September 30, 2011

Blogging and its effects on me

I had always been fascinated with the idea of writing. No, not from school times or even college. At that time, I simply detested the manner in which we had to fill some pages with content that was cramped forcefully into the heads a few evenings before and had to be spilled before the content itself got lost. Even essays never gave me the thrill of writing. My imagination always betrayed me when presented with a theme and time constraint. So, when exactly did I develop a fascination? I cannot say. When I was in college, my friend, who was studying astrology and palmistry then, told me that I may possess some flair for writing as my hand showed artistic nature, I had, at that time, laughed dismissively at the prospect. I told her, maybe the talent is elsewhere. Artistic could mean a lot of things. Although I found the idea, at least then, quite absurd, it somehow remained in my mind. I began to have notions of discovering a latent author in me. I did nothing about it, though. Not even a diary. The idea and notions got buried in the other mundane rituals of life.

A couple of years ago, I discovered the full use of the magical world of the internet. The world of blogging and its innumerable possibilities came by as a chance discovery and I thought, why not use this as a medium to experiment with my notions? To be honest, when I began this blog, I had no idea of what I was going to be writing or blogging about. I was almost about to chicken out before deciding to give myself a chance and then decided to just pen down my thoughts in a coherent manner. I was glad to discover that this blog  gave me the perfect platform to unleash my thoughts on any issue close to my heart and also serve as a journal to record the antics and milestones of my toddler.

I began to enjoy the comments on my posts that began to trickle in slowly. The number of followers gave me a high. I took the compliments of my readers seriously and began to write more. Every time a thought cropped up in my mind, I would start thinking it could be a material for a post. My experiments grew ambitious and I dabbled with some poetry too. Of course, as they say, the crow's cawing is music to its ears. But the encouragement from my readers and the few who care to leave a comment does pep me up to dish out more and better. Sometimes, the anticipation of comments and praise overpowers my brains, much like that of a alcoholic thirsting for alcohol. I furiously open my mail the few hours after I hit the "publish" button. A rush of disappointment engulfs me if I find none. At least I expect my regular readers to comment. The stats on the blog is something to cheer but the comments are definitely the high point.

Blogging can be a lonely experience if not for the interaction that happens through comments. Blogging and commenting are like fish and water. What is a blog without its readers and comments? It is all OK to say that writing is a creative hobby and the satisfaction comes with just writing stuff, yet it does not hold true for blogging for else we all could have written a diary instead. Bloggers (at least I can speak for myself) thrive on the encouraging words of people who read them. Hence I cherish every comment I receive. I am glad to have discovered some very interesting writers and like-minded people here who motivate me with their writings and their comments on my posts. Thank you all! Please do keep commenting, suggesting and criticizing whenever and wherever applicable.
A word to people who have added me to their reading list anonymously: I am equally honoured although if you could care to de-lurk once a while or follow this blog publicly, it would do wonders for my self-esteem and encourage me to write more and better.

So, guys why do you blog? what do you think are the high points and low points of blogging? Do take it up as a tag if you wish and leave me a comment. Non-bloggers, lurkers, you are most welcome to participate. Tell us why you read blogs. What makes (or does not) you re-visit a blog after the first read?

September 25, 2011

An ode to life

As I sit to write an ode
words fail to come afore
fleeting thoughts swim by
like white clouds against the blue sky

Though the eyes capture the sight
the mind fathom not the flight
Each cloud shares a story
of sunshine and rain; of laughter and gory

Who is to perish; who is to stay;
we shall be gone one day
Who are we to state
He is dark, she is fair
for even the dark cloud, as they say,
conceals a silver ray

Image courtesy: google.com

September 22, 2011

As you like it

Funny, at an age where your opinions are already formed and you dare to call yourself rational, you find yourself helplessly giving in to your toddler's whims and fancies.

Scene 1: Amma: (Having a meal plate with rotis and sabzi, trying to feed R)

R: iddu *pointing to the sabzi*.

I try to reason with him and say that rotis and sabzis have to be eaten together. Distract him with a story and feed him a morsel of roti and sabzi.
R promptly spits it out. Insists iddu to the sabzi.

Amma: *resignedly feeds him what is asked*.

