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Showing posts from August, 2007

Wanted: A Pied Piper

There is a little rat visiting my kitchen in the night, after the lights are off. I think it has been making the rounds for at least a week now but the maid suspected it only yesterday, when she found a few things misplaced/missing. We did some investigations and found that it had dented a hole on the plywood circling the chimney pipe.
And yesterday when I switched on the kitchen light late in the night, I caught it red-handed. The rat got so nervous that it ran up and down and over my feet. That had me jumping up and down myself and shrieking. And that had Ash crying in fear for he saw the little rodent run over my feet and onto the kitchen sill and on to the spices-tea-cofee shelf and then the onion-potato shelf, where it decided to sit still contemplating its next move while watching us through one shiny black eye. It spotted the electric chimney wire and jumped on to it and up the chimney and over to the top of the cupboard and out.
It probably came back again because it seemed to…

Storm Breeze in a teacup

One of the two cups I acquired recently for our early morning tea. V doesnt think much of my selection, which I had done holding Mira in one arm and trying to prevent her accidentally or otherwise pulling down the crockery on sale. He says the so-called arty design looks like milk boiled over! The maid manages to make a crack/chip in the tea cups I keep for daily/rough use and since I cant stand even the smallest crack on my tea cup, I go for a new one at the earliest opportunity. Of course I dont let her use my best crockery and glassware.

Onam celebration

This year we celebrated with traditional fervour - ethnic-but-contemporary* Kerala attire and a sadya (feast) served on banana leaves on the floor! It has been years since I had a meal squatting on the floor. Our lunch menu had rice with parippu (lentils) curry and a splash of ghee and pappads broken into it to give that special taste, sambar, french beans thoren, avial, ginger curry, banana chips and as dessert, parippu payasam. We skipped making other traditional dishes like olan, kaalan, theeyal for want of time.
The kids were intrigued, but loved it. Though initially they were running through the leaves laid on the floor!
p.s. *contemporary because a churidar-kurta in cream and gold fabric is an innovation that came not more than 10 years back. Until then, the traditional attire meant a Kerala sari in cream and gold border. The atha poo arrangement is at V's office. They are always looking for an occasion to celebrate and in festival-centric India that is not a difficult proposi…

Happy Onam

My State festival today. A day meant to commemmorate the visit of the legendary king Mahabali, from the underworld, to his people . A king who was sent off to the underworld by the Gods through a trickery for being godlier than them.
Only when Maveli comes, he will find that his dear old Kerala is too rotten to merit a visit. It will make the poor king go back sadder than when he came.
p.s. We are planning a multi-course meal, in banana leaves, for lunch thanks to the maid.

Another birthday

I write this taking a 5-minute break from editing the Lead Story for this issue of our magazine.
The highlights of the day are:
It is my brother's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Kochumon. May you continue to have a dream run in life.I had a glimpse of actress Revathi at the Lifestyle Homecentre showroom while buying window curtains. She looked pretty young for her age (must be at least 40, considering that she was a star performer some 15-20 years back in Malayalam and Tamil films), maybe it was the make-up. V said her cameraman (movie) husband was there too but I didnt see him. She looks nicer than in the movies - she was never great in the looks department but she was great in the histrionics dept. and did some class movies. Living in a city believed to be the lifeline of the South Indian - at least Malayalam and Tamil - movie industry, I havent sighted enough reel artistes. Only actresses Hema Malini, Gautami, KPAC Lalita, Sukumari and Meera Jasmine, actor Srinivasan (at a hospital) a…

Holiday mayhem

Ashwin has 4 days' leave beginning today - today is a Tamil Brahmin festival called Varalakshmi nombu and monday is Onam, my State festival! Today morning we packed him to school only to find it closed. (Apparently the watchman had told the maid about the holidays but there is a language barrier that prevents the maid from understanding much of the local language.)
And I had been raving at the school authorities for giving him 6 pages of Homework yesterday. I had,after reaching home at 8.30 p.m. yesterday, sat with him and made him write a page each of A, B,C and 1, 2, 3. It tired us both no end. Now I understand - it was meant to keep him occupied the next 4 days.
So upon returning home, a fully charged Ash littered the house with shoes off the rack and pots and pans from the kitchen. And Mira, who cried sick today, added to the commotion. I just hope the maid didnt have too difficult a time - I am too scared to call and find out the damage.
Ash is now on homeopathy treatment for hi…

Birthday boy (old)

Today is V's birthday, and I got him a Nokia 2626, which has FM radio and a handsfree speaker. It has a copper body with blue keypad. He doesnt much care for high-end models as he tends to misplace... But when I gave it he said he would have liked a high-end model!! I didnt even find time to get a gift wrapper - not that he cares for such etiquette. We might eat out at night. The maid made vermicelli payasam in the morning. No cakes. No greetings card. Except for the one from the parish priest, with a small envelope to put bday offerings next Sunday! After college days, I lost interest in greetings cards. I now find preserving them a pain. Come to think of it, we dont preserve cards as we have an incinerator at home - Ash.

