and grand children? Is this the legacy we want to leave behind for them? If not then how can you and I change it? For now all I can do is watch with a growing sense of panic and helplessness while many live through this nightmare! All I can do is pray that justice be served!
[CNN reported almost as an after thought the seige on Thailand Bangkok airport where a group of political protesters have taken over the control room. Again, what is the world coming to?]Images - from CNN.com

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life's like that!

I seem to be having frequent bouts of writer's block. And when I have them bouts I wear it proudly on my sleeve claiming with audacity .. for now I can call myself a writer.. not on days that I actually write but on those that I don't or rather cannot! While being so audacious, I decided to try a few other things.

Reading - Its been a while since I read a book.. I seem to even have developed the habit of falling asleep over books.. something I have never done in the past (at least not over fiction).. this is either the mid life crisis hitting me, or a contagious disease from M who has never been known to read a work of fiction! While I have not been able to figure this out, I have been relentless. I pulled out a book by RK Narayanan last night.. his selected essays! What was I thinking? I was only reminded why I never could be a writer (at least not as good.. for good or not I seem to have taken it on myself to torment unsuspecting souls on this blog unleashing my paltry writing skills.. even when marred by a big block in the brain!!) Back to RK Narayanan, the man is truly amazing!

Higher Mathematics - RK Narayanan wrote about his abhorrence/ intolerance for mathematics... higher or otherwise! My nemesis in school was chemistry - the equations kept doing a silly jig in front of my eyes and for the life of me I never could recall anything when the question paper was handed out. And whats more I had crammed for 3 days straight without much sleep, and still could not get my chemically challenged brain to focus! My friends talked about balancing and valencies and I looked at them with that blank look while I nodded my head fiercely to seem intelligent. At the end of the school I was so glad I never had to see those books again! I did do chemistry yet again in the first year of my bachelors degree.. but thanks to certain friends who drilled me enough but never shared their answer sheets with me .I have to seriously question their friendship right.. I wonder why they were so possessive about their answer sheets.. a peek here and there.. well a rather long peek would have helped my grades! However, thanks to them I only did barely make it through!

Gadget hoarders - Even though I am not geek-ish enough to love Chemistry, I am geek enough to have an inane love of gadgets! I am not geekishly oriented enough to understand the science behind the gadgets .. unlike M who talks in terms of high school physics with such vividity that he scares me! But still I am attracted enough to all gadgets thanks to his highness's influence! We own all those highly regarded gadgets that go out of fashion very soon... In this race we once bought a palm computer. If you haven't heard of these things, you have been saved! They are the most useless things which hold your appointments and contacts and such things, but cannot connect to the Internet without a wire! (I hate to mention it, but it is a very expensive digital diary actually) We have never used this useless contraption we spent 100's of $'s on.. and it still lies in one dark corner of our home! Till recently it was kept charged but never used till I pulled the plug one day out of sheer frustration. So this reminder of our frivolous waste on gadgets has been put out of direct line of sight!

The idiot is home - After months of arguments, the 50" plasma has finally arrived and we have not been able to take our eyes off it. 1000's of $ later there is still nothing to watch on TV!! click click click! But that does not stop us at all..

Doing The 1080p

De clutter the house - It has finally dawned on us that while these contraptions keep coming in, nothing goes out. So we are hoarding more and more stuff everyday. No wonder we keep tripping over furniture and toys in our house. I do agree that this test of agility is very healthy and keeps us fit, but maybe it might help to have a place to sit without bumping on an entertainment unit, a table or sitting on a few hundred remotes! So then I thought of the most dreaded thing, how do I get rid of stuff. In India I just call the Kabadiwala (who by the way is one of Cheeky's favorite people.. he thinks a kabadiwala is a termite... maybe because of the disappearing furniture?) . Here I thought of the dreaded craiglist.. but my paranoid mind kept drawing up images of people turning up with a gun and holding me at gunpoint to take away the stuff! Do I really want to give away all my stuff to charity or worse still the trash can and not gain a penny out of it? If I had the penny wouldn't it be easier to spend? The clutter still adorns my house.. let me know if you are visiting! I might be able to make some space for you to sit as well.. but no promises! (img: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com)

Gaming solutions - While the house is in such shape what other better way to avoid the clutter than leave it behind? In the quest to do that we went to an NBA basketball game this weekend. I don't follow basketball so had no clue that the Charlotte Bobcats were not a great team.. So we cheered and watched our team lose! While Cheeky got tired of cheering and yelling for the BOBCATS who were not even wearing the blue jersey. Also he was very annoyed with the camera man who would not take his video.. so he decided to switch teams. The blue team is mine now.. so he was the only one in the stadium yelling MAGIC!! Unable to put up with the dirty looks from fellow fans we left the game for our cluttered home in the 3rd quarter!

When the guys leave - When the guys in my house leave I would love to lie on the couch and sip a margarita while watching my big screen TV in absolute peace. You would think! But every few days I get tired of my couch potato demeanor and claim to hit the gym! While those immediately around me know that this is a complete hogwash.. as I remain yours truly XL sized self.. others who I make sure to meet only on chat keep imagining my bikini clad image when I claim to hit the gym! A couple of friends found out the true story a couple of weeks back. I went to the gym one morning to find it occupied.. to save my face, I actually attempted to jog on the treadmill when it was running.. who does that? While I managed to stay on it for a full 5 Min's without falling flat on my face, while holding on to my dear life.. what I did on it can only be described as a stroll. The other occupant a lady much to my dismay went on to pick heavy 20 pound dumbbells and exercise. Not to be outdone, I picked up a single dumbbell with both hands and hefted it while trying to lift my hand in the process. Lunges and squats later the lady left and I actually saw the reading on my dumbbell.. It read 2
Despite this, I was found limping and walking like a duck for a full 3 days after this mishap! I have avoided the gym since!

Time to move - Not to be outdone by some clutter and a writer's block I decided it was time to move again! Lets just move apartments I thought! After the reports of vandalism's and thefts in the area I have been shaking on my feet after all.. so lets move miles away to a quieter locality and a bigger home (aha will solve my clutter and now I would have something to write about.. perfect solution you would think?) But no.. my apartment people no matter how nicely I tell them are out to get me.. they want me to pay 4 months worth of rent just to get out of the lease.. you would think they are kidding? But no when I laughed they only glared at me.. the gun point images came rushing back and I rushed back home.. too fast and bumped into my couch! At least I could fall back on the remote and effortlessly switch on the idiot box!!

