Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snowy Tales and Tag time...

Nantu and I love making the snowman. This year, every time there was enough snow for a snowman, we were either out of town or sick, so we have not got around to it. And then on Wednesday it snowed, and a beaming Nantu woke up on Thursday morning, egging to make the snowman!
However the past few nights we have been having bedtime struggles again and amidst all the kicking and shoving.. I have not been sleeping well. So Thursday found me irritable and I kept as quiet as possible to refrain from snapping at the culprit! But after lunch when I was thoroughly worn out and would have given anything for a few minutes of shut eye.. Nantu started his refrain. "Can we go out now?"
Promises had been made, and had to be kept... So I bundled up Nantu and mustered the enthusiasm to go out in the cold and make snowman! In the last minute I chickened out and decided to make a snowman with the snow that had fallen in my patio!! The little ruffian obligingly joined me and proceeded to roll thoroughly in the snow till he was covered in white particles from head to toe... I hurriedly made an excuse for a snowman (I can sometimes be smart.. and I knew this was the only way out!). and hurried in. When asked to come in, Nantu looked at the snowman thoughtfully... but before he could say a word, I rushed him in with "I am going to shut you out if you don't come in".
Patio door closed securely, I slumped down on the couch to see
Nantu still at the patio door...
"Enna Achu" I asked (What happened) even when I knew this was the wrong question!
"Paavam snowman" said Nantu
"Why?" said I
"Snowman kku kaiye illai" said Nantu (Snowman has no hands!)
"Why does he need hands?" I asked
"To hug me" he answered promptly...
Knowing Cheeky I just walked away to rest my reeling head! Later that day Nantu showed daddy the snowman, but didn't mention the hands, so I thought that was the end of that conversation! (aah... I do dream on!)
On Friday, Nantu and I sat in the kitchen, and Nantu climbed over me to look out the window at the patio
"Anga paaru kai illadha snowman" he said (Look at the handless snowman)
"Snowman kku kaiye irukadhu" I said (Snowman have no hands)
Nantu: "Appo epadi velayadum snowman?" (Then how will the snowman play?)
Me (as dense as ever) :"Epadi velayadum" (How will it play?)
Nantu: "Snowman snow va throw panni velayadum" (Snowman will throw the snow and play)
Me: With whom will he play?
Nantu: With the tree amma!
I now know this conversation is far from over, but this is where we left it on Friday. The handless snowman continues to grace our patio. An attempt was made at placing candy canes as hands on the snowman, but apparently candy canes don't work! So this mommy continues to pray for more snow to bury the snowman!!

Tag time... I have been tagged by Aryan's mom to list the A - Z of me!

A
- Available? – Anytime... up for some mindless shopping?
B - Best Friend – DH
C
- Cake or pie - Cake
D - Drink of choice – Water (I am a simpleton!)
E
- Essential thing used everyday – Computer (I should probably include Blogspot!)
F
- Favorite Color – Blue (Nantu wants it to be Pink - I am a girl remember?)
G
- Gummi bears or worms – neither... Nantu loves both though!!
H
- Hometown – Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India (A beautiful town.. situated near the Niligiri mountains)
I - Indulgence - Chocolates
J
- January or February – January - a fresh new start
K
- Kids and names - Nantu a.k.a Cheeky Monkey
L - Life is incomplete without - laughter
M
- Marriage Date – December 8th
N
- Number of siblings - One - the inimitable Vish
O
- Oranges or apples - Oranges
P
- Phobias or fears – roller coasters (DH loves it and I hate it.. we make a great pair!!)
Q
- Quote - "Tomorrow is another day - Scarlet in Gone with the wind"
R - Reason to smile - Life
S
- Season - I love them all.. Winter - curling up with some hot chocolate, Summer - I spend outdoors, Spring - The scents in the air, and Fall - A feast for my eyes.
T
- Tag three people - Pass :P Anyone who wants to take it up is welcome to do so.
U
- Unknown fact about me – I learnt carnatic music .. for a few years.. but I am the worst bathroom singer ever!!
V
- Vegetable you don't like – so many.. yam for one (cheppan kilangu) and sweet potatoes.. (veges were never meant to be sweet)
W
- Worst habit – Talking to self :P
X - X-rays you have had - I have broken both my hands, I have broken my little thumb on my left foot. I have cut a tendon on my left thumb and had surgery for it.. The X-rays are endless for this accident prone butterfingers
Y - Your favorite food – Bhelpuri , Sweets from "Krishna Sweets" (I have been longing for this for too long), Eggplant Parmigiana a la Olive Garden.
Z
- Zodiac – Aries.. the one and only!!!
(P.S. Sunday Update - All the rolling in the snow has the imp down with a cold and fever.. Poor guy!!
The snowman is slowly melting away... he is only a skeleton now!!)

Story Writing...by the nephew!

