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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meeting the Nephew

I discovered it is so easy to forget.
Forget that you once were expertly handling a baby, no, 2 babies who were much smaller and lighter when they were born just a little more than 4 years ago. It is also so easy to forget that new borns are so tiny that even the smallest of clothes seem to be big on them.

I discovered it is so easy to get used to handling the infant within a short space of time. So much so that you begin to move from task to task seamlessly- change nappies, wash bum, stuff in the bottle, make the baby sleep, sing lullabies- yes the same 4.5 year old movie songs and then switch to more recent, relevant songs like Iban batuta, Mudi mudi mudi.

I discovered that it is extremely natural to start missing the new baby as soon as one is back to home base. And your own children seem to be heavier and larger than you ever thought.

I never thought in my wildest dream that it is possible for me to love a baby that has not come from me. As they say, babies are complicated. They make people respond in unexplicible ways.

I made a short lightening trip to Patna from Kolkata (official) just to see the precious baby. And so did the Mamu. And here are some of the photos that captures my moments with the baby.

Presenting the little Donut with the proud Mamma and Mamu

The one in which Donut looks so much like Ojas- they have the same expression when they cry

The one in which he giggles like Tejas

with proud Mausi (that's me) and Nani who seems to think I cannot handle Donut at all and snatches him everytime he cries in my lap
with Nana who believes that the Sun shines out of Donut's BumWith Badi Nani and Mami Nani

With Bade Nana
With the favourite Mamis- who expertly check the diaper

We all thought that lazy Mamu was very keen to play with Donut- but no, he seems to be more keen to catch on his sleep

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On Reading

I love to read. And I am not talking about reading but reading aloud. Giving importance to each word, punctuation, pause and the tone of the voice. I could recite poems and Julius Caesar for hours and not surprisingly, studying English or Hindi was my favourite activity, because it gave me a chance to read aloud to myself.
Moving on, I love reading to my kids and hate it when they interupt me with question. When I was in the right mood I would pause at sight words and Tejas would supply them as we read the story, much to Ojas' annoyance as he likes the story to move uninterupted.

A typical reading session would be peppered with-
Tejas- show me, show me the word, where is it written
Ojas- show me , show me where is the cat (or apple or whatever).
Little did I realize that this was their way of reading the book until I noticed that Tejas can read an entire page as I point at the words and Ojas can tell some excerpts of the story out of memory and the rest through the pictures much to my delight and concern that Ojas is not reading as much as he is memorising. He matches word patterns and reads rather than reading the word.

So the update is that to boost the reading skills and sight word recognition I have made a whole host of Dolch sight words on flash cards and we do the word exercise everyday. We are seeing progress and the challenge is to prevent Ojas from memorizing and answering instead of actually reading the words out.

On a different note, I saw this nice post at Narad Tales and would love to do it- a nice positive approach to day to day life- will do it once I am back next week- yes- I am off to a short holiday coupled with work- alone- sans kids. It pains me greatly to go without them as they were enthusiastically packing their crayons and laptop - patna mein hum kya karenge, isiliye crayon and laptop le kar chalte hain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

King of Dreams

Tejas- wight after waking up relates his dream - (Note he doesn't understand the concept of dreams- he thinks it has really happened)
Mamma, I took my (school) bag and it was very heavy and I saw inside it had 10 lollypops.
Ojas- Did you share it with me?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Q & A

Rather only Questions.
Some absurd or funny questions that I have been asked

Girl, after successfully banging her car into mine from behind- But why did you stop your car?
Me- Err, because there was a car right in front of me taking a u-turn

ISO person when I explained how we pitch for competition's business-Why do you want to take competition's business
Me- Why shouldn't be?

