23 December, 2011

Santa Claus - Myth or Reality ??

(Image courtesy : blogs.babble.com)

The other day, some talk had come up about the festive season and about Santa Claus being busy and things like that. “Gawd !! We know Santa Claus doesn’t exist !!!” exclaimed Pecan. I looked at Macadamia, only to find her shooting looks in my direction – looks that seemed to speak out loud and clear in saying “Exactly how old do you think we are ??” “Santa !!!” “Good Lord !!” She did not say it out aloud but “the look” said it all.


This Santa issue is indeed a big one. In fact, there are debates as to whether parents should even introduce the concept of Santa to their kids. Some parents nod in the affirmative while others insist that a negative answer to this question makes more sense. “Don’t lie to your kids !” state some websites, which encourage parents to tell kids (no matter how young they are) that Santa is nothing but an illusion. One website I looked at actually called Santa a “Hogwash”.


I don’t know if it is me or if it is the child in me (yeah – there definitely exists a child in each and every one of us – deep down inside our hearts – no matter how old we grow !) but it seems infinitely sad that there seems to be no room for that childish hope for a ray of magic (albeit an illusion) in this fast paced world of today.


I don’t remember ever bringing up conversations about Santa during my childhood. Not that I didn’t know about Santa but simply because ours was a conservative family which did not even think of celebrating festivals other than Diwali, Vishu or Onam and the like. Christmas and the celebrations thereof, were a far cry. So yeah, I did read about the jolly old man with a long white beard who embodied the concept of giving and spreading joy but never once did I bring up the topic – for, it would have lead me nowhere.


But think – honestly – does the air not change around this time of the year ? Things do get and feel more festive. There is more than just a nip in the air – there is a distinct feel of something upbeat. And that big jolly old man in a red suit with a long white beard is in the centre of it all. Even if Santa is just an illusion – for me, he embodies something deeper. He embodies the very spirit of “giving”, of “sharing joy”. I may sound extremely childish in saying this but yes – “Santa is magical”.


As compared to when we were kids, when I look at kids nowadays – and I’m talking in general here – not just Macadamia and Pecan, it does seem as though kids nowadays are getting sophisticated way too early in their thoughts. I mean, look at this generation of kids – all Kindled, IPODed, PSPed NDSed, IPADed – and you will find that they begin scoffing at the very concept of the jolly old bearded man in a red suit at a much younger age. And the average age when disbelief sets in about Santa is steadily decreasing, as we speak.


I really don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but to have this charming myth put to rest so early in kids’ young lives – seems a tad tragic, actually. I know it is not true but isn’t there something magical about believing in magic ? And Santa represents the magic and the innocence of childhood, more than anything else.


I still remember the times when Macadamia and Pecan were much littler and come Christmas morning, the first thing they used to do was rush over to the Christmas tree to check what Santa had left for them. I still remember the time when Pecan insisted on leaving a whole pack of cookies for Santa because he’d said “Santa will be so tired and he will be hungry”. I still remember the smiles on their faces as they looked at the goodies under the Christmas tree. I just have to close my eyes and I can still feel that buzz of excitement that used to zoom all around them like little atomic particles as they opened their gifts. I still remember the starts in their eyes, as their little eyes shone with joy and excitement. I still remember them, with those twinkling eyes and those sweet smiles, as the festive season and the jolly old man wove their magic around them and as Macadamia and Pecan willingly entered that world of magic. I still remember the time when we had made one of those online videos for both Macadamia and Pecan and I remember Pecan being thrilled to bits about having received a message from Santa – directly addressed to him. Macadamia had, by then, already stepped into that phase which is fuelled more by realism than by magic.


And I see them now, both of them - totally worldly wise and it is yet another one of those little reminders that life sends your way in saying “Look. Your kids have grown up.” In my case, I guess it is pretty much saying “Look your kids have grown up. It’s about time you did, too !” J Santa is no more that unexplained figure of enchantment, he simply was a wispy figment of imagination that they’d come across when they were a lot younger.


I remember having said in many of my blog posts “the kids are growing up”. Looks like it is about time I started saying “the kids have grown up”.


I still can’t let go of those Christmas memories and I guess these are things I never will let go of. It was just a few years back when they used to sit still, stay awake as long as they could, waiting to hear the hooves of Rudolph and the other reindeers, waiting to hear the squeak of the window as it opened and the scrape as the rotund, cheerful Santa Claus squeezed his girth through the small windows in HongKong. There was such an intense air of anticipation that it actually hung over the whole house, over all of us. They believed in Santa then, because they wanted to believe.


This whole thing about the jolly old man is all about believing or not believing. It is simply about adding an element of mystery, an aura of mystery, if you may. It is all about trying to work and weave a little magic into this world of today. To me, Santa embodies the concept of “giving”, of “sharing”. Which is probably why I don’t really want to “grow up” and say that Santa is unreal. Santa does not have to be unreal. He can be real, if we choose for that to be so. It does not have to be a huge bag full of goodies. It can even be something little, doing something as little as say donating some toys to orphanages or even food to orphanages or old age homes, sponsoring education for children in remote parts of the world where education is not something that can be taken for granted, where education is a luxury that few can afford or have. It is all about trying to add that extra bit of warmth into the world of today. God knows that the world of today needs it more than it did in the past !!


Like Edwin Osgood Grover once said

“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy ; who gives himself/herself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he/she bestows.


To all of you out there – let the magic live on ..........


Here’s wishing all the readers at Tiny Tidbits a very happy Christmas. May this Christmas and the year to follow be filled with joy, love, good health, peace and hope.

22 December, 2011

Granola Bars .....




What are Granola Bars ?

The names "Granula" and "Granola" were trademarked in late 19th century for foods consisting of whole grain products which are crumbled and then baked until crisp.

They are found in large numbers on the shelves in supermarkets. Ever taken a close look at the ingredients and the nutrition labels on the packs of these supposedly "healthy" granola bars ?? Trust me, you'd be shocked.

The store bought granola bars range from the very healthy ones (which taste like packed dry cardboard) to the supposedly healthy ones (that are pretty much sugar bombs with loads of the fructose and maltose packed in - through the syrups).

I came across this recipe on Nigella's website. I know Nigella isn't exactly a person known for brandishing healthy recipes - I mean, almost all her recipes are quite high in fat / calorie counts. Yet again, it is a matter of personal preference and when it comes to our diet, we prefer to eat healthy (for the most part, that is !!) :-).

But this recipe caught my attention and I decided to give it a go after having made a few changes to the recipe mentally. What remained was to actually give it a try and see how it turned out.

Ingredients
------------
4 baking cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
100 gms unsalted sunflower seeds
100 gms unsalted pumpkin seeds
100 gms roasted unsalted peanuts
8-10 dry apricots (chopped)
5 tbsps dry blueberries
8-10 dry strawberries (chopped)
5 tbsps dry cranberries

1 can sweetened condensed milk


Directions
----------

1. Add all the dry ingredients and mix them together.



2. Warm the condensed milk in a saucepan on low heat, stirring all the while. If it is left unattended (even on low heat), the sugar sticks to the bottom of the pan.