Back to my writer's block.. any suggestions how to conquer it? Or better still how to get a life interesting enough to conquer it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And History is made!

Should I? Shouldn't I? Write about the elections?

Yes I am thrilled that history has been made, yes Obama's acceptance speech was inspiring and touching.. especially the promise of the puppy. Except that if Cheeky ever finds out, I am going to have to run for President now! (What you think that can't happen... maybe in about 16-20 years? I will be old enough to run for President then!! wink! And for those of you who dare to point out that it is constitutionally impossible... Change is the buzz word!) (img courtesy: http://threebrothersandasister.blogspot.com)

After his constant requests for pets - first a fish tank, then a cat, then a hamster and then a puppy were rejected. Even his request to go ask the neighbor if she would let him take her puppy was only admonished! Cheeky tried a different tact. Mommy lets buy a baby.. considering that mommy had a son maybe she will like a pet of the human kind! It was only later that I found out.. when my sister wisely asked him why he wanted a baby was that he wanted the baby for a pet! I must be such a hit as a mom eh?! But when he was told that the baby would share his parents, toys and room.. (I seem to have put that in ascending order of importance!) the notion was immediately dropped! We are back to wanting a puppy dog now! (img courtesy : http://www.schools.pinellas.k12.fl.us)

Alright I have digressed enough... back to the elections. I called my dad in the middle of the night.. Mid day for him and yelled "OBAMA won the elections! And he is making his acceptance speech now".. My dad responded "I get CNN here you know?" .. So much for sharing my excitement! But really so did the rest of the world apparently... the support for Obama seem to go across national borders.


I have never followed any election with equal fervor! My interest in elections in India are limited to turning off the TV every time a politician comes on.. or avoiding all areas in the city where rally's were planned (Can't end up being blown up by a bomb can I, then who would write these blogs?!). This year I watched the elections here as the mud slinging happened across the aisles in this part of the world.

With an almost nonchalant attitude I would turn on the TV and watch the drama. And what I saw was this intelligent guy making a calm point even when he was playing the blame game. And it was easy to believe him. But that is enough about Obama, what I am really here to talk about is someone else! Tricked ya didn't I?

I am talking about this cute lady with her wink and snap, her "Maverick" talks tickled me to no end! So at the end of this election furor, I am actually sorry. While Mrs. Palin packs her bags and heads back to Alaska, I must say I am going to miss this hockey mom who wanted to sit at my kitchen table and talk to me! And I am going to miss SNL (Saturday Night Live... Live from Newyork!) and Tina Fey most of all! I am going to miss the cute wink and the "I will have to get back to ya" snap! I am going to miss all the digs people took at her! But most of all I am going to miss her sense of humor by coming right there at SNL and taking a dig at herself! (img courtesy: http://www.capitolhillblue.com)

So for more of Mrs Sarah Palin do we tune in to Elections 2012?

As I sign off.. I leave you with the link to Obama's inspirational acceptance speech . Which made even self proclaimed cynics like me to sit up and take notice. It is definitely just the beginning.. the road ahead is steep and it is going to be an uphill battle. But America and the world have been energized with the chant "YES WE CAN!". So anything is possible.. just wait and watch!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pumpkin head and other stories!

Before I go to tonight's top story.. The Pumpkin head.. here are some Cheeky Tales for you

Knock and Run
Halloween night was upon us again this year.. for those of you who were following this blog last year, you know about all the sleepless nights we had in lieu of Halloween. This year though, we waited till the last minute to break the news to the imp
However on 31st afternoon an excited Cheeky came home and declared "I am going to be a clown tonight, that's what I told my teacher"
Momma "You can not be a clown"
Cheeky "Yes I can" proceeded to do some high kicks (??) and somersaults!
Alright said I and brought out my lipstick.. "let me paint your face now". And so the imp decided to do a repeat performance of Spider man this year and Halloween was salvaged. ALMOST! Cheeky dressed up as spider man and went trick or treating..
The sequence of events went like this
1. Cheeky knocks at doors with no pumpkins.. they don't open (Thank God!)
2. I threaten returning back and Cheeky promises to behave!
3. I knock at the door and move back letting Cheeky take position
4. Cheeky yells trick or treat.. door has still not opened!
5. Cheeky runs!
6. Mommy runs behind him hair flying in all directions(more on that to follow)...
The resident of the house looks out and yells in horror and quickly shuts the door.. and that was how Cheeky had an empty pumpkin at the end of the day! I had prepared a couple of friends.. who had got him bags of goodies thus saving the day yet again!

Negotiations!
Cheeky's school has come up with a service project.. Operation Christmas Child. Cheeky is expected to help around home and get paid for doing his chores. At the end of the month he uses his earnings to get gifts for the needy! And his teachers help ship it out!
If I started to pay him for each chore.. that would make my life very complicated.. so I told him I would pay him 10 bucks at the end of the month if he helps me out with all his designated chores through the month! Cheeky.. always the negotiator retorted "30 dollars"! So while I continue to do the chores, Cheeky continues to negotiate his wages.. soon it will be end of the month and I will be poorer by $10 (or 30) with nothing to show for it! SIGH!

Last year Santa got him Lightning McQueen. This year he has been instructed to get him a list of engines from Thomas the tank engine series! I told him "Maybe Santa will get you one engine, your favorite" (which by the way keeps changing.. once he got Thomas, Henry was his favorite, he got that for his birth day and the favorite has changed again)
"Remember Santa got you lightning McQueen last year"
Cheeky "Yeah I remember, but no King or Mater"

For Diwali on my sister's insistence I gave him some books as a gift from God Krishna.. So he was asked to go thank the God. Cheeky was found having a heart to heart with God "I would like James and Toby, a train table, a bunk bed...."! CUT IT OUT?!!

Now to today's top story ...
The Pumpkin head
My hair has always been the rue of my life!! Oh well, one of the rues.. like many other things in my life my hair is out to get me! I can see pictures of sporty bobs which they called boy-cuts (yikes) as a child.. so the phenomenon apparently started later than that!

I never did much about it although I would stand in front of the mirror and contemplate my ill luck that I had this unmanageable hair! Till one post natal afternoon in all my hormones-going-haywire splendor I decided to get a make over "So I would stop feeling so frumpy!". Cheeky all of 2 months was thrust into the novice hands of M while I hit the parlor, may I add one of the more famous ones in Chennai.