Tejas- when I read the word "us" - U S kyon nahin bola, us kyon bola

On that note, I am reading Q& A by Vikas Swarup- quite interesting and fun.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brothers at War

The second in the Mughal Series by Alex Rutherford.
This story is about the second Mughal ruler- Humayun who ascended the throne after Babur's death. The story of Humayun is tragic and full of troubles. He spent most of his life in striving to gain back the kingdom he lost within a short span of ascending the throne. Babar was tough. In contrast Humayun was quite a softie. He forgave his treacherous half brothers many times before finally punishing them, not with death even then. he was whimsical and a dreamer- had great faith in the planets and their influence over human fate.
These traits were also a cause for his downfall- he lost the entire kingdom of Hindustan and was forced to retreat upto Persia.
Humayun's marriage, the birth of Akbar happened during his retreat and these factors propelled him into winning back his kingdom. Sadly, after a reign of 6 months, he died leaving the 13 year old Akbar to ascend the throne.

The story is fast paced and full of battle details. Whereas Raiders from the North was more colorful, Brothers at War is more like a war memoir. All the more difficult for the author to make it a compelling read- which it is.
Khanzada's character has blossomed in this book- she plays a major advisory role in Humayun's life and emerges as a strong Mughal woman.
But all said and done, despite his limitations and troubles, Humayun managed to achieve the 2 important promises that he had made in his lifetime- make his wife Mallika- e - Hindustan and win back Hindustan for Akbar (Aren't they 2 parts of the same promise anyway?)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One Amazing Thing

Another book by Chita Banarjee Divakaruni that is woven around the concept of stories.
I love the way she exploits the art of story telling or the concept of a story itself in her books. The idea behind the book is brilliant. The concept powerful.
9 lives trapped in a room after an earthquake. A motely crowd drawn in the room by a certain pre ordained fate- all of them waiting in the visa office for their India trip.
And how do they pass their time as they wait for help or inevitable death- by telling stories to each other- stories from their life or is it story of their life itself? Stories that shaped them in some way, stories that had atleast one amazing thing that affected them and their life - one turning point in their life.
The concept, I reiterate, is brilliant. The book was not gripping or riveting or a page turner- the kind which you cannot stop reading- you live the book until you finish it- you walk with it, you talk about it, you read it on the way to work, or in front of the TV or at bed time or in the loo. No, I read it at the slowest of pace. I did not feel compelled to read it and mostly I did not get closure. What is their fate? We are to interpret it ourselves. But then, I need to be told in black and white what happened.
Or is there a sequel coming in? I am prepared to wait. Atleast for the sake of the characters in the book who are maybe just one step away from closure themselves- one India trip away.

If I were to draw a similar parallel in my life- is there one amazing thing that became a turning point for me? I do not know. Maybe I have lots of tiny amazing things that are mini turning points but is there one such singular incident that impacts me hugely, alters the course of my life. May be not. I rack my brains but I find none.
May be small moments of truth that make me sit up and think and even alter the course of my thinking.

Friday, July 09, 2010


NalandaWay works with children from challengign situations from the poorest districts in India, helping them raise their voices and issues through theatre, visual arts, music, dance, radio and films. Over 5700 disadvantaged children and young people in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir in India are involved in their projects. Their interventions have helped them learn creativity, life skills and self-confidence to create the lives that they truly want to create.

NalandaWay’s Art, Arattai, Aarpattam (AAA) is an annual children’s art, music, and theatre festival. The festival provides a space for children, families and teachers to have new experiences of the arts, to experiment, to challenge, to be inspired and have fun together. The festival has been a great success past two years. Last year more than 110,000 children participated in the events and competitions across Tamil Nadu, and over 12,600 people attending the concerts and the film festival. This year would be the third edition of the festival and will focus on the theme “Right to Speak” and “Right to be heard”.

The festival is conducted every year in partnership with UNICEF. The festival will be conducted in 32 districts and over 3000 cities, towns and villages across Tamil Nadu. Over 1,00,000 children directly and over 10 million children and families would be indirectly impacted by this festival. The festival will be conducted in partnership with corporate sponsors, schools, colleges, grass-root level NGOs, self-help women groups, community-based cooperatives, consulates, international cultural centers, television channels, FM radio stations, newspapers, magazines, cinema halls, concert halls, Corporation of Chennai and Government of Tamil Nadu.

