Happy Birthday to you..

...My dear R,

We are back in Mumbai at your paati's place since your appa had to go to the US for work. Am sure he is missing you as much as you and I are on this special day when you complete 2 years of age. No worries, we shall celebrate again once he is back!

It means another year of motherhood for me, my son. umm..so, how do I sum up my experience so far?
I have come a long way from being the tensed new mother of a newborn who was anxious about every little out-of-the-book symptom you exhibited. I am now a more confident and brave mother of a swift and energetic toddler who does throw in little shocks and surprises every now and then. I am by no means a know-all mother but now that you and I are no longer strangers to one another there is a known and comforting factor each time we deal with a difficult situation.

I still remember the first few months after you were born. I only remember feeding you all day with of course the potty and su-su cleaning in-between. You were always hungry! you would feed for not less than a hour and an hour later, you would be howling for milk again! Since you also almost never slept for more than 15 mins at a stretch during the day, I was a total nervous wreck during those months. I would think of the days ahead and  imagine the worst possible scenarios-that of a possible clingy cry-baby, of not being able to cope with raising a child and managing the house at the same time and of difficult breast-weaning times. But...none of those happened. It was a total turnover at the end of 3 months. At no point did you cry without a solid reason- this is true even now. You weaned yourself on your own without protest in a couple of months of starting the feeding bottle and the transition from the feeding bottle to a sippy-cup was also totally hassle free.

You were very active even as a 5 month baby, when you began to move on your belly frontwards and backwards, scaring me into pushing away any stray furniture into the farthest corners of the house. You could sit on your own only at 9 months while most of your peers did it at 6 months. But I was not worried because you were doing fine on the other aspects of growing up. Thanks to the babycentre weekly updates and articles I understood that there is a huge range even within the normal pattern of growth. You almost never crawled and moved adeptly on your belly till the 10 month after which you accelerated on the physical milestone by beginning to crawl and stand at the same time. You were walking comfortably on your first Birthday! And now, you are an able climber too- climbing your way onto the windows, tiny ledges and raising the bar for yourself each time.

You have grown into a very sweet and easy-going toddler. Well, by saying sweet I am not absolving you of your mischievous, naughty and exasperating ways, antics and tantrums! You are all of this, yet a very affectionate and gentle child who genuinely likes the company of other kids, also willing to share your toys with them. So easy and gentle that sometimes I get worried because you do not react when other kids shove you, hit you or snatch away their toys from your hand. My heart breaks each time you come crying or whine when these things happen. I want to tell you, "hit back!", "snatch the toy back!" but my own nature holds my tongue and mostly I implore you to put your hand up and say "No. No pushing/ hitting or please give back the toy" to the other kid. I want you to learn on your own to defend yourself and also assert your rights instead of smothering you. Of course I'll be there always if things go out of control.Seems like you have saved your aggressive behaviour only for me-your mother. When your demands are not met, you hit, bite and howl at me. Of course, I have nothing of all this and use the carrot and stick method to put you on your track.

I sometimes feel I am raising a nerd because you absolutely love going over and over the ABCs, 123s, rhymes and story-books. It is so much fun and pleasure to hear you recite the rhymes in your "mazhalai" (baby talk). You have begun to string two-three words to form a sentence, repeat all that we say (!!) and talk in rhetorical questions. This is certainly the best phase (and am of course not talking about the beginning of the tantrum phase!:-)) and am glad that I decided to be with you during your growing up years.

May all your dreams come true, R. Wishing you the best-est of the best in this universe. Happy Birthday!!!

Thoughts from the heart

You came into my life like a whiff of fresh air
took me under your wings and said,
come, lets travel this life together

You and me are very different,
you are the epitome of calm, ever composed
I am the spice, ever potent
while I like things planned,
you are a person of the moment

Disagree we do, and a lot
but even amidst emotions gamut,
you've guarded the wedding pact
of keeping love, respect and faith intact

Truly, my love, I am blessed
to have you by my side
I hope to have played my role,
in all justice, warmth and care

I wish you all the best in life;
all that the universe can grant and give,
of health and wealth, friends and cheer,
of never dying trust and lots of love,
between you and ones dear

On this special day,
you may be miles away,
hence, sending you my wishes
and a note of thanks, dear hubby
wishing you a very Happy Birthday!

