30 June, 2008

This is the way we have a fight, have a fight, have a fight !!!

Siblings !!!!!!!!!!

They are always around for each other.
They love each other to bits.
They absolutely cannot do without each other.
They stand up for each other … like – always.
They do so believe in sharing stuff with each other.
They never really scream or rave or rant at each other and even if they do – trust me – they don’t mean it.
Siblings vouch for each other – always – and are each others’ best alibis.

Picture Purrfect !!! Is it not ?

Well, if this is what a sibling relationship is normally like, then I can say one thing for sure. Out here, in the Krishnans’ household, right now, these above theories of sibling relationships and sibling love just does not hold true. Something really is awry and askew.
The nutty siblings express their love and affection for each other by having tiffs and arguments. Arguments over what ? Well, seemingly over nothing and everything under the sun. Its just that they seem most content and the happiest when they are arguing over something. So nowadays, as long as we hear long winded differences in opinion and noisy opinionated struggles to gain the upper hand in any given situation, life is normal. It feels so completely abnormal when they are at peace with each other, when we find them reading a book together or painting together.

Nah – not happening, not with the nutty siblings nowadays.

For them to be involved in any activity for that matter – together and without a tussle is akin to expecting the earth to come to a sudden stop and for the sun to start rotating around the earth. That’s pretty much the scene out here.

Yesterday evening too, there were arguments, shouts and screeches and screams from the kids’ bedroom and it all culminated in both the nutty siblings crying and copiously shedding a lot of tears.

If one is territorial about something, the other is hell bent on intruding into that very territory.

If one is working on the PC with one CD-ROM, that’s about the time that the other decides that he/she wants to work on another CD-ROM and like, immediately.

If one drinks half a glass of water, the other has to up the ante by downing one glass of water at one go.

Playing with Lego Blocks has taken on a totally different shape altogether (pardon the pun). More often than not, there are two different projects happening with the blocks and invariably both siblings end up wanting the same “red rectangle” or the same “blue square”. I mean, does it make a difference if one floor of a building has a “yellow rectangle” instead of a “red rectangle” ? Oh Yes !! It does !! Why ? Simply because there are so many yellow rectangles lying around but there is just one red rectangle. So yes – the situation does warrant a dispute !!!

If both of them are handed cups of juice to drink, the focus of attention shifts immediately to the other one’s cup – maybe in an attempt to glean whether mommy has been playing partial by giving the other sibling some extra juice. (Oh No ! Mommy values her sanity, or whatever is left of it, way too much to try and pull a stunt like that one.)

Give them tetra packs of juice and in all probability, knowing them and their current spate of bickering, they’d probably get down to measuring the length of the straw that comes attached with each pack of juice. And then fight over who has the better straw !!!!

Mommy has begun to wonder as to why nature does not make fruits rounded the same all over. It is so much more easy to divide such fruits into half, don’t you think ?

And Mommy does thank the biscuit factories for making biscuits the same size and shape. Oh !! Let’s not get into the topic of animal shaped biscuits here. That’s one place Mommy absolutely does not want to go right now !!!

Ah Haah !! That leads us to the topic of chocolate chip cookies. Mommy is seriously considering banning these sinfully rich concoctions from the kitchen and is threatening to leave the cookie jar empty. Why ? Simply because when handed a cookie, the nutty siblings have developed this habit of compulsively counting the number of chocolate chips on each cookie and stick their thumbs out at each other !!!

To cut a long story short, their main objective right now seems to be to irritate the hell out of the other. They simply want to get on each others’ nerves – by hook or by crook. And Mommy, for one, would vouch for the fact that the success rate of this particular endeavor as “Extremely Successful”.

In fact, there’s a bonus involved too. Not just each other – the two of them put together sure are irritating the hell out of Mommy too !!! It takes a lot of effort for Mommy to just restrain herself from pulling her crowing glory out – hair by hair. Pulling out the crowning glory in clumps would be a faster option in any given circumstance involving a tiff between the siblings but then – if Mommy were to pull all the hair on top of her head out at once, what in the name of God would the do the rest of the day while the siblings merrily fight and screech and scream and infuriate and aggravate each other !!

