30 November, 2007

Happy Birthday Appu !!!

Has it really been eight years ?

I still so vividly remember the first time I laid my eyes on you. Despite the fact that I was way too exhausted even to sit up then, each and every single day after you made your appearance into this world, right until this day – I just need to close my eyes and that snapshot in my mind is as clear as ever. A little bald baby, tightfisted, yet one who chose to open her eyes and absorb new stimuli rather than just bawl her throat out.

Now looking back, it all seems a rushed blur – your journey in this voyage called life. These eight years have quite literally flown past. Even as individual images blur, there are some which stand out with distinct clarity. All I need to do is close my eyes and let the film reel inside my mind play.

The time you chewed on my new shoes from Marks & Spencer and the way you laughed with glee and clapped those little hands which still had folds of baby fat in them as you looked at my horrified face.

The times when you would roll over onto your tummy and refuse to turn over onto your back until and unless someone helped you to.

The way you took those first wobbly, tentative steps inside the house and that look on your face when you realized that your legs could actually walk.

The way you used to dance with total abandon (but so gracefully even then) to Falguni Pathak’s rendition of “Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye”.

The times when you used to wake up in the middle of the night saying “Enna Acchhu ?” (what happened ?) with tears pouring down your face.

The time when you first sat on a motorized scooter and landed on your backside as the scooter moved away without you.

The time when you started kindergarten and knocked off your glass of milk (albeit by mistake) all over your teacher’s foot. And to top that, the way you hopped all over the class saying “ouch ouch”.

Your first day at Primary School when I was a mass of quivering jelly and pounding heartbeats while you handled the whole thing with such courage and panache. A beatific smile on your face and a couple of waves of your little hand as you walked away with your teacher, taking those first steps towards independence. Those first steps of lots many more to come as time progressed.

All these and many many more are images of your life which are branded in my mind.
But honestly, never have the changes been more marked in you than what we’ve seen through the last year.

The past year has seen you evolve and change in a lot many ways. And when I look at you today, I cannot help but wonder whether this is the same child who had a completely different persona through the first six-odd years of her life.

When I see you monkeying around now, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to be so sedate earlier on.

When I see you laughing your heart out now, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to stifle her laughter and all that used to be seen on the outside was a smile or a giggle – definitely not the raucous laughter that gurgles and explodes in you now :-)

When I see you mingling with your friends, interacting with them and going out and making more friends on your own, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to totally refuse to even say Hello to another familiar face from the kindergarten.

When I see you playing pranks now, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to consider tomfoolery and high jinks totally unacceptable.

When I see the camaraderie and the rapport and of course, the affection between you and your little brother, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who initially had a tough time accepting and coming to terms with the fact that there was indeed someone else too to share her parents’ time, attention and affection.

When I see independence and confidence brimming in you now, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to hesitate and dilly dally on something as simple as buying a school hat from the school PTA shop. You once wanted me to go along with you all the way to school to buy your PE hat and now, present times see you going and buying your own uniforms from the PTA shop.

During your Primary Three year at school, during the Special Assembly, as you stood on the dais and spoke – thanking your teacher, your friends and your family for the award that you received –for the first time in your life, you caught me on the wrong foot and had me in tears in front of a whole bunch of Primary Two and Primary Three children who looked at me as if I had a hole in my head. Oh Yeah – you made me cry. Hallelujah !!! But please sweetheart, don’t make that a habit OK ??!! :-)

Now, when I look back on that Special Assembly, I cannot help but wonder if this is the same child who used to hesitate to even raise her hand in class to volunteer towards answering a question.

And now, as you complete eight years of life and move onto the ninth year sweetheart, I wish for you all the joy, all the laughter, all the cheer, all the wisdom that life brings along with it and all the good luck, determination, perseverance,confidence, courage and optimism that is needed to tackle life.

And as you stand at the threshold of yet another year which is sure to herald more
changes for you in life's own unique ways, I would like to quote to you the poem “Dare To” by Meiji Stuart.

Dare to...

Ask For What You Want.

Believe in Yourself.

Change Your Mind.

Do What You Love.

Enjoy Each And Every Day.

Follow Your Heart's Desire.

Give More Than You Receive.

Have a Sense of Humor.

Insist On Being Yourself.

Join In More.

Know when you are wrong and Make up.

Love and Be Loved.

Make New Friends.

Nurture Your Spirit.

Overcome Adversity.

Play More.

Question Conformity.

Reach for the Stars.

Speak Your Truth.

Take Personal Responsibility.

Understand More, Judge Less.

Volunteer Your Time.

Walk Through Fear.

X-perience The Moment.

Yearn for Grace.

be Zany.

