Friday, December 19, 2008

From the other side

First of all I have to thank you, my blogging friends for your good
wishes on our move back and I apologise for not being able to reply to
each one of you personally. But I do appreciate them all. Getting
settled, erring internet connections at times and big and little
things taking up my attention and energy is what preventd me from
doing so. I have been missing reading blogs and generally having some
time to myself for reading and writing but am giving us time to settle
down .

Its a strange kind of feeling as I visit my parents to stay with them
for few days before settling down into everyday life once Ashwini
reaches, starts office, Vansh starts school and we begin a new chapter
in life here. I see some small changes here and there, some parks
better kept, few new houses, few others with their look changed but
for the major part everything's still the same, the same cars parked
at the same spots around the park right in front, even the same
familiar number plates which one doesn't actually remember but
suddenly recognises with a flash the moment one spots them, the same
people walking with the same gaits I remember and associate them with.
Even at home I know exactly where anything is kept. I still grope in
the dark for the hair drier on the second last shelf in my mother's
cupboard and find it there, the same cups line the utensils rack in
the kitchen - it seems like I was here just a week back and nothing
has changed in the past week. Until I look at my children running
around the house, one after the other or down on all fours driving a
truck or a plane. And its then that I realise that what seems like
just a blink of an eye has actually been 5 long years. Life is indeed
strange when it strikes you like that.

children are having a ball. Its the best vacation time for them -
spending time with both set of grandparents, going out to parks,
watching TV, they are loving it all. For the first few days Vansh
remembered his teachers at preschool and our neighbors saying that Ms
Debra or Lopa aunty would be missing Vansh. Thereafter he does remeber
them off and on when he spots a phone a particular friend of ours had
or when he sees a cartoon character whose shirt his friend wore. Just
this past weekend he suddenly felt a strong urge to go back when he
chatted with his dad and saw him in our apartment there on the webcam.
He said he wanted to go there and play with papa and have chalupa at
Taco Bell. But when he realized that he would have to leave India and
go to US for that, he preferred waiting for his dad to come here.
Jiya is learning to say new words and imitate many new actions these
days. She goes "Thatam" for Khatam after she finishes something in her
mouth. When we ask her "Jiya ne kya khaya", she goes "Popcom" for
Popcorn. When we ask her "Nana kaise karte hain?", she lifts her index
finger, nods here head from side to side and says "No no no no no!" in
a sing song way. She is living up to her title of drama queen to the
tee. She cries loudly one minute and then if we say something to her
liking like mentioning going out for a walk, she immediately starts
laughing out loud.

Vansh is much better socially this time round than the last time we
visited 8 months back. At that time he refused to talk with anyone
else outside his circle of trust of 6-7 people and actually roared and
shouted if someone tried to come too close. Now he is socialy polite
with everyone and exchanges niceties when spoken to :) He still
prefers spending time with his entrusted circle consisting of our
immediate families and few cousins.

Both the kids absolutely love going to the park and the weather being
too good at this time of the year, late mornings to early evenings is
the best time to go. The past weekend we went to a birthday party at
Deer Park, a huge park in Hauz Khas where deer and peacocks roam
around in a pretty big enclosure. Both the kids were delighted to see
them and wanted to get as close as possible to them. Vansh even fed a
few whole peas to the deer and was in utter awe of the brown speckled
creatures and narrated the incident to everyone who cared to listen.
When with other children, he now leaves my side, unlike last time, and
runs and plays aroubd with them. However one hitting or bullying
incident among other kids is right now enough to woo him away and back
by my side for a long time. He then prefers and in fact takes delight
in chasing squirrels and pigeons and keeps asking me why he is not
able to touch them. Jiya follows him around as if he is her hero. Each
and every single action is viewed with awe and attempted to be
reproduced by her. I have close to 10 pictures where both of them are
doing the exact same thing and I'll post them pretty soon.
I am knee deep into Vansh's admission process into a proper school
this year and the situation is nightmarish to say the least. So its
getting forms, filling forms, making calls, following the school's
websites, preparing for interactions, communicating with other
aspiring parents hoping for a bright future for their little ones.
Wish us luck on this one.

So its me signing off now, not sure when I'll write again. But wishing
each one of you and your family a wonderful holiday season, a very
Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year 2009. Hope it brings much good
luck, great health and many many delightful moments for you to spend
and cherish.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random notes ...

...for my mind's too cluttered for anything coherent enough to merit a separate post by itself. For the last few days, I have been drafting several posts but that's where they remain - in the drafts - for the lack of time or concentration. This one too is from last Tuesday and today I thought let me post a last one before I finally move back to India and get back in the groove of writing again.

- So the date's finally final. Nov 29th it is when I and the kids head back to apna desh and yes I travel alone. Ashwini follows after 3 weeks. A couple of schools we have applied to have come out with schedules for parents' interaction in the first and second week of December, thus requiring me and the kids to fly ahead of his release date. Thankfully I got the preferred itinerary after several e-mails back and forth between Ashwini and the travel department of his company.

- Vansh is super excited about the move. Everytime he talks to his grandparents and this has been happening for the last month or so, he started out by saying "Main kal India aane wala hoon", the next time he spoke, he said "Main aaj shaam ko aa raha hoon", followed by "Main 5 minutes mein aa raha hoon" and now its finally down to "Main abhi aa raha hoon. Mummy chalo chalte hain."
When I went to his preschool last week on his last day there, his teachers joked that he has been telling them he is going to India ever since he went there in September. That's what he talks about when they take him to the loo. That's him - whosoever meets him for even a few minutes can by no way miss the things that he absolutely loves and hates during that particular time. So if you were to meet him today he would tell you, after of course telling you that he's going to India, that he likes to watch 'Alvin and the chipmunks', he likes to eat 'Orange chicken and fish', he does not like to eat dosa and that he is silly!! Yeah!

- So its taking stock, selling, packing, checking weight, opening, adjusting, throwing out and re-packing at our household these days. Looking at the ongoing selling spree, when we lay our hands on anything belonging to Vansh as small as the set of some redundant keys Vansh likes to play with, he says "Please meri keys mat becho!"

- Apart from the move,the kids are growing up way too fast. Its been a while since I did an update post for them and its been one new development after another. Jiya is the reigning drama queen who is already a 3 year old in the body of a 16 month old. Reverse psychology is what works with her and what I have been using to feed her her meals. I keep telling her "Jiya, mat kha, mat kha" to which she protests with a grunt, comes running to the dining table (yes, she doesn't sit there for more than 3-4 bites) and opens her mouth wide. Its working, so I let it be and am not too particular about making her sit on the table and then just whine or throw everything off and end up not eating.

- Her tantrums have gotten huge. She throws a fit whenever she doesn't get her way. She starts by pouting her lips followed by throwing whatever it is in her hand and then goes on to bawl at ear splitting decibel levels. Off late, I have been trying to make her pick up what she throws off in a fit. In the beginning that too was met by a tantrum but now she knows there is no way out. As is usually the case with second borns, we as parents are better prepared and don't lose temper too easily on these small things because we know the bigger ones are yet to come :)


- The dining table in the kitchen is her second home. She spends the better part of the day on it - takes her toys and plays with them over there, takes her books to look at, eats, colors or just looks around. I think she likes to come up to our level and enjoys the view of the world from there.

