Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Different strokes indeed

So I have a new maid. Two new ones actually. Because my full time maid Ratnamma's daughter is pregnant and she has gone to look after her. More than anyone else, I pray that she has a smooth delivery and a  healthy beautiful baby at the end of it. Only then can good ol' Ratnamma return to me.. But I digress.

So in the interim period, I have 2 maids. A girl who comes in the morning and cleans the house. And a middle aged lady who comes in the evening to be with Sonny boy when he returns from school, and who will do all the prep work in the kitchen. The agreement was that I would leave all the things necessary for dinner, arranged in the kitchen before leaving for office. All would have been well, except for the fact that the kannada spoken by the dear lady was TOTALLY incomprehensible. If I were at home, I could have managed with my hands and eyes and whatever other appendages came in handy. But since I would be in office while she was at home, the phone was our only means of communication. And boy! what an effort at communicating there was!

Ingredients I'd not given a second thought to while Ratnamma used to be at home now assumed supreme importance. Basic things like turmeric. The other day, I was in an auto going to a client's place while giving instructions to her- and I needed to tell her to add turmeric in the dal when cooking it. I did not know the kannada word for it, but valiantly tried Hindi, Malayalam  and Tamil.  I tried telling her about the yellow sunflowers, and and temples where they gave out  haldi kumkum- (turmeric and vermilion powder given as offerings to the Goddess). Finally I gave up and requested her to give the phone to Sonny boy. I asked him to take out the yellow powder in the masala dabba and give it to her. And then I asked her WHAT it was called. Ah! Arshana podi.   .. At the end of the phone call, I sat back and heaved a sigh of relief, only to see the auto driver turn back to me in enjoyment and tell me with a grin, that it was a pleasure to hear me talk in kannada. The rest of the drive passed by  pleasantly, with the driver commiserating with me and lauding my efforts at  trying to learn kannada. Little did he realise that it was a question of survival.

So during the weekend, I was showing Gowramma the different ways I wanted the different vegetables diced... When it came to cabbage, I showed her that I wanted it cut in very thin strips... She cut it quite well as per instructions.. and later, as she was washing up the vessels, she told me that in her village, cabbage was cut in big pieces. I nodded smilingly. And then she added- we don't have all the time in the world, we have other work to attend to after cooking. Which made me laugh inside.  And wonder- were the Mallu women really so jobless that they would stretch cutting of cabbage leaves?? Somehow I doubted that. Especially when I remembered my Mom and Dad's elder sisters. They packed SO MUCH into a day's work. Tirelessly, efficiently.

It was just a case of different folks, different strokes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm not twenty four.. Sachin Garg

Yet one more novel from yet one more Engineer-MBA - "one who quit his boring day job to start his own venture- Grapevine Publishing".

The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of a young MBA graduate, in her first job. A Delhi bred girl, Saumya Kapoor is thrilled to land a job through campus placements, in Lala Steels who is a much favoured employer. A couple of weeks later, she is equally stunned and dismayed to learn that because of her unisexual name, she has been posted to their steel plant in a remote village in North Karnataka. Gone are her dreams of sexy skirts and stillettoes, of office romances with handsome colleagues, and of splurging her salary. Instead, she has boring, shapeless uniforms, and unattractive co-workers who seem to have never seen a girl at close quarters.

Amit, her classmate from business school and Malappa are 2 other new joinees who are assigned to Training and Development, and the Blast Furnace, respectively. Saumya is posted to the HR Department where she is part of the Safety team and her job entails informing the family members of the employees who had been involved in an accident at the plant. Hers is the unpleasant and painful task of informing wives that they were widows, daughters that they were orphans and mothers that they’d lost their offspring.

Having witnessed tragic accidents in her first week itself, Saumya is totally disillusioned with her job. Her first instinct is to quit, but later, she decides to stay on and prove herself. But then in a horrific incident, after an altercation with his boss, Malappa gets thrown into the Blast Furnace and Saumya can’t take any more. She puts in her papers. While serving her 3 month notice period, Shubro comes back into her life.

Saumya had first met Shubrodeep Shyamchaudhary during her induction period, at a restaurant on a trip to Hampi. An MBA in Finance, he had turned down a hot-shot job in Standard Chartered Bank, and perfected the art of Moving On… By his own admission, he’d turned into a hippie, who’d stay for just 90 days in a place before moving on in search of new environments and people and experiences. He’d traversed the length and breadth of the world in the course of his travels. The day after Saumya resigned from Lala Steel, Shubro was found within the premises iof a residential complex, in a senseless condition, with a piece of paper bearing Saumya’s name in his hands.

Saumya finds him a job with the Social Service Dept in Lala Steel.
Slowly but surely, she falls in love with Shubro, as the days pass and new facets of his character unveil themselves. But, when 90 days are over, will Shubro move on and away from Saumya? What is the reason behind his becoming a rolling stone? Answers to these questions are found in the rest of the story.

This review is posted as part of the Book Reviews program by BlogAdda. Am GLAD I didn't buy the book. I was totally put off by the errors. It strives to be chick lit, but fails.

The storyline is too superficial. Events happens too soon, the characters are not developed enough. You just have to take Sachin's word for it that his characters are whatever. His writing does not lead you to form your own judgement of them.
In his acknowledgements, Sachin Garg thanks a couple of people who "continue to prove that MBA doesn't devoid you of your last traces of creativity"…..
Creativity might be ok, but this MBA's handling of English language and grammar sadly leaves much to be desired. Spelling errors, punctuation errors, grammatical errors, sheer carelessness in handling the language…Grapevine Publishing needs a good editor, period.  Hopefully Sachin Garg will get that editor in place before starting his next novel. Then, the reader might, just MIGHT enjoy his literary outpourings..

Dear reader, in case you still feel like reading this, my copy says its Rs. 100/- but you can get it in 2-3 working days on Flipkart, for Rs. 65/-

Monday, November 7, 2011

Being a Mommy teaches you.....

Bangalore mom ended her post this way- I was tagged so long ago, its almost embarrassing. But JLT and Abha, would love to hear what you have to say.
Well, Bmom, now you've found someone more slothful than you, maybe it will help you get over your embarassment. And haha, I'm sure Abha still hasn't taken up this tag, so there's redemption for me as well!!

Blogging used to be with such ease... but nowadays, while there are lots and lots of little posts composed in my head, almost none of them make it to Blogger. Sigh. I don't know how time flies...and I suspect that something called FB might account for a lot of it... but blogging is so much more fulfilling. I have no idea why I don't blog more.

So what has motherhood taught me.. other than breastfeeding and changing diapers and rocking a baby to sleep? Well, lots!

One of them is an on-going lesson- its like specialisation. - the more you learn it, the more of it there seems to learn... sigh. Am talking of that BIG one- PATIENCE. As Sonny boy grows, am finding my reserves of patience dwindling to almost nothing. I'm so different from what I dreamt I'd be as a mother. He never taxed my patience all that much as a baby, cos he was a lovely peaceful baby. Easy to feed, easy to distract, easy to rock to sleep.... But school and associated pluses and minuses made demands of both of us that were more than either of us expected.

And that leads me to the next one- HUMILITY. It is simply amazing how much my son can forgive me and how easily. I yell at him nowadays for nearly everything. From morning till night- for not eating, for being so distracted, for not drinking, for not studying, for watching TV, for playing games on mobiles/laptops... For this reason, am pretty glad that I have an office to go to, and he has a school to go to, when we're out of each other's hair. But no matter how mcuh I shout at him, he always comes to me with a hug that is difficult to describe.. its a little wary, a little obstinate, always so full of LOVE. It makes my heart break that I can be so nasty to such a loving little creature and he humbles me every time with his generosity of heart and forgiving nature.

This is pretty strongly related to the other BIG one- GUILT. Right now, I'm at that stage where I hold myself guilty for all of his shortcomings.
He's extra shy because I'm not with him to help him make friends easily. Its so much more easier for kids to become friends if their mothers are friends.
He watches TV cos I don't make anything else more enjoyable for him ( Grrrr.... and his father watches it even more than him, but that's fodder for another post)
He's short tempered because all he hears is me shouting at him. Every morning, I wake up with the resolve that I'm NOT going to shout at him... only to have it fly out of the window...
I feel even more guilty because the father is so much more patient than me.And that people, is SUCH a double edged sword!

