Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chennai - My list of 5 places that define the city (Part II)

Mount Road

Those days whenever 'Madras' was introduced in movies, it would open with the inimitable LIC building which was a 16 storied pride and wonder.  Besides the LIC building that Mount Road boasts, it was also a glitzy place with all the cinema halls, buildings that had elevators, uppish restaurants with chandeliers,  dim lighting & table linen (Yamuna and Maurya were popular for family dining) and hi-end outlets that had decked up mannequins behind glass facades.  People came all the way to Poppat Jamal to pick up crockery. Poompuhar, VTI and a lot of other Art Emporiums dotted the road on both sides where most of the customers were foreigners and things were hence priced at 'Dollar Rates'.  Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan with its famous assortment  of Khadi fabric,  sandalwood and papier mache figurines, semi precious gems and jewelry,  to a lot of packaged foods from co operative society groups attracted its set of strong loyalists. I still go after the Khadi Golu bommais every year for Navratri as they have very well etched features as opposed to the flashy blob-like alternatives that seem to be more popular these days.

For the book lovers, there is Higginbothams, British Council Library, American Counsel and Library, Connemara library (attached to Egmore Museum)  and I gather that the more recent Devaneya Pavanar library also has a good collection. The Orient Longman building and The Hindu office received awed glances from passing admirers - not for the building but for intellectual capital inside it. Some other famous landmarks are -Parsan Manere, the flyover, YMCA, Thousand lights mosque, Church Park (Presentation Convent) - one of the stylish schools where girls spoke lilting English and wore skirts that hardly reached their knees (the maamis' eyes would open wide in disbelief and dismissal), Spencers (not a mall then)  - an international department store with hi end household appliances, the Addison building, Simpsons, Gymkhana, Island Grounds - how can one forget the exhibitions that we so looked forward to! I still remember screaming my guts out the first time on the Giant Wheel much to my parents' embarrassment and the king sized masala papad that I could hardly finish by myself!

Oh, and the Taj Connemara. A middle class family didn't dream of ever dining at a 5 star restaurant unless they were invited as guests to some function. Conjuring vivid images of a plush interior, so resplendent and opulent was my favourite diversion while passing by. I had always wanted to peek in to check what it was like. It reminds me of the book, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn', where the protagonist Francie dreams of going on the new Brooklyn-NY bridge and finally when she does she is disappointed as it is not half as dramatic as what she had imagined it would be.  When I first walked into Taj few years later, I expected something dramatic to happen but as reality would have it, I had to console myself after some waiting and move on as it didn't match the hype that my fertile imagination had painted. I still fondly remember Bombay Halwa House with its mouthwatering, delicious food and the more recent Annalakshmi.  Much later when I was in college, a friend introduced me to a small Irani tea shop on GP road. I wondered how great can tea get, and found out  here. I was amazed to find impeccably dressed white collared execs standing and slurping tea at what seemed to be a dirty roadside tea shop!

Fab India - A friend and I paced up and down the store picking up furnishing material, busy discussing whether this would go with that, oh but I really like this rug... if I want this rug I'll have to change the rest of the decor ...oh I'm so confused ... and so on... The salesman who watched our predicament offered to help and we had to sheepishly confess that we were talking about our dream house and we have just taken up our first job a few months back! The salesman was sweet enough to laugh with us and quipped its always good to have a dream.

The picture wouldn't be complete without mentioning Richie Street - the Dark Alley for electronics, pirated CDs and so on. I knew guys who knew this place like the back of their hand. You have to have the knack of figuring out the quality of the products else you would be taken for a ride here. And last but not the least... the makeshift kiosks that sold second hand books...

This account is limited to my own experiences and knowledge... am sure there are many elements that I have missed out... do add on...
I didn't expect this to spill into part 3 - but well...
The other two places would be covered in part 3 - meanwhile...any guesses?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chennai - My list of 5 places that define the city (Part I)

I spent the last few weeks telling some (interested) outsiders a few things about Chennai and some of us Chennaites got into a discussion about the city. That's how I came up with my list of 5 places that give Chennai its unique flavour...

Marina Beach

I haven't traveled far and wide. I haven't seen all the beaches touted to be scenic and fabulous. It doesn't matter because, for me  Marina would always be the best beach in the whole world! I can never forget the scene of the vast stretch of soft white sand unfolding to meet the sky at the horizon,  revealing a thin strip of shimmering ocean as you walk towards it before engulfing you into its thunderous roar. As kids we looked forward to picnics at Marina - my mom would pack home made snacks in steel dabbas and ban us from 'unhygienic food' from the vendors, much to our disappointment. We would look at her imploringly as the vendors approached with Thenga maanga pattani sundal (a snack made from channa garnished with coconut and raw mango pieces), Murukku, Kuchi ice, paal ice, cup ice (types of ice candies and ice creams), Molaga Bajji, Kadalai (peanut), Matka Kulfi, Sherbet, Inji marappa (sweetened ginger) Panju mittai in bright pink colour (cotton candy), Maanga pattai with red chilli powder (Raw mango slices)...drrooooolllll.......

Well, 'drool' was all we could do since mom was extremely wary of outside food. We were at best allowed to have the raw mango slices and peanuts! But that didn't steal all the fun because this place had so much more to offer.  Those days, you can't be at Marina and not go for kudirai sawari (horse ride - it was mostly a pony), koda ratnam (mini manual version of giant wheel)  baloon shooting, buying 'gas' baloons and collecting sea shells (which I do till date) .  We never had enough of chasing the waves and getting wet. Every time we would make elaborate preparations to not get wet but would fail miserably within 10 minutes of hitting the waves. Thanks to the sea breeze, we were dry by the time we got back home but always carried a bag of sand bulging through our pockets and between the seams of our clothers.

After a spell of pollution, I'm glad that it is being cleaned and efforts have been taken to maintain it this way.

T Nagar (+ Pondy Bazaar and a bit of West Mambalam) 

No matter how much I crib about the traffic, narrow bylanes, crowded streets and shops and lack of the more modern hangouts, this place still exudes a lot of charm to lure anyone.
The 'Platform shops' with their collection of baubles, junk jewelry, 'uma gold' or covering jewels, cheap toys made in China, figurines, plastic flowers in gaudy colours, kitchenware, flashy wall hangings and confetti, clothes, furnishing, footwear, handbags, tailors who deliver salwar suits in an hour...not to mention the inflatable baby pools, chairs etc hung on the trees and all the soft toys carefully arranged on cars parked just name it!

This place once hosted some of the high end department stores - Dawn Stores and Bombay Store. People ordered high quality cashews and grocery from Dawn stores, especially for weddings  and Bombay store was known for stocking the authentic 'North Indian' spices, masala and even atta. To this date, my MIL picks up red chilli powder, mustard powder and other assortments for the pickle only from this place!

There are still some niche outfits (albeit old) that have managed to keep their quality and reputation intact. They know their customers and sometimes even their entire family. Take Thaayar Dairy, Venkateswara Boli Store, Sarada Stores - my mom still goes all the way to Thaayar / Sarada stores to pick up butter for ghee. We don't tolerate even mild variations in the flavour - yeah, spoilt we are! And then there's Giri Trading Co, Murali Musicals, Ambika Appalam Depot, Ratna Stores, Geetha Cafe (dilapidated now but was once the only decent restaurant there)... and then there are some nameless vendors who specialised in Kumbakonam Vettalai (Betel leaf from Kumbakonam - supposed to be the best) , Maahali Kezhangu (a native root that is pickled), varieties of Aval, pori (Poha and puffed rice), homam & pooja items ( you just have to tell them the name of the homam and they'll give you all the items you need with instructions like, 'don't keep the varatti inside the house'  etc), vattals and vadaams... phew!