On the positive side, all these arguments and fights and tiffs are, for the most part, mental and vocal. Not physical. We are yet to see the nutty siblings get physical and thrash and kick and hit out at each other. The day that happens, whether they know it or not, whether they realize it or not, they sure as hell are in for serious trouble.

Mom and Dad refuse to mediate unless and until the situation worsens and is grave enough to warrant arbitration. For the most part, ignoring them seems to work. Because there is this one thing that I’ve always noticed. Whenever the two of them are alone at home, by themselves (which does happen occasionally when I need to rush to the supermarket and get some shopping done), there is no hint of trouble or tiffs or arguments. So then, if these fights are exacerbated by the presence of a parent, then, logically speaking, ignoring them should work. And for the most part, it does. Simple fact being – larger the audience, more prolonged the argument and tiff. Taking away the audience bit seems to work the same as depriving a fire of oxygen. The thrill fizzles out and they are left with no option but to sort out the mess which, in the first place, was created by them themselves.

Jane Mersky Leder once said
"The more parents intervene, the more siblings fight. And the bigger role parents assume in settling arguments, the less chance siblings have, to learn how to resolve conflicts for themselves."

If the argument is over rather minor and insignificant issues, then humor is apparently the key. Or simple distraction. The key to stopping the situation from worsening and escalating into something bigger.

And we also make it known that we do feel “happy” when we see the two of them playing together or doing some activity or the other together without going for each others’ throats.

The siblings have a whole month off from school to bicker and fight and argue and dispute and have rows and fall out with each other. Imagine that !! A whole month of summer holidays !!!
But then again, through it all, there still are those incidences when the fact that one sibling cares for the other shines through strongly. So I guess these tiffs, these fights, these arguments and the whole lot are a part of growing up, a part of learning to share their space, a part of learning the meaning of sharing, of teamwork, of assistance when need be and most importantly, one of being a support system for the other.

Like Pamela Dugdale once said
"Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring – quite often the hard way."

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24 June, 2008

Phonetic Confusions Abound !!!

Phonic confusion was something that began long ago with Mr.E. At that point of time, we were just beginning to learn and master the phonetics of each alphabet and the confusion too was restricted just to the pronunciation of each syllable. Questions like "How to differentiate between 'C' and 'K' in a word because they are phonetically the same ?" were being put forth.

Now that Mr.E is quite adept at putting the phonetic equivalent of alphabets together and forming a whole word and since he’s developed and is fine honing his reading skills, the phonic confusion is just about reaching nerve wracking levels.

Mr.Exasperation has quite apparently devised a new method – which serves rather well, his single minded aim of driving Mommy nuts. He is being relentless and this newfound desire to go into each alphabet of every word phonetically is leading to absolutely exponential levels of self-created confusion.

He has started taking words apart phonetically and then throws questions left, right and centre at a extremely hapless mommy, who, at the current rate, is heading towards various levels of lunacy the way a comet approaches a planet it is destined to crash into. Surely and steadily !!!

What makes the whole situation even more perplexing and difficult is the fact that all these questions make a lot of sense. Logically speaking – his “phonic confusions” are very valid questions. What makes the situation so very sticky is the fact that there are no “politically correct” answers to these questions.

How does one give explanations to questions such as these ....

Why is an elephant called ELE'f'ANT and not ELE'p'ANT ? Why do we need to use the “ffff” sound while saying elephant and not the “ppp” sound ? The word Elephant does have a “P” in it right ?

We say the sound of the word “C” as “kkk”. It is called a “Curly kkk”. Then why is CITY pronounced with a “ssss” sound ? Why not with a “kkk” sound ? Why should we not call a “City” as “Kity”?.

When we were learning to spell numbers, mommy had explained to Mr.E that the word Eighteen just has one “T” in it and not two “T’s”. “The words EIGH and EEN share the alphabet T” was what Mommy had told Mr.E. And now the same logic is being used by Mr.E for other words too. Today morning he wanted to know “Why is SHOPPING spelt SHOP + PING. Why is it not SHOP+ING. Why cannot SHO and ING share the alphabet P ?