3. Once warm (it does not have to boil), add this warmed up condensed milk to the dry ingredients.



4. A wooden spoon or a silicon spatula works best for mixing the whole lot together.

5. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celsius.

6. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or wax paper and grease with either oil or butter. I used a little bit of melted butter to grease the pan. You will need less than a teaspoon to grease the pan. I also coated the back of the wooden spoon with the leftover bit of melted butter.

7. Pour the granola mix into the baking tray and use the back of the wooden spoon to smoothen and even the mix in the baking tray.



8. Bake at 130 degrees celsius for an hour.



9. Once baked, take the tray out of the oven and lift the whole block of granola off the baking tray. This is just to ensure that the bars do not cook further in the heat that the baking tray would have retained from the oven.

10. After about 15 mins (while the block is still warm), cut into pieces.



11. Stored in an airtight tin, these bars can well stay upto 3 weeks. But then again, you have my word on this - they will NOT last that long. They will be merrily consumed well within the week !!

One serious disadvantage to these bars - they are dangerously addictive !!!!!!

The original recipe which was syndicated from Nigella's website, can be found here.

Changes I made to the recipe
-----------------------------
1. Nigella's recipe calls for dessicated coconut. I substituted this with more of rolled oats.

2. Nigella's recipe calls for just cranberries. I used dry apricots, blueberries and strawberries too.

Variations
----------
You could use chocolate chips, flax seeds, pine nuts. I mean, there's a whole world of variations that one could try with granola bars. The next time around (yes - there definitely is going to be a next time baking these), I'm going try using some bran flakes with the rolled oats.

Happy Baking !!! :-)




20 December, 2011

Stuffed Paneer Parathas





Ingredients
-----------
Atta (Wheat Flour) - 3 cups
2 tbsps oil (I use Canola)
1/4 tsp salt

 For the stuffing
----------------
Paneer - made from 1 1/2 litres of full cream milk
Vinegar / lemon juice - for making the paneer
1 large potato - boiled and mashed
8 fresh green chillies (chopped fine)
a bunch of coriander leaves (chopped fine)
a few sprigs of spring onion (chopped fine)
salt to taste
2 tsps (flat) red chilli powder
1 tsp chaat masala

 Directions
----------
 Mix the flour and the salt. Add oil and mix it in using your fingertips. Add small quantities of water till the dough comes together nicely. I make it slightly softer than the normal roti dough. Cover the dough and let rest for about half an hour.

 1. Heat the milk in a deep pan and add about 3 - 4 tbsps of vinegar. This makes the milk curdle. Once the milk fat and the whey separate, strain the mixture through a thin muslin cloth. Squeeze out the whey and place something heavy on the cloth so that all the excess moisture drains out.

 2. Once the paneer is slightly cool, crumble it until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the mashed potato, all the other ingredients for the stuffing and mix well.

 3. Divide the stuffing into 12 parts - for 12 parathas.

 4. Divide the dough into 12 parts as well. Roll out the dough into a small roti, ensuring that the middle is thicker than the sides of the roti.

 5. Place one portion of the stuffing in the centre of the rolled out roti and brings the edges together so that they overlap. Dust with flour and gently roll out the paratha.

 6. Heat the griddle. Place the paratha on the griddle and use either oil / margarine or butter to drizzle over the paratha. Flip the paratha over and repeat the process on the other side of the paratha as well. Cook until light brown spots begin to appear.

 7. Serve hot with pickle and yoghurt or raita.



We had these parathas with the homemade green chilli pickle and cucumber raita.

19 December, 2011

Homemade Green Chilli Pickle




Ingredients
-----------
700 gms fresh green chillies
10-12 tbsps salt
3 tbsps haldi (turmeric) powder
5 tbsps amchur (dry mango powder)
200 ml oil
juice extracted from 2 lemons

For Dry Roasting
----------------
6 tbsps fennel seeds (saunf)
2 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
6 tbsps mustard seeds


1. Wash the green chillies and lay them out on kitchen napkins or tissues to dry. It is important to ensure that the chillies are completely dry before pickling them. Any retained moisture only serves to reduce the shelf life of the pickle.

2. Once the chillies are completely dry, slit the chillies lengthwise - about halfway up the chillies. You could remove the stalk from the chillies if you wish to. I did not.

3. Dry roast the spices (fennel seeds, jeera, fenugreek, mustard seeds). Let cool.

4. Once cooled, give it a quick blend in the mixer. Just so that they break up and blend with each other to give you a uniform powder. This will ensure that you actually bite into these seeds once in a while while having the pickle.

5. Mix the salt, amchur, lemon juice and turmeric powder. Add this to the slit green chillies and mix well.

6. Once cooled, add the dry roasted/ground spice powder to the above chillies and mix well.

7. Warm up the oil and pour onto the chillies when the oil is still warm. Mix well.

8. Do not cover the dish at this point of time as the oil is still warm. Just cover with a kitchen tissue which lets the dish breathe and the pickle mixture cool down.

9. Once cooled, cover the dish.

10. The dish will need to be placed in direct sunlight until the chillies lose their rawness and are pickled. I had to place the pyrex dish in sunlight for about a fortnight. Every morning, before placing the dish near the window, I used to give it a good mix and then put the lid back on. Another quick mix in the evening before the dish was put away in a dry place. This process was repeated for 15 days.

11. Once the chillies have lost their rawness and turned into pickle, they are ready to be stored in airtight bottles.

10 December, 2011

Gingersnap Cookies


Christmas is just around the corner and one does associate Christmas with aromas of baked goodies. I've said this before and I shall say it again - there is something so intensely satisfying about the home being filled with the aroma of something "freshly baked". Be it bread, be it cookies, be it cakes, be it muffins - there is something hugely gratifying about it.

Also, the entire process is something that I personally find de-stressing. Vic asked me the other day "why don't you use ginger in baking ?" and therefrom germinated the idea of baking gingersnap cookies.

The original recipe was from here.

As I normally do, there were many changes I made to the recipe.

Here goes .....

Ingredients

3/4 cup melted butter (I pop the butter for 40 secs into the microwave)
1 cup lightly pressed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg (at room temp)
2 cups + 3 tbsps all purpose flour (I used the organic unbleached flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
3 pinches of salt
granulated sugar (for coating)


Cream the butter, brown sugar and the white sugar together. Once that's done, add the egg (at room temperature - not right out of the fridge). Cream the mixture till the egg whites and yolk are all incorporated well into the butter/sugar mix.

Add the spices (cinnamon and ground ginger powder), baking soda and salt into the butter/sugar/egg mixture and work the mixture with a spatula, making sure the spices/baking soda do not leave any tiny lumps.

Add the plain flour and mix to bring the whole dough together. I found the dough a bit on the looser side with just 2 cups of plain flour and ended up adding another 3 tbsps of flour.