I have a sweet little nephew who has always amazed me with his creativity and insight. Here is a short story he has written. This is his first attempt at story writing.. and I am very proud of it!! :)

THE FOOLISH TIGERS
Once upon a time there were two tigers in a forest.Their names were Nimy and Timy. One day Nimy hunted an Ox. Timy hunted a Giraffe.
Then Timy said "I want your Ox but i will not give you anything in return".
Then Nimy said "I want your Giraffe but i will not give you anything in return."
The Tigers quarreled with each other. Then they began to fight! But alas, none of them won. Instead the Tigers lost their lives.
MORAL: BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.
Very Interesting don't you think... with a moral et al. Kids are so remarkably creative.. it never ceases to amaze me.
Meanwhile Nantu is still into sunning and is fixated on the sun. Here is his art in the bath tub...
His teacher decided to enlighten me finally and sent home a collection of art work that he has made at school through the months. We proudly displayed the collection on a Wall of Fame in his room. There are 2 pieces missing.. a painted pumpkin that is slowly shrinking and another contraption he calls an octopus - I forget to take pictures of these!! :( But here are the rest. (Click to zoom in)All this talk about Tigers made me think of my favorite cartoon character.. Hobbes. And in a moment of insanity, I took the Calvin and Hobbes Test and here is what I found! Go ahead, and try it for yourself!!

You are 50% Calvin and 50% Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes, like a scruffy yin and yang, are in perfect balance within you. Like Calvin, you're weird, a bit insecure, and can be a trouble-maker. But like Hobbes, you're down to earth and sensitive. It's a risk to say it here, after just a ten question test, but I'll bet you're smarter than most. Both Calvin and Hobbes are crafty, clever characters, and any one made from equal parts of each is a force to be reckoned with.

Ha Ha... I rock!! I have many tags pending now.. and I will be getting to them soon.. I promise!! :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Object of my affection

Its the tag season again.. and when it rains it pours.. Here I have 3 tags in the offing.. so you will be hearing a lot from me!! (yeah right.. like thats the only reason!). Anyway, I have decided to start with Dotmom's tag...She did a great job with it herself. I also read some other posts on the same topic, and I wondered what was the object of my affection?!
Would I write about the lovely (Kemp) pendant that has passed down generations.. from my grand mom's mom to her, to my mom and now to me. I string it with my little coral string necklace and wear it ever so often.. Its a lovely swan and looks so beautiful in its antiquity. But thats all I have to say about it.. Or would I write about the 300 books I left behind in India.. Books have always been the object of my affection. As I read Noon's post, I thought of the little oval plate (thattu) in my grand mom's house which my cousin (who is 11 yrs younger to me) and I still fight over every time we are there! I then thought of the wonderful paintings in my Granddad's place which I wanted, but he sold with the house! Or the boom box and oonjal (swing) that he gave away without consulting me first (I was all of 15 but I wanted all these things :P)

And then I remembered my conversation with DH yesterday and I had found it.. the object of my affection.. My house! In Chennai. Last night, DH was changing the desktop picture and I told him "Please put up the house picture, I want to look at it every time I boot up the computer!" And he did..
A few years back we moved back to India with the intention of staying on.. We had saved up some money and decided to buy a house in Chennai. We did all the research and started looking at apartments all around the IT Corridor. But we wanted a 4 bedroom apartment with loads of living space. We considered buying 2 adjacent apartments and joining them.. and made several architects come up with some interesting plans. But we were just not happy.
On one such occasion, we had visited an apartment in Medavakkam on the Velacherry - Tambaram road. When the time came to pick up the plan, I dropped out and DH proceeded along with my Uncle, checkbook in hand . We had given up trying to find the perfect home, and had almost decided to settle for this apartment. A couple of hours later still no trace of DH. I got a call.
"I have found it" he exclaimed
"What?" I said
"The perfect place.. there are so many trees in the colony, there is a reserved forest on one side and lake on the other, and farm lands on the third side.. In between is this beautiful colony of independent homes. It really is perfect"
"Oh great.. so come back and get me " I said
"No there is no time for that.. I am going to give them an advance for 2 plots. You can see it later"
This was a first, and I was literally stomping and fuming.. but he said that these were selling like hot cake, and he made an advance payment of Rs. 1 lakh.. and came home raving about the place. I on the other hand, sat there seething with anger! But I knew how important this was to DH. This was his first home and he was more particular than me for it to be perfect. So I let it go!
And we embarked on a tedious and bitter sweet journey of building a house. For the next 2 years, we thought of nothing but the house. After Nantu was born, we started construction, so as you can imagine for that first year we had only 2 things in our mind.. our new house and our new born child (not necessarily in that order!). Much of the time went in explaining and getting what we had in our mind from the contractors.. We wanted a separate living and a family.. an open plan, Kitchen Island, dry bathrooms. Basically things you take for granted here in the US, but explaining these concepts to the contractors in India is a nightmare! Anyway, after a lot of head butting and running around for the perfect materials (flooring, counter tops and bathroom fittings) we got there and completed the house of our dreams..

Unfortunately we chose to move back to the US a few months later.. (for reasons I can't begin to explain - that will take a whole new blog.). However the house beckons to me.. The house is a looming entity and I can't begin to describe what my feeling for it is.. I do know that I will go back someday and it awaits me silently in all its splendor.. I present to you.... The object of my affection!