The rhyme troupe

Ash and me have now formed the Singers' club at home. But only rhyme concerts. Since he is not a full-fledged speaker, he kind of hums the tune to me and expects me to sing.
It goes something like this:
Amma, thich oma...
And I sing: This old man, he played one, he played knick knick on my ... this old man came rolling down.
By then, he hums the next tune impatiently.
And I sing: If you are happy and you know it clap your hands...
Next comes Eeeaa eeaa ow. So I sing Old Mcdonald had a farm...
This goes on for at least half an hour before he goes to sleep. It also entertained us on the Sunday ride on the ECR route in the absence of a cassette/CD player in the car.
Mira chipped in with Twinkle twinkle little star...
Ash has a sweet voice and we have a gut feeling he might turn out to be a good singer. Our little stars. Diamonds on earth.

An artisans' village

Ash outside a typical Tamil Nadu residential colony at Dakshinachitra.A basket weaver's tenement recreated at DC.The Kottayam Achayan outside a typical Syrian Christian house from Kerala.Vaalpayattu (swordfight) in the evening by artists from Kannur, Kerala.****Yesterday after church (we finally managed to make it for the morning mass as a family, and not just the Lord of the House making his weekly attendance), V suggested that we go to Dakshinchitra ( is the website address they give on their brochure but it is going up the wrong link) won the Mahabalipuram route. It had been on our 'list of places to see' like Mahabs itself. After cooling our systems with tender coconut water on the way and promising ourselves that we will get a few plant saplings from the numerous nurseries en route, we went past the Toll Plaza on the East Coast Road with the sea on the left and the many entertainment parks - MGM Dizee World, the veteran VGP Golden Beach, …

At the Welfare Centre

Today was a day dedicated to blood tests for me, V and Ash at the company clinic - blood sugar, thyroid etc. The kids were up at 5.30 am today and had a rudimentary game of cricket (I guess it is an inborn talent in every Indian kid these days)and exercise in the cool early morning breeze - thanks to the sharp shower yesterday night. Leaving a howling Mira behind, we embarked for our destination at 7.30 am on an empty stomach to give the fasting blood sugar. Drawing Ash's blood for testing was an effort and three of us had to pin him down for that. He however got a candy for being brave.
A packed breakfast and vending machine coffee later, we sat on a granite bench on one side of the building while Ash had his fill of running up and down the grass as well as the ramp for the handicapped. He made friends with the other patients and went around showing the handiplast over the vein.
Waiting 1 1/2 hours for the post-prandial sugar test is a pain, and killing time is not easy when shop…

Happy 60th bday, India

India has now become a senior citizen, according to V. That's from the Independence day celebrations at his office on Tuesday night.
The kids came home on Tuesday afternoon with flags gifted by the school authorities. Mira held her little flag high as maid carried her home. Ash seemed to have had some kind of programme at school as he had powder on his forehead, lipstick on his lips and cheeks and a tiny flag pinned on his t-shirt.
In V's office, they even cut a cake... There were no such celebrations in my office - I guess there was a flag-hoisting as usual on 15th morning which I didnt attend. I decided to forgo the temptation of overwages for working on a holiday and sit at home with V and the kids. In effect, I got my 2-day weekend on 14-15, since I took my off on 14th.
The two leading dailies in Chennai came up with special supplements to celebrate the occasion.

I had a pre-lunch and a post-lunch/nap shopping yesterday. The latter one at Pantaloons in Spencer Plaza went on ti…

Big brother is watching

Ashwin now calls himself Achacha (big brother) after what Mira calls him! So he wakes up with: Achacha uvvavu (his special word for ill/sick). And the Big Brother doesnt eat anything unless he gives Lil Sister a share, even though he still bullies her when he gets a chance. The lil sister also feels lost if BB is not around, which was why we had to abandon the idea of taking Ash alone when we went provision-shopping yesterday evening.
Taking two Under-Five brats shopping has been a tough proposition, we had found in our two nanny-less months. We only managed running behind them in the shops or checking if they were upto any trouble for the salesboys - such as pulling the hangers off cloths or pulling brand-new outfits out of their cases or gnawing at all the chocolates over their wrappings - and always finished our shopping in a haste or half-done.
We had woken up too late to attend the morning mass, so I decided to take Mira for a haircut while I got some beauty therapies for myself. M…

Demolition season

Sipping coffee provided by the office[old]boy (I am privileged to get a share of the special coffee he gets from the canteen kitchen for the boss), I watched the old canteen in our office complex being demolished. It is a very sturdy structure and has put up a stiff resistance to the months-long demolition, but now it is almost history.
Where will all this rubble go, I wonder. The city is full of old buildings giving way to new.
And builders have a strange fancy for English place names. So we have apartment complexes called Trafalgar, Victoria, Westminster and so on.
Vestiges of the colonial rule.

Sunday, 1.30 am IST: A long day at work, and I am dead tired now. The kids went off to sleep early, V said. Ash wouldnt have realised I'd be so late or else he'd have kept awake like he does whenever I dont reach before 11 p.m. That's when I know he cares for me - the rest of the time his Appa is all that matters to him.

