19 December, 2008

Just one of those DUH moments ....

One evening, the younger nutty sibling was found engrossed in a book titled “100 things you should know about mammals”.

The elder nutty sibling was busy with her Mandarin (Putonghua) homework.

A veil of rather unnatural silence filled the room. And in an effort to break this rather unusual hush and quiet that was hanging in the air, Mommy took it upon herself to try and get the younger nutty sibling to talk. The elder one could not be disturbed because she was busy with her homework. So it had to be the younger one.

Yeah – Mommy is rather scatterbrained that way. First she complains about the noise the siblings generate and when they are quiet, she tries to get them to break their silence. Ever heard of the oxymoron which says parents are the sensible ones in the house !!!! Yeah - Mommy is a living, giant sized epithet of that very oxymoron !!!

So Mommy peeped into the book and found the younger sibling staring at pictures of deer and he was busy reading something out.

“Hey that’s a deer, is it not ?” ventured Mommy

The younger sibling looked up at Mommy with a rather mystified look on his face and said “yes”. The look on his face, however, translated into something that said “Of course it is a deer. What else does it look like – a cow ?”

Mommy should have taken the cue from the monosyllable reply but then again, she can be quite dense when the situation so demands.

“Those deer have such complicated horns” said Mommy.

And she found herself looking at the younger sibling, who, by now, had a slight frown on his face.
“Mummy – can I tell you something ?. Those are not horns. They are antlers. Cows and Buffaloes have horns. And deer have antlers – not horns”.

(*sigh) So much for wanting some idle conversation with the kids !

And then after a pause, the younger sibling chose to add for good measure “And Mummy – when there is one cow it is called a cow. When there are two cows they are called “cows”. But when there is one deer it is called a deer and when there are two also they are just called “Deer” and not “Deers”. OK ?”

Oh ! Mommy had been taught during her school days to “let the sleeping dogs lie”. She’d never really understood the meaning of that idiom fully.

Now she does !!!!!!!!

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11 December, 2008

Of God's Mind and Ours ....

(This is a guest post, actually. Am not publishing the name of the author as the author has chosen to stay anonymous. This piece was penned in fond memory of the lives lost in Mumbai and in many other parts of the world over the past so many years ........... all in the name of God and religion.)

Of God’s Mind and Ours

We believe that God made this Universe and populated our World with His creatures including his masterful creation, humankind. Strangely, we also believe that He then called all those he had made in his own image and said, "I now pronounce you Hindu and Muslim. And Jew and Christian and Buddhist and Jain and Sikh."

Just think - could God have said, "I will divide mankind in small groups, each at the other's throat in My name? And I want you all to keep arguing till doomsday about the best path to follow in order to reach Me?" Could he have also have added, for good measure, "I will reward those who carry out violence in My name and those who look at their fellow humans through narrow lenses of their own making will be especially dear to Me?" Could He then have called some chosen ones and anointed them as his representatives on earth, giving them the right to morally judge others?

Also consider this - did God feel weak one day and appeal to some of us, "I need you to defend Me because, though I am all powerful, without your support I am lost?"

We believe that God is supremely wise. Yet we tend to believe that He said all the above unwise things. Our newspapers are full of items reflecting people’s actions based on strong adherence by them to this belief. As a result of this, many followers of their chosen paths to God have been responsible for more cruelty, injustice and divisiveness in His name than has been caused by any other factor.

This wrong belief has imprisoned us in cages of bigotry and self righteousness. It has divided nations and precipitated wars. It has given birth to terrorism around the world. And this belief is not even founded on common-sense. Just pause and reflect - would an all-powerful God opt for cruelty in his name? Would He want us to be narrow-minded and absorbed in empty rituals? Would He want us to wage war with others who have decided upon different rituals?

Would God, who knows everything and is a part of all, want us to spend a lot of our time repeating His great qualities? God knows these and does not need us to keep reminding Him. Perhaps it is we who are in danger of forgetting because our faith is so shallow that we must do this in order to reinforce it. We would come closer to Him if we spent more time praising other people and being worthy of their praise. We would do our duty by Him, if we were just to watch our conduct and behave as we would wish others to behave. For the vast majority, this would include being considerate, kind, compassionate, honest, truthful, gentle and loving. A relatively small tone can make a huge bell reverberate and our behavior will find resonance in others. As a result of this, we will notice a change for the better in our society and so will God.

Many of us have been told that knowing God’s mind needs scholarship and years of preparation. Those who believe this are missing the point. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s quote “Nothing is true, but that which is simple” is definitely applicable to this quest. Infants are said to know the mind of God more than scholars. No, understanding God’s will does not need scholarship. God is everywhere and never far from us. Hence to reach Him we do not need complicated maps, which only scholars can decipher,. If we dare to look inside in the silence of our minds and in the depth of our hearts and consider what a compassionate and loving God would want from his people, we will find the answer and that answer should be our guiding light regarding our own attitude and conduct. All else we hear from those who quarrel in the name of religion and who think that only their chosen path is the right one, is based on their own narrow point of view, not God's for God is never petty or limiting.

A beautiful flower is called Kamal in India, Lotus in England, Lotos in Greece, Ward el nil or Sawsan in Egypt and Hasu in Japan. The ancient Egyptians called it Sesen. It has been used in worship, strewn on Pharaohs and even used to make tea. Should we fight about whose name for Lotus is the ‘right’ one? Should we argue about how we should treat the Lotus? Would it make an iota of difference to the flower? With God, too, we need to adopt a similar attitude. He has given us brains to think and a heart to feel. We would be failing Him if we did not use our facilities of discrimination, even for such basic matters.

One last point. Some of us are ever ready to jump to the defense of ‘our’ God. We should view the conduct of such people in light of this – God is the omnipotent Creator. Without His support we will not survive, but without our ‘support’ He will do fine. He was there before us and will be there long after we are gone from this planet and He does not need us to ‘defend’ him against other humans. It is hubris to think that some humans can harm God and other humans can save God.

If we keep the above in mind, we will not fight in God’s name. We will not think that we are the only repositories of The Truth and that everyone else is a misguided fool who it is our God-given duty to correct. We will not listen to those who divide us in His name. All of us would leave a better world, if this happens.

May God be with you.

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05 December, 2008

Aunty Neha !!

It was just another afternoon. Mommy was busy in the kitchen getting some snacks ready for the nutty siblings who had just gotten back home from school.

It was then that the phone started ringing.

Assuming that Appu would answer the call, Mommy busied herself with the task of working on the snacks. The phone stopped ringing midway and Mommy, who was still in the kitchen, assumed that all was indeed well ....... that Appu had picked up the phone.