Happy Birthday Appu and here’s to many many more !!

With All my Love Sweetheart,

Mom


Aparna's yummy birthday card filled with oodles and oodles of love from Daddy, Mummy, Tathi and Abhay


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19 November, 2007

Plenty of Giggles and Lots of Laughter ....

I had done a post a while back about how the winds of change are blowing around Aparna. The little lady is pretty much evolving – almost on a continuous basis and almost each day presents us with a new facet – sometimes a totally new facet to her personality and at times some old trait with new colors infused in it.

One thing that has been making its mark and making its presence felt is her sense of humor. Oh !! It is absolutely quacky (YES !!!!!!!!!) and so totally whacky. Many a times she manages to have us in splits ever so effortlessly.

Is this the same little girl who hardly used to smile ? Even her Primary One teacher had once remarked to me when Appu had just started Primary School that “Getting Aparna to smile really takes something very very very very funny”. Admittedly she never used to be very liberal with her smiles and the two loony bins that she has for parents used to wonder ever so often as to where those “quacky humor” genes had disappeared.

Had evolution decided that those genes could be done away with ?

Apparently not !!

With time and with her confidence growing, her sense of humor knows no bounds. She is pretty much capable of doing a stand alone comedy show. God – she’d probably give Russell Peters a run for his money. And she definitely does not use the kind of language that he does. She’s pretty child friendly !!!

She has this inimitable capacity to imitate and mime just about anyone she gets to see and interact with – say four or five times. Her favourite target is the busmother that the kids had during their Primary Three year. Now this busmother was a rather birdlike person with a scared-bird attitude. Basically she was the kind of person who always had one finger on the Emergency Button. And Panic was her middle name. And while I knew that the girls on the bus always had been very amused by their busmother and her panic antics, we were rather blissfully unaware of the many different facets that were being absorbed by some of the kids. The way she speaks, for instance or that panic stricken look on her face for absolutely no reason. And the way she mimes and mimics the erstwhile busmother is way too funny for me to even start trying to describe it in words.

And it has not stopped at that. This little lady is getting better by the day. To top things, she is invariably found walking around with a digital camera – be it indoors or outdoors. God Help Us – for we know not when and what inconsistency she is going to catch us in !!!

A burgeoning sense of humor on a budding photographer who is good at miming and imitating !!!! Now if that is not one dangerous combination – what is ???? !!!!!

Another distinct ability that is developing is one of being able to get on people’s nerves effortlessly. Oh !! She can so get one’s goat so smoothly and with such ease that it never ceases to be a source of amazement. And all that nonchalance and the casualness with irritating someone is so cloaked with wit and absurdity at times that it leaves one wondering – “Am I supposed to show my irritation first or should I just give in to the urge and laugh my heart out ?” . That’s what I call “Creating Confusion Naturally”.

Appu’s teacher too was seen remarking (when I met her last week for a Parent Teacher Meeting) that there is a definite twinkle in those eyes now almost all the time. And the shy, sweet smile that was evident in her Primary Three year has now been replaced by a rather impish, elfin grin and many a times, a very pleased and happy beam.

Spontaneous giggles, hearty guffaws and mindblowing laughter. That more than sums up the sense of humor situation with Aparna right now. She does not need any particular time or place to let the hilarity or the wit or the funny side of any situation take over. And once she gets into that mode the laughter gets enormously contagious. People around her cannot help but laugh.

Like Henry Ward Beecher once said

“A person with a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It is jolted by just about every pebble on the road.”

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12 November, 2007

Diwali - The Festival of Lights

Deepawali is a five day Hindu festival that occurs on the fifteenth day of Kartika (October/November). The word "Deepawali" means "rows of lighted lamps" or "array of lamps," and the celebration is often referred to as the "Festival of Lights" much in the same way the Jewish holiday of Hannukah is referred to as the "Festival of Lights."

Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil - and the glory of light. This festival commemorates Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile.

During Diwali, homes are thoroughly cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. Candles and lamps (diyas) are lit as a greeting to Goddess Lakshmi.

In some states, the festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship Goddess Lakshmi. In the Indian culture, wealth, mythologically, is not viewed as a corruptive power. Rather, a wealthy person is considered to have been rewarded for good deeds of a past life.

On the second day of the festival, Kali, the goddess of Strength, is worshipped. This day also focuses on abolishing laziness and evil.

On the third day (the last day of the year in the lunar calendar), lamps are lit and shine brightly in every home. The lamp symbolizes knowledge and encourages reflection upon the purpose of each day in the festival. The goal is to remember the purpose throughout the year.