- She is a very very cuddly baby. Every few minutes, she would just come from whatever she is doing and hug us and kiss us and then go back again. She loves girls elder to her. Our next door neighbor and friend's daughter Antara and one of Vansh's preschool friend Shreya are her favorites and she showers them with generous doses of hugs and kisses.
- Vansh is getting more and more interesting by the day. His latest is pretending to be Ms Debra and Ms Jodi, his two preschool teachers. He acts very solemn and goes on to say "Two more minutes to playtime."; "Hold the rail friends!"; "Zack you are going to sit on, lets see, J today, Quinn is going to sit on mmm M" followed by some more incomprehensible English. Now that most of his toys are either packed or gone, he spends a lot of time playing pretend. He pretends that a blanket is a moving truck moving books or an empty toy box is a garbage truck carrying all the small remaining toys. This morning a maintenance guy was at our place for about 5 minutes to repair the dishwasher and Vansh pretended to be him for the next hour repeating the sentences he said and Vansh understood.

- Questions, questions, questions, truck loads of them. He now enjoys having all kinds of conversations and tries to understand more by asking more and more questions. At times, still the why's make no sense. At which point I just ignore it. I am right now finding it hard to remember snippets here. But it'll be a whole post soon.

Hah ...so that's that for today. I am a mixed bag of emotions right now. From being very very aversive to coming and staying in the US initially, away from family to finally being heavy hearted leaving it behind, its been a long journey spanning close to five years. Being married, motherhood two times round and being on our own in a country seven seas apart are reasons enough to make these five years truly memorable. Some great friendships, some great insights into the culture, getting to know the great parenting styles and oh the super cool public library system (yeah I am overly obsessed with it) will make me remember and cherish these years with much fondness.

So adieu friends! See you on/from the other side of the world!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I adore the stage ...

... Vansh is at because

- Even though he wants to be Batman, he snuggles up close when I play a Batman video for him on the TV and after a while not being able to stand the fighting, switches it off declaring "Vansh ko accha lagta nahin hai!"

- When his 7 year old neighbor, friend and hero dons his cool jazzy Ben 10 watch the size of a tennis ball, Vansh comes home quickly and asks to wear his old and tattered faded green Shrek watch (which incidentally we found lying somewhere) and races back to show to his hero.

- Everytime he sees flowers, he remembers his Nani because she had brought flowers for him at the airport last time he went and then tells her to get 10 orange flowers for him this time.

- Once again, he called his hero to come to his house and look at the NEW little 20 inch TV that we got off Craigslist (after having sold off the one we had as we get ready for the move.)

- He kept loving and preferring the old 94 model Toyota Corolla to the newer Honda CRV because we bought the Corolla much later (just a few months back to serve us for the remaining 3-4 months as we needed 2 cars with the kids' increasing activities out of home) and hence actually it was the new car for him.

How I wish the utterly delightful innocence lasts forever!

And by the way a couple of days back, I had to make him stand straight for clicking a picture for attaching to his school registration form which my father in law is filling back in Delhi. I had to click 35 odd pictures to get a couple of decent results because Vansh decided to honor me by making one silly face after another. However at the end of it, I laughed as I went through all the pictures I had taken because they covered almost all the expressions and the accompanying face on his look he has these days - from grumpy to angry to giggly and mostly silly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Change!

What a night and what a Sweep! At 10:01 pm CST, CNN projected Barack Obama as the 44th US President. That was just one minute past the voting in California and the other PST states would have ended. The difference in votes was huge and he was very close to the 270 electoral votes which he needed for a victory, which he did in the next 20 minutes or so. It was monumental, a moment when something as simple as the emotion of joy on the faces of the people speaks for itself as it did last night as hundred thousand people gathered in Grant Park, Chicago awaiting the arrival of the President elect.

I did follow the elections this time but not very closely. If I had to vote, I would have studied the candidates and their campaigns much more in-depth. However that didn't stop me from joining the Obama cult :) He is everything one needs to be to become a role model for millions - he is young, dynamic, an amazing learner, an excellent orator - I think I saw the eyes of almost everyone brimming over with joy as he delivered his victory speech last night with the motto "Yes we can!". He has raised the hopes of milllions of Americans in the power of democracy. He has made the African Americans and many other minorities believe that they too have the right to dream Big and know that its possible to realize that dream. I have no idea what change will happen from now on but for me, for now, Obama being elected president and such overwhelmingly is a huge Change.

I couldn't ever think that I would write a post on Obama's victory but I guess that's what he has done to each and everyone in this country, sit up and applaud the history that he's created! And I am glad that I am witness to it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Magnificiently colorful indeed!

September-October in Minnesota is incomplete without a post about the beautiful fall we have been fortunate to experience for 3 years here. The fiery reds, zesty oranges, the bright sunny yellows and golds are one of the most beautiful sights from the huge bounty that mother nature has to offer. And this year the colors are the best that we have seen in the last few years. Anywhere you go, you are literally swept off your feet by the colorful extravagance that surrounds you. I see more of yellows and gold which till last year, in my mind, tended to become a little monotonous than a variety of red and orange and even purple but this year even the yellows and the golds are so stunningly breathtaking and not the least bit humdrum.

Minnesota fall color reports finds a regular and esteemed place in the Bookmarks toolbar so that its just one click away and keeps telling us where to head to view the best fall colors. So a couple of weeks back we headed to Banning State Park which is a couple of hours drive from home and took off on Quarry Trail.

There weren't the best of colors there but just being in the midst of the towering trees with sunshine shining through on the carpet of red, yellow and brown leaves that adorned the ground was heavenly. We loved walking as did the kids. It was a treat watching them pick up branches, throw leaves on top of each other and on us and then giggle,
sit on fallen trees,
shout "I love you" in the silence and then hear it echo back.
In the end even the 2 mile long trail left us rejuvenated rather than tired. And thus came to an end a Saturday beautifully spent.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A new friend

We have a new friend these days. We like to share our food with her, we love it when she looks inside, at times just waiting there in the patio for us to come out and look at her, takes her hand to her heart and puts it there in acknowledgment. We spend so much time staring at her for the longest time nibbling away at the food, at times on the floor, at others on the ledge and best of all perched up on our cycle outside. Presenting to you our dear little squirrel named Roo :)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting ready for the move and what's up ...

A lot has been going on at our end. Its been stressful off late tracking the Delhi Nursery Admissions scene from here in the US. We had chosen this time - the beginning of Vansh's formal school to head back home and had been planning towards the same. Last year Delhi nursery admissions hit the headlines several times for the various new developments that took place, Delhi Government stepping in to stop the private schools from interviewing 3 something year old kids to judge them before granting or rejecting admission, Ganguly committee being formed and coming up with a point system based on several parameters like distance of home from school, alumni parents, siblings in the same school, etc to grant admission to kids, lowering the age a child gets into a school from 4+ to 3+ and so on and so forth. To cut a long story short, it has gotten very very tough to get your child in a school and I am not even saying a school of your choice. Everything seems so arbitrary, perfectly well settled and well qualified parents find their child not getting admission anywhere. As a result the tension and stress resulting is way too high. Anyways I have worried all I could and obviously with no results, so I am past that stage too. I have also come to terms with the fact that although we had planned to fly in end December-early January to be in time for the admission procedures which took place in January-February last academic year, this year they have already begun and we are just waiting for the first school that we want to apply to, to come out with the forms and then I and the kids will fly on a short notice of about a fortnight. Why wait till the end, you ask! Well Ashwini had planned everything at his workplace for January too and so he cannot fly before that and we don't want to be in a position where I reach there and he stays back here alone and the relevant forms don't come out for another month. Oh Darling yeh hai India! is what comes to mind at this time.