Oh, and London Stores, Maya Plaza and Singapore shopping mall... I still like the crisp smart cotton frocks from London Stores! can I not mention Naidu Hall, where the then hep maamis would go to buy 'baady' (lingerie)  -  :D sorry, but the T Nagar picture would not be complete without mentioning this!

Ok, since Marina Beach and T Nagar have taken up so much space, the rest would follow in the next post.

Meanwhile, Chennai folks, please do your own list of 5 places...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Arivu Pasi (Thirst for Knowledge)

We were picking up groceries at the department store and Pattu was throwing things from her list into the cart. We reached this shelf that had a mindless assortment of toys and some books for kids. Pattu picked up a book after some serious consideration and insisted on buying it. In an attempt to dissuade her, I gave her an option of choosing between ice cream and the book (and thinking what a smart move I'd made). Well, I guess thought too soon....

She didn't even think twice before telling the lady behind the counter, 'Aunty please bill this book'.

And we got back home and had ice cream while reading the book (My First Dictionary).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tiki Tiki Tembo

... is out latest addiction.

I stumbled on to this really humorous Chinese story at an old book store. This reveals through an amusing story why the Chinese have very short names.

Apparently this was not the tradition long ago in China. The first born sons always had  very long names and the rest had short names. Thus the first born son of this great family gets this name, Tiki Tiki Tembo no-sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, which means, 'The most wonderful thing on this whole wide world'. And his brother is called Chang.  
The story is about how the brothers play near the well despite their mother's warning and first Chang falls into the well and Tiki Tiki Tembo tells his mom and then finds an old man with a ladder and gets him to rescue his brother. They pump the water out of the boy and in no time he is fine as ever before. After some months of abandoning play near the well, it beckons them once again and this time Tiki Tiki Tembo falls into the well.
Now, Chang has to tell his mother and according to tradition, he should address his older brother respectfully by his full name! So goes Chang to his mother saying, 'Honourable Mother, Tiki Tiki Tembo no-sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo has fallen into the well'. His mother can't hear and he has to repeat it couple of times and he gasps and stutters somehow manages. The episode repeats with the old man with the ladder and by the time they get to Tiki Tiki Tembo no-sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, there's lot of water to pump out and he takes longer to recover.

So, now we know why the Chinese have short names :)

Pattu finds this really amusing and made me read this continuously for a good 45 mins and I am as out of breath as Chang in the story. So we've been going Tiki Tiki Tembo no-sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo - ing...all day long...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yippie..we made it!

... to the Pantomime! I was certain that the rain gods were following my blog when they predicted rains and storm, but thanks to our legendary Met Dept's history...
Wanted to go during the weekend but couldn't and finally made it on Monday. We had some nice company - 3 chirpy bubbly kids from the neighborhood. 

First thing - it is not aimed at kids Pattu's age (I thought it was..maybe I thought wrong). It is for 8 yrs +...atleast I think so, since the older kids who accompanied us understood the play. I wasn't sure (as usual) how Pattu would react and was prepared for the worst, but she did enjoy most of it except when it got a bit dialogue heavy. She especially loved 'hiss... boo...' ing and 'Oh No You're Not'ing (these are things they encourage the audience to say to certain characters and their questions - and the audience played along enthusiastically...including Pattu). Some of the characters that she really enjoyed and laughed at - the crows (they were so cute) and the Mafia Mamas and the fact that the neighbour's kid got scared of the Mafia Mamas when they walked over to the audience during a song.

I quite liked it though I wished some parts to move faster. Some of the characters were well etched and the actors were splendid while the others were so-so and could have been better. Overall it was a good experience (despite the fact that the A/C didn't work) and the kids loved it! Pattu still talks about the Crows and the Mafia Mamas!

.....thus Pattu watched her first Pantomime...

PS: And oh, all the kids got some goodies (lots of candies) from Santa during the break :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Goodies

Christmas coupled with half yearly holidays seems to have a lot in store for the kids and the parents.

The Little Theater's Pantomime at the Museum Theater, Egmore sounds like a must see. There is a 3 PM show as well on 11th, 12th and 13th - hoping to go (remembering the last time I proposed something like that and the rain gods disposed!). Well, one doesn't stop hoping.

There's Dakshinachitra Anniversary followed by their Margazhi Fest. There's Plan B - A new circus show at Sir Mutha Venkatasubbarao Hall on Dec 17th and 18th - would like to catch up on these as well (Err...I'm on the edge where Hope meets Greed). Not to mention the Landmark Sale...

Kaanchana Paati is organising a Workshop on Film Making for kids 8 yrs +. Wow!  idiscoveri  has story telling and art & craft sessions.... 

And then there's a lot more going on at the usual kids' haunts - Vanilla, Hansel & Gretel, Baby's Day Out, etc. Get. Set. Go.

Btw, Pattu would like to know if Santa Claus Ummachi will give her a gift if she is a good girl. 

Ban the Paparazzi

What do you do when strangers click snaps of your kids in public places? I've faced this quite a few times at shopping malls, beach, temples etc. Luckily Pattu is shy and refuses to pose. The other day, some college guys at the beach were trying to get Pattu to pose and I had to politely tell them that she is shy and they should leave her alone. No matter how decent looking they are, I feel very uneasy about it. Similar incident at the shopping mall - this time I realised only after the picture was clicked. They were a sweet looking young couple and I felt very awkward to say anything so just smiled and moved away.
I am also quite uneasy with the too friendly Annas at the department stores ... I've just started telling Pattu to be careful with strangers.

Btw, if you still haven't made your weekend plans, check out Lets Do Something.

They have some workshops planned for the moms and the kids have some incentive to be there as well. They are having a digital photography workshop, embroidery sessions and robotics workshops for older children coming up soon. Salsa will also be added soon along with the western dance that they already have.
Forum Art Gallery also has workshops for kids. They also have some Christmas fun coming up.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Thumb Cards

The Thumb Card for Paati (top - with some dry leaves and sand thrown in) and A Anna (Bottom - there are some little fingers too)

The Aanai Vilakku

Friday, December 04, 2009

Games, Thumbs, Eco Cards and a Runny Nose

We'd been to Lets do Something for a Traditional Indian Games workshop they had organised along with Kreeda. I wasn't too hopeful about Pattu's enthusiasm but then she did surprise me a bit by exploring all of the games there. However her attention span was way too short to complete the games that she started.

The Thumb paintings continue to excite Pattu and we made a Thumb card for (psst...secret). And while on secret, that's the latest with Pattu these days. She would take me aside and say, 'Amma, I'll tell you a secret' and whisper some gibberish into my ears and we both exchange meaningful glances.

And while on cards, we collected some dry leaves, flowers and sand and made a card for Paati who is away at Mumbai. Kaarthigai was a rushed affair as Paati wasn't here to help. I had to rush back from office to light the lamps - It was cut short by a drizzle. Pattu was excited to see the Aanai velakku (the traditional elephant lamp in brass that is passed on from generations - it is one of my favourites too). Apparently, many years back the children were given this to play with (they have wheels and can be dragged around). Depending on how wealthy the family is, the elephants are adorned with Gold, silver, precious and semi precious stone maalai! And the kids played dress up (there's a lady sitting on the elephant with a diya in her hand) with these. Imagine!

