Hyderabad tales-II

Part one here

-Kollu pati, fondly called as ko-pati by her great grandchildren, is pampering R with home-made tengoyal, seedai, vadams,etc.

-R is only too happy to lap up all the extra attention of his doting chitti-pati and chitappa-tatha too.

-The neighbours too seem to want to indulge R. R has found a new found interest in the ancient lift that functions at the aunt's. The grilled doors that close with great difficulty, that groans at every halt and starts and stops with a great jolt is a big hit with R. He wants to keep travelling up and down in it, much to the amusement of the neighbours who are willing to accompany him in his adventure. He being a friendly kid has only won him more friends, all of whom are maamis, akkas and annas.

-One flat here is also a home for two big fat hens (big can hen as R calls them). So, another added attraction for R. He got up one afternoon saying cuk-cuk-kozhi and insisted on visiting them at that very instant.

-What is R's amma doing? Enjoying the break from cooking and cleaning, eating awesome food prepared by her chitti and of course the ko-pati special goodies meant for R; getting pampered in general.

-No dearth of goodies as we celebrate the birthday of the elephant god. Needless to add that I am going to enjoy a sweat-free feast, err..festival.
Wishing you all a happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

B'lore to Hyd

-We reached Bangalore Airport just in time for boarding, courtesy - the cab we booked turned up 20 mins late. We checked in our luggage and waited for the security check in the queue. Usually, the line for the ladies is longer and takes time. But this time, I came out with R much faster to see hubby still stuck. He was the third person in the queue. Then as the queue moved forward, I realized that the queue he was in was just to place the cabin luggage on the scanner trail. There was another huge line beside this one for the actual security screening. Just then, a flight attendant came up to announce that the boarding call for our flight was nearly over and any passengers left out must hurry. I frantically waved out to hubby and conveyed him to hurry. I was simultaneously managing R who was amused by the scene and insisted on getting across the security counter from the wrong side! Hubby requested the guy in the front to let him go first. From the man's gestures one could understand that he was not willing to let the hubby ahead of him. I was furious, how can anybody not have a slight consideration for the other's plight! Hubby said something else to him and then the man let him. It seems the man had thought that hubby wanted to jump the queue because I was unable to manage R on my own and wanted him to come fast. How people just jump to conclusions!

-After collecting the cabin luggage, we rushed to the gate and boarded the airbus. We were among the last three to board the flight.

-Had a pleasant flight and were welcomed with awesome weather at Hyderabad.

-As we proceeded to the Aero-express bus stand, I saw a young girl waiting with a bouquet and an air of anticipation; smile and excitement lit up her face as soon as she saw someone, possibly her husband/boyfriend/fiance, walk up to her, the delight on his face matching hers. It was a cute sight, as they broke into a warm and quick hug.

-The next bus to our destination was at least 45 minutes later. So, we took a stroll around the bus stand where we found a crowd collected. It was a film shooting. All excited, I started to look for some familiar and popular face. Hubby remarked that he spotted a tamil comedian dressed up in khaki clothes. And then, the hero came - Karthi, of the Paiya fame. Found out that the shooting was for a movie named "Shakuni". The scene lasted for a whole of 10 mins, okay-ed at take 2. The hero had to shake up the comedian and give a one-line dialogue. I kept wondering how these actors must be mouthing several lines of dialogues with curious strangers peering around. What about the romantic scenes? So difficult to maintain a straight face if it were a serious emotional scene. Good thing 'am not an actor. Not a career for self-conscious people I guess. I managed to take a few long shots of the hero..:-).(didn't bring the camera cable, hence photos cannot be uploaded immediately. If interested, do check out this space later. I'll be posting the pics once I am back from the vacation.)

-Being pampered at aunt's place. R took exactly half an hour to get used to them and by evening he was his usual naughty self.

Signing off for now...
ETA: The pics as promised
Hubby and R watching from afar

R at 21 months

-R has begun to play imaginary games. He takes a cup and a spoon and feeds me imaginary "echam mammu" and "cham mammu".