I some how can't get the pictures in any particular order.. so forgive me!! I also do apologize for sounding so proud and materialistic... do bear with me just this once!! :) Thanks Dotmom for this lovely tag.
I tag Suma of Thinking Aloud
Rayshma
and my Namesake Preethi
All others who want to take it up are welcome to do so, I would love to read about all your objects of affection!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Out of the box

"Lets go Sunning" he said. Both of us burst out giggling like the silly nincompoop's we sometimes are!! And Nantu sat there looking at us patiently, to shut up and ask the next question.
"Whats Sunning" I asked obligingly!
"We need to go light up the sun" He said
Mouth agape I managed to exclaim "What?"
"Yes we need to make the sun hot so that we can be hot again" he said! (He has been waiting for summer.. he wants to buy a bicycle and roller skates and hit the playground!)
"How will you light the sun" I asked
"With a sun hose" he said and held up his hand with an imaginary hose for me to see!!
This conversation is beyond my simple mind.. but I think this may have something to do with Space Science? what say?
(Pict Courtesy: http://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/316129)

In response to my previous post many berated me for calling Nantu a "Scatterbrain" and exclaimed at his creativity!! Oh well, he is a scatterbrain alright (read I refuse to retract that!!)... most 3 yr olds are.. but that doesn't make them stupid... that just makes them 3 yr olds!! Can you imagine what would happen if they were as focussed as adults.. Oh God.. I dread to think of that!!
(Pict Courtesy: http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com)
As for creativity, children constantly amaze me with their creativity and remarkable thinking. We grown ups are constantly being challenged to think "Out of the box"!! What we fail to realize is that it was what we were born doing... But as we grow up our education system tries to force fit all kids into the same stereotype... and make life hell for those who want to be different! We turn our kids from wild thinkers and dreamers.. to quiet followers!! What a bleak future we paint!!

As I write this, I recall a post done by
Hip Hop Grandmom recently.. in her post she talked of OBEDIENCE (she talked about how her parents had required it of her!!)! The word had me laughing... when I was young, this is what they taught me in school.. Implicit Obedience. No questions asked, follow the pack! And that is how they put all our thoughts inside the box!

I recently visited a Montessori school nearby... I have heard so much about montessori that I was curious to check it out for Nantu. It was a pleasant surprise! The primary school has 3 grades sitting in the same class (1,2 &3, 4,5&6). There are small round tables where about 5 kids sit at each table. Each kid is doing something different... and the teachers are helping them, with their assignments, working with the materials (which teach them academics while they play) etc. It was very interesting to watch how the class proceeded. And these kids fare beautifully in the county exams I hear. The children are allowed to question everything, make their own choices about what they want to do and it is a very informal learning environment! I have decided to try it out for Nantu and have applied there (for preschool now).. now waiting with fingers crossed!


Back to parenting... Parenting the little brat in my house is not at all easy.. and I am an over-analyzing, ambitious parent at times! So I presume being my son is not easy for the brat.. and the only way he wins me over on every argument is with his cheekiness.. I usually am too dim-witted to respond to that! I am no expert of course, but like every parent I stumble on.. Once in a while Nantu reminds me who the real boss is.... Nantu told DH this a couple of days back, I hope this is not an indication of the future!
"Amma kku onnum theriyadhu, Indha ammakku pesaradha thavara onnum theriyadhu"
(Mom doesn't know anything, Besides talking this mom knows nothing!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The li'l Scatterbrain

Every school morning Nantu runs into school with eager anticipation. Mommy heaves a sigh of relief and rushes back home. Every afternoon as Nantu gets into the car his clueless parents ask him the same question
"What did you do in school today".
Nantu answers vaguely "I played".

Mommy asks predictably "What did you play?"
Nantu "Legos" or "Cars" or "Housekeeping" or "Dinosaurs"..

The answer varies every time the question is repeated!!! Still they ask the same questions everyday!! Every once in a while they dare to ask
"So what did Miss A talk during circle time"
Nantu is so clued in.. he knows that this is a trick question... and if he answers "I don't know".. or like he says "Edho pesina" (She talked something!).. they will pounce on him "Why do you go to school really? I wont send you to school from tomorrow"

So Nantu in all his creativity makes up stories "She talked about the monkey and the alligator... " or "She read a book about Spot's food".. or some such thing!! But his parents are clever too.. (as if!!) they check the note Miss A has sent home with a rendition of what happened through the day - as you can imagine it is in complete contradiction to Nantu's tale!! But the purpose is served, Mom and Dad are usually speechless after Nantu's tales!
After all these months, mommy has slowly started getting it (really how dense can she be?) and she finally told daddy this week "Oh he is a little scatterbrain.. don't ask him anything!!"
But then Nantu came home and brought out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket..
"See mom I brought this for you"

Mommy "Really Nantu thank you so much"
Nantu "See how there are so many colors in it"
Mommy "Yeah I do see that"
And here it is for you to see....
Coloring to Nantu has to be done as soon as possible.. So he grabs a few crayons and hurriedly fills the page, to move on to the next activity. Hence the result looks like above!! Mommy has tried telling him "Color neatly.. between the lines".. Nantu responds "See mommy, its all between the lines". Indeed it is!!
Anyway back to the scatterbrain tale... On some days mommy talks to Nantu's teachers when she picks him up.. and they give her glowing reports.. She wonders if Nantu has clued them in!!
"He is such a good boy" they say
"Really? My son Nantu?? Are you sure" She asks.
"He can recognize all the shapes do you know?" Miss J said one day...
"He can?" Mommy answered!