And after a lot of excitement over the 'Pitterpattering' of rain drops on the window pane, Pattu has a runny nose and fever. Planning an Indoor theme for this weekend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Last weekend plans (Nalandaway, Dakshinachitra, etc)got washed out in the rains! While I was disappointed, Pattu had her share of fun.
We went ahead with out Thumb Thumb project and I managed to save the rest of the house from the multi coloured Thumbs

Of late we've been playing Jungle and Farm animals. Pattu would come on all fours and say, 'I'm a cub' and I have to go on all fours and say, "I'm mama Tigress' and we'll go hunt or cuddle up.

Once she was the calf and me the cow and since the calf was hungry, we went grazing. Later at the dinner table:

Amma: Come have dinner Pattu

Pattu: No amma..don't want

Amma: You'll feel hungry if you don't eat now

Pattu: But I am not hungry amma... I ate grass with you na amma, Hunger gone. *Wide smile*


Wondering if youtobe would have any of the nalandaway programs...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You Know What We Did Last Week

Shades of Grey

I had written about how Children slot characters into Black and White and that they don't catch the shades of Grey for long - well, it looks like Pattu is discovering the Grey shades.

Regular conversation about friends at school etc and she says, 'B is my friend, S is my friend - they are good girl and good boy'. And then it goes, 'B is very troublesome in class, S is a very good boy. B doesn't listen to anyone, S is very obedient'.

Amma: But you said B is a good girl
Pattu: Yes, she is a good girl
Amma: But you said she is troublesome
Pattu: Yes she is
Amma: How can she be a good girl if she is troublesome?
Pattu: (A bit annoyed) Ammaaa... she is troublesome and she is a good girl. So she is a good girl. Ok?

If you think I am the one having trouble figuring out Grey shades, I don't quite blame you.

Its Raining Words!

We went for a walk when the rains stopped a bit. Small streams of water joined in one place to fall into the storm water drain. Pattu follows the path and exclaims, ' Amma, see, the water is Rivering'

It was drizzling and Pattu says, 'Amma, see it is very-small-raindropping'

I was busy with something (usually quite unimportant) and Pattu pulled at me with mouthful of spluttering sentences. I turned around and (in an effort-to-inculcate-some-manners-at-the-right-age) said, ' I'm doing something and you have to be patient', and pat comes the reply, 'But you have to be My Patient Amma!'

"Watch me deliver - Live from Minneapolis"

The latest is the live streaming of Lynsee's delivery. The streaming started when she went into labour and was on till the mother delivered and the doc said Mom and Child are in the pink.

The website talks about how the traffic peaked towards the delivery, the number of unique visitors, the advertisers, rue about how they missed on the baby products advertisers etc and a whole lot of the 'Analytics' mumbo jumbo would follow I suppose.

Wonder how it must have been - 'scream scream...' 'While the lady is screaming, let's take a short commercial break..we'll be right back, stay there'
'Will Lynsee have a boy or girl - Guess and the lucky winner gets blah blah... on camera' - Now, we'll do anything for the camera!

While all this is happening, I can't quite fathom how it can happen! Just why would anyone want the whole world to watch her labour and delivery? I'm still reeling from this...

Found Book &

They drop books at your doorstep and pick them up as well. The range is quite limited as of now but I am told that they are adding as they have just started. If you have a request, they procure the book for you if they don't have it already. Nice. Finished my first book and waiting for the next that should arrive today/ Monday.

Pattu's latest addiction Thumb Thumb Thambi & Thangi (Tulika). There's a project to paint her thumbs as Thambi and Thangi today. God save the walls, upholstery and the furniture from the Thumbs!

Btw, it is Thundering loud as I am typing this...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Children's Day Fervour

This whole week I've seen parents scurrying around for ideas and themes for Children's' Day. I was in the middle of a meeting yesterday when my colleague pinged me, 'very urgent - call asap'. I thought it was work related, but soon figured that she wanted ideas for C Day! I used to think its easy, but I find myself drained of ideas since they are either too easy, too difficult, too common, too offbeat, done this last year, etc etc.

Luckily, Pattu's school has just invited us for the celebrations - I don't have to dress her up as a Turnip yet!

We planned to attend the C Fest at Dakshinachitra but looks like we'll have to skip it and some other interesting things as well that's happening all over the city since we have to be in School. However, we are planning to catch up on Nalandaway at Kalakshetra in the evening. This should make up for what we missed lasst week due to the rains. This would be Pattu's first live performance experience. Hope she enjoys it.

We caught Trapezium last week and Pattu has been doing Gymnastics ever since.

Friday, November 06, 2009

From the Annals of a Working Mom's Diary

Yesterday, I didn't go to office - just like that..didn't feel like going to work. It was a cloudy, rainy day and just wanted to laze around. Most of all, I just felt the urge to be with Pattu.

I saw her walking to school with her raincoat on ( the latest fascination - thatha's contribution. She wears it even when there's no rain) and busy chatting with Paati... I looked on from my kitchen window - she looked like a tiny bubbly bundle bouncing all the way to school. Suddenly, I missed holding her little fingers, the animated discussions on the way to school, her little friends, some new discoveries on the way (we discover things like, the cows don't use potty and that the beak is the bird's mouth and not its nose)...etc. That must have been the real trigger, though I quote the rains and the clouds.

So, I worked from home and went to pick her up after school - she didn't expect me, so she was beaming with surprise when she saw me at the gate. Both of us must have looked really silly grinning like that...

So, after some, 'you came to pick me up today' 'you didn't go to office' 'is it a holiday for you' , we discussed what she did at school, her friends, her teacher, new kids who cried and so on. I was surprised because, she rarely talks about school when I ask her - I got to know much more about school and friends in the 10 mins we spent walking back than the whole term put together. Guess there's a time and mood for everything. My heart sank when I thought about how much I am missing by not being there with her at the right moment! Ah, the choices we have to make in life!

We passed by the park and Pattu wanted to play. I indulged her, not because I felt guilty, but because we were both so happy. A break in routine is so refreshing - I enjoyed it as a child (I do enjoy it even now). So, some more unexpected fun and we were back home for lunch. How I wish I could do this at least once a week - if only organizations didn't mind a 'Work from home Fridays' policy for women employees!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

I notice lately that the not so happy ending stories upset Pattu considerably. There we two specific instances that revealed this:
1. The Pied Piper of Hamlin - she was so upset that the Pied Piper took the children into the cave on the mountain leaving their mothers pining after them. She would ask: 'then what did the mothers do?' , 'Didn't the mothers cry?' and so on.
I tried to explain that the Piper did that to teach the bad mayor a lesson and that the kids had lots to eat and play inside the cave and they were very happy etc...but she would have none of those. She insisted that the Piper was indeed the bad man since he took the kids away from their parents and she was almost at the verge of tears that made me alter the ending to, 'and then the kids returned to their mothers and they lived happily ever after...'

2. The other instance is more recent - we were singing Rock-a-by-baby and by the time we came to the last line, Pattu came running to me and burried her face on my lap, clutching me tight. After some, 'what happened?' she tells me, 'this is a bad song, let's not sing it...'
..and after some 'why's, it comes out, 'where did the baby's mother go leaving the baby to fall?', 'did the baby get hurt?' etc... It was a revelation that she paid so much attention to the lyrics! So, again we made some changes to the lyrics to make it 'happier' ...

This got me curious and led me to look up on when it would be a good time for kids to be exposed to the not so happy stories and found some interesting links:

Interesting things that I found:
1.Children up to a certain age slot characters in black and white - they are either 'Good' or 'Bad'. 'Grey' characters confuse them. I guess that's why Pattu couldn't see the 'good side' of the Pied Piper.
2. Fantasies are important for children - it helps them explore a world that they don't 'see'.
3. Children at some stage (whenever they are ready) have to be introduced to the 'not-so-happy-endings' - it need not be grisly or gloomy but something that's sad, but indicates that there's hope still... like for instance, not getting what you want but you still go on and make something out of life ...
4. Open endings are a good way to let the child ponder over possible endings , debate them and explore their feelings.

