29 June, 2009

An aquatic herbivore ????

"Who eats grass ?"

If I were to ask the nutty siblings this question, I'd be rewarded with some weird looks, for sure !!

And instead of a straight answer to the question, they'd probably end up asking me something like "Don't you know the answer to that question ? You really really don't ?"

The way we've been taught, it is normally herbivores who eat grass. The Wikipedia defines a Herbivore thus.

Where am I going with this ?

It so happens that the other day I saw something in our aquarium that made my eyes pop out of their sockets (well, almost !!).

One of the our little pet fishes was chomping away on grass. It actually seemed to be relishing it. Chomp Chomp Chomp Chomp ...... on and on it went ..... until it had eaten that whole bunch of grass. It would have put a cow to shame, I tell you.

If I were to tell someone this, they'd probably react the same way Macademia and Pecan did when I told them about it.

"nooooooooooooo waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy" they screamed in unison.

Well - I don't blame you if you don't believe me either. But go ahead and take a look ........

Like someone once said

"Families are like fudge. Mostly sweet with a few nuts."

This fudgy,nutty family, however, seem to be having a rather liberal sprinkling of nuts around us :D.

It's not just us - our pets are nutty too !!!!!!!!

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26 June, 2009

A Full Circle

Things got quiet for a while yesterday, after that rather boisterous “ceremonial dance” style celebration over the younger sibling squashing a mosquito. Mommy heaved a small sigh of relief, thinking that the heroics for the day were over. Since Mommy had already collected the nutty siblings year end reports, books (and everything else that they had left at school), the day before – she was looking forward to a rather leisurely lunch break for herself. There were no afternoon outings planned – in the sense that there were no trips to be made to the supermarket or the fresh market or anywhere else.

So there was Mommy – rather gleefully looking forward to her lunch – which consisted of extra spicy poha (the potato and onion variety), with a liberal wedge of fresh lemon and some cold cucumber raita to round the whole thing off.

OK – before anyone points that out to Mommy, she would like to clarify that she indeed knows that poha, in normal Indian households, is had for breakfast and not lunch. But then again, when did Mommy say that we were normal ? No, we are not. Atleast not in the normal sense of the word. So, we do have things like poha and upma for lunch and idlis and dosas for dinner. Our breakfast is never a “cooked” one - but one consisting of toast or cereals or eggs and such. The closest we come to having a cooked breakfast is when we have oatmeal !! So yeah – to sum things up by borrowing a quote from a very dear friend – well, “we are like that only”.

So then, spicy poha for lunch it was.

Now what is that old adage – it goes something like “do not count your chickens before they hatch”, right ? Ah ! It so happens that yesterday, Mommy had been counting her chickens well before the eggs had even been laid !!

“Mummmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” came the cry from the living room while Mommy was busy in the kitchen cooking up a batch of aviyal. It was Macademia a.k.a the elder sibling. The cry sounded pretty much like some disaster was in the offing.

Off went the Disaster Control Centre a.k.a Mommy – to investigate what had set that distress call off. Mommy found the elder sibling standing rooted to a spot in the living room, looking all dismayed and horrified.

“Mummmeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” came the cry again – this time around when Mommy was standing right in front of the elder sibling.

“Well, now that Mummmeeeeeeeeee is very much here, can we please proceed with whatever it is that’s troubling you ?” queried Mommy.

“Mummmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” wailed the elder sibling again.

Mommy sat on the sofa, sighing to herself. This sure was going to be one long episode, from the looks of it.

A few minutes later, realizing that Mommy was waiting for the entire story rather too patiently (which in itself spells trouble), the elder sibling told Mommy the entire story.

Well, it so happens that this bunch of girls (including Macademia) at school had been performing a dance routine a few weeks before school’s closed rather unceremoniously. For this purpose, costumes had been taken to school from home and the girls had retained them at school instead of getting them back home. So, when Mommy had been to school just the day before – to collect their reports – the elder sibling had forgotten to mention to Mommy that her costumes had to be collected as well.

Apparently, it was not just her costume. The elder sibling had borrowed a pantaloon from one of her friends because that pantaloon was “just the right color and shade”. Mommy had specifically told the elder sibling to return the costume to her friend once the dance was done and over with. While the dance had been done and over with, the costume had apparently not been returned to its rightful owner. Why ? Because the rightful owner had said “keep it for a few more days na. we might have to dance at the school assembly also, remember ?. So you keep it for now. I’ll take it from you on the last day of school.”

“So now my clothes and her pantaloon are at school !!!!!!! What if they get lost ??? Now what do I do !! “ came the rather plaintive wail.