Getting to mother Sonny boy has taught me FAITH. Crossing a bridge when you come to it has been the cornerstone of my life as a mother. He was not a planned baby, he just happened, with God's grace. And all the other insurmountables that rose before us were crossed with the grace of God. For that, my God, many heartfelt thanks. Please do continue to look after us. More than ever, I put my faith in God to take us through the troughs.

Above all else, being a mother, has taught me that I am an important person. It has made me believe in myself and my abilities. I am my son's mother. With all my inadequacies, it is a role that can be filled by none better than me. And that brings me a sense of fulfilment that is unmatched. For him, I can scale mountains. Getting to the other side of the mountain is a wonderful reward, but even if it can't be scaled, having made an attempt is more than sufficient too. It is a role where not just results matter, efforts do too, the journey being just as important as the destination. And everytime someone tells me I have a wonderful boy, my heart expands that bit more....

I know you've not done it yet, Abha, so lets hear it from you :-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Letting go....

I am a bit overwhelmed myself at Sonny boy's Mondays.

Morn- 7.45 am - leave for school.
Evening- 4 pm- come home, gobble up milk and snacks.
4.30 pm- skating class.
5.30- music class
7- tuitions (with a snatched half hour of playing in between)

Phew. So much to do for a 7 yr old.

His music class is in a neighbouring complex across the road.

That road is a rather busy road, with vehicles from both complexes jostling each other at the last stretch. While there were boys his age who ventured onto that road, and the store on it sans adult supervision, Sonny boy was not allowed to do so. One of us always goes to pick him up (who gets to go has been the cause of many a marital quarrel).

Today I was a bit late, and when I reached the gate of the neighbouring complex, Sonny boy was standing fidgeting there. As I took his little hand in mine, he told me with a mutinous look-
Amma, I've been waiting here for so long, I want to come home alone from now on... You don't need to come up to pick me up...

I felt a little tug at my heart and I told him -
ok, Sonny boy, from the next class you can come by yourself.

No. Not from the next class, from THIS class....

And he pulled his hand from mine and walked a little behind.

The little tug got bigger, but I walked on...
and then I looked back at him and smiled and held out my hand- Come, sweetie pie, next class you can go and come alone.

The little 7 yr old in him must've felt the tug, for he smiled his boyish smile and ran up to hold my hand. And we walked back together.

Don't let go so soon, my son, stay a little boy some more time....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Perks of a sales job.

There are days when I love my job. Like today, when after a longish meeting, had to send another proposal urgently, before I could reach back to either office or home. So thought I'd step into a CCD to send the mail off.

Saw one attached to an Odyssey store, went in and sent my proposal. And then browsed. And bought
- 3 books of Gerald Durrel
- 1 book on Boxers.

You see, Odyssey had been having a sale. The Durrel was at 25% off each, and the Boxer was a coffee table kind of book that was at 80% off. A steal, I tell you.
Am delighted with my day.

The proposal being taken up would be the icing on the cake. Fingers crossed. Send up a prayer for me, good peoples.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not Flower Power after all.

So the other day during our family walk, I'd eyed some flowering plants growing by the wayside.... on our way back, we stopped by those plants and I snapped off two plants for chez moi. I had Tee's leash in one hand, and a stick in the other, so I thought Sonny boy's bicycle would come in handy to transport the flowers without much damage to them in case of a flurry with Tee and other wayside dogs.

I managed to stick the plants with those attractive light pink flowers into a crevice in front of Sonny boy's cycle and regarded it proudly as it waved gently in the breeze. And then looked upwards to my son who had his arms crossed and was looking totally affronted.

"Wha- what's the matter now?" I asked?

"Amma!!" he fumed. "Amma, you're making my cycle look like a girl's cycle with those flowers and all that!!!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walkie- walk!

After ages today, went for a walk. With son and husband and dog. Am delighted to say that Sonny boy is gradually accepting Tee (lets call her that) as a member of the family. One with her rights.

Till some time back, when requested if Tee could accompany us on our sojourns, Sonny boy's answer would be a pouting NO. Or at best, a resigned OK. Today, it was a happy looking-on, while Tee gambolled around, her tail wagging nineteen to the dozen
at the chance of a walk.

Sonny boy was on his cycle, and if he were alongside us, Tee, as is her wont, would end up right in front of him, making him brake all the while. But- no whining of "Amma, look at how Tee's spoiling my fun. or Amma, can you hold Tee....?" no Sirreee! Just a familiar sounding irritated-resigned shout of "Tee!! can't you see me coming???"
He's accepted that she has as much right to be on the road walking as him.

A big part of this is due to his latest affection for Tintin comics. While Tee doesn't come ANYWHERE near Snowy as far as obedience is concerned, Sonny boy does see the moments of similarity when Snowy rummages in the dustbin and is shouted at by Tintin. And he sees the bond between Snowy and Tintin...

For Onam, we'd been to Cochin to the Acha's home. So there, all the cousins were playing a game, where you had to give the letter of names of people in your family and the others had to guess who it was. So Sonny boy said T and everybody was like- WHO is that??? And finally a gleeful Sonny boy said- Its Tee! She's also part of my family!!!! People, there was no one prouder than me at that moment!

Today for our walk, we'd been in one of the neighbouring gated enclaves, where there were puhlenty of dogs- pet as well as stray. Tee-Chicken-Heart believes that attack is the best form of defence. And so, just the sight of a stray would send her into frenzied barks and aggressive straining at the leash. Passers-by would look at us warily and move respectfully to the side. And Tee'd continue barking for all she was worth till she passed the territory of said stray. And then the stray would come and piss right where Tee'd passed. As if to affirm that the area was still his/hers and not Tee's.

Pets inside houses though, were not as visible to Tee as the strays. However Tee was totally visible to them from their vantage watchpoints. They'd wait silently, watching with bated breath till Tee got right before them- and then, set up a sudden ferocious volley of barks accompanied with jumps at the gate/wall ....Tee would be totally taken unawares, and would strain at the leash again, with eyes darting all around for where this unholy menace was coming from. But once she'd identified the noisemaker, she'd take particular care to piss calmly, right in front of the gate on the opposites side, while the other poor dog would go frantic at the insult to his reign. Sigh. The games dogs play!

Its been a while since I posted randomly... There've been so many times when the idea for a post crept up, but I'd be too busy or too tired of sitting in front of the laptop and the post would be gone forever. And then of course, good ol' FB has also been playing havoc with posts. It is such an addiction, I tell you!!

Rest later, folks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Akathu vachu kodukkal at chez moi

Karkidaka vaavu fell on 29th July this year. Traditionally, this is the day when we offer prayers to and request the blessing of our ancestors. In Kerala, there even is a holiday given...

This day has over the years been associated for me with good food. On my mother's side of the family, a delicious feast is prepared for the dear departed. In my mother's generation, all the cousins used to gather together at one house, where they used to have a humungous sadya. But those were the days where there were servants aplenty.. There used to be fish and mutton and chicken.. sambar and pachadi and varavu and kootu. 3 different varieties of payasam. Palpayasam, and kadalapayasam and godhamba payasam. Kinnathappam and ada and neiyyappam.(payasams used to be made with actual coconut milk, not the one that comes out of a packet)Lots of achars and pappadam-and-pazham-kuzhachathu which is a delicacy made only in the Malabar area. I think one reason for ALL that food used to be that all of those cousins with their families made up for a mini wedding guest list. Another was that favourites of all the departed ones were prepared...

My earliest memories of karkidaka vaavu are of all of us going for the feast at my grand uncle's house. (Yes, the Ammavan reigned supreme in those days.) Gradually, we stopped going there and started the custom in our own house- my Mom's house, that is. It used to be a joint family, and every year for karkidaka vaavu and for my grandfather's death anniversary, the 5 siblings would gather together and jointly get ready all the items. The uncles would go to the temple and offer bali and then go to the market early to get the best of fish and chicken and vegetables, while the aunts and Mom would have their bath first thing in the morning and start the process. They were not supposed to taste any of the food being offered. HOW it managed to get so tasty is something I have never stopped wondering about.

We kids would of course play and of course occasionally venture into the kitchen to check out all the delicious smells wafting out.... We'd go out into the backyard to collect banana leaves for the ancestors and for us.. And then, finally the long dining table would get filled with all the dishes of food, and it was time to serve the ancestors before feasting ourselves.