However, what is most important is that they have to be introduced to these at the right stage. I guess that's the role that we, as parents should play.

It would be interesting to hear your views - please air them here...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meet Ms Potter

Ah, I'd been getting my hands dirty at the potter's wheel for a good 2 hours (or probably more...time just flew..)today. What fun mucking around...I don't quite blame Pattu for her indulgence.

Lets do Something
is a new place that has opened just a week back at Velachery. Its a hobby center and an activity center for both children and adults. Apart from the regular dance, music, yoga, painting routine, this place also offers slightly niche and interesting things like workshops in Pottery, Photography and the likes (they are adding to the list and some ideas and insights would be welcome). The best thing from my point of view is - this place lets you try out things if you don't want to commit yourself and invest for an entire course. So, you can pay per session, try it out and enroll once you are sure you are hooked to it.

I tried the pottery workshop and made quite a few pots - maybe around 10 of them...and nearly 4 - 5 with my own dirty hands(OK, the potter set up the wheel and the base clay and I took over from there). They all are drying now - will post pics of my creation in a couple of days. I tried out some fancy things like making dents to the pots I made (trying to make it look arty) and it broke my teacher's heart - he was training me to get the symmetry right and I insisted on asymmetrical patterns (a bit too early I guess).

Pattu found it funny that amma was playing with clay and water and creating a lot of mess. She had her share of fun on the other side of the wall with games, books, play doh, paint etc. In fact, she got a chance to do a hand imprint on their wall - the first happy customer :) - a tiny green hand... she was all smiles...
So, for Rs.300, I got to muck around for more than 2 hrs, I got 10 pots that I'm sure to flaunt(5 good ones and 5 teda hai but mera hai samples), I figured out that I have a freak chance at the potter's wheel if I worked hard... and we had two beaming kids at the end of it all (the Amma became a kid for a while) - totally worth it!

There's also a 3 weeks' free trial for Western Dance for children in the age group of 4 yrs to 9 yrs. Anyone?

Incidentally, my friends have started this place and they are still evolving the concept - people in Chennai, please do visit and give your feedback. The Phone No: 044-45014350

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cash or Card?

Picture this:

Paati, Athai and Pattu on the way to a relative's place. Paati fumbles with her purse to pull out change to pay at the toll. Pattu deftly retrieves her purse (a navaratri gift which has become the latest fascination) and pulls out the few coins...
Pattu: Paati, I have change, I'll pay for the toll
(she loves to pay and collect toll ticket - makes her feel very important)

Paati: No kanna, you keep the change, we need it for shopping
Pattu: Its ok Paati, you take this change, I have credit card for shopping na...
Paati: !!
Athai: !!!

Yes, she remembers to carry her credit cards - my frequent flyer and other loyalty cards that are not valid anymore!

Anyone wants a sponsor for your shopping trip?

Latest from The Pattu's Mouth

Just before leaving to Art's place to see Aditi:

Amma: Do you want to see a little baby girl? Anushka's Baby Sister?
Pattu: Yes, what's her name?
Amma: Aditi
Pattu: Amma, you are a good girl because you told me the baby's name...
Amma: *WIDE GRIN* (Nothing compares to a compliment from Pattu)
Pattu: Oh oh...I'm such a Mandoo!(Buddhu!) are not a good girl, you are a good lady!
Amma: Thankyou! So, what shall we take for Aditi?
Pattu: Toffee chocolates
Amma: But she's a baby and doesn't have teeth
Pattu: Oh oh, what shall we do now... shall we take tomatoes?
Amma: *$@&^%&** Why tomatoes??? No she can't eat even tomatoes
Pattu: Oh oh... OK, I'll give her my teeth then..
Amma: How will you eat toffee chocolate if you give her your teeth?
Pattu: OK, let's buy teeth from the shop and give her...

Well, since the marketers haven't yet hit upon this idea, we had to settle down for something less apt!
That didn't stop us from having a great evening!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Children and Social Consciousness

I had taken Pattu to the park the other day and bumped into one of the older girls on her ladybird carrying lots of books. I learnt that she is selling some of her old books at half price and the proceeds would go to the construction workers in our colony. I was impressed to say the least and so moved by the gesture and picked up a couple of books from her. The other kids who heard this gathered around exclaiming,
'Oh you are really selling them? We thought you were joking!'
'If that's the reason or selling, I'll also pick up some books...'
'Hey I also have lots of my old books, I can join you and sell some of them...'
'Aunty, I saw a small baby lying on the platform - no clothes, no sheet, nothing... so sad aunty'
'Their own parents are beating the children can they do that...they are so small..'
...and to the girl who started this: 'hey you are doing a great thing ya...we;ll help you ok...' and to the others, 'eh, all of you bring your old books ok, we'll sell them... we can also collect our old clothes and blankets and toys..'
'eh, come let's go tell S, D, T, and everyone else...'

...and off they go cycling...
The CEKA (Chettinadd Enclave Kids Association) NGO is born and it just took one small gesture and a few minutes for the kids... I've always believed children are the catalysts of change. I'm also happy because nurturing these qualities at this age would make them better individuals, more responsible and socially aware and conscious.

I intend to help them organise this better and make it an ongoing activity.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Amma or Mommy?

I noticed something funny today - Pattu calls me Amma when she talks in Tamil and Mommy when she talks in English! She thinks everything has to be translated?

Should check if it is happening with Appa, Paati and Thaatha as well...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shame Shame Aunty

I heard pattu singing a tune few days back. It didn't sound like any of the regular tunes that we are familiar with, so I asked her.
Pattu: That song that aunty on TV sings amma
Amma: Which one? Which aunty sings?
Pattu: That shame shame aunty who wears only a blouse and sings
Amma: *@#**!!@%

Inside Amma's head:
Is it ok for girls her age to say this? Notice this?
Ban completely? Or just play casually matter of fact and don't make too much hoo haa about it....and quietly make sure she doesn't get a chance to watch too much shame shame
What did she actually understand and mean by shame shame?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Golu Pics

Here are the Golu pics

That's the entire Golu

This is the park/ forest / hill temple

And that's Pattu in all Navratri splendor and the two new additions to this year's Golu

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Evolution Chart - Fear

Bedtime at 1.7 yrs:

After a lot of twisting and turning and talking and singing
Amma: Sleep... else the security will come blowing the whistle
Pattu would clasp amma tightly and try to sleep...she was so scared of whistle

Bedtime at 2 yrs

After a lot of jumping on the bed and spraying water in the bathroom (on the pretext of susu)
Amma: We have to switch off the lights is coming...
Pattu: Security is my friend amma..he won't hurt me

Bedtime at 2.5 yrs:

10 PM and we are still playing in the car park...Security comes blowing his whistle

Pattu (to security): Its dark and even the moon has come out... you should go and should not walk on the street blowing the whistle...

Bedtime at 2.7 yrs:

Amma is dozing off... appa can't manage anymore...
 Appa: I'm going to call the security if you don't sleep NOW!
 Pattu: I'll call Popeye and tell him to bash up the security... Popeye will have Spinach and beat him up...

Bedtime last week:

After a lot of struggle, pattu is almost dozing off when security's whistle goes off
Pattu (all groggy): Tell that security not to blow taht whistle and make noise amma... he is disturbing my sleep...

Wonder what next!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My First Award

Swapna has given me this award and it feels so good... I can relate to Pattu's joy when she is given a 'Gift'! Thanks Swapna!

