05 December, 2006

Aparna's Birthday Pics ....

"We're just warming up"

"Chaaron Taraf Gopiyaan, Sofe Pe Kanhaiya"

"C'mon Let's Dance !!!"

"Yum Yum !!! Chicken Wings and Pizza !!!"

"Let's have fun with Twister"

"We're all tied up in knots"

"We chilled out in Aparna's room when ........"

"........... we heard someone say "FEEE FIIIII FOOOOO FUM !!!!!"

"For having scared us - have our revenge we did !!! Its tickle time - YAAAAAYYYY!!"

"Hmmmmm - Lovely Yummy Birthday Cake !!"

"Chugga Chugga Choo Choo - The Rail Gaadi is off and running"

"Happy Birthday Aparna !!"

30 November, 2006

Happy Birthday Aparna !!

Dearest Aparna,

As you turn eight today, sweetheart ........

Celebrate the miracle
Of all that makes you YOU.
Count a blessing for each candle
Have your cake and eat it too!

Unwrap this day and savor it
And all the love that's there
Send a dream-wish straight to
Heaven on the wings of prayer

Remember what a blessing you are
Even after this day is gone.
You're a gem, a priceless treasure
Let yourself shine on!

Loads of Love and God Bless !!

Mom & Dad

28 November, 2006

The Icecream Eraser

This happened a couple of days back. I realised only today that it had completely slipped my mind and that it had not been penned down.

A couple of days back, one fine afternoon saw Appu and Abhay having a tiff.

Over what ??

Of all the things – a pencil eraser !!

They were squabbling over an eraser which is shaped like a icecream cone. To be more specific – a cone with three scoops of icecream on it.

Appu, in a fairly desperate attempt to get Abhay to relinquish the eraser, told him

“Abhay see – there’s water on the eraser.”
“Oh Oh Abhay – the icecream is melting”

Apparently there had been a single droplet of water on the eraser then.

Not to be outdone, Abhay comes running over to me and says

“Icecream got a cold” and then adds a couple of “Acchooo” “Acchooo” – I guess just to make sure I got the message.

He then shows me the droplet of water on the eraser and says

“Icecream Mookila Chee Chee Irukku”

Translation : Icecream has got Chee Chee in its nose.

Whenever he has a runny nose, he goes around saying “Nose la Chee Chee”.

So now, the poor little icecream (I mean the eraser) has a cold.

27 November, 2006

Does water burp ?????

Today morning, when Abhay was in the bathroom for his shower, I was adjusting the water temperature. In the process, water was flowing from the tap and not the hand shower (as is normally the case).

Abhay was out-and-out fascinated by the water gushing out of the tap. He then proclaimed “That’s a waterfall” with a huge grin on his face and then proceeded to splash water all over, inside and outside of the bathtub.

Then, as he normally does, he asked me for the soap. “Please give me soap” “Please give me soap” he chanted.

With the soap in his hand, he again seemed to drift off into his own thoughts, all the while staring at the water, this time flowing out of the hand shower.

Then he asked me “Akkam Enge Vandhudhu ?” (that is to say “Where does water come from ?”)

I told him that water is created by Ummachi (God in baby language), as are so many other things around us.

“Akkam is the Ummachi ?” he asked

He was then distracted for a few minutes as we got his shampooing business over with.

We had finished Abhay’s shower and as I toweled him dry, he was watching the water running out of the bathtub with a lot of gurgling sounds.

He immediately said “Excuse me” which was immediately followed by an “Excused OK”.

I asked him “Why did you say Excuse Me ?”

He says “Akkam Burp Pannithu” with a very amused look on his face.

(Akkam Burp Pannithu = The water burped)

The gurgling noises as the water drained out of the bathtub had gotten associated with a Burp.

Whenever Abhay burps, we make it a point to tell him “You must say Excuse Me after you burp”

Since he has not heard water speaking till date, I presume he took it upon himself to say “Excuse Me” – on behalf of the water !!

23 November, 2006

Appu's quite enterprising .....

When Appu returned from camp on Friday, she declared camp a lot of fun. Apparently their camp had been a huge hit with the kids and a huge success.

She tried her hand (or should it be legs) with roller blades, played badminton, mini golf, enjoyed herself at the disco, was the first one to wake up in the morning – at sunrise (she kept emphasizing the “at sunrise” bit).

All in all, camp was a great success.

When these kids went off on camp, the school had said that we could send with the kids a maximum of Thirty HK Dollars in small change. That is, in case the kids wanted to buy something just for the pleasure of spending money and buying stuff. All the other necessities were already covered by the camp fee that the parents had to send over to the school directly.

We had sent money in a small purse with Appu too. Basically, these small situations give parents an opportunity to judge exactly how much value kids place on money and the spending power that comes with it.

When she got back from camp, by herself, she told me “All the money that I took with me to camp I’ve brought back. Cos there was nothing there that was interesting or useful enough for me to spend the money on”. And there were no regrets or an “Oh How I wish I had spent some money” attitude. She was pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

Needless to say, we were quite pleasantly surprised.

The next day, she asked “The money which I did not spend and which I brought back after camp – Can I keep that as my pocket money ?”

Now we have been expecting this pocket money issue to start sometime soon and there it was.

She then went ahead and said “And from now on I don’t want you or Daddy to “give” me pocket money. I want to earn my pocket money.”

“Not Bad “, we thought.

“How do you intend to earn your pocket money ?” we asked her.

“I can do small jobs for you within the house and you’ll can pay me for it” she said.

Vic then told her that the idea is good and so is the initiative. But first and foremost, she has to make sure that she finishes all her studies and her violin practice etc first and the “jobs” come later. Of course, any “jobs” assigned to her and completed by her will definitely “earn” her a credit entry.

As an added incentive, if she practices her violin or her times tables by herself (without being prompted or chased), she does stand a good chance of having a credit entry marked in her passbook.

Yes, The Parent’s Bank has started maintaining a passbook for her.

Not a bad idea at all actually, judging by the fact that it came from someone who is soon going to be completing seven years of age and turning eight.

21 November, 2006

What happens when Abhay is in one of his wacko moods ?

Abhay sometimes gets into weird wacko moods. And when he is in one of these moods, getting a straight answer out of him is next to impossible.

Yesterday, for example, this happened before bedtime.

Vic was on the phone with one of his colleagues when Abhay was loitering around in the bedroom, doing nothing in particular and just about everything in general.

Humming a rhyme, practicing numbers looking at the telephone keypad, climbing up on the bed and jumping down, pulling pillows up and doing I-don’t-know-what with them etc…

Vic asked Abhay if he wanted to speak to “Uncle” on the phone and he immediately ran over and took Vic’s cell phone from him.

(The Uncle part of the conversation is what I assumed happened cos I could hear only Abhay’s part of the conversation)

Uncle : Hi Abhay

Abhay : Helloooo

There was some more chatter and then

Uncle : What’s your name ?

Abhay : My name is Aparna

Uncle : What’s your name Abhay ?

Abhay : My name is Aparna

Abhay : What’s yoooouuuur name ?

Abhay : Bye Byeeeee

Off he went, running into the kids’ bedroom.

Once there, when I was changing him into his pajamas, I asked him once again

“What’s your name ?”

“My name is Aparna” came the reply.

All through this, this guy had a totally nonchalant look on his poker face.

I then pointed to myself and asked him “What’s my name ?”

I was rewarded by an expression that I had difficulty classifying – incredulity or dubiousness. As if to say “You really don’t know ?”

No answer

I once again told him “Abhay, what’s my name ?”

“Gau Gau Gau Gauriiiiiii” he said.

What’s Daddy’s name ? I asked him

Normally he says “Kannan” (that’s what Vic is called at home) but yesterday night he chose to say “Venkitaraman” and then went off into a loud “ha ha ha ha ha “

OK – since he got Mom and Dad’s names right, I asked him once again

“What’s your name ?”

“My name is Aparna” came the reply

By then Aparna (I mean the “real” Aparna) – was already in bed and was busy fussing around with her pink blanket.

So I thought to myself “might as well put this guy in a quandary here” and asked him, pointing to Aparna,

“What’s her name ?”

He did not even bat an eyelid, there was not a moment of hesitation as he replied

“That’s a pink sheep”


I gave up !!!!!!!!!!!!

18 November, 2006

Another parallel .....

Yesterday was a busy day.

In the morning, I had volunteered to go alongwith the teachers and children in Abhay’s class on a field trip. The kids were to visit a furniture shop, to further reinforce the topic that they are learning at school right now. Their topic right now is apartments, buildings, how homes are furnished, which room is used for what etc ….

In the afternoon, I was planning to go over to Appu’s school to fetch her back home.

In the morning, it was the usual hurry-burry routine. Vic was getting ready for work and I was getting ready for the field trip.