“Call up the school office and find out” said Mommy. A call placed to the school office did not yield much. There was a vague reply from the school office to the effect that “it might have been put in the costume box backstage in the assembly hall”.

The elder sibling’s misery just deepened and just about then – looking at the elder sibling and the look of abject misery on her face, tears brimming in her eyes and threatening to overflow at any given second – Mommy knew that she was going to have to make another trip to school. And she knew that she would make this trip to school to save herself the mental agony throughout the vacations. Else, ever second day of the holidays would be spent with the elder sibling drowning (herself and the others around her) in a flood of her own tears and fears of whether the costume would still be there when school opened next term.

(sigh) there went the leisurely spicy poha lunch !!! Since lunch would have to be a super fast affair, Mommy gobbled up some left over zucchini and sped off to school.

Mommy knew only too well that the aviyal was half cooked and was resting on the stove - a job unfinished. Mommy had been scheduled to meet the estate agent in the afternoon - another thing that was going to have to be put off. Clothes washed were still lying in the washing machine since there had been no time to pop them into the dryer before dashing off to school. Countless chores like these and more ..... were put on hold :).

On the way back from school (with the costumes safely in the bag), Mommy’s thoughts drifted to her own school days. How many times had her mother made such trips to school – over something that Mommy had then forgotten at school ? More than once, for sure. And yesterday, Mommy literally had a feel of what it must have been like. What it must have been like for her mother to have dropped everything that she’d been doing – to rush over to school to get something that her daughter had forgotten.

Grandma always used to tell Mommy “you won’t understand this now. But wait until you have children of your own. Then you’ll know exactly what I meant”.

Much to her chagrin, Mommy realized exactly how true these words were. And they are applicable to a wide range of situations.

Mommy, for one, firmly believes in the theory of “What goes around, Comes around”. So Mommy, with her lopsided logic, did not take much time to conclude that this was indeed a karmic cycle which had come a full circle.

She’d forgotten stuff and made her mom run to school on countless occasions and now the same scene was being replayed – just that the characters had changed. Mommy herself was running over to school to get something that her daughter had forgotten :).

A few seconds later, Mommy found herself smiling. Truth be told, she could not stop smiling.

Why ?

If this is indeed a cycle of sorts, then someday it has got to repeat itself, right ? (Surefire proof that Mommy's logic is lopsided !!)

So then, there might actually be a day when the elder sibling is found in a rather similar state :). Much to her horror, Macademia might realize that she needs to drop everything that she’s doing right then and rush to school because her child has forgotten something at school. :))

If that scene does play out in the future … and if one then sees a gray haired lady with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her face ….. that’d be me :)))).

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25 June, 2009

The First Kill

A yell which was followed by what can only be described as a bloodcurdling scream !!!

That was what Mommy got to hear today morning just as she’d picked up the dumbbells to begin her workouts. And like Mothers normally do when faced with such screams, in that typical “I dropped everything to get there” style, Mommy almost ended up dropping the dumbbells on her own legs – all in a haste to get to the living room and make sure Macademia and Pecan were OK. Fortunately for her the dumbbells did not land on her legs, else she’d have had to crawl and hobble her way to the living room and poor Macademia and Pecan would have really got an earful.

It so happens that the nutty siblings were not the ones who got an earful this morning. It was poor ole Mommy who was at the receiving end. Well, not that kind of an earful but an earful nevertheless.

The sight that greeted her was rather extraordinary. The nutty siblings were going round and round in what seemed like some sort of a tribal dance minus the drums and the music. All that was missing in the middle, as they went round and round, was a bonfire and some spears. The expression on their faces was one of total glee – they seemed amused beyond belief and were obviously in the mood for some immense merry making. All that was missing from those joyous faces was streaks of face paint. If all these things had been in place, the picture would have been totally and perfectly synchronized.

They were still going around in circles – arms and legs flailing to some music that seemed to be beyond human auditory capacity – cos Mommy sure could not hear it. It sure set the alarm bells tolling inside Mommy’s head – one moment the nutty siblings had been busy with the study work that had been set out for them and a few minutes later, they were behaving like Red Indians at a ceremonial dance.

They still had not noticed the spectator witnessing this whole crazy bop, hop, skip and boogie routine – or whatever else it was.

Just as Mommy thought things were quieting down a little there was this little chest beating ceremony from the younger sibling – all accompanied by a typical Tarzan style “oooooooooeeeeeeeooooooooooeeeeeeeooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeoooooooooo”.

The elder sibling thought Tarzan style “ooooeeeeooo” was a little below her, agewise, I guess, for she launched into a flurry of punches in the air and started to kick out with her legs with a lot of “aiiiyyyaaa” “hooo” , “haiiii” punctuating each one of those imaginary kicks.