I remember that there used to be 5 leaves set out- two of them were obviously for Mom's father and mother. I don't recall exactly who the other 3 were for.. And so we'd serve them rice and curries and vegetables and and fish and meat and pickle and papad and payasam. There used to be sweets and fruits and tender coconut served separately. The lamp would be lit and we would all throw rice and pray for their blessings. And then the door would be closed for 5 minutes for the departed spirits to come and partake of the food lovingly prepared for them. After 5 min, and a respectful knock on the door, we'd enter and throw rice once again thanking them for their blessings. And then, a small leaf was would be torn off and a little of everything served would be taken on that leaf, a wick from the lamp put on it, and it would be taken out solemnly to offer to the crows.

And then - it was time to feast.

After we moved to our own house, we'd still gather at the ancestral house for karkidaka vaavu. But then, the dear old house was sold. And that was when we started the custom in my Mom's house. We'd shuffle times- lunch or dinner- so that my sister could keep do the akathu-vachu-kodukkal (literally translated- keep the feast in an inside room) in her marital home and attend it at our place as well.

This year, for the first time, I kept it in MY house, in Bangalore. But for the first time I did not offer non-veg items. Because it happened to fall on a Saturday when I have recently started a no non-veg fast. And I kept it simple, cos after all, there were only 3 of us to finish it all. Since it was a Saturday, we woke up late. The Acha had to go pick a cousin of his, so I had my bath and entered the kitchen only at about 10. And then I bustled around till about 1 pm.

Here you go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Leavin on a jet plane

After a couple of long drives where we've been listening to old English medleys and letting the lovely music fill up the car, Sonny boy's become a real fan of John Denver (his fave song is Country Roads). So this evening, when I returned slightly early from office and caught a moment with him together, alone, I thought I'd broaden his exposure to Denver. Played Leaving on a Jet Plane on my laptop. Him on my lap, we listened in peace, letting the words flow over us. At the end he saw some comment about John Denver having died on a plane himself.

I told him that John Denver sang this song, and later, much later, he died in a plane crash. And I told him that he sang this song for the girlfriend who the soldier was leaving behind.

He mulled a little on it, and then asked hopefully-

Did the girl die too, on the plane?

And if that isn't a tribute to you, John Denver, I don't know what is.:-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remembering Dad.

June 14th was my Dad's birthday. And we planned a feast for him. Except that he would not be able to eat it in person. This being the eighth year since he passed on, (Sonny boy came into the world a bittersweet year after his death) he'd only be able to eat it in spirit.

When he was a toddler, Sonny boy would unabashedly smother Dad's photo stuck to the wardrobe door, with wet kisses. I still have that picture of Dad's with one cheek all discoloured ... I don't think he'd mind.:-) But now, when he's grown up, and seen a couple of relatives in the family pass on, (the Acha's grandmother- another much loved lady, and my Uncle) he realises that Achacha is not quite omnipresent.

On the 14th, in the morning rush for school, we quite forgot to tell him that it was Achacha's B'day. So when he came back to appetising smells of biriyani ( courtesy my Mom who is with us currently) he sniffed appreciateively.

Today we're making Biryani???
Yeah, its Achacha's B'day.

Oh! today?
Yeah, Did you wish him?

*sheepish* No.
He'll be wondering why you alone didn't...

But I don't know his number, that's why.

We were zapped. He'd never asked for a number to speak to Achacha before. And then the penny dropped. He'd confused Achacha with Muthassan (the Acha's father)

We laughed and told him that it was MY Dad's B'day.

And then, he went upto Dad's foto and abashedly wished him a Happy Birthday.
And he turned and asked me-

Did he hear me?
Of course he heard you, Sonny boy, see, he's smiling down at you..

...and then, we went on to offer him dinner. Sonny boy rushed hither and thither, laying the mat, and placing the fruits and chocolates and payasam. In addition to the chicken curry, biriyani and salad. He almost knocked over a glass of water in his enthusiastic running to and fro.

In my home, when we keep food for ancestors, we lay 3 places- one for Dad, one for my side of the family, and one for the Acha's side of the family. So we finished our prayers, asked for blessings, and then closed the door so they could have their food. And then Sonny boy's voice piped up-

Who are the other dead people who will come and eat with Achacha?

It can still open a hurt to refer to him as DEAD. That's so final and removed from us somehow. And for me, Daddy, you are there always - maybe not foremost in my mind, but still there somewhere. Always. In happy times and sad. Sometimes in my times of need, I wish I could hear you just one more time.. touch you just one more time... so I could feel comforted even if nothing's been resolved... Sigh.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So some time back, I was feeling unsettled..
Waiting for something to happen. Now something not-so-good-at-all seems imminent. Its almost as if I were clairvoyant. Tho' in my wildest dreams, I'd never have thought I'd be in for 'this'!

More on 'this' later. Right now, I'm hoping and praying with all my heart that 'this doesn't come to pass, and things go on as before.

Good people, please send up a prayer for us, very much in need of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where I'm left feeling like Dennis' mom.

I used to LOVE Denis the Menace when I didn't have one of my own. I still love him, but I frequently end up feeling HUGELY empathetic to Dennis' Mom.

Yesterday, Sonny boy and I were covering all his new text books (for the new school term) with brown paper. The Acha had gotten some labels custom-made for him- with all his favourite characters- Chota Bheem, the characters in Ice Age and Rio and Cars, Ben10, Phineas and Herb or Ferb or some such person and some others I can't remember now... and Sonny boy was totally thrilled to be helping me- which means that he was simply sitting opposite me, poring over the labels and asking every 5 minutes when he could stick them on the covered books!

As ususal, the art/drawing notebook was a horizontally long one, and I had to scrimp on the brown paper to be able to use one single sheet to cover that as well as another regular book. To ensure that the paper would not come off the cover, I thought I'd better use scotch tape to stick the small inside edges to the cover.

"Sonny boy, bring me scotch tape...."
"Where is it, Amma?"
"On top of the fridge, or in the drawer in front of the mirror, or on your study table.

After some ten minutes ostensibly spent looking for scotch tape, but in reality spent mulling over/picking up whatever of his toys he found in all those places.

"Sonny boy, WHERE is the scotch tape????"
"I don't know- I'm still searching, Amma....."
*Ominous silence from me*
"Amma, I can't FIND it anywhere..." and he comes back to me...

*Looks at him irritatedly* "Sonny boy, it HAS to be somewhere in this house, right? I told you where to search also! How do I always find things??? Where do I search for these things????

*Meets my glare wonderingly* "That is what I am also thinking now..."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

IPL tidbits.

So the Acha and Sonny boy were watching IPL...

Sonny boy's fickle loyalties as of now are like a chameleon- tho' its the background of a different kind that matters. He's on the side of the winning team, no matter who. However he does have his favourites, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin and Dhoni being among them.

Saurav Ganguly was apparently batting (no, I do NOT watch cricket, unless its the World Cup)this evening. And he was a novelty to Sony boy, who had not heard of him during the World Cup or in the last few matches he's been watching with his Acha.

The Acha was aghast that he didn't know who Ganguly was!!

Acha: Sonny boy, Ganguly was one of India's best captains! Better than Dhoni even!
Sonny boy: Then what happened to him?

Acha: He stopped playing.
Sonny boy: Why?

Acha: Because- because he was tired!
Sonny boy: Then why is he playing now?????

Monday, May 2, 2011

of casteism and vegetarianism

We've introduced Sonny boy to ACK and every night, he chooses one for his viewing delight. As of now he can't read.. he just mostly goes through the picures.

Last night was Mangal Pande's turn. He'd seen Urumi during Vishu and was quite taken with Prithiviraj's exploits against Vasco da Gama.
So last night after seeing the cover picture with uniformed sepoys, he decided that Mangal Pande it would be. As usual, it fell to Amma to start the reading...

And once I started, I got confused.

The comic had casteism, racism, religious differentiation and vegetarianism.
All of which I'd rather not have Sonny boy ever introduced to.

Thankfully Sonny boy got bored of all those nuances in the story he had no understanding of, and went off to sleep.