A few moments later the sound of Abhay launching off into a spate of giggles caught Mommy's attention and Mommy deemed it fit to peep out of the kitchen to take stock of the situation. The sight that met her eyes was really something. Abhay, his ear glued to the phone, was nodding his head this way and that quite merrily and had a huge smile plastered on his face.

Mommy once again assumed that it was someone he knew. Abhay's next question put that doubt to rest too. This was his side of the conversation .....

Abhay : Who are you ? (a huge smile on his face)

Caller replies

A : Oh ! You are Aunty Neha ? Where do you live, Aunty Neha ?

(Mommy was beginning to look totally puzzled because we knew no Aunty Neha. So then, who in God's name was this ?). Mr.E, in the meanwhile, was chatting up "Aunty Neha" as though he had known her his whole life.

A : Aunty, do you have long hair ?

Caller replies

A : Oh ! (a huge beam on his face) My mom and my sister also have long hair. Long hair is very pretty.

Caller replies

A : No No No No No. I don't have long hair. I'm a boy. Boys don't have long hair. Girls have long hair ........ sometimes (shaking head vigorously to drive home his point)

Caller replies

A : How many children do you have ?

(Mommy, by this time, is seriously gasping for air. Appu, eyes as wide as saucers, seems to be in a state of shock at the question. Mr.E however, continues merrily ..)

Caller replies

A : Oh ! My mom and dad also have two children. Me and my sister.

A : Aunty Neha, where do you live ?

Caller replies

A : Oh ! That's where I live. That's where my home is also (a hundred watt grin now plastered on his face)

A : Which block do you live in ?

A : Which floor ?

A : Which Apartment ?

A : Do you know that tomorrow is going to be very very cold. The temperature is going to go very low.

Caller replies

A : OK. Bye Bye.

And after a couple of minutes, the phone rang once again. This time around, Mommy got to the phone first and a few minutes of conversation later Mommy was seen rather helplessly rolling on the floor, convulsed with laughter.

Appu was seen rolling her eyes heavenward !!

First her brother talks to some unknown person on the phone - a aunty, to be specific - as though he has known her all her life. Then Mommy starts laughing uncontrollably, giving credence to the fact that a streak of absolute insanity still runs strong in her - and is running rather amok inside her head right at that very moment.

The so called "Aunty Neha" was none other than Dad. Since Abhay speaks to him for just a minute or so over the phone and then says "bye daddy" and runs off, Daddy Dear decided to try this little experiment. Apparently aunties are definitely given more of time over the telephone.

Once Mommy was able to speak coherently in the midst of all that laughter that was threatening to erupt again, the whole situation was explained to Appu. And then all hell broke loose. Appu could not contain her laughter which set Mommy laughing all over again. That set Abhay off and he too started to laugh. Best part was - he did not know why we were laughing or why he was laughing.

And Daddy has hit upon the perfect formula to hold long conversations with Abhay on the phone. :D

Mommy is just glad that the streak of insanity does not belong to her alone. :D

The whole family shares it !!!!!!!

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30 November, 2008

Happy Birthday Appu !! :)

(Picture Courtesy : graphicsarcade.com)

As you round off the ninth year
And bound into the tenth, my dear
I know not if the fact struck you
You’re about to step into the double digit age anew

The single numbers have been left behind
With memories filled with treasures to find
When did you grow up so fast ?
Oh ! When did you grow up so fast ?

I remember the little baby
A bundle so pink and chubby
We watched you as you learnt to walk
We listened as you learnt to talk.
As you worked your way up the age chart
Numbers you did learn, so also your ABC’s
But somewhere along the way
You naturally learnt to say Thank You and Please
When did you grow up so fast ?

Your smiling face ; spreading happiness all over the place
Singing, dancing, laughing all mingled
Whoops of joy and cries of glee of “Come play with me”
Swings, slides and the monkey bars
Gave way to badminton, swimming and cycling far
When did you grow up so fast ?

Kindergarten flew past and then came primary school
And through it all you were calm, composed and cool
I still remember that day at the school assembly
When you so effortlessly made my knees go wobbly
The tears streamed down my face then
For, I was indeed a very proud mother hen.
Your humility shone at the assembly that day
As you, confidently had your say
May the humility and graciousness stay with you forever
As you, my little bird, soar higher and higher.
When did you grow up so fast ?

Gone are the days of Falguni Phatak
And in its place, there’s quite a bit of drama and natak
That’s inherently a part of growing up
As natural as your now saying “Yo Wassup” ?
As you make your “whaaaateeeveerrrrrs” drawl
There are times when I wish time wouldn’t fly but crawl
And as you now stand almost upto my shoulder
I know very soon I’ll be looking up at you ;
Yeah Right ! Whaaaatteeeeevveeerrr !!!
When did you grow up so fast ?

Amidst your goofy humor and the stand-up comedy shows
There still exist a lot of self-doubts, I know
Be proud of who you are and what you are;
Always strive to do your best
Put in a lot of effort and always give it your best
More so, when you are being put to the test.

So remember, my not-so-little darling
You are our shooting star
With determination, courage and boldness.
As you travel life’s journey long and far
I hope and pray that you find loads of happiness ;
May you always be blessed with joy and cheeriness.

Happy Ninth Birthday, Dearheart :)

I love you more than you can possibly imagine.

Love n Hugs n Hugs n More Hugs :)


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28 November, 2008

Why ?

It has been two days now. Two days since this whole carnage began. And as I watched the news on TV yesterday evening and listened to the news on the radio this morning, I realized that the feeling that had manifested itself was one of total numbness.

Numbness at the sight of pictures of hotels still burning

Numbness at the sight of blood and gore

Numbness at the sight of people and children alike injured and crying

Numbness at the heartrending sight of people wailing

Numbness at the terror that hangs in the air

Numbness at the smoke and the cries that shroud the air

Numbness at the sheer audacity and brazenness with which these attacks have been conducted

The list is endless ………… but the feeling, if at all I can call it one, is that of total numbness.

I can’t bear to watch the carnage, the bloodbath on the news reports, the news on TV – something inside me says “put the damn thing off”. I cannot bear to listen to the news – something inside me says “put the damn thing off” ……..

........... fact remains that I can’t.

The city that was my home for the first twenty four years of my life, a city that has quite literally moulded my spirit, a city that I still carry within my heart of hearts, a city that is even today so dear to me despite having lived abroad for more than a decade, a city with so much spirit that it fills me with pride to say “I am a Mumbaikar” ………. that very city lies torn to shreds, bleeding, in tatters.

Nothing makes sense … nothing.

Called family members yesterday and they’re all safe. Yet nothing …….. absolutely nothing feels right.