A few hours of pruning and preening later, I decided on a step cut for my hair.. a few more hours when the lady cut and tossed and turned my hair about while I was dreaming about making an appearance at work with my new look a week later!! Later that evening got home with my hair looking exactly the same as I had left and M received a bill for thousands of rupees!! Relatives arrived over the week to look at my expensive non-haircut!

Since then I have had many haircuts experimenting with layers,razors and what not! And now there are those days when my hair looks "almost" nice and we take loads of pictures of it! So this weekend I went for yet another haircut! The lady cut my hair in layers teased it, prodded it, razored the ends and my hair looked shorter and felt lighter! I was so pleased with the result I came home with an attitude, tossing my hair in pride! A short nap and an hour later, my hair had suddenly grown in volume and looked like an evil looking pumpkin! I tried washing it, it grew even bigger.. I dunked it in hair spray and it lay limp plastered to my head making matters worse!

So I hunted out my geeky glasses and sported it to take the attention off my pumpkin head!

(image courtesy: http://www.kairos2.com, http://www.catfactoryonline.com)

Friday, October 31, 2008

So you think you can drive?

I told all of you about my butter fingers..or just my buttered self.. for it seems that my entire body works in tandem to cause some mishap or the other. What about my adept brain.. the power house.. you would like to ask wouldn't you?

My power house has an acute case of Extended ADD. Why extended you ask... because it continues for lengths of time.. unlike typical ADD which has kids bouncing from one task to another. I am cleaning the room, cooking, washing the dishes and blogging at the same time.. As a result.. the room get messier, the food gets burnt, the sink overflows and the blogs never get written... so now you know why I have been practicing abstinence from my blog.. its not because my butter fingers acted up again.. like you thought! So you can surmise that I suck at multi-tasking!! BIG TIME!!

Now imagine someone like me driving.. with this symptom... I am driving along on the road when Cheeky lets out a shriek "Mamma switch on the music"... so now I have to pull over and stop the car and turn on the music and then get back on the road again.. (despite the fact that the controls for the audio are on my steering wheel). If I attempted both at the same time.. driving and turning on the music can just not be done without swerving off the lane now can it...You get the drift?

But I have a thankless, thoughtless son who is my worst nightmare when I decide to sit behind a steering wheel... I have to listen to comments about how Daddy would turn the music on, the rumbly road is suddenly my fault, the slamming brakes (Amma pichaku pichaku break podadhey), not to mention the reading out of the speed limits and the rest of my rights every couple of minutes.. Now how am I supposed to listen and drive at the same time?

Wondering why I am waxing eloquent about driving? After a complete twist of fate when some clueless instructor gave me a license a year and a half back (I tell you getting a licence in Colorado is far too easy)... not to mention the many attempts and mishaps of the past. After that, I drove my car esconed in a night mare for a month. I would dread taking the car out, dread hitting the highway, and heart in hand would complete every ride with a thanks to the lord that yet again I survived it. Then the excuses began - Its night, we are late already, there is road work about a mile away, snow is here, roads are slippery.. and it went on and on till recently. One of my more demure friends started driving and taunted me into saying one morning.."I am going to drive". Cheeky and M looked agape as I adjusted the seats and started the burly red thing!

Since that morning I have made many more attempts at driving but there is no convincing my biggest critic. Everyone I brag to (I won those bragging rights fair and square.. was I not clear enough.. I drove the monster)... hears another version of the story from Mr. Cheeky... about mommy's death grip on the steering wheel, the gritted teeth, the squealing brakes and the ominous speed limit (I dont know why he has to keep mentioning that)! So this weekend I loosened the grip on the wheel and even let go of one hand to wave at the little imp and drink some water (aah my heart!!) while I went hurtling down the highway. At the end of the ride I had the audacity to ask Cheeky how it had gone.. "Who does that, everyone knows you have to hold the sterring with both hands" was the reply!! I think I am going back to my excuses again!

So while you can all relax that the terror on the road is gone again.. here are some fall pictures from our trip to the mountains last week.


(c) Preethi @ Incessant Musings, October 2008

And before I sign off... HAPPY DIWALI. Diwali at the Cheeky household came and went without much notice... let me put it this way.. we tried not to notice the burnt smelling, high sugar contraption mom had called thenga (coconut) burfi but looked like a gooey mass lying in the trash can sticking to everything! Other than that we had a lovely Diwali thank you!

[Thanks to all of you who checked in to see if I was okay... you guys are wonderful!! ]

HAPPY HALLOWEEN FOLKS.. STAY SPOOKY!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A note from Ms Butter Fingers

My tryst with destiny started at an early age. I was 2 when I had my first accident. This I don't remember.. so what I say here is just hearsay! I had sneaked into the bathroom yet again... and stood under the tap playing with the water and getting completely drenched.. while at it I jutted my chin against the tap (testing its strength?).. Considering that I have lived to tell the tale and it took only half a dozen stitches to stem the flow.. I guess it was worth the experiment?

When I was 4 girls my age had started to stand around and gossip. Not to mention worry about their skirts / pinafores getting dirty when they do stunts on the jungle gym! But I was one of the few who paid no heed to gender discrimination. So I spent my time scaling walls and hanging upside down on jungle gyms. On one such occasion I banged my head and even had blood gushing out! No stitches were needed I think! But I remember distinctly my embarrassment when I was asked to go "rest my head" aka sleep with the 3 yr olds while my class mates went on to sit prim and proper in their seats and attend school. This mortification is my earliest memory (what a one to have right?). But this episode kept me off trouble for a few years.. either that or it was luck! I bet on the latter because as the years passed I mastered the art of scaling walls, climbing trees, rolling under vehicles and so on...

But it was not these acts of abandon that led to my next accident. It was an unfortunate fall in the bathroom again. I seem to have a lot of luck with water right? It was the morning of an exam (we had what was called mid terms then.. about a month before the final exams for the year). I was shooed to the bathroom to get ready. There was a big rock in the bathroom to close the drain and keep away rats.. this rock was moved to keep the drain open in the morning and then closed again at night to keep away the rats! And I slipped and fell and landed my hand on the rock. I feared my mom's wrath "you had another accident?" so tried to pretend nothing was wrong.. but had to fess up and find out that I had my first ever fracture! My right arm too.. aah what a deal I did not have to write another exam that year!

The very next year I climbed up a cupboard and hung on precarious balance while I looked for some treasure atop the Almira placed next to the cupboard. But as you can imagine.. slipped and fell for the second time that week (I had earlier landed on the same arm while climbing a tree to get some mangoes!).. And so happened the fracture of my left hand! This time it was no fun.. for people were tired of my accidents and no one wanted to bestow pity! Also being left hand that was fractured I was not awarded any lenience at school and still had to write all assignments and exams! The mean people!