Target Audience
Children aged between 5 – 18
Event Name: Arts Carnival

Date: July 16th, 17th , 18th

Venue: DakshinaChitra

This will be a three-day carnival which will be held at Dakshin Chitra, a cultural heritage centre in Chennai. Workshops on storytelling, book-reading, pottery, claymodeling, Kalamkari etc., will be conducted by professionals, for children between 6-16. The workshop will encourage children to creatively express, experience, andentertain using various art forms.

Event Name: Children’s Film Festival

Date: July 19 – 23 and July 26 - 30

Venue: Film Chamber, Near Gemini

A festival of blockbuster children’s films such as UP, Kung Fu Panda, Finding Nemoetc.Event Name: “Sing Along by Krishna Iyer and Jeeva”Date: July 24thVenue: Museum Theatre Krishna Iyer and Jeeva [story tellers] will present stories and songs for children.Jeeva will entertain with her stories and her mime; and Krishna and her lively teamwill present some foot-tapping numbers.

Event Name: “Tale of Haruk” – A Korean Musical

Date: July 24th

Venue: Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall

For the first time in India, TUIDA, a performance group from South Korea will beperforming “The Tale of Haruk”. This play has won the Best Play, Acting, Playwright,Art Directing Prize at 2002 Seoul Children's Theatre Award, and received ravereviews for its experimental spirit, elaborate and creative set-designs.

Event Name: “Super Singer Juniors” - LIVE

Date: July 25th

Venue: Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall

Vijay TV’s super singer juniors will be performing popular numbers from TamilCinema.
Art Arattai Aarpatam 2010: Programmes

Event Name: “Adventures of the Green Ogre” – English Musical[Based on the character “Shrek” by William Steig]

Date: July 30th

Venue: Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall

This is an English musical. The play is directed by popular theatre personality MichaelMuthu. He founded BoardWalkers in 1991 which consistently picks and promotesyoung talent from the city colleges. His famous productions include Biloxi Blues, God,Sleuth, The Hairy Ape, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Event Name: “Kuravanji”- Kattai Koothu[By a street theatre troupe from Kancheepuram]

Date: July 31st

Venue: Pitty Thyagaraya Hall

This will be a street-theatre type performance in Tamil by Kattai Koothu a troupe inKancheepuram.

Event Name: “Ali Baba and Forty Police” – Tamil PlayBy Nalandaway Children Theatre Group

Date: August 1st

Venue: Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall

Ali Baba and the Forty Police is a funny adaptation of the age old Arabian tales “Alibaba and the forty thieves”.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Partly because I wanted to watch both the Hindi & the Tamil versions and partly because the Husband has cribbed umpteen number of times that I do not go to Tamil movies as per his wish and also because the rigours of translating the hindi Raavan would be too taxing, we watched Raavanan and not Raavan.

I or rather the both the husband and me are among the few who did not find the movie disappointing. I often say that my standards of expecation from a movie is not very high. But, I can also manage to lose interest in the whole movie if it doesn't catch my attention right in the first 10 minutes. Which is why I was appalled when I was watching the retard LSD and Luck by Chance inspite of rave reviews from many quarters.

By that yardstick, Raavanan managed to keep my attention intact throughout. If I compare with other movies, Maniratnam or otherwise, it wasn't the nail biting, bum-on-the-edge of the chair type movie like Roja, Bombay, Lagaan or even Dil Se. It was a good but predictable story line. Pains have been taken to make the Ramayan parallels obvious- even though it was not necessary and sometimes downright ridiculous- Hanuman equivalent or the Agni Pariksha equivalent for example.