Mommy, by now, was seriously trying to recollect what she’d fed the nutty siblings on their breakfast menu and much to her own confusion, realized that it was nothing out of the ordinary. So this rather abnormal behavior on the part of the siblings could definitely not be attributed to the food they’d consumed. They’d definitely not consumed any alcohol, simply because we, being teetotals, do not stock any at home.

So then, why this bizarre behavior ?

A while later, the siblings obviously realized that there was another human being at home – one that was thoroughly alarmed and totally mystified, bewildered and confused beyond explanation.

So, finally, hearing the alarm bells tolling loud and clear inside Mommy's head, the siblings decided to do Mommy a favor by demystifying the “Mystery of the Bizarre Behavior”.

“He squashed a mosquito.” “I squashed a mosquito” – they screamed in unison.

Huh !!!!!!!! ????

In keeping with the theme and tradition, all three of the so-called humans in the house then did this little jig around the imaginary bonfire and there was a whole series of "yaaaayyss". Why Mommy also did that jig around the living room, she knows not. Why Mommy was screaming "yaaaay" at the top of her lungs too, she knows not. Why Mommy was going around "hi-fiving" the nutty siblings, she knows not. If someone had looked in on us through the window, they'd have been convinced that Earth had been invaded by beings from some other planet !!!

The younger sibling had, for the first time in his life, squashed a mosquito that had settled on him, with the obvious intent of feasting on him.

Made Mommy wonder what would happen if the siblings managed to squash – say multiples of mosquitoes in a day.

It is a safe guess that the scenes that would follow the “mosquito massacre” would indeed put even Jumanji to shame !!!!

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24 June, 2009

Self Portrait by Aparna Venkitaraman :)

The elder sibling had a project yesterday - thanks to Ze Daddy :), who asked her to make a self-portrait.

So here it is - A Self Portrait by Aparna Venkitaraman.

I, for one, loved it. :))

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23 June, 2009

The Making of a Mouse Pad

The nutty siblings are having an extended summer holiday break. Schools have been shut down two weeks ahead of schedule - all thanks to the many clusters of Swine Flu that are springing up all over HK - especially in schools.

Now both, Macademia and Pecan are being homeschooled - well, of sorts. Before heading off towards a teaching profession in all probability, we thought Mommy could well do with a couple of guinea pigs on whom to test her patience levels and teaching skills :DDD.

So, last week, with Father's Day just around the corner, we were trying to figure out what to "make" for Ze Daddy (in nutty siblingspeak). It had to be easy peasy, something that could be used and it definitely had to be something that would make Ze Daddy's cube in office look like a circus tent.

That was when Mommy remembered something she'd seen on the Internet eons ago - she'd seen a homemade Mouse Pad once and it looked cute enough to frame itself into Mommy's mind. Needless to say she'd conveniently forgotten to bookmark the same then (not surprising at all, given that she's so scatterbrained) - so the nutty siblings had to be content with the picture that remained in Mommy's mind.

So here's how we set about making a Mouse Pad at home for Ze Daddy.

It had to be of a material which would provide some grip for the mouse. Nothing slick or too smooth. So into play came foamboards. This is another material that we love to work with. Flexible yet sturdy and when some craftwork calls for neat, clean lines with a matt finish, foamboards are just the thing. And the fact that foamboards are sold in many different colors do help tremendously.

We chose to go with a brown for the body of the mouse. Not wanting to retain straight lines on the corners, we gave it a curve, an arc - so it looked something like this after the arc had been cut out. The slightly tapered end would be the head of the mouse and the broader end - the bottom.

Next came the head of the mouse. We decided to go in for a green - cos that would make a brighter contrast to the brown body. The shape of the head was pencilled onto the green foamboard. Once it was cut out and pasted onto the brown body of the mouse, it looked something like this. The basic body structure was ready.

Now, we got to the nitty gritty of the additional details - the more important ones being the nose, the eyes and the ears. Had we used black foamboard for the nose, eyes and ears, the mousepad would have been rather bumpy - because the foamboards are thicker than the normal craft materials.

Which was why we decided to bring felt into play. This is another material that we love to work with - simply because it is so very versatile and has a rather soft and shiny finish. Black felt it was - for the nose and the eyes. And once the black felt was cut and pasted onto the body of the mouse, it looked something like this.

Now onto the ears. We decided to go with two tones - the outer ear and the inner ear. The outer ear was a light peach felt and the inner ear was a light pink felt. The shapes were cut out. The outer ear pasted on first and then on went the inner ear.

Now with the nose, eyes and the ears all done, our mousepad looked like this.