But I soon discovered accidents were no fun and turned my attention to books and more lady like pranks.. till I had a baby. No No No.. I can see where your thoughts are turning.. fast forward another year. Cheeky was 1 and I was rushing to get to a function at a cousins place. We lived in India then and in our new house had cordoned off the stairway with giant wooden gates. Since you did not get ready made plastic gates like in the US we had the carpenter scustom make this for us and they were huge. So it was probably not a good idea to try and pull it out while wearing a saree and carrying atleast 4 bags of things not to mention the little imp in my hand.. I dropped the gate on my feet and my left little toe began to swell up almost immediately. I ignored it to go to the function and later at my uncle's place he dragged me to a doctor to give me a tetanus. When the swelling had not subsided after 2 days not to mention the pain, it was discovered that the toe was fractured and I was put on bed rest! Haah... you can imagine how that went.. I hopped around the house while my aunt and cousin tried to baby sit the little brat.. not to mention M taking a week off to cook and baby sit! I did enjoy all the attention!

Tired already? But thats not the end of it. Another year later.. I had just moved to California from New Jersey (If you have been reading this blog for a while, you are aware of my restless feet.. which brings me to the award Shraikh gave me.. I digress, but had to mention that..
Thanks Shraikh. I will make another post on this soon.. but had to gloat now!)

Back to my monologue on Miss Butter fingers.. So I had moved to California and my car had still not made the cross country trip. So as we sat there car-less in California I had a brilliant idea. I would make Kurma for dinner. It was 8 Pm and my stomach was rumbling aloud.. so I grabbed the block of coconut from the freezer (what had become a block but was meant to be shredded coconut) and grabbed the butcher knife (I can hear the collective gasp) to cut into it. At that very instant Cheeky ran out of the bedroom almost into the wall up ahead and as I yelled "Cheeky" ... cut.. I cut into my thumb!! As the blood oozed out I looked at it and instinctively knew something was wrong... I wrapped a towel around it and told M "I think we need to call 911". "For a cut" he started.. but he is not my husband for nothing.. we know that I am a magnet for accidents.. so a friend was called and I was driven to the hospital. I sat there and bravely told them that the degree of pain I felt was 4-5 on a scale of 10. I was told I need stitches and made to wait till 3 am. Meanwhile M and Cheeky were sent home while the friend waited with me. At 3 am the doctor was about to switch the wound up when I thoughtfully asked.. do you think I could have cut a nerve ending or something? The doctor looked at me in disbelief.. but wheeled me to one of those scary rooms with huge lights that move right over your head and sure enough I had ruptured a tendon! Are you sure you are not in anymore pain he asked me? But I am an experienced girl.. ain't I?
A week later I was operated on (a micro surgery) that left me groggy with anesthesia! Months later the cast went off.. but not before I endured twice a week physio therapy for my left thumb! But the good news is.. had I not thought to ask that question that night, I would have lost complete use of my thumb in a week!

Its been 2 years since that last accident and I type freely with my thumb. So far so good.. from accident prone land... signing off...
Ms Butter Fingers

(Images: http://www.thefreedictionary.com, http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/ and some)

[PS Last night as I tripped and fell once again.. I felt a distinct Deja vu.. M rushed to me and asked "Are you sure nothing is broken?". No nothing is.. even if I sat there in the passage way and laughed hysterically.. while a bewlidered Cheeky and M looked on. M searched my head for a clot... but found none!! Yeah I think there is one thing worse than my butter fingers.. my crazy ways? I can see some of you read this blog shaking your head in disbelief.. but be rest assured I am none the worse for wear!]

Saturday, October 11, 2008

As we grow older...

Every year I expect it to get easier . this whole parenting rigmarole.. but looks like this time I am in trouble for a long long time..
My son thinks now that he is a big boy! So the baby reasoning techniques no longer work with him.
For example the other morning I handed him his drink in his
sipper and he sat there not drinking it.. And I yelled every few minutes "Cheeky Drink".. So finally a very frustrated mommy tried a different track(no point in bringing on the tears so early.. so lets try and coax the imp into taking a sip)! "That good boy
story" we call it. There is a good boy called Peter who is just the perfect kid.. and Cheeky is told stories of Peter all the time. Some times it works.. at other times Peter is just "a silly kid".
"You know I am sure Peter drinks up all his drink without being told twice"
"I am sure Peter's mom gives him his drink in a glass"
I look at the big stain on the carpet and shake my head while succumbing to the pressure... "Do you want a Chewy instead?" (Img Courtesy: http://beltondvd.com/media/spill.jpg)

Cheeky reinforces his theory that he is a big boy by demanding to eat by himself.. Fair enough you think? And he has been encouraged to do this since 2.. so he must have enough practice right? Wrong!

I slave every morning to pack him the perfect lunch. So what if comprises of t
he same sandwich, fruit and juice every day? Cheeky sits at the table in school.. and talks non stop to his friend while he holds the sandwich in his hand. The box comes back untouched every afternoon. The brat is then force fed the food before he makes a beeline for desert!

When we go out to eat it is a different story.. the food is placed in front of him and Cheeky plays around with the fork while he does what can only be called as some experimenting! Soon we have worked through our food and the boxes are called for.. the unsuspecting waitress walks up and asks "Can I get you anything else", Momma and Dadda gasp.. the despair on their faces. While Cheeky calmly orders Dessert.. "I will have a tiramisu" seriously.. he can pronounce those things too!
Mommy tries "No you cannot, you have not finished your food"!
"But I have Mamma"
Just look at your plate
They just gave me too much food... I am full.
Pulls up his shirt to display his tummy (oh yes resort to flashing now while you have the attention of everyone in the restaurant)... See?
Embarassed mamma.. pulls down the shirt.. If you are full you have no room for dessert! Aaaha
Cheeky pulls the shirt back up again See there is some room here?
Dessert is served.. which the big boy calmly eats up by himself! (img courtesy: http://disney-clipart.com/)

And there is the incessant dissecting of statements. Cheeky's school have been teaching him about God. A couple of weeks back he was taught the story of "God's creation"
Cheeky came back home deep in thought!"Mama my teacher says God created the world"
"Yes Dear"
"He created the sun, the stars and the rainbow?"
"Yes Dear"

Silence! Cheeky is deep in thought
But rainbow is created when the sun looks at the rain right?
Yes Dear
So then God did not create the rainbow
.. relief on his face!