Anyways so right now we are busy winding up, selling stuff we accumulated over a period of 5 years here, taking stock of what we can lug back and what needs to be given away in the midst of the everyday activities of the kids. Vansh is loving his pre-school and asks to be taken there even on the four days that he is off. He is generally so cheery in his disposition when he returns and radiates joy all around. He also started swimming classes for a month, twice a week from last week and he started out by not entering the water at all for the first 2 classes. This Monday after a few encouraging pushes (physically handing him) into his instructor's hands and a few threats that I would leave if he doesn't go in (thank God for Hindi at these times ;)), he did just fine. Both his instructors did a wonderful job with him, being very gentle with him, telling him that they would never ever leave him and encouraging him to do certain things inside the water, I could see that he had formed a bond with both at the end of the 30 minute class and is looking forward to go today.

Jiya is doing great too. A few days back, she went through a super crabby, super clingy phase where she clung on to me all the time, didn't eat well at all and so remained cranky for the major part of the day. I think the teething pain was a bit too much for her at that time. She is back to being the tantrum throwing, foot stomping and laughing the next minute self. She actually just lies down on the floor, anywhere, even in the middle of the parking lot when met with even an iota of resistance from us with pouted lips for just one second and then a straight face and then decides what to do next depending on our next reaction. A scowl from us and she lets out a cry, a smile or a camera to capture that moment brings out laughs. Hah - the drama queen!

With each other, we go through phases of pleasant and nasty in our home. On nasty days, they get at each others' and our nerves. They want to play with the same things at the same time, refuse to share even the things which are in profusion like blocks or cars - each one wants each one of them. They want to sit on a particular chair at the same time. Jiya's even started getting physical now. She pulls Vansh's hair or bites him, thankfully always through this sweat shirt and so never really gets to the skin. Vansh on the other hand is of course smarter and knows that if he irritates Jiya long enough, she just throws off the toy in her hand out of anger and then its his to play with technically. Of course we don't let him get away with it when we are watching.





And pleasant times are a treat. They miraculously sit together on a tiny little ride on toy. Vansh always lets Jiya have her way or exchanges toys very sweetly - Jiya tu yeh le le, please! or chides her very gently when she gets into what he is doing - tu kya kar rahi hai lallu! They take turns putting coins in a tiny little hole of the piggy bank or putting beans in a small hole one by one. Both of them read separate books, play with different cars following each otjer in and out of rooms. Vansh helps me in feeding Jiya who miraculously opens her mouth when he feeds him the same bite that I tried feeding her few seconds back.

And I think about the times that lie ahead and shudder. When in a snap, they'll be all grown, spending more time out of the homes than in, opening and flapping their wings to fly away, when their squeals and their giggles or even their screams and their cries won't fill the home as they do now and that's when I just tickle them and roll them around to make them laugh some more and try to soak in everything - the sights, the sounds, the smells and that warm fuzzy feeling inside of looking at your children grow up and swell with pride at just that.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The life and times of a 3 year old ...

Scene 1 - Vansh wakes up from his nap. Jiya's still asleep. I am cooking dinner in the kitchen. After the hug and the I want duddu (milk) and drinking the said duddu, Vansh shouts, nothing in particular, just an 'aaa' with a silly grin on his face. Jiya is still asleep in the room 1 meter away and so I react with a finger on my lip and a shhh. He repeats. I tell him firmly that he needs to quiten down because Jiya is still sleeping. He shouts again, not as loudly this time, but a shout nevertheless. I tell him that I can take him and leave him outside if he feels like using his outdoor voice and he can come back when he is done. He refuses and he laughs, the "Yay! I made her say that again" kind of laugh and stops shouting.

Scene 2 - Jiya is also up now and Vansh is playing with his toys trying to fit the whole 2 big boxful of toys in a 1 foot long garbage truck and shouting when they start spilling over. I go in to ask him whats the matter and explain some things to him and come back, which is followed by some more shouts soon after. I go in once again with an intention of spending some time playing with him sensing thats what he wants. Jiya follows me and Vansh starts pushing her and grabbing her arm when she tries to touch the spilling toys. I tell him not to do that and play with him for some time. When I return, the shouts start again. I decide to ignore this time. He comes closer and closer first to the door of the room, then out the door and in the kitchen, the decibels increasing. I start humming a song, followed by asking him something casually. He says in a sad tone "Mer ke toys gir gaye" (My toys fell). I tell him that its okay and he can try again, though he is trying to fit way too many toys in the small garbage truck.

Scene 3 - Jiya is playing with a frisbee and Vansh teases her by touching it. Jiya yanks it back and starts running. Vansh runs after her, slowly on purpose. Jiya enjoys at first and starts laughing loudly but starts getting irritated soon after and whines and cries. Vansh enjoys the whining as much as he enjoyed the laughing and continues running behind her and at times snatching the frisbee or whatever the toy is from her. I tell him for the thousandth time to let her be when she starts whining/crying. The scene repeats itself over and over and this one's hard to be ignored. The consequence varies from a gentle request to a scream "Vansh stop snatching the toy!" or "Leave her alone!" to a threat of leaving him outside for the maintenance uncle to take away. Silly grinning continues all this while.

Distracting him by asking him to work on his favorite Thomas Engine puzzle or coloring works at times but at others it doesn't because Jiya now gets into everything as she is able to climb on the dining table which used to be the safe haven for exclusively Vansh activities till some time back. This is even after I give Jiya her own puzzle/coloring to work on on a separate table.

Scene 4 - Light switches - On, off, on, off, on, off, .... Refrigerator door - open, bang shut, open, bang shut, open, shut ... Ignoring sometimes takes care of it except if its doors that he is banging. He gets one scream at times followed by a whack on the back of his head for the fear of one of the kids pinching their fingers. At other times, I pick up the phone and pretend to talk to Tom/Jeff/Eric maintenance uncle to tell them that they need to come in to fix the lights/refrigerator which is soon going to go bad owing to Vansh treating them the way he is. The silly grin written all over his face again, he stops. Was it really their fear that stopped him like it used to till some time back or was it the the 'mission accomplished' at having pushed mommy's buttons along with the light fixtures.
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I started writing this post last week and wrote it upto this point. As is evident from the post, we were having a tough week, the kind where I throw up my arms in despair when Ashwini comes home and then both of us keep exchanging glances as if to say "What's wrong with this little guy of ours?"

But then there are some good days or may be just little good gestures where we know that behind the mischievous three year old who pushes his parents' buttons and drives them up the wall, there is also a lovely little boy who loves his parents and sister as much as he teases them, who proclaims lovingly "Jiya tu hamari sweety hai" when she decides to hug him when he wakes up in the morning; who says with a twinkle in his eye "I am so ecited Mama" when she tells him for the thousandth time that we'll be going to India not this evening but after a few months; who squeals in delight and shouts "Its fun Mama" when she throws the beautifully colored fall leaves on top of him.

Yeah you are right, the last few days have been good :) And if I hadn't gotten this far in typing out the Scenes blog post, I probably would have deleted it. But I decided to publish it nevertheless so that I remember that waiting for us at the onset of every tough phase is an even more sweet and heartwarming one.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

La la la la, la la

Just for fun, some songs Vansh is found crooning these days :)

Nanha munha rahi hoon, desh ka nahayan hoon

Ganti ke bappa morya

Lakkad katthi kaathi, kaathi pe ghoda, dummmm barrraake dauda.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whatchya' say ...