Having seen the carnage caused by the bomb blasts in 1993, those very images play across the mindscreen – bodies being carted by the truckloads, a missing arm here, a missing leg there, the whole city stunned into silence …. silence broken by high pitched wails of pain and terror, of loved ones lost ….. and the mind asks the same question now as it had fifteen years back “To what end ?” “Why ?” “When will all this mindless bloodshed end ?” “Will it ever end ?”.

The politicians will be back in full force in a couple of days time – crooning and chests swelling with pride as they say “The spirit of Bombay could not be broken. Bombay is back on its feet and how ?!!”.

Well – ask people who have lost their spouses, ask the children who have lost their parents, ask the elderly parents who have lost their children, ask people who have been maimed for life, ask people who have been rendered handicapped – all to such senseless violence – ask them if they could pick up the pieces of their lives and come to terms with what happened. Ask those people whether they could hold onto something as intangible as “faith” in the aftermath of such a carnage. It would indeed be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

And where are those politicians now – who, a few weeks/months back were shouting themselves hoarse from the rooftops about how Mumbai is “their city” ? Where are they ?

The heart bleeds and even as picture after picture of the aftermath of such meaningless massacre flood the senses, the eyes refuse to get wet, the tears refuse to flow. All I feel right now is a numbness that is pervading the senses.

The question that keeps a resounding beat inside my head and my heart is “Why, Why Why"

Why ?

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26 November, 2008

It's camp time yet again ...

Yes – Appu’s off to camp once again. She left yesterday and will be back only on Friday. And this time around, there are not going to be any cosy dormitories for them to bed down at night, no heaters to keep them warm, no warm water for shower in the mornings …. basically this is what has been termed an “Eco-Adventure Camp”.

They’re going to be out at sea (quite literally – that term in the figurative sense applies to the parents) on banana boats and what have you. They’ve been warned ahead of time that this is a camp that is going to wear them out physically because there are lots of looong hikes involved, most of them uphill.

They are going to be visiting a monastery, speaking to the monks there in Mandarin (Putonghua), finding out more about their lives and their way of life. This probably is an attempt to make the kids realize that living life frugally with just the bare minimum to keep you going is not just something one reads in books or watches in a movie – there are people who have willingly chosen to live lives of peace with just the basic requirements to keep them going day after day. Again, there is not going to be any transportation ferrying the kids to and from the monastery – they’re going to have to walk. And having been to the monastery ourselves, we do know that it is going to be quite a walk.

For their stay – the kids are going to have to pitch their own tents out in the open – in a space between a meadow and a beach. They are not going to be having any cushy mattresses or quilts or blankets to keep them warm and comfortable. They’ve had to carry their own sleeping bags this time around. There’s going to be no pillows to rest their heads on – they’ve just carried a pillow case and will, in all probability, be stuffing their day jackets into the pillowcase to make a makeshift pillow.

There’s absolutely no electronic equipment around – no TV, no lights at night, no telephone, no IPods – nothing. There’s going to be no midnight pajama party – cos by carrying snacks in their backpacks into their tents, they’d be risking inviting some critters and insects too – for their pajama party or the aftermath thereof.

At night, to make sure that a sense of adventure does not lead the kids to roam around in the wilderness, there is going to be a security detail all complete with security dogs too. Speaking of which, they’re going to have plenty of animals to keep them on their toes, quite literally. The meadow is said to be a wandering ground for wild buffaloes and it has been reported by the children who had been on camp last year that they saw a snake too.

The children are going to have to use the public toilets at the beachfront and that thought, in itself, is scaring the daylights out of me. Public toilets are such a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and fungi. And if any of the children need to use the toilet at night, they will need to inform a security guard who will then accompany the kids to the toilet. This is a nightmarish scenario. Especially these days when the motto is and should be "trust no stranger".

I found myself missing her yesterday and there are three more days to go before she gets home. And this time around, I find myself surrounded by this strange niggling sense of disquiet.

Worrying and getting anxious comes naturally to parents – it is an inherent part of parenthood, so much so that one could even go to the extent of calling it inborn or innate.

She’s been on quite a few camps in the past few years. Never before have I found myself looking at the clock every half hour and wondering as to what she must be doing. Never before have I found myself unconsciously telling myself “oh she must have had her shower by now” “hmmm she must have had her dinner by now” “God – hope the poor thing sleeps well and gets a good night’s rest” …….. the list was rather endless. The list IS rather endless, I mean. Time and again, thoughts keep wandering off and the worry keeps niggling.

It’s like a dull kind of a toothache actually – it keeps bothering, it keeps irritating and it keeps interfering with your daily life. It’s in the background and not in the forefront, but its definitely there. The anxiety, in its own way, quite unobtrusively, makes its presence felt.

I haven’t been able to put my finger on “why” this sense of disquiet is not giving way to one of acceptance. Probably because on a social level, she’s been having a tough time this year. The social and exclusion bullying that I’d written about earlier has not completely been resolved but she’s learning to cope with it better. Yet, it is still there – simmering below the surface. And with everyday life, even if she has been hurt or is confused or needs advise or needs to talk it out – there is the comfort factor of parents at home.

In a way, deep down within my heart, I know she’s going to miss that “one-on-one” time when she can open up and voice her qualms, her worries or reservations or seek counsel about any doubts or misgivings that she may have. Yesterday night too, I found myself hoping and praying that she’d have slipped into an exhausted slumber.

Or maybe its just me and my imagination playing tricks. I do so hope that is what it is.

I do so hope that she comes back from camp, thoroughly having enjoyed every minute of it – tired but happy. I do so hope that this camp proves to be a learning experience in more ways than one – for her and for us. In more ways than one, I do hope this brings her face to face with the knowledge that there exists a core of strength within herself that, when tapped into, helps go through and survive any situation. That, in itself, would be life’s biggest lesson learnt.

(*sigh*). Now who was it that said “growing up is easy” ??

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12 November, 2008

I Want v/s I Need .......

How the whole fact had not really struck me all along, is a question in itself.

Or maybe, at a subconscious level it had indeed registered but had not been upgraded to the conscious mind. Hence, it probably must have been around in my subconscious mind – idly sauntering, taking a rather leisurely walk.

The whole thought process began when Appu’s latest project assignment came in from school. It was a project wherein the concept was “recycling and reusing” and one where the children had to use their mind creatively.

They had been asked to imagine a scenario wherein each one of them is stranded on an island. There is no one else on the island except for that one child. The island has trees and fresh water. Nothing else. At first glance, though this solves the problem of drinking water and food, there is absolutely nothing else on the island for them to make their lives comfortable or try and get off the island. While taking a walk along the island, each child comes across one flipper, 2 bottles, a broken ship mast, a fishing net with a hole in it. And they need to think as to how they could use these items to make their life more comfortable on the island.