As many of you know I try to keep the arguments with Cheeky to a minimum!
Later that week he brought home a paper plate with all kinds of pictures stuck on it with glue..
Mama this is for you he chimed..
The caption said "God created everything"
Thanks darling.. God created everything artwork eh?
Yes Mama..
Rushing back to Mom.. But God did not create this artwork I did!

As we grow older.. one thing is clear to me.. I am going to earn every gray hair!

[Edited to add... I was the one who put sand in her lunch box every day - how did sand get to the class room where I ate my lunch? no one knows.. but that was the reason why I never could finish my lunch... Considering that I did this in school I should probably be glad that I can still force feed Cheeky his food and not have to cook again!]

Having trouble understanding the financial crisis? Geeky Dad makes a guest post to lay it out in simple terms - Global Economy Web - How did we get here?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

1,2,3,4 ...Happy Birthday!

(img courtesy: http://www.ptotoday.com)
Now we are officially in year 4 of His Cheekiness's reign.. where he continues to rule our world! Before we start, let me strive to confuse you! We have two birthdays in a year.. A star birthday that corresponds to a tamil star (28 in number) matched with the tamil calendar year! Are you confused enough? Dont worry so are we... read on!

Year One!
After much ado about that first star b day when the world was invited and a hall booked.. the holy fire lit and the mantras told, we did not want to make a lot of the English b day! But since it was the first ever such it could not be let go too.. so a Mickey cake was got and the lone candle lit.. and when Cheeky finally awoke from his nap... the drums were sounded of momma's thundering feet down the hallway.. and she yelled down the stairwell "Party time.. Cheeky is awake!". The other wee ones were picked and physically carried to Cheeky's living room .. and while they watched and cooed, cried and yelled the adults cut the cake and gorged on it and soda and chips and added a few pounds!!
(img courtesy: http://www.funpartysupplies.co.uk)

Year Two!
By year 2 we had been burnt once and we were enlightened that a party of toddlers left much to be desired!! Not to mention the big hoopla Momma had created by cutting her thumb (tada.. a post idea.. Miss Butter Fingers.. soon very soon). But the day before the big day Mom and Dad who sometimes can be such nincompoops sat the toddler down and told him about his birthday. "Yay tmollow Cheeky cut cake" was the reply - in your face you aghast parents! So the next morning ensued a hurried trip to Costco and a huge Strawberry Mouse cake.. seriously who is going to eat all that sugar dripping contraptions?! A friend was hurriedly called.. "Its His Cheekiness's birthday and apparently we are cutting cake, it will do better for the photographic records if you were here too". So 4 of us (the friend brought a husband in tow.. to help numbers) sang the song, clapped hands and helped consume the cake!! Now you know the secret to my love handles! (img courtesy: http://carey2.blogspot.com)

Year Three!
Year 3 was filled with grandoise. We were pushed and prodded by Cheeky.. who started way in September interogating us about the plans for his party.. he chose the decor, the cake (Winnie the pooh was decided on after much delibration.. for the records) and the plates! And then proceeded to use the plate for a steering wheel... while we put up the streamers and the balloons cooked up a storm and proceeded to have a party barely getting arrested (the kids not us.. created a lot of noise and pattering feet could be heard for miles). And once the big day drew to a close Cheeky declared "Time to shop for Halloween"! (Img Courtesy: http://www.danzfamily.com)

Year Four!
We are now bunch of experienced people.. or so we think! But not quite..
Our quest towards becoming a 4 year old started with the school hunt! When we were hunting for school yet again in our new town this year, we were told that His Cheekiness could attend the royal classroom for 4 yr old's! But he was just 3!! In all the forms I was instructed to write his age down as 3 and not 4! It was not a request of course.. His Royal Highness does know how to issue his orders!
(img courtesy: http://images.cafepress.com)
I was promised that the age 4 will start to become a reality only after the cake was consumed! Seriously.. what world are we in? ( Do I have a toddler or a teenager? In my confused state I am one step closer to accepting the looming reality.. MID LIFE!)
But did I tell you we are experienced now? So we know the trick.. when you cant conquer, confuse! So we started with the star bday! He was informed about it.. decked with new clothes and sent off to school with a promsie of a sweet waiting in the afternoon "Momma I will eat it and turn 4" he informed me (if mamma makes no sweet, I just wont turn 4 he figured). So I slaved over the stove and made some "Appams" before the brat got home! His Cheekiness had a few appams got a few photos taken and threw the curve ball! "Where is the cake? When I eat the cake I will turn 4"! Phew so much for trying!
At least we have enough notice.. lets do it the week after the birthday... no such luck Cheeky has plans for that weekend (?? seriously he is turning 4 and not 14? you sure?). So it has to be the weekend before the birthday! Phew rush again to get everything ready.. and this time lets not forget to invite the people! So the friday evening was chosen (a trick dad played on mom.. who now had to work on the meal all by herself) and the cake was ordered, people were invited and the stage was set!
Thursday evening came and Cheeky declared.. "Where are the decorations?" So the box that says Birthday decorations was brought down (at least we had the good sense to save that...) and the streamers and balloons were put up for the party!
Friday arrived and the brat was packed off to school reluctantly "But momma I need to be here for the party".. If you don't go to school there ain't going to be no party mister!
The feast was prepared and the guests began to trickle in.. till the last one decided to be late much to his (the guest's of course) ill luck! So Cheeky was seen entertaining his guests talking, singing, dancing (considering they were all dad's friends from work, wasn't it fair that dad gets a word in? but we know how to steal the show in style!!)..while doing all this every few minutes Cheeky would throw open the door to go peer outside.. and come back in and insist dad call uncle G!
Finally at 8 PM uncle G arrived to apologize to an irate Cheeky.. "You are late.. you know because of you I stood outside with my bare feet"! Seriously, were you asked to stand outside? But Uncle G was good enough to apologize and speed up the cake cutting.. much to everyone's relief.. for finally Cheeky decided to play with people his own age (at least for the most part)!
The weekend was spent opening presents and playing with them so much that soccer practice was missed (And now coach wants him to go for make up class! Seriously.. how old is my son again?)
After all this.. remember the birthday was still not over.. so if he cut the cake and ate it.. he turned 4 did he not? So on the Big day would be turn 5? On the actual big day.. he was dressed in yet another new pair of clothes. The "Birthday Boy" badge was pinned on.. and off went Cheeky with a bag of sugar cookies and candies for his "School party" (at least no more cake). At school he was awarded the birthday crown which he proudly wore the rest of the day. For the party momma went and clicked pictures while the kids got high on sugar and then read them a nice book called "Sam goes to School" Cheeky's favorite to finish off the party and send the now hyper kids packing home!! After more phone calls that evening wishing His Cheekiness Happy Birthday.. the Birthday celebrations finally draw to a close (I think I might even be able to take off all the streamers and balloons today.. and my house will be looking sane again!)