-He is a very "fair child", meaning, if he plants a kiss on appa's cheek or hugs him, he'll immediately look for amma to balance the score.

-His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds by the day. He loves repeating the names of familiar objects to himself or to me as though to memorize or revise. While chanting those names, he'll pause and say, "apam, beya".(for apram, vera enna..meaning, "what else")

-The bed-time routine of brushing the teeth, changing into bedtime clothes and rocking him to sleep has been taken over by hubby a while ago. But R needs his blanky at any cost without which he refuses to sleep. This, he has been inspired by the sesame street "Nighty-Night book". Hubby would invariably forget the blanky and start to rock him, when R will remind him. So, hubby would call out to me to give it. These days, R has taken over that duty and as soon as hubby starts to rock him, R will call out my name and ask demand for the blanky!

-The throwing of things phase continues :-(. Thankfully, things do not go out of the windows these days.

-He loves watching songs over the computer. He calls them "daanchu paatu". He seems to have an ear for music and likes melodious ones. But, he doesn't like still pictures and hence cannot stomach too much of carnatic classical. Although he listens, after a while he'll start to squirm and demand "daanchu paatu". His favourite is this and this. A smile lights up his face whenever he listens to these.

-The other day, my mother called up and after talking to her, I handed over the phone to R. R amazed me and her by actually conversing with her. He waited for her to speak and he replied to her questions in turn. He also humoured her by saying a rhyme! Needless to say, the grandmother went gaga over him.

A tale of two cities

Hubby has a workshop to attend that is arranged by his company at the Hyderabad office next week. The workshop is for a week and he suggested that R and I join him so that we (R and I) can enjoy a mini-vacation at my maternal aunt's place who lives there. It's been a year since we left our home of 3 years at Hyderabad to move to Bangalore. I agreed immediately as I saw this as a perfect opportunity to spend some time with my family also revisit the city I first encountered as a new-bride.

After spending all my life in Mumbai, Hyderabad was the first other city I was to experience post-marriage. I was always open to the idea of settling outside Mumbai (with the exception of Chennai of course :-) People who know me or read my blog already know that) contrary to the popular belief that Mumbaikers find it difficult to adjust to any other city. Life in Mumbai is definitely way different from one in Hyderabad. There was no doubt about that. But having lived in one place all life, I was also longing to explore something different. Also, they city was not entirely new to me. I had had a few glimpses of the city beforehand during my visits to my aunt's. Of course a trailer is way different from the movie that plays. Here's a gist of what I experienced in both these cities.

Mumbai has a charm that holds several pieces together like a magnet. There is something about the city that envelopes everyone around into its arms and makes them feel like it is where they belong. Like a colourful painting where each figure has a meaning yet is only a part of the larger picture, the city lets you hold a separate identity yet doesn't let you feel out of place. In the daily life, the neighbours mind their own business but when the need arises even a stranger is ready to help you out. The local kirana guy knows you and doesn't mind the odd balance of money owed to him. Says, "chalega madam, kal dedijiye". A phone call to place a home-delivery-order for just a packet of bread at 7.a.m. is not ticked off, instead responded to promptly, even prompting us to place an order for things that might have skipped our sleepy minds. You can dare to go to a saree shop, toss 2 dozen sarees for an hour and step out of shop without buying any and yet not subject yourself to the wrath of the shopkeeper. All they have to say to indecisive buyers like us is," dekh lijiye, dekhne mein thodi paisa jata hain. Nahin pasand aya toh koi vanda nahin." On the flip-side, the city is over-crowded, travelling is a harrowing experience for both the seasoned and the new commuters and the weather can cause misery to many.