Rinse, repeat for rotis after a while. As long as whatever is on the plate goes in, I am not too bothered. But I am on the edge till the plate is at least 3/4th empty for you never know when these whimsical toddlers might change their minds.

The above scene can be played in many ways and in any situation.

Scene 2:  At the play area
I usually let R decide what he wants to do as long as he does not come in the way of the older kids playing or the ones cycling.
R: anga..pointing to the slide
After 30 seconds, he would say, anga, pointing to the see-saw
A minute later, it is  "anga", this time towards the swing.
The swing is his favourite. Till the time, I insist on him getting down, he would keep swinging.

Scene 3:  Bath-time or any other time when I have to keep him occupied and entertained.

Amma: ok, I'll sing you the ABC song.
A, B, C, D....(at which juncture R interrupts)
R: iddu...Niya Niya oduva
Amma: ok, Nila Nila odi va, nillamal odi va..(interrupted again)
R: vea paatu, poo paatu, tinku, tinku...and so on...


It sometimes feels like a radio gone awry with mixed frequency signals. Couldn't help remembering this scene from the film Coolie:




September 21, 2011

A lovely time and a blue Monday- weekend update II

Part one here.

Saturday evening, we went out for shopping at a near by mall. R is generally very restless during mall outings. He would keep running around the stores, trying to topple any stack of goods, generally creating a nuisance and not allowing me to shop. This time, though, we had two pairs of extra hands and legs. So mom and I shopped while hubby and dad kept a watchful eye on R. R anyway got his due share of fun- a toy train ride. These children rides in malls are out to loot you, I say. There were toy cars that ran on batteries and had attendants who maneuvered the vehicle if the kid was very young, there was this toy train and one huge bouncer. The rate for all the rides was Rs. 50 for a mere 3 minutes! We asked R to choose a ride and guess what, he said "aipain" (airplane). There was none around and it took us a while to understand R's gestures at the glass-paned lift which he referred to as airplane. Of all the rides, he chose the "free" one. While the amma appreciated the choice gleefully, the granny melted at the innocence and insisted on making him sit on one of the paid ones. What do I say! We decided on the toy-train ride for R. R got on to the train like a pro and happily sat through the entire 3 minutes, initially in a surprised daze and then consciously enjoying the ride, waving out to us as we did. We also went on the "airplane" too, many a few times. Hubby tutored R that it was a rocket and not airplane!

Mom and I shopped for ourselves and for my sister, niece and aunt back in Mumbai. The usual bags and stuff but every such shopping escape is so fulfilling, never mind the drawers that are overflowing with similar stuff. We had ice-cream at Baskin-Robbin's. I went for the "Tiramisu" flavour and was hugely disappointed. It tasted like some powdered medicine. yuck! :-(. We wanted to check out one last shop before going home. But R had other plans. As soon we entered the shop, I went to the deo-counter to buy one and I must have taken just about 5 minutes, within which R managed to topple something off the rack and run underneath one table that stacked some kurtis. He decided to play a game of going under and sliding out of the table, not paying heed to our coaxing to come out. He even inspired another kid there to join him in this play while the other exasperated mom looked at me resignedly. I didn't know where to look. Finally, we made a show of leaving the shop leaving R behind and only when he saw us heading out, he came out! So, folks imagine how I must be shopping for stuff with such a cooperative toddler. I accept your sympathies, thanks.