Like Cheeky's teacher said .. "Looks like the Birthday week celebrations have finally drawn to a close" (Oh yes she gets a daily recap of events at home!) So the mind boggling, earth changing, world stopping celebrations are done.. and we can relax.. till Christmas or Halloween or this weekend! Sigh!

Cheeky if you are reading this (years later.. for I intend to keep my secret for as long as I can)... I am grayed and old and no longer remember your birthday.. remember how far I went when you were 4.. but I will not have photographic evidence because in all the hoopla we forgot to take pictures.. at least there are none of the food/feast I cooked (and no that does not say a thing about how it tasted). (Img courtesy: http://www.anythink.org). As you can see every year the party has become progressively more larger in proportions. Now I dread to think of Year 5.. I think we will just have to plan a party on the moon!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

HELP!!!

So Russell Peters.. ha ha not so much?Fine whatever you say.. lets move on! I was watching Glenn Beck the other day and wondered at my deja vu post! Glenn Beck was talking about Asians who save money (read Cheap) and take care of their elders. Its in their value system he said and that is what will help them through the economic crisis he said! Toodle Dee... (I am cheap and proud.. so do you think I will sail through the crisis too? Even if my bank is reluctant to give me money.. more on that to follow)

Economic crisis... I turn on the TV and its all over the place.. whats more we just have too many news channels talking about the same thing.. over and over again. I stood there holding my ears waiting for the world to come crashing down on my head.. quick turn off the light..lets save some money I moaned!

And the hype.. aah the hype.. the media keeps talking about the great depression and the bread lines scaring me even more.. not to mention the impending oil crisis.. I just cant sleep at night.. I keep counting my pennies. I call the bank up and ask them to send me some money. Why they ask.."So I can spend it" I respond! What money? Its all down the stock market drain they say! Or worse.. what bank? BEEEEP!

And whats more we at North Carolina are in the midst of an oil crisis. Deja Vu? No merely some broken oil lines due to Hurricane Ike we are told. Just how long will you say that?
Cars stand in lines on the road screaming "OIL" OIL" OIL". So yesterday M worked from home.. you know how well that went.. we were rushing off last evening to join the cars in the oil hunt.. we struck gold in about 3 miles.. but just the fact that we were out to fill gasoline as a family shows 1. our solidarity, 2. we are all bored and jobless, 3. We are all egging to send M back to office! Whichever it was that triggered action in our otherwise procrasinating household, the gas tank is full again and M is back at work! Phew! Cheeky is back to his non stop talking.. sigh!!

The one person unaffected by the economic crisis is my son.. Last night he was seen flying a plane to pizza hut.. when I was bemoaning the crisis, my son reassured me "Don't worry momma, we are rich.. lets take the plane to pizza hut".. whatever gave him that idea?.. maybe we just buy him too many presents!

Aside: Istockphoto seems to have a good handle on the crisis.. just see the pictures!

The need of the day.. I need to do a course dumpster diving 101.. anyone want to help me out here? Some of you commented to my previous post about the thrill of bargaining.. and that is something I need to learn. Bargaining for dummies, is a book I have to read! So far I am no good!

Some people are born to strike the best bargains. Everywhere they tread, they can haggle their way to financial freedom! I am not one of them! I saw evidence of this in a movie once (Sindhu Bhairavi) were an actor says "if I don't reduce at least 25 paise on your price I can't sleep tonight"... although I presume that the effect must be quite heady, I just can't win a bargaining war! One of my uncles loves to strike a bargain.. so every time we go shopping for the big stuff we beg him to come along.. saves us a pretty penny!

I listen to the bargaining tales with a lot of fascination though. A friend once told us about how she struck a good bargain with the car dealer. Ours sold us a Camry and a few thousands worth of "added benefits" to keep the "interest rate we were getting". We sneakily canceled the benefits later.. but the fact that we could not talk our way out of it should tell you that we suck at bargaining. This friend went to the store to buy a premium SUV. The SUV came with a DVD player (part of the package). But she argued that she did not need one.. remove it and give me a discount she claimed. So the dealer gave her the discount and let her keep the DVD player too. I listened with my jaws wide open of course!

My tryst with bargaining was limited to the streets of TNagar and Bangalore's commercial street! I can safely say I never struck a brag-able deal! For all my talk, I can just not bargain! I have tried only once too often with the auto walas in Chennai and Bangalore. In my hometown Coimbatore there is no haggling with them.. they are an immovable lot.. you pay the exorbitant amount of money or just choose other means of transportation! However the auto walas in Chennai and Bangalore are a little more amenable to haggling! And every time I get a raw deal! There was this guy who once brought us home in his auto from the railway station. He had spoken to us (my mom and me) in local rickshaw waala Tamil. So we presumed that while he might catch some of English numbers, he will definitely not figure Hindi out! And sure enough I kept watching his face in the rear view mirror not a flinch! So I told my mom "Saat rupai dethe hein" (Lets give him 60 bucks). Safely deposited at home, the guy turned around and told us "Nahin chalega madam, assi rupai dheejiye" (Wont work Madam, give me 80 bucks). I was of course speechless, his Hindi was a lot better than mine and I had been tricked yet again! Needless to say the guy walked away with his 80 bucks or was it a 100? How am I to know.. I was dazed and confused! (By the way.. these days it is 120 bucks for the same distance.. boy am I growing old!)

That my friends is my bargaining power.. so if I hope to save any money I am in dire need of lessons! I promise not to blog about it , anyone game?

(img : http://www.literacy.lancaster.ac.uk, http://sfbay.redfin.com)

[No coming up section this time.. I might just have to rename it "Running Late" like the Indian trains or American airlines!]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cheap you say?

Ever watched Russell Peters? He was one of the reasons I started watching stand up comedy! He makes the most outrageous racist jokes, not to mention the language... but still I watch and laugh! Although I had to keep closing Cheeky's ears.. and shooing him off to the other room last afternoon while I watched his show RED on Showtime:On Demand! Still I was holding my tummy laughing. But I am not here to recommend him to you, the reason I write this that one of his comments had me thinking (while I flinched). He called Indians cheap. Are you Indian? then you know what he is talking about! We have all seen it and like he says we think being called cheap skates is a compliment! We carry that air... I am CHEAP and proud of it! And I am no exception!