Hyderabad, I found, was in stark contrast to Mumbai in many aspects. While Mumbai's briskness could nudge the laziest person into working, Hyderabad could easily frustrate anyone who wished to work or get some work done. "kal aa jaata ma" is the standard reply you would get from the plumber, carpenter, electrician or the cable guy. And any one who has lived long enough in Hyderabad would know that "kal" never really means tomorrow. Kiranas never open before 11.a.m. and there is no concept of a home delivery for single items. If you think too much in a saree or dress-material boutique, the attendant may well lose his interest in you. However the city does have its fair share of pluses: spacious houses. I was floored by the sheer space to move about in both the houses we lived in during our stint. It is possible to live closer to your work place and not burn a hole in your pocket in terms of rent. That way you get to spend quality and quantity time with family after work too. Entertainment also comes cheap. You can watch a movie in a plush multiplex for a premium of just Rs.100.

For the time I spent in Hyderabad, I oscillated between the feelings of like and dislike for the city. While, I enjoyed the extra time and space, I missed the vibrancy and cosmopolitan outlook of Mumbai. It was like a give-and-take deal. But as it is with people, once you move away from a city or a person, you're able to reminisce with more fondness.

Teacher's pet, is that you?

Image courtesy: google.com

Teachers and students share a very peculiar relationship. I am not sure if it is an universal scenario- and I hope even if it is, it would change- but I have seen teachers at school play the favouritism game with students. If the student is good at studies or excels at sports or is a crowd-puller at cultural fests or is a combination of all the above, he/she is bound to get a special treatment from the teachers. Have you known someone who is weak in studies and who is not particularly good in the limited extra-curricular arena that he/she is exposed to in school being a favourite with the teachers? It is also probably human tendency to be attracted to someone or something that is pleasant or perfect at least in the superficial context. But shouldn't teachers behave differently? After all they are entrusted with the enormous duty of molding the future generation. Apart from imparting education and values, it is also impertinent that they instil self-esteem and self-confidence in a child.

I was a shy and timid girl in my childhood, at least upto my pre-teens. I rarely spoke up in school and would clam up when the teacher would ask me a question even if I knew the answer. I doubt if any teacher would have recognized me outside the classroom. Then something changed in secondary school, when I was in class 8. There were announcements of a singing competition to be held and names were requested of those who would be interested. It took a lot of courage on my part to give my name for the very thought of singing in front of about 500 students made my feet and hands go cold. But I went ahead and gave a decent performance too. I didn't win the competition that year. But a lot changed after that. Teachers who never knew I existed, for whom I was just another average student in a class of 60, took notice of me. Suddenly I had a distinct face and a name that would instantly come to the mind when one sees it. It was like magic and the magic worked both ways. I began to shed the shell of shyness around me and made conscious efforts to speak up and made sure I got noticed. This change was gradual and perhaps there were other factors too that led to the persona change in me but the acceptance and validation in the maze of other equally talented bunch of peers made a huge difference.

Every average person knows how important it is to feel accepted and being told to that someone is proud of him/her and sees potential in him/her. And a person who has remained an underdog knows it even more. What about the scores of little minds that go unnoticed? what about undiscovered talents that do not come under the common league of sports, dancing and singing and of course academics? Every child has a unique talent within that needs to be discovered and nurtured. Valuing oneself is an important lesson that is sadly not taught at schools. Having a sense of self-worth is akin to having oxygen to breathe. It is easy and only natural to promote and encourage kids that are already excelling but it is important to create an atmosphere where every kid is encouraged to hold his/her own. Teachers ought to shoulder part of this burden and maintain a neutral self with the students. It is not an easy task and such things might take a long time before the person himself recognizes and responds to his/her true calling in life.

Contemplating a move to Wordpress

Blogger is being difficult these days. Each day at least one of the widgets does not function well. The post updates of my favourite bloggers come many hours later than the update. Probably, it is the same in case of my updates. Some people complain of being unable to comment on my posts. Since, for me, my blog is a way of communicating and interacting with others (apart from giving me the perfect platform to air my views and express myself)reading and commenting forms a critical aspect- one I do not wish to compromise upon. From what I read over the blogosphere I understand that I am not the only one facing troubles with Blogger. So, I felt maybe it's time that I too made that shift to Wordpress.