In Ramayan, Ram is good but his character sketch is not without the trappings and limitations of his human avatar whereas Ravan is a highly "vidwaan" evil king whose punishment is pre-ordained because of his certain evil deeds.
These shades of grey in Ram (Dev) and glimpses of white in Raavan (Veera) are the turning points in Raavanan.
In fact the white is so very strong in Raavan that I found myself siding with him more than the hero. The shift from terrorizing to empathising to supporting the villain is very subtle and without even realizing one begins to sympathise with the character of Raavan more than that of Sita.
Ram is the guy who will not give up, despite what is at stake - he will even stake what is at stake in the first place for his larger objective- the greater good.
Whereas Raavan- he will not hesitate to give up his bargaining tool for the sake of the bargaining tool itself- heart ruling the head?
Vikram has played the "10 heads" to perfection- he is truly central to the movie and you miss him when he is not in the frame.
When I sat to analyse Aishwarya's performance, I realized that it can be summed up in expressions which conveyed much more than dialogues and hysterical screams, yet kept the viewers guessing till the end- and that, in my opinion is worth an applause.
I loved Behne de the best and the rest of the songs- well- they grew on me slowly and get played on a continuous loop nowadays.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Junk Food

The current paranoia of the kids is "junk food".
So I should not be giving any junk food to school- which I never do anyway but they have gone a step further and defined what are junk food and when should junk food be eaten.

Fruits are not junk food.
Chips, Kurkure, Biscuits are junk food.
Noodles is junk food.
Popcorn is not.
Junk food should be eaten at home, not in school.
Mixture is not junk food - this one from Ojas the mixture freak
Bread Jam is not junk food.
Cake is (not) junk food- Ojas says it is and Tejas says it is not. No prizes for guessing who favours cake.
And the best bit-
they have politely told the hostess of a birthday party-
I will have only juice.
I will take only one chips- this is junk food
Cake is junk food.
I have had milk at home so I will not eat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

When in Rome....

Err when in Madras, be a Madrasi. And I ahem proudly present how I am so becoming a Madrasi!
1. I have actually started liking ellai sapad (banana leaf food served in functions)- So much so I lament if the spread is not grand enough. There were days when I would walk out of a wedding dinner and into another restaurant to eat my fill.

2. I feel glad that I live in Chennai- be it easy traffic and distances, safety, school admissions, affordable homes.

3. My kids are learning Carnatic

4. First I started liking Surya, then Vikram... now what? No one can save me now.

5. The other day I was "reading" a story to the kids in Tamil- ore Kutti puli irka ....(Takdir the kutti puli was the book)

6. I can crack pun jokes in Tamil- Example-
Someone- What happens if this flavour is tried in a Marie biscuit
Me- it will become Ore Maaaaaari (meaning- typical, not so great type- ah well, I can't explain- you need to understand Tamil for that)

7. See 6 above- While translating a tamil joke I have told you in a superior manner- cannot explain- rather you will not understand

8. I can watch a Tamil movie without asking husband to translate each and every dialogue, sound or expression. In fact I have even reviewed a Tamil movie on this blog- a two line one but still, it counts

9. And how could I forget? The process started 6 years ago, the moment I bought "own house" in Chennai.

10. I make sundal during navratri. Slurp

11. edited to add- I have a shoe rack outside my house now.

Monday, July 05, 2010

My Sins Against Gender Stereotype

Apu tagged me to do proclaim the sins hat I have done and here I bite the bait!

First of all I really do not think that burning your lingerie is a symbol of feminism or wearing pink is girlish or liking cooking, knitting is a typical girlie stereotype- after all, don't we have male celebrity chefs?
Frankly I always treat roles as gender neutral- I do nog let definitions or boundries prevail on me. Whenever I have done something that is considered masculine, I have done it without giving it a second thought- it is done because it has to be done.

But since nobody is asking my opinion but asking me to just list out 10 stuff that I have done that are considered not girlish- I do just that but give my reasons on why I did that.

1. I learnt to drive a car at the age of 11 and a 2 wheeler at the age of 10- a thing that is very normal for a boy to do. Again, it was not an act of a rebel. Neither was it done becoase I wanted to prove a point that - oh, you think I should not be doing it because I am a girl- so I will exactly do it. Mom put me on a moped right after I learned to cycle. And I admit I was shit scared the first time. From that to a car was a natural progression. But again, it was just something that I learnt for the purpose of learning and not for driving around taking Dad's car. It was not that I was simply waiting to become 18 and take a driving license. It happened in its own course. And even afterwards, it was only in 2007 that I got my own car and really started driving.