I put the non-returnable label, you get the tape!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Childhood revisited ...Mornings!

I have read and immensely enjoyed posts by friends on the bygone era, the life and the times before the world started moving just too rapidly. Was it the 90's starting with the advent of cable television, offering too many choices at any given time of the day, followed by the internet heralding a whole new concept of globalization, bringing together in literally seconds folks 'saat samundar' apart. I have read, I have enjoyed and I have thought every so often about my own life then and I have wanted to pen it down here for the longest time in an effort to savor, to relive, in whatever little way, the time when inspite of the 'slow' paced life, everyone had so much time at hand to enjoy, to relish the simple pleasures one could indulge in. I read a lovely poem written by Dipali, an early morning walker and a dear blogging buddy. You must read it here.

The sweetest and a major chunk of the memories I have are from the summer holidays. My mom was a teacher herself and so this was the time both of looked forward to spend together with little activities planned for the whole day. In spite of being vacation time, our days started early at 5:30'ish as we got ready to go to 'Sanjay Park/Lake Park' in Laxmi Bai Nagar, a 40-45 minute walk from our government quarter in Lodi Colony. The path to the park was a treat in itself, wide roads, a cool breeze, chirping birds, the first rays of the sun just beginning to shine their way to illuminate the top of trees and make the dew on the grass glisten. I don't have memories of other people we met during these walks except the paper waalas who busily went about their daily grind always fascinating me with the perfection with which the paper landed on the floor it was intended for. The park was always a delight, lush grass on both sides of 2 ponds, a big one for the ducks and a small one for the fish, on either ends of the park with a stream of water running along the entire length of the park joining both of them. The major attraction of coming to this park, while passing another beautiful one on the way closer to home was taking small pebbled sized flour balls and feed the fish. For the same reason, many cousins liked to spend part of their vacations with us. There was another steps like structure made in the park, an amphitheatre kind of setting, where the steps were all covered with the green grass and the area just next to it was a slope again covered with the same rich carpet of grass. How much we loved to just lie down and roll our bodies on the cool grass, letting out peels of laughter and giggles, taking pleasure in an absolutely simple, yet pleasurable activity. The other end of the park which had the big pond and the ducks was then visited and we again delighted in chasing the ducks. We also picked up leaves and flowers to make that project as part of the Science holiday home work. As we paced our way back, renewed after the refreshing experience, and if the sun happened to be in its full glory by then sending out scorching rays to cause some discomfort, we spent a major part of our discussion on planning our day that lay ahead so that we could sleep just a little early and get up just a little earlier the next day to escape the heat.

The mornings continued to be full of activity, bais coming in to wash the dishes and sweep and mop the floors, mom making breakfast rebuking, at times playfully, at others seriously the bais for one thing or the other, papa getting ready for office, me sitting down to read or practice cursive writing or generally with the pages of holiday home work deciding what to tackle first. My mom used to make lines for borders on the chart papers that we had to make as part of home work and teach me several interesting patterns to decorate them. That was something I loved to do. The rest of the contents we worked on later in the day after finishing off the rest of the chores (which my mom was in a constant competition with herself and took pride in finishing 15 minutes earlier from the previous day). At times that would mean walking down to the neighborhood 'Khanna Market' to buy charts of fruits or festivals or birds, sketch pens, crayons, stencils. We also utilized this visit to make a phone call from the phone a friendly neighborhood shopkeeper used as a PCO to my friends or some relatives for it was not before grade 8 or 9 when we had a personal home phone. The shopkeeper joked that I pay him Rs 2 instead of 1 if I spoke in English. The stationery shopkeeper rented out Chacha Choudhary and Babloo and Pinki comics and as is the case with everyone, the new issue was never published soon enough to keep pace with the hogging me.

On alternate days after coming back from walks, I also had the responsibility of bringing milk from the Mother Dairy booth which was about 7-8 blocks away from our house. I think from grade 3 onwards I used to go there by myself. I used to chide my mother if she told me to get it on a particular evening because I liked going in the mornings. As I try to picture the reason in my mind, I think I liked the freshness of everything, the fruits and vegetables on the thelas the fruit and subzi waalas carted along, the freshness of the morning, the sight of people waking up from the charpais as I crossed one block after another, discussing the morning newspapers. It was one such fateful morning of my summer vacation, May 21, 1991, when the news being discussed was that of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The gloom and the total shock, the sounds and the sights, the aghast expressions still linger on my mind from that day as I went about my regular business of fetching milk. I also chided my mom when she asked me to fetch 5 tokens of milk instead of 4 (one token was/is half a litre) as it was a token too heavy for my arms. What all reasons moms get chided for?! In times when there was a temporary shortage of milk, the queue of people was long. Free from any responsibilities at home, I liked standing and just watching the people around me. I remember looking at how clean or unclean someone's clothes were, how long and shapely and perfectly nail polished a young girl's nails were and dreamt that I too would have such nails one day. At that time I didn't know that I would keep smudging my nail polish for the lack of patience in sitting still for 5 minutes after applying the nail polish. I looked at footwear, tried to form some pattern man, woman, man, woman; young, young, old, young young, old; or some such random series. Then after the first single queue, deciding on which one out of the three to stand in next strategically looking at the number of people as also the size of container they were carrying and then waiting to see if the decision made was correct.

Sundays were special too. The water flowed from the taps on any given day from 6 to about 9 in the morning and about the same time in the evening. When going to school/work it didn't matter but on Sundays that meant you still had to maintain some disciplined routine if you didn't want the amount of water with which to bathe to be rationed depending on the number of baltis filled. Also the heat as the day passed warmed up the stored water unlike the refreshing cool one straight from the tap. In addition there was the added fascination and the glory of the Pandavas and the Kauravas who made their appearance in the epic - mythological as well as televisional The Mahabharata. If you are from the era when it was aired, you would agree when I say life came to a standstill for those 60 minutes on a Sunday morning. The roads were empty with the only people being those who flocked the electronics shops to catch their favorite show on the televisions. In our family too, it was in deed a miracle to be sitting on the dining table with our breakfast exactly at 10'o clock every Sunday morning, bathed and prim, as the 'Yada yada hi dharmasya ...' played on in the background.

To be continued ... (I don't know when, I hope soon!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fireworks!

Wanted to chronicle this piece of art done by Vansh last week at preschool for the reason that its his first where he says what he has painted something and it looks like it. He came home on Thursday and said he had painted fireworks at school. The paper was in his folder the next day and in deed they were bright sparkling fireworks.

He took a great liking to sparklers and the likes last Diwali when we lit a lot of those with some friends and then again on our trip to India earlier this year. Fireworks at Niagara Falls on the Independence Day weekend and again at the riverfront district during a festival in downtown Minneapolis had him in awe and his eyes gleamed when he saw them in pictures or videos, the latest ones being the Huge display at the Olympics opening ceremony. That the idea of painting fireworks without being prompted occurred to him was a novel feeling for me and a nice one at that :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A memorable day I shall remember with a smile :)

A day full of surprises big and small and very very sweet made my 30th birthday yesterday a very special one in the last few years. I shall remember this one with a smile.