For the past week or so, there have been countless thoughts put forth, there have been discussions between the children over telephone and countless brainstorming sessions on the school bus – on the way to school and while on the way back from school. Appu has been through 3-4 drafts on paper as to how these things could be used to make her life more comfortable on the island.

It was just yesterday, as she was sitting with me and discussing this in length, that the penny dropped.

While I was going through the drafts that she’d prepared, she was also telling me about the discussions that the kids have been having in the school bus on this project. Through it all, one factor stood out. It could not be ignored. It was right there. Bang in front of the eye, yet had failed to register all along. It brought to light a fact that holds true with many people through this globe. Especially children. The up and coming generation.

None of the kids had focused on the fact that first and foremost what they needed to do was work towards the bare essentials. e.g You need to protect your feet – you need footwear, albeit makeshift. You need to sleep and for that you need some sort of makeshift bed or mattress or some such. You need to have fire – for protection from animals at night and maybe also to cook raw food. You need to have a shaded place where you could protect yourself from the sun. You needed to use leaves and bark to make yourself some makeshift clothes cos it has to be assumed that when one is stranded on an island, one does not get stranded with multiple changes of clothes.

All these and many many more – which are the basic essentials. Which led me to wonder as to how and why these basic essentials had not figured in any of their discussions. It led me to wonder as to how they could have missed out on these necessary requirements. It made me think – for this was one of those questions that just would not go away. The answer, when it did come to mind, was rather simple.

These children have not come across any situation that has required them to think or question the possibility that the basic necessities of life would not be available for them. Right from the time their minds were capable of registering their surroundings, right from the time awareness and the concept of self has set in in them, the basic essentials have always been there for the taking. There has been no dearth, there has been no scarcity. They’ve never had to think twice about whether there was going to be food on the table, whether there was going to be a roof over their heads, whether there was going to be someplace where they could relax, whether they would have something to spread on the floor and lie down and sleep on, whether they would have fresh water to drink, whether they would have footwear to slip on their feet before they got on the road.

The list, come to think of it, is endless. The problem for these children, if at all one does exist in present days, is the problem of plenty.

And this brings one to the age old question of Want v/s Need !

What or how much is it that we actually Need ? Honestly speaking, needs are relatively few. We don’t “need” most of the stuff that we actually end up accumulating over a period of time. We don’t “need” the fancy gadgets that we surround ourselves with. The kids don’t “need” as many toys as they have :).

So then, why do we have so much of stuff in our homes ? Why do we have so much of stuff inside our minds ? Why do we carry around so much of baggage ?

Funnily enough, we do all the above and much more because of the factor called “want”.

Human beings never cease to “want” something or the other. It is omnipresent, it is universal and it pervades the conscious human mind like nothing else does. It is this “want” factor that creates so much of clutter – in our living space as well as our minds.

And when we are such living examples feeding heavily on the theory of “want” rather than “need” – is it any surprise that our children too fail to see the necessity to differentiate between a “want” and a “need” ?

It's a mystery to me;
We have a greed, with which we have agreed.
You think you have to want more than you need.
Until you have it all, you won't be free.
~ Eddie Vedder : From the song "Society"

How does one lay stress on the fact, how does one try and inculcate in children an awareness, how does one explain to children the necessity to differentiate between a “need” and a “want”.

How does one get them to appreciate the difference between a need and a want when we, as adults, as their role models, fail to – more often than not.

How does one get children to grasp the gravity of the situation while dealing with a "problem of plenty", while we, as adults, tend to discount the very same "problem of plenty" when it comes to us – more often than not.

As Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher once wrote,

"He who considers wealth a good thing can never bear to give up his income; he who considers eminence a good thing can never bear to give up his fame. He who has a taste for power can never bear to hand over authority to others. Holding tight to these things, such men shiver with fear; should they let them go, they would pine in sorrow."

If human desires are endless, if human “wants” are endless – will not our worries, our qualms our uncertainties be endless too ?

Is this not a vicious circle created, tended to and fueled by us, the human race ?

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06 November, 2008

Diwali Assembly 2008 .....

The school that the Nutty Siblings go to has always celebrated all festivals and they make it a point to explain about different festivals to the children at school. Diwali has always been celebrated on a grand scale with the children at school putting up dances/skits/speeches - all by themselves.

Aside of the two campuses where the Diwali Assembly was held earlier this week, the children put on one extra performance today - specially for the Year 6 students and for the parents of all the children who were performing in the Assembly.

Like their Deputy Principal mentioned today, each and every step that was taken on the stage, each and every word that was spoken - had all been written or choreographed
by the children themselves.

Aparna too had been a part of the Diwali Assembly this year. She, alongwith four of her friends danced to the tunes of "Yeh Ishq Hai" from the movie Jab We Met.

There were, all in all, about 7 groups of children who performed at the Diwali Assembly and the one common thing about all of them was - They Absolutely Rocked !!!!

And here's the Nutty Siblings dressed up in traditional outfits for the Diwali Assemblies in their respective campuses.

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01 November, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween or Hallow E’en, as it is called in Ireland, means “All Hallows Eve” or the night before the “All Hallows” also called “All Hallowmas” or “All Saints” or “All Souls” Day.

In Old English, the word “Hallow” meant “to sanctify”.

The modern version of Halloween celebrations originated from the ancient Druidic fire festival called “Samhain” (which is pronounced as “sow-in”). Samhain was the beginning of winter or the Dark Half of the Year. Since the Celts started their day at sunset of the night before, Samhain came to be known as “The Evening of All Hallows”. Samhain was considered a very magical time when the dead walk amongst the living – a time when the veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside. The Celts believed that all laws of Space and Time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.


Many Irish immigrated to America in the 1800s during the Irish Potato Famine. They brought with them the traditions of Halloween. Traditionally, the lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes or beet and lit with a burning lump of coal or a candle. These lanterns represented the souls of the departed loved ones and were placed in windows or set on porches to welcome the deceased souls. Turnips were not available as readily in America and the pumpkin served as a replacement. The pumpkin Jack-o-Lantern has been an integral part of Halloween celebrations since the Victorian days and is now considered a universal symbol of Halloween.

Trick or Treat

The custom of Trick or Treating however, is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts but from an ancient European custom called “Souling”. On “All Souls Day”, people would walk from village to village, knocking on doors, asking for “soul cakes”. These were square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes they’d receive, the more prayers they’d promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At that time, it was believed that the soul remained in limbo for sometime after death and that prayers, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to heaven.