But, as I began to set up my blog on Wordpress, I found that Blogger is actually more user friendly. The themes are very flexible unlike Wordpress where there the themes are quite rigid vis-a-vis widgets and menus. The features in Wordpress are confusing and the design and settings can be quite overwhelming without the instant-preview option. Funnily enough, the moving of posts from Blogger to Wordpress is the easiest. Last but not the least, Wordpress doesn't support the vanity-fueling "Followers" widget.:-)

After some labour, I did manage to set up the basic stuff however the site is still private and I am yet to make the official move. A weird feeling of leaving familiar grounds to set foot in a foreign land has engulfed me and I am having second thoughts on moving. It feels as though I would be cutting ties with old friends. Funny, I know. But it will help me decide if you guys give me your opinion and suggestions.


Two minds, two stances
two bodies, two poses
Two hearts bound to clash
like waves that ashore splash
Each wait for the other
to break the steely stupor

The cloud thick in-between
rises in anticipation
blurring reason and vision
You ask for the wind
to pour out the rain
and to melt the cloud of pain

With a kind word to embrace
playing a song of love on the lips
Falling as drops of truce
asking for forgiveness true
calming fluttering minds to align
restoring lost hope and shine

Image courtesy: google.com

Women power

I am amazed at the number of hits my post on Band Baaja Bride - a show on NDTV Goodtimes gets on any single day. This post is forever on the popular posts chart. The readers mostly stumble upon it via google while searching for information about the show and the way to participate in it. Sorry guys for being misled to my page. I am not even remotely connected to the channel, else would have provided more help.

I am just a regular fan of this channel- NDTV Goodtimes. It is a far cry from the other saas-bahu channels where a single issue is beaten to death by 50 shows with similar takes on the topic. An interesting feature I have noticed about this channel is the number of shows hosted, produced, written and directed by women. Most of the travel shows are some examples of this. I get the euphoric feeling just to see stereotypes broken when I watch cookery shows hosted by enthusiastic men and adventure shows spear headed by a female.

So, three cheers to women power and also to my 50th Post!!!

Image courtesy: google.com

Pay cut

Do you cut your maid's salary if she does not show up for work? If yes, what is the leeway you allow?
How many days of paid leave does she get in a month?
Do you also cut her pay if you go on a vacation?

Recently my maid complained to me about my neighbour who cut her pay because the neighbour went on a vacation and she saw no reason to pay the maid because there was no work. To me, it struck as meanness. I mean if you were working in an organization and you had to forgo your wages for even public holidays how would it feel? And such labourers do not even get benefits like a medical insurance or provident fund or pension. In that sense, they are far less privileged.

She is a reliable and efficient maid. I have generally been lucky in this matter so far. Touchwood. She seldom remains absent from work although she had mentioned about her 2 days per month off condition before joining work. I had no problems with this condition provided she gave me prior notice. Of that she has remained good to her word. I.e. she gives me ample prior notice and also she does not remain absent just to claim her 2 day off in a month. I am really thankful for her sincerity.

I believe in giving a freehand to my maids. I give them all the instructions right at the beginning of their employment and supervise discreetly for a few days later. If found satisfactory, I do not hover around daily to prompt them in their daily duties. I suck at such supervision. It makes me uncomfortable and fear it would make the other person too. Anything amiss is pointed out the next day with a gentle reminder and again I back off. Again, my maids have been faithful and probably also grateful for this gesture.

When it comes to cutting the wages, I generally do not resort to it unless the leave has been too long or very frequent and/or the quality of work has been compromised far too often. I strongly believe and this belief comes from the practice that is followed at my parents' home too that the people working for us need to be treated with more respect and consideration than is generally meted out to them. After all they come from a lower strata of the society and depend on our wages to run their household, their kids' education, etc. They are far less fortunate in terms of material worth than we are. Cutting pay for something beyond their control would be the meanest way to get even with them. Of course, there are counterpoints that present age maids cannot be relied on, they are in fact better off than they actually pretend to be, they resort to cutting corners on a sly, so on and forth. While there is an amount of truth to each of these points, the penalization should be used judiciously and not on absolute terms.