The dough is extremely malleable and is quite soft as compared with the cookie dough that I normally make for choc chip cookies.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Roll the dough into small balls and dip one side of the dough ball into a bowl of granulated sugar.

Place the dough balls on the cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart as these cookies really spread while baking. Place them sugar side up.

Bake for about 12 minutes at 180 degrees C.


Changes I made from the original recipe

1. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup dark molasses but I substituted with 1/4 cup white sugar.

2. The original recipe called for oil - I used butter. (Policy : when you sin, make sure you sin properly !!) :-))

3. The original recipe called for 2 tsps baking soda. I reduced this to 1 1/2 tsps because I've found that baking soda tends to really "dry out" the cookies. These were perfectly fine with 1 1/2 tsps of baking soda.

4. All cookie recipes normally call for the dry ingredients to be sifted together and then added to the wet ingredients. I never do this. I add the baking soda/salt etc directly into the wet ingredients. This way I can make sure that the soda or the spices (in this case) do not leave small lumps.

5. The original recipe calls for 1 tsp clove powder. I omitted this. Cloves do tend to have a very strong flavour and I had a feeling that the cloves would completely have taken over the flavour and the taste of the cookies.

Happy Baking !! :-))


30 November, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aps

(Image courtesy : amazon.co.uk via Google)


There was once a little girl

To “Maine Payal Hai Chankayi” she loved to twirl

Chubby with rings of baby fat

Now what can be cuter than that ?


No clich├ęs but time does fly

Leaves one breathless, my oh my !

You stand before us today, all of twelve

All set for the future, into which you want to delve.


A complete transformation is what we’ve seen

You are definitely not what you’ve been

Quiet and shy, you were an easy target,

For friends who tried to treat you like a carpet.

You had your share of pain and tears

As you were bullied time and again by your peers

It caused in you a lot of fears

All through those few years.


But you’ve emerged from it much stronger

You fear arguments and fights no longer

“Not any more” is what you say

“No one can do that to me, come what may”.


As you stand before us today, all of twelve

And as your fears and inhibitions you steadily continue to shelve

Know this and know it well,

I am proud of you, the way your fears you now quell.


I love the way you’re changing

The way that cheekiness is emerging

I see you laughing a lot more now

As, to jokes, you no longer raise your brow.


We all start as caterpillars

We grow up in life, using our feelers

Life, in its own way, makes us emerge from our cocoons

As we dance to life’s tunes and bassoons.


“We love you” no matter what and will love you forever

That, I hope and pray you always remember.

Be strong and always smile

As life takes you on its path, mile upon mile

Know that beauty lies in your inner self

Always, always believe in yourself.


Never do anything just because everyone else is

Always stand by your beliefs, even if no one else is

People around you might gripe and moan

But always stand up for your beliefs, especially if you are alone.


Believe in magic, wish upon the stars

Life’s nothing but a very fast car

Travel and soak in the sights, in lands afar

Time waits for no one, it just whizzes past

For the bounty that this universe has to offer, is very very vast.


Love, Trust and be compassionate

About things you believe in, be totally passionate

Always be true to yourself and give it your all

Remember that He will always be around to catch you even if you fall.


A very Happy Birthday to you, my precious tot

Go out there and show the world what you’ve got

A very Happy Birthday to you, my “not so little anymore” dot,

Always have, always will love you a lot !!


All my love and then some,

Mum :-)

24 November, 2011

The early morning treasure hunt !!


Imagine this - the early hours of the morning. A whole bus load of passengers who look as though they are still in the clutches and claims of sleep, some drifting away kind of suspended halfway between the woken up world and the sleepy world, some snoring away, seemingly lost in a world of their own dreams, some struggling to keep their eyes open despite sleep trying to lay its claim on them and then there are some who are hellbent on being very industrious - even while travelling on the bus at such early hours of the morning.


There's this individual I've been observing over the past few weeks, actually. Sometimes he has his compatriots (who are equally industrious, by the way) while on some other days, he ploughs on rather diligently. Now he has a choice between two paths that he can take. Both are equally dark, equally deserted and equally obscure and murky. You never know what dangers lurk in such dark, unexplored places but this brave trooper - he cares not. He marches through those pathways, just about every single day, rather staunchly and boldly.


There are people who look and him and wonder why he does it day in and day out. There are people who stare at him with eyes as wide as saucers. Then there are others who look at him from the corners of their eyes, furtive glances as though they simply cannot bear to watch him venture out on that dangerous path. There are people whose eyes widen at the prospect of what they are about to witness and in people who fall into this category, you can virtually see the realization sinking in, you can hear the clink of the penny as it drops to the floor of the skull (I presume). You can see it in that split second widening of the erstwhile sleepy eyes, you can see it in those hands which fly across to cap their mouths to prevent any sounds from emanating or escaping.


In the midst of all this, that brave trooper makes his decision and decides to march on.


I do wonder about the amount of courage, nerve and pluck that it takes to start out doing something as dangerous as this gentleman in question is about to. Beats me, honestly. I mean, what is it that can drive a person to such extremes - that too day in and day out. Virtually everyday. I really don't get it.


Anyways, I did not mean to digress and deprive you (you, who is reading this at this given moment) of the adventure - freeze frame by freeze frame. It is almost as if he is about to fight an enemy. Such intense concentration on his face, seldom seen in the human race of today. He marches forth, seeking information at first, slowly and cautiously, extremely carefully and further and further he heads, down the dark, murky paths. Not once does he stop or have second thoughts. Such strength of conviction !!


When he finds what he's looking for, the look of sheer accomplishment on his face tells the whole story. Beyond compare, is what his body language seems to say.


I watch the spectators now as some of them seem close to fainting and others, not wanting to witness that spectacle, turn and avert their eyes. This time around, there's no looking furtively towards the man. The spectators have their firmly averted gazes fixed the other way.


The triumphant man all but lets out a bellow. He looks like a man whose mission has been accomplished - fully and finally. And for all that effort that he put in (quite literally), for the bravery he exhibited, he finally holds out his treasure. Well, not all of it. A bit of it. But that's more than enough to convince people around him that such courage is simply not their cup of tea.


On his finger, his pointer, to be precise, rests the treasure he'd been looking for.


A huge wad of booger !!!!!!!!!


This visual spectacle, witnessed on the bus almost every morning (NO - I don't look every morning. I am among those people who firmly look the other way) will be filed away as The HongKong Experience - Part 2.

23 November, 2011

Gotcha !!!!

(Image courtesy : multimedia-graphics-download.com via Google)

And Pecan is back !!!!


As expected, the camp stories have begun. He seems to have taken a little break right now cos his sights settled on my ITouch which was apparently looking a little too relaxed for Pecan’s comfort. He plays some soccer game on the ITouch and for the past three days, the ITouch has been having a holiday of its own – since it was being used solely as a source of music output. Now that Pecan is back, it’s days are numbered, yet again. It is going to have to work overtime. Thankfully, it does not demand OT payment !!