What is missing ? queried Mommy.

"The tail and the whiskers" shouted the nutty siblings in unison, thoroughly tickled pink by this whole affair by now.

The tail had to be sturdy yet flexible - so that it could be molded into a wavy shape. More importantly, it had to retain that shape. Into play came the fuzz covered wires, which again are sold in many different colors. We chose to go with the black wire for the tail.

Many permutations and combinations were tried out, resulting in much laughter and mirth. A curly pig's tail, a bushy cow's tail and what have you and we finally ended up with a tail that looked just about right on a mouse :). And with much ado, the tail was taped onto the underside of the mouse's body. These wires somehow do not get glued down, they have to be taped up - so that's exactly what we did.

Now, all that remained were the whiskers. Felt would not work for the whiskers since it was too soft a material and would not hold up on its own. So the foamboard was brought back into use - this time the black foamboard. We cut out very thin strips of the foamboard and ended up with juliennes like these :).

These were then glued to the underside of the mouse's body and Ta Da !!! The mouse pad was all ready :).

This was the Mouse Pad that Ze Daddy's got on Father's Day :))))

Other Suggestions for making mousepads at home with foamboards and felt

1) Use Red Foamboard and black felt for a Ladybird.

2) Use Grey and Pink colors and you could make a Bunny Rabbit.

3) Use White/Grey/Brown and you could make a kitten or a puppy.

4) Use a whole range of colors and you could make a clown.

5) Use Green/Yellow/Brown and you could make a lovely sunflower.

6) Use Blue/White/Yellow and you could make a blue sky with puffy clouds and a smiley sun.

The possibilities are endless :)).

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19 June, 2009

Logic - Abhay Style - Episode 3

The insect mania has not worn off. Nah ! Not one bit !

When Spike the Beetle was around, lots of time was seen spent gazing at Spike, talking to Spike and what have you.

Oh, by the way, just in case you're confused - I am not talking about myself - I am very much talking about the younger sibling.


And why did I mention Spike the Beetle in past tense ? Because Spike the Beetle has been released where it belongs - into the arms of Mother Nature. Whilst Spike was quite content in its little box, doing its cartwheels every now and then - some research on the Internet showed that come summer, beetles need to bury themselves under the soil. Not having the gumption to release Spike the Beetle into the soil in the potted plants that we have at home and risk a probable beetle infestation later on, we deemed it fit to release Spike amongst the plants in our apartment complex where it would have many of its kind for company.

End of Detour

Yesterday morning, a small moth was making its way somewhere. I don't know where it was headed because it did not speak the same language that I did. So I did not get any answers. It caught the nutty siblings' attention and the younger sibling was gaping at it as though it was the most wonderful thing he'd opened his eyes to. That was followed by a huge smile, a flurry of waves that seemed as though his hand was a windshield wiper run amok and the whole room reverberated with cries of "hi there little guy". The "little guy" a.k.a "the moth" seemed blissfully oblivious to all the uproar that it had created and slowly but steadily made its way across our window to wherever it is that it was headed.

Now, the live subject having disappeared and the insect mania having been kindled and still on his mind, the younger sibling headed off to get one of his "insect books" - this one having been borrowed from the Public Library, which helpfully has hordes of "insect books" on its shelves. Books like this one, for instance :

Life went on as the younger sibling appeared to be doing some in-depth research on insects.

Later in the afternoon, the younger sibling was found trying to walk on all fours and wobbling from side to side. He also seemed to be trying to rotate his head a full 360 degrees. Pure alarm which was coursing through my head caused me to ask him exactly what he thought he was doing and the reply I got was "I'm trying to walk and see like a spider".

I thanked the Good Lord that he was trying to do that on flat ground and not on one of the walls !!

A rather unceremonious sounding thud a few minutes later saw the younger sibling sitting on the carpet like human beings are supposed to be sitting and in that very pose came the proclamation "It is a big problem for all the mummy and daddy spiders".

"Problem for mummy and daddy spiders ?" queried Yours Truly, thinking rather incredulously "Yeah right - now mummy and daddy spiders are having problems. How about problems that human mummies and daddies are faced with ? How come no one thinks of those ?"

"Yeah ! Big problem for the mummy and daddy spiders" came the rejoinder. "Baby and Child Spiders also have eight legs, you know".

"Ah ! Now that bit of news belongs in NatGeo Wild." thought Yours Truly. "For that matter, why just NatGeo Wild - CNN, BBC, CNBC - they could all run a segment on the discovery that 'baby and child' spiders too have eight legs".

"It is a very very big problem for all the mummy and daddy spiders" he repeated, shaking his head solemnly.

Why do you think he said that ? Want to give it a shot ? Go on ... try.