And on a lighter note, isn't it prudent to cut ego than wages especially when good and reliable maids are becoming endangered species at a rate faster than the tigers or maybe the girl-child (I am being mean here) in India?

A different weekend- breaking the mould

I generally do not post an update about a weekend spent because they pretty much follow a typical pattern. Half or more than that of Saturday goes about ticking off some mundane checklist related to home stuff. The next half and part of Sunday is spent meeting either set of friends and the remaining part is spent wondering and moping about where the weekend went and dealing with Monday blues. Actually Monday blues hit me even before Sunday ends. It has always been so, whether I was working or not. I am happiest on Friday night, with the merry feeling making a descending curve as the weekend passes flies.

So, what was different was this weekend? For starters, I wasn't looking forward to it at all. Hubby was going to be out of town for both the days. After sulking over the arrangement for a while, I just decided to get through with it for anyway my sulking wouldn't change anything. Hubby left on Friday night and that night was the toughest in terms of putting R to sleep. Although I kept mentioning to him about Hubby's trip in a way of preparing him for the husband's absence, he probably was at unease and just didn't sleep for over an hour of however patiently and painstaking I rocked him. I just collected enough wits to keep myself from screaming in frustration. I myself had a disturbed sleep with R getting up a couple of times in between.

However, things brightened up the next day and also something happened that had never happened before. I baked a cake!!!
R had finished his quota of nap in the morning which meant I had to forego my afternoon siesta. Since I would have nothing better to do, I thought I might as well make use of the eggs that had been lying for a week in the fridge. I had been contemplating baking a cake for quite a while, stacking up the ingredients in piecemeal. It was like preparing for an exam. I had always broached the subject of cooking as one would probably a History or an Economics -- only enough to pass. Baking was like doing a Masters in cooking, so quite out of my league. But having friends who cooked up non-regular dishes with passion and panache had probably somewhere deep down sowed the desire to break this mental block someday. So, with all the necessary ingredients, I scouted the net for a recipe that suited my requirements which is when I realized I lacked the basic equipments like a whisk or egg beater and even a proper microwave cake bowl. But I also knew that if I didn't use this time, it might be long before I again gathered the ingredients and the interest to bake. So, I decided to substitute the deficient with an electric blender and use the cooker to bake.

Thus, with the recipe in hand, I proceeded with the preparation. With the dry ingredients sieved, I started to beat the eggs and the butter but mid-way I was suddenly taken over by a overwhelming feeling of having been caught in a cannot-get-out-without-completing kinda panicky situation. The whisking and beating needed persistence and loads of cool-headedness. R was making a total nuisance by reaching out to every damm thing on the platform and opening all the cabinets and basically getting between my feet and the platform. So, keeping a cool head seemed a distant probability. I decided to use the electric blender I had- not exactly the kind you would use for such things. Nevertheless, it would hasten the process I thought. And viola! it did the job in a jiffy, albeit with a messiness I would have liked to avoid. But as you know, beggars cannot be choosers. So, I counted my blessings and went to the next level of mixing the dry and wet ingredients. From hereon, the process seemed to get simpler and I heaved a sigh of relief. The batter had to be beat thoroughly well. It was exhausting but since the product seemed like it would work, my spirits were high. Phew! it was time for the final part, that of baking and the waiting!

The cake turned out quite OK. It was spongy and soft. The only flaw was I forgot to add vanilla essence, hence there was a hint of the smell of the eggs and also maybe I could have baked it for a little longer- one part of the cake seemed a little raw and also perhaps to get a light crusty layer at the bottom. But other than these, I would say I passed with decent marks :-)

I leave you with an image of my efforts. I took the photo after I cut the cake into pieces. Let me warn you, it's not a very flattering one.

Wishing you all a Happy Friendships Day!!!

I recommend this book

Do books give you a hangover? I mean you read a book and then you dream of the characters in the book. It happens to me and when it happens I can safely say that the book in question has made a mark in my heart.

