Why do I read? asks Simran

Thanks Simran, for tagging me. The question probably should be more like, do you read now? And you pretty much listed most of the reasons that I would have given to the Y's of reading.

While I spent some time mulling over this question, I came to realize that my reading habit, for various reasons, has unfortunately taken a downward curve. I used to read quite a lot during my childhood years. So much so that I would have a book in hand while I ate. Even Balbharati English text books were OK. I guess I did read (although I do not come under the "voracious" category) until I started work. Here, apart from the occasional book while travelling to work, the curve started making a downward dip. Other preoccupations took priority until marriage. The graph started to look better with hubby's influence and I read some very good books, both fiction and non-fiction, around this time. The pregnancy months saw me read a lot of spiritual (haha, yes for good influence) and light-veined stuff. Post motherhood, barring a couple of unsuccessful attempts at reading, I didn't do any serious reading. Of course, that is if you discount reading baby center articles and blog articles on the net.

I graduated from reading Tinkles, Champak, Chandamama, Amar Chitra Katha to Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon to Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham. So, it is no big deal when you see these authors on my reading list to decipher that I am a fiction lover. I read the odd non-fiction if and when prompted by rave reviews from fellow book lovers. I have realized, by now, that the book reviews by certain magazines or the fact that they became bestsellers do not hold any water for me. Some such books, bought in such enthusiasm, are lying gathering dust after tedious reading of the first few chapters.

This is what makes me read a book: Abstract writing does not appeal to me. I like the writing to be breezy and crisp. One that instantaneously imports you to another era, time, space or world. Something that makes you actually live the story till the very end. An engaging plot that makes me forget myself and the mundane. I have sometimes even dreamed of the characters in the book that I would be currently reading. The blogs I read also should contribute to reading. I look for the style of writing and the content in any blog. Both must appeal to me. I like a satirical take on serious issues rather than a heavy-duty full length analysis of the same. A book or any article I read is either a form of escapism into an utopian world or to gather insights about a unknown territory or to have crazy laughs or to delve deep into solving a crime mystery or spend restless days over a thriller.

I started to read The Palace Of Illusions a couple of days ago and re-discovered the old passion when I wouldn't be able to put down a book easily. So much so that I kept away even from blogging.

Anybody reading this is most welcome to take up this tag - as a comment if non-blogger or as a blog-post if a blogger. People reading this blog and who haven't commented so far, here's your chance to de-lurk. In particular, would like to know the reading secrets of Purnima, Radhika, Tan and Namratha.

Girls night out

It has been a complete year now that we are in Bangalore. The move from Hyderabad was a positive one right from the time we knew we were to shift here. Both hubby and me have our friends settled here and just knowing that we would be living close-by and meet them often was very comforting. Having familiar people around you in a new city helps you to warm towards the place.

As expected, we loved the city as soon as we settled in. Our social life was never better. Every weekend is spent meeting either my group of friends or hubby's. I gel well with his friends and their wives and the same can be said about hubby and my set of friends. This is an important factor without which it would have been difficult for either of us to maintain our individual friendships. All of us have kids around the same age which has also contributed to the entire bonding factor.

Last Friday my friends and I decided to have a girls time out and watch the movie ZNMD without the husbands and the kids. This was the first ever time we were to venture out leaving behind our kids with our hubbies to entertainment just ourselves. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the plan. I looked forward to things that I had stopped doing after R arrived on the scene. I was itching to leave behind the diaper bag that has become synonymous with me. For once, I didn't have to think what snacks to take along and how to keep R entertained. Oh! feeling was liberating.

So, the three families gathered at M's house after office hours and while the husbands decided to have their own share of fun together with the kids, M, A and I sneaked out to sniff the air of freedom (if I can use this word). The movie was a lighthearted one and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Knowing that our kids will be fine with the husbands, there was no guilt factor too! Hmm..we need to do this often.