To begin with, Ashwini and the kids handed me my Birthday cards the first thing in the morning unlike the evenings when Ashwini goes to get the cake and gets the card as well at that time. That itself was a surprise and made me feel a little bad about the late hour that he returned at the previous day. I wished he would have continued with his old ways, he had to anyways go again to get the cake as well. Not to say that I didn't lovvveeee getting them in the morning :) And the card from the kids was the first and so all the more special. And it was too cute as well. It said

"Happy Birthday Mom and thanks for always believing in me...

...even when I was Unbelievable!"

My neighbor and dear friend Lopa made me breakfast, a delicious cinnamon banana toast.

In the morning rush of getting Vansh to preschool now I just opened my e-mail inbox but just couldn't click on most of the birthday messages except for ones from immediate family. I had spoken to my mom and dad just the previous day and they had been worrying that they hadn't been able to send an e-card to me this year. The postal mail card which I anyways prefer much much more had already reached a week earlier and I told them that I was very very touched with that itself especially considering the busy and tough time they are going through right now owing to my mother's accident a little over 2 months back. But there it was, the most perfect e-card as well, bringing tears to my eyes. I thank you once again mummy and papa for all that you have done and still continue to do for me.

My dear brother in law had made a beautiful e-card for me and made it a point to send it to each one of my e-mal id's just like he sends his new phone numbers to each one of them. Always makes me smile and this year the soon to be newest addition to the family, his fiancee sent her warm wishes too.

As I returned after picking up Vansh, Lopa was at the window and called me inside. And lo and behold, there were 5 of my friends there who had thrown a surprise birthday lunch party for me complete with home made cake, pakoras, chholey, bisibele bhaat and kheer. And as a special gift they even fed my kids. Now I any mother of two would know how precious a present that is. Just the previous day I had been telling Ashwini that I am happy that it's my birthday just for the fact that I have no cakes to bake, no decorations to do and the likes :) While I was there another dear friend Debbie whom I didn't expect to remember my birthday, more so because she too is going through a rough patch healthwise, came to wish me and got me a lovely pot of Chrysanthemums. She too is a foodie and of a very diverse cultural variety and the party was already on. Everything fit perfectly :)

In the evening another friend had sent me a paper greeting card making this year's count to 5 as opposed to the 3 every year - 2 from both set of mom and dads and one from Ashwini :) We celebrated with the cake and snacks Ashwini got home yesterday but have kept the going out for the weekend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First day of pre-school

After apprehensions at some times, excitement at others, a few questions in the positive attitude tone "Mummy Vansh preschool kyon [nahin] ja raha hai?", the exclamations in the sing song way "Vansh pre-school jaane waala haiiiiiii" but most of them in the negative attitude tone, expected from our little boy who I say is born with a reflex to say 'NO' to anything new - "Nahin mere ko preschool nahin jaana! Mere ko Mohit ke ghar jaana hai khelne ke liye"; "No! I don't want to go preschool. I want to go summer camp something!"; amidst all this Vansh finally started pre-school today. It was not an out and out new experience for him partly because he had been going to the same building for 2 years for ECFE once a week and secondly because we went for an early learning conference with his teacher Miss Debra last Friday as a result of which he got to see his new classroom and spend some time there. That was the day when he was dome with "Mummy, I want to go home." After repeating it several times and not getting any fruitful result, this one turned to Miss Debra and said "You go home!" Yeah na rahega baans na bajegi bansuri, we were stunned and had a hearty laugh!

We read a few books about school last night as I prepared him about what he needed to say to who when he needed to use the restroom or when he wanted something. I told him to stay with everyone when they would go to the playground and also told him to remember his room number and the teacher's name just in case he got lost and to notify the nearest adult about the same. I reminded him of the fun things we had seen in his classroom and asked him what he would like to do. But he was deep in thought, probably thinking about all that I had said and so I just let him be.

He woke up with a luke warm attitude first saying that he didn't want to go and after that wanting to go just for playing with Mohit's sake, who is also in the same class. After the bath, getting ready, breakfast routine, as I pleaded with him to let me take one nice picture and he kept acting funny and making silly faces which is his typical thing these days, among the random ones that I clicked I managed to get one picture capturing his spirit perfectly - venturing out slowly looking behind for familiar settings and faces with the unmistakable mischevious glint in his eyes :)

We went with our neighbors and friends Afreen and her daughter Safiya who is in the same clas as Vansh, whom we shall be carpooling with to drop off and pick up the kids. Vansh was slow in moving to the classroom. I asked him when we passed the restroom and he said he didn't want to use it. A minute later, as we hanged his backpack on the hooks outside the classroom and were ready to go in, he said he wanted to use the restroom with his eyes on the crowd of children, teachers and parents inside. We went to the bathroom and I assured him that its okay, he didn't have to worry and we would go inside the classroom together in a few minutes. He held my hand, went inside and as one of the teachers greeted him, he said he would be going to India soon which is his current greeting. So as you and I say hi, Mr Vansh says "Main India jaane waala hoon/I am going to India soon, pata hai/you know" depending on what language you speak. The teacher tried to take him around the class but he preferred to be my side as we walked around pointing out the fun things that he could do. During this time he told me a few times to sit on the sofa outside when I go out. Finally I kissed him and said I'll come after 2-1/2 hours to pick him up. I sat on the sofa for a few minutes and as soon as I got up to go pay the fees in the office, he came out telling me to stay there. Miss Debra gently took him by his shoulders and asked him to get inside and I reminded him that he had to be inside the class and stay with everyone always.

After about 7-8 minutes as I returned and peeped in, he was well settled at a table and rolling out the play dough with a rolling pin. And I heaved a sigh of relief for a wonderfully smooth first day. I attributed it to the recent summer camp where we had our share of separation triggered screams and howls and are glad to be done with them.

When I went back to pick him up. most of the moms were there peeping in from the window and Vansh was looking back from inside the classroom where all the kids were sitting around in a circle. I went in after a few minutes and he hugged me with a pleasant smile. I asked him whether he had fun and got the reflexive "No!" with him smiling all the same. His teacher said he had had a great day.

The answers to my questions were a little more revelaing than the the standard ones "I played" and "I ate goldfish". He said that he played with cars, worked on a puzzle, played with playdoh, ate popcorn. Surprisingly after coming back, he said "Mummy Vansh kal phir preschool jayega" and I say surprisingly because coming from Vansh on the first day itself, and also when Mohit didn't come at all as he was down with fever, it is not a small thing. Said a lot to me about his first day at preschool.

Oh and I almost forgot. As soon as we reached and he was done taking off his shoes, he went inside his room and guess what I heard "I am going to give you 5 minutes, okay!"; "Come on over here! Move on, move on!" phrases he had picked up from his teacher :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vansh's favorite books

Its been a while since I wrote about the books Vansh has been enjoying lately. I like to do that, one for recommendations to other friends and also so that I'll remember the books and the little sweet every day memories attached with them when I read about them later.

He loves being read to. Earlier he sat with the books himself as well. He does that now too but not as often as he used to earlier. But that's because he now has an additional pastime of playing and fighting with Jiya. And summers of course mean going out much more. One time when he definitely reads to himself is when he goes to potty where he insists on taking at least one current favorite and at times even two when there's not much interesting happening outside. Before bedtime he begins by saying that he wants to read 10 books and after much bargaining we are able to bring it down to 2 or 3 or 5 depending on how much energy we are left with.

