Friday 13 December 2013


So many big changes!
I went back to full-time work. Its been a couple of weeks now and while the commute is killing (Whitefield to Koramangala, anyone?), the work has been very interesting and the people have been lovely. So far, so good :)
My parents (and one 92-year old grandma) moved to Bangalore, to the same community I live in. Another 79 yo grandma expected early next year! It's been lovely having them around, Someone commented that your parents have a 'lilt' in their voice now - and why not? I'm sure seeing their grandchildren every day has that effect on all paatis and thathas :)
It's been super-busy, getting the house and related infrastructure ready for my folks, while also working in fits and bursts and juggling the two kids in the midst of all this. The mornings are especially crazy since we are all out of the house by 8.30 am. 
Predictably, blogging has taken a backseat. Hopefully I will be more regular from January onwards.

Monday 11 November 2013

Chikmaglur holiday

We used the Deepavali weekend to go to Chikmaglur with my parents-in-law. I've been planning a trip there ever since our first stint in Bangalore between 2003 and 2007 but there was always a jinx on it - I remember we booked acco a couple of times but then had to cancel. This time I had my fingers and toes crossed and fortunately, other than an excruciating 2 hours trying to get out of Bangalore city on Rajyostava day, we made good time and reached our homestay in Chikmaglur in time for lunch even after a quick stop at the Hoysala temples at Belur
Our homestay was beautifully situated and remote, in the center of a bonafide working coffee plantation. Our hosts were extremely congenial and the other guests were super-friendly. In fact, we got to be good friends with another couple with a small kid who took a shine to Y and Ads. This cute kid insisted on following the former around everywhere and calling her "Dolly"! My parents-in-law are both social people and they enjoyed having a few other families around to chat with, so the homestay idea worked out well for us as opposed to a more resort-like or hotel ambience. 

Chennakesava temple at Belur
Superb craftmanship

The homestay - Ads & Y biking in the distance
On the first evening, S, my fil and I decided to go on a trek to Bendgall, a challenging rocky climb that left us gasping for breath. My fil couldn't make it more than a quarter of the way but S and I and the other couple with the toddler gamely plodded on, with able assistance from our hardy guide. We took turns to carry and cajole the little boy up the steep hill. This other couple also gave up near the summit when they realized that one had to climb on all fours, on hands and knees with hardly any footholds to speak of! It was thrilling and adventurous to put it mildly but I was in the middle of a major andrenaline rush and managed the last bit quite easily. The views from the top were certainly worth every creaking joint, panting breath and scrape/tear (I managed to fall down and get a couple of deep gashes on my knee and leg as we descended).

The beginning of the trail, which disappeared as we climbed higher

Narrow pathways

View from the top

Our guide was so sure-footed and it doesn't look that steep, but the only way we could get down was on our bottoms!

Another view from the top - the road down below is the one from where we started climbing!

The next day, we were treated to a very informative walk through the coffee estate where my fil and S quizzed our host about the economics of growing coffee. All dreams of owning a small estate some day came crashing down as we realized the manifold risks of being an agri-entrepreneur, most of them far beyond one's control! That evening, we visited Kavikalmatta, another stony and bone-wrenching drive away, but well worth it for the fabulous views. I was forcefully reminded of the many LOTR landscapes in New Zealand - yes that's how beautiful it was!!!
Maybe I've said it before but I'll say it again. The more I travel across India, the more convinced I get that there is truly no country on Earth as beautiful as ours. We were unmatched in both the gorgeousness and the diversity of our landscapes.

We stopped to gape at the temples in Halebidu on the way back to home sweet home, and a hurried Deepavali celebration which consisted of hanging thorans, and lighting clay lamps and candles. Our green warrior Ads was most happy to be out of the noisy Diwali celebrations in our community and not have to watch people bursting crackers!

Saturday 9 November 2013

A new feeling, this.

It's the morning of Y's birthday party and S is puzzled. Isn't it time you were getting stressed? He asks me. Wonder of wonders, I must be getting good at this gig because this is the first time ever that I have not been stressed over a birthday party. Experience tells, I guess :) The decorations are up (all except the balloons), cake ordered, games and meal planned, party favours sorted out and I don't have that niggling feeling that I have missed out on something! All this for the biggest crowd ever - we have 16 kids and 10 adults arriving today, not including the four of us and my parents-in-law.
And I love that after today, I can put up my feet for the next 9 months :) Yay for that!