All I can say is that the answer stumped me. And as far as we humans go, it is quite an issue - a real one, at that.

So here's the question again :

"All spiders have eight legs. Baby spiders and child spiders have eight legs too. Now that is a big problem for the mummy and daddy spiders". Why ?

(sigh) All I can say is "Think Abhay Logic" on this one.

For those who have not had a taste of Abhay Logic, here are Episode One and Episode Two of the Abhay Logic Series

All the very best to those who are tweaking their brains over this. And while we are at it, you might as well wish me Good Luck too - cos I'm going to be at the receiving end of "queries" like these for the next 2 months or so :).

Oh Yes ! The summer break has indeed begun !!! :)))

Edited to add

It all started with the younger sibling complaining that one of his shoes were a tad too tight while the other shoe (of the same pair) was OK. That pair of shoes had to be discarded and I remember telling him that children do outgrow their shoes rather fast. I guess that is how he made his own connection about shoes and spiders !!!

If human "daddies and mommies" have to keep replacing "two shoes" then of course, spider "daddies and mommies" would need to replace "eight shoes" every time the "baby and child" spiders outgrow their shoes !!! Hence the statement "Baby and Child spiders have eight legs too. And that is a big problem for Mommy and Daddy spiders".

(sigh) What can I say ? Abhay logic simply does not sync up with adult logic, does it ??!! :))

And K's mom - the next time one of his questions stumps me, I'll come looking for you to provide me with an answer :)). You so totally nailed this one !!

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16 June, 2009

Earth is People's Heaven !!

The younger sibling has had a spiritual advisor of sorts sitting right next to him on the school bus. Every morning, he would get into the school bus and even before he could comfortably seat himself on his seat and put his seat belt on, he would already be engrossed in an animated conversation with the child sitting on the seat next to him. So much so that he would completely forget about the hapless Mommy standing on the sidewalk, presenting a rather wild picture – what with her arms flailing out wildly in a rather futile attempt to attract the younger sibling’s attention and get him to wave a “bye” in return.

Do I need say that the child sitting next to him is a little lady ? This child is in Year 3 at the same school campus.

On some days, once he gets back from school, he lets us in on the gist of the conversations that they have on the bus – to school and on the way home. And this little lady turned into his spiritual advisor of sorts – when in bits and parts – she started to explain to him the concept of heaven and earth. She had apparently painted bright and lovely pictures of heaven in his mind and he was totally taken in and very much enamored by the concept of heaven. So much that the theory of death began to loosen its fearsome and frightening hold on him.

“When people die, they are reborn on Earth for many many times and after a million, billion, trillion, gazillion times of being born again on Earth – when they die again – then they go to Heaven.” he announced rather triumphantly one day – looking rather pleased with himself.

Now, the younger sibling being the younger sibling, I, for one, knew that this sheen of heaven and being reborn on Earth was not going to weave its magic around him for very long. It would not be long before those wheels in his head kicked in and started to turn furiously, churning out question after question.

I was not wrong – not in the least !!

“But why should people be born again and again only on Earth ?” came the question, after a couple of days.

“Oh Yes !! The salvos have begun in right earnest” was what I remember thinking to myself.

“Why does God not send people to be born in different planets ?” “That way we can see the all of the solar system.”

“There is no human life on the other planets, Abhay” said I, knowing only too well that I was indeed providing him with the ammunition for his next question.

Sure enough, there it was.

“But it does not have to be only human beings right ? That's soooo booooring."

And if God puts us back on Earth, does he only turn us into living beings with hands and legs and eyes and mouth and ears and all that or does God turn us into other living things too – like plants or water and all that ?” “It can be anything. And you told me that God is everywhere and in everything. And there is ice on the very cold planets and gases surrounding many planets on the solar system”. “So why cannot God send us there instead of putting us back on Earth ?”

He had a point and I had no immediate answer to the question. To answer the whole cycle of rebirth would mean introducing the concept of Karma and all the related aspects, which I thought would be a bit too much to handle, all at the same time. And more importantly, the concept needed to be simplified before the same could be introduced to the kids.

He has been ruminating about this concept of Heaven and Earth ever since and though this had been sidelined, with other things having taken precedence – it has definitely not left his mind altogether.

Today morning saw the siblings discussing Heaven and Earth again. And this time around, it was the elder sibling who was extolling virtues of Heaven – about how clean it is said to be and how colorful and bright and how there is no pollution there and how the fruits and vegetables there are so tasty and how it is said to be God’s home and so on and so forth.

All through the conversation, the younger sibling was uncharacteristically quiet. Not a peep, no questions, no counter arguments – nothing. And that in itself told me that there was something huge cooking inside his mind and that when he did put it into words – it was going to be of titanic proportions.