Why should Chair be spoken with a “ch” sound. Because Chameleon is spoken with a “k” sound ?

How can “new” and “knew” sound the same ? Knew should be spoken as “kenew”

The alphabet W – why is it spoken as “doubleu” when there is no D in it ? It should be spoken as “Wublew” because it is W.

“Why do “right” and “write” sound the same when the word ‘right” has a G in it ? (He does not, as yet, know that there is another word called “rite” too – which is pronounced the same as right and write. Thank the Lord for small mercies !!)

When “right” and “kite” sound the same – why is not kite spelt “kight” ?

Why is Vulture spoken as “Vulchur” ? Why not Vulture with the “t” sound ?

These are the kinds of questions that are popping up inside that head of his, of late. They are very very valid questions – it’s just that mommy still has not figured out how to give him logical explanations for these questions. How does one explain these “inconsistencies” in words – in the phonetic sense ? To be very honest, these questions leave me rather stumped.

I can only imagine how his imagination is going to spiral when punctuations come into play too. As of now, the only punctuations he is familiar with are “Fullstop” and “Apostrophe”. Imagine the havoc that will be wreaked when punctuations like commas, colons and semi-colons come into the picture. I don’t even want to go there right now.

And to make the most out of these question/answer sessions – a full month of summer holidays are fast approaching.

And today afternoon, Mommy was walking around trying to pronounce a “W” as “wublew” and trying out that permutation and combination with various words starting with “W”. No wonder then, that Aparna looked rather alarmed. She probably thought something was seriously askew.

Like Joan Kerr once said

“The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all, you begin to sound like a five-year-old.”

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18 June, 2008

Sunday, 15th June 2008

Life, they say, is a series of well planned events. And it has often been said that life is best lived on a day to day basis. Carpe Diem – which, popularly translated from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” means “Seize The Day”.

It never ceases to amaze – the extent to which we humans take our lives for granted. For that matter, we take everything in life for granted. Starting with our senses of touch, smell, hearing, vision, movement right down to just about everything. Hot food everyday, being able to go where we want to when we want, 24 hours water supply, electricity – everything and anything – the common factor being the human ability to take “things for granted”.

So did we.
Life was going on as usual and it was a usual Sunday morning. Lots of banter, chatter, music playing in the background of it all – adding to the melee of noises in the house, clatter of pots and pans being used in the kitchen and the wonderful aroma of the Sunday Special Biryani wafting from the kitchen. And as usual, we were wondering where the children were going to plan an outing to.

Just as we were about to have lunch, my cell phone rang and the display read “New Number”. Casually thinking that it would be one of those “advertisement calls”, I pressed on the “call receive” button on my phone. Little did I know that it would be one of those calls that totally lurches one’s stomach and all of a sudden gives one the feeling of the carpet having been pulled right out from under one’s feet.

It was my cousin from Bombay. It so happened that my mom was on her way to someone’s place for a condolence visit and as she stepped on the pavement, the unevenness of the pavement twisted her foot, made her stumble and fall. There was a bit of pain and discomfort but assuming that it was just one of those “twisted leg syndromes”, my mom applied some balm on her leg and went forward with the condolence visit. Turns out that it was a lot more than just a twisted leg. She had fractured her leg. That too, in a manner that is not treatable with just a cast. This fracture was at the junction of the femur and the hip bone. And the orthopaedic surgeon, after having looked at the X-Rays, said that there was no option other than to operate and replace the femur head with a stainless steel one.

It is very difficult to express in words how I felt at that very instant. For one, I went totally numb, totally blanked out. All I could think of was the agony my mom must be in. My brain refused to function at normal speed. It was as though everything around me was moving in slow motion. For those first few minutes, nothing - absolutely nothing made any sense. And then it hit. Hit really hard. My parents were all alone in Bombay and now Mom would have to be hospitalised for days together. Dad would be alone at home. And the term "surgery" hung in the air like The Sword of Damocles.