Two days without any electronic stuff” proclaimed Pecan. Trust me, Sir Edmund Hillary would not have huffed and puffed as much when he conquered the Everest !! “Oh ! It’s been so long” he said a tad too warmly, to the ITouch while Yours Truly (who looks like Mount Everest in repose on any given day, in terms of the fat around the middle) looked on. Yours Truly kept looking on, waiting for those warm glances to fall on her good self but it was all in vain. Those warm glances seemed to be reserved for the ITouch and the ITouch alone !!!


While he was in the midst of telling Yours Truly something about camp, he paused rather dramatically and fixed his stare on Mummy who, by then, was rooted to the spot under that fixed, unrelenting gaze. His mission accomplished (in terms of having his mother rooted to one spot and having the entirety of her attention fixed on him) Pecan wagged his finger at Mummy and said “But let me tell you one thing, Mummy This camp was SO NOT about teamwork”.


“Huh ???!!!” was all Mummy could manage, given the intensity with which that sentence had been spoken a few moments back. “Yeah” continued Pecan “this camp was SO NOT about teamwork” he said, this time his brows furrowing as well, to compound the wagging of the finger and overall adding to the effect, which, by the way, was dramatically rather vivid and striking. Impressive enough to mesmerize one momentarily.


With Mummy’s seemingly hypnotized gaze fixed on him (pretty much like those hapless snakes in India that look at the snake charmer), he went on “There was NO teamwork !!”. Momentarily recovering her footing, Mummy gathered her wits around long enough to ask him “Why – weren’t you kids working well together ? Were you guys fighting with each other or bickering over something ?”


“Pssshhhahh !! Not US” hissed Pecan. “The teachers SO don’t know what teamwork is” he retorted, eyes blazing and what have you. By now, Mummy was completely confused (not that it takes much to confuse her in the first place). “Teachers ??” she queried. “Yeah, T.e.a.c.h.e.r.s !!!” retorted Pecan, looking as though he was scraping the bottom of the barrel for patience. “What did the teachers have to do with the teamwork bit ?” asked Mummy.


“See” said Pecan, whose left hand was now on his hips, alongwith the furrowed brows and the wagging pointer on the right hand. “They did not help us make our beds at all”. “They just stood there and kept saying “this is so messy. do it again” or “this is not right. put the bedsheet on again” and all that. Would it not have been simpler if they had worked with us as a team and helped us get the bed spread on the mattress ? See – now THAT is teamwork. Not standing around and watching while the other members of the team struggle !!”


Mummy could well see what was coming next and her face was beginning to resemble a 60 watt lightbulb going on 100 watt. Just today morning, Mummy had posted a comment on the camp blog, telling Pecan that since he’d done it at camp, he could start making his own bed at home too, starting tomorrow.


And Pecan walked straight into it, much to Mummy’s obvious delight.


“OK – so that was that at camp. And today morning you posted a message saying I need to do my own bed at home too ??” he whined, eyes as big as he could get them to be and all that. “One of our teachers read the comment out to me and my friends even came and told me “awww we’re so sorry that you will need to do that at home from now on. Don’t worry, it’ll be OK”. He sure was making it sound like Mummy was about to put him on some torture regimen of sorts !!


Mummy’s grin was widening by the second as she could see the fish swimming directly into the net !!


“Why do I need to do that at home ?” countered Pecan.


“Ahem ….” began Mummy.


“Just a couple of days back, I do believe that someone said something about independence and being independent ?” asked Mummy, waiting for a couple of seconds to see if she could hear the clink of the penny dropping. Nah - no clink. So on went Mummy ...


“Something about your not having a problem with being independent but that Mummy does not want you to be independent ?? Mummy does want you to be independent. Which is why you can start with little things like the bedspread” said a now grinning Mummy, prodding those memory cells into action.


The slow smile spreading on Pecan’s face and that sheepish look just about said it all !!!


“Yeah ….. but but but ……” spluttered Pecan as we just collapsed into giggles and gave in to the mirth.


He had been outwinked for the moment, and he knew it !!


Knowing Pecan, he will look for a loophole in this situation too, find one and swing it right back at Mummy. But fact remains that for the moment, Mummy did catch him on the wrong foot. Knowing Pecan, that is definitely not an easy thing to do !!


As of now, all Mummy can say is “Gotcha !!” :-)))))))))

21 November, 2011

Pecan flies the nest !!!

(Image Courtesy : pccrafter.com via Google)




The younger sibling has flown the coop too !! The nest, I mean :-). He’s off on a three day / two night camp. We spent the morning laying out all the stuff that he needed to carry. There was a lot of banter, a lot of laughs and fun as we took turns labelling all his stuff.


There were some little butterflies fluttering away inside Pecan’s tummy and occasionally there would be statements like “Hmmm ….. my first camp ever. My first time away from home” or “I’ve never been away from home without you guys”. But those little butterflies would always be covered up with a sense of intrepid bravery. “I can do this” is what he seemed to be telling himself, convincing himself of, over the past couple of days. With Pecan, if there’s one thing he IS good at, it is facing his fears. No matter what the fear, no matter how big the butterflies – he has learnt to face them head on. He does not shy away from them and this attitude, if he continues with it as he grows, should hold him in good stead through the vagaries of life.


Among many other things, one thing that he mentioned to Vic this morning, made me think really hard. He said to Vic “I don’t have a problem with being independent but Mummy does not want me to be independent”. :-) Made me think. Made me ask myself, after having reached into the deepest recesses of my heart whether this was true. Well – it is true that every time Macadamia goes off to camp too, there are those eeeny weeny butterflies inside my tummy too. Now, when it is time for Pecan to set off on his camp too, the same eeny weeny butterflies are flying around my tummy too. But I guess this is something every parent feels – when they, albeit for a few days, entrust their offspring to the watchful arms and eyes of The One Above and The One Above alone. It is not as much the entrusting part – it has more to do with the “letting go” bit.


In that sense, perhaps, these camps are just as a learning curve for the parents, as it is for the kids. The kids have been told that there are going to be many activities at camp, some of which may or will make them face their fears. It could be something as simple as facing the fear of a few days away from home (the comfort zone that they’ve known so far). For those who have a fear of heights, it could be the session in which the kids do rock climbing. This camp, as will the ones to follow next year and the next, will see the children taking more and more risks (controlled risks, I’m sure) but end of the day, it is all aimed at making them more independent – independent in terms of making decisions for themselves, by themselves, independent in terms of facing their fears, independent in terms of taking accountable risks. For the parents, it is yet another lesson in “learning to let go”.

Mother Teresa knew what she was saying when she said “Life is an adventure ; Dare it !!”


Over the next couple of days, I know my thoughts will wander time and again about what Pecan might be doing at that point of time or whether he’s eaten enough or whether he is wearing his blanket at night (cos this is something he does not really like to do) or whether he is cosy enough at bedtime and lots of other little things. But everytime I do that, I will pause to remind myself that Pecan is probably having the time of his life, with his best buddies for company, with his teachers for guidance.