I was busy putting my eyeliner on and did not notice that Abhay was standing by the door, looking with rapt attention. When I did turn and look at him, he kind of gave me a shy smile as if to say “Ouch – I got caught”.

As I was putting the eyeliner on my second eyelid, he points to the eyeliner and says “Mehndi ??”.

When I answered in the negative, up came that now famous index finger and he says “That’s a Mehndi”.

I clarified it for him and told him “That’s Mummy’s eyeliner”.

He had been fascinated by the way I drew out the Mehndi patterns on Appu’s palms before Navratri this year. And he has seen Appu’s hand with the mehndi on, before she washed it off.

So, I guess, it was the thin, dark lines that brought about this association of the eyeliner with mehndi.

16 November, 2006

A Two Day Camp

Today morning, when Appu went off to school, there was a difference.

The difference being that unlike every other day, today, Appu would not be back home in the afternoon. She would not be back home in the evening. She would not be back home at night.

She will be back home only by 4 pm tomorrow because she is off on a two day/one night camp.

For the first time in her life, she will be staying away from home for 1 ½ days, unchaperoned by either her dad or mom.

Abhay too seemed to realise that there was something different today morning as Appu went off to the lobby to wait for her school bus. For the first time since the start of her Primary Three year, Appu went downstairs in her P.E uniform. Normally she leaves in her summer/winter uniform and on days when she has PE, she carries the PE clothes in a PE bag and all the kids in class are supposed to change into their PE clothes at school.

So, never once has she left home in her P.E clothes with her trainers on. She normally always leaves home with her brown leather shoes on.

Another difference was that she carried a huge blue backpack today in lieu of her normal pink backpack (Schoolbag).

Normally, every morning, when Appu says “Bye Abhay” before she leaves for school, he too says “Bye” and then turns around and says “Aparna going to school or Akka going to school”. Today when she said “Bye Abhay” he did say “Bye” and immediately turned around with a huge question mark on his face and said “Aparna going to park ?”. And I got a very dubious look from him when I answered in the negative.

When I told him that Aparna was going to school, he started walking around in circles in the living room saying “Aparna go to school” “Brown Uniform ?”. He then walked over to her school bag, pointed to it and said “Aparna Schoolbag ?”.

Realising that he had made an association with her going to school in her brown uniform with her pink schoolbag, I then told him “Aparna has gone to camp today”. "She will first go to school in the school bus and from the school she will take another bus to camp."

That explanation, seemingly, was accepted with a lot more of lenience.

Yesterday afternoon, as we packed her backpack up, the excitement on her young face was almost palpable. She was absolutely thrilled to be going on camp with 149 other Primary Three children.

Apparently, the kids have a lot of good things waiting for them there. An opportunity to try their hand at rock climbing, roller blades, parachuting (from low heights), a disco today evening and of course, the huge element of choice when it comes to food :-)

They will also be going on a trek on one of the small mountains in that area.

There are going to be 10 children in one room at night. Basically 10 separate low beds with individual blankets etc. Also the added attraction of sleeping in rooms overlooking a mountainside with the windows wide open, under the night skies. Because normally in the apartments in HK, the windows are generally left closed at night – especially the apartments on the lower floors. Theft is indeed a threat. Out on the dorm, the windows are fortified with bars and mosquito nets, their Deputy Principal was quick to reassure us, the parents.

Yesterday, as we were talking about the activities at camp, Appu says “Mummy – can you pack up some Oreos in my backpack ?” She then went on to say that she and her friends are cooking up some sort of a pajama party – late night snacks in torchlight (yes – they are carrying small torches). How sweet !!!! I could not help but smile at that earnest face which was all alight with eagerness and expectation. Apparently, one of the other girls is carrying a large bag of chips and some others are carrying something else.

Oreos, Potato Chips, Marshmallows - late at night - with all the lights off - the only light being shed by torches. I hope the kids have loads and loads of fun :-)

Another thing these girls are looking forward to is the possibility of having sleep walkers amongst them in the dorm. Honestly, even if there are, I don’t even for a minute think these girls will even be aware of it. They are going to be so tired out by the end of the evening that sleepwalkers would be the last thing on their minds.

Home, right now, is quite sinfully sane. Normally she would be prancing all over the house and I would be working myself up into a fit asking her to change out of her school clothes and into her house clothes. Then there would be the usual “Appu finish your snack” “Appu drink your milk” echoing all over the house. All this would be very generously peppered with the scores of questions that she would have in store – it could range from topics extremely mundane to some really eccentric ones. These would be interspersed with what happened at school that day or what happened to the slideshow that she is making at school or what happened in the school bus or what happened at playtime. Along with all this, there would also be numerous complaints about someone being mean or someone being rude or someone being ill mannered. What I mean is – there would be some banter or the other. With her around, especially the few hours after she gets back from school, immobility and stillness are an anomaly at home.

Today afternoon, as I type out this post, there is none of all that banter that normally characterizes her return from school and to be very honest – I miss it.

Tomorrow afternoon, I am planning to go over to school as the kids troop back in from camp. This is all the more sweet because I have not told her that I will be going over to school tomorrow. She does not know. The normal routine for the kids is to get back to school from camp tomorrow late afternoon and then come back home in their respective school buses.

Appu sure is in for a surprise tomorrow !!

I really hope that she enjoys this camp outing, this first step towards independence, this first attempt at self-sufficiency that is so very important in rounding them off as individuals and which is so very essential and healthy towards creating a strong sense of self-identity.

Tomorrow, as she gets back from camp, I do very much hope that it is with a smile on her face and lots and lots of dear, fond and precious memories that she would carry in her heart and mind for years to come, probably for a lifetime.

14 November, 2006

Pseudonyms were aplenty .......

......... when Abhay was watching Disney Cartoons today afternoon.

I saw this only today and honestly I don’t know how long this trend is going to continue or whether it even is. It might well have been just a one time show today afternoon cos he was in one of his absolutely wacko moods .........

Anyways .......

Abhay’s penchant for the solar system is very well known to all at home. He reels off the names of all the planets and when the solar system is presented to him on screen and if we ask him to click on any particular planet in absolutely random order, he makes it look very easy.

Today afternoon, there was the whole usual multitude of Disney characters on TV and both Abhay and Appu were thoroughly enjoying them.

Suddenly, Abhay looked at the closeup of Mickey Mouse on the TV and says “Adhu Jupiter”. Then came Donald Duck and he says “That’s a Saturn” and on it went ..... 8 Disney characters with 8 planet names.

Mom had never looked as confused before. I just did not get the logic at that point of time.

I kept asking him why the characters were being named after planets but got zilch feedback from him.

And then, there it was ........

Disney’s PLUTO !!!!!!!!

And he goes “That’s a Pluto” !!!!

Oh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pluto = A Disney Character
Pluto = A planet

(as far as Abhay’s concept of solar system goes, Pluto still retains planet status. As far as he is concerned, I guess, NASA can take a walk and make it a long one at that).

So if Pluto, as in the solar system, can turn into a Disney character, any reason why the others shouldn't ??

I hope to God this was just one of his wacko moods and hence the pseudonyms .....

..... cos life, without pseudonyms, is pretty confusing as it is !!!!!

13 November, 2006

Day, Month and Year

The normal routine in Abhay's school requires the kids to do the calendar every day. They have to say out loud "Today is Monday, 13 of November, 2006".

And this happens everyday.

The other day I was writing out numbers for Abhay to recognise and one of the numbers I had written down happened to be 2006.

And I got to hear the calendar recitation immediately.

Since he was so obviously thrilled about it, I obliged and wrote the numbers 2005, 2004 etc in random order for him to read.

I also slipped in the number 2000 - hoping to catch him on the wrong foot.

When he reached the number 2000, pat came the reply

"Two Thousand and Zero" !!

Some more TalGlish ...............

......... this time around, its Abhay !!

I had penned down a post a few months back about Appu's experimentation with TalGlish.

TalGlish does sound weird, I admit. To be honest, it is nothing but a mix of Talayalam (our mother tongue) and English.

Talayalam + English = TalGlish

11 November 2006
Abhay was quite engrossed in his ABC CD-ROM today morning. He’s gotten very adept with these educational CDs, having explored areas of the CD we did not even know existed.

He was playing a game wherein the picture of an animal would appear and the audio input would say something like “Seal plays the Saxophone”. Aside of the picture of the Seal (or whatever the animal in question) would appear 3 random alphabets – and one of them would be the alphabet with which the name of the animal in question begins.

When I peeped in today morning it was the picture of a seal with the audio “Seal plays the Saxophone” with the alphabets S, F, D on the left side of the screen.

Abhay clicked on S and looked at me with that look of pride on his face that one normally associates with an accomplishment.