P.s.: The husband tried his best to leave on the night of 26th, so that we could be together for his as well as the lil'one's 2nd B'day which is tomorrow but then somethings are beyond one's control, so here I am ..

P.p.s: I would not have said as much to his face, and he reads my blog regularly, hence this is better..:-)

Gone missing

Ever wondered how some things in the house go "missing" and despite deploying thorough search warrants along with sniffer dogs (ok, maybe not sniffer dogs), the thing remains elusive. And one fine day, while a search warrant is being deployed for a different misplaced item, pop! there you find the first misplaced thing staring right in your face as though shaming you by saying, "I was here only all the time. Too bad you lost sleep over me!" But of course the timing of things going amiss and emerging suddenly from dark alleys is always disproportional to the urgency of the need.

I have been the eternal "loser" of erasers, pencils, sharpeners, water-bottles and tiffin boxes when in school. It was as though I had no control of myself when it came to "forgetting" to take these back home. Had I saved the money spent on the fines that I have paid to retrieve the "lost belongings", I would've had a size-able amount in my kitty by now.  I have tried hard to shrug off this careless nature in me and become more responsible in my school life. But as they say, old habits die hard. I am trying hard to compensate for that phase in the adulthood.

In my quest to turn into a new leaf, I needed to be more organized. I began to clear unnecessary clutter in the house and stashing important items into "safe havens". Only that at times, both these activities assumed extreme proportions. Documents so safely tucked away that when it was time to retrieve them, I still couldn't find them! And talking of clearing away clutter, I have developed a fetish for throwing away papers (read used bus, air and rail tickets) and sundry pamphlets- that make their way surreptitiously into the house-that are strewn in all the corners. The moment I see these, my mind and body goes into a tizzy and they automatically resemble a crane gathering and throwing them into the dustbin. Oh! did I mention that in the process, I have been guilty of throwing even recent shopping bills and tickets that might have been of importance?. Hubby sure will have many a few trump cards to prove me guilty.

Alas! I still have a list of things that have been organized-ly "misplaced". A dupatta, a blouse, a bottle, a container, so on and so forth. My quest to be an organized and responsible citizen of this earth continues...

I wish....

... I had the boon of sprouting extra arms. Really, I need it at least in the morning hours. Imagine a scene, when the coffee needs to be made, the lunch and breakfast prepared, lunch packed, breakfast eaten, something called a bath needs to be checked off the list and in the midst of all this the toddler needs to be fed, cleaned and kept away from making merry and mischief. Imagine doing all of this like a juggler's act. Phew!

I wish I could yell at the clock, "shrimati tickticky shaant hojayiye!" "Mujhe lifeline chaahiye!!!". Actually it works much better if this is directed at the Husband who is peacefully meditating while the circus is on at full swing. No fun being alone in the circus. More the merrier. So the Husband joins in haplessly. He dons the garb of the lifeline and proceeds to handle the toddler who is a gleeful spectator and also the secret catalyst in sprucing the whole show.

Then there are days that seem like the universe is out to punish you for all the wrong doings in the last 5 lifetimes, all at once in this lifetime. The dal gets burnt, the dosas stick to the pan, the milk boils over onto the stove and the counter, the toddler is at his extra energetic self, having already spilt the sugar and salt on the floor, decides to re-design the interiors and insists on having the sofa cushions on the floor. The law of Murphy also works to the Tee on such days with the Husband suddenly announcing that he has a meeting early in the day and "sadly" he cannot be the "lifeline" that day. On such days I have resisted the urge to scream "Bachaoooooooo" and dash out of the house.