2. I lived in a hostel-for 6 years- I guess a first in my family. Again not to prove a point because it had to be done. I never felt that pride- ladki hoke bhi akele hostel mein rahti hai. It was no biggie. I never thought that a girl should not be allowed to do it. And this also meant the countless trips from hostel to home and vice versa began- out of necessity.

3. I lived alone in a new city when I got my first job. No big deal. Neither my family nor I thought that it should be done otherwise.

4. I do not believe in not contributing towards the traditionally accepted men's domain of earning the dough. Not because I feel it is the feminist thing to do- but because it seems the sensible thing to do.

5. I feel that every member of the house, including the man of the house should help at home- kitchen/ kids/ cleaning. Because I honestly believe that what has to be done has to be done. So if I need to leave the house at 8 am then every member in the house should do their bit in ensuring that it gets done. If the home needs vacuuming- anyone should be able to take the initiative to do it

6. I do not believe that decision making is the domain of men. I like to be an equal partner in that. New house, new paints, which school etc etc. Again, I might not take the final decision or be involved in the process of looking for alternatives. But I would most certainly like to be involved at the crucial stages.

7. One will never see me sitting all coy and submissive. I love to argue my point out rather than just accept what is told to me to do.

8. And most uncharacteristically, I pushed the husband to get a blackberry - something that is traditionally his domain- gadgets and such.

9. I read in the loo. Such a man thing to do. Not the reading- the reading in the loo thing.

10. I can carry out mini repairs on my own- food processor and the likes.

Friday, July 02, 2010


I secrety think that the new arrangement of different sections seem to be helping Ojas & Tejas blossom in different ways. But outwardly, I would still want to stomp my feet and say put my babies in the same section.
Especially when the teachers standing at the gate to welcome "their" students completely ignore one of the siblings in saying Good morning. The kids are not used to such difference coming from people. It gladdened my heart when Tejas' teacher asked - what is your brother's name when she found Ojas looking expectatingly towards her whenever she wished Tejas good morning- and more so because Ojas' teacher is a little soft spoken.
Anyway, the kids have been made monitors- Tejas is supplies monitor and I almost laughed out aloud when the teacher said seriously- pretty important role!
Ojas is "book read" monitor and I am guessing from what he described that he is supposed to read out the letter of the day or something.

On the other hand, they are going through another phase which pains me a lot- 4 friends have formed 2 different groups and Ojas & Tejas are in opposite groups- short of taking sides myself and quarreling from either side, I have been doing all that it takes to get them back together again when they are out in the complex play area. I coax them, cajole them and tell them when anyone (meaning your party person) says Tejas is a good boy, then Tejas should say- Ojas is also a good boy.
I have told them Ojas & Tejas are friends first then other people are your friends. (Meanie me)
The only thing that is left is to take them home everytime they break into groups!
Update- just this morning, Ojas got all protective- why did you hit Tejas- said he to another boy!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ojas, Tejas Crack a Joke

Me- Come and have your lunch
Kids- What is there for lunch
Me- Chicken
Kids- KFC?
Me- No, MFC- Mamma's Fried Chicken
Kids- If Dadda gets chicken then what will you call it
Kids- no, KFC (Because Hubby's name starts with K!)


A 7 year old kid hit the neighbour's children. Ojas & Tejas gave him a lecture

Why did you hit them

Boy- because they hit me

Ojas, Tejas- If they hit you, you should tell their mother, not hit them. They are babies no?


Tejas- I am hungry (angling for the lollypop or something interesting)

Me - Will you have milk

Tejas- I said eat not drink


Or alternatively

Tejas- I am hungry (angling for the juice)

Me- Will you have rice

Tejas- I want to drink something not eat