Some of his favorite books at this time are:

I love it when you smile by Sam McBratney and Charles Fuge - I would recommend this very very highly for the sole reason that its a non-car,non-truck book and Vansh still loves it. Which means it HAS to be GREAT! Jokes apart, it is an extremely lovely story about a little kangaroo who wakes up grumpy one fine morning for apparently no reason, something I think every toddler/pre-schooler can identify with and no matter what his mother does to cheer him up, he just doesn't smile. Ultimately what is it that does in deed make him smile? A sweet story with beautiful endearing illustrations add to the exuberance of this book wich is great for a snugly cuddly read and strengthening the mother-child bond. We love to act out the various scenes in the book even when we are not reading it, especially the last part (which i have not mentioned here for the surprise factor). The only tough part is Vansh wants me to carry him and hop at the same time like a kangaroo!!

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss - The classic hardly needs any introduction and this is Vansh's favorite among the many Dr Seuss books that I checked out for him. He has read it so many times that he now reads it to himself from memory and that makes him proud. The biggest advantage I have had from this book is that I use it to encourage him to try a new food telling him how the finicky character in the book actually started liking the green eggs and ham once he tried it. The book has also helped him recognise some words like mouse, house, rain, train, tree apart from the simpler phonetic ones like box, fox, Sam, am, car etc. and he is usually able to generalize them to other books as well.


My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk - Like most children his age, Vansh loves books with repetitive text so that he can chime in when its being read aloud. And what more can he want if the text being repeated is about "Rotten luck! Can't go! My truck is stuck" and then asking the car, van, jeep and a bus passing by for "Help! Do you know how to make my stuck truck go" and then "Engines hauling! Tug and tow!" until finally a truck mechanic comes along. The illustrations are humorous and draw the children into the story.
Another great book for truck lover kids with repetitive text that I had written about some time earlier is Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha.

The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom has good illustrations he can identify with, of a big brother and his younger sister asking him as each vehicle comes along "Is this the bus for us, Gus?" and then the brother telling his sister the name of the truck, taxi, backhoe, fire engine and the likes till the bus finally arrives. Simple repetitive sentences, just one per page, serve the purpose well for beginning readers.

At 14 months, Jiya is upto ...

Wow!! It was fascinating to see the mental leaps with Vansh in his 2nd year and the wonder just never fails to surprise, even more so with Jiya, probably because I am more tuned now or probably because I know I would never be able to see these again so closely with any other child.

- She understands so much now. She knows where the garbage can is and wants to throw her diaper there herself and loves to help and to please when we ask her to throw something else there. She takes off her sandals when we get back home and puts them in the shoe rack in the laundry at the entrance. She generally likes to play with shoes and if she forgets to put a shoe back, on being reminded she takes it back and puts it at the correct place. Its the same with other things, papers or magazines taken out from the coffee table go back there when we tell her to do so. And I, also a mom of a 3-1/2 year old, am letting her help me all she wants ;), encouraging her profusely all the same. She opens her mouth for me and takes out whatever is in there when I ask her "Kya daala muhn mein?" (What have you put in your mouth?)

She loves to walk, walk, walk. At home, just as Vansh used to when he learnt to walk, she walks at least 2 miles if not more in a day. Its getting tough to feed her because she has just a few bites and wants to move on. As a result she now needs more frequent meals. And actually at times, I just call her back, put another morsel in her mouth and she walks back again. Things are so different the second time over, I think and I smile. Even when outside, she is hardly ever content to be in the stroller. She wants to get off and explore on her feet. However unlike Vansh who would just walk off and won't even look back, she usually doesn't stroll too far away from us.

- She loves to go out of the house and she's exactly like her brother when it comes to that. As soon as she hears a hint of us going out of the house, she gets everyone's footwear out from the laundry and gives it to the respective owner. At times it really is funny because she'll give one to Ashwini, one to me and the way she walks 'matak ke' and even more so with a heavy shoe in hand is rather hilarious. When outside in the corridor, she runs away when I call her to come inside. In fact she really likes to tease me on numerous such occasions when I call her to have her food, or brush her hair or change her diaper, she just lets out a squeal and runs away from me giggling away to glory.

- She is not a very fussy eater however. She is very eager to try new foods and comes to us saying 'kha-kha' as soon as she spots us eating something. And she doesn't mind spicy foods either. In fact she likes them. Her favorite foods are bananas, apples, grapes, cantaloupe and water melons, paneer, kheer and she is impartial to sweet or salty foods. Again a major contrast to Vansh's tastes and preferences. Its extremely hard to make him try anything new and he definitely has a preference for the salty foods.

- Her favorite word turns out to be 'mamma' :) and she says that in a sing song way every now and then. When she has been playing for too long whether by herself or with other kids, she comes back to me for a few minutes to get some hugs and kisses, shower some of her love on me and then go back to playing.

- She loves to sleep for long on weekends. Again a characteristic in absolute contrast to Vansh who would get up at his usual 7:30 or so irrespective of the time he went to sleep. She sleeps in till 10, at times even 11 before she rises and shines.

- She already has a favorite book called Tickle Tickle by Helen Oxenbury. She gets it to me, places herself on my lap and then points to the pictures as I turn the pages. She squeals as I perform all the actions like "Squelch squelch in the mud", "gently gently brush your hair" and "tickle tickle under there" on her. Oh its so hard not to think of Vansh as I write about Jiya. Vansh on the other hand needs his space, he likes to sit besides us without too much of touching from very early on when we read to him.

Her favorite activity is closing lids of various bottles and jars. Basically she likes to exercise her fine motor skills, so putting things in bottle necks, screwing and unscrewing their lids keeps her busy for long times.

- She loves to swing and slide in the park. And the ease with which she slides is commendable. She'll climb it, even though she still has to crawl up the steps but she tries hard to be able to do it the big kids way, the climbing without having to kneel down way. Once up, like a total pro, she'll first bring one leg forward and almost as she is sliding down on just one leg, the other leg still behind her, causing all around her a certain degree of nervousness, swiftly the second leg also comes forward as she slides down with a squeal.

She also loves it at the beach playing with the water and sand for a long long time. Her favorite activity - knocking down with her brother the first sign of a castle that mom and dad try to build :)

I still repeat to her often times "Don't grow up any more Jiya" but she obviously doesn't listen and is off to try out newer activities, busy herself in newer adventures and just grow up some more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rakhi 2008

Phew!! Whats with the Rakhi this year! First, even though I remembered on Aug 15th that tomorrow is Rakhi, but I almost forgot that Jiya would tie Rakhi for Vansh and hence we would celebrate it nicely. Yeah I am that weird at times. I keep remembering that some date is so and so's birthday, that date comes and goes and I still keep thinking that I have to wish so and so on this date till after about 2-3 days if not more.

And then I forgot to pen it down here! So here I am now.

Anyways part of the reason I forgot was the Indian Independence Day celebrations we were heart and soul into at that point. So as soon as I remembered which was at about 6'o clock the previous evening, we went and bought some stuff for making a couple of sweets. At 9'0 clock after putting Jiya to bed and as Ashwini took Vansh inside for his bedtime, I put the milk to boil for kheer on one coil and condensed milk for another sweet, I don't know the name but its very close to the brown part of milk cake, on the second one. The sweets kept cooking as I cleaned the house (yeah festivals and guests are the two things that make me do that). At 11:15 I was all done and ready to sleep, foregoing the usual Friday night movie. I woke up early and made Poha with cahews and raisins etc for breakfast. The kids woke up at the usual time and bathed at their usual early hour and we were ready to celebrate Rakhi by 9:45. I'll tell the rest of the story along with the pictures.