We decided to go to Lalbaugh on Sunday evening. It was the last weekend of my parent's stay and we wanted to take them to some place other than the malls in Bangalore. We finished lunch by 2.p.m and decided to leave the house max by 3.30 p.m. Seemed doable, only that my mom planned to make some coconut barfis that afternoon. Still, we thought we could manage to squeeze in that part too before leaving. I looked on (that's all the help I can lend to such matters) as mother set out to make the yummy goody. By the time the barfis were ready and we got ready, it was 4.30. The entry to the park closes at 6.p.m. and the place is about 20 kms from where we live. It being a Sunday, we still garnered hopes of getting there on time. Now, people staying in Bangalore city would be familiar with its one-ways and more now because of the metro being constructed. We reached the Garden around 5.15 only to realize that the entry gate we were at was not meant for four-wheelers. We were told to go to "another" gate by some rickshaw guy which meant, we would have to go back the route we came from and again take a U turn. Some one else said that there was a third entrance if we went ahead on our path. Since that seemed easier, we decided to go to the third gate. We reached the gate to find only two wheelers parked afront the gate and the lady at the ticket counter, who was friendlier and more informed than the previous one, told us that there is another gate meant for car park and we would have to go further down the lane and take a few turns. Time was 5.30. I asked her in desperation if we would make it in time. She said we might or if we were so worried, we could park our car across the road opposite some hotel and it would be fine. But hubby was not fine parking the car on the wayside and decided to go to the other dammed entry gate. We finally reached the magical entrance, only to find some cars parked outside the entrance blocking the gate and also the only available car-park space (we later learnt that there are a total of 4 entry gates and we ended up at all but the one we were looking for. Systematic, you say? Ok. But how about having clear instructions maybe by way of an updated route-map at every gate, so that the first-time visitors do not have to depend on stray people for assistance?). It was already 5.40 and since we didn't want to risk overstepping the time, we decided to park the car in the lane opposite to the park. I grumbled to hubby that we could have done this earlier and saved a few more minutes. Anyway, we finally made it inside the park before time. R ran amok inside and although I was holding his hand, it was he who was dragging me along and deciding where to go. He kept saying "anga" , "anga" and made me run behind him. There was a rocky slope, atop which there was this Kempegowda monument-a temple-like structure. This fella, ran all the way up and down the slope with my poor mom trudging along behind and me holding on to the brat's hand tightly. Where were the other men folk..well, they went in search of the restroom. Convenient. Hmpf!

We just had about half an hour to admire the well-maintained garden, manage R who was scampering away in all the directions we didn't want him to go and also click some snaps for remembrance. It suddenly grew dark and we heard a booming voice asking us to vacate the place soon. No, the booming voice was not God's but some in-duty officer's, doing the final rounds of the park before closing time. We promptly retracted our steps from wherever we were to head towards the exit. Most people stayed on and seemed as though they never heard the voice. No wonder then that although the said limit is at 7.30 p.m., the patrol jeep starts making the rounds from 6.30 onwards. It takes time to shoo away people. Nevertheless, we had a lovely evening. Short but sweet.

Parents left on Monday afternoon, leaving a cranky R and me feeling more blue than I have ever on Mondays. We went to see them off down the building and R hollered, wanting to go along. It took my undivided attention to distract him and calm him down which, to my relief, happened fairly soon, although from time to time he kept saying, "tatha? pati?..B'bay..auto".

A long post indeed. Leaving you with some pics of the evening at Lalbaugh.

Hubby, R and my mom



Sunset

The Kempe-gowda structure atop the rocky slope where R chose to run up and down


September 20, 2011

The hunt begins- a weekend update I

Saturday morning, our friend-couple, whose kid is as old as R, called up to ask if we were interested in joining them to check out a particular pre-school for R.  We left around mid-morning, leaving R who was sleeping then in the company of his grandparents. We were confident that he would not miss us. I left without the preoccupying thought of "what about lunch? when and what to cook" as my mom took the reins of the kitchen that day to give me a break. Lovely mothers!

The school- the play home is affiliated to the main school that runs on the principles of a renowned spiritual guru- was located away from the main road which was a plus. The courtyard, unlike most others that are housed in a house bang on the main road, was fairly big with a small play area for the kids. The lady who attended us briefed us about the activities conducted, fee structure and also addressed our queries. The place in itself was pleasant, although it seemed bereft of the modern amenities that the others boast of. And I am not talking of air-conditioned rooms or fancy equipments. I am against sending my child to any such environment that encourages an attitude of "nose-high-up-in-the-air". Of the total three rooms, one was for the pre-schoolers (PS) and the other two for the pre-primary (PP)(i.e. from nursery to UKG) children. The one room meant for the PS had an old cupboard that stored some craft and sundry items and a few low wooden desks- the ones that are used for written work while sitting on the floor. I do not mind having PS kids sitting on the floor, but in that case I expect the floor to be smooth and the flooring that does not get cold in monsoon and winters. Sadly, that was not the case here. The flooring was like those kadappa stones (again am not sure, am not an expert in this area)  and also slightly unevenly laid out in certain places. Another major drawback, that actually put me off too, was the toilets.  They were Indian toilets located outside of the rooms at the backyard. The first thought was how will they manage the kids in the monsoon when it will be all wet and slippery. Also, it meant that the kids would be expected to be already toilet-trained in the first place. Thirdly, the basins had those brown stains that come with years of usage and did not look new to me. I already have a critical eye and in case of hygiene matters, again especially that which concerns kids, I can turn extra critical. So, this is what I meant when I said the place seemed primitive. I suddenly felt the burden of selecting the correct school, even if it meant "only" a playschool" for R weighing heavily on my shoulders. The multiple factors that play a role in zeroing on "the one", the sheer range of choices available today only makes the task much more difficult than it ever was before. The constant quest to achieve that perfect blend seems like the elusive mirage of water in a desert.