I decided to take things one step further and asked him what the Seal on the screen was doing. The seal happened to be blowing bubbles but the accompanying audio sounded as though the seal was spitting bubbles out of its mouth.

He looked quite at a loss for words – literally speaking. It was not difficult to envision those wheels creaking and groaning inside his head.

And then, after a few fumbles and stumbles, he says

“The Seal is Thupping”.

Spitting in English = Thuppu in Talayalam

In verb form Thuppu turns into Thupparadhu – which was quite beyond Abhay so I guess he used the word Thuppu and turned it into a verb by adding “ing” thus resulting in


I desperately need a haircut ..........

3rd November 2006

............. is the message Abhay tried to pass on yesterday.

We’ve been telling him for quite a while now that we would take him for a haircut but Project Haircut has just not fructified.

Yesterday, he found a paper scissor and came to me with the scissor and said “Go For Haircut”.

And to add emphasis to his point (Mom can be quite DUH, u know), he repeatedly put the paper scissor on his hair and went swish swish a few times, all the while repeating “Go For Haircut”.

Looks like Project Haircut will have to be undertaken real soon.

04 November, 2006

For The Love Of A Child ..........

.............. read the title of a book I was once reading.

I was engrossed in the book when a friend of mine remarked quite caustically “Well Well – Look who’s reading what”. When I looked up, she said “Atleast you are reading the right books”. “I’m saying this since you guys seem least interested in starting a family” “Arrey Chaar Saal Ho Gaye Tumhare Shaadi Huey” “Kyon – tujhe kuch medical problem hai kya ?” she quipped.

Where did that statement come from ??

That statement arose because my friend was of the strong opinion that not having had a child after four years of marriage was an undeniable transgression on our part.

I just let the comment pass, atleast outwardly I acted quite nonchalant. Inwardly, I was caught in the midst of a whole vortex of emotions.

She was just one among the many who chose to give us a lot of unsolicited advise in this regard.

“Having a Child of One’s Own” - This has been propounded in countless number of places, has been heard from so many people – there has been so much of exposure to this theory that, over a period of time, unconsciously, it has totally numbed us to the point where it is considered a “fact of life”.

How many people seriously stop and consider, even for a single moment, as to how lucky they are to have children whom they can call their own ?

How many of us do it on a regular basis ?

This, too, has just become another one of those things that people take for granted.

Getting married, having children ... yeah sure, that’s the way life goes .....
for a great many – YES !!

But for some, it does not work that way.

The inherent cruelty that society dishes out to those women who, by a quirk of nature, end up struggling with infertility or are unable to have children, is quite astounding.

Even in today’s world, where people consider themselves well read, well informed and quite polished, there still remains a huge majority in the female populace, who consider it their god given right to look down upon women who cannot bear children, just because they themselves have children they can call biologically their own.

This fact registered in my mind a few days back when one of my friends, in a very lame attempt at placing another common friend, referred to her as “that lady who does not have children”.

And this insensitive statement came despite the knowledge that the lady in question has been undergoing treatment for infertility for quite a few years now.

That statement, to me, sounded so very tactless, so very thoughtless, so very inconsiderate.

In fact, I’ve heard this reference from quite a number of ladies. It almost seems to have become habitual to refer to her as the “lady who does not have children”.

Even more sadly, this attitude knows no geographical boundaries.

I’ve witnessed this mind-set a great many times out here in HK and a lot many times in Bombay as well, as I’m sure is the case in other parts of the world too.

It hit me with the force of a freight train. And it made me introspect. This was not the first time that someone was being identified - not on the basis of her abilities, or her talents, or her positive traits but on the basis of something that was totally beyond her control.

Made me think – why do women have to be so callous towards other women ?

For just a fraction of an instant, why not put oneself in the other woman’s shoes – try – just try to feel how she must be feeling.

Try to imagine what it feels like to be faced with the possibility of not being able to bear children. Can you even imagine the mental agony or the emotional strain that comes alongwith such a situation ?

Ask a woman who is going through the ordeal, how heavy that cross is to bear.

Ask a woman who is caught in this nightmarish scenario, what it feels like to be stuck with a needle 15 days in a month.

Ask a women the distress she feels when she has to make all too frequent trips to her doctor’s office, knowing very well as to what she has in store for her – and trust me, it is nothing pleasant.

Ask a woman what the anguish feels like when she is subjected to one investigative procedure after another as doctors try and figure out what is wrong with her reproductive system – one test after another – each test more invasive than the previous one.

Ask a woman what she feels like to have her body pumped full of hormones.

Ask a woman how it feels – the sensation of total elation at one moment, only to sink into the absolute pits of despair the very next – the infamous hormone induced mood swings.

Ask a woman what it feels like to be experiencing such mood swings, more importantly, knowing that she does not have any control over these mood swings.

Ask a woman how stressful that seemingly interminable wait towards the end of each cycle is, to know whether all that pain that she has been through has borne any fruit at all.

Ask a woman how much it takes out of her to strengthen her resolve to go in for another cycle of treatments, should the previous cycle have yielded zilch.

Believe me, it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of pain that infertility brings alongwith it.

I perhaps feel so strongly about the subject because I’ve been there, I’ve done it all, I’ve seen it all, I’ve been through it all. And its not pretty. That much I can say for sure.

I feel, I really feel for all those countless number of women who are fighting this battle – not just a battle with their own bodies which refuse to co-operate, but a battle too against those ranks of society who consider themselves “superior” enough to belittle them.

Human relationships are woven with innumerable threads of emotions and commitments and alongwith this comes the added responsibility of the need to nurture, sustain and strengthen each and every one of those bonds if one is to have a meaningful, fruitful life.

Why then, do a vast majority of women exhibit such appalling apathy when it comes to the pain and distress of another woman ?

And while I still plod on with this question, I cannot help but mull over another very evident paradox.

There are so many couples out there who go in for abortions – for a wide variety of reasons – not all of them medical.

And on the other end of the spectrum are the couples who are prepared to go through and try just about anything and everything that medical science and religious beliefs have to offer – all in an effort to experience “the love of a child”.

Do things never even out ? Are they not supposed to or is that the way things just are ?

This is just another one of those many questions, the injustice of which seems so palpable.

Almost tangible, is it not ?

02 November, 2006

Its Halloween !!!

Its Halloween Its Halloween !!!!!!

Come October, kids start building up the excitement towards Halloween. Cos it is time to bring out the costumes, its time to go “Trick or Treating”, a time when just about every kid safely overdoses on candies – in short, time to have fun.

Halloween is one of those very few days in a year when parents don’t really audit the candies earned and more importantly, the candies consumed.

This time around, Appu had a choice between decking up as Bella (as in Beauty and the Beast) or dressing up as a witch. She chose to go for Bella. No two questions about that one cos she did not even have to think of how to get hold of Beast. Why ??

Because mom was to go alongwith her for Trick or Treat. Yay !! She had a readymade Beast to accompany her and this Beast did not even need a costume.

Abhay went around Trick or Treating masquerading as Dracula. This poor little Dracula was quite under the weather though. This was a Dracula on antibiotics cos this little Dracula had a severely congested chest. But that did not stop the little Count from grabbing a bag and going Trick or Treating.

The kids had a whole lot of fun yesterday and there were kids all over the apartment blocks – all in groups of 5 or 6 going around yelling

“Trick or Treat Trick or Treat,
Give us something Good to Eat”

In fact, the little Count seems to have had so much fun Trick or Treating yesterday that he came up to me today afternoon with a very hopeful look in his wide eyes and said

“Let’s Go Twick or Tweet” ??

Well, guess what Count Dracula – you’re going to have to wait just one more year :-)

This is a picture of the pumpkin mask that our very own "Count Dracula" made at school for Halloween.

25 October, 2006

A Very Fishy Tale

I remember quite vividly when Vic brought home one lone goldfish cos someone in his office had bought fishes and then decided against the idea. And none of the others had survived. There was just this one tiny goldfish that was fighting for its existence.

That day evening, we went to the “pet store” and got a fishbowl, some filter material to keep the water clean and of course, fish food. We did not realise then, how very satisfying this feeling was going to be – to care for and nurture another living being.

A couple of days passed, quite uneventfully I must say (cos fishes are prone to a lot of complications with change in water etc). This little goldfish seemed to have made up its tiny little mind to live and thrive. One more day and we felt that the little goldfish seemed very lonely.

I really don’t know whether it was the fish which was feeling lonely or whether we were so enamored by the lone little fish that we decided to get the fish some “company”.

So that day evening, we again went to the pet store and got another 6 little goldfish.

And very soon, we began to feel that the seven little goldfish were a tad too crowded in the fish bowl. They did not have enough space to move about, we concluded.

And off we went to the store again and this time around, when we got back home, it was with a fully equipped aquarium.