The kids eyed the Rakhi thali for some time taking in the sights and smells of the various goodies, me thinks.
The appetizing goodies and the fact that it was past their breakfast time, they first wanted to devour the poha and the sweers. I tried to make Jiya hold the rakhi to Vansh's arm before they ate ...
... but gave up after a couple of attempts and let both of them have a few bites of whatever it was they wanted to have. Vansh wanted to have the namkeen poha preferring that to the sweets and Jiya as always was impartial to all tasty foods be they meetha or namkeen.
Hmm, so pehle pet pooja, phir kaam dooja; Jiya finally did the honors of tying the rakhi around bhaiya's wrist.
Both the kids were all hugs for each other as Vansh handed out the kharchi to Jiya, with which she bought a couple of ear-rings, by the way :)
And then they had several moments which always make me cherish the festivals for creating an atmosphere, an aura of the emotions that run high as we celebrate those. Be it the majesty one feels on seeing the innumerable lights and diyas on Diwali, the pride one feels in being an Indian on Independence day, the joy and childlike excitement on seeing the colors on Holi. It was beautiful and in deed surprising when they spend so many of their waking minutes trying to tease each other, snatch things, scream, cry, how they sat peacefully eating together from the same plate, feeding each other, hugging each other impromptu. As if two little children who don't even fully understand the significance of Rakhi just felt it within their hearts their love for each other and a need to express it so strongly. As we prayed for the bond to strengthen and the love to blossom.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who me?! :)


The title that I chose has become a cliche now in the blogosphere with the 'Brilliante Weblog Award' doing the rounds, but really thats the way I felt when two of my dear friends Noon and Preethi, whose blogs I love to read regularly and wait with anticipation for the next post, honored me by passing on this award to me.

Noon, I know you strive for being the real you, unpretentious and gentle always and I have to tell you again that you really are. Your posts bear testimony to just that. I think I have said this before but in my mind I imagine you sitting with KB and KG, loving them gently, singing to them - you know the picture of a perfect family. :)

Preethi, who claims to be going through a mid life crisis, but instead of doing her any harm, it has done much more good. Her blog posts get funnier by the day. She keeps experimenting with the templates always to end up with great results and dear dear Nantu. I think of him every single day, which is not tough at all considering that I pass a convertible almost every day :)

As I accept this award, let me also take this opportunity to thank my mom and dad, ever supportive and ever encouraging. My mom who leads by example, making me strive to be like her, so very patient and so very active. Even as she is bed ridden for the past 8 weeks owing to her accident and 2 surgeries, I still feel in awe of her as I hear about her progress and refusal to be affected by it.

I thank my husband for always being extremely supportive in any endeavour I wish to pursue, for not saying a word when at times the housework naturally suffers because of the said endeavour and in fact telling me that its okay to just let it be at times :)

And of course my adorable little children. Not surprisingly are they called miracles for who else can become the purpose of your life as soon as he/she enters it. This blog is because they are.

And now for the rules,

This award is for blogs whose content and design are brilliant as well as creative.The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.
Here are the rules to follow:
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

I would like to pass on the award to:

Dipali of Of this and that: I am amazed at her varied interests and how heartily she pursues them - be it reading, music or poetry. And then she avidly blogs about them which I absolutely adore to read. I can never say this enough Dipali, you are an inspiration!

Suma of aalochane and Cub tales: What do I say about dear Suma - I look upto her for advice through the comment box because she has her feet so firmly on the ground. It shows that she is one cool mom her kids are lucky to have. And the hobbies she pursues so avidly, reading and writing, I am in awe of you dear :)

Boo of Boo's Baby Talk: She sure is hilarious. I look forward to her posts to see what new situations she has twisted and turrned to churn out side splitting results :) An amazingly confident personality to boot.

~nm of Do I Write and Anirudh's World: She writes on such a variety of topics and the simplicity in her posts is refreshing. A darling of a son she is raising as well, not to mention the culinary experiments she conducts with appetizing results and pictures.

Mystic Margarita of Another Shot at Life: I consider her one of the most talented bloggers I read, vis-a-vis the writing style. Some of her posts like the one about the dream about the dragonfly and her dialogue with her tresses :) shall stay in my mind for a long long time beacuse of the power they had in spite of being very short ones.

PG of That's my Richie: A very simple, honest and down to earth person in spite of the huge talent she has and the conviction with which she raises her Richie. A quiet person in the blogosphere but she writes about her weaknesses as honestly as anyone would write about their strengths.

Tharini of Winkie's Ways: She needs no introduction for most of us. Refreshingly lucid, she weaves magical pictures with her words transporting the reader to where she is. An incredibly equanimous person who strives to get even better at that, she is truly brilliant.

Bev of Rainbow Days: I have started reading her only recently but her hard work and conviction for what she believes in shine through in her posts. I love the everyday special moments she creates for her family and writes about.

Thanks again dear Noonoo and Preethi for thinking of me worthy enough for a Brilliant award.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Because ...

Some time back I overheard a pre-teens' conversation and learnt that a convenient answer to any why question, gaining extremely quick personality, is "because". Plain and convenient, indeed! It probably means that you don't really know the reason behind the why or probably are just feeling lazy to reason with the converser and so just answer "because". Little did I know that my 3 year old son would catch up so soon with the latest talk in town! So these are a few examples of short and not so sweet conversations in our household.

I want not to eat apple!
Me: Why?
Because!!

I want not to do nai-nai (take a bath)
me: Why?
Because!!

Convenient indeed! Now mommy tried to pull the same card in an attempt to give the little master a taste of his own medicine.

Me: Vansh you sleep now, I'll sleep after some time.
Vansh: Why?
Me: Because *beaming that I have hit the nail on the head*
Vansh: Because what?
Me: errr ...because ...err ....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We love our neighbors ...

My posts have become fewer and the reason, apart from Word Twist and Word Challenge on Facebook ;), well our neighbors. No this is not a post about the nuisance they are, the noise they create or any such thing. In fact about how lucky I feel to be blessed with the wonderful neighbors I have who have now become such good friends, especially after the rehearsals for the Independence Day program, where we saw each other practically all day, looked after each others' kids, exchanged notes on all sorts of things all while gaily getting ready for the actual event. It brought us all so much closer.

And while I am at it, I am also going to write about the first truly good neighbor I had till last August who then moved elsewhere. It'll be good for me to look back on this post and count my blessings, for good neighbors are truly nothing short of a blessing. Unlike our friends and enemies, we have almost no say on what kind of neighbors we are going to end up with. It'll also be good for the kids when they grow up, very far away from the people to whom they are closest to right now, to be able to remember the times they spent with them when they were little.