Halloween 2008

Most of the children in our apartment block were out Trick or Treating yesterday night. Lots and lots of children waiting for the lifts in the lobbies literally caused people to gasp in total shock. Imagine a solitary person in the life coming down to the lobby and the lift doors opening – only to be confronted by a mass of little people – all dressed up and raring to go Trick or Treating. There were princesses, there was a Spiderman, there was a Batman, there was a Superman, there were witches aplenty, there was an evil Rock Star with a balloon guitar, there was a little tiger cub, a little piggy, Jerry Mouse, Count Dracula ...... It was a sight to behold and the kids had loads of fun.
“Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat – Give us something good to eat” was a chant that was reverberating across many floors as the children zipped from house to house collecting their treats.

Taking one of the elevators yesterday reminded one of good old days – of travel in Bombay’s local trains. Absolutely jam packed, no space to move or budge and intermittent shouts of “hey get into the lift – come on guys move a bit – get into the life – there’s room”. Interspersed with bits of squeals from the littler ones in the elevator whilst on their way up or down were high pitched giggles to the accompaniment of “heeeyyyyyyy I’m getting all squished up”.

The security guards in our apartment complex exhibited a wide variety of reactions too. Some just stared helplessly as swarm after swam of little people swept into and out of the apartment blocks. Some guards were irritated at the sudden surge in human traffic, displacing the routine rhythm of the rather sedate traffic that they normally witness. Some guards were really irate and pretty soon realization must have dawned that protesting against a whole bunch of kids who were buzzing very high on sugar, was not going to get them anywhere except into trouble. For the most part, most of the security guards – be it within the apartment blocks or be it the guards doing their patrolling rounds – were plainly delighted to see the kids all costumed and possessing levels of excitement that was nothing else but infectious. Most of the guards were walking around with huge grins plastered on their faces and “oohing” and “aahing” at all the little swarms that were sweeping across the apartment complex.

The exhausted Trick or Treaters ended up in the local park for a little Halloween Party. Already high on sugar but thirsty, the first thing the kids did was gulp down glasses of Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta. But the little bees were too tired to buzz around, despite the liquid sugar hitting those brain cells. Most of them were seen munching on goodies which included chips, French Fries, Chicken Wings, Sausages, Macaroni, Fried Rice, Batata Wadas, Patties and what have you.

Once the hunger pangs were sated, they were seen swinging around the place like a bunch of errr ... children .... before grabbing their Trick or Treat bags once again .... for, at the park, a whole big bag of goodies awaited them. :)

Here’s Halloween of 2008 in pictures

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29 October, 2008

Diwali 2008 (26 Oct - 29 Oct)

Carl Gustav Jung once said “We can keep from a child all knowledge of earlier myths, but we cannot take from him/her, the need for mythology.”

We’ve been watching this interest develop in the nutty siblings. That need to delve into the legends, to understand tradition – all in their own way – with a multitude of “why’s, how’s why not’s, where’s ….”. What better way to explain to them the significance of the festivals that are celebrated, the substance and meaning of traditions that are followed than by introducing them to the vast world of Indian mythology.

As of now, they are rather enamored with and captivated by the legends that have given birth to all these festivities that we see around us in the modern world and all the festivals that are celebrated time and again. And since this blog is meant to be a mirror into the past, I’ve decided to pen down the essence of the mythological stories wherever possible, enabling the nutty siblings to garner a glimpse into the glorious treasure trove of Indian mythology.

The word Diwali arises from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali”. ‘Deep’ meaning ‘lights’ and ‘Avali’ meaning ‘a row’.

Dhanteras (26 Oct 2008)

Dhanteras or DhanTrayodashi essentially marks the beginning of the festival of Diwali. As is the case with every festival, there is a story explaining its significance. Legend has two mythological versions attributed to DhanTrayodashi.
The son of King Hima, it is believed, was doomed to die of a snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage, as per astrological predictions based on his horoscope. On the fourth day of his marriage, it is said that his wife laid out all the ornaments and gold and silver coins in a large heap near the door and lit numerous lamps all around the palace. She is then said to have gone around the whole palace narrating stories and singing songs. When Yama, the God of Death arrived there in the form of a serpent, he was totally blinded by the dazzle of the jewelry and the lamps that had been lit all over the palace. Lord Yama, in the guise of a serpent, is said to have climbed atop the large mound of jewelry/coins and sat there the whole night listening to the stories and the melodious songs being sung by King Hima’s daughterin law. And in the morning, since the fourth night had passed, Lord Yama is said to have left the palace quietly. Since then, DhanTeras also came to be known as YamaDeepan and in many households, lamps are kept burning through the night in reverence to Lord Yama, the God of Death.

The other mythological version states that DhanTeras is celebrated in honour of Dhanvantri, the physician of the gods. This story has its roots in SamudraManthan, during which the ocean was churned by the Devas and Asuras for Amrut or nectar. Finally Dhanvantri is said to have emerged carrying the ambrosia (nectar), which he then proceeded to distribute among the gods, which lead to the defeat of the asuras.

Naraka Chaturdashi / Deepavali (27 Oct 2008)

Naraka was the son of Bhudevi. According to the Puranas, Naraka had acquired immense powers due to a severe penance which resulted in a boon being granted to him by Lord Brahma. Narakasur then proceeded to make life miserable for the people in the villages and went on a killing spree.

Narakasur who is said to have defeated Lord Indra in battle. He then stole the earrings of Aditi (the Mother Goddess) and then proceeded to imprison the daughters of the gods and saints in his harem.

Unable to bear his tyranny, people prayed to Lord Krishna to save them. But Narakasura had a boon which stated that he could meet his end only at the hands of his own mother, Bhudevi. This is said to be the reason why Lord Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama (who was a reincarnation of Bhudevi) to be his charioteer during his battle with Narakasura.

Legend has it that during the battle that ensued, Narakasura met his end at the hands of Satyabhama. Bhudevi also declared that Narakasura’s death should not be a day of mourning, rather a day of celebration and rejoicement. Diwali is celebrated on Naraka Chaturdashi Day.
It is said that Lord Krishna returned home early in the morning on Chaturdashi and is said to have had a oil bath to wash off the blood splattered on him after the battle with Narakasura. This is said to be the significance behind the custom of taking a oil bath early in the morning on Diwali day.

In states towards the North of India, Diwali is dedicated to the worship of Lord Rama, who had been exiled from the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years. Diwali marks the victorious return of Lord Rama to the kingdom of Ayodhya.

In the state of Bengal, the Goddess Kali/Durga – The Goddess of Strength – is worshipped. This reverence to Goddess Kali is also known as Kali Chaudas or Kali Chaturdashi.

