Showing posts from March, 2009

Train to Kerala

I relish going to the Central Railway Station here, a colonial relic, to see off guests taking the night train to Kerala. There is a sense of sadness and nostalgia as we bid goodbye to relatives on a short visit to Madras, and increasing the yearning to visit our native land in Kerala.

In fact, I love to go to in the mornings to receive my guests, but I rarely get to do that since V goes alone while I spruce up the house and get the breakfast ready.The crowd fills me with a little awe and fear, and I cant say I love the mini-India I see there - people from across the country waiting for their trains, some on the waiting chairs, some settling down on the floor over a bedspread, speaking their varied tongues and partaking their varied cuisine, packed separately for each meal of the day. Some even manage a bath or a laundering under the public taps, and the parochial me wrinkles my forehead and look the other way.

The easy entry that a Rs.3 platform ticket can gain makes it easy for any nu…

Snacking tales

Each day after I return from work, I examine Ash's schoolbag to check if he has any homework to do, if there is enough liquid paraffin in the bottle (his class ayah is regularly bribed to apply it on him when his skin turns dry) and if he has emptied his snackbox.
Sometimes there is a biscuit or two left, but of late none. We have progressed from boring Marie biscuits, better known as the arrowroots biscuits, to Good day Butter biscuits and some sesame-seed-topped bakery biscuits. So he is happy.
Long back the teacher had told me that it made her sad to see him eat just Marie biscuits or banana chips, and so she would make him sit near her so that he didnt grab any taboo food from his classmates. He would often tell me to pack for him a few cream biscuits, cake or noodles, just to show his peers that he ate them too.
"Please pack Good day biscuits," he told me one day. "All the children bring Good day biscuits." The next day, he tells me, that Kishore (who seems t…

A bonhomie at home

I took a day off work to attend the function in Mira's school. Before we went for it, we dropped Ash in school. I guess it made him feel great to have his mother in her bright blue sari escort him to his classroom. So when I went to pick him, he came running to me with a "Mommy" cry.
Even though we (me and V) call our mothers mommy, I dont take kindly to being called mommy. We had made a conscious effort to return to our roots by making our kids call us by the Malayalam variants of father, mother, uncle, aunt etc. and not the anglicised versions that we 'learnt' to call our parents. Ash promised me later that day that he'd call me Amma :)
The next day he beseeched me to stay at home again and take him to school. Guess children like to have their moms at home to pamper them. Mira has been telling V that she likes Amma to be at home to receive her when she returns from school. This mother-children bonhomie is beginning to surprise V, who until recently was the c…

Little stars

At the annual day in Mira's school today afternoon... with the IInd year BSc Nutrition students of WCC after the programme, alone in her specially tailored dress, with her teachers, and singing hymns (left on the 2nd row). The function lasted an hour and had - apart from the customary welcome note, vote of thanks, a couple of speeches by the college dignitaries - the children take part in a few rounds of singing, dance to the tune of "Five Little Ducks went swimming one day" (dressed like five bright yellow ducks) and later an African number (in tribal outfits) and a fat little boy sing "Old Macdonald had a farm" with some prompting from his teacher. While some kids looked extremely confident and comfortable with the whole show, some looked unsure and miserable (that lil boy on the extreme right in the bottom picture bawled loudly throughout the song session). But the audience, mostly the proud parents and their relatives, enjoyed their performance or lack of i…

The debates

One morning, Ash woke early and went up to the window to have a look outside. He heard the crows and the other birds and the hawkers, and cried out to me: "Look Amma, it is morning. Look Vaava, raavile aayee."
Mira studied the light outside with half-closed, half-sleepy eyes and said: No, ithu vaikitta (This is evening). A debate ensued, with Mira insisting that it was evening and Ash shouting that it was morning. It drove him mad and in the end he began crying. Mira stood her ground, savouring the argument.
That's how she is. Unruffled and mentally stronger than her older brother. She loves to irritate him. Not only that. She is beginning to boss over him. "Ashin, get me that" or "Keep this plate in the kitchen" etc etc. And he does as she says. The only thing he refuses to do is keep away his shoes in the shoerack. Which the lil sister thinks is her duty. She faithfully arranges it inside the cabinet.
I guess she will soon be taking care of him than th…


I am changing the blog look once again, since my bro tells me that some of his friends found it was difficult to read on the light grey background.
This time, the change was achieved courtesy V, who has a much better sense of colour and order than me. Though unfamiliar with the blog terrain, once he got down to it he got very interested and gave me a satisfactory color combo. I must get him to sketch something for the header.
Meanwhile the maid is acclimatising well. She is a typical old-world type from Kerala - chews betel leaf at least 5 times a day and wears a lungi-blouse-towel combo after an initial attempt to survive the Chennai weather in synthetic saris. The kids initially found her attire strange, and insisted that she wear something else but have now got used to her.
They get along well with her and she relishes their company too. Only, once I reach home Mira changes colour. "I like only Amma, enikku ammame ishtamalla," with a stress on the last word. But the momen…