Although the play school was a let down, we decided to check out the main school which was the main reason for our initial inclination towards it in the first place. The school in itself seemed good, in the lap of nature, with plenty of open space and play ground. However the distance was daunting. It felt as though we were going on an excursion trip. What use of a great school if the child has to travel miles to reach it and get tired and cranky at the end of it. Uff! So many factors to consider- the location, the distance from home, the schooling board, the teaching methods, the amenities, the cost. It is just the beginning and am already lost.

This is no easy task and it is going to take us a couple of  more weekends to exhaust the plethora of playschools around our area. We came home with such thoughts playing in my head to find R not in the least bothered by our absence. He had had his bath, breakfast and was busy playing. Wow! the luxury of having grand parents around. This was supposed to be a weekend update, but considering the length of the post already, I have decided to cut it here and continue the remaining in the next part.

September 16, 2011

R-The enchanter

R is honing his skills of being an enchanter. Whenever I scold him for making mischief, he gives me a impish smile, hugs me and showers me with kisses! Now, how can you push him away when he is at his charming best.

He has begun to speak well in two/three word phrases . He knows when to use what word. "Peesh taa", "mum taa", "phone taa, peeesh taa" in a sweet and convincing tone will make anyone give him all that he asks for.

Some catchwords are always bi-lingual, like: "Niya-moon", "menkam-cowsh", "dain dain-mai". Do you understand these? (Nila-moon, megham-clouds, rain,rain-mazhai)

Below is a funny conversation between pati and R:
Pati:  say Parvati
R:  patutaati
Pati:  say nail cutter
R:  naikku katter
Pati: say Hanumaan
R: Hamumaan
Pati: say Chai patti
R: chaiba patti

He calls out sweetly to the concerned person and says, "va va, come come, oka".
He has become very close to my mother, to the extent that if he needs something, he goes directly to her.  If she's not seen around for a while, he calls out to her. Hmpf! What am I going to do when they leave?

His energy levels are peaking by the day. He is getting quite boisterous and adventurous in his ways. The fear of falling down and getting hurt does not really bother him. It seems as though that part is never his concern.

Caught speaking over the phone: "umm..umm..ok. right, papom, ok bye"
Note: the brat holds the phone in one hand and walks around the house talking to some imaginary person.

***********

September 14, 2011

What's up?

After a blogomanic month of August, only two post so far in September seems like a low. Well, I am alive and kicking. No one asked though, but I thought I can dispense with this information. An update of last week/weekend should explain my absence from the blogosphere.

Two days after my return from a vacation to Hyderabad, my parents arrived. Not unannounced of course :-) I was awaiting their arrival for awhile now and that too with an eagerness of a child awaiting his/her coveted gift. Needless to say that I am enjoying myself, not to mention R who continues to get pampered, and is now actually showing signs of becoming a spoilt brat.

While on the note of R and his grandparents being around, we are witnessing a good deal of change in him. He is definitely getting naughtier and more stubborn by the day. A foreboding of having to deal with the inevitable terrible twos is clouding my senses. The change isn't quite sudden and dramatic as I put it but this particular incident has definitely set alarm bells ringing, loud enough to startle the person next to me, in my head. Now, we parents are of those kinds who do not really indulge in buying too many toys for the little brat. We do not mind spending money on any amount of books but toys come home at a lower frequency rate. We have also never experienced any tantrums in a toy shop so far when we would at times have to say no to R's demands. Distracting him has also been not too difficult. So, this incident left me perplexed, nudged me out of my utopian reverie where kids who throw a fit in a store are always someone else's and landed me in a this-cannot-happen-to-me moment. (this is not to be confused with putting-on-an-air of perfect parenting.)