The Award Rules

You can accept the award and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who gave it to you with his/her blog link.

The next thing to do is to pass the award to other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Don't forget to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So, I give this to all these lively and interesting blogs that I've newly discovered (Well, I'm quite new myself and slowing discovering my way around :) )

- Swati
- Aryan
- Mama Mia

Ladies, please accept this and pass it around.... 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Navratri, Golu, Etc

Been quite busy shopping for Navratri and Golu. I just love this shopping - picking up little gifts for everyone...the nine types of sundals for the nine days have been decided... and who will visit when etc has been decided.

Finally, Golu has also been assembled. I really enjoy this festival more than the others. I think this is one of the few festivals that gives you a chance to be creative, the rest are mostly focused on 'food' and 'ritual'.

Though Golu was assembled on Friday, the hill temple and the park/ forest
/ farm... (well, it has some nice park benches, some wild animals and some farm animals..they all had to be accommodated within that space) got ready only today. Have soaked ragi seeds in advance so that they sprout on time to make the hill/ park green. So, am 'happy tired' today. Will post some pics of this soon...

Pattu somehow hasn't caused damage to the Golus so far - she's seen three already. This time she was up with me till 12.30 AM (No wonder actually - that's usual time) and quite excited. She sat on the Golu padi like a golu bommai and then she sat along with some of the golu bommais. After putting up all the dolls, had to tell her not to disturb the ummachi's since they would be sleeping - she asks, 'why are they standing and sleeping' ...well, I wasn't quite prepared for that and attempted a sad, 'that's their style' kind of an explanation. It wasn't convincing enough, obviously.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vidyasagar, Aishy's Puzzles

Visited the Vidyasagar (Spastic Society of India, renamed) exhibition last Saturday.  Quite a pretty array I thought. Bright colourful stuff in papier mache - bowls, fridge magnets, jewelery boxes, wall hangings etc. Pretty table mats made of dried flowers and stuff, jute bags, folders and other such things. Picked up a few things. The place itself was quite warm and reminded me of the college fests where all of us enthu students put up stalls and had a roll!  I enjoyed just being there.

Two stalls that really caught my attention:

-Aishy's Puzzles: An autistic girl who can solve complex jigsaw puzzles using just spacial concepts (without looking at the picture or reading the instructions) in a few hours/ days depending on the puzzle complexity. Her parents frame the puzzles that she has solved and they are put up for sale. I wanted to pick up one of those but the pieces that I wanted were unique ones and not for sale. However, her parents would let me know when the next set of puzzles are ready - I definitely want to pick up one.
-Another child who does such wonderful 'reverse paintings'. I picked up a Ganesha. The boy was sleeping when I visited the stall.

The children from Vidyasagar have made most of the stuff there and they were also present in their respective stalls and actively selling and billing. In one of the stall, there was this boy who would pick up just about anything I touch and run to the counter to get it billed. We all had a hearty laugh and he laughed along...

This is one of the few really useful shopping trips that has left me feeling so good ... Chennaites, please visit...I think it is still on...

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Cut or Not to Cut

Pattu's hair has grown - falling on her face, over her ears and annoying her a bit. She doesn't like to wear a band, clip, or anything else to hold the hair in place. She'll remove them within seconds. So, we were thinking of going for a hair cut. But she wouldn't budge - she is terified of the scissors!  
Here's a detailed account of the episodes...

Act I Scene I - Thursday last week:

Amma: Pattu, if you don't want a hair cut, you should wear a band, otherwise hair will fall on your face
Pattu: No amma, I'll have a headache if I wear a band
Amma: Then let's cut your hair
Pattu: Nooooo
Amma: Then, what do you want to do?
Pattu: After some serious thought, 'I'll get mottai done like appa...' after some more consideration, 'Amma, you also get mottai done like appa...'

Act I Scene II - Fiday Last week

Amma: Hey, Pattu's going for a haircut on Sunday! (Amma's trick to make it sound like some treat that she's been looking forward to!)
Pattu: No amma, scissors will be sharp... I'm a small girl, it'll hurt
Amma: ( tasting a dose of her own medicine!) Then wear a band
Pattu: Nooo..

Act I Scene III - Saturday

A Firm Amma: Pattu - you have to decide - haircut or band!
Pattu: (Cornered): I'll wear band (Lesser evil)
Amma: (wanting to confirm claims) ok, wear this now (and forces it on Pattu)
Pattu: (without choice accepts and tries to look happy)
Amma checks after 5 mins - band nowhere on pattu's head.

Decision: Pattu will have a haircut

Act II Scene I - Sunday Morning

Amma: Hey, Pattu's going for a haircut!
Pattu: Will it hurt amma
Amma: No kanna... we'll have a nice aunty cut it for you this time
Pattu: She'll have soft scissors
Amma: Yes
Pattu: Ok..(Worried but trying to accept)

Act II Scene II - Sunday Noon

Amma fixes appointment
Pattu: (realising there's no way out) Where are we going
Amma: To the beauty parlour
Pattu: Aunty will cut?
Amma: Yes
Pattu: (turns to Paati and says) It won't hurt Paati, aunty will have soft scissors..

Act II Scene III - At the Parlour

Aunty wasn't free so, we had an uncle! Well, uncle was quite friendly and we liked the revolving chair. Started peacefully...somehere when the scissors got closer, panic attacked and amidst screams, we cajoled, threatened, begged and pleaded and bribed (with chocolate) to finally get it over. What started as a mushroom cut ended up looking like an army cut! more managing hair for next two months! I'm a bit disappointed - a mushroom cut would have looked nicer.

Act III Scene I: After the haircut - At the Parlour

After shaking the parlour with her screams, Pattu licks her chocolate peacefully and casually waves everyone a nice friendly though nothing happened. The whole parlour turned around to say bye to her...a bit relieved I suppose.

Act IV Scene I: At Bedtime

Almost dozing off after bedtime routine ... suddenly

Pattu: Waaaaahhh....
Amma: (Confused) What happened!
Pattu: I want my hair ..waaahhh...I want my hair....
Amma: (even more confused) ok.... I'll go to the parlour tomorrow and get it back...we'll stick it back on your head...
Pattu: (mumbling)...ok...
When did the 'Bonding with the Hair' happen??!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pattu's Gift for Amma

Yesterday when I got back from office, I handed over a gift (a memento that Sk received for one of his lectures) to Pattu since she likes to open these gift wrapped boxes. She didn't expect a gift in the middle of the week, and without a reason - that left her a bit overwhelmed. It must have been the Birthday hangover of 'Return Gifts', she comes back few minutes later holding a leftover Birthday balloon filled with water (and secured tightly) - 'Amma, I also have a gift for you...see...'

By far the most creative gift that I've received so far.

I asked her why she gave me a gift and pat comes the reply, 'You are a good girl na amma, that's why.'
Amma: Why am I a good girl?
Pattu: Because you gave me a gift... (pauses, thinks) ...because you do kakka, moocha (potty) in the toilet...and you don't touch the sand while playing in the park... if you touch the sand, I'll give you injection. If you are a good girl, I'll give you a gift again tomorrow...ok?

Birds of Paradise

There are times when you eagerly wait for something, you dream and prepare for its arrival and it eludes you for so long that you forget all about it, shut that piece of hope in an old iron trunk, lock it and throw the keys into the river. And bury the memory.

And out of the blue, it shows up. Making you go berserk. Knocking you out when you are least prepared. And then you realise that's the best way it could have happened to you.

Birds of Paradise - beautifully alluring and a recent favourite, I was excited when I brought a plant home about 6 months back. I would look out of the window everyday hoping to see the blossoms and finally gave up after 2 whole months. And suddenly, two weeks back, it bloomed! And how!