Lakshmi Puja (28 Oct 2008)

Lakshmi Puja is celebrated on the third day of Diwali. It falls on the Amavasya day (new moon day). It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi walks amongst people and showers her blessings for an abundance of health and prosperity. Lakshmi Puja is generally performed in the evening.

Lakshmi Puja is also known as Chopada Puja (worshipping the books). The account books for the current year of business are tallied and balanced and new account books are worshipped for the coming year.

The nutty siblings also feasted on a galore of homemade mithais this year :). The mithai menu for this year’s Diwali comprised of Edible Diyas, Malai Laddoos and Kesar/Kaju Pedas.

Feast your eyes …..

And here's Diwali of 2008 in pictures .......

Once again, best wishes to everyone for the year to come. May the coming year be filled with Peace, Good Health, Love and Happiness.

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27 October, 2008

Happy Deepavali !!

Asato Maa Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyothir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amrutham Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Lead me from the Unreal to the Real
Lead me from Darkness to Light
Lead me from Death to Eternal Life
May there be Peace Everywhere.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.3.28)

Wishing all of you a very Happy Deepavali. May the coming year be filled with Peace, Good Health, Love and Happiness.
- The Krishnans

23 October, 2008

Tolerance - A Way of Life

When one takes a good long look around oneself, the people around us, the world in general – what does one see ?

Does one see Peace, Harmony, Equality or Does one see Discrimination Prejudice, Inequity ?

One look around – at the world scene, if one may – and it is only too evident that if there is one thing definitely on the increase, it is intolerance. Intolerance of all kinds. Racial Intolerance, Religious Intolerance – it is all around and seems rather omnipotent.

Disturbingly enough, of late, there definitely seems to be an increase in zealots promoting religious divides. And they do so with unabashed pride. They are uncomfortably brazen and brash in their attitudes which reek of intolerance. And sadly enough, the tentacles are spreading – slowly but very very surely.

Sometimes, there is nothing more dangerous than old ideas and attitudes. And Intolerance has always been a key factor – has been one of the oldest surviving dogmas. It has always been there, waiting to be rediscovered, repackaged and reused.

We have had our email inboxes bombarded with Power Point presentations time and again – reiterating the theory that Hindus all over the world are being targeted. And there have been instances where our requests to be unsubscribed from such emails have resulted in rather ugly, condescending replies landing in our Inbox.

As adults, it is far more easy to cold shoulder things and to decide for oneself as to what one believes in. But imagine a scenario wherein children are being targeted. It is appalling but true. Groups on Yahoo are at the receiving end of such inflammatory emails and some of the groups are those frequented by children. To even imagine the kind of havoc such emails can play with the rather impressionable minds of young children, is rather unthinkable.

“Catch them young” seems to be the order of the day. It feels almost obscene to watch a young child walk around holding a weapon of destruction as though it was a toy. And how many times has one come across such pictures in strife torn regions all over the world ? Way too many times.

I remember during my school days when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards – the whole nation was in shock, in mourning. There was this group of boys who used to play galli cricket (cricket on the road). That evening too, they had assembled there with their cricket bats, stumps and all the gear. It so happened that a couple of Sikh youths happened to be walking across the road. What followed was horrible – way too horrendous to be put into words. These group of boys, in their teens, just set upon those two Sikh youths with their bats and worse still, when calls went out to the police to intervene, they took their time arriving at the scene and much worse, did nothing. Now in what way were those two Sikh boys walking on the street responsible for what had happened with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ?

“Intolerance breeds Intolerance”. People start using it as a medium to express their hatred. And what intolerance thrives on is the already existing insecurities in the minds of people – insecurities which have been there for a long time or insecurities that are planted by people who specialize in power play. So much so that people begin to view intolerance as a very legitimate means of self-defense.

Very recently, virtually all the states in India celebrated the festival of Navratri – which embodies worshipping the divine feminine force Shakti. And at the same time, there was mayhem in the state of Orissa where women were being burnt alive, where women were being gangraped – all in the name of religion. There were also reports of women dying during childbirth because they were forced to give birth in extremely unhygienic conditions because they had been on the run from lynch mobs. What kind of sense does this make ?

While we do see intolerance all over on a global scale, the feeling that tends to creep in on us unconsciously is one of “What can I possibly do to reduce intolerance. Nothing. (*sigh*) it is here to stay. Might as well accept it as another fact of life.”

Don’t we all have our fair share of intolerances ? It could be anything - ranging from intolerance towards the customs and traditions based on religion or intolerance towards people from the lower income groups or intolerance towards widowed ladies as per terms of the customs specified by society Intolerances towards the physically and mentally handicapped, intolerance towards those who wish to swim against the tide, against the dictates of the majority … the possibilities are never ending.

“Divide and Rule” and “Subjugation” seem to be the order of the day.

If Intolerance breeds Intolerance, cannot the same be said of the opposite. Is there not hope in hanging on to the belief that “Tolerance will breed Tolerance”. It does sound tempting enough to believe.

And by saying Tolerance, I do not mean just Tolerance in terms of religion, caste or creed. Tolerance can be cultivated on many different levels, as The Mad Momma writes beautifully in this post of hers. Tolerance, not only in particular to any given situation but Tolerance, as a way of life.

Tolerance, as I’ve begun to realize, is not something that the society of today teaches or doles out willingly. Tolerance is something that has to be cultivated. Tolerance is something that has to be learnt. Tolerance is something that needs to be nurtured, needs to be encouraged at many different levels, it needs to be worked on and yes – most of all – tolerance needs to be promoted.

And once one is open to the idea of Tolerance, one finds it within oneself to develop some much needed mutual understanding and mutual respect.

Joshua Liebman put it very aptly when he once said

"Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another's beliefs, practices and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them."

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21 October, 2008

Exactly how much does it take ........

....... to make one's day ?

Well, as economists would say, All Other Terms and Conditions Remaining The Same, It Does Take Very Little To Make Ones Day.

I realized how true this was – and this was something that had happened a few months back actually.

The number of ringtones that are available for download are absolutely mind boggling. You have rap, rock, jazz, instrumental music, bollywood hits ……the list is humungous. The one tune that we did want as a ringtone on our cellphones was the Chinese National Anthem.

The next day evening, we did download the ringtone and it was all nice and set on both our cellphones. I vaguely remember setting the ringtone to certain groups on my cellphone. Needless to say, given the fact that I am indeed growing increasingly senile, I quite forgot about the whole thing. There are so many ringtones stored in the cellphone and quite like those, this new acquisition too faded into the subconscious mind. Now that should really give one an idea about the number of calls I get on my cellphone !!