That was how it began ………

Since then, over these past 10 years, we have almost always had an aquarium at home. We kind of feel lost without it. The only periods during the above 10 years when we have not had pet fishes was around the time Appu and Abhay were toddlers. They were at that stage in their lives when just about everything and anything brought about that “wide eyed” look which said “Hey I did not know things like those could exist ?”

And we decided to give not our kids but rather the fishes, a break. We did not want to risk either of our kids thrusting their seeking little hands into the water probably just to get a “feel” of the fishes. Or better still, pull one out and talk to it of play with it.

As parents, we talk a lot about “letting go” when it comes to our kids flying out of the nest. Well, we’ve had 6 batches of fishes “leave the nest”. And we did not, at that time, even imagine exactly how difficult it would be for us to part with them.

For the most part, when the fishes grew too large for the tank and when space began to get restricted, we would let them into one of the ponds which were maintained and run by the Urban Council (a govt extension for the day to day affairs – like keeping the SAR clean, no littering etc). We would watch them as we let them into the large pond where so many more of their kind resided and we would watch them as, with a swish and flick of their tails, they swam away to forge a destiny of their own, by themselves.

Even to date, when I see large goldfish in some of the govt run parks here in HK, I cannot help but think and wonder as to whether any one of those fishes originally had an address the same as ours.

I know, at first say, fishes sound quite plain and boring. “Oh They must be so dreary and monotonous” was what one of my colleagues had once said.

Little did she know how far away from the mark she was.

They are such a lively bunch and most importantly, each one of them has a personality of their own. Some are meek, some are bullies, some are go getters while some are simply content to go with the flow. And there are some pretty adventurous ones as well.

I remember once when Appu was around 3 ½ years old. She was sitting next to the aquarium with her nose pasted on it and suddenly she freaked. Because she saw a fish swimming vertically. Yes – it was indeed !! I was just as taken aback cos in all the years that we had an aquarium, I had, not once, seen a fish that could swim vertically.

And then there was a little goldfish we named James Bond. This was one adventurous fish – so much so that once when I was cleaning the aquarium, this little fishy decided to take a look at the world outside the water. Oh Yes !! It jumped right out of the aquarium. While I was in the kitchen getting water to replace the water in the fish tank, it was Appu who realised that this lone ranger had “gone somewhere” (as she put it then). A frantic search ensued and sure enough we found the frisky little fish under the table, quite literally panting for breath. I was even scared to take it all the way back to the fish tank – just in case it decided to stop breathing. I really did not envision nor was I particularly enamored with the idea of a session of CPR with the fish. So I popped it back into a glass of water first and once it had “caught its breath” we transferred it back to the aquarium.

Even among the little fishies who grace our aquarium now, there is a Bully, a Hitler, a Duster, a Jellybean ...... among many others ......

We’ve had, over the years, a fairly wide range of gold fishes as well. Comets, Commons, Fantails, Pearlscales (we have four right now), Moors (these fishes don’t come in any colour other than black)........

Their very presence brings about a sense of calm and peace. Even when one is terribly upset about something, it really helps to just sit and watch them lazily swirl around in the water, flicking their fins and bobbing their mouths open and shut.

Fishes epitomize tranquility, harmony and serenity.

And these are qualities which, when caught up in the tension-ridden, anxious and stressful lives of the present day, could very well be considered a very rich bequest.

An enticement towards quietude and peacefulness.

23 October, 2006

While on the subject of books ........

............... here are two more books which Abhay loves.

"Time to Say Goodnight" - a book that Vic ordered through Amazon.com. A singsong rhyme urging a whole bunch of baby rabbits, baby birds to go to bed. Aside of the singsong text, what Abhay loves about this book is the illustrations in it. And I must say, the illustrations are indeed beautiful.

Fits Abhay to a "T" right now - cos he is in the process of extending and stretching the "start of his sleeptime". To cut a long story short, he does not want to sleep at night and will do anything to achieve that objective. "Anything" includes singing nursery rhymes, reciting days of the week, months of the year, tickling whoever happens to be nearby at that time .............

Even more fun is playing "turtle turtle" - that is, he picks up his pillow, lies down on his tummy, puts the pillow on his back and crawls around on his tummy, all the while claiming to be a turtle.

The other book he absolutely loves is "Cushy Butterfield". Cushy Butterfield (I find the name quite cute :-) is a little cow who makes excuses in order to avoid going to school - until her parents figure out what she really is upto .........

This is a book I borrowed from the library to read to him and he is quite taken by the name "Cushy Butterfield". And it is even cuter to hear Abhay saying it out aloud, cos he still cannot pronounce "SH".

It is quite commonplace to hear the little pipsqueak starting off on the book by saying

"Coooooooossssssssssseeeeeeee Butterfield"

It was while I was picking up some picture books from the library for Abhay that this thought crossed my mind - it seems like only yesterday that I was poring through picture books in the library to borrow - not for Abhay but for Appu.

Now, she has moved on to chapter books. Picture books are quite the thing of the past. She's now onto Junie B Jones' books by Barbara Park, books by Roald Dahl and the Mister Meddle series by Enid Blyton.

Next in line - one of the Famous Five books.

Happy Reading Kids !!!!

21 October, 2006

Best Wishes for a Happy Deepawali

Wishing all of you and your families a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Prosperous Deepawali.

- Vic, Gauri, Aparna, Abhay

18 October, 2006

Biscuit goes to school ..................

.................... turned out to be a book which caused quite a bit of confusion yesterday. I was reading out the book to Abhay and like I normally do, I read the title of the book out aloud.

“Biscuit goes to school” I said.

There resulted a frown on that little face. There was a quizzical expression on his face as he looked at me. He did not say anything but that look prevailed.

I told him “Abhay – this little dog name is Biscuit”

“Dog Biscuit” came the reply.

I said “Not Dog Biscuit Abhay – this little Doggy’s name is Biscuit”

“Doggy Biscuit” came the reply.

(*Sigh*) This was going to be one long read after all.

I said more patiently than I actually felt “ Your name is Abhay, right ??”

“No” he said. “My name is Abhay”

I said “Yeah that’s what I said. Your name is Abhay”

“MY name is Abhay” came the reply zinging across to me.

Not wanting to add more confusing oil into the already confusing fire, I went back to the book and started over again, this time by saying

“This little doggy’s name is Biscuit”

I then asked Abhay “What’s the doggy’s name ?”

All I got was two little eyes staring back at me.

Annnh Aaaaannnhhhh !!!! He was just not buying this.

We read the story though, or rather I read it to him and he enjoyed it too – all the while pointedly referring to the little dog in the book as just “doggy” and not “Biscuit”.

That name, somehow, just did not gel in his mind.

Later in the afternoon, I’d given him a couple of chocolate chip cookies to eat while I got busy attending to some work on the phone.

Once I was through with my phone calls, I got back to the living room and found the cookies still on his plate, untouched. Now that is really something !! Cookies – untouched !!!

I also heard him muttering something. Got a bit closer without him realizing that I was there and there it was again …..

Abhay says “Abhay going to school.”

And then, after a pause, he says

“Biscuit going to school.”

Yay !!! I thought to myself and then saw him give the cookies on the plate a long, hard look. Then, he says ……..

“Cookies going to school ????”

Knowing Abhay, it was not really difficult to envision him having hallucinations and images of huge life size cookies and biscuits walking into school in the morning.

As we went over to school in the morning, I fervently hoped that there wasn’t any kid in his class named “Cookie” (quite a common name among the HK locals).

That would have really done it !!!!

17 October, 2006

Harmony, Peace, Tolerance, Happiness - All Go Hand in Hand

Yesterday, when Appu got back from school, I could see that her brain was in overdrive. Her mind was absolutely and completely buzzing with something. And the excitement was quite palpable.

I had to restrain myself, quite impatiently if I may add, to wait until she had finished her afternoon snack before I broached the subject with her. Now it so happens that she too had been just bursting with enthusiasm to tell me about it all, but again, waited till she finished her afternoon snack.

Come Diwali, every year in their school, the Indian children deck up in Indian clothes and outfits – bindis and all the usual accessories – and the children attired in the entire ensemble are a sight to behold. And I’m sure that on that particular day, their school is a total riot of colours.

The general practice in their school is to have a special Diwali Assembly where the Indian children perform dance routines, dandiya etc.

This year, the Japanese, Korean and Chinese children in the school are doing a dance for Diwali as well. And for an Indian dance, what is needed, first and foremost, is an Indian outfit. And the Indian kids at school are just about dying to lend them Indian apparels to add to the colourful gaiety and joviality.

Is it not a super-duper idea ?

What I found immensely gratifying and heartwarming is the attitude of the children.

This totally exemplifies the spirit of festivity – the zeal, the ardor, the passion, the underlying sentiment, the unspoken emotion that symbolizes and personifies just about each and every festival around this great big globe that we live in.