I am one down on my to-list that I made a couple of months ago. I am done with the driving lessons now and I take some time out on weekends to drive our car so that I get the confidence to drive on Bangalore roads. Of course this is done with hubby by my side and at a time when there is hardly any traffic. After a couple of weekends, I am now fairly confident, although there a few rough edges that needs to be smoothened. I drove for an hour each again this weekend and felt really proud of the feat. It does mean a lot to me that I can drive a four-wheeler for it means empowerment and independence.

I haven't been able to devote time for any novels post-motherhood. Yet, when I saw "The Palace of Illusions" by Chitra Banarjee Divakaruni on the bookshelf, I couldn't resist buying it. I have read some good reviews on a few blogs and thought I should read this. Maybe this time I can break the jinx of not having able to complete reading a book. Also picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Hopefully I get down to reading them sooooon.

So that was my weekend. Yeah, I am a little late in updating it. But as they say- better late than never. So, what did you guys do?

Beauty-full of woes

Ma'm you have a lot of scars and pits on your face. Please take blah blah facial. That will also help reduce the dark circles and the tan.
Ma'm you have so many white and black heads!
Ma'm your feet are black. This colour nail polish will not suit you. This *taking out a horrendous pink colour one* will look nice.

No thanks. I have black feet, so please put on the one I have chosen.

No prizes for guessing where this conversation could have taken place. A place where ironically we go to feel and look better. By no standards can the above tete-a-tete lift someone's spirits. Let me add here that I do not particularly look forward going to the parlour even otherwise but, like many of my friends from the same clan may agree, I also cannot avoid it. I don't know if it happens to all but I get the feeling, each time, that I am a perfect candidate for all the beauty products (read improvement solutions) available . Yes, it could be a marketing strategy used on everyone to tap weaker souls who may end up getting all the treatments suggested. This could well be taken as a well-meaning comment. After all they are only helping you get that flawless fair-looking skin. I may be over-reacting by ranting out like this. But in a country so obsessed with fair and flawless beauty, looking good does become a narrower concept and one really cannot blame the lesser mortals if they do end up feeling victimized. So, what is the solution?

Avoid the particular parlour
- and go to another where nothing is very different.

Avoid parlours altogether - As I said earlier, that is a necessary evil. I also see it as a much needed break from monotony to pamper myself.

Wallow in self-pity - oh! that I do often and it does not help. There has to be a better one.

Ignore such remarks and/or the attendant
- by far the logical solution. But it is easier said than done. You want to burn their tongue with your eyes and maybe spit venom as a fitting reply. But again, it is not worth it. They need to be around to err..serve you. Besides, they may take revenge by threading your brows too thin or cutting your hair too short. You cannot take chances to survive such image-damaging accidents.

As an after thought I feel perhaps it is not the attendant's fault too. The art of sophistication comes in handy when the truth needs to be told. Don't you think when a person signs up for a beauty course, he or she also needs to be given a refresher on soft skills like communication. Most of the attendants are young people who are not by nature vile. They do not mean to be hurtful. They are just ignorant of a more polished diplomatic way of communication. But isn't this of prime importance given that they are dealing on a one-to-one basis with people, most of whom, lets say, have a lot of imperfections vis-a-vis vital body parts? The customers are conscious of it and definitely do not need to hear it explicitly especially at a place where they come probably to face their demons bravely.

Had we had it all perfect, we wouldn't be their customers in the first place, right?

Sleep drama

R considers sleep as his biggest enemy. Right from birth. While babies all over the world slept for most part of the day and night, this boy would manage a total of about 11-12 hours on the whole, with the major block for the night. He never had his nights and days mixed up, so he pretty much had his clock wired like that of an adult. His naps during the day would last a whole 15 minutes.

While we have come a long way from those 'tiring and sleepless' times, R still maintains his 11-12 hour sleep schedule. Thank god for small mercies he hasn't slipped below that. He wakes up at 6.00 a.m. as soon as the alarm goes off. While I am inclined to snooze it and get some extra snuggle time, R is up and raring to go. I really long to sip my morning coffee in peace while R sleeps but this is very very rare.

