Tuesday 24 June 2014


Another deep dive into yet another topic. This time it's Cricket, the mother of all Indian obsessions. It's a little surprising the interest has surfaced so late- after all, he has been surrounded by cricket and cricket aficionados for years now. But of course, other interests have taken up precious time and mind-share!
In typical Ads style, he has been soaking up information like a sieve. One of our friends said "What I have learnt in 40 years, Ads has picked up 80% of it in 2 months!"
Which is an exaggeration but only a little bit, because his learning curve is astonishingly steep. Which is why it makes me mad when he wails and whines to learn 4 lines of a Hindi poem because "There's no space in my brain!!!"
Ads has also been playing cricket every day with his friends, and on weekends with his dad, with Y as able fielder. This is the kid who told me 2 months ago "I hate cricket!" I won't be surprised if the same line is repeated 2 months hence :)

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Pondicherry and friendships

We were in Pondicherry last weekend, just for a day and a half. S has this group of friends from undergrad, a close-knit bunch of guys, half living in the US and the other half in Chennai/Bangalore. I have been consistently amazed and gratified at how these men have stayed in active touch for so many years. I have attended many of their weddings myself. We have seen their kids as infants and watched them grow and thrive. When we have travelled, we have always tried to stay over or visit. They have reciprocated. Over the years, the bonds have only grown stronger. Facebook groups and whatsapp obviously helped them share real time updates and views on politics, cricket, football, family, work and life! 
Since last year, the India folks have been meeting every few months, in a different place every time. Tranquebar was the first venue, followed by Kodaikanal and Pondicherry. We missed Kodai but Tranquebar had been so much fun we knew we had to make the longish trip to Pondy for sure! So 5 couples, 7 kids in tow landed up at the Pondy resort on Saturday morning. It was horribly hot and humid. All one wanted to do was stay inside AC comfort. But enough number of warm bodies generate enthusiasm, and soon the boys were playing cricket. Then it was time to jump into the pool. I wandered around clicking pictures, every now and then darting into my room or the restaurant for some cooling drinks and air!
Long leisurely meals were the order of the day. Smaller groups formed and dispersed. In the evening, panting for the elusive sea breeze, we all walked down to the beach. Plans to walk around Pondicherry city were made and discarded. It was nicer to stay in the room and chat :) The kids played with each other as much as they bonded with the adults.
It was hectic for us given the time taken to reach Pondy from Bangalore. We got stuck in bad roads on the way back and reached Bangalore after a gruelling 8-9 hour road journey. But it was worth every moment. It takes a lot of time and effort to sustain and grow a friendship, especially when you include spouses and children. There are too many different variables and personalities, needing reconciliation and compromise. But it hasn't been an effort. Hats off to each and every one of these guys for taking the time and effort to nurture their friendships, both one-on-one and as a group. I must confess to a brief twinge of envy. I do have many close friends but not a large group of friends who are all close to each other!
Raising a toast to many more years of such camaraderie, and in gratefulness to the new friendships I have made as a consequence!

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde -Reloaded

Have you read this poem? By a chap called Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American poet)
There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

She stood on her head, on her little trundle bed,
With nobody by for to hinder;
She screamed and she squalled, she yelled and she bawled, 
And drummed her little heels against the winder.

Her mother heard the noise, and thought it was the boys
Playing in the empty attic,
She rushed upstairs, and caught her unawares,
And spanked her, most emphatic.

For the past several months, Ads has reminded me of this poem :) It has often seemed that we have regressed to the terrible twos and threes, which is the last time Ads was so challenging. Tantrums, bawling, tears at the drop of a hat, heightened sensitivity and prickliness, you name it, we have experienced it! The silver lining is that in public, he continues to be the well-mannered, quiet and cooperative boy he's always been. A pleasure to meet and talk to, affable and pleasant but never loud or aggressive. 
At home, Mr. Hyde surfaces. What has bothered me the most is him turning into the least attractive kind of elder brother - bossy, annoying and irritated by everything his sister says or does. Obviously we have tried to figure out when this behaviour started. It has intensified around the time I went back to work (there you go!) but the early signs have been there for much longer. 
Is it a "phase", like so many others? Who knows? The last week has been quiet; maybe we are turning a corner!

Monday 2 June 2014

A special birthday in a special place

It all started with wanting to do something special for S's 40th birthday. Well, in our family "special" is quite simple; Special = Travel! :) What made the decision a no-brainer was the hard fact that S hates any noise or drama around his birthday. He confesses that when he was growing up he was most happy that his birthday used to come around during the summer holidays :) I did ask him a couple of times what it would be like if I threw a big surprise party for his 40th. He answered with his usual dry wit "Yes, by all means; the 'surprise' will be that I won't be there!"
Therefore, a trip. Ok that was settled. I also decided to invite his parents to join us, seeing that it was their baby's 40th and all. The question was where, since we just had a small window of 2 days with no flexibility since the kids' school reopened on the Monday post S's birthday (which fell on a Saturday). After much research, I settled on Sakleshpur which seemed to fulfil all of our criteria - a comfortable driving distance from Bangalore, rolling hills, tea estates, cool weather and finally, this.
Friday arrived and we loaded ourselves into an Innova. Our enormously efficient driver got us to Kadamane estates in exactly 5 hours, just in time for lunch. The drive was uneventful and not particularly scenic until we reached Sakleshpur and began climbing to the estate, at which point the scenery changed dramatically eliciting some oohs and aahs from all of us. After a quick lunch, everyone dozed while I quickly laid hands on my camera to capture some of the beauty around me.

That evening, we decided to go to a place called 5 Acres, which was supposed to offer great views of the surrounding hills. We argued whether S and I would trek the distance while the others would follow in the jeep (I was all for taking Ads with us on foot but was shot down). In any case, S backed off too leaving me in a brief sulk as I really wanted to trek the distance. However we made peace and were treated to a jolting jeep ride for 20 minutes, to finally reach this place. Gorgeous, isn't it?

The next day, we chilled, hung out with the kids, playing frisbee, cricket, catch, cards, ludo and what not. With chores and meal-prep out of the way, we finally had the luxury of time and we made the most of it. The children had gifts for their dad which they had ordered earlier on in Bangalore - custom coffee mugs from each with a nice photo and a message. Of course, birthday cards had been created in total secrecy the previous week itself. I had also ordered a tea cake at the resort which was an apology of a cake, really and not at all my idea of what a birthday cake should be like. But well, it's the thought that counted and we did have the satisfaction of getting S to cut his cake and eat it too!
It was a brief but fantastic break and I would highly recommend the destination/property to family and friends alike. Most important, S had a wonderful 40th with all the most important people in his world :) Now- ahem - the pressure is on him to give ME an equally fantastic 40th birthday party (=trip)!