I’m sure that their school is going to resemble a huge colorful, multihued, exultant panorama.

Their school also makes it a point to mark out festivals of each and every faith on the childrens’ diary so that awareness among the children spreads. This also helps the kids get to know other religions better. The various festivals of each and every faith, the customs, rituals, the underlying history – all this is becoming part and parcel of their lives. It sure will go a long way in helping them mature into level headed individuals with a healthy respect and reverence for the many different cultures and religions all around the globe.

Children, as such, know no religious boundaries. Boundaries, if anything, to them, are geographical lines. Measured in terms of latitudes and longitudes.

Is it not the adults who complicate life for them by dragging religious and ethnic issues into the fore, by filling their heads with sentiments against other religions that the so called “adults” believe are sacrilegious to their own.

Corrupting young, gullible minds thus – is it really worth it all ?? To what end ??

As all these thoughts roam free within my mind, only one song plays and permeates my conscious mind time and again – with crystal clear clarity.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

16 October, 2006

A creepy-crawly fascination !!

Children are fascinated by just about any creation of nature - at just about every given age - just that the object of fascination keeps changing.

So, it should not really have come as a surprise to find that the present subjects of Abhay's enthrallment are hmmm..... , putting it very mildly, quite repulsive.

I am referring to none other than the infamous cockroach.

I've heard of human beings having charisma, I've heard of human beings having that magnetism to them ................ but a cockroach with appeal !!!!!!!!!!

Early last week, he got back from school asserting quite confidently "I see a cockroach outside" ......... "I see a cockroach outside".........

"Outside.... where ??" got me no answers from him. The question was completely sidestepped, as is the case with a lot many more questions.

Just to make sure it was not a figment of his imagination, I asked him what colour the cockroach was and pat came the reply "Black".

To put his concept of big/small to test, I asked him whether the cockroach was big or small and pat came the reply "Beeeeg Cockroach".

Just sometime back, I found him kneeling with his nose apparently glued to the floor. And he was moving around as well, with the tip of his nose barely a few millimeters away from the floor. He seemed very taken by something.

When asked, "Ant Ikku (Irukku means it's there)" "Embu Ikku" he said.

Apparently this fascination with ants too has developed over the past 2-3 days.

I say this because I noticed yesterday night as well as the day before yesterday, once the lights are off and before he pulls his blanket on, he makes it a point to say ............

"Good Night Ant"

"Good Night Cockroach"

I sincerely hope that he restricts his interest in the insect world to his visual senses and that he does not attempt to bring "the sense of touch" into the picture.

Now, that's one pun too many !!

12 October, 2006

The Joy of Friendship

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As is my normal schedule, I went to school at noon to fetch Abhay. While we were making our way to the flight of stairs that lead to our apartment block, I saw a little girl waiting on the second step. She seemed to be waiting for Abhay and sure enough, as soon as we got to the first step, she extended her little hand, palm open and said “Abhay, come, hold my hand”.

Once earlier, I had gone to school to fetch him early cos there was a thunderstorm on. When I reached school I found their classroom empty. On reading their daily schedule, I realised that it was their “music time”. So off I went to the music room. The door was closed and as I watched the proceedings through the glass on the door, I found Abhay and his friend sitting next to each other. He was playing with the toy piano and she was playing with the toy xylophone. I don’t know how long they had been playing with their respective toys cos after a couple of minutes, they switched toys and continued to play – each one lost in their own world.

Every morning, the kids have a warm up routine outside their classrooms, in the play area. They dance to songs like wheels of the bus, head shoulders knees and toes etc. One day, I was standing on the sidelines watching the kids and Abhay was standing next to me. Hesitating, cos he did not want to go down to the play area and dance with the others. That was when I noticed the same little girl beckoning to him and silently calling out “Abhay Come”.

End of Detour

And up the steps they went. In fact, when we reached the top of the stairs, Abhay forgot that he had to turn right and cross the road. He just kept walking with his friend, until the time I reminded him gently that “home” for us lay the other way.

Abhay waved to her with a grin on his little face and said “bye bye” “see you tomorrow” and his friend too waved and said “bye bye” with a shy smile.

I found myself smiling too, unconsciously. There is something so pure, so innocent, so wholesome about the world that these small children live in. When I say live in, I mean their minds, the simple thoughts around which revolves their orbs. And life, as they know it, is so straightforward, so uncomplicated.

They derive such pleasure and laughter out of something as simple as spilling water or spitting food out or clapping their hands or singing a nursery rhyme, turning cartwheels, planting sloppy little kisses on their parents (I’ve many a times noticed Abhay favouring the aquarium too with his little kissies – I presume they are meant for the fish swimming within the aquarium), playing horsey horsey with daddy, asking to be tickled ……….

A big hug, a gentle ruffling of their heads, a smile that comes from deep within the heart and shines through the eyes too – these little things are many a times more than enough to make them feel sated and happy.

Oh Sweet Innocence !!

And it is with complete unadulterated pleasure that I watch these tiny bonds of friendships form among the 25 little children in Kindergarten One, who, about a month and a half back, did not even know that the other 24 existed.

11 October, 2006

Yummy Ladders Through the Tummy ????!!!!!

There’s quite some “food talk” from Abhay nowadays.

They have birthday parties once a month at school – a day filled with goodies and of course, cake.

Yesterday, he was saying that one of his teachers had given him a candy. "Candy Thandha." he said.

A few days back, he had a small pack of Formula Milk with him when he left school. Some kind of ad gimmick courtesy the company which manufactures it, I’m sure but the kids seem quite enamored by all this.

The latest in the list of “food talk” is a BOWN CAKE. That is to say, they had a cake baking activity in their classroom. Apparently both their teachers baked a cake and of course, that day, during snack time, the kids had a special treat – the cake that had been baked in class.

He seems to like his teachers just that little bit more after this cake baking incident :-)

Cake Baking really seems to have taken the cake, figuratively.


Looks like the ladders to this guy’s heart are also being laid through his tummy :-))

10 October, 2006

A Smiley Face - or is it ??

Latest artwork that Abhay carried home from school. When asked as to what it was, for quite a few days we did not get a reply from him. He'd just say "Abhay Make".

So then, the artwork was christened "Smiley Face".

And it was given a place of honour on the kids' bedroom door. The rate at which artwork is piling up on that door, it is very soon going to look like a multihued mural.

Appu yesterday asked me (pointing to Mr.Smileyface) "Mom what's that ?"

I said "That's Smiley Face. Abhay made it at school" ..........

.......... presumably in reply to which a tiny voice squeaked "That's a COWN"

I assume he means CLOWN - but then again - however it is christened or baptized - it sure looks cute :-)

09 October, 2006

The Festival Roll .....

Its festival season !!

In the Hindu calendar, the festival roll is usually heralded by Avani Avittam – better known to the present generation as Rakhi festival.

This is closely followed by Janmashtami, which little children know as Kitchi Pappa's Happy Birthday (sounds so sweet and innocent, doesn't it) – which brings all the ladies in the households together to make murukku, cheedais and what have you.

Then comes Ganesh Chathurthi – and the endless possibility of gobbling up many many modaks in the midst of the many many Ganpati Bappa Moryas.

Then comes the colourful, vibrant Onam, bringing with it memories and possibilities of rich, vivid, multicolored Pookalams and of course, the veritable, delicious, delectable Onam Sadhya.

This is followed by the crème de la crème, as far as the ladies are concerned – The Festival of Navratri – nine days/nights of prayers, celebrations, fun and frolic.

Navratri is almost exclusively a ladies’ festival – atleast more so among the South Indian community. It is quite commonplace to hear of ladies being hosts/recipients of the traditional Vettalai Pakku while a gent and Vettalai pakku are not commonplace associates – Mama Vettalai Pakku ku poyirukka – sounds extremely peculiar and out of the ordinary, does it not :-))

Navratri in HK is quite a subdued affair, as compared with the so many Navratris amidst which we have grown up. Navratri is a much awaited opportunity for all the ladies to air their salwar kameezes and their kancheepuram silks, Yours Truly included. :-)

Appu had been hearing the words Navratri, Vettalai Pakku etc buzzing in the air and this prompted her to come and ask me “Can you please tell me TSON ?”

She drew a lot of puzzled glances initially but she stuck to TSON – absolutely refused to indicate what the abbreviation stood for, until I used the C Cube (Chocolate Chip Cookie) theory on this and finally figured out that TSON was nothing other than "The Story of Navratri."

She was quite thrilled about the fact that she would get to deck up in her ghagra choli and her salwar kameezes, not to mention the fact that many of her friends would be visiting and that she would also be going over to her friends’ house – for Vettalai Pakku, you know. I could not help but imagine as to the amount of fun she would have had if we had been in Bombay during Navratri – what will all the Garbas and Dandiyas going on well into the wee hours of the morn.