I then harbour hopes on having my evening tea without R climbing all over me or without having to sip my tea in-between getting R his snacks or he climbing all over me and me gulping down the drink in haste. A lot of things has to fall in place before this happens. For starters since R is up by 6-6.30 in the morning he is usually sleepy by 10 or 10.30. If he sleeps then, then he skips his and forfeits my afternoon nap. I try to have my way and 'tell' him that amma is going to sleep and he is not going to do anything that will wake her up. I might as well say this to the walls. Toddlers do not understand such complex matters especially when it is not in their interests. This is a sample incident of what happens.

It is one such afternoon and as I slip away into a doze, I hear the tapping of the keyboard. I find the brat on the tip on his toes, hands lugging far behind at the keyboard and managing to bring it ahead with the tip of his fingers. Jubilant with success, he is furiously typing away. I jump to my feet and drag him away from the table. The keyboard is now placed farthest from the table edge as is possible and the mouse above the CPU. The CPU is incidentally elevated some notches higher from the original level by means of some old books, etc. Satisfied, I proceed to settle down to catch 40 winks. Barely have I rested my back when I realize my stupidity in leaving the chair as it is. The chair is now locked away in the other room. I then look around to check if there is anything else of importance, convinced that there is none now, I warily lie down and keep my ears open. The brat is silent and is playing with some books. I smile to myself and let my guards down. Sleep comes in a jiffy and I drift to wonderland. It could not be more than 2 minutes and I am rudely awakened by a gush of water on my face. Startled to wake up, I see R with a bottle of water all emptied - over me, himself and the bed.

If I am lucky, R gets up by 6.45 a.m. and I do not let him sleep at 10.30. We manage to push the time until 12 noon, when he takes his afternoon nap after lunch. These are the best days for I am ensured of my nap. I wait for my maid to leave, quickly finish lunch, check a few emails and settle down to catch an hour's sleep or so. I hope to wake up before R does. My coveted goal- to make and sip my evening chai before R wakes up..:-). It happens quite a few times but mostly it is this: I wake up to find R in deep slumber. I jump off the bed, dart straight to the kitchen to make myself a cuppa. I don't care about the timings, anything beyond 3 p.m. is chai time. I check about 5 times on R to find him asleep. I smile in my head and add the sugar to the tea and put it to my lips. Ammaaaaaaa...I hear a patter of little feet and find the fella right behind me with a sweet smile and I also imagine a 'caught-you' look in his eyes.

Yet again!

Yet again...

Yet again we are caught vulnerable
yet again our leaders
sacrificed us at the altar
yet again we shed tears
for those who lost their loved ones
'cause this government does not care

Gloom, despair, frustration, anger
emotions fill the heart galore
death is natural but not terror
but this has happened yet again

For how long do we tolerate
for long do we keep moving on
there is only one life
we cannot give another chance
to witness a 'yet again'

It's time to get up
it's time to revolt
against the enemy;
one that is not unknown
but a friend whose face
we have now known

let's not be resilient
let's not be brave
for these are virtues
taken advantage of
to recreate a 'yet again'

At 19 months..

R can string two words together to form a phrase. He says "gut maning" or "pone ta" (phone ta - give the phone)
"appy buday".

His hands, feet and mouth seem to work in tandem. He is mostly seen running, fidgeting and chattering away all at the same time.

He loves roaming about the house on the tip of his toes just "hunting" for some kind of mischief. The favourite place is still the kitchen. The area of focus has widened its scope from the cabinets- which still holds attraction- to the counter top. I find it nearly impossible to keep things out of his reach. He simply reaches out to things balancing himself on his toes and stretching his hands as far as he can to pick the farthest item on the counter. This is especially annoying when I am cooking and cannot possibly keep everything I use to place it back into its right location or at least away from his reach.