He might come back from camp a slightly different person – with a much stronger sense of independence, of the person that he is and most importantly of the things that he can “do” and “be”, all by himself. These camps, ideally, are an excellent opportunity for them to experience life, look at life from a slightly different point of view, an independent point of view. Probably, some of the best lessons that they will practically learn in life might be through these camps.


Nowadays, one finds kids interacting less face to face and interacting more with and through machines – emails, IPads, ITouch, IPhone, TV, NDS, PSP, XBox – you name it. For the most part, one sees kids with their nose stuck in one of the above at most given points of their free time. I personally think that these three days / two nights in the absence of technological gadgets is a really good thing for them. This will probably see better social skills emerging in the kids and existing social skills being sharpened and honed.


Another thing that camp is bound to teach them is team work. The dynamics of working in a group in an environment other than the ones they are normally used to, will indeed teach them valuable lessons – some of which may stay with them through life.


Knowing Pecan, he will, in all probability, come back with a whole load of stories from camp to share with us. Yet again, knowing him, they would be a good mix – some outright funny, some downright outrageous, some very philosophical with a touch of his deep thought to it and hopefully some things about camp that he will treasure for a lifetime to come.


I do hope this is the beginning of yet another innings in his life – one in which he learns to navigate, learn and enjoy life, one in which he learns to look at independence as a valuable asset that strengthens him and lays the foundation for him to build his character, for what he is. I do hope that whenever the opportunity presents itself, now and later on in life, he learns to stretch his neck out of his comfort zone – for, as Herbie Hancock says “that’s where the joy and the adventure lie”.

11 November, 2011

The HongKong Experience - Part 1

(Pic courtesy : apessimistisneverdisappointed.com via Google)




For those of you who don’t know HongKong firsthand, HongKong is Asia’s World Class City – or some such thing. For those of you who do know HongKong firsthand, HongKong is still Asia’s World Class City – indeed !! Now, now – don’t get me wrong here. Don’t all of us have our very own quirks. Yes, we do. I do, too. I vaguely remember blogging about mine too. But then again, the quirks of the local HongKongese (that word does not exist but it sure has a nice ring to it) are simply unbelievable, rather bizarre, at times.

Of late, I’ve been commuting by bus to and from work and I’ve been subjected to an awful load of the unique behavioural tendencies that the HongKongese are capable of exhibiting rather unabashedly.

The most common sound effect that one is subjected to, just about everywhere in HK, is one of those loud, ear splitting belches. While burping is a rather controlled exercise in other cultures, the people here seem to view burping as some sort of a pecking order contest. The louder and grosser the burp, the higher up on the totem pole that individual is deemed to be. Just cross your fingers and hope you’re not sitting (or standing) next to one of those persistent burpers or your olfactory senses would go bonkers. They’d either go berserk trying to process the smells of all the half digested breakfast or lunch (depending on the time of the day) wafting towards their unfortunate nostrils or, at the other extreme, their olfactory senses would simply shut down – steadfastedly refusing to process any of the smells inhaled. Such is the power of those killer burps !! Now I know why so many of the local HongKongese choose to wear facemasks, at the first given opportunity.

The other sound effect that one is subjected to – trust me – you don’t even want to know !! It is rather hazardous to even talk about it (or in this case, type about it) !! Even more dangerous than the noisy kind, is the silent kind. Absolute killer, that one !! Not to mention the fact that most of the public transport is airconditioned. The windows shut, there is no room for the air to escape and those killer fumes just travel all the way down the train or the bus. Oh !! Sheer joy compounded !!

Remember the Tokyo subway Sarin gas attack. Well, the Japanese needed the Aum Shinrikyo to accomplish that. We just need our very own HongKongese who seem to think nothing of dropping human gas bombs at split second intervals. You want chemical warfare, send across a human gas bomb from HK. You’ll find plenty of them on the public transport here !!!

Ever seen people clipping their fingernails on public transport ? If your answer to that question is a horrified “NO !!” , it is about time you took a trip to Asia’s World City. On just about any form of public transport, you’re quite likely to come across atleast a couple of HongKongese hellbent on leaving their DNA samples all over the floor of the bus or the MTR. If it is indeed your lucky day, you’d be sitting across the aisle and you’d see someone slowly taking their feet out of their shoes. As your nostrils are once again bombarded by the steamy odors of smelly socks and as you stare, totally paralysed and horror stricken, you will see a pair of feet emerge from those socks. By this time, your sense of smell would be dead, your mouth would be hanging open (well – you have to breathe, don’t you ??) and your body would be going into a mini seizure of sorts – well, the kind you see when you take a fish out of water. In the midst of all these reactions (which nobody cares about, really), you’d find that a nailclipper has magically appeared and the concerned person with the dinosaur-like toenails is busy leaving their nail shavings on the floor of the bus or the MTR like those little pixie fairies sprinkling magic dust rather liberally when they are so in love with this world of ours.

Come winter and you face the prospect of a 45 odd minute journey (if you’re lucky it won’t be more than that – the pixie fairy will ensure that you faint well before that) standing or sitting right next to a person who’s merrily skipped the teeth brushing ritual that is so common amongst most of the human populace on this planet that we call Earth. And if you’re really really lucky and your good Karma is pouring on you in truckloads that morning, those very people would be taking a nap with their mouths wide open. Now, for those of you who have not been fortunate enough to travel in public transport in HK, let me assure you that it is pretty much like being in a strait jacket. You are guaranteed to feel like a sardine in a can with a whole load of other sardines – all packed so tight that you have no choice but to inhale the air which has just been exhaled by your fellow passenger (who, if I may remind you, might not have brushed his/her teeth that morning). Like I said before, that’s your good Karma pouring its goodwill by the buckets !! Let’s not go on to the Bad Karma bit – not right now. That’ll be a bit too much to stomach !!

Oh well !! Did I not mention at the beginning of the post that HK is Asia’s World City !! The smells of a world class city – you’ll find them all here, in HK, for sure !! Live here for a while and your olfactory senses and your lungs could well start serving you with a lawsuit for assault.

But then again, this is a city that grows on you. It kind of creeps up on you. One may crib, moan and bitch about all these quirks in the HongKongese (like I’m doing, right now), but the pros definitely seem to outweigh the cons.

These quirks do bring about a short lived sense of irritation and annoyance but over a period of time, some say, no one really cares. Small correction - I, for one, still do.

Just the other day someone said "When you've been living here for many years, you just have to learn to live with it".

Well, apparently, where such things are concerned, I still haven't !!!


P.S : Watch this space for more quirks about HongKong and its people and believe me when I say - There's plenty more to come !!