Some day's when she goes in to pick him up, there is some art drying on the table.. and mommy sneakily looks for Nantu's work, and amazingly he has done a decent job "I am not sure he did this all by himself" she thinks to herself!! One afternoon as she walked in.. Nantu was working hard.. and refused to leave!! He had been given a sheet of construction paper some glue, markers and some glitters.. His teacher sat and watched what he did with it... Here it is!! (Notice he has even made some faces.. that seem to be frowning... but are supposed to be smiley faces)
The point? Nantu's parents are clueless "Indian" parents who think a 3 yr old should do it all... Write, Read , Color, Sit in one place for more than 5 minutes, and what not! Nantu is a typical 3 yr old in a school that indulges him. He knows how to have his way, and most importantly have fun! He also endeavors to keep his parents clueless with his vague remarks and creative tales! And slowly his parents seem to be getting it.. Daddy did tell mommy the other day when Nantu was not within earshot "What's important is that school is a fun experience for him". Nantu can now finally heave a sigh of relief.. he has brought them around!! {wink}{wink}

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

At the crossroad

The topic on Writer's Island this week was crossroads. I told myself I wont write this week... have just been writing too much, so maybe I will give it a break? But this image kept coming back to my mind and I had to put it down on paper!!

The word crossroads brings to my mind the crossroad in Adayar Chennai. If you know Chennai, it is the cross roads between Adayar and Thiruvanmaiyur at the end of LB road. It was a sultry afternoon and we sat in our Air conditioned SUV windows rolled up.. oblivious to the scorching heat outside. On my lap sat Nantu a little more than a year old at that time. We had stopped at the signal and were waiting for the green light. Nantu started to get excited and started tapping at the window. I looked at what was attracting him so much.
(Pict Courtesy: http://www.gseart.com/exh/exh_invt.asp?ExhID=491)

There beyond a few cars stood a lady in rags, carrying an equally bedraggled child of about 2-3 looking so undernourished and sad. As Nantu jumped up and down in my lap beckoning to the kid, the kid stared unswervingly at Nantu. It was an expressionless face that stopped my heart.. I am sure the child was hungry and tired from the heat... but whats more he seemed to be so listless and lacking in energy at such an young age.. This image has stayed with me ever since.. the big round eyes staring at us! On that day, I dug up a few coins and handed it to the lady. The signal changed and we moved on.

I then commented to DH "What was the kids mistake.. just by virtue of his birth he is deprived of the basic necessities and at a similar age our son is bathed in luxuries by virtue of his birth. What an unfair world!!" I went on to say "I blame his parents, did they have to bring him into the world, knowing fully well they couldn't support him". DH responded "Just because they are poor or on the roads do you expect them to stop living? Besides I bet they can't afford protection".

I have thought and thought about how to end this? What do we do to help such children.. each one of us can make a difference.. and many I know try.. by sponsoring a child, by giving monetary support.. but does it help? We still see many such scenes. And it is not just India. I was once in downtown San Jose on a Sunday morning and the number of homeless in the parks there was mind boggling. Will this ever change?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Of Dreams and Reality

(Pict Courtesy: www.secncs.com)

Every morning as Nantu wakes up.. the first thing he talks about is whether or not he had a dream the previous night. Today he was a bit put off that he had no dreams!! A couple of days back he had a dream, he said "I was playing near the river and my shoes went away in the water. Gaja and Kija started playing with my feet and they wouldn't stop. So I started screaming!!" I am really amused that he knows the difference between dreams and reality!!

This is the same boy who insists we return back to Cedar City though. He left behind the trailer to his toy truck in a hotel there when we were visiting Utah. He keeps asking me when we can go back and get it. I have tried explaining to him that even if we do go, he wont find the truck. He is annoyed with the housekeeping there.. "They are really bad people" he says "Why do they want my trailer?"!! Now I have given him an ultimatum.. the next time he raises a fuss about this, he will lose his truck too (That should even out things don't you think?)

Last night, Nantu and I had an argument.. I don't remember what it was about, but I told him I would no longer do anything for him. The following conversation ensued...
Nantu: Daddy you have to brush my teeth everyday!

Daddy: Sure
Nantu: You also have to bathe me and help me go potty
Daddy: mm
Nantu: You need to teach me counting 123
Daddy: mm

Nantu: You have to make lunch and dinner and put my lunch in a box

Dad: What else

Nantu: You have to drop me and pick me up from school

Dad: Mm
Nantu: And you have to talk to Miss A (his teacher)

And then to me.. "You don't have to do anything for me Amma, Daddy will!!"

Oh my I have such a matlabi/ karyavadi
son!! (roughly translated means self interested)

And it works the other way too...
Daddy: Nantu will you stay with me when Mommy goes to India?
Nantu: No I want to go too
Daddy: But who will take care of me
Nantu: You are a big boy. You can take care of yourself!
Daddy: Will you miss me?
Nantu: Yes. but I can see you
Daddy: Really how?
Nantu: On the web cam!!

hmm.. But he still wont let yesterday's argument with Mommy go. I was narrating the above two incidents to my SIL when she asked him in all her naiveté' ...
Athai: Nantu you don't want mommy to do anything for you?
Nantu: Yes my Dad will do everything for me
Athai: But you want your mom to bring you to India?
Nantu: The airplane will bring me, not mommy!!

However I need to be thankful that when I claimed I will stay behind in the US he did insist that he wants me to go with him too!! Phew.. let me go pacify my Cheeky Monkey and climb up to favored status again!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Post 50 and More Nantu-isms

Post 50

(Pict : www.thebusinesslogo.com)
I thought and thought.. is a 50th post mention worthy?? But then I thought oh well, it is my blog after all.. so I decided to say "Yay, I made 50"!! Or like DH saw it when I told him last night.. "You wrote 10 posts every month for the past 5 months.. you are crazy"!!
I started blogging one lazy August afternoon.. and ever since have had a fun time in my new found world!! I have also made many friends (albeit virtual) and read so many varied blogs! I have re-discovered my love for writing. But I have also discovered that there are so many out there who are so much better at it than me!! And today, I would like to thank you my blogger friends for making this journey of mine so much fun!!