Of friends and friendship

I was browsing through my e-mails the other day and pop on the side chat-bar a very familiar name goes green. I am torn between opening up the chat box and typing an enthusiastic HI and keeping a check on my friendly hormones that are threatening to spill onto the keyboard. It's been really long since we chatted or spoke over the phone. Whatever little updates I keep getting about her is from the good old Facebook. She seems to be a busy person, what with one morning in the US and the other evening in Vienna. Lovely pictures of her family used to be a part of her regular updates but since a few months they have ominously been replaced with travel and work updates. My heart is jumping to ask her how she is REALLY doing and what has she been up to these days? Is all OK?? But it has been really really long since we had a heart-to-heart talk and I am unsure if the warmth we shared is still alive in the hearts (hers...). Amidst the tug-of-war between heart and mind, I type a hesitant HI. Pause..5 minutes..10 minutes..No reply. I am about to type again but a tiny voice pops in my head and says, ah! you are imagining things. Of course all must be well. Remember the FB status? She must be busy now. I close the chat-box and try to concentrate on other things. Now, this friend was once a really good friend of mine. We shared a great rapport and a lot of common things. Things got busy, life got busy, we still managed to touch base with odd phone calls and wishing each other on B'days and anniversaries. Then slowly, the odd phone call was replaced by sms and then it was just the FB. 

This could be a leaf out of anybody's life book. Do you remember your friends from school or college?. Are you in touch with at least one friend from school/college? In-touch, as in, truly know what is happening with one another, not the Facebook updates that are for all to see. I have bitter sweet memories of friends and friendships from the days of school and college. The close bond of friendship I managed to form with a handful are neither from school or college. We met at the after-college classes and stuck together since then. It doesn't, however, stop me from marvelling at how this bond forms and develops and changes over time. People change. Situations change. Relationships change. This is an universal truth. No matter how you bond with one person today, there is no guarantee that the bond will remain the same 2, 5, or 10 years from now. This classic rule applies, among others in varying degrees, to friendships too- one of the most important, beautiful yet very fragile relationships. It may evolve, become better, go to the next level, blossom, flower or even stagnate or perish altogether. Life is ever-changing, time ever-demanding. Communication has never been so easy. Never so impersonal too. It takes more effort these days to give your time, space and energy towards any relationship. The standard approach does not and will not work if you care more for some relationships than others.

It feels good to hide under the cliches like "oh! we connect like we never disconnected so, it doesn't matter if we do not talk frequently"..and so on. But, really? is it so?. At least, with me, given my not so outspoken nature, I falter in asking personal questions if the silence between has stretched a little too long. For me, it does matter if you can connect in ways other than the Facebook or Twitter or through Fwds in an email. The frequency may vary and a lapse of few months is OK but when the lull stretches a little too long, individual lives take over and the urgency to connect is put on the back burner and is slowly "forgotten". Reasons like "been caught up with life" are used with higher dosage and sometimes as an excuse too.

Friends from school and college bond with one another during the span of the course like there is no tomorrow and part with each other with promises of staying in touch. Some manage to do so despite distances and in-between crossing personal and professional milestones. Time is sometimes stolen and squeezed out to fulfill a commitment made years ago- of maintaining the relationship, no matter what. But, many fall wayward intentionally or unintentionally. The great times of camaraderie becomes a part of nostalgia, reminisced wistfully, yet the will and effort to re-kindle it lacks the fire.

So, what makes one go at lengths to remain friends with the other? why do some friends remain so for generations while some wither with time?

Like any other relationship, friendship also needs to grow. There has to be something in it for each of the persons concerned with it. When one person stops growing or grows in a direction that clashes with the growth of the other, the relation is endangered. Sooner or later, the relationship breaks under the weight of the opposing forces.

It also requires the mutual commitment to keep it going. If only one person shares the weight of keeping the relationship alive, it will not survive for too long.