“But Aparna – tell me something ?” he said after quite some time - time that he had apparently spent reflecting and thinking.

“Why do people want to go to Heaven ?” “See, we live here on Earth, right ?” “So ….. Earth is people’s Heaven, right ?”. “So why can’t people keep Earth clean and make less pollution on Earth and plant more trees and all that …. so then Earth will be like Heaven.”

To say that I was dazed, is an understatement.

I mean, how very profound is that statement - “Earth is people’s Heaven”.

That statement totally floored me – not as much with its intensity or its philosophy but rather with its simplicity and straightforwardness.

It was not the complexity of the statement which brought a lump to my throat but rather the innocence that it brimmed with. Innocence in which one feels a very strong resonance of the truth. Innocence which is said to be very pure in its clarity.

Innocence which we human beings seem to shed as we grow. Rather unfortunate, but so true !

This is a rather huge concept – “Why cannot people be more responsible and act more responsibly in keeping their planet clean and pollution free ?” “Why can’t people think more about planting more trees rather than cutting them down ?” “Why do people not carry environmentally friendly bags whilst going shopping instead of carrying home multiple numbers of plastic bags from supermarkets ?”

These are questions that environmentalists scream themselves hoarse about, one that people still seem to ignore – to the point of callousness.

There are people who do care, there is a section of the population that does its bit towards protecting our home – The Earth – from spinning faster and faster towards its own destruction – but from the looks of it, such a section of the population is quite small – even now.

“Earth is people’s Heaven” – has seemingly been seared into my consciousness. It simply refuses to leave my mind.

Like Frank A. Clark once said

“There’s nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child”.

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10 June, 2009

Happy Crystal to us !!!

10th June, 1994

Fifteen Years Later

As always, to end with a quote - this one says exactly what I have in mind ...

"A Very Happy Anniversary to the one I'll always want, even when I'm too old to remember what I'm supposed to want you for."


Who else, but me :))

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08 June, 2009

Brochure Trouble !!

Now, the younger sibling - he has this thing for brochures .....

The brochures could be from anywhere ..... Pizza Hut, Lancome, Sogo, The HK Museum of History .... you get the drift, right ?

And again, the brochures could be in any language known or unknown to man ..... as long as it is a brochure .... the younger sibling is all eyes and hooked onto it until he has wrung it dry in terms of reading and absorbing whatever it is that he absorbs from such brochures !!!

The other day, the younger sibling apparently got hold of a brochure, the likes of which he'd never seen before. This judgement was based on the fact that there was total silence whilst he was poring over the said brochure.

A while later, the younger sibling was seen heading rather purposefully towards the elder sibling with the brochure in his hand.

Younger sibling : Aparna, I need to ask you something ?

Elder sibling : (bored look) What izzzzzz itttttt ?

Younger sibling : See - I found this booklet near the computer. It does not look like a outer space booklet but it sounds like one.

Elder sibling : Space Booklet ? Show me Show me ?

Younger sibling : It does NOT look like a Space Booklet, I said !!

Elder sibling : (in a huff) Then what made you say it was a Space Booklet ?????? Huh ????

Younger sibling : See - it says waxing waxing waxing waxing .... but it does not say waning. When the moon waxes, it also wanes after a few days. Then why does it say only waxing ?

Elder sibling : (guffawing loud enough to put Santa Claus to shame) : That's the brochure from the beauty salon (the guffawing continues unabated)

Younger sibling : Do they have a moon in the salon ? If there is no moon then what is waxing ?
There was no answer from the elder sibling because she'd sort of slipped into a state of rather uncontrollable, laughter induced hysteria.

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03 June, 2009

Attitude .....

Life, it is said, is a great teacher. It is indeed an eye-opener on a huge scale. Life presents situations constantly – some of which are easily resolvable, some maddeningly confusing, some totally scary. But anyway one might look at things – the common underlying factor is the same.

Through it all, as we traverse this journey called life, at each and every turn, there is something to be learnt. So is the case with death too. It is a teacher in its own right. And no – I’m not speaking in terms of rebirth. I’m speaking in terms of what death teaches the living.

I realized this after my dad passed away. I realized that one can learn just about as much (maybe more) from death than one has through life. And in saying that, I am talking in terms of societal taboos and societal acceptance.

As we grow, there are certain rules instilled in us – rules which ensure that one stays within the realms of what society considers “normal” and “acceptable”. As we grow, the feeling is fortified by immediate family that it is the family which is the unquestioned support system in times of need. As we grow, the idea is planted by society that one needs to adhere to a certain set of laws that are considered conventional.