A few weeks later, on a weekend when we’d been on an outing, the inevitable happened. If you’ve read my earlier post on outings with kids and public toilets, you’ll know exactly what I mean !!

The younger sibling wanted to go to the loo and as is normally the case the request was classified as “very urgent”. Since there was no “gents toilet” on that floor of the mall, we had to head towards the “ladies toilet”. And of course, mommy had the dubious distinction of being the escort.
Not surprisingly, there was a long queue in the ladies toilet. A few seconds of waiting found the younger sibling remarking rather loudly “Why do girls take such a long time inside the toilet ?. What are they doing inside there ?” The elder sibling rolled her eyes heavenward with a look at the younger sibling that seemed to speak volumes in saying “God !! You’re beyond hope of any kind.” And then deciding not to stop at that, she was heard planting seeds of thought in the younger sibling’s head by saying “Well. Why don’t you ask them ?”.

Mommy was busy trying to figure out exactly which shade of red her face was at that particular moment, given the fact that her face tends to turn different shades of red when either one of the siblings bring on that “I wish the earth would open up and swallow me” moments !!

It was a while before it was our turn to head for a stall. We were in there when my cellphone started to ring. Vic had been wondering as to why we’d not headed back from the loo and he called my cellphone to check. It so happened that I’d set the ringtone of the numbers grouped under “family” to that of the Chinese National Anthem.

Right there, inside the washroom, with each and every other stall occupied, here was my cellphone – belting out the tunes of the Chinese National Anthem. Over the next couple of minutes, one could have actually heard a pin drop inside that washroom.

“Was there a total patriot in one of those stalls that day ?” Patriotic enough to stand upright at the tunes of the national anthem, irrespective of what the circumstance might have been inside of those toilet stalls ?”

I wonder. I do sincerely wonder. :D.

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17 October, 2008

Navratri 2008 (30 Sep - 09 Oct)

What is the story of Navratri ? queried the nutty siblings. Why do we celebrate Navratri ? What does it stand for ? - the questions kept flying fast and furious on a early Sunday morning.

Perched on the floor with a hot cup of coffee on one hand, mommy launched into the story of how and why Navratri is celebrated and what its significance is. In attendance were two very earnest little faces, listening and hanging on to each and every word with rapt attention. They were so captivated and fascinated and geared up about listening to the story and the significance of Navratri that Mommy could not help but tell them the story in detail – all complete with the requisite sound effects and facial gestures. They loved it – so much so that the younger sibling took it upon himself to narrate the story to his teacher the next day morning at school.

Navratri essentially means Nine Nights. And the festival of Navratri spans Nine Nights of worship dedicated to Shakti – The Divine Force. Over nine days, the Holy Trinity of Goddesses – Durga (The Goddess of Valour), Lakshmi (The Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) and Saraswati (The Goddess of Knowledge) are worshipped.

The story associated with Navratri is said to find its origins in the Markandeya Purana. In the Markandeya Purana, there are chapters which talk about the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. These chapters are also known as Devi Mahaatmyam or Chandi Paath or Durga Saptasati. Devi Mahaatmyam essentially symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

MahishaSura – literally translated means “The Buffalo Demon”. It is said that Mahishasura worshipped Lord Brahma, performed penances and observed strict austerities. Lord Brahma, who was pleased with Mahishasura’s penance, granted him a boon. Mahishasura obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed at the hands of any male. Chauvinist by nature, Mahishasura, like many others, did not even entertain the possibility of a female being able to slay him. Hence, once he obtained the boon from Lord Brahma, Mahishasura started going on a rampage.

Very soon, Mahishasura turned his attention to the heavens and started defeating the gods too. The panic stricken devas in turned to the Holy Trinity – Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Protector) and Shiva (The Destroyer).

The Holy Trinity were angered by Mahishasura’s actions and it is said in the Devi Mahatmyam that the anger emerging from Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva converged and took a new shape – that of Durga. The gods also equipped Goddess Durga with divine gifts. The Trident from Shiva, The Chakra from Vishnu, The Conch from Varuna (The Lord of the Seas), The Spear from Agni (The Lord of Fire), The Bow and Arrow from Vayu (The Lord of Air), The Thunderbolt from Indra, The Scepter and the Sword and Shield from Yama, The Axe from Vishwakarma. Himavan, the Lord of the Himalayas gave Goddess Durga a mountain lion as her Vaahan (vehicle).

The battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura is said to have raged for ten days and nine nights and it was on the tenth day of battle that Mahishasura was slain by the Goddess Durga.

So essentially, the festival of Navratri symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

Navratri this year too saw a rather busy social schedule. Ladies dropped in for Vettalai Paaku. We went over for Vettalai Paaku. For the elder sibling, it was the ideal time to bring out those salwar kurtas and the accessories – the bangles, the bindis, the hairclips, the dainty slippers :).

On the menu on Vettalai Paaku day was the traditional Sundal, Gajar ka Halwa and Almond Pedas.

For the younger sibling, it meant a whole lot of aunties coming home and of course, he had a nice time chatting most of the aunties up. There were lots of kids too this time around and while we ladies chatted and generally caught up on what was happening with each of us, the kids were having a whale of a time in the kids’ room. So much so that the self-appointed photographer completely forgot about the camera. She realized, late at night, that she’d not snapped up any pictures.

Navratri ended with Saraswati Puja and then Dassehra the next day. Two pairs of little hands paid their obeisance to the Goddess of Knowledge by tracing with their finger, on grains of rice spread out on a platter.

Vidyarambham – which literally translates into “the beginning of the journey towards acquisition of knowledge”. For the wee little children, on their very first Vidyarambham, it means exactly that – an initiation into the world of learning, into the world of knowledge.

“Why do we do this every year ?” “We have already started learning, so then why do we write on rice every year ?” queried the siblings.

What sprung to mind immediately was something I’d once read somewhere. For those who have already begun the journey – one of acquiring knowledge – it could be viewed as a gentle reminder that one can learn more by having an open mind. Because when one begins something, one always starts with a fresh slate and is thus more receptive and open to absorb more knowledge.

Vidyarambham - A Tradition that we remember from our childhood days, a tradition that we’ve chosen to carry on with our children too.

It also reminded me of what Gautam Buddha had once said about Traditions.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you’ve heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or your elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

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15 October, 2008

I need to go Now, Now, Nowww !!!!!

Outings with kids are such huge, wholesome fun – right ? I mean, who can disagree with that statement. All that could possibly differ is the way one defines “huge, wholesome fun” !!! :D

Outings can be broadly divided into two categories.

