Tuesday, March 30, 2010


... we came third at the Artst-Craftsy Challenge, though huffing and puffing :D .. Here's the entry
I thank my husband for sacrificing the loofah (though it was stolen when he was away) and Pattu for successfully pulling out parts of her hair clip which inspired the princess idea...( I would have thanked my dog and my dinosaur but I don't have one ...)

But seriously you guys - Shruti and TPL , are awesome! Some effort and passion it takes to do something like this... I'm gonna flaunt this badge

Shruti, TPL - the cards & the puppet look lovely! 

Friday, March 26, 2010


I woke up to the waft of 'Maracheeni puzhukku' early this morning. 'Maracheeni' is Tapioca and 'puzhukku' is a gooey chewy paste. We make papads out of tapioca and this is the process: make the paste first and then spread it out on mats made of palm leaves or on jack fruit leaves. The more modern we got, we used plastic sheets for convenience. This is dried in the sun till it becomes brittle and stored for future. MIL made the papads today and they are drying in the sun as I type this. 

This sent us all on a nostalgic journey back to the 80s when vadams were an integral part of summer vacations. The best thing about the vadams is that it offers a range of gastronomic experience at various stages of its making.First the puzhukku, which is as popular as the pappadam - its is a completely different kind of sensation on the taste buds.Then when the papads are half dry and rubbery - quite challenging but that's the fun! Then the fried and roasted papads...hmmm... The joke is that the women start by planning for a certain number of papads and after losing a few in each of these stages, only half of it will actually make it to the frying pan!

My grandmom used to make 'javvarisi vadam'(sabudana papad) and 'arisi vadam'(rice papad). In Tamilnadu, the 'puzhukku' is called the 'koozhu'. It doesn't matter what they call it, it is just as chewy, gooey and yummy!

At my grandmom's place in Kerala, the coconuts would also be dried in the sun for making coconut oil. Chewing the coconuts through different stages of drying was equally interesting. As kids, we used to be employed as scarecrows - extra coconut/ puzhukku for shooing the crows away, for bringing the papds in, for spreading them out again the next day... it required labour you see. Well, some of it ended in our gut instead of the crow's beak and some of the men would also sneak up for a steal and wink at us kids which meant, 'Sshhh.. no reporting to the women!'. As though the women didn't know - while counting, they would murmur amongst themselves, 'oh, we can't keep the human crows away, can we!' :D

And here's a pic of the papads that are drying on the terrace... on Jack fruit leaves 
(...and while the pics are loading, I'm licking the remains of the puzhukku :)   )

Up Close - fresh from the kadai

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Me too is 'Tagged'

Swati has tagged me to say seven things that people don't know about me. I've seen this tag doing the rounds in blogosphere and here I am doing it now... So please fasten your seat belt, here I go...

1. I can't drive (LOL - and I told you all to fasten your seat belt!). I'm terrified of traffic, cows, dogs and even the crows on the road! I've never even been on a bicycle *HIDING MY FACE IN SHAME*

OK, now that I've said this, it is easy to say the rest.

2. I haven't seen snowfall yet :( ... or for that matter never experienced single digit temperatures

3. I am absent minded. Once, when the family sat down for dinner I realised that I had cooked everything but rice! More recently I was frantically looking for my phone and went back to the rest room, cafeteria and rummaged through my desk for a good 15 mins when I figured out that I was talking on the phone all the while! I hope you'll still read me and be my friends.

4. I guess I'm not a movie buff - If I count all the movies I've watched till date, I'm sure it would be less than 100.

5. The one thing I really feel bad about is the fact that I can't sing! Not that I'm good at everything else, but I don't feel so bad about it. A few maamis tried but gave up eventually. I have absolutely no sense of sound :(

6. My childhood ambition was to become an underworld don. Well, I have a few months of Karate and and rifle shooting under my belt...

7. I cried when Dumbledore died.

And now its your turn ladies... I tag Lavanya, Jayashree, Apu and TPL

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We speak Hindi these days

Definitely not at home. Pattu has couple of Hindi speaking friends at school and she seems to be quite fascinated by the language. She speaks very fluent gibberish that sounds like flawless Hindi! She intersperses her Hindi sentences with one or two English words, so it is possible to get a hang of what she is saying...

The conversation goes something like this...