Thursday 7 November 2013

Y turns 5

Y turned 5 years old this week. It was very bittersweet. I was (and still am, slightly) depressed. It feels like the end of something – childhood? Can't be - not yet, surely! Babyhood? Certainly, yes. She gets leggier and sassier by the day and I don’t like it. I miss the soft baby curls. When she lisps or mispronounces words (very rare these days), my heart flips over. Yet...yet...she still has those luscious baby cheeks and her very own babyish smell. She still looks pitifully small when she leaves me to climb onto the school bus. Her eyes still light up when she spots me at pickup time. She starts talking the minute she is off the bus and does not stop for the next 8 hours :)
Maybe I have some more time to savour her babyhood before she becomes a big girl!
She has been unadulterated delight from the day she was born. I’m probably jinxing myself right here by saying this, but the last five years have been a breeze. She was an easy infant, an easy toddler who potty-trained herself at 2 years and an absolute pleasurable kid now. There have been no tantrums, no fuss, no hang-ups. Ok, now, what’s the catch??!!! There’s gotta be one! She’s a confident kid but a little shy and reserved in public. She goes to a toddler singing class and learns freestyle dance. From being that kid who couldn’t string two sentences together in English, she now speaks the language confidently (much to my dismay, Tamil is falling by the wayside).
I remember the sheer happiness glistening through the tears in S’s eyes when he held his daughter for the first time. I felt somewhat the same when her birthday came around this year. Happy-sad is what Y calls it! "Amma are you happy-sad?" She asks me atleast once every day. Of course the answer always has to be "I'm Happy!
She makes my day when she clings to me and yells (and this happens every day) – YOU. ARE. SO. HUGGA. BLE.  AND. SO. KISS. ABLE. I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. IT!!!
Happy birthday, little-big girl. As much as I would like to freeze time, I will let you go with the promise of the best years still to come.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Our golu this year

New place, new friends, new dolls and yes, managed to get a proper 3-step padi as well for Golu 2013 edition!

Kumarakom (and Fort Kochi)

My mother was visiting and we went to Kumarakom for a few days at the beginning of Navarathri holidays. S and I have visited most of Kerala but the backwaters had always been waiting patiently to be crossed off the bucket list :) I had booked a houseboat for the first day and night and a KTDC luxury resort for the next few days, the latter based on TGND's gorgeous pictures and recommendation! Thanks, TGND!
First things first. Kumarakom is absolutely lovely. I'd expected it to be touristy, imagining us to be jostling on the lake with a whole bunch of other houseboats, speedboats and what not. That scenario couldn't have been farther from the reality- fortunately. The lake is so large that we felt like we had it all to ourselves. The only sounds were the gentle lapping of the waters and the twittering and flapping of birds (snakefish! brahminy kite! blue jay! as Ads excitedly pointed out). The houseboat droned monotonously through the still waters as we snoozed in comfortable loungers on the upper deck, books in hands but words swimming as we sank into a post-lunch stupor. We were roused by the arrival of filter coffee and tapioca chips :)
In the evening, I was back to my usual frantic photo-clicking self, as the kids played, squabbled and had loads of fun, running up and down the stairs and taking turns at "steering" the boat along with the pilot. The boat travelled from Kumarakom (Vembanad lake) to Alleppey before mooring at Kumarakom for the night. We had ample time to disembark and walk through a tiny village, every house boating a large solitary brass and oil lamp at it's main door for Navarathri. We walked through the fading light through narrow but silent streets to the temple and back.

This was the view next morning, as we woke up to steaming cups of coffee :) Kerala is utterly mesmerising.

The next few days were spent in the resort where the main activities were snoozing, playing games (chess for the dad and son), watching the glorious sunsets and chatting. We did spend an active day in Fort Kochi where I was bowled over by the antique shops in Jew Town. Amma and I spent a couple of happy hours floating in and out of shops and picked up a few brass artifacts.
I can't wait to go back to this gorgeous state - next trip up in January!!!

Friday 27 September 2013

The losing battle

Several times a week, while eating dinner, she gives me a wistful look. 
I wish that ....
No! I unceremoniously interrupt.
....I can sleep with you and appa.
I studiously ignore her. It's all very fine to cuddle up with your little bundle of joy, but 8 years down the line, I'm unwilling to relinquish my hard-won victory - the reclaimed bed, space and night-time peace!
Twice a week, the two kids get to sleep in our bedroom. On Sunday nights, to help them deal with Sunday evening/Monday morning blues *rolls eyes* and one other night during the week. When these happy occasions come around - Yessss!!! Father and daughter gleefully pump their arms into the air in unison.
But just now, she knows better than to argue with me. If Appa was around, she would get some support. I would have two pairs of identical mournful eyes beseeching me :) Yes the dad is worse than his daughter but knows better than to cross me in this matter :)
So, being the smart cookie that she is, she goes for guerilla warfare. Attack when the enemy is at her most vulnerable. When all defences are down.
1 am or 2 am is the time generally chosen.
Amma, a small voice quavers pitifully. My legs are hurting soooo much. Or, I had a bad dream. 
Some nights, I pull her into bed with me. After a few leg massages and cuddles, off she goes back to her room, over the protests of her dad. Some nights, though, Lady Luck is on their side. I'm too tired or sleepy to fight. She triumphantly climbs into Appa's waiting arms.
When the enemy is within, what can one do??? :(