The friends

As I pack my lunch in the morning, Ash asks me: "Amma, are you going to office to eat?"
Yeah! I function like a government employee most often.
The next question is easier. "Amma, what is your sir's (teacher's) name?
I give my boss's name.
Ammede kootumarante perentha? (What is your friend's name?)
I ask the question to him in return.
Achachente schoolil kootumaran illa, only piller. For him, all his peers are kids while he remains the Achachen.
I tell him he stop calling himself Achachen (big brother). "You are Mira's Achachen, my Achin and Appa's Achukuttan."
"But my teacher calls me Asmin Daniel." He imitates the roll call in the class. He is No. 2.
He also knows the names of some of the piller in class. Jerin George, Kishore, Anjali... The first two seem to be his favorites. And Anjali, he tells V, is his girlfriend.
There she is, giving a very coquettish side glance on their Sports Day :)

From Kiddies' Sports day '08

Mira too…

The namesake

There is a new baby boy in the apartment directly below ours. Coincidentally he is February-born, is called Ashwin and was born under the same star. On Friday, his grandma came to invite us to celebrate his homecoming on Saturday. I mean, for over a month after his birth, the baby had been at his mother's parents' place.

I went alone, because I couldnt take Mira alone without Ash's knowledge. V stayed back thinking it was a hen's party.

The baby was asleep in his crib when I reached. He reminded me of Ash when he was an infant - puny and brown and quiet. I made small talk with his mother and the other ladies in the block. Apparently the function was something to do with shifting him to a cot, and had a name to that effect. I didnt watch the actual ceremony, brief as it was and the venue surrounded by zealous relatives. But I trotted down for the ensuing dinner despite an already full tummy. Idli-sambar-chutney and chapati-korma and some sweets - most of which had a home-…

Books and bonding

Spotting a Crossword store at a petrol station on his way to school, Ash said: "Amma, let's go in there and get Usha aunty's CD."

"Some other time. Now we have to get to school."

V, who has his eyes on the road, asks what it is.

"A new book store at the petrol pump," I tell him.

"I think your son will soon be a good reading chum for you. And Mira will take after me," V tells me prophetically.

I am already thinking of taking him to British Council Library when he is old enough to read on his own. An idea given by a friend.

Once upon a time, dad used to take me and my brother to the state library in Dares-salaam, Tanzania. But most of the time he would get books on his own and I read whatever that came. The ones on Greek and Roman mythologies were repeats and often overlapped, but it helped to remember the stories better. Even before that, he would get me books from his college library. Most of my reading has been his consideration, his thought,…


As the Samsung technician teach me the basics of operating the new washing machine, he asks me: "Does sir work with Samsung?" He is surprised to come across a Samsung pc monitor, aircon, refridgerator and microwave oven. "'Sir" is away at work, and I struggle to grasp the mechanics of the machine while the kids make a nuisance of themselves amidst all this.

"No," I smile, but we have been pretty happy with the Korean company products. Our first Samsung product was a 14 inch TV, which served us in good stead, until we went for a bigger one when we shifted to our own house. It now serves my dad back in Kerala, who needs to watch newsbulletins endlessly, but couldnt in the evenings when my mom watched her favorite soaps on Malayalam channels. Sam sung! Sing-sang-sung

A new launderer

We prove yet again that we are hardcore Samsung consumer durables' fans. A Samsung washing machine has made its entry home today and is waiting for the technician to come and open it so that its users can be taught how best to manage it in Chennai conditions (read borewater/hardwater).
Since the partimer didnt turn up to take up her laundry duties, V was forced to bring home a washing machine following my and his parents' prodding. We looked up a few models on Sunday while I persisted with my mera wali pink, a pink-tinged top-loading Samsung model I had come across some months back. My pink machine was nowhere on display and a couple of Ag+ technology ones had taken its place, so we decided to go for this medium-range one and ignore the saleman's advice to buy an IFB frontloading one. I somehow dont like frontloading ones - frightening caves they are - and we didnt want to invest in a high-end, steel tub model that would rust in Chennai waters.
My inlaws left yesterday night…

Old new wine

The night of 28th seemed strange to us - it is not often that we get the house to ourselves without the stifling though utilitarian presence of a live-in maid. The maid left, with a tinge of sorrow and tearful eyes as she bid Mira goodbye (Ash being asleep at the time of her departure), since she had been with us for over a year. She came here a skeleton, a victim of domestic violence from a drunkard spouse, and left healthy and strong, a strength doubled by the economic independence that a regular income, free boarding and lodging and a safe shelter brought. I hope her next assignment brings her more luck.
Things have been a lil hectic at home ever since the old maid left and the new one made her entry on March 1 with my inlaws. She is yet to settle down, so me and mil have been chipping in and I just about manage to depart for work at 1.45 pm (being on the evening shift this week, thankfully). Ash also has classes from 2 to 4.30 pm, so that gives me just enough time to give him his m…

Ash and the Tigger

A belated celebration yesterday evening.