Complaint Mary strikes again!

I am really beginning to enjoy SMSing complaints about excess fares by autos as well as calling up to make a complaint. I dunno if I am going to make a difference or if the authorities will take any action but I think I am going to make complaining a hobby like blogging.
Well, Ash had this eye infection as a remnant of his viral fever-gastritis of last week and the discharge and swelling were enough to make V take a work break today and drop us off at the eye clinic, after making a trip to the dermatologist about Ash's atopic eczema.
Unlike in the evenings, there were hardly any patients waiting at the derm's clinic and so we got in as soon as we reached. Ash showed the grand old lady prof (retired from the Medical College) his worst areas of affliction the moment he walked in and saw her. She told us that it was genetic and that we avoid too much temperature fluctuations - which probably explained why he itched more after we switched on the AC at night. She gave us a wide range…

The 22-month-old terror

Babycentre asks me: Does your toddler insist on climbing into her own car seat or pull things out of your hand? She'll fight harder now than ever to explore the world on her own terms. Strong opinions and rigidity are hallmarks of toddlerhood. You can avoid a tug of war by respecting your toddler's preferences and giving in on the little things. Letting her choose which jam to use on toast or which pyjamas to wear to bed will give her the sense of control she craves. The secret is to give her only options that are acceptable to you. That doesn't mean you should become a pushover to prevent tantrums...

Mira's latest addition to her vocabulary is the word po (go= get lost). So a moody Mira often dismisses us with Amma po, Acha po and Rice po. And yesterday morning, as V was trying to get her to repeat the Numbers, she grumpily said, One po.
Toddler trait 2: She hates the bib, and pulls it off and prefers to mess her frocks/tops instead with the food. (Ash never liked bibs …

View from above

A procession late at night to a temple, dragging on a pull-cart a deity adorned by massive floral garlands... God know what it was about, but there were a dozen kids dancing/prancing in front of the cart. Ash loved the drums, but Mira was frightened by the petty crackers that caused much sound though no fury!

Inherent dangers of toddler feeding

V had to have his left eye bandaged yesterday evening after Mira accidentally poked his eye with the sharp edge of a stick she was playing with (dont ask me what sticks are doing in the house) while he was feeding her lunch. The opthalmologist said he could have it removed after 8 hrs by which time it would heal.
It was good he had it bandaged at night, so he didnt fidget too much but went off to sleep. And before he left for the rail station early morning to pick up maid, he had the bandage removed. He is still applying eye drops.
Ash was extremely angry with Mira for what she did to his dad but Mira was cool and didnt seem to realise the gravity of her act.

Two sick babes

Mira took ill too yesterday, so I abandoned plans of coming to work... and blogging :0
Ash seem to have passed on the viral infection to her, and so V and a dishevelled Kala (my partimer) took her to the paed at noon, while I stayed home to take care of a loose-bowelled Ash.
A diapered Ash (he is fully toilet-trained otherwise, but not in a health crisis like this) was sent home from school half an hour before closing time. He had seemed somewhat ok after 4 days at home and I didnt want the teachers saying that he was absenting himself too much, which was why we sent him.
A semi-toilet trained Mira also had to kept diapered to prevent too much mess around the house. As it is, I had a hard time cleaning 2 tiny bottoms at frequent intervals.
The only plus point was that I got to snatch a quick afternoon (if 4 p.m. can be called afternoon) nap before the door bell rang to herald the arrival of a guest. My first worry was: What am I going to conjure up on the dining table the next 2 days whil…

A citizen complains!

Today, I registered a complaint against an autodriver who inspite of overcharging me, decided to drop me 50 metres before my destination. He said he had underestimated the distance and had quoted me a fare which he thought was less than what he should have asked. Like the rest of Chennai's autowallahs, he had refused to put the meter and had instead quoted a figure he said was a fair fare.
I have been paying 30-50 % extra every day to reach office by auto (high time I brush up my car-driving skills and use one) but like most of Chennai's passengers, I did not have the time or inclination - after all, what use will it be - to complain to authorities on the phone numbers given in the newspapers when auto fares were revised early this year. But yesterday's fleecing prompted me to hunt for the phone numbers on the net and store them in my mobile. And I put it to use today. The lady I spoke to was pretty courteous for an Indian bureaucrat and said she will take action - I gave t…

The slate

Ash has a slate to write on now. He lost the chalk pencils already. Reminds me of the days when I wrote on a slate in my nursery school at the local Catholic church. But those days, slates had wooden frames unlike the plastic ones now. There is an influx of plastic products in our life since the mid-1980, I think. Glory to the pre-plastic days, when polythene carrybags and plastic containers and lunch boxes were unheard of. Kids carried their books in a small aluminium box (like a small suitcase in aluminium) and their lunch in aluminium boxes too (until steel entered the scene) or in banana leaves folded and wrapped in a newspaper leaf (rice and side dishes packed in banana leaves still taste divine to me and I get to have them when my mil packs our dinner for the train journey back to Madras).