Sunday 22 September 2013

Some performances

Ganesh Chaturthi was performed on a massive scale within our community recently. Perhaps all festivals are mounted as lavishly - I wouldn't know since the festive season has just kicked off. The good thing was that all children (and adults) were given the opportunity to perform on stage in front of a large audience, something that doesn't always happen in school where auditions and such tend to push out the not-so-talented children out of the game. The bad thing, of course, is that there were plenty of sub-par performances that one had to endure. No matter - these were kids, they all looked sweet on stage, and so many of them had admirable confidence and poise that made up for.....err.......lack of ability or preparation :) Y was in a group dance that was well-choreographed and she managed to put up a decent show even though she clearly forgot half the steps and was copying the girl right in front of her :)
Ads' vocal group recital was a bit of a fiasco for unexpected reasons. The six children had sung extremely well at rehearsals. The organizers provided the kind of mikes you have to hold in your hand and that threw all of them completely. Each pair of kids that was sharing a mike ended up having a tussle on stage as to who would hold the mike with the result that they were completely unfocused on the task at hand i.e. singing! It sounded like three separate kutcheris on stage. Even the teacher was smiling and I was under the stage dissolved in fits of laughter at how comical they sounded :)
What they lacked in coordination, they made up in enthusiasm (most of them were shouting into the mike) and cuteness :)
Oh well. Next time, maybe.
In order to inspire Ads to continue with Carnatic music, we took him to a Carnatic vocal choir performing at Jagriti in Whitefield. I love this space, they have awesome things going on all the time and it's wonderful not to feel cut-off from the cultural events happening in the city. The children were outstanding. Such confidence, such talent, such enthusiasm! Every one of them seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. Ads and Y watched and listened enraptured even though it was way past their bedtime. They particularly liked the innovative rendering of Anandamruthavarishini, where the kids used their mouths, hands, fingers and feet to recreate the sounds of raindrops, thunder, gushing water etc. More power to folks like Bombay Jayashri who are doing their bit to keep classical music relevant and interesting for the next generation.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Weekend break in Tranquebar

Last weekend, some friends and us (four families in all) travelled together to a place called Tranquebar (Tharagambadi) in Tamil Nadu. None of us had ever heard of it before. Practically the only reason I selected this place is that my favourite Neemrana has a property there. I love their hotels (or 'non-hotels' as they prefer to call them). Plus it seemed conveniently located to both Bangalore and Chennai (NOT, as we were later to find out!) and it had been a Danish settlement which seemed kind of quaint.
Later research revealed that Tranquebar (I much prefer the Danish name to the Indian!) has the second-thickest ozone layer in the world, so we looked forward to breathing in some super-healthy air and feeling extra rejuvenated :)
Our travelling woes started on Friday evening when it took us 2.5 hours of excruciatingly slow traffic-crawling to get to the station. The train was a joke. It was called a Garib Rath and was 100% air-conditioned! It had 3 side berths which I've never seen before; they seemed to me to be instruments of torture more than anything else. Indian Railways in its infinite wisdom also seemed to be piloting a new type of bottleneck. 3 AC Passengers had to walk to the next coach in order to pay and buy bedding! Why anyone who has forked a significant amount for an AC berth would choose NOT to have any warm bedding on an overnight train is beyond me, especially when the AC was on full blast at what seemed like 15 C. Not only were people having to walk up and down the corridors to pick up their bedding, the guy in charge seemed to be doing some sort of black-market trades by claiming to have run out of linen, leading to more corridor-walking and a lot of irate passengers.
Creating bottlenecks where there are none is truly an Indian specialty!
A none-too-comfortable journey later, we alighted at Pondicherry station and an hour later, met up with our friends who had hired a tempo traveller for their journey from Chennai. The drive to Tranquebar took close to three hours at the end of which we were treated to views of swaying palms fronting the Bay of Bengal - all the irritations of the journey were instantly forgotten and forgiven :)
View from our window

Examining the pool prior to a swim

The property is on the beach and there's a small temple just outside
There's nothing much to do in Tranquebar except sea-gazing and a visit to the Danish fort which was right next to where we stayed. Perfect for families with kids who just want to chill and hang out with no specific agenda. All we did was walk around a bit and eat a lot :)
The next day we visited the mangrove forests at Pichavaram which were really nice. Leaving you with some snaps.
The Danish fort-museum

As seen from our balcony

From the fort ramparts. The fort isn't a patch in terms of grandeur on our Indian forts, but the view - that's unbeatable!


Pichavaram sky

Mangrove alleys
Thanjavur could have been squeezed into the itinerary - but squeezed being the operative word, we left that destination for another day. The journey back to Bangalore was painful. Our train tickets did not get confirmed, sleeper buses weren't available so we drove to Chennai. The maddening traffic on the way to Chennai and early morning train to Bangalore left us all pretty tired, leaving us in need of more R&R :) Notwithstanding all of that, it was a lovely 2 days, one we will look back on with fond memories. 