The Outdoors - lush greenery, sweet music being orchestrated by the various insects chirping away merrily, the warmth of the sun rays mellifluously warming not just the physical being but also ones heart, the flora, the fauna and last but not the least, fresh air.

The Indoors - the cool interiors of a shopping mall – oh ! the glitz, the boutiques with shoppers and window shoppers alike sauntering in and out, the steady hum and buzz of people conversing, the glamsham displays, floors shining like mirrors …..

When the nutty siblings were a lot younger, we had a kind of mental map in place. Not just of the place that we were to visit but more importantly, of the washrooms/toilets in and around the place we were visiting. Nature would ring in its calls on the nutty siblings at the most inopportune of moments and they would simply resort to saying “I have to go to the toilet and I have to go like NOW !!!”. Those words were enough to make us sprint and dash as though a whole keg of rocket fuel had just ignited on our backs. The Usain Bolts and the Shelly Ann Frasers should try taking on parents (dragging a child who needs to visit the loo, of course) for a 100 m dash to the nearest toilet. Under such circumstances, the parents would probably give the Olympic gold medalists a run for their money !!!!

There is absolutely no mistaking that wild eyed, panic stricken look on a parent’s face – with a rather squirmy little child hanging on to the parent’s fingers. And of course, how can Murphy’s Law not take effect in a situation like this ?

The queues in the ladies toilet are directly proportional to the urgency of the child’s need to use the toilet. Serpentine queues on the one hand and a foot-stamping child on the other – feet being stamped one after the other to a staccato beat. A beat that is accompanied by a whiny “I need to go now”. In just a few seconds, the staccato thumping of the feet changes to a hop all around the washroom – frenzied hops that would put a kangaroo to shame. The whine somewhere near its crescendo “I need to go now now now”.

Phew !! That is a scenario which comes with a 100% guarantee - to give parents frequent and recurring nightmares.

This nightmarish scenario gets compounded exponentially when the said request to use the toilet occurs when one is using any mode of public transport. When it comes to trains – there are no toilets even in the train stations. Which makes it an extremely dicey affair when one is travelling with a child whose need to use the toilet is always an Emergency Request. If one sees an adult running helter skelter, weaving in and out of the crowds, jumping over the turnstiles with a kid in tow, one can be pretty much sure that the adult is looking for a toilet and that the child has indeed pressed the Emergency Button.

We’ve kind of outgrown this stage. This fact struck home the other day when we were out shopping and when we were about to leave the mall, we asked the siblings if they wanted to make a trip to the toilet.

The answer from the younger sibling was a casual “no” and a more serious “you don’t have to ask – if I want to go to the toilet I’ll tell you, you know.” The elder sibling just looked as though we had a hole in our heads and finally, realising, much to her horror, that Mommy was still waiting for a reply, managed a "NO" with about as much exasperation as she could inject into those two syllables !!!

Now when we look at parents in similar circumstances with that same frantic, harried look on their faces, as they race against time to find a loo for the youngster they are shepherding along, it does make us wonder as to how we survived those close calls.

But of course, like the saying goes, an outing with a kid in tow is never exactly a breeze. When they outgrow one stage, they just simply step into another. And that means nothing other than a whole new set of “joys” for the parents involved.

Parenting is indeed bliss . It does take one a step closer to heaven, time and again !!!!!. The only thing that probably differs is the route and the pace at which one makes that trip to heaven and back !!!

Like Ed Asner once said

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”

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29 September, 2008

Three Pieces of White Paper

“Three pieces of white paper” “Three pieces of white paper” “I need three pieces of white paper” rose the chant – frequent and repetitive. And the younger sibling was found rushing from room to room in search of “three pieces of white paper”. The mannerisms did remind Mommy of Indiana Jones – in his quest for something or the other. This was Indiana Jones sans the whip and the fedora !!

All in all, it made for some light entertainment on Saturday morning. It was rather funny watching him hunt for “three pieces of white paper”. Not that we have a dearth of white paper at home, but just that to lay their hands on it, one just has to look at the right places. Running around the whole house has never really helped achieve the objective of “finding something” but then again, no way Mommy was going to argue or reason with a five year old on a Saturday morning.

Finally, the inevitable happened – “Mummy I cannot find white paper a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e” came the exasperated statement.

“You just have to look properly” said the rather amused Mommy

“But I did. And I still can’t find three pieces of white paper.” said a rather annoyed five year old.

“Look where you’re supposed to look and you shall find them” said Mommy, looking more amused by the minute.

“But I DID Mummy. And I still cannot find them. Only three pieces of white paper Mummy. I only need three pieces of white paper." said the younger sibling, beginning to look rather exasperated :D.

The elder sibling was grinning from ear to ear like a wolf, thoroughly enjoying the scene that was unfolding on a bright Saturday morning. And that impish smile of hers was driving the younger sibling towards dangerous levels of exasperation, who, by now, was sporting an extremely irritated look, glaring eyes and his palms curled into fists on his hips !!

Even been in a situation where you’re dying to laugh but dare not ? It is killing, I tell ya !! Sheer torture !!

Finally, after having pointed the irate five year old towards the folder from which he could take “three pieces of white paper”, Mommy went back to her hot cuppa coffee.

There was total silence after he found his three pieces of white paper. There was not a peep from him. Not once did he venture out of the kids’ bedroom. Something was going on with the “three pieces of white paper”.

It was a while before the younger sibling emerged from the room – sporting a rather pleased smile, this time.

“I need to show you something” he said and dragged Mommy off. Had Mommy stalled even for a minute, he would probably have dragged just her hand off !!

The sight which confronted Mommy rather impressed her into silence. Words did fail and all Mommy could manage was a “WOW !”.

This was what the younger sibling had done.

He had made a food chain.

Three pictures, drawn on those three pieces of white paper and neatly arranged in the order in which the animals formed the food chain. With some help from the elder sibling, he had spelt the animals out too. Things could not have been made more clear.

The penguin niggled. It looked awfully familiar. Until the elder sibling pointed out to the source with a very impish smile on her face. Ah ! Of Course ! Who else could it be !

Mommy found him a piece of thick string and stapled the “three pieces of white paper” – for it to form a food chain that could be taped onto the window of the kids’ room.

Apparently, the inspiration for the food chain had been derived from this book.

The food chain described here was for animals on land. Mr.E decided to make a food chain about animals in icy water. “I made a food chain for animals in the icy waters in my imagination first and then I drawed it on three pieces of white paper. Because in our drama lesson at school, our teacher told us that we must imagine. Then we get new ideas.” was all Mr. E had to say.

He made it all sound so simple.

Reminded me of what George Bernard Shaw once said

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and finally you create what you will.”

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