The fourth day of Diwali falls on the first day of the lunar New Year. At this time, old business accounts are settled and new books are opened. The books are worshipped in a special ceremony and the purpose is to remove anger, hate and jealousy from one's lives.

The final day of the festival, Balipratipada, is dedicated to an ancient Indian king, Bali whose humility had saved him from destruction.

As far as Diwali at The Krishnans' goes, I'll just let the pictures say the story.













"Come out into the Universe of Light. Everything in the Universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love." ~ Swami Vivekananda


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07 November, 2007

That time of the year ..... called Halloween !!!

I know this post comes a little late. It is well over a week since Halloween but as the saying goes “better late than never”.

Though Halloween, nowadays, is associated more with costumes and Jack-o-Lanterns and treats – like every other festival, this one too has its history.

There are concerns expressed about Halloween – in that children tend to overdose on candies, in that Halloween is a prime example of commercialization, in that Halloween involves expense over outfits that kind of become the “wear only once” kind, in that Halloween involves a whole bunch of kids going from door to door asking for treats, in that while the kids are out “trick or treating” they generate a “hell of a lot” of noise and many many more.

I am of the opinion that it is not just Halloween - just about every festival is associated with sweets of some kind or the other. While we may gobble up sweets loaded with sugar and cholesterol in celebration of many other festivals, why bring up the "candy" issue and single out Halloween ?

Yet again, coming to the issue of commercialization - yes - it does make its presence felt - especially during festive seasons. But then again, hard fact remains that it is here to stay. Festivals can be celebrated in the festive spirit without falling prey to mindless ads and promotions. It is upto us to decide where to draw the line.

On the issues of associating candy with Halloween and the one time outfit buying and going trick or treating – I so agree with what Dotmom has to say. She airs her point of view – a very balanced point of view. Read Dotmom’s point of view here. And I do agree with what she says.

By far, the most far fetched one is where one gets to hear that Halloween is not part of the Indian “culture”. There are many proponents to the theory that Halloween is not part of the Indian culture and therefrom arises the premise that "since it is not part of our culture there is no need for us to take part in the festivities associated with Halloween".

On the point of view of Halloween not being part of the Indian culture – I have just this to say. Why bring cross cultural and regional differences into the picture when the children are at an age when they are not aware that such things exist. Why put ideas into their heads ? Especially ideas which stress more on the differences rather than the unity factor. Ideas which pay more heed to instilling the need to recognise the fact that no two cultures are the same instead of looking for parallels or similarities in two different cultures.



Instead of harping on how Halloween is not part of our culture why not focus on what we can teach our children through Halloween. Even if they are not at an age when they can be told and taught the history or how Halloween originated, this is a very good way for them to learn the concept of “giving”. They do realize that “giving” a treat to other trick or treaters is just as much fun as going and “getting or taking” a treat themselves.

Why not treat this as an opportunity to teach children about the many different festivals that abound and are celebrated in the many different countries all around the world. Teach them to respect different cultures and imbibe the spirit of the festival.

We do normally decorate our home with “Pookalams” for Onam, with Diyas for Diwali, with a little Christmas tree, tassels and stockings on the windows for Christmas. So this year around, we decorated our lobby for Halloween too. The kids were absolutely thrilled to bits.

This time around, there were 80 odd children going trick or treating in our apartment complex. And it was amazing to watch the camaraderie amongst them. There were many instances wherein the elder children would shield the younger ones in the elevators – because the elevators used to be packed to capacity. There were plenty of instances when the older children dug into their treat bags or baskets and gave away a treat or two to the younger children. They “shared” out of their own free will. There were no parents harping at them to do that. It was spontaneous and those were among many other lovely little gestures that touched my heart.

"Clothes make a statement ; Costumes tell a story." ~ Mason Cooley

Aparna had not quite made up her mind on her costume. I did suggest Abu (as in Alladin’s little friend – in which case, like I mentioned to Aparna, she would not even need a costume) but she didn’t buy it. In the midst of all that confusion we found a basic fabric costume at home (pantaloons with an attached top) that looked like it could well be turned into a Princess Jasmine costume. And that was what happened. A little bit of hemming and velcroing around the costume. A bit of work on the collar and then with the glueing on of plenty of moon and star shaped confetti in different colours – we did well and truly have a nice version of the Princess Jasmine costume. Some nice long costume jewellery earrings and some body tattoo stickers and Princess Jasmine was ready.

We only hoped – rather fervently – that this Princess Jasmine would circumnavigate her way around without her glasses. No one was quite keen on the idea of Princess Jasmine biting the dust or Princess Jasmine stumbling on some wee wedge of a cobblestone and ending up in one of the rather abundant huge flower pots that line our apartment complex. Pccchhhh !!! No such excitement. What a disappointment !!! ??