Actually this thought has put a “keeda” into my head. What if a Dandiya programme could be arranged right here, in HK !!! Let’s see how things work out – got a whole year ahead. Couple of years back, I had heard that one family here had been enterprising enough to organize a Dandiya programme on the terrace of their block. Did not hear of anything like that the next year. Highly possible that the HK locals, who are habitually paranoid, would have panicked and thought that there was a stampede afoot. :-O

Thus began the Vettalai Pakku visits ……….

Abhay appeared quite nonplussed and was constantly sporting a fairly bewildered expression – I don’t know if it was because he was facing quite a steady stream of people in and out of the house – and all ladies, mind you or whether it was due to the fact that each mami looked just that little bit more dazzling than the earlier one.

What’s all this zest and gusto about, his body language seemed to say.

The antibiotic course that he was on (since he was down with a congested chest and a throat infection too thrown in for good measure) did not really help make him very sociable either. So gregariousness was not the trait Abhay exhibited when the Mamis came over. Quite the contrary. It was bashfulness bordering on wariness. Poor thing !! Already weak from the antibio and faced with the seemingly endless possibility of “Inge Vaa Da Kanna” “Nokku Enna Theriyumada Kanna”.

Appu, on the other hand, was having a time of her life. She was proudly sporting mehendi on both her palms – which, by the way, had elicited a lot of queries from the boys/girls in her class. And to quote Appu “she felt quite dizzy from all that attention”. Yeah yeah !!

She used to have a field day spreading out the bangles and then selecting how many/which ones to wear and ogling at all the bindis in our bindi box and about which hairclip would go better with which outfit ………………

It took me down memory lane to the days when I was a schoolgoer. We used to have Kolu at home and just getting the Kolu stand ready and the dolls out of their storage boxes, dusting them, touching up the paint if needed – all this had its own charm. Not to mention the amount of fun I used to have in decorating the kolu stand – one year it was the shape of a house, the next year it was a chariot all complete with wheels too.
Also the immense satisfaction I used to derive in painting the earthenware in which my mother used to put the “paligai”.

When I saw Appu all excited about Navratri, one incident came to mind very clearly. During my school days, I used to have two other friends and the three of us were virtually inseparable. And so it was, during Navratri when we were making our rounds to all the other mamis’ houses. As is normally the case, all the houses are loaded with mamis from all over. Another customary feature is to have the visitors sing a song in front of the goddess/kolu. And the mamis used to quite literally go into a frenzy at the possibility of being able to coerce, compel or even bully young girls into singing songs.

“Pattu Therinju Irukkunam – Nalaikke Vere Veetukku Poka Patta Ponnakkum” “Ponnu Parukka Varathe Pattu Paada Cholluva” “Appo Enna Pannuvel” – Oh How I used to detest that sentence and even more so, the sentiments that the mamis embodied !!!!!

And on that particular day, as we we landed at one Mami’s house for Vettalai pakku, we were being bullied by a whole group of insistent mamis who were virtually demanding that we sing a song. I had not seen a more persistent lot. And the three of us decided to really test their patience. And off we launched into a song, which, much to the consternation of the mamis there, was not something on the lines of “Saarasa Mukhi” or “Unnadiye Gadhiyenru Adainthein”. It was “Gumnaam Hain Koi, Badnaam Hai Koi”……

The silence that followed was astounding. It was incredible, totally beyond belief. And of the whole bunch, there was only one mami who really appreciated the humour in the situation and enjoyed our cheekiness and the others’ chagrin – the totally mortified, vexed look on their faces.

Out here, I came across just one instance of “Yaaru Paadappora ?” . Unfortunately, there were no takers. I was really hoping for a belting more on the lines of “Material Girl” or better still “Like a Virgin”.

Now that would really have been something !!

The Navaratri festivities ended this year too, with obeisance to the Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge on Saraswati Puja and Vijaya Dasami.

The festival season continues, for around the corner is the festival that illuminates hearts, minds and houses too ………

Deepawali – The Festival of Lights !!

06 October, 2006

Just one of those days .........

It was Wednesday, the 4th of October 2006.

The day began innocuously enough ........

........ but as the events unfolded, it seemed like that day was destined to be one of those days when just about nothing goes right.

Quite bleary eyed, I went into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee for myself and ended up spilling quite a lot of water on the floor. Took a duster to mop the floor, whilst conveniently forgetting that the cup in my hand had some milk in it. No two guesses on what happened next ..... I had finished mopping the water when the milk spilt.

And that was just the beginning .......

By the time I got my coffee ready, both kids were up and about and like is normally the case, bedlam and pandemonium reigned supreme.

In the midst of all this I realised that I had not ironed out Abhay's school uniform the previous evening (that is the normal routine - uniform for the next morning gets ironed the previous evening).

Clatter Clatter Bang Bang and out came the ironing board from its usual resting place - though to be honest, in the middle of all the disarray and mess that the kids manage to create in the mornings (they seem to do it so naturally that it never ceases to amaze me), I had this crazy urge to just toss a thick bedsheet/quilt on the floor and put the uniform on top of that and iron it. Fortunately, wiser counsel prevailed and I decided to use the ironing board after all.

It was while I was ironing Abhay's T-Shirt that I noticed that the material was wearing a little too thin for comfort around the stitches. It was a small patch, tiny actually, but left that way, it would have widened into quite a irreparable defect. Off went Yours Truly, to get the emergency stitching kit. Find the kit I did but when the kit was opened to reveal its contents, the white roll of thread was missing. Great !! The white thread had gone back into the main stitching kit box ...... How ?? When ??? Whom ??? I did not stop to think.

Appu, in the meanwhile, was raking up a storm over her school diary, which was purportedly missing. Mummmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Mummeeeeeeeeeeeee came a couple of piercing screeches which were threatening to move into the "bawling" category very soon. Found the diary we did - top priority - it was in the slot in which her art apron normally resides. Phew !!!! Peace reigned, albeit temporarily, or so I thought.

Mummmmeeeeeee !!! there it was again. If the diary is here then where is my apron ?? Oh Oh !!!

Did you not tell me a couple of days back that you left the apron in your box at school ?" I asked her ...

A sheepish look and a "Oh Yeah - I forgot" followed.

Finished off with the T-Shirt repair.

Went after Appu to pack her PE Kit. The PE uniform and PE shoes have to be carried to school in the PE bag and they change into their PE uniform in school just before PE.

Finally, Appu was off to school.

Phew !! One down, one to go !!! :-)

Got around to packing Abhay's school backpack and that was when I realised that one of the zippers of the bag had popped out. Tried to get the zipper back on track whilst muttering and grumbling to myself "only a month since we got the bag from school and things are falling apart already. What quality stuff do they supply ?"

Needless to say, this did not in any way help in getting the zipper back on track.

Handed the backpack over to Vic and while he was working on that, I went back to the living room to get Abhay ready for school.

It so happened that I had given him a bowl of cereals and while I left the room he had been studying it quite assiduously. And while I was away from the room he had just decided to pop the contents onto the dining table - to take a better look I presume !!!!!!!!!!

Hackles raised, "Tidy Up Abhay" came a scream from somewhere within me.

He gave me one look and fled to Grandma who had just gotten back from her morning walk.

When he realised that Mommy's bark is worse than her bite, he eventually did come back and we popped all the cereal back into the bowl.

Got him ready for school and went to get his white shoes from the shoe shelf and I found myself staring at a pair of white shoes which were way too big for Abhay.

Shook my head to clear the cobwebs that had formed due to the lack of my early morning dose of caffeine.

Nope !!

The shoes still remained large. They did not shrink !!! Not even a wee bit !!

Took a closer look and found the words "APARNA" staring back at me.

Oh Oh !!!! That, to me, spelt DOUBLE TROUBLE !!

Aparna had, by mistake, packed up Abhay's school shoes (which also happen to be white shoes) and taken them off to school with her. Which further meant that she would not have shoes to wear during PE and that Abhay would have to go to school in his other pair of sneakers - which happen to be dark blue/orange - quite a far throw from the school directive which said "white shoes".

Off we went, me and Abhay, to school and once there I got the backpack changed. The bell rang in the meantime and I found Abhay straining at my hand like a horse straining on its reins.

Finally we got another bag, transferred the contents of his backpack to the new one and off he went to his classroom.

Wow !! What a morning !!

The rest of the day, I have to say, was quite staid and sedate in comparison.

05 October, 2006

Project "Teamwork"

Work as a team we did, and herein below is the poster.

And this poster totally epitomized the concept for which it stood - Teamwork.....

............ cos even Abhay pitched in.

He held the glue stick when it was not being used :-)))))))))

Concept of "Teamwork"

Over the past two years, that is to say during her Primary One and Primary Two years, Appu used to get occasional homework. Nothing serious or extremely time consuming.