Coming to the incident:  ever since the time my parents came home, there has been some talks of my mother wanting to buy a tricycle or the likes for R. The other day, my parents, R and I went to buy some groceries at a near by store. The store also stocks other items like toys and other fancy stuff. While we were busy checking out a few things, R found a ride-a-car toy and promptly mounted on that. What was surprising was that he did not call out to me, instead he called out for pati and said, "Pati, car..car..". Kids!!! The said toy seemed a little old, dusty and not worth the price tag. Also, there was no other fresh stock available. So, I tried to distract him by saying he'll get one the next day (one that usually works). But not this time. He bawled, rolled on the ground to my horror. As I dragged him away, my mother, the doting pati, said she'll probably buy some other toy/book to mollify R. I was still recovering from the initial shock of dealing with my first public toddler meltdown, so acquiesced. R went next to the toys counter and pulled out three toys and insisted on playing with all of them on the shop floor. We managed to put back all but one toy onto the rack. R held on to the one toy with all his might and didn't let go of it even at the time of billing, much to the cashier's amusement and my embarrassment. Not sure, if this is temporary or clear symptoms of the onset of the terrible twos.
Hmm..will wield the stick later. Now it's time for some grandparent time and of course carrots.

It has been celebration time for a couple of days now. Our apartment complex celebrated Onam, as other festivals alike, with great grandeur. Since the festival fell on a weekday, the cultural fest was held on Sunday. The festivities that included rangoli (pookalam) competition for the adults, drawing competition for the children, cultural programs that saw adults and children perform with equal elan and grace, culminated in a grand Onam feast. Traditional dance numbers, peppy and melodious Malayalam solo songs, group songs, all together interspersed with a quiz session on Kerala and Onam made the event enjoyable even for the non-mallus.

I entered the second year on the wrong side of the 30s a couple of days ago. B'day celebration is generally in the form of a lunch/dinner at a restaurant. This time, hubby presented the idea of a couple dinner minus the kid since my parents were around. The idea appealed to me since it was quite sometime since we got some time for ourselves and my parents too agreed immediately to the proposition. So, thanks to them, we, the hubby and me, ended up having a nice time actually having a proper conversation (after what seems like ages) over good food and ambience. Cheers!

So, guys, I am back!

September 6, 2011

Some advice for young girls

A disclaimer: OK, I am not dying. I have also NOT suddenly grown old enough to be a grandmother to dole out advises. It's just one of those days when I don on the thinking cap. Again, it does not necessarily mean I am talking out of "sour grapes" experience. I have no regrets from my current social position. This post is more of the food for thought kind. Phew! have I made myself clear?

Marriage and then motherhood is considered as the final goal in a girl's life, at least in India. Interestingly, anyone who has crossed these stages know in their hearts that there is certainly more to life than just getting married and having kids. But very few may voice this openly much less admit it to themselves for the fear of being judged. I am certainly no saint or a wise one for else I would have done differently. And I am not vainly under impression that my rants will be read and more absurdly even taken as a piece of advice. But again, it is my blog and it is meant for my rants. So, after ample prologues, if you wish to read further, here you go:

Marriage and parenthood are just a step (major? maybe, but surely not the last) in the journey of life, hence should not be viewed as the ultimate and only goal or destination. Both come with their share of responsibilities and a huge change in the rhythm of the current lifestyle. Unfulfilled desires and unaddressed emotions come out in the raw when you are dealing with yourself and a new person(s) in your life on your own. The need to take stock becomes necessary then and a certain level of maturity in sorting out priorities is required. Much like the rearranging of a closet, where old and redundant things have to be cleared to make space for newer ones. One needs to be prepared to let go.

Since, these two are such life-altering decisions, in my opinion, a few listed below are some must things to do .

Before you get married:

1.Travel. As much and as wide as you can. Take solo trips or group with friends or even strangers. Tour the country and if possible outside the country.