I know this incident doesn't really deserve this dramatic a preamble, but it triggered some memories in that direction....

PS: Guys, don't snigger, I'm tagging this post under, 'philosophy' :D

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Conversation between 8 yr old girls in the playground

8 yr old from 2 kids family: We wanted a dog, but mom said, 'we already have two dogs in the house, I don't want one more' ...giggles

8 yr old from 3 kids family: My mom says, 'I feel like a zoo keeper' .... giggles

8 yr old from 2 kids family: with just the two of us, my mom goes mad ...with three of you, I don't know how your mom manages

8 yr old from 3 kids family: Oh, we have a great strategy... we fight through the evening and night and then we are off to sleep and by the time we wake up, we've forgotten all about it...

The First Grey Hair!

You guessed it - found my first strand of grey hair few days back. I wasn't really looking for it though. A sudden shimmer of silver struck me and there it was!

First reactions:

- Wow! I've got one too! (I like the salt and pepper looks ... god promise!....not sure if it'll suit me though)
- If it is just one strand, as in just a stray one... it is supposed to be lucky. Looked for more and didn't find ...yippie, there's luck hiding somewhere
- Amma: 'Pattu...see amma's grey hair....' Pattu: 'yea yea..amma's got grey hair' I've won some trophy! Well, that's how I jumped, so can't really blame her.
- Phew! I'm getting old!
- What'll hubby say? (No much, considering he has no hair!)
- Will I react differently to the Vasmol ads?? With Kajol as brand ambassador, I shouldn't feel part of the 'Old' league... maybe just second youth
- How many of my friends are ahead of me/ behind me? (how fast am I aging in comparison?) I was musing, Pattu says, 'I also have many grey hairs amma...see ...(bends to show her hair) ... lots more than you...'

Monday, September 07, 2009

Old Toys, New Games

I was sorting out Pattu's toys and books - thinking of putting some of the old ones in the cupboard (the ones that I would like to keep), thinking of disposing some and make space for some new entries. Pattu walked in and loved the state of mess, with all her toys and books spread all over the room, mess created by Amma so she's not the culprit, there was nothing more she could ask for. She found some of her old toys, the ones that she had abandoned and moved on... she was initially excited to see them after a break. I thought it was nostalgia. And it was. She didn't stop with that though, she refused to let me put them away.

Over the last few days, I've noticed that she's invented new ways of playing with those toys.

- The stacking cubes for instance - she stacked them up, picked up a ball and tried the bowling game. She got familiar with bowling when we had rented the game during her b'day.
- And then the drag on lady bug - she sat on the bed and did fishing with it - the bug became the fish and the fishing rope in her hand, cot as the boat and the room as the lake.
- The stacking rings stringed on a rope made a garland
- She takes her teddies for a walk on the pram

Well, maybe its not a bad idea to bring out old toys once in a while...hmmm...

Saturday, September 05, 2009


I've been at 'Alice in Wonderland' with renewed interest yet again. Sometimes when I'm bored or too stressed and feel like a break, I love to pick up the book, take a random page and read on. Somehow every time I read it I seem to discover something new...either discover a new perspective, a hidden humour or just a new sentiment towards it...

The recent interest seems to be oozing out of me from time to time... verses figured in my FB status messages ... and it replaced the usual rhymes and songs that I sing with Pattu.

I realised the seriousness of this addiction when a colleague chipped, 'You eat Eggs?' on seeing me chomping on an egg sandwich (he didn't know I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian), to which I said, 'Yeah, I've never been introduced to the Egg, so I can eat see?'

I saw 'Duh??! on his face...obviously he didn't see.

For those who don't know Alice that well, here's the excerpt:

At last the Red Queen began. `You've missed the soup and fish,' she said. `Put on the joint!'

And the waiters set a leg of mutton before Alice, who looked at it rather anxiously, as she had never had to carve a joint before.

`You look a little shy; let me introduce you to that leg of mutton,' said the Red Queen. `Alice -- Mutton; Mutton -- Alice.' The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice; and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused.

`May I give you a slice?' she said, taking up the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other.
`Certainly not,' the Red Queen, very decidedly: `it isn't etiquette to cut any one you've been introduced to. Remove the joint!' And the waiters carried it off, and brought a large plum-pudding in its place.

`I won't be introduced to the pudding, please,' Alice said rather hastily, `or shall we get no dinner at all. May I give you some?'
But the Red Queen looked sulky, and growled `Pudding -- Alice; Alice -- Pudding. Remove the pudding!' and the waiters took it always so quickly that Alice couldn't return its bow.

However, she didn't see why the Red Queen should be the only one to give orders, so, as an experiment, she called out `Waiter! Bring back the pudding!' and there it was again in a moment like a conjuring-trick. It was so large that she couldn't help feeling a little shy with it, as she had been with the mutton; however, she conquered her shyness by a great effort and cut a
slice and handed it to the Red Queen.

`What impertinence!' said the Pudding. `I wonder how you'd like it, if I were to cut a slice out of you, you creature!' `It spoke in a thick, suety sort of voice, and Alice hadn't a word to say in reply: she could only sit and look at it and gasp.

`Make a remark,' said the Red Queen: `it's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!'

Painting & Pattuspeak

We have been heavily into painting these days. We've emptied 4 boxes of water colour in the last 2-3 weeks and already on to the 5th one. I also notice some improvements in Pattu's skills with the brush and the crayons:

1. She's able to control the brush to apply colour within a given boundary fairly well.
2. She contemplates on the colours - the serious expression on her face suggests some thinking behind her choice of colours. The thinking per se is not apparent yet .
3. She doesn't like interruptions - looks like she knows what she is doing! She is annoyed when I ask her why she has chosen those colours or tell her to colour a paticular portion of the paper etc.
4. She remains focussed on one task for more than 5 mins - which is a great improvement over the usual 'few seconds'. Phew!
5. She is careful while using colours - she washes her brush quite well before moving on to the next colour making sure the colours don't get mixed up. She frets if that happens. After washing the brush she taps it on the edge of the water bowl (mimicing my style) to let off excess water so that it doesn't drip all over the desk and dilute paint too much.
6. She understands that we have to clean up and helps me with it. She doesn't spray the dity paint water on our white wash basin, but pours it carefully in the bathroom drain taking care not to stain the floor!
7. Wants her hands to be washed.
8. There's more paint on the paper than on the desk/ face & limbs

Last night while we were painting, Pattu used white colour on th paper (after smearing the paper with 5 other colours). Then she went for blue and applied it over the white.
Amma: Why are you applying blue over the white? Apply it somewhere else on the paper!
Pattu: "Oh God! How do I make you understand!" expression. 'If I don't put blue over the white, the white will fly away in the air with the fan on...then it'll go sit on the fan and we won't have any white na amma...that's why..'
Amma: Duh! Ok, got it!

Whatever that meant!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Birthday Birthday Oh What Fun!

We had Pattu's B'day party last weekend so that all kids could make it. We had it at the park in our colony so kids could run around and play freely and I think that was a good idea.

Its been a year and a half since we moved into this neighborhood, and Pattu's 2nd birthday party was the first official party of the colony. We probably had only 15 families who had moved in by then.Though we had invited only the kids last time, most of the families had turned up just so that we all could meet and get to know each other. The nostalgia brought most of those families back and we really had a good time.

Hired some games (bowling pin set, dart game..) from Toyzdayout - kids just loved them and had a great time! After the cake cutting and eating formalities, kids gathered and started the games and went on till 9 PM till they dropped from sheer exhaustion. We had all age groups and so we had games designed for all of them.