This weekend we went to the local grocery store for some weekly shopping. M picked up a bag of pistachios and threw it into the cart. I picked the bag up and eyed it suspiciously... turned it over and over (I have lived here so long but still look for the price tag on the pack like in good old India). Then ran down the aisle to look up the price $4.68. "I bet its a lot cheaper at Costco" !
"I am sure it is but I want to eat them now" said M. "I have almonds at home" I replied!
"Did you know that almonds and pistachios aren't the same?" M threw the bag back in the cart. Now I am cheap but not enough to throw a hissy fit over $4.68 in the middle of a store. Not to mention the look M gave me "Mention the word Cheap again..." he keeps shushing me so I just shift to Tamil to whine about the "Anju Rupa" (5 ruppes). But I sometimes have the good sense to know when the argument has been lost! So I brought my long face back home!
The bag was broken open and we sat watching yet another movie on the television.
I started again "These pistachios are so small, I bet the ones in Costco are a lot bigger"
"I am sure the ones in Costco are tastier and saltier"
"I bet you get a much bigger bag at Costco for the same $"
#$#W$%^^%
I was beginning to sound like a stuck tape of a Costco Ad. All for $5! M wisely ignored me and turned up the volume!
Today when Russell Peters talked about the Indian Cheap Skates.. this was like a Deja Vu. I could hear myself talking to a friend about the pistachio incident and shaking our heads "Who do these people think they are Donald Trump?" All for five dollars!

The other day I was watching a talk show on television and the book Tsar by Ted Bell was featured. I really thought I would love to read it! I ran and saw if it was available at the local library.. mm no luck. I looked it up on Amazon - 27$ .. I called my sister in India and asked her to see how much it cost. She was upset. I wont find it on the street vendors stall she moaned. (Pirated books can be got for Rs 70 - $1.50 there as against Rs 300 to 400 - $6.5 to $8.5 at the book stores ). Finally my uncle told her not to courier it to the states - too expensive. My friend's son's friend's uncle's sister in law is going to Seattle in 2 months. We will send it through her. (????) And she could just drop it out the plane when she flies past North Carolina! But who am I to talk, I look at the bag of pistachios for confirmation!

Talking of pistachios, a friend (Indian of course) told me the other day.. a Costco membership is a complete waste of money. We should share the membership among 4 of us that would be $25 per year per household.. then that would make some economic sense she told me! I looked at her in awe of course!

But we can take this farther. I went to a party sometime back. I stood there groping for conversation .. a friend nearby commented "nice table". Friend A was mighty pleased. "Really...guess where I got it?" I was wondering if you got stuff like that at Ikea. "I found it near the dumpster" she declared beaming with pride. As you can imagine I kept wondering every time I sat on anything in her house! I kept imagining germs crawling up my arms and back! Apparently this is not so uncommon I found out soon.. people even talk about "Dumpster Diving" as a divine hobby! But then who am I to talk.. the pistachio's stand evidence to my inclination! (img courtesy: http://www.collegeotr.com/tag/furniture)

Another friend owned a humidifier one winter and it went suddenly missing in 3 months time. I was at a play date at their home and went to turn it on and it was missing. On inquiry it had been returned back to the store "They only allow us to keep it for 3 months!" Looking bewildered? This is why Costco and Walmart and Circuit City have a 3 month return policy on electronics. So that we could use the humidifier for the worst of winter!

Then there was this guy...years ago we were in a car crash in Arizona. The accident was my friend's fault as he made a turn without noticing the approaching vehicle. I had glass on my face and the car I was in was totaled. The other car had a displaced bumper. All of us were thankfully unhurt.. but as the police car arrived the other guy mysteriously developed a limp and then could no longer move his leg anymore! No this guy was not Indian (just for the records)

There is one thing though that you should grant to all the so called cheapskates! They are the most creative lot! But then its offensive to call yourself cheap.. call yourself thrifty or frugal!! After all we are not like the guy (I don't know this guy trust me.. ).. who wrote the wrong room number on the hotel bar tab, or the one who put the "To address" on the return address of an envelope so it gets sent "back" for lack of postage! (Want more tips at being cheap ... check this out - SNEAKY CHEAP). Me, I am unhappy enough looking at my bag of pistachios for now!

Coming up:
(c) Preethi @ Incessant Musings, September 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scam.. Scam.. Scam...

I received an email today where this guy promises to give me 8.6 million $. We all know I am not lucky and God loves playing jokes with me. So my immediate response.. was not jumping around in circles whooping in joy.. but to look at the sky at that guy up there who thinks my life is a comic relief! Sure enough he had opened the skies up and the rain was pouring down.. Not to mention that I have the sorest of sore throats and sound like I have sand sifting through my throat as I talk! His cheekiness had a full blown water works today when he found out that both his teachers had decided to take the day off and there sat 2 substitute teachers in their absence. It took 4 kids and 4 moms all promising him that their kids would play with him while the kids ran off to play by themselves, to convince Cheeky not to go in! And finally I played the worst trick...I just slipped out.. don't you dare roll your eyes? I am tired, hungry and its pouring outside! (img courtesy: http://www.dennisholmesdesigns.com/cartoons_clipart.html)

I came home and turned on the computer and there sat this email with a promise of $8.6 million... now I know I am not lucky... all the powerball tickets lying around my house are living proof of that reality. Not to mention that I am the one who has never won a single thing in my life. Not to mention if I get something that I have not spent money over/ or turned on the water works for (what I dont work, how do you think I get my wishes granted?). Anyway I have to have worked hard for everything I own or they go mysteriously missing. No freebie ever stays with me.. I think there is a magnetic force in the sky that just pulls it away!

But today this email arrived! Sure it has entertainment value (see end of post for the complete transcript of the email). So this nincompoop says that his wife (why wife I wonder, does he think that women evoke more trust?) found me through yahoo to be the most trustworthy person in the whole world! 6.725 Billion people according to Wikipedia and I am the most trustworthy, imagine that! I who slip out of my own son's line of vision and get away! And this nincompoop has been fasting and praying to find someone to give away this money too.. Right, if I had $8.6 million I would want to give it away too!