2.Work. Take up a part time or full time job. Anything that interests you. Need not be always a 9-5 job. In fact preferably in the area of your interest. This is the time to explore. Don't let people bother you with questions like, oh! but what are you doing in this job? "but how will you find "good" guys?"

3.Stay independently. Get out of your parent's home and try to live independently. See what goes into maintaining and managing a home and a life on your own. A lot of things are taken for granted when one is at the parent's house. Also, it gives you the space and chance to carve a distinct personality and attitude that is not a default or inherited one.

4.Dream. And dream of fulfilling those on your own and not linking it to someone or something else in life. It is OK if they don't materialize but at least it will be on your own accord. You will not attribute it falsely to others.

5.Take up or pursue a hobby. Do something for yourself. Discover what makes you truly happy.

6.Take time to spend time with your would-be for a few months before tying the knot. The courtship days are important not just for the romance. It helps to identify possible thorns and possibly avert further follies.

Before you have kids:

1.Spend enough time (in years) with husband. Get to know each other better.

2.Repeat point one under 'before marriage' above with spouse.

3.Do NOT fall into the trap of "oh! I am getting older. Oh! all my friends have a kid(s). Oh! what people will say". Take into consideration the biological clock by all means but do not stress yourself unduly about it. And regarding others and friends having kids, well, it is you and not they who have to bring the kid up. So take stock.

4.Prepare yourself physically, financially and mentally for the kid. Although the last part can never done enough. When the kid comes along you will always feel you were not mentally prepared enough. But the other two can be done.

5.Understand that a kid is fun. But that is last. It is first a LOT of hardwork. It is demanding of your time, space, strength, energy, patience. If you can spare all of these in aplenty with even an added smile for bonus then you can consider yourself one lucky woman and your child luckier.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, I know. What I am trying to convey is that a wider exposure to life in general is needed to take an informed decision on these two important stages in one's life. So, what's your take on this?

September 3, 2011

Kahan gaye woh din...

My vacation is drawing to a close. Having a lot of time on hand and at a place where you lived a while ago, conjures up old memories and this stay has had me reminiscing about those days. It was not so long ago...

-when we were newly married and living in our first house in Hyd. Home was just a 10 minute walk from hubby's office. We would get up at 7.30 a.m. and still have a leisurely breakfast before hubby left for office at 9.30, post which I would start preparing lunch. I had never cooked a full meal (actually hardly entered the kitchen ;-)) before marriage, so in the initial days of marriage, it would take me a full 2 hours to cook up a menu as as simple as Sambhar, rice and a curry. Nevertheless, I would finish all the chores before hubby came home for lunch (yes life was that luxurious at one time). Post lunch hour, I would catch up sometime on the internet, read some books, sleep and before I would realize, it would be time for hubby to come home.

-Everyday for about three months that we took to set up our home, we would explore the market area to shop for our various needs. It was funny how we would buy several sets of containers to stock groceries in installments from the same shop. Neither of us had any idea how many containers we would require at the first go. We would always forget to buy something and go back a couple of days later to discover a different variety at the shop replacing the ones we bought. As a result, I have a hotch-potch of various shapes and sizes of containers.

-Almost every weekend for the first few months of marriage we would eat outside. Evenings on every other weekend would be spent at Hussain Sagar lake or at some mall catching up on some new movie release. Hyderabad is famous for several art exhibition that keep coming up every few months. I love visiting such exhibitions and we have spent a good amount of time doing so.

-We had to shift residence 'cause hubby switched jobs and the new company was located far off from where we stayed earlier. We moved closer to his new workplace but the luxury of coming home for lunch was no longer there. But by then I started work outside home, so it was compensated in a sort of way. This was a new and exciting phase in its own way. We would leave for work together. We didn't own a car at that time, so travelled by shared-rickshaws* and shared cabs*. After office hours too, we would meet at a common point and then travel back home together.

-Living closer to your work place and staying in a city like Hyderabad has its benefits. Even after coming back from a long day at work, we still had time to unwind ourselves, catching up on each other day at work and watching the odd program on T.V.

This was life in Hyderabad and most importantly before R came into our lives.
Almost everything has changed now. And changed so much that all this has become nostalgia.

*Travel by autorickshaws or shared autos in Hyderabad calls for a separate post. :-)