Sunday 1 September 2013

Krishna Jayanthi

I'm not religious in the least and nowadays I find that I celebrate festivals only to feel good about concocting some of the traditional recipes. 
Seedai and aval payasam for Gokulashthami this year :) Needless to say, I was the only person who consumed the seedai (Disclaimer: it tasted good! But Ads doesn't care for fried stuff and Y copies him in most matters culinary :))

A weekend and paattu class

This weekend, our family split down the middle. S and Y went to Chennai. Ads (and therefore I) couldn't go - there was too much happening here. He has recently started tennis lessons at a new academy, much more expensive and also much more enjoyable for him. Lessons are Friday to Sunday. Then he had an exam to write, and tons of practice for singing bhajans during the Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations in our community next week.
Overall, a pretty hectic weekend for him. But without two members of the family around to claim my attention (and hugs!) I had plenty of time to accompany/supervise Ads and lounge around the house doing basically nothing. It was bliss!
The music (paattu) classes have the potential to turn into a battleground. He finds them boring. I don't disagree - doing sarali and janta varisai day after day is not exactly a lot of fun. He has been happier now that they have been teaching him bhajans. He still wants me to pull him out once Ganesh Chaturthi is over....little does he know his teacher is already planning for Vijayadasami :) I'm somewhat conflicted - I hate forcing him to do something he doesn't like so should I pull him out? I'm no Tiger mom! He wants to learn the guitar - should I enroll him in that? (It's an either-or situation since we can't do both without compromising on his leisure and play time) Or should I keep buying time and hope that over the next few months, he will start enjoying learning vocal?
What do more experienced parents have to say? I need advice!!

Sunday 25 August 2013

Eight years

Eight years! It seems at once longer and shorter than that. Eight years since that squally rainy night when Ads was born, and our lives have been immeasurably enriched and happi-fied ever since :)
We had a party at home as usual. 15 kids, 14 of them boys. It was a riot! Having this many friends to call over is no mean feat for Ads, considering we have been in this home for just a few months and given the leisurely pace at which my kids make friends! I can see Ads growing better at this gig over the years -- does the fella even have a choice???? As much as I dread planning for birthday parties every year, as much as I wait for it to be over, I have to admit that once the party actually  begins, I enjoy myself a lot. I love organizing the games, clicking snaps and observing Ads have the time of his life. Every year, I promise myself that the next year I'll hand over the whole thing to Pizza hut or something similar, but every year I cave in and let myself into planning a far more fun, intimate and personal party at home.
On his birthday (the next day), we went out for a nice lunch, followed by Planes, which all of us enjoyed. Same old same old plot and treatment but fun nevertheless. S had also arranged for a cake to be delivered to our table during lunch. Ads was astonished and the grin on his face was something else! On top of that, there s a magician who came upto the table and showed the kids a lot of tricks. They were blown away with the personal performance. Ads got gifted several books by us and my parents - Geronimo Stilton and Horrid Henry are big favourites now.
So, that's another year of living and surviving Ads, behind us. He has turned into a naughty kid (late bloomer!) over the last several months - far more mischievous and sassy than he used to be. Also much more assertive and unafraid of standing up for himself which I am very happy about. On the flip side, the tiffs between brother and sister have escalated dramatically with neither of them budging from their positions and both being loud and vocal about their PoV!
Ads says his resolutions for the year are to cry less (!), fight with me and Y less, read more and start writing a daily diary. We plan to get him a new scooter. He's been using the old one for the last 4 years and its on its last legs, causing him much embarrassment. It creates such a racket when he's zipping around on it that I can hear him even when he is far far away :)
I think we made this birthday really special for him. Back to regular programming now and taking a breather before starting to plan for Y's birthday! 

Monday 12 August 2013

This place in time

It's nice to have babies, but it's nicer still to have older kids.
I don't have to read their face or gestures to guess what they want or what they're thinking. They can tell me. Brutally, frankly, truthfully, and sometimes even when I don't want to hear it!
I don't have to plan ahead for meals when we are going out. Some water and fruit does the trick. Sometimes I forget and it's ok.
They know my phone number so they can call me if they need to.
They get their own water and plates to the table, serve themselves, clear up, brush their own teeth, bathe themselves. None of this is perfect and free of spills but they are getting there.
We can go out carrying just a handbag, some napkins and a hand sanitizer.
They stay quiet when I need them to and they can entertain themselves.
I don't need to break my head over holiday itineraries any more because their needs are pretty much the same as mine.
They can tell me all about their day. It's invariably interesting and entertaining!
They mimic me and make fun of me and my quirks, and I love that.
They are my biggest critics but they forgive me every time. They are my biggest fans and I savour that because I know it might not last for much longer.
We went out with friends the other day. They have an infant and it was sad to see them take turns to eat while the other rocked the baby. S and I heaved a sigh of relief - those days are long gone for us!
Though last week I held an infant in my arms and it was something else. 
But yessir, its nice to have older kids :)