This time we had our camera in shape (yeah, we didn't have batteries last time!) and have some good snaps...

Pattu was delighted with the gifts - she is still fascinated with the wrappers and the boxes more than the gifts per se. She got her first Salwar suit from her care taker and loved the duppatah so much that she even wore it with her frocks and t shirts the whole day. Here's the pic of the big girl in salwar...and other snaps

A fascinating tale with brilliant illustration through 'Dancing on Walls' from Art and Anush - not just Pattu, all of us liked it. Pattu's been gazing at the moon looking for the moon people :D. The hand made dolls from Tsunamika have been saved (along with the card) - will give them to pattu when she is old enough to understand.

...and thus 'happy tired', we hugged and zzzed through the rest of the night (which was too little) and through morning only to wake up at 9 AM!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I have a confession to make - while commenting on Art's post on toys, I proudly claimed to have kept plastics at bay. However, that bubble burst as soon as I looked into Pattu's room. More plastic than I had imagined - lots of Funskool toys - gifted and bought, a kitchen set - gifted and she likes it a lot, lego blocks, some bats and balls, and a few others. About 40% of her toys are plastic. Revelation!

What struck me was not just the amount of plastic toys that we had, but the fact that I consider myself to be educated, quite conscious towards environment and averse to plastic and I have so much plastic at home. I wonder what a home that is not averse to plastic must look like.

I personally like the wooden toys - of course if the finish is not good, it can be dangerous. I do have some from Ringo, Vanilla Place, Cane & Bamboo and exhibitions. I especially love the wooden choppu set that I have.

Another favourite is the stuffed cloth puppets - I had a witch and a clown - the clown survived and the witch died (she was more popular with the kids and suffered more wear and tear therefore :) ). I like the monoact with these puppets - Pattu likes it too and joins in sometimes. My childhood favourite is the 'thalayatti bommai' that thanjavur is famous for.

Pattu seems to have these seasonal preferences - for some time she would just be obsessed with one kind of activity and dump it completely once she has had enough of it and moves to the next obsession. Anyways, this topic has been an eye opener and I have vowed to be more and more conscious about the plastic invasion.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Weekend that was

Tomorrow is Pattu's 'Happy Birthday' - she turns 3, a big girl! She would jump up and touch a low hanging twig and say, 'see amma, I'm a big girl!'. Yes indeed!

Planning the party this weekend. So, that was my reason to go on a shopping spree - went berserk and thoroughly enjoyed it. And then there's this added joy in spreading out all the little knick knacks on the rug and sharing it with rest of the family - I haven't quite figured out which part I enjoy more - the actual shopping or the sharing later with family.

Peeped into Toyzdayout (thanks to Art) and Peek-a-boo. My Reviews here.

Sunday started with wishing Ganesha a 'Happy Birthday'. Pattu wore a new pavadai chattai for Ganesha's b'day and happily went and sat on a low stool that was decorated with kolam and flowers, meant for keeping Ganesha's prasadams -she just declared that it is her 'special stool' and that became her obsession for the day. She was almost about to inaugurate the prasadam but paati somehow managed to save it for neivedyam.

And when pattu was napping, I managed to rearrange her room to include the new 'writing desk' that had arrived just in time for the birthday. I like the look on her face when she walks in to a rearranged room :-) ...she's been happy so far with my experiments...

And then we went out - without an agenda. We first went to a terracotta place and didn't pick up anything. Then we were wondering what to do when sk (hubby) suggested beach and so we headed to the sholinganallur beach on ECR. Pattu is scared of waves, she won't even tread on wet sand and would hold me really tight when the waves come near. But yesterday she was quite adventurous and allowed the waves to just about kiss her toes. Well, we are trying to be friendly...just need some time. Since we were tired from running around, we were hungry and so we drove straight into Delhi Dhaba. Pattu slept on the way back - tired, but happy tired...only to wake up at 11 PM! Had to humour her till 1 PM and then we kept tossing in the bed to sleep only at 3 AM! And a Monday morning to look forward to!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smooth & Pink, like a pig!

We were reading this book, "Who is my Mummy' where the kitten gets lost and goes around the farm asking every animal, 'Are you my mommy?'... so, when it comes to the pig, it says, 'No, I'm not your mommy, my skin is smooth & pink' - its a firang pig obviously. So, while acting it out, I said, 'smooth & pink, just like pattu's cheeks..'
...for a long time after that she went around saying, 'My cheeks are smooth and pink like that pig' leaving the paatis and others disgusted and wondering...

..and I love the way she does the kitten act and hugs me at the 'happy ending' of the story... :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pattu's Post - The Making of the Birthday Card

This is Pattu, I've taken over this post so that you all get the real story and not just Amma's version.
Amma asked me if I wanted to make a b'day card for a little girl like me. I didn't mind, but wanted to know if she is a good girl (if it is worth the effort). Amma said, 'yes, she obeys her mother' - that is biased, coz I don't always obey my mom but I am a good girl. So, I asked her if she would give me chocolates, amma said yes and so I agreed that she is a good girl. So, we set out to make the card. After some debates and discussions, we decided that we will make a house, plant a tree next to it and also have a small pond near it. Amma then cut out a triangle and square that she insisted was a rectangle. Whatever! I didn't want to contest. I had the more important task of colouring these shapes - the sight of water colours, water, brushes, crayons excited me. I picked blue for the triangle and white for the rectangle-square. Amma said the rectangle is already white so I don't have to paint it white again, but I just though I'll make it whiter.
Now comes trouble, amma kept nagging me about the paper tearing off what with a watery brush and the pressure (I'd call it passion) that I was putting on it. I managed to ignore her and kept the creative energy flowing. We somehow managed the house, then the tree and then the pond. Amma asked me the colour of water and I said green, but amma said it has to be blue. I haven't seen blue water anywhere in all my 36 months! So, I just stood my ground. Then after other options like brown and black (that's how the lakes out here look! I like to do realistic pictures!) we settled for pink. When amma was not looking I smeared some purple and red into it. We stuck all of these on a nice big sheet of paper and just when I was about to fill the pond with water, amma shrieked! God knows why- what's a pond without some water in it! Not just that, she snatched the water jug from me - now, that was bad behaviour, even by her own definition, it is. You cannot snatch things from others! She told me that! But I let it go...she doesn't do that often.
So, we were kind of done, so I thought when amma said I have to help her clear up - I thought she ought to do atleast that in return for the card. Moreover, I thought the floor looked really pretty what with the colours and all... anyways, I looked around for something to clean the floor with, found appa's hanky - washed and pristine white - good enough to clean the floor - wooshhh...and that did it... floor was clean. Amma put her hands up in the air - funny she looked :D.
So, finally after all this, she forgot to take a pic of the card before handing it over and appa tried a last ditch effort with his camera phone - from what I overheard, the pic hasn't come out quite well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Gift

Pattu was excited at the number of gifts that she received on her second birthday. That was really the first time she understood 'gifts' - or so we thought looking at her excitement. Neat boxes, colourfully packed and secured with pretty satin ribbons - so many of them in various shapes and sizes! She just couldn't wait to open them.

As I helped her open the boxes, I wondered how she would react to what is inside the boxes. I opened the first one for her and she almost grabbed it from me, opened the box, threw out whatever was inside (she didn't even give it a glance) and held the box close to her and said gleefully, 'this is my gift'! That's when we figured out that it is the box that excites her and not really the stuff inside it.