I want him to feel proud of being an Indian, but I don't want him anti-Britishers. They did do their bit for India, and I want him to appreciate that. But for all that, the Britishers did bring India down to her knees and I want Sonny boy to know that too and appreciate what a strong people we were/are. Maybe a little later.

I hope he doesn't ever have to know about casteism. I hope that particular method of stratifying society goes obsolete in my generation itself. I hope, if he has to know about it, he learns of it like we learnt of Ice Age and Stone Age. Almost.

I don't want him to think that eating meat is below dignity. If he wants to eat even snakes and lizards, its upto him. There are people in this world who eat them and it is food like any other leaf/root/fruit. I do not want him feeling superior to, or looking down his nose at people who eat fare other than his, be it vegetarian or non vegetarian.

Every religion has its good and bad points. (Mangal Pande had Indian sepoys worried that the Britishers were going to convert them to Christianity, and thankfully, Sonny boy went off to sleep before I reached there.) I want him to respect all religions for their good values and understand that no religion is bad per se, only fanatic opinions make it so. I want him to treat people of all creeds as his friends, and to look upon humanism as the greatest religion of them all.

Sigh. Bringing up a child is a balancing act!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

a question for Shiva

So the other night, Sonny boy was reading an ACK. I forget which one, but it was one with Lord Shiva in it.
He'd just been to the Bannerghatta National Park where they'd seen a snake swallow another one whole and was still a little dazed by that..
And so Sonny boy was looking with new eyes at the serpent coiled around Lord Shiva's neck.

Amma,look at this snake around Shiva's neck!
*Immersed in Ramesh Menon's Mahabharat* mmmm, Sonny boy....

Amma, is that a COBRA!??
Yes, Sonny boy.

Why is Shiva wearing a snake like that around his neck, Amma? Isn't it dangerous?
The snake won't do anything to Shiva, Sonny boy. Its His pet.

Pet?? Like Trinity?
Yes. *by now distracted from the Mahabharat*

A pregnant pause and then- Amma, but why does Shiva have it on his neck?? Why can't the snake crawl after him everywhere? Like how Trinity walks after you?

I was stumped.
And I was reminded of this question of his long back.....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Charity begins at home

As of now, I'm pretty glad Sonny boy doesn't have any siblings!!!

The in-laws are a-visiting, and K, the SIL's son, is an active little 5 year old. Who worships the ground his cousin walks on. But who ineveitably, wilfully gets on Sony boy's wrong side, in an attempt to get noticed. Needless to say, every minute of the day, one can expect melt-downs of the gigantic kind.
The love-hate relationship, you could say, is thriving.

Sonny boy: - I ate two pieces of cake.
K : Did not!
Sonny boy: I did!
K: Did not!
Sonny boy: DID!!!!!
K: DID NOT!!!!!!

Phew! Its amazing how with his minimal vocabulary K effortlessly manages to raise Sonny boy's ire to alarming extents. This child is going to suffer from BP if he goes on in this fashion.

So tonight, there were some small crystals of sugar (prasad) that Sonny boy found in my bag. While about a dozen went into his mouth, he went around distributing some two crystals to all of us others (since it was prasad)

K : I want.
Sonny boy: No.
Sonny boy: NOOOOO!

K, Appealing to me, "Ammayi, tell Sonny boy to give me also..."

K's Ammayi knew that a straightforward appeal was not going to work, for the two had just had another verbal duel. Matters had to be resolved the roundabout way-

Amma (winningly): Sonny boy, give K some more sugar, please.... God will give you back if you give to others.
Sonny boy: (Looking at his diminished packet of sugar crystals) No, God won't!
Amma: Of course he will....
Sonny boy: But he won't- the sugar is getting less...
Amma: He won't give you sugar itself. If you give K what he wants, God will give you something YOU want, later... That is how He works..

Sonny boy up-ends the entire packet in his hands.
Half of it he give to a delighted K.
And then he calls- Trinityyyyyy! (that's our eternally hungry lab) Here's some sugar, for you...

Now Amma and Acha need to be careful on their next trip to a mall. And be wary of a little boy waiting for God to fill his bag with goodies, via Acha and Amma of course!

Ramesh Menon and his Mahabharat.

I am currently reading Ramesh Menon's Mahabharat. The Mahabharat is one of my all time favourites and Ramesh Menon doesn't disappoint.

It makes me smile to think how many extra marital relationships are there in it...starting with a Satyavati and Sage Parashara whose brief moments together result in Vyasa the great poet sage.

Vichitraveerya's death leaving Hastinapur heirless and her stepson Bheeshma's refusal to sire any children motivates Satyavati to brings in Vyasa to father sons for Ambika and Ambalika...

A petrified Ambika who refused to open her eyes in bed with Vyasa, despite not disliking the experience, led to Dhritharashtra being born blind...

An Ambalika who learnt a lesson from Amba's experience kept eyes wide open, but still paled away in fear.... which led to albino skinned Pandu.

Satyavati pleads with her son for one last chance,and Vyasa agrees....that night is a perfect night and results in a brilliant son- Vidur.. but unfortunately, Hastinapur is destined to have a flawed King- Ambika had sent in her maid in her place that fateful night.

Pandu's wife Kunti's pre-marital experiments with Durvasa's boon leave her with the Sun God's progeny- Karna.

Later, when due to a curse Pandu is unable to indulge in the act of procreation, Kunti uses the same boon to indulge in brief relationships with gods whom Pandu chooses(!!!) and out pop Yudhishtir, Bheem and Arjun, sons of Yama, Vayu and Indra respectively.

Kunti invokes the mantra for Madri who gets her children Nakul and Sahadev sired by the Ashvini twins.

In more innocent days, I used to think that being referred to as sons of Gods meant that the Pandavas were born as a result of Kunti and Madri praying to the respective gods for children who were subsequently blessed with godly qualities. Even in Rahi Masoom Raza's TV series on the Mahabharat, obviously the physicalities of such conceptions were not dwelt on.

Am glad that Ramesh Menon's women in the Mahabharat are free to desire and enjoy their men. Be it their husbands or Rishis or Gods. Be it through compulsions or innocent experimentation...

When exactly, I wonder, did sex become taboo in the land of the Kamasutra?

Friday, April 22, 2011

the birds and bees come a knocking...

The other day while giving Sonny boy a bath, I was telling him that he had,had, HAD to apply moisturiser after his bath as he had dry skin..

Amma, why is my skin so dry?
Because your Acha has dry skin...

But you don't- and I am YOUR son, na?
*that now familiar sensation of Sonny boyisms creeping over me* No, you are both Amma's and Acha's son...

But Amma, Acha didn't have me in HIS stomach. YOU had me in your stomach, no? So I am YOUR son!

It was quite the perfect opening for me to enlighten him that his was no immaculate conception. He he. But I think I'll wait some more before formally introducing Sonny boy to the birds and the bees...

Friday, April 8, 2011

2011 South Asian Challenge

I have enough on my plate, but this sounded too interesting to pass by. This new blogger I came across has a 2011 South Asian Challenge- where the idea is to read as many books by South Asian authors/about South Asia as possible.

So I have till 31st Dec 2011, to qualify for any of these..

South Asian Encounter - 1 book

South Asian Wanderer - 3 books

South Asian Explorer - 5 books

South Asian Adventurer - 7 books

South Asian Hero/Heroine - 10 books

South Asian Guru - Over 10 books (you can set your own goal)

On a modest target of 1 book a month, I should at least end up an adventurer. Tho' you never know, I might even become a heroine! ;-)
Happy Exploring to me!

This will also give me more fodder for the blog, as ideally speaking, I'd like to post a review on at least some of the books I read for this..

S Krishna has already got a looong list of books she's reviewed, so I can either pick my books from that, or choose my own ones.