Friday 19 July 2013

Favourite corners and spaces Part 2

The kids have a decent-sized room here. Well, actually they've been lucky ever since we moved back to India in having large rooms allotted to them although now is the first time they are sleeping in their very own beds in a separate room. Growing up, I never had a room of my own. Most of the time, my brother and I bunked together. After we moved to Chennai (Madras) for high school, the shared quarters continued with the study table piled high with books being my only personal space. This arrangement continued into college and beyond with little change and the first time I had any scope to personalize my own space was in the second year of my MBA programme when we were given individual rooms. I well remember the excitement of collecting cast-offs from my seniors, choosing bed-linen and curtains and adding those little touches to make my room as warm, cozy and inviting as possible.
Anyway, given all this history, I wanted the kids to have a bright colourful room filled with their personality (not mine!). We picked up a bunk bed on sale for them as soon as we moved to Bangalore. Their 'study' table is actually our old dining table, a tiny 4-seater which is so badly scratched and dented that Ads keeps begging me to cover it up, Amma! So I do need to get it polished/painted at some point - I'm waiting to see if they manage to damage it any more before I get it fixed :)
Clearly, they do not need 4 chairs to study/draw on the table. And I wanted them to have a chair for when they want to sit by the window and read a book. So we took these two

and turned it into these.

Aren't they lovely? They even have the kids' names on them :)
All credit to the Spinning Wheel for the creative re-purposing. 

The kids' favourite stuffed animals find  a resting place on their beds...and on top of the toy chest of drawers!

My one indulgence was to get a nameboard done for them which now adorns the wall next to their baby pics. I'm tempted to add floor cushions and the like but keep restraining myself. It's a kids room and there should be a lot of floor space to jump and roll around and all the weird things that kids are wont to do :) 

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Favourite corners and spaces Part 1

Sharing a few pics from the home which is finally looking the way I want ......after weeks of tweaking (or what the husband calls messing around!)
#1 - The entryway, where the biggest challenge was to find a really simple functional bench (not too large, no upholstery, no frills) to sit on to wear or remove one's shoes. I roamed around the city quite fruitlessly until I found Urban Ladder!

#2 - It's been a long-standing dream of mine to own a really elegant settee. Being mom to two small grubby kids and until now, not having a large enough living room, meant that all I could do was look and salivate :) I went all out after moving to Bangalore though. Found a fabulous woodworker/restorer, decided on a distinctly old-fashioned design, picked some pretty paisley-patterned cotton material from an awesome shop in Seshadripuram and ta-da! Definitely my favourite piece in the entire house (it's also very comfortable). S took one look at it when it arrived and wasn't too happy with the light colour of the fabric, given the aforesaid grubby kids, their grubby friends and all the accidents and spills that are likely to happen. But, hey, one can live dangerously right? :)

#3: Coffee table with hand-painted tiles. I got this done from another awesome guy in Mehrauli (Delhi).

#4: Partial view of the living room.

More photos coming up as soon as a couple of home improv projects get completed.

Friday 5 July 2013

The embarrasing mom Part 1

I feel slightly guilty about not posting any updates on Y but truth is, Ads is providing enough and more intriguing/entertaining moments at this point. One of the latest is being thoroughly embarrassed by/with me (not so much with Appa - I have to resentfully wonder why?). It's a given that I do not kiss/hug or otherwise exhibit any PDA in public especially at drop off/pickup time, tennis class etc, where there are bound to be a bunch of kids looking on.
Some days ago, I had to give Ads a message while he was in the middle of tennis class. I walked in, maintained a safe (!) distance and talked to him. His expression was priceless! Or should I say lack of it. He was looking at me, but his eyes were beseeching me to go away. He knew I wouldn't move until he had acknowledged the message so he said Ok and managed to mouth it without actually saying it out loud and nodded his head oh-so-imperceptibly.
His entire body language said - Ok I got can you please leave? Like RIGHT NOW?
Just when I thought girls aren't like that, Y tells me to buzz off from her dance class, cos "I won't dance if you are there".
Foolishly, I look to S for some understanding. He bands together with his kids. He says "I totally understand. I would have hated it if MY mom had landed up in tennis class!"
Talk about getting a sympathetic hearing!
PS: I named the post Part 1 because I sense this is just the beginning of my kids being embarrassed by me! :) 

Thursday 4 July 2013

And again!

Yesterday's gem -
Amma, is Gay a bad word?
I hastily explained that it is not a bad word at all, and demanded to know where he had heard the word (in the school bus apparently, where a couple of kids called Ads and his best friend 'gay').
Who are these kids?????
The list of words/concepts/issues I need to explain to Ads in a simple and age-appropriate manner grows longer by the day! Can't keep distracting him for much longer, I guess :)

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Which type of boyfriend?