Pooh-ed(Pict Courtesy: http://disney-clipart.com)
Aryan's post on saying "Ba .. Ba" for "come" took me on another trip down memory lane! Both my sister and I have been fond of Winnie the Pooh... although I don't recall ever watching Pooh cartoons myself! So when Nantu was a baby my sister got him this little Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy which Nantu loved. He could even say "Poo" at 10 months, such was his love for this cute yellow bear!! One day, when Nantu was 10 months old we went to good old Naidu Hall (a store in Chennai). And there was a 3 foot version of Pooh sitting there in all its glory.
Nantu was impressed!! He made his dad take him to Pooh and spent the rest of the time in the store talking gibberish to Pooh. A big mistake DH made, without realizing what he was starting! When we began to leave Nantu called out to Pooh "Baaaaaa...." "Baaaaa..." so endearingly. I looked on with an amused look on my face. But Nantu was not so amused. "Poooo Baaa " he screams, but Pooh remained where it was.. the entire store looked on as Nantu demanded Poo to Baa!! Eventually it was a teary Nantu that left the store because Poo wouldn't Baaaa!! And I have felt guilty ever since, the first thing my son asked me for and I dint get it for him!
Meanwhile the love for Pooh hasn't ebbed. He had a Winnie the Pooh cake for his 3rd birthday. We also celebrated Pooh's birthday on October 14th with a chocolate cake and balloons!

Thanks Giving
Today is the Tamil Harvest Festival - Pongal. My Aunt reminded me a few weeks back that this was the Tamil Version of Thanks Giving.. I made the traditional Chakarai Pongal -A sweet made of Rice, Jaggery (Brown Sugar) and (in my house) Milk and Vadai (A fried snack). As is tradition we cook without tasting it and then offer all the food to God before we eat. As I was praying, I asked Nantu to list all that he was thankful for.. Here is his list
1. Chakarai Pongal
2. My toys
3. My cars
4. Santa's Gift
5. Library and Books
6. (after a lot of thought and prodding) Parents
7. Food (seeing the assortment placed before him)
After this of course he started being silly Nantu and went around thanking God for every single thing in the kitchen! I put an end to the thanking, by giving him a lunch of Chakarai Pongal! As you can guess, today's lunch went without fuss!

Yesterday at school his Teacher Miss A had something to say about Nantu which has really done me proud. She said "There are 2 new kids in our school today. Nantu befriended them and played with them today. He has been helping them adjust." I was very proud.. I came home and told him that I really appreciate his act of friendship. I then showered Nantu with wet kisses which he put a stop to!! What's a mother to do? I decided to blog about it instead!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Reality Bites

To me Incessant Musings is a fun blog. I like to write on the lighter side of life... Many times I have visited other bloggers who have written on some serious issues. As I read their post, I want to write a post on it.. and I have often left a comment saying that I will make a post on it.. But as I sit to write, I think of yet another funny tale and write that instead.
However today I am going to write about something that has truly touched me.
A few weeks back I was surfing around on blogger when I came across a blog called Baghdad Burning. I added it to my blog links and forgot all about it.This morning I read some posts on that blog... and have been able to think of nothing else since!
I have always been one to take life for granted. My biggest worry being how to cook today's food without burning it. I am a citizen of one country, but live in another... The doors to both countries are open to me and I come and go as I wish. I roam around inside each country as I wish. I take my freedom for granted.
(Pict Courtesy: carefulthought@wordpress)
The post I read is by a girl from Iraq who has taken refuge in Syria. She is fortunate enough to have a roof over her head, but the trials of getting a 2 month extension to stay just 2 more months in Syria is mind blogging. The refugees in Syria are at the mercy of Syrian Government, they are not truly welcome there.. and yet they cant return to their country of birth. Most have left behind their life's savings and the land they know and love to struggle for even survival in a strange land!!
I am going to stop here and let you think about how privileged we all are!! If you want to read more find the link to the blog in my side panel.
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On this note, I would like to also share my tryst with terrorism!!
I come from a lovely town in South India called Coimbatore. To many Indians this name might be familiar, I am about to tell you why!
It was a warm and sunny Saturday - Feb 14th 1998. I had made up my mind to watch a movie... but the VCR wouldn't work. So I decided to go get it fixed. My dad's assistant agreed to go with me to the VCR repair place. I had to go pick him up from my Dad's office though. So I started VCR in one hand and the Kinetic (Two Wheeler) keys in the other... As I was to step down from the porch I stopped still. I would have stepped on a small snake (A Speckled Cobra I think) if I had not looked.. I yelled for my mom and the two of us stood there and prayed till the snake left our home...
Not being very superstitious, I alerted some workers nearby of the sighting and went on to take my bike out and off to the VCR repair place. I went to Gandhipuram (a busy area in CBE) and dropped off the VCR. I then went on to my Uncle's office in Ramnagar (A tam bram locality) to pick up something from him... When I was there, he got a phone call and told me "Leave immediately.. and go straight home. There is some trouble in RS Puram". Coimbatore had a history of Hindu-Muslim feuds... so we knew the drill.
I started the ride back home.. with my Dad's assistant sitting behind me.. As I said Ramnagar is a Brahmin locality.. a Prime Hindu locality.. so the roads started closing down on us.. Except for one opening in and out of the area, all roads were literally closed down! We had to find that opening through the maze of roads and make our way out... As I rode home I saw smoke emanating from the side of the Railway Station - Central Coimbatore, while RS Puram where the alleged riots took place was behind us to the North.. Watching all this in bewilderement I headed home.
I dropped off the Assistant and went on to where I lived. At the corner of the road was a bike repair store we frequented. The Kinetic was my mom's bike and the break was acting up. So I stopped to have the guy fix it.. A group of guys came in an Auto screaming "Yen Ratham ellam kodhikudhu... Naan yen kannala parthen... ellam sinna pinnam aa pochu".. (My blood is boiling, I saw with my own eyes .. everything is in shambles). The guy in the auto was the one who took my sister to school everyday.. he said to me "Papa yen inga nikarenga, veetuku ponga.. velila varadhenga" ..(Little girl, why are you standing here? Go home and dont come out!)
The whole of next week we stayed at home, all schools and colleges were closed. We heard and saw the reports on Television. Our City was burning. The BJP leader LK Advani was supposed to make a speech on Feb 14th in RS Puram.. Alleged terrorists set off bombs in RS Puram, in the Railway Station, Town Hall (Downtown Coimbatore) , the Govt Hospital, the local bus stand and many such populous locations. In retaliation the Hindu's set ablaze many muslim stores in the city... Miscreants broke and looted all stores - Hindu and Muslim.. (pict courtesy - www.sabrang.com)
A week later we ventured out to go to college. .we were routinely subject to checks .. our bags and lunch boxes and bikes were all checked everytime we travelled past bus stands/ stations and other populated areas. Everywhere we looked there was devastation.. and at that time I felt helpless and ashamed.. Ashamed that I belonged to a world where 2 religions can't live in Harmony!!! Where people aren't looked at as human beings, but are given an identity based on Race, Color, Religion, Caste... Why do we look at differences and not similarities in each other?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Take Me Along!