Abhay wanted to be a vampire. Tried his level best to look scary as he said it but ended up looking like a very cute and innocent looking vampire. Forget about sinking his fangs into some nubile beauty – this little vampire would not even swat a mosquito. Some vampire that huh ??? !!! And as has become a ritual of sorts with him, he was down with a throat infection and was on his third day of antibiotics. So we had a rather tired looking little vampire going trick or treating.

Abhay, however, had another round of Trick or Treating at his kindergarten on Halloween Day. He was a vampire again – this time a fresher looking and much better feeling vampire whose fangs were dripping blood. Abhay’s teacher at school had requested all the parents to send in empty icecream cartons to school so that the cartons could be turned into little pumpkin baskets. And the baskets were so very cute and absolutely lovely. That was a gem of an idea on her part.

And the excitement that the children generated was so incredibly palpable and indeed very contagious. So contagious was the spirit of Halloween that Yours Truly actually showed her true colors.

Yours Truly tried her level best to look the part but quite apparently the children (including toddlers) insisted on calling out “Aunteeee Aunteeee” with huge grins on their faces and their chubby little hands waving out like little windshield wipers. So Yours Truly attempting a take on a witch’s role turned into a comedy of sorts. Yeah OK – whatever makes the kids happy ! Right ??

Vic also had a gala time donning a scary facemask and “entertaining” all the kids who showed up at our doorstep for “trick or treat”. So the kids ended up getting “tricked” first and then “treated”. Judging from their reactions, a treat after being tricked was apparently far more enjoyable :-)










All in all, Halloween was a lot of fun this year. It was utterly enjoyable getting the costumes ready, getting all the face paint ready and finally getting all the stuff onto both the siblings.

At the end of it all, when we asked Appu and Abhay whether they had a nice time this Halloween, this was what we got.

The looks on their faces, I guess, says the story quite well !!!

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05 November, 2007

The Sunday that was ............ yesterday !!!

A few weeks back, I wrote about our sojourn to The Peak and the refreshing walk around The Peak Trail. This weekend too, the siblings had quite obviously conspired and decided that they wanted to visit their winged and feathered friends at Kowloon Park. A visit to Kowloon Park is always refreshing and relaxing. It invariably ends with both siblings perched on one of the innumerable ledges in the park eating ice-creams, the gentle yet strong breeze ruffling their hair and at the same time refreshing and rejuvenating them, recharging their physical batteries for them to expend all that energy before heading home. And this has become a comfortable ritual. With ice-cream moustaches on them both, they would generally be busy pointing at something or the other in the Park and chattering nineteen to a dozen about the leaves/flowers/fishes.

This weekend however, a bit of furniture shopping was in order. So the entire troupe headed towards the gigantic Ikea showroom instead of Kowloon Park.

The siblings did not mind the change in plans because right next to the Ikea showroom is a huge pond filled with fishes and turtles. Fishes swimming lazily around, twirling and disturbing the stillness of the pond draw children like magnets to the pool. At any given point of time, atleast fifteen to twenty children around the pool would be an extremely safe estimate. And then of course, the turtles. There’s a profusion of turtles in the pond. While some would be busy stretching their limbs, most of the turtles would be out of water, perched on the rocks sunning themselves. There is one turtle in particular which has been christened “The Bully”. All “The Bully” seems to do is dive under the water looking for some unsuspecting turtle floating in the water enjoying its siesta. Once it finds its mark, it heads slowly but surely towards that turtle, snaps its jaws shut (a la Jaws) on the other turtle’s leg and pulls it underwater and holds it there while the victim thrashes around in utter panic. This detailed description speaks volumes – about the amount of time we’ve spent near the pond :-)!!!!

Yesterday the turtles had another bully to contend with. There was a old grandma sitting near the edge of the pool. The water must have been quite cool as most of the turtles were making a beeline for the many rocks that abound the pond. They just settle on the rock and sun themselves. But this Grandma ensured that they did not stay on the rock very long. Every time a turtle sunned its shell dry on the rock, this grandma would scoop water in her palms and throw it on the poor turtles. I honestly don’t know how long the turtles suffered this aggravation yesterday.

On we went, towards Ikea. By this time Abhay had suddenly started looking around for a Pizza Parlour. The rather fickle tastebuds (which are prone to change at a moment’s notice) had decided that the flavor of the moment was “pizza”. He wanted to stop at the “pizza shop” on our way back from Ikea.