Today Ads asks me: So amma, was Appa your boyfriend in college?
Me: Yes (errr...where is this going? Not having a good feeling.)
Ads: So was he your kissing boyfriend or normal boyfriend??
I am speechless.

Saturday 22 June 2013


Several days after we had moved to Bangalore, Ads casually remarked that he liked Bangalore much more than Gurgaon. I asked him why. The pleasant weather? The large flat? The open spaces? His own room? His own bunk bed? The prospect of an extra-long summer break? For a 7-yo, there were reasons aplenty!
Instead, the brevity and simplicity of his answer took my breath away.
No, he said. I like Bangalore because you play with me here.
I was staggered. Probably I had hoped that he hadn't noticed? That I had not played with the most important people in my life for the past year. I hadn't gotten myself messy and hot and tired, laughed at silly jokes, and run around with them. I hadn't had the time to play board games. I hadn't had the energy to read books every night. In fact, while I was trying to keep it all together as a single working parent, I had done nothing more than the bare minimum of attending to their basic physical and emotional needs.
I had been a good mom, but only just. Certainly, I hold myself upto very high standards of customer service (!) when it comes to being a mother/parent. Last year, I had a tough time achieving my targets :(
No guilt-tripping here, no remorse etc (I don't do those). Just the increasingly loud voice in my head, getting more confident by the day, which is pulling me in a certain direction and towards certain choices. I can't ever be a stay-at-home mom (it's nice now, it's only been a couple of months but soon I am going to be pulling out my hair in large handfuls!) but I don't see a full-time career happening for a few more years yet. Not unless my parents decide to move in with me and give me a hand (Amma and Appa, are you listening? :))
It's that time again when well-meaning people begin to ask me when I am getting back to work, me having exhausted my relocation excuse, having had my summer holiday and having the kids back at school. I don't know, folks. My daughter's back home from school at 12.30. We have a leisurely lunch. We talk about what we did at school/home. Amma, you're sooo lucky to be at home, she says! We nap. I kiss her about a million times. We wake up. I have chai. We pick up a grubby older brother from the bus stop. Hectic activity ensues. Tennis class, music class, homework, park, bath, dinner. Sleep. It's humdrum but it's beautiful.
I will start getting out and talking to people and see if some work on my terms, comes up. I'm going to keep my career going, but I won't be driven crazy-busy by it.
Just so long as I can play with my kids!

Saturday 15 June 2013

A little-big boy and his imagination

Ads has always been a very imaginative kid. From the time he was around 2 years old, he indulged in a lot of pretend play although until Y came along he always expected someone to keep him company while he played. He's also passed through a fairly obvious and predictable trajectory as far as interests are concerned. Chronologically, they have been - construction equipment and heavy vehicles, emergency vehicles (fire-trucks and so on), tigers and other big cats, reptiles, dinosaurs, outer space, birds, and now cricket and superheroes!
Something that I've noticed with a lot of boys is that when they get interested in a topic, they dig deep and turn into a veritable encyclopaedia of knowledge on that subject! Their interest verges on obsession. I have never ever in my 7 years of being a mom (which is about when I started noticing these things!) seen a girl jump in so deep into any subject! I can't believe my sample set is too small or skewed - has anyone else observed this?
So, anyway, getting back to Ads. The joke around our home is that whenever you need to find Ads, just follow the sounds of what we call the Dish-bish. A vocal potpourri of explosions, snorts, roars, grunts and yells that express the imaginative space he is occupying at that time - a tiger stalking and hunting it's prey, dinosaurs fighting or Iron Man and Cap'n against a common enemy :) The package is generally accompanied by a lot of hand gestures and kicks so beware anyone who's at arms-length at the time!
Ads has been the recipient of many an amused and/or astonished look by onlookers when he goes Dish-bish on buses, trains and other public places. I still remember two little boys about the same age as him as we de-boarded at Jaisalmer railway station. We were heading towards the station exit. Ads was in his own world, utterly oblivious to the fact that we had landed at our destination. I walked behind him, holding on to my suitcase with one hand while steering him with another and ensuring he didn't bang into people. These 2 little boys watched, jaws dropping, as he approached them, eyes open but in a world of his own, making strange gestures with his hands, funny sounds with his mouth and with myriad threatening expressions rapidly flitting across his face :)
Every time he goes into his zone, the three of us collapse into giggles which take a while to penetrate his consciousness but when it does, he gets really wild with us :)
Another weird, funny, endearing thing about my boy!

Monday 10 June 2013


Still not sure which is my favourite spot in the new house.

In the living room
Or this.....