And whats more .. A year or so back I got a phone call along similar lines! The guy on the phone sounded like a desi with a bad case of tongue blisters.. identified himself as part of a social service organization that saves people from fraud! Hahaha I know! He tells me "Our database shows that a few thousand $ was wrongly removed from your bank account a couple of years back and we want to help you recover that money!" Yeah right! Seriously these people are so selfless! I decided to play along and asked him all kinds of questions about his database and I must say he tackled it pretty well, but I got bored in a while and told him try to pull that one on me again and I am calling the cops you moron! It only took one more such phone call and a big chunk of my sour tongue for them to stop calling! A friend was surprised "How did you find out it was a hoax" she asked!

Naivete can be tormenting ... seriously do you think some guy half way across the world wants to give away money to you of all people? Absolutely bewildering that people fall for scams like this! Seriously common sense is not so common at all!

I leave you with the email I received today.. and if you are as naive as my friend with a warning that if you really want millions of dollars try the lottery not this man!

Coming up:
(c) Preethi @ Incessant Musings, September 2008
***********************************************************************
Email transcript:
frombambara_kute@libero.it
to
dateFri, Sep 26, 2008 at 4:39 AM
subjectdear friend
mailed-bylibero.it

hide details 4:39 AM (4 hours ago)
Reply

DEAR FRIEND
It is truth, that we have not met or known each other before but I have a situation that warrants me casting out this trust and confidence to you for a private and confidential matter. sorry it was my wife that got your email through her yahoo searching for a trustworthy person that will assist us in this matter,
I have been fasting and praying to almighty GOD that he should send a trustworthy person that will assist me to transfer this money into his/her account. because as a bank manager, i cannot transfer this money into my personal bank account. except i contacts a foreign partner that will apply to the bank as a next of kin to the late deceases customer.MR GEORGE BRUMLEY an american I am very happy to share this transaction with you,but you must keep everything as very confidential. The deceased account holder with our bank He held account with BANK OF AFRICA .Since his death ,his account has been dormant and nobody has applied to our bank for the release of this money to him or her as the next of kin. As the bill and exchange manager of this bank, i have studied this transaction very carefully and i have noted that there is no risk involved.I am here to protect all your intrests in this transaction until this money is transfer to your account. My advise to you is to arrange for a receiving bank account into which our bank shall transfer this money in your favor as next of kin and you have nothing to fear since i am here ,i shall be giving you all the developmental information from the bank as soon as the transaction commence. Also note that 14 working days from the date the bank receives your application is enough for the funds to get transferred and the transaction will come to a successful conclusion. i hope that you will not disappoint me when this money enters into your account, i have all my hope in this transaction because i shall soon go on retirement, i am a simple banker whose credibility is still intact and with my maturity and understanding,I promise to give the best co-operation. If you are really intertested in this transaction,then we must hurry up so that our bank and government shall not claim and inherit this money because it has over-stayed. As soon as I hear from you, I will send to you a text of application which you will fill and send to the bank. But before that I will like to be reassured of the manner of person whom I am dealing with because 8.6million U.S.D is not a little money,therefore I have to get certain necessary facts about you before we proceed. Such information I will like to know before we proceed are as follows:
(1) Your age...........................
..............................................................
(2)Your occupation....................
..........................................................
(3)Your marital stautus.......................
.................................................
(4)Your full residential address.......................
...................................
(5)Your direct phone and fax numbers.......................
.....................
(6)A copy of Your photo scanned and sent to me by mail...............
there will be a little expenses
as soon as I receive these datas, I will forward to you the application form which you will send to the bank. Meanwhile I will like you to know more about myself. I am a family man with 2 children a girl and a boy.I have decided to do this deal because i have worked in this bank for years without achieving anything due to the corruption in this country.Workers salaries are hardly paid.Its true this country is one of the poorest in the world but the leaders are very wicked and corrupt.Even the Aids we receive from Donor countries as well as the international communities are being diverted into the private pockets of the few in authority. Therefore while the rich are getting richer,the poor masses continues to suffer.Could you believe a bill and exchange manager like myself can't even take good care of my children?I only have a name NOT money or any material possessions.So this is why when i saw this opportunity, i decided to capitalize on it with my position in the bank and i hope with your co-operation,success will be for us. Pls always keep in touch with me, preferably by phone because i'm a very busy man who has little or no time for internets. So as i've told you i have studied and perfected this transaction before i contacted you. May the infinity blessing of almighty GOD shower upon you and your family.
HERE IS MY PERSONAL DATAS AND PROFILE AND THE DETAILS FOR THIS TRANSACTION. SO SEND ME YOUR DETAILS URGENT PLEASE THIS MY PERSONAL DATA / PROFILE.
(1) DATE OF BIRTH: 11th April 1961

(2) PLACE OF BIRTH: Fada N'Gourma.
(3) HEIGHT: 1.99
(4) WEIGHT: 84 kg , Not Permanent.

(5) SEX: Male.

(6) QUALIFICATION: M.B.A in Economics.

(7) OCCUPATION: Banker.
(8) PRESENT POSITION: (B.O.A) Manager.
(9) WORKING EXPERIENCE :( T.I.C) Insurance Banjul Gambia , & Presently In (B.O.A) Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
(10) MARITAL STATUS: Married With 2 Children.

(11) PROVINCE OF ORIGIN OR STATE: Bobo-Dioulasso.

(12) NATIONALITY: Burkina-Faso West Africa .
(13)BLOOD TYPE: Ax.
(14) HOME: Dad, Mum with 2 Brothers, My Wife & 2 Children.

(15) ZODIAC SIGN: Capricorn.
(16) PASS.PORT NOS: A1008622.

(17) DRIVING LICENCE NOS: If 08140.
(18) HOBBIES: Listing To Music & Instructing School Kids.
(19) H.I.V TEST: Negative.
(20) LIFE POLICIES: Always Sober & Calm.
(21) LIFE STYLES: Corporate & Decent.

(22) WORK IN A KITTY: Don’t Take It Personal.
(23) FAVOURITE FOOD: Snacks & Rice.
(24) FAVOURITE DRINKS: Soft Drinks.
(25) AIM: To Resign From Bank & Become An International Business Man.
(26) FAMILY ADAGE: To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected.

OFFICE ADDRESS: (B.O.A) North West Zone-Annex, 01 Ouaga Burkina Faso.
HOUSE ADDRESS: 82 Zangote Yenugua 02 Bp 4587 Ouagadougou 02 Burkina-Faso West Africa .

please note..this is not a scam or fraud,you are very free to come down to burkinafaso to verify the genuity of this transaction
Thanks
Best regards Mr.BAMBARA KUTE bambara.kute74@yahoo.com