Saffron Dreams – Shaila Abdullah
Haunting Bombay – Shilpa Agarwal
Madras on Rainy Days - Samina Ali
The Last Brother - Nathacha Appanah
Haunting Jasmine - Anjali Banerjee
The Forbidden Daughter - Shobhan Bantwal
The Sari Shop Widow – Shobhan Bantwal
The Unexpected Son – Shobhan Bantwal
Modern Spice – Monica Bhide
Shadow Play – Rajorshi Chakraborti
Salaam, Paris – Kavita Daswani
Fasting, Feasting - Anita Desai
The Music Room – Namita Devidayal
Bijou Roy - Ronica Dhar
One Amazing Thing – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Pleasure Seekers – Tishani Doshi
Corner Shop - Roopa Farooki
Half Life – Roopa Farooki
A Disobedient Girl – Ru Freeman
Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
Suits: A Woman on Wall Street - Nina Godiwalla
Secret Daughter – Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Writing on My Forehead – Nafisa Haji
Leaving India – Minal Hajratwala
Born Confused - Tanuja Desai Hidier
Lucky Everyday – Bapsy Jain
Atlas of Unknowns – Tania James
Almost Single – Advaita Kala
Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
Gifted – Nikita Lalwani
Where the Dog Star Never Glows - Tara Masih
The House of Subadar – Vijay Medtia
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders - Daniyal Mueenuddin
The Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie
Fury – Salman Rushdie
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay - Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie
Girl Most Likely To – Poonam Sharma
The Girl from Foreign – Sadia Shepard
Goddess for Hire - Sonia Singh
In the Convent of Little Flowers – Indu Sundaresan
Shadow Princess – Indu Sundaresan
Six Suspects - Vikas Swarup
Bombay Time – Thrity Umrigar
First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood – Thrity Umrigar
The Space Between Us – Thrity Umrigar
The Weight of Heaven – Thrity Umrigar
Climbing the Stairs – Padma Venkatraman
Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People – Farahad Zama

Books by South Asian authors, but not about South Asia(ns):

In the Kitchen – Monica Ali
Schooled - Anisha Lakhani
The Sound of Language - Amulya Malladi
The Emperor of All Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Exit the Actress - Priya Parmar
The Storyteller of Marrakesh - Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salman Rushdie
Luka and the Fire of Life - Salman Rushdie
Watermark – Vanitha Sankaran
Because All Is Not Lost - Sweta Vikram

Books set in or about South Asia(ns), but not by South Asian authors:

In the Land of No Right Angles - Daphne Beal
The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 – William Dalrymple
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi – Geoff Dyer
East of the Sun – Julia Gregson
The Case of the Missing Servant – Tarquin Hall
The Blue Notebook – James Levine
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity - Sam Miller
The Hundred-Foot Journey - Richard C. Morais
Radio Shangri-La - Lisa Napoli
Dark Road to Darjeeling – Deanna Raybourn
Dreaming in Hindi – Katherine Russell Rich
Shiva’s Arms – Cheryl Snell
To a Mountain in Tibet - Colin Thubron

Phew. PHEW.
Reading this list makes me feel so humbled.

My Before List of familiar authors would go like this

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Vikas Swarup
Anita Desai(She's tons, I mean TONS better than her daughter!)
Jhumpa Lahiri
Amitav Ghosh (have been meaning to read him for some time now)
Salman Rushdie( I am yet to read a book by this man. Somehow he puts me off.. :-()
William Dalrymple.

In Jan 2012, am going to come back with my After List.
Lets see what that's going to look like...:-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CSAAM- Good touch, bad touch and sexually abusive touch

As a mom of a 7 yr old, a part of parenting I’ve not given much thought to is child sexual abuse. I guess because I think of it as something that could NEVER happen in MY home. I certainly know that I pray for it to NEVER happen in MY home. But its something that’s been on my mind for sure. Especially since I leave my son at home with the maid for at least 2 hours (used to be more earlier) totally unchaperoned.
All I’ve told him is that he shouldn’t walk around naked in front of her, that she needn’t wash his bum after potty and that she doesn’t need to touch him , and if he doesn’t want it, he should tell her NO.

And then along came Kiran and Monica with their idea of doing something for/against Child Sexual Abuse. And that was when I really put my mind to what to tell my son. About sexual abuse. And when I started researching .....

This site on Good Touch/Bad Touch has loads and loads of sensible stuff on their website, starting with educating the child/adults on CSA, to helping him/her and parents/caregivers deal with it and take steps to lessen the trauma it delivers to the child's psyche. I found what they had to say on educating the child on good, bad and sexually abusive touch really informative, to me as well.

The first step to helping a child fight sexual abuse is making the child aware of it, and helping him/her to identify it. And that means talking to the child about good touch and bad touch. And sexually abusive touch. So the child knows what to tell his parent/guardian about, if God forbid, abuse happens.
Tulir uses the words safe and unsafe touch as well, so that the words good/bad don't lead to confusion or leave a stigma even unknowingly.

Good/Safe touch -
-Most touches- parents, siblings, relatives, known adults etc- would fall under this head. They make the child feel happy, loved, safe… warm inside and smiley outside. Kids are comfortable and feel reassured with these touches. And incidentally, it is very important for the child to have as many of these good touches so that he/she can differentiate between the good and the other touches. So if you needed an excuse to hug your child, do it NOW. And lots of times.

Bad/Unsafe touch-
- is when the child is physically hurt, and goes Ouch! Bad touches are mostly sudden , and not sly...and are not to be confused with sexually abusive touch. Fighting, bullying etc could lead to bad touch. Examples would be biting, kicking, hitting etc. Bad touch can happen with kids as well, it needn’t necessarily be an adult. Bad touches hurt and certainly do not feel good. Normally, the child reacts to this touch without any confusion- he/she moves away/stays away from this kind of touch automatically.

Sexually abusive/Confusing touch-
- is when the child is forced /tricked into touching private body parts-
key words here being force and trickery.
Force comes into play when the abuser makes the child do something he does not want. Or understand.
Trickery enters the scene when someone asks the child to touch their private body parts, or to allow them to touch the child’s private parts, pretending that it’s a game.. or fools the child into it, or lies to the child for access to private parts.

Sexually abusive touch might make the child feel good, so its important to let the young child who knows nothing bout sex yet, that the touch might not be hurtful, might even feel good, but that if it makes them feel uncomfortable or if they dislike it in any way, then, that touch is not right. Any kind of touch that makes the child feel confused about whether it is good or bad touch needs to be reported to a trusted person.

The child needs to feel secure in the knowledge that his body is his own and no one has the right to touch him if he does not like it. Not even known and liked persons. Not even relatives. Tell the child that it is ok to SAY NO to behaviour and touch they are not comfortable with, especially with relatives. No one- not even parents- needs to take pictures of him/her without underwear.

Tell your child that it needn’t necessarily be strangers… sexual abuse can be encountered from someone they know, like, love and even live with. (in a majority of cases, the offender is someone the child knows...)

Encourage your child to trust his feelings and to talk about it, if he feels confused or uncomfortable with a known adult’s behaviour or talk. They do not need to put up with something that makes them feel bad inside, just because the offender is publicly known to be a ‘good’ person..Sexual abusers are typically wolves in sheep's clothing.

If he and someone are on the computer and a ‘yucky' picture comes up on screen, make sure he knows to get off at once, and tell an adult about it.
Also, if old enough to be allowed to chat on the net, tell them to say NO if someone whom they only know on the net asks them for even normal photographs. Or to meet at a certain place. The matter needs to be discussed with parents/guardians.

Tell your child that it is very important that they TELL A TRUSTED ADULT if someone sexually abuses or hurts them in any way.. It is necessary to, early on, identify these trusted persons the child can confide in, in the event of any such abuse. Tell the child that if one person does not believe them, to go ahead and be brave and tell a second person, or a third... The more people know about it, the less likely it is to get hidden under the carpet.

Tell him/her that while speaking about sexual abuse is very difficult, it will only stop if brought into the open. And tell him/her that it is NEVER TOO LATE to tell someone about the sexual abuse.

Above all, make him believe that the abuse is NOT THE CHILD'S FAULT. It is the abuser’s fault. Make him believe that he/she is still a good kid. The best, in fact. That you still do and will ALWAYS LOVE HIM/HER. No matter what. Forever.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poonam non-pandemonium

Today's Bangalore Times had the much touted Poonam Pandey doing a semi strip tease... Me being one of the rare few who mustn't have googled her in the last week or so, I was looking forward to seeing her, till I saw her.

That was what was supposed to motivate our Men in Blue? Them guys who had the pick of the country's beeyooteefool women?

I have heard of "if you have it, flaunt it"
But this is clearly a case of not having it and flaunting it. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being neighbourly

I've been quite lucky (touchwood) in the people living around me. People working around me is another thing entirely. Duh!
I got along like a house on fire with my hostelmates at both Cochin and Bangalore. and that luck carried on with all my landlords too. The run of good neighbours continued in my own apartment of course, and it continues with my current rented one.