My question is – “What is conventional ?” and how does one define the term “Conventional”. Why do people expect others to be bound by conventionality and rules even in extreme situations ? And what gives the so called “pillars of the society” the right to judge people who do not fall within their definition of “conventional” ?

For instance, the day my dad passed away – the house was full of people who had come in to offer their condolences. In the midst of all that had to happen that day in terms of rituals and what have you, there were people who made it their business to comment on the fact that my mother did not howl her heart out. She did not create a scene, nor were there any hysterically emotional scenes. The question in circulation that day, the question that was in vogue that day was “does she not care ? Because if she did, she would not have remained so silent.”

How did these people think that it was their god given right to judge things ? And since when has grief been quantified by the amount of tears shed ?

Different people grieve in different ways. It is pretty much an expression of one’s pain. Like the expression of physical pain which differs from person to person, so does mental anguish and emotional distress. And in the midst of all that angst that we were going through in trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, there were rather blatant questions being put forth – questions that people had no business asking.

People were commenting on the fact that I was not wearing a sari on the day my father passed away. Should this even have been a matter of discussion ? Just in case people had forgotten what they were there for, it sure was not for a fashion show.

And there were many more such instances where the whole thing began to be viewed as some sort of a power play, a circus even. The control freaks had a field day, knowing very well that there would not be any active resistance to the way in which they manipulated situations to suit themselves and their rigid attitudes. That they were wrong to have assumed that is a different story – that would be an essay in itself.

What made me put this into words today is the fact that there was another death in the family about a week back. And it is no surprise per se, but the same scenes are being repeated there by some so called “senior members” of the family. People who “know-it-all”. People don’t seem to learn. Sadly enough, people don’t seem to want to learn.

And it is not an educated guess when I say this – but more of experience talking – when I say that in circumstances like these, when people around you decide and pass judgment as to whether you are in the right or the wrong in having done something or not having done something – it takes a lot out of you to maintain a sense of equilibrium.

And what does one do to find some stability in the face of such insensitive remarks being hurled or inconsiderate questions being posed ?

If there’s one thing that I learnt, it is the fact that one has to learn to “let it slide”. One has to learn not to be affected by the observations and interpretations of all and sundry. If people want to write a review about how one behaved whilst having to cope with the loss of a loved one, let them. If they want to conduct some sort of behavioral analysis and use you as a subject right then and there, let them.

It is not an easy thing to do – definitely not when one is in a situation when one is feeling rather raw and chafed from having to deal with the loss of a loved one, when one is struggling to cope with loss, not knowing how to cope. It is very difficult to stomach such attitudes right then.

But the key lies in “acceptance”. Acceptance of the fact that some people and their attitudes might never change. Acceptance of the fact that it is futile to hope for a transformation. Acceptance of the fact that not everybody lives by one’s own ideals.

And the first and foremost thing that helps in bringing about such an acceptance is one’s own Attitude.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~ Winston Churchill

Our attitude in learning to accept that some things and some people will never change, no matter what. Our attitude in learning to accept that while we cannot dictate how others behave, we certainly can control our reactions. And once this attitude is in place, it does bring along with it a rather curious sense of peace. It brings along with it a sense of relief – from not having to clash with someone else in terms of “ideals”. End of the day, in not reacting to situations such as these, what we do ourselves is a big favor. We save ourselves a lot of unwanted mental anguish and superfluous emotional trauma.

This quote by Charles R. Swindoll says it all

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home.

The remarkable thing is you have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.

And so it is with you. You are in charge of your attitude.

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01 June, 2009

The Saga of the Belly Button !!!

P.J.O’Rourke once said

“You know your kids are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and when they refuse to tell you where they’re going.”

Well, we haven’t quite reached that grown up a stage as yet. The nutty siblings still do ask where they came from and things do get a little ahem ….. too close for comfort, if I may so say. So much so that I’ve actually begun to develop a very healthy respect for those who skate on thin ice with amazing ease.

If I were to try skating on thin ice with the nutty siblings throwing question after question at me, I’d probably go headfirst through broken ice into the icy cold water. And I might actually do that willingly !! Especially with the nutty siblings firing question after question …. of the rather sticky variety …. oh ! a dip in icy cold water is an easier alternative – anyday !!!

Now, for instance, the focus of attention seems to be the belly button. No ! Not in the cosmetic sense. This is interest generated from a scientific angle – or so the Nutty Siblings call it.

It all started with the elder sibling wanting to know how babies get fed when they are in their mother’s tummies. As an ardent lover of good food and having developed a fine taste for a huge variety of gastronomic delights, the elder sibling was rather horrified to even consider the possibility that babies could be starving while inside their mothers tummies.