Since she began her Primary Three year, there has been a steady stream of homework. To make it interesting for the children, the Primary Three teachers have introduced the concept of "home projects".

The first of these projects was based on the five values of their school -

Pride, Respect, Work Smart, Responsibility and Teamwork.

The children were given the choice of making a poster based on one of these principles or designing a logo for each of the values or writing a sentence on each of the values.

Quite naturally, we left the choice to Appu.

She decided that she was going to work on a poster dedicated to TEAMWORK.

When she came and told me this, I asked her

"Can you tell me why you chose teamwork ?"

She thought for a couple of minutes and then said

"Cuz in team work, you see, you have to work together. So you and Daddy can help me too."

Thought provoking - Hmmmmmm.........

Convenient - OH YES !!!!!!!!!!

But I have to admit, she had a point.

27 September, 2006

The left palm "mehendified" too !!

Mehendification of Appu's left palm was on schedule ..........

........... and this time around she did validate her theory of "applying mehendi only on one hand at a time" by going into a bout of chain sneezing !!!

Aaaaaaccchhhoooooo !!!!!!!!!!! :-)))))

26 September, 2006

To or Not To ??

There's this other thing I've been noticing about Abhay since he started school.

He seems to be striving for the "Mr.Independent" Title.

No No - I'm not complaining here, but at times this streak of his does pose a dilemma.

Come morning - he wants to brush his teeth by himself. Oh Yeah - Sure - Mommy does not mind - as long as he is willing to hand over the toothbrush to Mommy after he finishes his round of "brushing" so that Mommy can "brush" his teeth "properly".

Wants to go to the bathroom and "wee" by himself - Oh Great - thought Mommy - until she realised that the "wee" does not all go where it is intended to. Some of it ends up on the footstool too (at times). Part of Mommy says - let him go on his own if thats what he wants - he'll learn. The panicky part of Mommy says "Good Lord what if he slips and falls down in the bathroom."

Insists on taking his clothes off by himself, of course. He's mastered the "taking off the Tshirt" bit. The vest is still a slightly sticky customer. He still insists on doing it by himself. Today afternoon he was walking/stumbling/tripping all over the house with his arms up in the air and his vest caught somewhere between his shoulders/arms/head (he has a big head and that just serves to compound the situation). I lost count of the number of times he almost - just almost - ran/banged into things before he finally managed to get his vest off - all by himself, of course.

Climbing up the long stairway home from school - he behaves like Mimosa Pudica. Wants to climb up all the way - all by himself.

Climbing down the stairway to school from home - Fortunately - given the number of steps on the stairway - the Mimosa Pudica syndrome has not yet set in.

Crossing the road - Mommy puts her foot down and insists that he hold her hand. Feathers do get a little ruffled but Mommy says "nothing doing - no crossing the road on your own".

Taking shoes and socks off - the moment he gets home from school or from the park he goes "take you soos (he still cannot pronounce "sh" - he still says "sss") off, take your socks off" and immediately comes the addendum "don't want help"

Drinking milk - he insists on pouring out the milk from the big glass into his small one by himself. Again "dont want help".

Washing his hands - previously he used to stand on the footstool and wash his hands but of late, he just clambers up onto the wash basin ledge and plonks on the ledge quite precariously. Again the Mimosa Pudica Syndrome if anyone tries to help or even tries to steady him on the ledge.

Shower time - have to be extremely careful as he goes ahead and just opens up the taps in full flow and if the hot water tap gets opened into the "full flow" mode the water that gushes out of the showerhead is super duper hot !!

Eating - insists on spooning food into his own mouth - all by himself. And the pace at which food goes in, one bowl of rice would well last over three days.

We do firmly believe that children should not really hang on to their parents' coattails for ever. But some of the above situations are quite hazardous.

Question is - whether to just let him take the lead as regards this "all by myself" attitude or to let caution rule (in some situations - not all).

23 September, 2006

Abhay's Artwork from School ........

Abhay's teachers sent home, yesterday, a couple of paintings that the children had done during their art time at school.

Here are his first "paintings" ....

A Remarkable Quandary

Appu loves to "mehendify" (that's a Appuism) her palms. Since Navrathri begins today, we decided to have a mehendi session for Appu yesterday.

She was all hyped up and excited about having her hands "mehendified" (as she called it).

I was actually planning to "mehendify" both her hands yesterday evening. That had been the initial plan. Just as I was getting the mehendi cone ready, Appu comes up to me and says "Can we mehendify just one hand today ?" In fact, she was quite insistent about it.

Not that I had a problem with applying mehendi on just one hand, but the fact that I was quite curious about the reasoning behind her wanting mehendi on just one hand at a time.

When I asked her what the reason was, she said

"You see Mummy - it is like this."

"If you mehendify both my palms today then it is going to be a problem".

I was, by now, expecting the usual answer about what would happen if she needed to visit the loo. But then, I knew from past experiences that even if she had mehendi only on one hand, she would still need help in the loo. So then, there was a little question mark inside my head too.

Prompting her to go on with her explanation, I said "Yeah Appu, go on, I'm listening"

She says

"See mummy - now if I have mehendi on both my palms and suddenly if I feel like sneezing, what am I going to do ?"

"I cannot sneeze without covering my mouth and if I cover my mouth and nose with my mehendified palms then after I sneeze, there would be germs all over my palms"

"And ..... because I have mehendi on my palms, I would not be able to wash my hands"

"Now I cannot sneeze without covering my mouth cos you've always told me to cover my mouth when I sneeze"

"And you've also told me that I have to wash my hands if I use them to cover my mouth when I sneeze".

"So if you apply mehendi only on one palm today, I'll try to use the other palm only to cover my mouth while sneezing. "

"No - actually I'll try not to sneeze, but if I cannot stop it then ............"

"That's why ........"

I was plain stumped !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had this totally insane urge to say "Thank You Appu, for the explanation" :-))

So we did go ahead and mehendify just her right palm yesterday.

Mehendification of the left palm is scheduled for today afternoon.

Come to think of it, what she said was absolutely right.

It was indeed a significant dilemma !!!

Oh........... and, By the Way .........................

No - she did not sneeze !!!!!!!

22 September, 2006

My teeth are wiggling ...........

............... claimed Appu a couple of days back. This time the teeth in question are the two central incisors on the upper jaw. Appu's trademark teeth !! When she was a lot younger, she used to grin for pictures and the two central incisors on her upper jaw used to be the most prominent ones. In fact, we used to call her Roger Rabbit out of jest :-))

And now we keep telling her that when she gets her permanent teeth on the upper jaw, we could very well start calling them chewing gum teeth - cos going by the size of the milk teeth (and permanent teeth tend to be a lot larger than their predecessors), the successors could well end up the size of chewing gum pellets.

And all this, just when we thought that "tooth felling" could take a back seat, atleast for a few days/weeks ..........................................

(** sigh**)

20 September, 2006

Enna Pannarai Ni ??? (What are you doing ???)

I had some work to do, on the upper shelves of the wardrobe yesterday.

Now, I most definitely cannot stake claim to being tall. Quite the contrary !!! I have the noteworthy distinction of being the shortest person in the entire household (among the adults I mean) - something that the "entire household" never stops reminding me of :-)

Anyways, enough of the detour and coming back to the point .....

yesterday I was busy arranging the pajamas neatly on the top shelves. Lazy that I am, I did not bother to go get the ladder from its resting place, although the ladder has been resting there for quite some time and is busy gathering dust.

So, in lieu of the ladder, I pulled out one of the dining chairs (sounds like absolutely unpardonable and unacceptable behaviour - I know) and climbed on it and was busy sorting out and arranging the pajamas, extra towels etc...

The kids were busy playing in their bedroom and after a while, their voices, their vocalizations and dialogues began to form a steady but comfortable drone, a kind of a comfy hum which was playing in my head around the periphery.

Suddenly I heard a small voice pipe "Enna pannarai ni ??? Keezhe Erangu !!!" in a voice that I can only describe as authoritative.

It was Abhay !!

I froze - absolutely froze !!!! Froze out of disbelief !!

Could that sentence have been aimed at me ?? Was it at all possible ??

When I turned around slowly (still situated atop my lookout post), I saw no one in our bedroom.
Waited around for a couple of seconds and still waited while the seconds stretched out into a couple of minutes ............ and sure enough, the impish face peeped out of the next bedroom with that now familiar cheeky smile on his face.

I could not help but burst out laughing at the sheer irony of the situation. Normally, when Abhay tries to climb on to the shoe shelf, I'm the one who says "Enna Pannarai Ni ??? Keezhe Erangu !!".