One of them, (the neighbour I get along with the best) is moving on...
Her black labrador used to remind me soooo MUCH of my own brown one back home in Kerala. She and I used to get on famously, exchanging dog and cat stories, and books among other things. They didn't have kids then, and Sonny boy used to like it there too, as he'd be made much over.
When I finally brought Trinity, our golden brown lab home, she was so excited for us. Our relationship grew stronger for the fact that they were one of the few people who loved having a dog jump up all over them. I would have loved for Leo and Trinity to make puppies together. Sigh. But that was not to be.

And then, after 11 years, they had a baby of their own.

And now, they're moving back to Kolkata. A, the husband has gotten a job there in their native place. This will help her heaps with the baby as their folks are in Kolkata. And I'm happy for her. But I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed that I was going to be one nice neighbour short.

And then- Abha said that she was looking out for a house in our neighbourhood as Cubby's school was close by. One thing lead to another, and Abha decided to see the house.
We met outside the apartment complex when she came, and that was when Sonny boy got to know that C (our current neighbour) was leaving sometime soon.
After the initial pleasure at meeting up with old friends, when we were on our way again, he asked me in a not-so-happy tone,

"C aunty is leaving?"
"Yeah, sonny boy, she is", I looked back at him in empathy.
"But why is she leaving?"
"Because A uncle found a better job in Kolkata."
"So Leo will also leave?"

That's their lovely black lab.
Someone who's less mad-dog than Trinity, and who therefore, Sonny boy gets along better with. He's also superbly trained, and can play fetch with Sonny. The two of them together can throw and fetch bones and balls for ages! Trinity, if you throw a bone/ball for her, will take it and disappear under the dining table and expect to be coaxed out of it physically!
Also, with Leo, there's no rivalry for Amma's attention.

"Yeah, Sonny boy, Leo will also leave."
"But then, I won't be able to play with Leo," he said sadly.

I looked at him, knowing that I too would miss Leo lots. Would miss his friendly pattering to the door on the ringing of the bell, and the rush to get his bone on seeing it was us.

"But then, Sonny boy, if Abha aunty comes, you will be able to play with Kabir."
"Kabir is coming HERE?"
"Yeah. that's why they've come here... to see C aunty's house"

He sat back in his seat, mulling over the fact that was losing and gaining a friend in one go.

"Can Kabir play cricket with me?"
"of course he can, Sonny boy. M uncle can also join in, with Acha."
A happy smile spread across his face.

Ah. to be a child and have these transient sorrows and big joys!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month- April 2011.

April has been chosen as the month to drive an initiative on Child Sexual Abuse Awareness, by some of us in the blogosphere. Several of us bloggers will be posting on various aspects of Child Sexual Abuse, some of us as victims, some of us as concerned parents, all of us as people determined to bring Child Sexual Abuse into the open, as an omnipresent threat to the safety of our children. Non bloggers are welcome to contribute as well.

If you would like to add to the discussion or know somebody else who would, please note that we welcome entries

a. mailed to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com OR

b. posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR

c. posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR

d. linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR

e. sent via some/all of the above methods

The list of topics is available here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured. I will probably be hosting at least one guest post and encourage you to do the same for non-blogging friends.

Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com so that we can track your contribution and make sure that it is not inadvertently lost or something.

U can also support it simply by adding the logo of our initiative in your blog's sidebar. Grab the below code to do so

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Undervalued gem

Her name was Ratnamma.

Dark and plump, with a perpetual smile that revealed paan stained teeth, she came to my house almost two years back, in response to my SOS for someone to take care of Sonny boy (and do housework) while I was away at work. The apartment housekeeping lady who brought her assured me that she would do nicely for me. Ratnamma’s answering wide smile was meant to reassure, but fell far short of its mark. The paan stains made me wonder about the cleanliness of someone who had to give my son his food. Plus she only knew Telugu and Kannada, while I knew zilch Telugu and my Kannada was only passable. But beggars cannot be choosers.

The only condition she had was that she shouldn’t be made to cook. Which was fine with me. She started work at my house. While she was ok in the housework department ( I am no great housekeeper myself) she was far from Sonny boy’s expectations of a companion.
Amma, Ratnamma SMELLS.. I don’t want her to come near me!
True, she had bad breath and body odour. But how was one to make her understand this in a non-hurtful manner? We had told her that she had to change her clothes every day.. and she dutifully did that. But God only knows when she ever had a bath. To cut a long story short, after a month, I sent her away, saying language was posing a problem. Which it was, but I explained the tru nature of the problem to the housekeeping lady who’d referred her.

Two months later, I was back to begging on my knees for a maid. And then the housekeeping lady materialized again and told me that Ratnamma was a good woman and that she was heartbroken that I’d sent her off.. that she’d explained matters to her and if she could be given a second chance… I relented and a delighted Ratnamma came back.. The paan stains were there, but the BO and bad breath were not too much in evidence. Sonny boy was far from pleased, but all of us strived and gradually, she came to be accepted.

There were the odd dissatisfactions, but by and large, she was ok. And she was a responsible motherly woman, who took Sonny boy ‘Chinnu’s’ well being much to heart and even took it on herself to berate me when I gave Sonny boy the dressing down that was a pretty regular feature at our house. For her placing Sonny boy’s well being above everything else, I forgave her most else. She told me that she hadn’t told her family that she also did housework, that as far as they knew, she was babysitting… She reported to work by 7.30 and stayed on till about 7pm by which time either the Acha or I came back from work. When I asked her who’d do the housework at her house, she said that her sister and daughter would… I enquired who all were at home, and she said- husband, sister, 2 sons and a daughter. I thanked my stars that she had a sister who stayed with them and who took care of their house so Ratnamma could take care of mine.

The months passed and we became more at ease with each other. Once during a phase of spring cleaning, when we’d been closeted for a whole morning together and were taking a welcome break from the chores, she confided in me…

The ‘sister’ was not her sister. She was her husband’s second wife.

Ratnamma had had a job in Infosys in the housekeeping section. She and her husband had been married for some years but when no offspring was forthcoming, people started talking.. She was under severe stress….and developed some psychological problems. Relatives labeled her as mentally disturbed and took her to a temple for some treatment. And in the meantime, the husband married again.

Shortly after, Ratnamma gave birth to a son. And then a daughter. And the ‘sister ‘ gave birth to a son too! The ‘mental problems’ lost her her job with Infosys. Her husband would not do any work. Apparently the man ‘could not’ as he was a diabetic. (I’ve attended her daughter’s wedding and he appeared to me to be a perfectly healthy man, preening under the attentions of his two wives!)

And so Ratnamma who was bothered about getting her daughter married off, started looking for work, and that was how she came to me. The second wife would do all the housework, while Ratnamma was expected to bring home the money. All her hard earned money went to her lazy good-for-nothing-husband. All she got for her pains, was money to buy paan, which was a habit she developed during her ‘mental problems’.

The fortitude with which she bore having the second wife under the same roof amazed and touched me. I asked her how she could bear it. And she said – what else can I do, madam? Namma yajamanaru nimma yajamanaru thara alla.. and her eyes watered and she gave a shaky smile. I came close to giving her a hug then, bad breath and paan stained teeth and all…
I patted her on her arm and said, Parvaakila Ratnamma. God grant that your daughter gets married into a nice family.

About a year back, her daughter got engaged. After the engagement was formalized, the second wife kicked up a fuss. She wanted her son - a wastrel- to marry the daughter. The wastrel threatened that he’d not allow the marriage to take place. The daughter said that she’d rather die than marry him. That was the only time I saw Ratnamma in tears. She wrung her hands to me in distress….. the second wife only wanted this with an eye to all the dowry that would be given apparently... They were selling off some land on her mother's side to arrange for the dowry. I told Ratnamma to go ahead with the marriage and give a police complaint. But they were afraid of going to the police. Luckily, the father had a soft corner for his daughter and said that she could marry whomever she liked. And Ratnamma's own son too, who was a carpenter, arranged some friends to keep order during the wedding.

We went for the wedding, where we met the second wife. She clearly lorded it over Ratnamma and bossed over the husband. She was the important lady of the house, even though it was Ratnamma’s daughter’s wedding. We came away after passing our good wishes to the newly married couple and saying goodbye to Ratnamma.