In our bedroom
Though the fact is, I've barely had time to relax in any of these nooks ever since we moved. Mostly the reading gets a miss while they get used plenty for cuddling up with the kids :)

Tuesday 4 June 2013

New city, new school and some ranting

I haven't slept well for the last few nights. Anxiety and a list of imagined and real afflictions reminiscent of first-trimester pregnancy symptoms have contrived to keep me tossing and turning all night; and tired and listless during the day.
The reason? Both kids start at their new school today. A week ago, I made sure S had cleared his calendar for the morning since he would be dropping Y off for her first day while I dropped Ads off (they are in the same school but different campuses). Yesterday I took Ads and one of his good friends (since he may appear often in these pages, let's call him V1) for a recce around the school. We looked at the class lists and found to our delight that Ads and V1 were in the same section! The icing on the cake was that one of Ads' friends from way back in Noida, who studied with him in kindergarten and later relocated to Bangalore, is also in the same section. This discovery brought a huge smile to Ads' face and eased my fears to a large extent.
This morning, we left at 7.15 am. Wading through heavy traffic as is usual in Bangalore, we reached the school at 8 am to find a scene of total chaos. I wasn't sure I would be allowed to escort Ads into his classroom, but I was confident I'd be allowed to hand him over to his teacher somewhere in the grounds or auditorium before leaving. Instead, we had the Principal at the entrance, bellowing instructions to the parents in his stentorian voice, in a most undignified manner. Children were being hustled inside the school while parents were sternly stopped at the door. Before I knew it, Ads had been pushed away from me and handed over to someone who handed him over to someone else and after that I don't know what happened because he was lost in the sea of uniforms. There was no kiss, no hug and no goodbye even! I went up to the Vice Principal to ask if I could go in seeing as he was a new student and all but she smilingly refused. Other parents reassured me that there were plenty of staff to escort the kids to their classrooms. Since I knew Ads would be having a couple of familiar places to eventually meet with in class, I let it go but the disorganized way in which the whole thing was conducted left a bad taste in my mouth. 
Back at the preschool, where Y starts LKG today, S reported that it was as chaotic but since that school has a much smaller strength it did not seem so bad :) Y cried a wee bit - but her class teacher picked her up and told S to leave and they would handle her, thank you very much.
The day was jinxed during pickup time as well. First, my driver was nowhere to be seen at the allotted time and his phone was not reachable. Just when I was going to run upstairs for the spare car key and drive the car myself, a friend (V1's mom, whose younger son also studies in the same school), offered me a ride. By this time, we were running atleast 10 minutes late and I was biting my nails as we snarled in traffic - being late on the very first day is so not on!! Then I almost had a cardiac arrest when I called the school to tell them I was running late - the front-desk guy (a nincompoop if there ever was one!) told me Y had been sent off in the school bus! This inspite of the fact that we had explicitly told the administration and the class teacher that Y would be picked up and dropped off for the first 2 days. At this point I had no choice but to continue onto the school because my friend had to pick up her son. 
I barged into the school premises, spitting fire and brimstone, only to find Y calmly seated with her teacher. Whew....I have seldom been this relieved in my life!!!!! The teacher who seems a nice calm sort of person reassured me that she had no intention of sending Y on the bus since she knew I was coming to pick her up. Obviously the front-desk guy had given me the wrong information without even bothering to cross-check with the teacher.
A couple of hours later, I was in the car again to pick up Ads - more scenes of confusion there. Clearly anybody can walk in with no identification whatsoever and pick up any kid with none the wiser.
While the kids had a good time on their first day, I can already anticipate many more rants and raves from my end given the lax administration - but let's hope I am proved well and truly wrong!

Wednesday 22 May 2013

When a child sleeps too little - and a mom says too much!

Ads has always been a restless sleeper. Many days, he is over-stimulated and unable to fall asleep soon after hitting the bed. Plus he dislikes sleeping. Many a time, we have have conversations revolving around what a waste of time sleep is.
The last time he complained about sleep being a waste of time, I told him: The body needs sleep in order to rest and recharge itself. 
He said: what'll happen if someone doesn't sleep for a long long time?
I replied (hastily and thoughtlessly as t turned out): They would be really really tired and they may even faint or die.
I could have bitten my tongue out even as I said this but he said no more and I moved on, hoping he had not paid much attention to what I said.
Fat hope.
A day later, he comes to my room at night, very agitated and in tears.
Amma, I can't sleep. I'm going to have such a short life!!
Now what do I do with this boy???

Monday 20 May 2013


Sometimes it takes a 6-month old niece to be snoozing peacefully on your shoulder for 45 minutes to realize what you missed with your own kids when they were babies.
Flashback to S reclining for hours on our lazyboy, Ads and later Y fast asleep on his shoulder, encircled in his strong warm arms. I would repeatedly ask him to put them down in the bed so that he could get on with whatever else he had to do. 
He would reply, simply: I don't have anything to do that's better than this.
As my adorable niece breathed softly into my neck, I craved for a few more such peaceful hours with her, while my kids squabbled noisily in the background. I really hadn't got it the first two times, had I?
Seems like you need a third kid to bring that perspective into a mother's life :)

New books

Of course I'm cribbing about having to do it....
But there's a certain pleasure in fingering the books for the new school year, and settling down with cellotape, scissors and pen to cover and label the textbooks and notebooks. 
The scent of new unsullied books, and the sense of a new beginning.
Plus we have been issued recyclable covers for all the books, which is nice but also weird because I thought brown paper was also recyclable? But it's a vast improvement over the plastic covers that we were given last year. 