As you already know I am getting to be an addicted blogger. This knowledge of course has no effect on me. Despite the fact that the past few weeks have been pretty busy in the Nantu Household I have been sitting down at the blog-dome! A couple of days back I decided to start authoring another blog ... at Sulekha.com. I decided I would get creative and write short stories. So I wrote my first one yesterday and waited day and night and all day today to receive a comment. I did receive one comment from my dear blogger friend Suma. But it did say 77 views. I wondered, is Suma just being nice to me? So I caught hold of DH (at least caught hold of his attention) and made him listen to the story.. With a very questionable smile (of course I haven't figured the meaning of the smile) he said that the story was good. But he went on to say "But maybe you should post it on Incessant Musings, then people will read it". (I choose not to interpret this!!)

Incessant Musings is for my rants and raves though, I dont want to use this space for my sparse creativity. Hence I renamed the erstwhile Poetic Trails to Creative Outbursts. I have always sucked at multi-tasking, so am not sure what to do with the Sulekha blog now. I think I will just let it be and die a slow death!! I already have one blog too many..
I have posted my first attempt at story writing in Creative Outbursts. Hope you my blogger friends will read and give me some honest feedback.
Meanwhile here is another story!
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She had always been very fond of and attached to her Aunt . Her aunt had doted on her all through her childhood. She had made dresses for her, read to her and spent all vacations with her. Every vacation her aunt took her to Vandalur Zoo (Chennai) and to the IIT Campus (where her aunt was doing her doctorate). She looked forward to every vacation.

However when she turned 7, her Aunt decided to get married to a guy in Australia. She was very upset that her aunt would choose a stranger over her!! Everyone in the family did their best to develop a special bond between her and the would-be uncle. So by the time of the actual wedding she was reconciled with the fact that she would still be very important to her Aunt!

Soon the wedding was over and it was time to say Adieu. Her aunt and uncle were going to have a short honeymoon in Fisherman's cove (Taj Resort near Chennai) before they took off to Australia!However as the left for their Honeymoon her ever teasing Uncle (Mama) took it upon him to etch that moment in the memories of all present!
Mama: Chitti and Chittapa are going to Vandalur Zoo without you. Don't you want to go say bye?!
Her: Really? But the Zoo is closed at night!
Mama: I don't think so, if they close the zoo at night where will the animals go?
(For some reason that made sense)
Her: I want to go too!!!
(She ran up to her aunt...)
Chitti Take me along, I will come too (Naanum varuven)
Her Aunt (No clue about the conversation She had had with Mama): Kids cant go there sweety
Her: No they can.. I will go too..
(Wailing - and standing in the middle of the road before their cab)
Her: I don't like this chittapa, why does he have to take you away.. Why cant I go too?
Her cousin (5 yrs older and wiser): Hey you idiot they are going on their honeymoon, kids can't go there
Her: Really where is honeymoon?
Her cousin: I don't know
Her: You are the idiot, you don't know anything? What will they do there? Why cant I go??
Her cousin: They will look at the moon and eat honey I think
Her: But I like honey!!
At this point to prevent further embarrassment to the couple her dad stepped in and carried her screaming and wailing into the house!!
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Unfortunately the little girl was me, and the chitti and chittapa have not let me live this down!! Neither did they let my cousin live it down.. We (as in chitti and me) made sure we let my cousin's wife know about this episode on the eve of their wedding.. so that she would know what to expect from him - We also made sure we gifted him with a bottle of honey !!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Culinary Chronicles!