Everytime the Acha and I have our fights over silly issues, and if its while Ratnamma is within hearing, I always feel ashamed later. My marital disagreements and dislikes seem so petty compared with what she has been through. She’s lost her well paying job, lost her husband to another woman, and even more galling, her hard-earned money goes for the upkeep of the second wife and stepson too.. She has to put up with unkind behaviour at home ( I only realized later why she seemed so unwilling to go home, even if she finished her work early on weekends)

She seemed to me the epitome of the undying spirit of a woman. Who carries on with her life, with head held high and a big heart. Inspite of everything, so her family can thrive.

This is my submission towards Women's Web's initiative for International Women's Day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sonny mornings

6.30- 6.45 am :
At 6.30 Amma gets up with a call to Acha and son to rise and shine. And she and Ms. Doggy go down to get the kitches fires burning.
Acha alternately snoozes and jogs Sonny boy, and after much playful cajoling, at 6.45, carries a sleepy eyed Sonny boy downstairs.

by 7Am:
Sonny boy does an amazing job of brushing his teeth, and washing his face, managing to keep the sleepiness in his eyes perfectly intact!

by 7.15 am:
The milk gets down Sonny boy’s gullet with first encouragement, and then dire threats from Acha and Amma.
Ms. Doggy looks up grinningly, and thumps her tail on the ground near Sonny boy’s feet as if to say that if it was left to her, the milk would be getting digested in her stomach by now.

7.15- 7.25 am:
Sonny boy day dreams on top of the toilet seat.
When irate Amma pops her head in at 7.20, he relates that potty 1 ,2 and 3 have come, but kutty potty 4 is in his stomach, and had not been wanting to come out, but that he’s making it come out NOWW.
Amma screams at him that he better be up and pouring water over him NOWWWWW.

7.30- 7.35:
A prancing Sonny boy is brought out after a bath in relatively cold water. His scrawny limbs are anointed with moisturiser by Amma, while, simultaneously, the Acha shovels food into his mouth.
Ms. Doggy is once again nearby with wagging tail and quivering nose and eyes that devotedly follow every movement of the spoon- from plate through the air, to sonny boy’s mouth. There are many fallen morsels between plate and spoon and mouth and Ms. Doggy delightedly awaits these morsels.
In between screaming at the son to eat and at the dog to get out of the way, Sonny boy gets dressed.

735- 7.40:
Sonny boy makes his little prayers to God. Depending on the day and the mood this varies between a quick Hi and Bye, and an intense mumbling session for whatever little graces he wants for the day.
By now, the Acha is shouting that the bus has come, that neighbouring 9 yr old is leaving, that neighbouring 14 yr old is also leaving, what on EARTH is he doing still in the house??
Sonny boy still has his mouth full of breakfast that he’s trying to finish. Ms. Doggy has a sharp eye out for handouts and Amma has a sharper eye (and hand) out for selfsame handouts.
Finally he’s out of the house!

Amma, Ammamma and L Ammamma stand on the balcony to wave to Sonny boy who is being taken down in the lift by the Acha. And there comes a shout- Handkerchief!!!!! Amma runs back for the hanky which can NEVER be found when in need and finally after much huffing and puffing throws it down to the Acha and son. Acha deftly catches the deftly thrown hanky and gives it to Sonny boy. Hanky in pocket, Sonny boy goes off jauntily to school.

All adults retire for a few minutes of well-earned rest.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

feeling unsettled..

For quite some days now .. or is it months.. its not years for sure- have been feeling very unsettled. As I'm waiting for something to happen.. dunno what and when..
Unable to give my full attention to anything, be it Sonny boy or office or home or blog or... Even Ms. Doggy is unable to make me fully concentrate on rubbing her belly. And that is saying something!

Everything I do is half hearted. A sense of discontent, a sense of unease, a sense of hanging in limbo waiting for God knows what...
Life seems to be passing by in a wild kaleidoscope, but nothing seems to make any sense. Days merge into weeks, into months...and I'm left waiting for Someone to show me sense. To make something of my life..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mountain air

Sonny boy’s imagination can make me smile even at the most harried times.

This morning, the heater was not working in the downstairs bathroom, and so, shooed him to the upstairs bathroom. Now the heater there has a leak (yeah, our heaters are like that only) and so the inlet or outlet or whateverlet tap above the false ceiling is kept closed until time of use. The time of use was at hand, but us less-than-6ft-tall people cannot reach the danged thing so I had to holler for the husband to come and open up the tap so the hot water would flow…

After all that unusual activity we were running late for school and as usual something had to be missing. This time, it was the bottle of Vaseline. The blessed bottle was nowhere to be found. (Later, much later, I found it in the downstairs bathroom!) So I took the Himalaya moisturizer that I am currently using and started to apply.

"Mmmmmmm…." Sonny boy sniffed appreciatively. "Nice smell, no Amma? It smells of ..of.. hills and mountains and all that, no?"

I looked at him squarely and continued my applying. And then the penny dropped. Himalaya.
Sonny boy bent down to where I was applying cream on his toes, to get a better look at my face and see if I appreciated the mountain air as well. So I was smiled back at him

He continued.. "how do they get the mountain air into the bottle, Amma? Its a wonder, no? All that leaves and flowers and…animals... and "
So something from all those drives through Nagarhole has indeed percolated into the young man's consciousness..
Indeed it would be wonderful if they could bottle all that, Sonny boy.

Monday, March 7, 2011


The home was teeming with people the last 2 weeks.

From Sonny boy's viewpoint, 4 grandmothers, 1 grandfather, 2 aunts, and 1 cousin.
With of course the Acha, Amma and Sonny boy and eternally adolescent dog.
I hated coming away to office and Sonny boy would linger over goodbyes while leaving for school. All of them save one, being ladies and relatives from my side of the family, I think the Acha might have been a tad relieved to get out of the house for a while.

The happiest persons were of course Sonny boy and the dog. The dog was ensured of feet anywhere he chose to lie down and Sonny boy would get at least one person at any time of his waking hours to play with him. Given that his B'day had just gotten over, there were heaps of games.
But what we enjoyed the most was carroms. The oldies enjoyed renewing their carrom skills and handled Sonny boy's whines at not winning quite affably.
Day one saw Sonny boy in mutinous mood, hands akimbo and face turned into the sofa.
Day two saw him tentatively flexing his fingers at the game, never mind that he got the striker into the pocket more often than he had the coins.
Day three saw him getting better at winning and losing.

They left in pairs.
The aunt and cousin first.
Then 1 grandie and another aunt.
Then 2 more grandies.
Now 2 are left.

And I'm trying to make them stay for as long as possible....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sonny boy and toys.

A curious Sonny boy wondered aloud: Acha, when you were not born and Gandhiji was not born, and there were only dinosaurs, were there toys???

The last month or so, he has been in a tizzy of excitement over what toys he can possibly get for his B'day.
He's asked lots of people to come- everybody he sees almost. And he was overheard telling his Ammamma yesterday, with a wide grin- there is not even going to be place to SIT in the house! I wonder If I'm going to be the one to be surprised on his birthday!!

Given that these days everything spins in our house - the plate, the pen, the school book, the soap, himself!... the Beyblade is of course a must. I never thought I'd mourn the Ben 10 days, but I find that I do. At least Ben'd stay with the boys, and not intrude into the homespace.

And then there's something called a Piranha Panic. We have no idea what this is, except that this morning, the Acha had a nasty surprise when Sonny boy told him that he's promised to get him Piranha Panic for his B'day.
On being asked what it was, he gave a garbled version of fishes and piranha and bites and fishing lines..

Acha and Amma were totally befuddled.
Amma; Who else has it, Sonny boy?
Sonny boy: Nobody has it. I'm going to be the first to get it. *A big smile*
Acha: Where did you see this?
Sonny boy: The advertisement used to come on TV. On Cartoon Network, Acha. But now everybody knows about it, so it doesn't come any more.

LOL. He sure knows the basics of a media plan for sure.
But that means that we have to probabby google for what the Piranha Panic is.

This year, I've put a foot firmly down on any expensive toys for him, bearing in mind that he has ZILCH care or consideration for his toys. I try to make him put away his toys after playing, but then, our maid, who's of the old school, believes that I'm a cruel nag and tells me to not put the 'paapa Chinnu' to such distress and does the needful herself as much as she can.