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Living it up in New York - Part 2

It is nearing the end of our 2-week stay in New York. We've reached the happy stage of having ticked off all the touristy must-dos. I took the kids on the Water taxi ride and went up to the Top of the Rock. We've gone to Central Park not once or twice but three times. We have gorged on some seriously good food. Some really tasty pizzas and pastas and some excellent Mediterranean. Yesterday the children had falafel for the first time (Ads has actually tasted it many times before while we were living in this country but he's forgotten) and they absolutely loved it. 
Before S went back to India, we did a leisurely 2-day trip to the Niagara Falls in upstate New York. While it was too cold there even now, this late in spring,  for our tropical constitutions, a trip to the Falls is a must-do. The town of Niagara Falls itself is quite unimpressive but the falls themselves are so awe-inspiring that they make up the deficit.  
These days, we are taking things easy. There are tons of other things to see/do yet, but I'd rather capitalize on the extra time to really get into the skin of the city; a luxury afforded by a longish vacation where room and board are largely taken care of! We aren't rushing around trying to pack everything into a few days. This is the first time that I'm experiencing the magic of slow travel and I'm absolutely loving it! NYC isn't a beautiful city like some others we've visited - San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver come immediately to mind. It's far more like an Indian city, Delhi or Mumbai for example. It's a city not to be merely seen or admired for its dramatic skyline. It's a city to be experienced for its raw energy, to be walked around in, a city to have its quirks uncovered and have its layers peeled away, one after the other. 
It is such a cosmopolitan place that my new game is to figure out which country the people I meet or cross on the street are. Sometimes, its really easy, because they are speaking on the phone or among themselves in an easily recognizable language - Italian, or French or Spanish. Most times, its hard- like the cleaner at my friend's place whose English accent I was trying to place and who turned out to be from Guyana!
As for the children, they have been troopers. Which they normally are, of course, but given the amount of walking one has to do in this city, I had braced myself for some serious whining. My kids are too used to going everywhere by car or cab and they've hardly ever done any serious walking. But hey presto, they have been walking for hours here everyday without complaint, eating whatever is offered to them happily and for the first few days atleast, keeping pace enthusiastically with the packed itinerary.
Finally, the biggest take-away has been the quality time spent with my friend J. This has been our longest time together in the same space since we were roommates during MBA. Even though we've been meeting on and off over the years, nothing does the trick as much as extended time spent together, and I'm so glad to know that we've made the most of it.
I'm sad to be leaving so soon, but hey, the vacation hasn't ended yet :)

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Living it up in New York - Part 1

We arrived in New York City more than 10 days ago. I was a little tense before we left Bangalore. The husband having flown the coop, so to speak, several days earlier (on work), the whole project of packing, cleaning the house, clearing the fridge, and locking up while being on track to catch a 4 am international flight fell to me. Obviously and fortunately, this was something I'd never had to do before and I was a little paranoid that we would land up at the airport at 2 am to find that I'd left our passports behind!! As it turned out, we managed to board the flight in one piece except that as I was checking in at the Emirates Counter, I realized that I'd left my phone behind in the cab! 
Very luckily, the cab driver was someone we knew and I spent most of my waiting time at Bangalore airport trying to contact S through a pay phone so that he could alert the driver about my phone. 
Several hours of snoozing, eating and movie-watching later, we landed in NewYork, passed through immigration and hailed a cab to Manhattan, to the place of a dear friend and college batchmate, J. Day 1 was a light one (by our standards!). I took the kids to Times Square - ToysRUS, the M&M store, the Disney store. We walked around along with the teeming crowds, gawked like all the other tourists, ate lunch and were back in the apartment by afternoon. In the evening, I took the kids across the road to Hudson River Park where we walked by the waterfront, raced against each other and smelt the flowers (quite literally!).

S arrived the next day and it was such a lovely day (sunny and cloudy in turns with a sharp nip to the air) that we decided to spend it outdoors in Central Park. The cherry blossoms were in bloom and to say they were incredibly pretty would be an understatement.

View of the skyline from Central Park

Cherry blossom tree

Blue skies

The turtle pond
That evening, S and I took some rare and much-needed couple time off to catch a Broadway show (my first!) - The Phantom of the Opera. Later, we also walked around Times Square to incredulously take in the flashing neon lights and wonder at the mass of humanity abroad at 11.30 pm :)

Next day's stop was at the American Museum of Natural History. In the interests of accomodating varied interests, S volunteered to take the kids for the day to the museum while I took off with my friends to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and wander through Little Italy and Chinatown, capturing sone of the flavour of this lovely city.
Part II coming up in a day or two :)