The Palace Of Illusions was one such book that I read in just four days flat. Well, bookworms may scorn at me for being vain for nothing but since I have known my recent history of reading books, for me it's a BIG and GOOD feeling.

I liked the book for the breezy narration and a different outlook it has given to the entire Mahabharata epic. The story unfolds in parts as dreams, stories and musings of Draupadi-the narrator of the story. The writer-Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni- has woven fiction and truth into an engaging novel. The women in this great Epic are brought out in a stronger light and we get to see a modern-age Draupadi baring her heart and soul through her narration.

Housework for the man

ETA: This post has been picked up by Blogadda as one of the top posts for the Tuesday Tangy Picks. Thank you BlogAdda!!!

We often hear women complain that the men in the house do not chip in with the household work because they are either mostly inept at it or they simply refuse to do something that they think is the women's prerogative. Just want to add a disclaimer here that this post also does not intend to generalize the situation and suggests to say that men have to pitch in with housework even after they have slogged their butts off at work and come home dead tired. I just wish to draw attention to the general attitude that many men have towards doing housework.

A quick rewind to a couple of generations ago: when the roles played by a man and a woman were strictly defined and neither stepped into the others' shoes. The men rarely ever even realized what work the women did but the women never complained, in fact subscribed to the discrimination even, 'cause they never knew anything different.

Times changed with women getting educated and working out of homes to bring in a size-able income - at times more than the man. Unfortunately, this did not automatically result in her downloading some of her home duties towards the man. She is still expected to do most of, if not all, the work at home. Yes, there are a few men who wait for the wife to come home to a warm meal. However heartening it is to hear of such tales, it is far and few. Also, since she is not paid for it, there was (is) no quantification of the numerous tasks that involve in keeping the home well-oiled and running. To the extent that the men gloat over themselves for doing the lion's share of work outside home and also getting the moolah to keep the house running.

I feel the problem lies with the conditioning of the society, particularly in the upbringing of the man. The patriarchal nature of the society got so ingrained in the woman that it began to reflect in the way the future men of the society got raised. She, while not being used to have her husband participating in the household chores sub-consciously kept her sons away from the same work. A young boy who does not see his father chip in with the housework sees it as the way things are meant to be. To a large extent the woman is responsible for not bringing up a boy with the sensitivity that if he does the work around the house, it is not big of him to so so. He need not do it only when the woman is absent/incapable/unable/disabled. The basic etiquette to clear up a mess in the house, putting things at the place where they belong to, washing, cleaning and clearing after a meal, that is cultivated in a girl at a very early age is sadly not done for a boy. He is allowed to just sit in his place and call for the mother for water, food and other things. His plate after dinner is washed by someone else, he is not required to learn cooking and also understand what entails having a house in a ship-shape order.

The guy about to leave house for studies is given a quick crash course in the basics of cooking, not with the intention of teaching him the art but just as a temporary survival guide that can keep him alive till he can afford a maid or gets married. Once the maid or the wife arrives on the scene, whatever little housework he knew is quickly 'forgotten' and the man behaves as though he never stayed in a organized and structured home.

In a nuclear set-up, if the wife is working, they may have a maid or two to help around and the husband may then pitch in a bit. Yet, the major chunk is done by or is expected to be done by the wife. Arrival of kids on the scene makes it only more daunting for the woman for she now has the additional work of baby care. Here again, even though the child is equally of the father, the tedious tasks of cleaning up the child after the potty, bathing and feeding the child is largely shouldered by the mother. Some new age fathers are an exception, though.

When a child is old enough to understand instructions, he or she must be trained to pitch in with the chores starting with the ones that will make them independent and then slowly graduating to other age-appropriate chores around the house. Dignity of work must be instilled early on and there should be no demarcation of work gender-wise. The boy should be equally encouraged and if need be even coerced to cook and wash utensils. The need and desire to pursue a career should be fueled equally in a girl as in a boy. The choices they make later will then be informed ones and not the only ones they have been forced to adopt. If we as the present generation mothers start this change, maybe a more equal and balanced society will not remain a dream.