04 November, 2011

The Mask .... A writing prompt

(Image courtesy : clker.com via Google)




The dust seemed to have a life of its own. Rising, falling, engulfing, coating just about everything it its path. It was almost as if it wanted to leave its mark on everybody and everything, it seemed almost lifelike in its childish insistence to mark its territory, to claim things as its own. It had a good friend, a very good one. Sand. When they joined hands, they could wreak havoc, render things absolutely useless. Nothing would move unless they did – the two of them – hand in hand – dust and sand.


The sandstorm continued to advance as he watched things get worse. There was noise all around him. Desperation hung heavy in the air as vendors pushed their carts around, tried to sell their produce before the sandstorm barged its way into their town. The smell of sweat mingled with that earthy smell that emanated from the barren, hot land he stood on. He stood there, in the middle of the market, with his eyes closed, absorbing the multitude of smells all around him. The fruits – some sweet, some sour, some in various stages of rot. The raw smell of the meat nauseated him on the one hand while the aroma of barbequed meat caused his mouth to water, his stomach to rumble with hunger.

His whole body was coated with a fine layer of dust, his eyes grimy, his little feet tired from walking, were all ready to give way under him. His ears buzzed with the sounds that were all around him, a sound so insistent and persevering that it seemed rather resolute in its purpose – that of lulling him into a sense of drunken stupor, imperative in its demand that he lie down somewhere and sleep for a while. It was a tug of war between mind and matter.


He had to force himself to stay awake. His chubby little fingers which had still not lost all its vestiges of baby fat, clutched stubbornly onto the scrap of paper. The stubbornness of his fingers were matched only by the resoluteness in his eyes. He was going to see this to the end – no matter what.


He remembered the time this whole saga had begun. He’d been out shopping for his Halloween costume. He had a scrap of paper with him – the same scrap of paper where he’d drawn the facemask that he wanted to wear when he went Trick or Treating on Halloween. He was very particular about what he wanted and he’d wandered in and out of many shops that evening. It had been a spooky evening too. A slight chill in the air – not cold enough to warrant a sweater but chilly enough to have given him goosebumps. Wait ! Had it been just the weather that had given him goosebumps ? Or was there a sense of foreboding too ? That sixth sense that had, in its own inimitable way, told him that something was going to happen ?


He still vividly remembered the moment when he saw that horrible mask hanging on display mannequin. It was so similar to the mask he’d drawn. There had been something magical, something so distinctly mysterious that it had all but pulled him into its web with its evil glare. He vaguely remembered walking over to that shop while his parents were busy in another shop. He could still remember the cold feel of the mask when he took it off the mannequin and he remembered having held the mask close to his face. He had then taken that final step and put the mask on ….


His growling stomach brought him back to the present. The hunger was pervading. The thought of food was saturating every pore of his body and was infiltrating his mental processes. All he could think of, as he stumbled along wearily, was food, food and food. The sandstorm was beginning to move in and the vendors were beginning to pack their wares.


“The mask” he remembered. Where was it ? He retraced a few steps and there it was, lying half buried in the sand and dust. It was grimy but those eyes had the same intensity. Something glistening and powerful that made him catch his breath and drew him into its spell. His hands were moving as though they had a life of their own. Yet again, it was pulling him into its spell ....


He was feeling very cold. Very very cold. He was curled up into a tight little ball, trying to preserve what little body heat there was, to preserve. He was alone, terrified, very cold and very hungry.


“How many times have I told you not to kick your blanket off at night ?” said a very familiar voice. His tightly shut eyelids, still pregnant with sleep, parted open ever so slightly and registered vaguely the rotund face that was hovering over him. Those familiar hands drew his blanket closer and securely tucked him in and as the cosiness drew him into its warmth, he smiled, secure in the knowledge that it had all been nothing but a dream.



It had been nothing but a dream.



P.S : Writing has become rather sporadic, of late. Now that's an understatement !! I just picked up a writing prompt today morning and gave myself half an hour to come up with a piece of writing. The prompt said "Use the following words in your story. Little boy, torn scrap of paper, market, cart". Hope to do this more often.

02 November, 2011

The Search Engine ...

(Image Courtesy : onlineparentingcoach.com via Google)




“What do you want to be when you grow up ?” is a question that parents often ask their children. I don’t particularly remember being asked that question but then again, had my parents asked me that question, I wouldn’t quite have known what to say then.

But I do, now !!

I could be an excellent search engine. A search engine so good that I could easily put Google to shame. I could beat Google hands down – anytime, anyday. For that matter, so could any mom.

The kids sure have given me their vote. I mean, they’ve outvoted Google and “invoted” (if there is such a term) me as their top of the line search engine. “Mummeeee, I can’t find my shirt” wailed Macadamia, the other day, one finger firmly held down on the “almost in panic mode” button. Mummy seriously considered doing absolutely nothing about that so called “plea” for help (yeah, I’m quite mean that way) but then Mummy’s sights wandered over to Macadamia’s other finger which was dangerously poised, hovering and ready over the PANIC button. Now that’s a surefire recipe for trouble. Once Macadamia hits the PANIC button, the whole world comes to a grinding halt while she whips around the house like a bee on a sugar high.

She’d be seen rushing from one end of the house to the other (and this is one of those few times when I thank my stars that the houses in HK are small), looking busy, seeming busy, with a look of utter worry and concern written large on her face. The diameter of her eyes would keep widening by the minute (I’ve no idea how she does that but God ! it sure is effective as hell) until her eyes resemble the earlobes of one of those African tribes who walk around with saucers in their earlobes.






Macadamia searching for something when she’s in PANIC mode, is a sight to behold (if you’re watching from far away, that is). She’s quite a cacophony of sounds when she searches for something – what with all those hisses and glares – not to mention the rather liberal scattering of the pssshhhaaahhs (which are meant to convey her disapproval of the fact that the home based search engine isn’t performing its duties efficiently).

The final straw – Macadamia with all ten fingers pressing down on that PANIC button (how that increases in size enough to accommodate all ten of her fingers, I don’t know. I haven’t been able to figure that one out yet !!) hands on hips, eyes glaring, planting herself in front of the home based, home made search engine with a rather plaintive “I stilllllllllll can’ttttttttttttt findddddddddddd ittttttttttttttt”. Each of those syllables uttered through teeth which are grinding and gnashing against each other (pretty much like the grinding stones in the dosa batter grinder), grinding those syllables to mush and spitting them out with the force of an Angry Birds slingshot. Not to mention the Angry Bird which has planted itself in front of the home based search engine. And that is when the home based search engine, also known as Mummy (who will soon be christened with a more apt nickname) is forced to spring into action for the sole purpose of preserving and conserving whatever little sanity she’s managed to preserve through the parenting journey !!!