Anyways, on to Ikea it was. Once there, both siblings were delighted at the appearance of a igloo in the Children’s Section. It was nothing more than a plastic tent shaped in a semi-circle of sorts with iceblock-like patterns on it. But it was quite obviously a hit with almost all the children in Ikea that evening. There were giggles of delight, little hands clapping to a rhythm of their own and eyes as wide as saucers – staring at the igloo in complete and unmitigated wonder.

Vic in the meanwhile, had armed himself with a measuring tape and a notepad and pencil - all the implements necessary for ensuring that the new piece of furniture would fit in where it was supposed to.

Aparna was fascinated with some new bunk beds that had made their way into the Kids’ Section and was seen pondering over the safety of bunk beds which did not seem to have much of a barrier on the sides. Thank Goodness she did not choose to physically try the bunk bed out – especially the “falling off the bed” part – just to see if it was actually a hazard or not.

A wardrobe caught her attention next and she went off to investigate that. She was seen coming back with a proclamation that it was way too small. “Half of the clothes in my wardrobe would not fit into that one” she said – giving mommy the opportunity she had been waiting for all day. “Just goes to show that you have one outfit too many” exclaimed mommy with a huge grin. The humor quite apparently was lost on Aparna who chose not to look very enamored with mommy’s sense of humor. Hmmm ....... you win some, you lose some !!

Abhay was having a field day in the store. For him, it was the perfect situation – of sorts. Enough room to monkey around without having to bother about getting lost. The bothersome part about making sure that he did not “get lost” inside the huge confines of the showroom was his daddy and mommy’s responsibility, you see. I mean, what are parents for – if they cannot even accomplish little feats such as these.

Mom and Dad’s version however is that letting Abhay loose in a huge, yawning showroom as Ikea is akin to letting a small mouse run loose inside a huge maze and then running after it to ensure that the little mouse does not hurt itself in some way or does not lose its way in the process of exploring the maze. It was absolutely astounding and miraculous that Mommy and Daddy walked out of Ikea with their sanity intact – most of it atleast. While letting Abhay loose in places like Ikea or the HK Science Museum or the HK Space Museum, Mommy and Daddy do allow for the depletion and depreciation of their mental resources to a certain extent – always !!! In fact, Daddy and Mommy are seriously contemplating sticking a GPS chip on Abhay – in an effort to make the “keeping track of him” part ever so slightly easier on them.

Aparna took to researching the plant section and later moved on to the candle section. She appeared quite taken in and fascinated with the aroma candles in all their different hues and fragrances. Daddy and Mommy have always been huge fans of candles and candlelight. At every given opportunity they have been seen lighting candles all over the house and turning all the electrical lights off. They sincerely believe that there is something magical, something so very enchanting about the subdued hues of candlelight. About the muted shadows that candlelight brings about. About the aroma of wax melting and the wicks burning. There is something about candlelight that is so very soft and dreamlike.

Abhay was busy trying to figure out how each piece of furniture worked. And of course, he was more than full of questions. He tried out about every chair in Ikea yesterday – which in itself is no meager feat. And I quite loved the fact that not once did he have to be reminded that he was not supposed to put his feet up on the cushions. He was utmost careful not to do that and I found that little gesture very thoughtful for his age. Each and every sofa was tried out and was pronounced “good” or “not good”. One sofa, in particular, meshed itself into the little guy’s heart. He was seen relaxing on it with his hands above his head, his little body totally relaxed with a soft smile and an almost dreamy expression in his eyes. I totally felt like kicking myself for not having carried the camera. And so thoroughly efficient and organized that I am, as I tried taking a picture with my phone, a message flashed across on the screen saying “memory full”. And that moment of Abhay lounging on the sofa, which I so desperately wanted to capture and bind into a picture, was lost.

Once Vic had shortlisted the pieces of furniture, Aparna had the dubious distinction of taking over the mantle from Mommy to make sure that Abhay did not lose himself in that maze.

Whilst furniture gazing, furtive glances thrown the siblings’ way indicated that they were trying to figure out why some keys were missing from a keyboard on one of the tables. It was a dummy keyboard, of course. But mean parents that we are, we chose not to tell them that. So till the time we made up our minds on the piece of furniture we wanted to buy, the little cats were busy chasing their own tails.

While Vic waited at the checkout counter, Mommy marched off both the siblings to the café. Aparna opted for a hot dog while Abhay opted for caramel popcorn. Thus ended the evening, with us cabbing it home after the hotdog and the popcorn were deemed consumed.

The thought struck us well after we got back home. The kids had forgotten all about the Pizza and so had we. Anyways, all’s well that ends well !!

Lesson of the day : The camera is most certainly not an object to be forgotten – even if it is just a trip to Ikea and back !!!


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