Adversity is test of human relationships for it is only during the hard times does the real person emerge. But if one shuts himself inside, not letting even his close friend see the pain and the hurt, he loses an important aspect of the other person's friendship. He denies his friend the trust, confidence and faith and the chance to survive the mettle of friendship. The friend feels betrayed for he suddenly finds himself out of the life of someone he had considered to be close to him.

One also needs to a part of the others' journey in life, however different it may be. If not in every small event, at least in totality.

Are you still reading? Yes, you!..OK, you may wake up now. The sermon's over. Have you learnt your lessons? What lessons you ask??? ..sigh! I know...that was a longish post with a lot of "gyan" thrown in. It's the beginning of another week and if you are like me, you would be mourning the toughest day of the week-Monday.  So, if I have lost you in between, I will understand.

I was like that

Yesterday a participant on KBC asked the Big B to name the only two letters in the Alphabet from which none of the names of his movies began with. The question took me back to those days where I had made a chart that featured the BigB's movie names starting with each letter of the Alphabet. I also made a list that listed out the movies that had an unusual pairing of a leading lady with the superstar.I used to be so star-crazed and overawed by Mr. Bachchan back then. Not that I am no longer his fan but these statistics don't mean much to me now. I know what you are thinking. You can say that aloud. I am getting old. Hmm..Ok. But WTH, who has not gone through this phase? When I see people much older than I going ga-ga over him on the hot seat, I can only smile and think that I have not been alone in idol-worshiping the actor.

I have watched almost all his movies. Ok, not the ones from the 80s era. That decade is certainly the most forgettable phase in the otherwise glorious career. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched certain movies like Chupke Chupke, Amar Akbar Anthony, Abhimaan, Don, Trishul, Namak Halal..oh the list can go on.... Whether I knew my economics or not, I knew the dialogues of these films by rote and could recognize a film from the background score! Not only the Bachchan ones, I loved watching any sensible movie. I had the reputation of possessing the highest knowledge quotient in the field of films and songs. I also knew all about the latest film releases and was up-to-date with the new songs, actors et all. I would come up with impromptu quizzes like: name a movie that starts with the letter "F" and that paired Sharmila Tagore and Amitabh as the leading pair? I guess it was the only movie. Such quizzes were targeted at the poor folks at home who had labelled me a movie buff and had mastered the art of ignoring me at such times..:-))!

Being married to a guy, who although loved watching movies, was not so movie-crazed, and cared much less about old hindi movies meant losing touch with that part of myself. He has never heard of certain movies or songs, so there was no fun rattling off dialogues or playing an impromptu quiz about songs or movies. So, although we watched movies regularly, the old passion (which anyway was dying a natural death) faded slowly and after the kid entered the scene, even watching movies became a rare event.

Now, cut to the present:
I had my cousin and his wife over sometime back and the conversation veered towards movies. He mentioned that the recent movie they saw was "Shaitan"*.
My reaction: Oh! is there such a movie? Is it a horror one?

Such stand the state of affairs!

* The recent one starring kalki Koechlin and Abhay Deol.

Who's correct?

Disclaimer: Only Tamil-knowing people might appreciate the below post.

Among other differences that Hubby and I have, is the language difference. Well, OK we both speak Tamil. But the Tamil I speak is very different from his. He speaks the Chennai lingo and I speak the Mumbai lingo. What, you don't know what Mumbai lingo is? If you have spoken to Tamilians from this corner of the country, you would know. You might assume that person hails from Kerala. Like many have assumed so for me. Some have even asked if I am a mallu. I have that huge an influence of palakkad tamil in my way of speaking. Why, you ask? Just blame it on the number of actual Palakkadus I was surrounded by when I was growing up. Also I use the pure version of Tamil like "vango, pongo, aatuku vango" as opposed to the chennai lingo of "vanga, ponga, veetuku vaanga".