Since this demanded an explanation, an explanation was indeed proferred by the hapless Mommy to the elder sibling, who lapped it all up - eyes growing wider by the second.

Now, not wanting to be left out the curious younger sibling wanted to know what was happening. So preening her feathers, pretty much like a bird, the elder sibling launched off and plunged headalong into what she would later realise, was pretty much like jumping off a cliff without a parachute !!!

“But what if they get hungry ?” she screeched, eyes as big as saucers – unable to comprehend why her younger sibling could not grasp the gravity of the situation. He simply was not giving the belly button its due importance and this was pretty much a sacrilege according to the elder sibling.

“They could call for something to eat, you know” said the wise one, a.k.a the Younger sibling.

“If they call for something to eat, do you think there are waiters inside mummy’s tummy” queried the elder sibling, sarcasm dripping pretty much like honey off a spoon.

“Ewww … you’re so dumb” came the reply. “They can call for something to eat from their mummies, silly” said the younger sibling – making expectant mothers sound like a walking, talking outlet of McDonalds or Pizza Hut or what have you.

“Yeah right !” said the elder sibling. “How does this sound ?” “Hey Mum – Muuuummmmm” “I’m hungry. Could I please have a Big Mac and a large Coke please” Oh ! And while you're at it - I could do with a large helping of fries as well. With ketchup on the side please ? "!!!!!

“But even if the Mummy eats …. how does the food go into the baby’s tummy, huh ?. Tell me Mister, tell me” queried the elder sibling.

There were a few moments of silent contemplation and needless to say while all this was taking place, Mommy was safe in the confines of the kitchen, feigning occupation with cooking up some gourmet stuff.

“Hmmm … maybe this is how it works” said the younger sibling. “See – the mummy eats the food and it goes into her tummy. Now the baby is in the tummy so if the baby is hungry – maybe it just looks up, opens its mouth and says Ahhhhhhhhhh and the food falls into its mouth ?” He pretty much made it sound like someone wishing upon a star and the fairies sprinkling magic dust on them !!!

“That’s not how it works, silly”. “The baby is connected to the mummy by a cord and the food goes through the cord” said the elder sibling, reveling in the knowledge and basking in the glory that she knew something the younger one did not.

“A cord ?” asked a rather dubious looking younger sibling. “You mean like a pipe ?” came the incredulous query.

“Yeah – something like that. It is connected from the mummy to your belly button” said the elder sibling, looking all important and pleased with herself.

“But see … if the mother eats something and the baby gets that food through the C.O.R.D, what will the baby do if it does not like that food ?” “If the baby wants chicken and the mummy eats broccoli …. ewwww …. what can the baby do ?” retaliated the younger sibling.

Just moments later, there came a screech of delight from the younger sibling who said “I know I know. If the baby does not like the food, it can just turn off the pipe”.

“Turn off the pipe ?” screamed the elder sibling. “What do you think it is ? A water pipe” ?
Babies just have to eat what the Mummy eats” said the elder sibling with an air of finality to the statement.

Mommy waited for a loud retort from the younger sibling – something like “Heeeyyyyy that’s not fair”.

But nothing happened.

Mommy, who was still safely ensconced within the kitchen, peeped out into the living room ….. and found the younger sibling seriously contemplating and thinking. The peace did not last long, though.

“Hmmm … you said this c.o.r.d was connected to the belly button right ?. Does this mean that I can look at my intestines if I look through the belly button with a magnifying glass ?” came the next question.

This whole conversation was moving to an extremely dangerous level !!

Before Mommy could slam the kitchen door shut and rest safe, the siblings barged in, demanding an answer.

“No – you cannot see your intestines or for that matter – anyone else’s intestines through their belly buttons” said a rather amused Mummy, all the while thanking the Good Lord for small mercies.

Because the younger sibling has, of late, developed this habit of peering into people’s throats (only the family members and not the people walking on the road - just thought I'd specify) with a torch in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other to see if they had tonsils or not.

Mommy could just about imagine the mayhem he would create, peering into belly buttons, if he thought the intestines would be visible in all their glistening glory through one’s belly buttons !!!

The nutty siblings were seen immersed in some Human Body books for a while after this. And just as Mommy thought that a semblance of normalcy was being restored in the living room and that she could step out of the safety of the kitchen without fear of being mauled by questions …… a little voice was heard asking “Hey Aparna ….. when the babies are inside their mummy’s tummy – where do they do wee wee and poo poo ?”

Before the siblings would launch another attack with their question guns, Mommy not just shut the kitchen door ………. she very securely locked it from the inside too !!!!!!!!!!!!

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