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”

(**Phew!!!!!**)

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
And
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

THUPPING !!!!!

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.