With my parents in Bombay and with us sitting here in HK, last Sunday gave us a new meaning to the term “helplessness”. With the kids school still on and with Aparna’s year end exams in progress, immediately jumping onto the next flight was not a feasible possibility. And the initial shock reaction was making just about everything magnified – larger than life itself.

Since then, life has been on a very low ebb. Last Sunday brought into distinct clarity the conflict that has been playing around in our minds, as I’m sure is the case with a lot many people who live abroad. “It is at times like these that the feeling is so strong – enough is enough – it is better to go back home, lock stock and barrel – our parents are getting old and they need us” was what kept hitting home time and again. That was the heart thinking. When one thinks with the head, the situation is a lot more complicated. On the one hand, our parents are getting older by the day, their health problems are getting compounded and they don’t have their children around to fall back on physically when they need them. On the other hand, our children are used to the education system abroad, they are well entrenched with this system of teaching and learning. Would it be sensible to rock the boat and pull them out of their “educational comfort zone” and plant them elsewhere.

I guess these are some of the questions to which there really are no easy answers. The questions keep coming up at regular intervals, the answers differ ever so slightly depending on the situation. At times, it is the heart that rules and many other times, it is the head that rules.

Mom is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow and all I can do sitting out here is hope and pray that things go well. That no further complications arise and that she regains her mobility soon. I know her only too well and to be cooped up in a bed is something she would absolutely hate, totally detest from the bottom of her heart.

I’ve been speaking to my parents everyday since last Sunday. Almost once every couple of hours, I automatically find myself reaching for the phone to call back home. Surprisingly enough, never before have I spoken to them on a daily basis. It took a crisis of this sort to make me call them and speak to them everyday. It made me feel ashamed of myself. There have been times when I’ve forgotten to call them once a week (that used to be the standard pattern) and they’ve called me up to make sure everything was OK. And now, looking back at those times when they’ve had to call me up, my past behavior reeks of insensitivity and irresponsibility. Yet again, it took a crisis situation to make me see this. It has been a lesson well learnt. I don’t think I will ever again take even something as simple as making phone calls back home irreverently. This has been a eye-opener in more ways than one.

Made me think deeply actually – in situations such as these – what is it that we fear the most. It is that feeling of “not being in control of the situation”, it is that feeling of “total helplessness”, it is that feeling of “not being able to do anything”. But I did realise that there is something that I could do sitting so far away too. Something intangible yet something so infinitely strong as faith and prayers. Total trust in God and in the way that I’m sure has been already paved for each and every one of us. What has to happen will happen and whatever happens – happens for the better.

Like Emmanuel once said

“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

As Mom goes in to surgery tomorrow, I’ve vested my faith totally on the Lord above. He has never let us down until now and I rest on the firm belief that He will see all of us through this as well.

And I do know for a fact that Mom is not the only one who is going to come out of this ordeal a changed person.

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10 June, 2008

Fourteen Years of "us"

On 10th June 1994, a Friday to be exact;
A very very rainy Friday at that,
We said “I Do”.
And now, together with each other for fourteen years;
That’s one jolly strong glue.

The first four years of marriage went off pretty quick
Pretty much like a eyelid that blinks.
For it was just the two of us
Living our life as merry D.I.N.K’s

However, a surefire penchant for trouble;
Sent us stumbling into parenthood on the double;
Along came Appu and that made us three,
And life as D.I.N.K’s flew out of the window very swiftly.

Little did we know what was to come
As we juggled parenthood and officedom
Juggling a child and office sure was not a song to hum
And off I stepped from one plate; Into full fledged Mommydom.

And as Appu into kindergarten grew;
There arrived Trouble Number Two.
Life was then a blur on the fast track;
Days, Months, Years just zipped past – Just Like That !

As we’ve travelled together over the past fourteen years;
Laughter has been aplenty, and a few tears too.
We’ve been through a lot of thick and thin;
And thru it all, we’ve managed to swim.

As all four of us journey life – a path;
It did teach us (and it still does) quite a lot.
Faith, Love, Happiness and Family – bonding like treacle;
And for us, that innate satisfaction of having come A Full Circle.