And I've noticed that he enjoys games we can join in playing with him. So this year, we plan to give him a carrom board. Which is something that all of us can play. And also something that his friends can play when they come over. Its a tad noisier than the general board games of snakes and ladders and ludo and the like.
The Acha wrinkled his nose and said that a carrom board was not a BIRTHDAY gift. But then, I put my foot down. Why does a gift have to be expensive?? Seems to me that we're falling more and more into the trap of using money to make up for our lack of physical presence around Sonny boy. As a compromise, we also got him a cricket set.and now of course there will be this Piranha thing as well.

I'm always putting my foot down when the Acha discusses a particularly expensive gift. I keep telling him that when we were growing up, we considered ourselves lucky if we got more than one gift. And the gifts were mostly books which we enjoyed so much. He counters this telling me that its precisely because we didn't get it, that he wants to indulge Sonny boy.

We agree to disagree on this point. Its as much his son as its mine and he has a right to indulge him in ways he thinks fit. Mostly, on matters of discipline we share a common ground, though he is a way more indulgent parent.
And I'm quite often the no-parent. The one who's alway saying no.

Anyway I digress. So his B'day is on Feb 25th and he's been counting the days from the New Year onwards. I'm hoping that this year, he gets the toys he dreams about and he learns to value and take care of them.

I still have a big cardboard box of his toys left unopened after we shifted to our current house. Its been three years since we moved (!) and those toys are still awaiting deliverance. There are plenty of other toys that he's got since, that clutter the floor randomly at varying times of the day. And so I've been thinking that I'll donate those toys to an orphanage along with the old clothes that are another unopened box. Couple of boxes, cos they have mine and the Acha's too in addition to the BIL's (who was staying with us before we moved).

Sigh. I HAVE to clean up the house before partytime. And I SO don't have the time!

And YES! After ages of wanting to do so, I finally added some more names to my reading list. Dipali, you're the inspiration. I LOVED those pickled limes of yours.... :-)
The list is not complete by any means, but then, it'll never be, I guess....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steely anniversary to us

I'd meant to do a thingie post every day to lead up to today. But they sure mean it when they say time flies. So here I am with just one thingie post to this blog's credit- on what is our eleventh wedding anniversary.

Given that we pretty much arranged our own marriage, I love that we were able to make it on Republic Day. Neither of us realised at the time ( we were both so glad to be finally tying the knot) how wonderful it would be to have your anniversary on a holiday ALWAYS.

Looking back on that day, we both were like a pair of teenagers.... I couldn't keep my grin off my face while getting ready, and my Moothamma finally threw up her hands in frustration, saying, "ok, ok, smile for now, but once we reach the temple, adangi-othingi irikkanam". She meant that I'd have to act the docile bride. Given that I had never in my life been docile, ever, of course I gave her advice/admonition not a second thought.

But when it came to about 10 minutes before the muhurtham without a sign of the groom and party, the beam began to lose its sheen a bit. Where on EARTH was he????? Turned out the party was late cos of a traffic block on account of some Republic Day function on the way. And you came hurrying into the temple with that trademark grin on your face.

From then till today, it has been 11 Republic Days. 11 years of fun, love and laughter... quarrels and fights and hurts, and forgiving and forgetting... 5 different homes, one son and one dog.. and it continues...

I cannot imagine me with any other person, my darling. And if you were to see this as I write, your tongue-in-cheek ripartee would be that no other person would stand me for what I am.

Here's to many more years of love and happiness, sweetheart, many more years of being the yang to my yin. Love you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thingie Post.

Thanks, Sue for the idea.

So, next week, its going to be 11 years of living with the man, as it were. And I figure that if the Sue can be so generous as to write 30 things about her man, I can go upto at least a dozen.

The thing I like about him is that he follows "Little Women" even if he didn't like it as much as I did. He tries never to let the sun go down upon his anger.
Never mind that half the time he's the one who started the row in the first place, even if he hasn't, he's always been the first one to patch up.

Whereas for me, I'd still be thinking dire thoughts of him 2 days later. Sigh.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

gourmet tastes

does Sonny boy have.

For breakfast he'd like- Dosa
Morn' Snack- Dosa
Lunch- Dosa
Eve' snack- Dosa
Dinner- Dosa.

Any time we're on the road and stop somewhere for eats, we don't need to ask Sonny boy what he'll have. For no matter whether its breakfast,lunch,dinner or just a snack, his preference is going to be

I know I should probably be counting my blessings, but.... Aaaargh!

Forget the microwave, I should probably have invested in a tabletop grinder. gah! No wonder I'm not a baking goddess. And whoever heard of a dosa goddess?

Monday, January 17, 2011


By now she knew that bags being packed and much rushing to and fro, lugging clothes around didn’t harbour pleasant tidings for her.
‘They’ were going to go off somewhere without ‘her’.
She knew it. But in her heart of hearts she hoped. And so, when the Acha asked her out for a late-night drive, she jumped joyfully, her tail wagging nineteen to the dozen.

Alas. The Acha was only dropping her off at the kennel. And this time the stay turned out to be for 10 loooong days.

10 days when she was quite the Lonely Lady. And 10 days in which the even the normally pretending-to-be-immune-to-her-charms Acha was forced to say, “if ‘she' were here, she’d be there”- looking at the vacant cushion by the bed.
Amma was of course missing her every second.
And Sonny boy was was heard often saying "If Trinity was here she'd be doing this" Or that. He was also heard regretting that she wasn’t there to eat his leftovers.

But all that’s changed. She’s back! And we’re together again.
And if there was a song Trinity could have been singing this morning when she gambolled like a deer- a druken one at that- through the doors of her home, and jettisoned herself on the waiting Acha, it would be

Apne hi bas mein nahin main
Dil hain kahin toh hoon kahin main...

... aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hain!

We lurrrve you too, my darling!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The new decade begins....

.. and I decide to
keep an account of my spending. No curtailing or whatever. Just know how much is going into what. I may still not be able to tell my mom exactly how much onions cost here, but at least I'll be able to tell her that my grocery bill was high/low.
Another reason is that I asked Sonny boy's tuition teacher whether her fees were 2x or 3x... and she looked dumbly at me and told me it was actually x. Sigh! I tell you I have absolutely no idea of where my money goes and how much either. Bad. Bad. BAD. And that is definitely going to change for the better this year. It better!

I am going to drink more water. Period. And get Sonny Boy also to drink more water. I drink maybe 3 glasses of water a day. This is including my cuppa coffee in the morning. Bad again. Well, I'm going to do something about it this year. And every year henceforth.

I'm going to have a beauty regime. hahaha. By that, I mean that I hope to at least wash my face with plain water, after I come back from work. I shamefacedly accept that somedays, I don't even do that. The only time my face sees some water is during the baths (I bathe daily, people!) and during the face-washing sessions at office, after a hot day in the sun.
All that is going to change. I'm going to actually cleanse my face, and remember to moisturise it before I drop off to sleep. I see the beginings of crows feet around my eyes. Maybe I crinkle my eyes too much. Maybe I laugh too much? I do NOT want to laugh less, but I COULD do with some lesser laugh lines.

This year, I'm going to focus on providing extras and not just the basics, to Sonny boy. Remember to laugh more with him. To listen to him. To take his side sometimes in fights/arguments. To not shout at him so much. LOL. Come to think of it, quite a bit of this could apply to the Acha as well. We've been having a rough couple of years, but through it all, I can still count my blessings. I hope thats a state of affairs that continues or takes a turn for the better. Amen.

Talking of God, Sonny boy has been going around asking the meanings of people's names. And he's totally stuck on being named after a God. His conversation these days runs like this.

Snuggling upto him, Acha, is your name the name of a God?
Why, Sonny boy?
IS it, Acha?
What if it is, Sonny boy?
Acha, does my name mean God??
No Sonny boy.
Acha!!! I WANT my name to be God's name!

I don't know where this is coming from. He hasn't been spending too much time with the grandies. But he MAY have been watching too much of Chota Bheem. hmmm...

That brings me to the last one before I end this post. I mean to blog more regularly. There have been so many Sonny boy laughs this last year. But I can't remember what they were all about. Well, hopefully this year, there'll be more of the same.