Pecan, on the other hand, having misplaced something, believes in turning on the doleful look, which, at first glance, would automatically and effortlessly lead people into believing that his pet of some sort had just passed on. Good thing that there are no actual pets involved every time he flashes that look else we would be busy burying multiples of all sorts of animals on any given day !!! “Mummy, I can’t find my homework and I’d put it right there – on top of the bookshelf” Pecan would pipe up, sounding pretty confident. In fact, he sounds so confident and sure that the first few times this happened, the home based search engine rolled up its sleeves immediately and got to work, turning the whole house upside down, in an effort to locate at home, something that had invariably been left behind at school. Now the search engine has wisened up to those mournful looks and downcast eyes. Simply put, the search engine does not spring into action that quickly.

The search engine had found a reply that she considered the mother of all replies, given the circumstances. “Well, if you’d put it there, it can’t sprout legs and walk away by itself, can it ?”, would be the search engine’s first salvo. It worked quite well for a while actually – what with Pecan giving Mummy those “Can you stop rubbing it in ?” looks and with Macadamia rather dutifully siding with her younger sibling and shooting dark looks Mummy’s way in saying “Can you stop looking all smug and try and help him here ? You’re just making things worse for him, y’know”. Pretty soon, in situations like these, we have two bees aimlessly rushing up and down the house in an effort to locate the misplaced object. If only just running up and down could locate misplaced objects !! If that were the case, Mummy would gladly run a marathon !!

Detour

While all this panic stuff goes on, when I crawl up the wall painfully slowly and sit in a little corner on the ceiling and watch them from there, a little part of my mind does register the fact that it seems rather lovely – the way they team up against the “dark forces” in the house (a.k.a Mummy).

End of detour

Of late, Pecan has taken to stealing Mummy’s thunder. He would go “Mummy, I have a problem. (What an understatement !!). You see, I don’t mean to sound negative or anything like that (That’s some disclaimer !!) but I had – I really had put my book right there (pointing to what seems like a non existent area) but now it’s gone. See, I can’t see it there anymore. (Well, I can’t see it either because it IS NOT THERE, Einstein !!). And then he goes “I know they can’t sprout legs and walk away, so then where is it ?”. (Hey !! That’s supposed to be my line. Gee !! He just stole my thunder from right under my feet – if that’s where it exists, in the first place).

Despite all the smart assed comments, retorts, smug/amused/nonchalant looks - end of the day, the search engine always ends up doing what it has always been meant to do. It ends up fulfilling its prime responsibility (so it seems, of late) which is to “find” stuff that the offspring and progenies have rather conveniently “misplaced”.

Now, thanks to Suma, this home based search engine has a new name too.

I hereby christen myself – GOOGLINI the SECOND !!!!




P.S : Suma has the honour of being Googlini the First.

05 October, 2011

Religion seeks emancipation ....

(Image courtesy : godisthere.wordpress.com via Google)


I came across a flyer recently – one that was sent out in the name of a prominent mission among the Hindu community which I, among many others, found outrageous. It was about a workshop for women and was titled “God – She’s beautiful and so are you”. The flyer was accompanied by a picture of a Hindu Goddess in a sleeveless, full length cocktail gown.

The most offending aspect was that religion was being used as a launching pad for a program that is essentially aimed at women’s welfare or enhancement of awareness or life strategy, maybe. While I have no problem with institutions or groups conducting such workshops, my question is very simple “Why use religion as a crutch?”

Having been born and brought up in Bombay, having spent the first 24 years of my life there, I’ve seen firsthand, numerous instances of people using religion for personal gain or for their vote banks or to simply start a feud between people of different religions. Religion has always been used as an unwitting crutch way too many times. It is almost as if religion is a sitting duck, just sitting there within arm’s reach, to be taken or yanked out of the shelf at what one might consider the “right” time and used as one pleases to.

The eminent Indian artist, M.F.Hussain, gave vent to his artistic imagination and he was chastised to the extent that he had to leave the country. He was just an artist and he was in no way promoting or demeaning any religion. Compare this to a Hindu mission letting a leaflet be published in their name with a picture of a Hindu goddess in an attire that the mission itself otherwise doesn't condone !

While attending classes in Hinduism conducted by the respected mission, the dress code for the children is strict. When the respected mission lays so much of emphasis on the dress code of children, why let circulate a picture of a Hindu Goddess wearing a sleeveless, off shoulder cocktail gown ?

Is this not hypocrisy ???

I remember reading a plaque somewhere which said “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience ……. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Spirituality is one of the cornerstones of any religion. But while religion requires one to adhere to certain norms and is quite tradition bound in terms of the acceptance of a particular higher order, spirituality is not necessarily bound to any particular religion or religious practice. Spirituality tries to enable a person to discover the very essence of his or her very being, his or her existence in this life form, on this plane of life. Any religion, without spirituality as one of its paths, would fail to serve a greater purpose.

Religion, by believing in the unknown, was meant to help mankind overcome its fears of the unknown and uncertain. Somewhere along the way, individual thoughts and group thoughts have merged to form “organized religion”. Once the system of “organized religion” takes over, the question that stares at one in the face is simple. How, when and in what way or different ways can one see religion being distorted or being used as a crutch, a prop for furthering other agenda ? The branding of religion to promote personal ambitions and ulterior motives has taken the spiritual dimension away and reduced religious organizations to the level of social clubs and/or lobbyists.

More and more people are taking to religion, not in pursuit of the spiritual dimension but rather as a means to seek forgiveness for their sins and transgressions. Organized religion, nowadays, increasingly caters to and exploits this very tendency in humans, by using religion to cleanse their feeling of guilt or to put it simply “wash away their sins”. In the process, spirituality is almost forgotten, as spirituality, with its tendencies to lead one away from materialism, does not help fill the coffers of the various organized religions.

Edwin Arlington Robinson once said,

“The world is a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell “GOD” with the wrong blocks.”

05 September, 2011

A tried and tested Stress Buster ...

(Image courtesy : new-oceans.co.uk via Google)



Stress Busters !!

Who does not need these ? I’m pretty much sure that almost everyone does – well, almost. There are people who claim to be zen enough not to need any stress busters whatsoever. Well, what can I say, other than the fact that I totally envy such people :-). ‘Tis true that stress or the lack of it is a state of mind, ‘tis all in the head. But then again, my head is pretty much like me. At any given point of time, it probably resembles one of those overfull landfills – filled pretty much with stuff that cannot be used or does not need to be used. Needless to say, things that need to occupy space in my head, important things that I do need to remember to make life easier for myself, are pretty much left out in the cold. They are forever fighting for a space inside the landfill that happens to be my head. Landfill !! Ewwww !! Did you just say that ? Well, optimist that I am, I can only say this. My head sure may resemble a landfill but it does state a point – my head isn’t empty !! Ah Haanhh !!

What I’m trying to say, in my usual drawn out, convoluted manner is that I am the kind of person who needs to have loads of stress busters in my armoury. It has to resemble one of those virtual Kurukshetra fields (remember the one from the TV serial Mahabharat ?) – missiles (of the ancient kind) flying back and forth. The Kauravas send across a missile which spews fire and the Pandavas counter it with a missile gushing water. Get my point ?? I too, need a whole variety of stress busters at my disposal. Maybe my range of stressbusters are not as colourful or as dramatic as the missiles in those TV serials, but they know their job and they do it well. Simply put, they bust stress !!