Once while getting ready for a friend's wedding, we had a tough time telling pattu that a Re 1 coin inside a shoe box does not make a great gift for a wedding. She just wouldn't budge. She insisted on carrying it all the way to the wedding and wanted to hand it over to the bride. She wouldn't trust us enough to carry it for her. Luckily she dozed off in the car and I managed to sneak it away. I wonder what it must have been like to hand over a shoe box with a 1 rupee coin in it! Well, part of parenting I guess! I did share it with my friend later and had a good laugh as she said, 'Oh, that would have been my most memorable wedding gift' :)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

5 is the BIGGEST number

I remember the day I learnt the number 100 - I thought that was the biggest number ever and just trying to visualise 100 would make me dizzy. I doubted if there were 100 stars in the sky and tried counting and ofcourse, always got lost and mixed up but always liked to believe that 100 was bigger than the number of stars in the sky. And when the teacher told me there were more than 100 stars I was a trifle disappointed to place my '100' beneath something else.

With pattu, it is '5' now. She can count till 20, but for some reason only she can fathom, 5 is the biggest number. How many chocolates does she want? 5. How many toys does she want? 5. How many magic beans did Jack have? 5. and so it goes. And whenever she says '5' her eyes would open wide, her 5 fingers would be stretched wide and her tone will assume the manner of, 'Oh I can't believe that you can actually buy me so many chocolates'. And when I ask her if she doesn't want 10, she promptly replies with a big NO - she wants '5'!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Too Much Ado!

Even today Pattu's food is an event! We take extra effort to make what she likes, the way she likes it and create an environment and mood in preparation for this event. Not to mention all the song and dance and entertainment through the event. And after all this, there's no guarantee that she'll eat. There has to be a plan B too. I find this quite draining - I feel exhausted after this. There's quite a bit of family energy at stake here. Sometime I wonder if I am being too fussy a mother. I don't remember my mom fussing too much over our food and my MIL also tells me that she hardly fussed over the food part. Apparently, after 2yrs of age, the children would sit alongside the adults and the same food would be served to them as well. They would mess a bit and eat a bit, but no one made special efforts to feed them and they didn't worry too much about the kids going hungry either. Moreover, there were other kids in the house, cousins visited more often and younger kids learnt and followed the older kids. And today the Montessori and the Reggio Emelia systems are playing the same things back to us.

Sometimes I worry too much if she misses a glass of milk or goes without having curd, juice, etc. I feel she has lost out on her daily dose of nutrition. Maybe I should just let go and take it a bit easy and things would just fall in place. Well, maybe.


'Girls play with dolls and boys play with cars'. Pattu tossed this stereotype out of the window the day she was given dolls to play with. She clearly prefers the acrobatics to the dolls. She can't sit in one place for long and has bruised knees and elbows all the time. Loves to kick, turn furniture upside down, climb up gates and anything else taht can be climbed, jump across sofas, from tables... Even during pretend play, she becomes Popeye and Krishna and Bheem more often. I once overheard a tired patti's voice on the phone, 'she's hardly like a girl child... so difficult to manage! I didn't have such a tough time even with my grandson!'. I've come across quite a few mothers who have similar stories to share.

So, is it time for the stereotypes to go?

Monday, August 03, 2009

'Pretty Pink'

I hate Pink except on Pattu's cheeks and when used along with Floyd. Its not really the colour, but the imagery around it, the associations with it. 'Pretty, delicate, mild, girly, sugary...' and over time it has become, 'shallow, weak, silly, cloying...'. And it is this association with girls/ women that I resent. So, even before I had Pattu, I decided that I won't buy pink even if I had a girl baby. However, almost everyone brought her 'pink' presents and 'pink' dominated her world. I had no control. I wondered why no one ever experimented, why people felt compelled to abide by some unwritten rule, why no one thought, 'oh, most people would buy pink so let me buy another colour'...just why?

Well, I think I kind of found the answer when I went shopping to pick up something for my cousin's kid - the girl baby section was full of pink stuff! And when I rummaged to find something in blue, the shop assistant rushed to me and said, 'Madam, you said girl, but you've taken blue' so as to suggest, 'you haven't read the rulebook'. I thanked him (with mock politeness) and said that this baby has a mind of her own and prefers blue! I paid and walked away much to his disappointment.

Wonder if boys are bombarded with blues as much as girls are with pink!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cindrella - The 2 year old's Version

After all the crow and fox stories, I embarked on Fairy tales for our bedtime routine. Cindrella was my first pick. I started, but when I came to the 'Ball' and 'Prince Charming' she lost me completely. So I had to reinvent and this is my version for Pattu:

Once upon atime there was a little girl called Cindrella. Cindrella was a good girl. She had step sisters who were bad girls and did not share their toys with Cindrella. Sometimes they even beat her and pushed her down and Cindrella cried.

One day, the step sisters dressed in pretty frocks, matching bangles, matching shoes and pretty hairband and were getting ready to go to the park. Cindrella also wanted pretty clothes like that. She wanted to go to the park too. She wanted to play on the swing, the slide, the merry-go-round and see-saw. She went up to them and said, 'Please, can I also go to the park with you?'. But the step sisters wouldn't take her. They said, 'Cindrella, go away, we won't take you to the park'. She felt sad and she cried. And who appeared before Cindrella just then.......????? - Pregnant pause, building surprise-

'Fairy Godmother!'. She has a magic wand in her hand. She looked at Cindrella and said, 'Cindrella, my child, why are you crying? What do you want?'. Cindrella looked up and saw fairy Godmother and she was so happy. She ran up to Fairy Godmother and said, 'Fairy Godmother! I'm so happy to see you. I want to go to the park wearing pretty clothes and matching shoes'. To this, the Fairy Godmother said, 'Ok Cindrella, I'll give you everything, but on one condition: You should be a good girl and come back home before 6 PM..ok?' And Cindrella promised to do so.

Fairy Godmother asked Cindrella to bring a pumpkin and waved her magic wand over it saying 'Abracadabra' and it turned into a carriage. She asked for 4 mice and waved her magic wand over it saying 'Abracadabra' and it turned into the 4 wheels of the carriage...and then came horses and Cindrella's new look and she went riding to the park.

When Cindrella reached the park, all her friends came running to see her and said, 'Hey Cindrella, come play with us'. Cindrella played with her friends happily. As she was playing she suddenly realised that it was getting dark, so it must be 6 o clock. She remembered her promise to Fairy Godmother. She quickly ran from the park to get back home on time and in the process left one of her shoes behind. Luckily, Keshav, Cindrella's friend found the shoe but he didn't know whose shoe it was. So he went house to house checking with all his friends (we do a complete round of our colony friends here). And at last Keshav comes to Adya's house and asks, 'Adya is this your shoe' and Adya says, 'no Keshav, this is not my shoe, but I know it is Cindrella's shoe'. So, both Adya and Keshav go to Cindrella's house and return the shoe to her and they remain friends ever after.

It could well be a scene out of Cindrella's childhood and the same incident happened in a different context when she was a teenager. So, pattu will hear the teenage version (the original versio ie.,) of the story when she is ready for it.


I've been wanting to blog ever since I conceived - because I started my conversations with my little one as early as that. I would say, 'You are making me too sleepy, lazy bum' or 'See, appa is fighting with me :(' or after some quiet time with ourselves, I'd ask, 'Pattu, what are you doing inside?' and I would hear a babble... or so it seemed. And once when I asked, 'what do you look like?', she pouted and did a monkey like 'Ppprrrrrr' ...the little imp!

Well, the lazy mom that I am, I just managed to start this now when she is almost turning 3. So, this place will be interspersed with 'Flashbacks' along with the current episodes...

And I leave with a 'hurrah' to myself for starting it off....finally....