I read Thinking Aloud's post on her culinary troubles and that has inspired this post!!
I am going to write about my tryst with cooking and hope you will still like me just a little at the end of this!!
If you know me in person know of my love-hate relationship with the kitchen. I love food, I hate cooking!!
My tryst with the Kitchen started as a young girl.. I spent hours in the kitchen watching my mom cook as I sat on my perch - the kitchen counter! I would yap away and that would be the extent of my contribution to the meal!
When I turned 16, my mom declared if I wanted any fried snacks, I would have to make it myself... Reluctantly I began venturing into the kitchen to fry up a storm!! And leave dozens of unwashed dishes in the sink, and leave my mom wondering how I could go through so many dishes to make 10 pakodas!
Then I started working and staying on my own.. We put this learning to good use. And made pakodas for a gathering of 10-15 ever so often.. The guys would buy the ingredients and cut up the veges, I would then fry it and my Roomie poor girl would do the dishes!
I recall making rasam one day.. We (My roomie and I .. both southies) invited our friend a Punjabi guy for lunch.. He tasted my rasam and declared there was something wrong.. He walked us through the process of making rasam and we then realized we had forgotten both tomatoes and dal.. We employed a cook soon!!
(Pict Courtesy: www.camh.net)
I then decided to get married, but even before that I made sure DH knew how to cook. I of course refused to learn any cooking in the months before the marriage.. However, after the wedding I took 2 months off from work and learnt cooking (DON'T YOU DARE LAUGH!!) ....
The following conversation will tell you how well,
Me: I am making parupu-usili, I just soaked the dal..
DH: Please don't make parupu-usili.. just make std sabji that will do!!
Me: But I want to eat parupu-usili

DH: Then you should have soaked the dals at least 2 hrs ago!!
That would shut me up
Despite the fact that I would be stumbling around in the kitchen, I had (still have) the audacity to presume that I could cook in less than an hour.. at 11:30 AM I started thinking about what to make for lunch!
The 2 months at home did nothing to improve my culinary skills. I did spend a lot of time on Yahoo Messenger though!!
So finally I gave up and went back to the tried and tested Fried Rice and Sabji. Being South Indians we never could tell if it was good or bad,.. and we survived.
Then came the real trial. I moved to India, had a child and invited my MIL to stay with me. Now my MIL had to take care of Nantu and so couldn't cook on week days. She also couldn't survive on Fried Rice. So I did the unimaginable - I started cooking traditional South Indian food. Now if you know me, you know I am very paranoid when it comes to food.. so I made South Indian fare sans Salt, Chili , Coconut and Oil !!! I know you are pitying my MIL.. pity me instead!!
I have of course learnt a lot in the past 5 years..
I have learnt to blame the "podi" (Sambhar powder and rasam powder) or the brand of "rice" (oh yes I manage to burn that or make it into a mushy paste!!).
I have learnt the magic words "Calories", "Healthy food".... when my food turns out to be tasteless and flavorless.
I have learnt about the ready made pastes that make the gravies taste oh so wonderful!! (Only when I manage not to burn them)
I have learnt to cook South Indian food when North Indians visit and vice versa, and when I have a mixed gathering I make Pasta (You cant go too wrong with Pasta) or Thai Curry (Ready made paste remember?)
If the gathering includes Americans too, there is always take out and the pricey caterer!!
I have learnt to fake headaches or fever to make DH cook (even after he has had a long day!! :P)
And then I have learnt to say ....
To Nantu "You don't have to like it.. you just have to eat it "
To DH "If you don't like it, you can do the cooking"

And of course I have learnt that there is always the dependable pizza place!! :)

After Word: The reason I make this post is because I know so many of my fellow bloggers claim that they are lacking in culinary skills. When you read this I hope to put your thoughts in perspective!!

After After Word: The past years we have traveled a lot and eaten in a lot of obscure places. We have also been to some friend's places who are also unfortunate with their culinary struggles. While I empathize with them,
DH says "Oh I wish I could have a home cooked meal"
I ask "Really, you prefer my cooking"
DH says "To this, yes!!"...
Even though that doesn't sound quite like a compliment.. I cant help dance with joy!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bedtime Struggles!