Sarita was the first person who actually made me realize what all a neighbor can be. For the most part when we had her as a neighbor, I was pregnant with Jiya and she actually cared for me like a younger sister. She would ask me every now and then about my pregnancy cravings, what I felt like eating and almost every alternate day, if not everyday, there would be something yummy coming from her house to mine - home made namkeen, saboodana khichdi, saboodana vadas, ragda patties, the list was endless. I joked to her that my kitchen had more of her plates and bowls than my own and for the first time in my life I returned them empty many a times because I just couldn't keep pace. I could share a lot of my feelings with her and loved her company especially in the harsh winters. Arnav, her son, was Vansh's first best friend and inseparable for a long long time. He was about 15 months elder than him and helped him get potty trained, increased his verbal skills, aroused his interest in building blocks and many more such things. Arnav and Vansh spent nearly 3-4 hours with each other every single day and more often than not Sarita offered to have them both at her place so that I could get some rest/some chores done with the toddler away. We also made two trips together to Wisconsin Dells and Los Angeles, apart from the daily walks together, and needless to say we had a gala time. They left last August and for a long time Vansh took their names in the same breath as his own family and still if he sees a 5th person drwan in a picture, after naming papa, mummy, Jiya, Vansh for the 4, he still usually says its Sarita aunty or Deepak uncle or Arnav depending on whether its a man's, woman's or child's picture.

I met Vani, who stays just a couple of doors away, for the first time in the neighborhood park when Jiya was just about a month old. Inba, her little boy, was touching 2 and she had just started sending him to a daycare as she searched actively for a job. We chatted for a while and just a couple of days later I found her at my door with 2 bowls of cooked vegetables and a gift for Baby Jiya. This was not expected at all and I couldn't thank her enough for the same. Vani is such a gentle person and though we do not see each other for days on end, owing to her job and then catering to a little one after that while me being busy in the evenings myself with dinner and the kids' activities, she stills holds a very special place in my heart and its always so soothing to listen to her calm and sweet voice and catch up with her when we do. She is so sweet that when she and her culinarily talented husband cook something special and it turns out nice, she calls me to say just that and share it. The jalebi, you shared yesterday was awesome Vani (I'll share this post with you, so I know you'll read it!)

Sindhu is such a delight. Bubbly and young and such a truthful and honest person, always so willing to help. She has been here for a while now and our relationship has grown slowly and subtly. I first met her at Sarita's place playing with Arnav and thought probaly she was a visiting niece or relative, probably in her late teens. When Sarita introduced her to me, it came as a bit of a surprise that she was married. We were out of touch for some time after Sarita left, in spite of the fact she stays practically next door. I think we started meeting again when another neighbor's parents were visiting them last year and they spent a lot of time with me and Sindhu since their own daugher-in-law was working. She and her husband surprised us on our anniversary by bringing us flowers and chocolates. Slowly she started getting attached to Vansh and Jiya. Vansh treated her and still does like his own buddy. Funnily Arnav used to ask her if her dad (actually her husband) had returned from office. She is the only person from whose lap Jiya refuses to return to my own. Which is not surprising at all for both she and Pravin, her husband treat them like their own kids. We go to the complex swimming pool together many a times and I feel equally safe leaving my children with them for a few minutes as I do with Ashwini. Innumerable times I leave my kids or the baby monitor with her when I need to be away from the house for a short time and many a times she adjusts her own schedule to suit mine saying that mine is dependent on my children and she is free that ways.

Last and by no means the least, dear Lopa :) Thinking about her brings a smile to my face. She moved here just 2 months back and I feel like I have known her for the longest time. She has literally brought a totally new dimension to our neighborhood. Knocking on my door and Sindhu's and then having a meeting right there be it to discuss her kids' (she has 7 year old twins - boy and girl) costumes and how she can add more effects or to ask us what sari to wear herself or to just tell us the latest scoop that happened in another building, she is a delight. It has come to a point where as soon as two of us are outside, the third one immediately comes outside too hearing the other two's voices. She calls herself half mother to my children and I love that feeling that they are loved just as much as they are at home, when they go to play there. Sabar and Antara, her children, show off Jiya like their own sister to their friends telling them with pride that she comes to play at their house everyday :) She was the one who sent out an e-mail to our apartment's yahoo group at the time of rehearsals that anyone who would like to participate in any program and is not being able to do so owing to little children could go ahead and leave their children with her while they practised. It takes a lot of love in one's heart to make an offer like that. And she is such a natural with any child. She would herself come and take Jiya with her even if I hesitated in taking her to Lopa's place.

It is so wonderful to have that kind of support system when we are so far away from family. I really have to consider myself blessed to have such good friends as my neighbors. Its such a wonderful feeling to be able to celebrate festivals and special days, exchange sweets along with recipes, and on regular days know that you can just walk out your door and knock at theirs at any time without being unwelcome ever, to know they'll be there to share joys and sorrows or just a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Of elder siblings ...

With the kind of personalities Jiya and Vansh have these days, where Jiya is not too wary of new people, smiles at everyone and is willing to go to people who play with her a little and Vansh on the other hand takes his time to watch and observe people at length preferring to stay by our side before letting a select few in his circle of trust, quite naturally the former is an instant hit with almost everyone and invites quite a few compliments on her mannerisms and cuteness. If the interaction with friends or acquaintances is short, Vansh is usually absolutely neglected because he has still not entered his comfort zone with them and started a conversation. And if its long and he does strike a conversation with a few, still somehow the focus shifts and continues to be at Jiya after a while.

As a mother, I am not liking it at all. And even though I do make an effort to make people talk to him but when we get e-mails or messages from friends saying that they miss the kids, especially Jiya, I feel bad. For Vansh too is a splendidly lovely child and although I say that with my vision tinted with maternal love, even then I know its true. His teachers who get to know him well testify my statement.

I really hope and pray its a phase. And even if it is, I don't know how he feels for when I look at him while others play with Jiya, he always has a smile on his face at the silly things she is doing. And so I don't know whether and what I should talk to him about.

Have you as a parent of two or probably an elder sibling yourself gone through this?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Indian Independence day celebrations

This time the Indian community at our apartment complex, which has grown to be quite sizable in number, decided to celebrate Indian Independence Day. It all started with one of our friends taking the initiative a little over 3 weeks back, formation of a yahoo group and adding friends and friends of friends, putting up a few fliers in the apartment buildings and then there was no looking back after that.

The famous quote by Majrooh Sultanpuri would be most apt here:
Main akela hi chala tha janibe manzil magar/Log aate gaye aur karvan banta gaya.
Bit by bit, one volunteer after another decided to contribute their time and effort for the same, adding one program after another in the list and the whole evening turned out to be an enchanting mesmerizing memorable event.

There was a fancy dress titled 'National Integration' where the children represented some freedom fighters and the various states of India. It was a scintillating program with some of the costumes being absolutely stunning and inviting loud wow's from the gathered crowd.

There were some speeches by the visiting parents of some of the residents and it was good to hear about the independence or the flag or those times by someone from whom it was just like yesterday. Solo performances by some of the amazingly confident little ones were a treat as well. A 5 year old boy dressed as a soldier sang "Nanha munha rahi hoon" amidst cheers and claps.

Both the dances, one by the little girls and the second one by the ladies were show stealers, requests for "once more' were received and gladly accepted for both :)

There were a couple of songs "Saare jahaan se accha" and "Jayastute shri maha mangale" sung by some of our lady friends and "Vande Matram" and "Jan Gana Mana" sung by the children beautifully.

There was also a small quiz on freedom fighters hosted by another resident friend.

It was a big hit. We were thrilled to bits after the hard work put in. Our yahoo group has been flooded with congratulatory messages and pictures being shared by everyone. Some of the comments we later came accross were

- We were aware that the ladies are doing something about Independence day. We never expected it to be such a big and well organised event.

- It was really carried out in an almost professional way.

- An elderly parent of a resident told us - I am not sure whether my son and his family would be here next year but you please infrom me about this program and I'll make it a point to be here.

I shall let the pictures do rest of the talking.