Come to think of it, actually
The Gods must have laughed holding their bellies
Cos they say “Marriages are made in Heaven”
Oh ! All that plotting and scheming – the Gods sure must have had such fun
A pair of Loony Bins that we’ll remain forever;
No wonder then that fate decided to “institutionalise” us together !!
Like Rita Rudner once said

"It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."

Happy Anniversary My Darling V and here's to many many more !!! :D

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06 June, 2008

Questions from a Five Year Old !!

Mr.Exasperation is on a roll - when it comes to asking questions.
Yeah Yeah - I know - I need to say something new.

"What's new about Mr.E asking questions ?" you ask

"It is nothing new. Just that the questions are getting more complex by the day."

Want to pit your wits ? Here are some of the questions that have been posed over the past couple of days.

1. Mummy ? Some big stones are called Rocks and some big stones are called Boulders. Right ? Are Rocks and Boulders the same ?

2. What is a RainForest ? Does it always rain in the RainForest ?

3. Are there SunForests ? SpringForests ? AutumnForests too ?

4. Egypt is a very hot place - right mummy ? The Sphinx is in Egypt right ? How can the Sphinx sit in the desert all the time. Won't the Sphinx feel hot ? Does the Sphinx have an AC to put on ?

5. Why don't fishes close their eyes when they sleep ?

6. If the word FRY is spelt as F.R.Y - then why should I write F.R.I.D.A.Y for Friday. Why should I not write F.R.Y.D.A.Y ?

7. If I was a little baby inside Mummy's tummy - then how did I get out of Mummy's tummy ?

8. When it rains, Mummy - the trees drink the rain water right ? But Mummy - if the trees are not feeling thirsty, then where will the water go ?

9. Mummy - when there is a big storm - there is lots of rain right ? If there is lots of rain then there is sooo much water right ? Mummy - if the plants and trees drink so much water - will they also get a tummyache ?
(This question stems from the fact that when Abhay drinks too much water too fast - he invariable ends up with a tummyache. And since we've told him that plants and trees are living beings too - his simple logic is - if he gets a tummyache by drinking too much water, the plants and trees should too !!!! Right ?)

10. We've always told him that creatures in the animal kingdom and the insect world don't trouble human beings unless humans trouble them. If we leave them alone, they leave us alone. This question came out of the blue the other day

"If we don't trouble crocodiles and sharks - then they won't bite us ?"

In response to the above question we told him "If sharks and crocodiles are really hungry - then they do bite people - irrespective of whether people trouble them or not."

And dripping with the innocence only a child can muster - pat came another question "Then when I go to see a shark or a crocodile - can you please tell them not to be hungry ?"

These are just a few of the questions that he fires through the day. It is simply a questions galore out here :). Nothing fazes him, nothing stops him - till he gets what he considers a sensible answer to his question, he can just go on and on and on and on ...

And his questions do, many a times, take us by surprise. Because it brings to light an angle which we, in all our infinite wisdom, have not even considered and thus, increasing our scope of thought too. It is definitely not something to be taken lightly, not something to be brushed off and most definitely not something to be ignored.

It is more of a chain reaction actually. There is a question. There is a response or an answer to that question. And the response invariably leads to another question and on and on and on it goes, in its own way, serving to enrich the existing knowledge base and also widening the scope, the panorama of thought and imagination.

Like Albert Einstein once said

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

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03 June, 2008

Abhay's Fifth Birthday Party !!

Abhay had a birthday party
'Twas his fifth birthday

Balloons and Banners, bright and colorful
And everything looked - Oh So Cheerful !!

The Birthday Boy who so loved Lightning McQueen
A Red Car on his Birthday Cake, hmmm ... he was keen,

Many of his friends came home
And made the party such fun, wholesome

Some little guests arrived early
All bright and pearly

Some little guests came just in time to take
Jolly Molly fun in blowing out the candles on the cake

And like a whole bunch of spring flowers
Unfolding in the morning sun
Abhay's birthday - his special day,
Unfolded into happiness and fun.

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