Yesterday, while I had been busy with my work, he had slowly started to climb on his small sitting stool and then he would get down from the stool, stand in front of the mirror in the kids' room, look at himself in the mirror and say "Enna Pannarai Ni ? Keezhe Erangu !".

This monologue was the culprit. It was this monologue of his which had me frozen and rooted for a few seconds.

So there - that was not aimed at me but what a coincidence it was !!!!

A shade too close for comfort actually :-))))

19 September, 2006

Treehouses, Swimming Pools, Swings ........

....................... sounds like I'm describing a park does it - the large kind of amusement park that attracts kids like flowers attract bees !!

Nope !!!

I'm describing a makeover that the playground in Appu's school might possibly undergo.

Yesterday, when she got back from school, she was bursting with excitement.

We're gonna (please note - it is not "going to" but "gonna") have swings, treehouses and a swimming pool at school. Yaaaayyy !!!! Wowieeeee !!!

And any word starting or ending with the "sss" sound is now particularly funny, coming from Appu, because there is that hiss of air "ssssss" from the gap on her lower jaw - resulting from the absence of the two central incisors.

When asked "Where are they going to fit all that in ?" she remarked

"No No - First we're going to have to write to the principal about it and then he will decide whether to put them on the playground or not to".

Looks like a lot of changes in the offing - newly designed playgrounds, new uniforms, newly introduced system of education .............

Makeover of the crayons

Abhay has gotten into a weird habit of late. He loves to go peel peel peel on the paper that covers crayons. Almost as if he likes the crayons to be proudly displaying the colours they stand for.

When he sits and starts peeling off the paper covering of the crayon - he personifies the words diligence and industriousness - and displays an enormous amount of patience - a virtue that we thought was virtually non-existent in him.

I've heard of selective perception but selective application of virtues - hmmm ............ that's a new one !!!

Today, he was at it again once he got back from school. And when he glanced up from his "difficult and time consuming task on hand", he saw Mummy paying rather rapt attention to the ongoing activity.

Before I could ask him what he was doing he says "Crayon la chee chee irukku" (there's dirt on the crayon).

And as if to drive his point home, he took two more crayons out of his pencil box and set them out on the writing table. One crayon had been stripped of its paper covering whilst the other crayon had managed to escape Abhay's dogged persistence (for how much longer I know not).

He points to the crayon without the paper covering and says "Idhu GooBoy (good boy) crayon" and then points to the crayon with the paper cover and says "Idhu BaBoy (bad boy) crayon".

Wow !! Talk about convenient perspectives !!!

A few moments of silent introspection .....

During Abhay’s first week at school, his teacher asked me “Does he speak ?” . I found this question a little weird because at home he is full of “What’s that ?” and “What’s this ?” . Full of questions !!

Also, we are almost invariably subjected to a constant barrage of “Abhay trying out his vocabulary” instances – many of them absolutely rib tickling !!

Like for instance, normally he looks at the aquarium in the living room and says “Fishy swimming in the water”. And when I would feed the fishes, I would always have a very very interested spectator besides me muttering “Fishy eating mum mum”. Used to provide me with a very convenient window of opportunity to tell him “See – do they trouble me ? They even eat their mum mum without asking for cartoons on the TV”. Now if the question is put across to him in the mornings “Abhay what are the fishes doing ?” he says “Fishy eating breakfast”.

Yesterday evening he was watching, with total and complete fascination, the fishes opening and closing their little mouths almost constantly as they bobbed along in the water or gently twirling their fins and tails, as they swam along lazily. And then he quips “Fishy drinking water ?”. I could not really figure out whether that was a question or a statement from the little guy. Basically, there is a lot of input and a lot of feedback too. A lot of curiosity which demands to be answered, a lot of questions which demand resolution.

For reasons best known to him, as of now, because none of us have any clue, he quite steadfastly refuses to be drawn into a conversation at school with his teachers. Yesterday morning, one of his teachers was repeatedly saying “Good Morning” to him and he even refused to look at her. I’m sure he has his reasons but we don’t know them as yet. And I also gathered from his teacher yesterday that he does not really communicate during the classroom time as well.

All in all, I was pretty much confused and fuming when I got back home. “Why is he behaving like this ?” was the question foremost on my mind. I worked myself up into such a state that I began to kind of get irritated with his behaviour. I began to actually wonder whether at all he would get used to actually communicating and behaving socially at school.

I was kind of thinking about it through most of the day and I felt ashamed of myself. How quick I had been to doubt his abilities !!! And not for one moment had I even stopped to consider that he might actually be having some predicament or maybe some factor in school posing some kind of quandary that is bringing about such behaviour. Possibly, he just is not able to communicate it to us effectively enough for us to try and do something about it. And here I was, feeling annoyed about the way he was behaving at school.

I felt mortified at myself for having thought that way. Especially more so, when I found myself at the receiving end of unequivocal and unconditional affection from the little guy yesterday.

We, as human beings, are so quick to cast our doubts and shadows along, while what fades into the background a little too quickly for comfort is all the positive traits in a person. And that was precisely what I did yesterday.

And I am most definitely not proud of myself for having entertained doubts about his abilities and his capacities, albeit for a short span of time.

14 September, 2006

The Second Tooth Falleth Too....

............. Today !!!

Now the Tooth Fairy better come visit !! Else there's going to be hell to pay ....

Like I said in my earlier post, that length of thread worked its magic. Loosened the second central incisor to such an extent that today morning I sincerely wondered if it was just going to go "bungee jumping" - without a bungee.

Annhh Annhhh !!

Not an adventurous tooth - from what I could see. It just stayed put till Appu got home from school.

Now we have two little pearly white teeth on display (not for the public but have to keep it for the tooth fairy :-)

What if she decides to ask for evidence ??

And as I looked at the second tooth which had left its gummy base today, I could not help but feel a sense of awe.

Mother Nature takes care of everything, does she not ???

Right from the time a baby is conceived - I mean, just imagine - putting together all the complex organs in all the right places, making them work, coordinating the whole symphony, orchestrating the entire thing in a space of a mere nine months ................. and the wonder continues ............

The milk teeth, unlike their permanent counterparts, have no roots per se. Yet, they are resilient enough to take n number of batterings from hard boiled candies, peanut brittles, lollipops and what have you. And when it is time for the milk teeth to say "Goodbye" Mother Nature starts the process by making the tooth wiggle.

This very same Mother Nature that we take for granted Day In and Day Out.

We take for granted that hands are meant to write, to pick up things, legs are meant to transport us from place to place by walking or running, ears are meant to hear, eyes are meant to see, noses are meant to smell, tongues are meant to taste .............. not once do we ever spare a thought about Mother Nature who is constantly at work, making us function, making us what we are.

Mother Nature -

Out of sheer Respect, Admiration and Marvel -

I Bow to Thee !!!!

13 September, 2006

Paper Biscuits Anyone ?????

When Abhay got home from school today, like I normally do, I asked him a lot of questions about school.

Among my usual questions is "What did your teachers give you to snack on today ?"

Today, pat came the reply "Paper Biscuit".


Another Abhay"ism" to be noted

Paper Biscuit aka Wafer Biscuit !!!!!

The First Tooth Falleth ........

Yes !!!!!!!!!!!

A much and very eagerly awaited event – the culmination of which, took place yesterday evening.

Appu’s milk tooth fell. One of the central incisors on the lower jaw.

The tooth had been wiggling for a long time now and none of us took it that seriously - not seriously enough for us to consider turning “tooth felling” into a zeal.

That is to say, not until the permanent tooth took matters into its own hands (??!!). It decided to cut through the gum anyways – milk tooth present or milk tooth absent.

That was when we got fired up too and Project Toothfall began to take shape.

The milk tooth was subjected to a lot of waggle and wiggle, twist and jiggle – but it just stayed put.

Do stubborn kids have stubborn teeth ???? Direct proportion theory at work here ????

Then a length of thread was brought into play. While this did not help the tooth in question much, it did end up loosening the tooth next to the one in question.

After a lot of complaints, grievances and gripes from Appu about how unmerited and unreasonable this seemingly obsessive behaviour of ours was - for wanting that tooth out as pronto as possible…………… the tooth in question finally let go of its gummy foundation.

Funny, is it not ??

When they are babies, we wait for our babies to cut their teeth. A mom is often heard saying “Oh – according to the developmental milestones listed in many of the baby books that I read, my baby should have cut atleast a couple of teeth by now. There’s no sign of any.”

I’ve had these thoughts myself – with the younger one who cut his milk teeth very late. While many babies his age had cut all four of their central incisors and would promptly display their pearly white teeth sticking out of their gums, our little fella would be extremely liberal with plentiful "toothless" grins :-))))))))))

And when they grow up a little, we wait anxiously and earnestly for that very same tooth to fall out.

Like Phyllis Diller once said,

We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.

Full of contradictions, are we not ??????????!!!!!!!!!