Oh yes.. another Nantu post.. Like Compassion Unlimited said in his comment to my planning ahead... my world seems to revolve around Nantu these days... or at least my blogs do... well what can I say.. he is my inspiration to blogging!! So I record here a thanks to darling Nantu!
While I am in a thanking mood, I would like to thank all of you who visit and read my musings/ ravings/ rants.. call it what you may and actually return to read the next rant!! I am now emboldened to introduce you to another blog of mine.. I am trying my hand at poetry (Good God? Yeah!!).. read it if you can spare some time.. And remember I can use some criticism!!
Now back to Nantu....
Even before Nantu was born, his mom and dad decided that this kid will sleep in his cradle. Much to the shock of all Indian Mommies, Grannies, Aunties and other Babies-Sleep-Between-Parents types Nantu did sleep in his cradle. The reason was simple, mommy needed her sleep and needed to get to work the next day... At 4 months, the cradle became hazardous with the cheeky monkey turning around and tilting the cradle in the process. So then came the crib... and peace reigned the Nantu household for the rest of the year!
Nantu turned 1 and discovered something about Mom. If he cried in the middle of the night, he could get into the parental bed and mommy was too tired to put him back in the crib, and so let him be!! At 1 year and 2 months, the crib turned hazardous too.. with the avid climber jumping out of the crib one day and claiming "Crib Naana, Nantu Dhan" (Roughly translated means No more Crib.. Nantu fell off the crib)...
At a year and a half.. Nantu traveled across seas to the United States. Mommy and Daddy let him sleep in the parental bed and while they moved from place to place, never did replace the crib.
At 2 yrs and a few months, it finally dawned on Mommy that she was having trouble sleeping and was waking up with a sore back after having been kicked all night. Then started the search for the perfect toddler bed.. and lo behold a blue car bed... Nantu was enamored and the bed finally arrived. It took its place next to the parental bed in the Master Bedroom (!!)
The first few days were bliss for the entire household.. and then the shiny blue car bed began to pale against the prospect of sharing the bed with mom and dad.. Then began threats of returning the car bed if he didn't sleep in it.. In a few weeks, Nantu caught on.. and demanded that the car bed be returned!! Maybe a Thomas bed instead? He would say!!
Nantu and Mommy read a book one day.. about a stay in bed gift.. so mommy got him stay in bed pajamas.. cars and spider man night suits!!! This worked for about a week... and Nantu realized, even if he hops beds mommy is not going to ask him to take off his pajamas in the middle of the night.. All it entails is that he begins the night sleeping in his bed!
Then the doctor was consulted.. the big question "How do we get Nantu to stay in his bed" was posed. She suggested rewarding him with stars... and then when he collected 3 stars buying him a happy meal or something!! Mommy thought this could be fun.. and there began the rewarding system.... only Thatha (grand dad) considered this was bribery and tried his best to get mommy to stop... Daddy had his own misgivings about the rewards... but mommy was very excited.. and it did work... so Nantu collected stars and exchanged them for Happy Meals, M&M's and Cheeto's. Soon he ran out of demands!! And reasons to stay in bed.. Meanwhile mommy was relenting every time Nantu cried in the middle of the night (poor guy is having a bad dream she said)...
Now Nantu has learnt something.. Every time he needs something, he sleeps in his bed for 3 consecutive nights .. and collects the stars and his reward.. On the other days? There is no need to stay in bed!! Mommy of course is so gullible!!
As for me.. every few days I think again.. whats the whole point anyway? I am not sure anymore... Like a friend recently told me, its only a few more years that he will sleep with us, once he starts Grade School he will insist on sleeping in his bed in his room!! So do I make the most of it?? But I am losing sleep with all the hitting and kicking!!! And most importantly ...
I AM BEING MANIPULATED!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Boys will be boys!!

Nantu told me the night before last before he hit the bed .. Mommy I played housekeeping in school today. Last morning.. I grilled him on what this "house keeping" was...
In his words There is a toy kitchen in our school.. It has pretend food, I ate m***** (that made no sense to me, but I dint stop him), B ate Orange Cake and C ate Muffins
Me:
How lovely, did you guys cook too?
Nantu :
No T cooked.
T is a girl and I was smarting at the chauvinistic attitude Nantu was taking. Or was it that?
Me : Why dint you, B and C cook
Nantu:
T cooked, we ate!
Me:
Will you cook tomorrow.
Nantu:
No I will play with cars tomorrow.
uh uh!!! This conversation brought to mind something I read a few months back... On boys and girls.. I had also written a post on this a few months back. Who teaches these kids on what to play with? Why do boys play with cars and girls with Barbie? I never taught Nantu any of this!! Or did I unconsciously do just that? I bought him a fairy tales book when he was a baby ... but he refuses to listen to those stories.... still he loves to listen to jungle book or Bambi or robin hood. Why is that?
When Nantu was a baby I brought all my stuffed toys from my parents home. He ignored them till he was about 1 (He had a couple of favorites, the rest dint get any time of the day!). When he turned 1, he stuffed all of them in his erstwhile cradle and loved to pull them out and stuff them back in. My SIL's kid when she visited would rock them to sleep.. but Nantu refused to even imitate her... at one year mind you!! I am sure we never told him what to do with them.
(Look at him in the picture ready to land a punch!!!)
Later... when I came to US.. I dint buy him any stuffed toys (what was the point anyway)... Once when I was buying a cute stuffed dog for a relatives kid, Nantu expressed his desire to own one.. I immediately obliged. Since then he has a few stuffed toys.. of different kinds of animals.. sometimes the dog named fluffy .. gets a hug. but the others they get arranged and rearranged... but no hugs or taking them to bed!!
Where did this come from? I wonder! I might have understood, if Nantu had exhibited these strong preferences once he started school, but at one year? Recently we were shopping for Nantu's cousin... He wants to buy Barbie for her. I asked him if we can buy her a car, but he wont hear of it!!

Cars are for boys mom he says.. Girls like Barbie.
But why???!!! Is my son growing to be a little macho-ist?
I asked him:Why cant girls play with cars... We do drive cars.
Nantu Replied:
OK lets get her that pink Barbie jeep
Oh well... like Nantu says "Unnaku onnum theriyadhu amma, naan solli tharen" (You know nothing mommy, let me teach you) I don't know anything do I? What do you think, where does all this come from?