He loves to be tickled and actually "asks" to be tickled by lying down on the bed or couch and calling out to me or hubby with a mischievous smile.

He has begun to climb on even the tiniest of ledges and handles of cabinets.

The phase of throwing things, hitting and biting has begun. Hitting and biting is thankfully (?) limited to us parents (yet). On the note of throwing, the other day balancing himself on the small ledge on the wall propping himself up by holding the window grill to look outside. This he does often to watch the vehicles go past on the dusty road nearby. I happened to give him company this time and was looking out when my eyes fell upon a shiny small black object in a corner downstairs. It eerily looked familiar to the remote control of our music system. Now, although we rarely use the system, it is precious to us firstly because my hubby won this in his office yearly shuffle that they have for the New Year's. Secondly, simply because it came free doesn't mean it has no value. It is a wonderful speaker system that supports the ipod. But as I mentioned we rarely use it for the lack of time hence the remote control is not something that we would miss in our daily lives. Secondly, to calm and keep R still after bath so that he would lie quiet till I dressed him up, I usually give him some object that is attractive to him and this small piece comes in handy most times. And the multi-purpose object is generally (err...most times) restored to a more appropriate place later.

Back to the story, I saw this shining black thing and- bang -something clicked in my head. I searched for the remote and sure enough it was missing. I rushed downstairs thanking the supreme all the way that I noticed it before anyone else could lay their hands on it. It would be useless to that person but we would have lost a precious accessory whose replacement I am not sure would have been so easy. Not to mention the accompanying heartache and headache.

Maybe time to make an inventory and see if anything else is missing in the house!

Neighbours howlers (part two)

The play area in our complex is on the first level which makes the car-park and the walk-way - which are on the ground level- and play area separate areas. R loves to camper down to the ground-level and admire the cars and bikes parked and also run down the joggers path. So I end up being the only mother at the walk-way running and keeping pace with a curious toddler meeting other curious joggers and oldies who are taking their evening walk. On one such evening I happened to come across an old lady (henceforth referred to as OL) who seemed amused with R's ways.

R was making sweeping gestures on the road and attempted to eat some pebbles for which I sharply chided him in Tamizh. It was this juncture that my first encounter with the OL happened. She heard and understood me and simply smiled and went her way. Such reactions are not new to me and I assumed her to be one among others who generally give me a amused and even at times an indulgent nod. As R and I were retreating to our home we met the OL again. This time she was in a more leisure mood, apparently having finished her evening walk. She caught up with us.

OL: So, you are done with sweeping the road?- *smiling and directing the Q towards R*

I smiled back in reply

OL: So, which block?

Me: ...block

OL: So, does he (R) go to school?

No, not yet. There's still time for that.

are you working?

Me: No

OL: tuitions then?

By now I had sensed the extreme and needless curiosity in the OL. Such people turn me off completely. I really don't know how to shut them up. Politeness also comes in the way if the other person is an elderly one. I could have come up with a dozen excuses and given her the slip but the barrage of questions ensued so swiftly that I did not have enough time to think. At such times I mostly clam up and answer in monosyllables hoping the other person would take the hint. But this OL was no mean person to take hints. She went about her probing ways. And the interrogation continued...

Me: No

OL: how do you pass the time then?

I must have reacted sharply in my facial expression for she quickly added that yes, I had my kid to look after. But, she continued........

is he (R) your first)?

Do you cook yourself or you have a maid?

What have you studied?

What does your Husband do?

Is his job transferable? Is this your own house?

And finally....what are your names?

With enough boredom and agitation in my voice that my conscience would permit I answered the OL and prayed like hell that I never meet her again. Anyway she had all the information with her to chart out my life-sketch.

All I could feel and say to myself at the end was grrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

For people who are curious to know about the part one of this series, they can read it here. The plot is uncannily similar. Hope it is not me who has the penchant of attracting such fellow inhabitants.