Once Hubby said, with reference to some joke, that it was "chance e illa". It was the initial period of marriage and was not conversant with his way of words and I had confusion writ on my face for why the joke didn't stand a chance??? Now, how was I to know it meant "too good"???
Soon I learned new words like "sooper, kalaikittai, semma (nothing in relation to semiya or sevvaiya), naasti (has got nothing to do with being nasty), thalaivar-thalaivi, and vetti" ( I thought it was veshti mispronounced) among others that were a part of Hubby's vocabulary. I rolled my eyes each time the words were uttered because in my opinion they are not the part of "correct" language. I am the authority you see. Of course hubby doesn't agree but nevertheless, I decide the pureness of the language. Never mind the fact that I use Hindi and English  sometimes liberally to fill the void when "correct" Tamizh (see Tamil is actually Tamizh) words fail to strike me at the right time. But..authorities enjoy the exemption of being under scrutiny, you see.

Hubby and I have healthy fights debates over who speaks the correct language, without expecting the other to admit defeat. He is also wise enough not to suggest that I make the necessary linguistic tweaking. Only when I once spoke to a auto fella in Chennai did he warn me quite strongly that when you deal with auto guys in Chennai, you need to either speak like one of "the locals" or shut up.

I had no idea how much the lingo mattered until the question of "neenga palakkadaa?" became so common that I would almost be apologetic at this question and proceed to explain why inspite of not being a palakaddu, I was being mistaken for one. The lengthy answer sounded tiresome to my own ears. I have tried to summon all my acting skills and get into the skin of a thorough Chennaiite to speak the tongue, even using all the keywords. I have, at these times, provided comic relief to the hubby. Trust me, it is like learning a new language.

Boozho toh jaano

Ok, here is a riddle. No, no, don't search for your reading glasses and the browser is also not playing any truant. These are some gems from R speak vocabulary. See, if you can decipher them.

faain down faain down

buii du ainchi ainchi
buii du ainchi ainchi

ainchi bendabo bendabo
ainchi bendabo myfaedady

daki daki gaati
daki daki gaati
kaati goda
dumpeche maya
goda goda goda

gambatti moyya
mangamuti moyaa

dain dain goway
come agen andade
ittle ichab wanchupay

Do you want the answers?

Some favourite phrases:

Appa yenge..kaanume...adho..
tukiko (used only at times)
vendama..poruma..bashh (when asked to eat something he doesn't want/like)
tata ponam..kai picchu (used at all times!)
aebeecheedee paatu (his fav on the comp along with the rhymes. He is just crazy about the abcd, rhymes and stuff. But I dissuade him from watching too much of it. I think it will be an overdose at this stage and he'll get bored of school then!)
and of course- maatain (the famous NO)

The will to achieve

Is it possible to work without any expectations? Is it possible to dream a life that is entirely an antithesis of your present existence and yet be grounded enough to work towards the goal, however far-fetched, it may seem?
A dream, we may have. But not many of us have the faith in it or the perseverance to attain it. Self-doubts about our ability surface when met with the smallest of hurdles. Giving it all up to settle for something mediocre or "more achievable" seems like a practical and sane option rather than fighting with yourself, your destiny and the society.

The burning desire to achieve is probably more present in those that have "apparently" nothing to lose. No false ego that will see a fall in the event of a failure; in underdogs that are free from the expectations of society. Probably, this is why people from small towns do so well in the KBC contest. They are much more well-read and more importantly grounded than their many city-bred counterparts who although have access to better means of livelihood, fall short in the area of humanitarian qualities like humility and sensitivity towards fellow-beings.

A perfect example of the above is Mr.Sushil Kumar of Bihar, who turned from a meagre-earning computer operator to the first contestant of the season to win the 5-crore prize money.
What a moment it was! Not only for him but even for the rest of us who watched it. I could feel the tension, joy and ecstasy and yet could not place myself in his or his family's shoes entirely. Oh! what a moment it must have been for them. Truly happy and elated for them.

Image courtesy: google.com