One stress buster that I’ve always relied upon is sharpening pencils. Remember that post I’d done, wherein I laid bare all my quirks (and there were quite a few, mind you). If you haven’t read that post earlier on, I’ll just put in the link here for you so that you can go right over and read about all my quirks. I am a very kind soul that way, you see.

So, like I was saying before I digressed, one stress buster that I had, I do and I always will rely upon, is sharpening pencils. There is something so innately soothing about sharpening pencils. I know I sound like a loon, but the next time you feel like throwing something at someone, just take a deep breath (or two, if you like), pick up a pencil sharpener and a pencil (of course !) and just … well, sharpen the pencil. The swish, swish, swish of the wood against the sharp blade of the sharpener registers somewhere within the chaotic mind and in its own inimitable way, begins to restore a sense or calm, rather automatically. Not to mention, the twirl of the wood shavings that curl out of the sharpener – it automatically sets the creative mind in motion, making the mind dwell upon the different uses that those wood shavings could have. They could be used as Santa’s beard on some artwork, or on a blank paper to create abstract patterns. In doing this, the mind calms down, unknowingly, automatically. Once that feeling of wanting to kill someone passes, I feel safe enough to put the pencils and the sharpener back, in their rightful place.

Over the past year, full time teaching brought me face to face with yet another extremely resourceful stress buster. It works like magic – every single time. The next time you feel really stressed out over something, anything – pick up a blank template (print anything from the internet), pick up a pack of colour pencils or crayons and get to work. Simply put, just colour a picture. It works and it works like magic.

As those colors begin to seep onto the erstwhile blank and sterile landscape of your paper template, it totally captivates the senses. As you watch the pencil strokes grow, as you watch the colours spread, the feeling is one of exquisite delight. It feels rather fairylike, enchanting, captivating yet there remains a feeling of mysticism as you simply give into the messages flowing from your brain on how to fill in the rest of the landscape a.k.a your blank template.

How exactly this works, I know not. But this I know for sure – it works !!

I’ve relied on this stress buster many a times in the not so distant past. It has worked like a charm – every single time. That is to say, I am definitely not one of those zen people that don’t need any ideas or concepts to quell stress !! Quite the contrary !! I think what quite happens is that those streams of colours actually create some sort of pathways inside that stressed up, landfill like head of mine. It’s more like connecting a 5 point 1 home theatre system. All the wires are colour coded, so you know which wire is meant for which speaker. Something similar, I guess, happens inside my head too.

Those streaks of colours, some muted and quiet, laying the foundation and providing the depth and some colours – bright, flashy and loud – bringing the entire landscape to life, screaming for attention – make the picture complete. Those colours automatically make thoughts flow in a sane fashion inside my head, like smooth flowing traffic on a very busy freeway, rather than letting those thoughts zoom around and just zing and bounce off the walls inside my head, leading to utter pandemonium and anarchy inside my head. To put it simply, the colours quell the turmoil and unruliness and restore a much needed sense of order.

Which is pretty much why, when Macadamia and Pecan are in full form, when they unleash the forces of torment like only kids and pre teens can, when they drive me up the wall as effortlessly as they do nowadays, I will, probably be found, sitting on the ceiling, defying the law of Gravity, with a few blank templates and packs of sharpened, colour pencils in my armoury, letting those broad strokes and thin lines of colour, those dark smudges, those bright splashes restore a sense of much needed calm, peace, tranquillity and composure.

Like Robert Fulghum once said,

"Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination."

03 September, 2011

The young uns speaketh - Part 2

(Image courtesy : ms-goodies.com via Google)

I've said this countless times before, I'm saying it again and I probably will be saying it for quite some time more.


If there’s one thing the younger generation are masters at – it has to be “The art of conversation”. I mean, they are so prolific that it simply takes ones breath away and leaves one totally speechless. The vocabulary is so abundant that it teems with words and is seemingly inexhaustible. Their versatile vocabulary is an apparent panacea for all the evils of the older generation.


“Huh !”


That, just about, says it all.


Ever noticed how the younger generation needs just a “Huh” and “Really ?” in their linguistic repertoire to carry on, what they deem, is an active, two way conversation ?


“They’ve successfully transplanted an elephant’s head onto a dog’s body.”


While a normal human reaction would be a gasp or a “What” or a nonplussed “What in the name of God are you talking about ?” and the like – a pre teen would probably respond to that with a simple “Huh ?” which, by the way, will have the capacity to make you feel like the biggest dodo on the face of this earth.


Take Macadamia, for instance.


Anything and everything, at first instance, is met with a standard response “huh ?”. And the “huh” goes hand in hand with what we’ve now begun to recognise as “the look”. “The look” is a combination of glazed over eyes, lips pursed together or slightly stretched as though she’s doing something really tedious (don’t get me wrong – that is not a smile I’m talking about), both eyebrows raised about as high as they can go. The effect is even more powerful when just one eyebrow gets raised and the other one stays put where it is supposed to. “The look” says it all. You feel totally on top of the world – if that’s where self-made dummies are generally found, that is.


The other day I mentioned something to Pecan and he responded with something that sounded like a bunch of sounds strung together. I, for one, could simply not figure out what he said or meant. The only thing I could make out at the end of all those funny sounding syllables was the sentence “Whoa ! That’s so cooooooooaaaaaaaaa”. Well, to be honest, it took me a few minutes to figure out the “cooooooooaaaaaaa” bit too. Did I not mention earlier that I’m kinda right at the top of the dummy ladder ??!!


Oh ! and just about everything now is a “thingy”. In any given sentence, every two words uttered in what was hitherto known as human language, is interspersed with “like” or “whatever”. One normal Macadamia sentence would be something like this ...


“I’m like going to schooaa and she like calls my cell and like keeps asking about that test thingy. We have like this Science test thingy like sometime tomorrow. It’s like not exactly like a test but like it’s like a test thingamajiggy. And she like calls and asks me about some History stuff. What a doofus ! I mean – she’s really like ...... sheeesh, whatever !!!”


By the time she’s done speaking those Latin and Greek sounding sentences, I’m, for the most part, found reeling around someplace at home, having gone all green in the face, trying to look normal and struggling (quite literally flapping around like a fish out of water) to figure out what was being said.


There are times when I do ask myself why I even try to decipher the language that today’s younger generation insists on speaking. It wears you down to the bone - just trying to figure out what exactly the kids are trying to say. Pssst !! Sometimes I actually give up trying to decipher cos if I keep trying to, then I would be found walking on the ceiling, for the most part. This language doesn't just drive me up the wall, it makes me defy gravity and walk on the ceiling !!!


I can almost visualize Macadamia and Pecan reading this and saying “Yeah, rrriighhht !!! Whaaatevaaaaa !!!”.


And then of course, there would be “The Look” !!!!.