Pattu: Kya ke jao tum ke neki (No clue what that means!)
Amma: What are you saying?
Pattu:Amma, upstairs jake tum kene ke? (Shall we go upstairs?)
Amma:OK..what do you want to do there?
Pattu:Ghar ja tum ke play ke neke upstairs jake nee (Let's play)
Amma:What do you want to play?
Pattu: Iske piske balloon aske deke ne karo kee (Let's play with balloon)
Amma: No, I don't want to play
Pattu:kya ke tum kiya bas taakke owl dekre ke hai.. karo tum? (If you don't owl will come and take you...well, something to that effect..)

you get the drift... and it goes on and on... there are days when we speak only Hindi, even to the maid, driver and the poor care taker! We are going mad!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fresh and Green

We live in a neighborhood where all residents have a small green patch around the house. Most of us happen to be interested in a kitchen garden as well. We sometimes share our produce with neighbors and friends like olden days. We've already got some raw bananas, banana flower, white raddish, a bagful of tomatoes from couple of our neighbors - both the ripe and the green variety. I particularly love the green tomatoes which are rare to come by in the market. We've got some papayas as well - again the raw and ripe variety. Raw papaya is also not found commonly in the market and we love making subzi out of it. Our own chillies and tomatoes have just started bearing fruit and the papayas are becoming fatter. We harvested Methi leaves, pudina, the red keerai, manathakkali, some avarakkai (flat bean variety) and brinjal.

While on this, if you are interested in organic fruits and vegetables, do visit this site. We've been ordering one box a month from here which typically lasts us a week or so.

I owe our garden to my MIL and her green thumb (touch wood!) who single handedly plants, waters, tends, cares and toils, out there, come sun or rain. She's going to be away for a month - the plants will miss her immensely I'm sure! But I'm going to make a sincere attempt to care for them... atleast enough to maintain it the way it is right now - I hope that’s not too ambitious...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Well, we tried....

Here's Pattu's entry for the March challenge. With Pattu, it is very difficult to hold her attention for long. So I had to think of ideas that can get done in less than 10 mins - that was my challenge (besides the fact that I am not particularly creative i.e,).
So, we started by making the paper plate clowns where she had to only stick things on to a plate and boy did she enjoy it! She wanted to convert all the plates in the house into clowns. 

What we used for the paper plate clowns: two rings from a toy for the eyes, a red hair band cut and stuck for the mouth and a black hair band cut and shredded for the hair. I did the cutting part while Pattu did the rest as instructed.
Then we found a bath scrub and wrapped it over a ball. We fastened it behind with some hair clips (one of the pics will reveal this :D) and cut out some packing material for the eyes and the mouth. To be honest, we wanted to make a cute looking puppy but this one ended up looking like a forlorn alien LOL! Here too, I helped with the cutting and Pattu did the rest...with a bit of struggle.

The gloves gave us an idea - the dwarfs. Black wool for the hair, black dots for eyes and red painted smile.
Then we rummaged further to find the loofahs - The maiden's dress is a fluffy loofah. We found a hair clip that had the girl. Inspired by that, Pattu's care taker thought of another maiden with a paper fan dress so that the loofah maiden had company. Pattu liked the fan folding...
Then the duckling - that's another loofah with a handle. We found some pegs to go as the eyes and the beak is a pistachio shell coloured red using crayon. Pattu did all of this.
Then we had to make a story around it.... so, there it goes... phew!

 The story is in verse (because I am very lazy) and this is how it goes:

Slide 2
The little alien was lost and sad
He couldn’t find his mom and dad
Where are you,
oh where have you gone?
Will you be back by 
the break of dawn? 
Slide 2
The five happy dwarfs came along
And played a happy peppy song
Nothing seemed to
cheer him though
Home was just where
he wanted to go
Slide 2
The plate clowns vowed to make him smile
And they tried and tried for a long while
The little one just turned away
The clowns didn’t know what to say

Rest of the story...

Slide 2
Then came the maidens, with dimples and curls
They danced around and did some twirls
‘Oh no’, said the dwarfs and the clown
How do we get him to throw that frown 
Slide 3
Then came a ducking lost and scared
She is lost and no one cared
The alien cuddled her, ‘come let’s play’
He sang, he danced, he made her gay
The dwarfs, the clowns, the maidens broke into a song
Happy and merry, they danced along

So, that's that....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Come Summer...

Vacation time is nearing and I'm wondering how to keep Pattu productively occupied. I'm sure there are summer camps in every street corner these days, the trouble however is to identify the good ones.
I see that Kanchana Paati, Sunshine, MAS and a few others around Velachery have announced their summer plans. Let's do something is also planning a variety of activities. Xseed of idiscoveri, Hansel & Gretel, Vanilla, all have lots going on for summer.

I definitely don't want to send her to a very crowded place. Would prefer a something nearby. Pattu's school has some activities planned till end of April, so we are good till end of April.

While doing this round up, also came across a sale at Oxford Bookstore, Nungambakkam - upto 80% off on books and a flat 10% off on all books and stationaries.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Introducing Buc...

Buc is a huge bird, so huge and so tall that it's head touches the ceiling of our bedroom. It has big eyes, sharp beak, huge wings that spread out till H's house and purple plumes. Sometimes it changes to white or orange, reflecting Pattu's mood for the day..err, night... This one is nocturnal like the Owl and the Bat. It can carry Amma away if she is typing on her laptop at night when she should ideally be playing/ reading with Pattu!
Pattu dreamed up this bird because I used the 'Owl' occasionally to get her into bed (if she insists on playing even after 11.30 PM). Now the bird has become a reality for Pattu. When asked to name the night birds, Pattu would promptly say, 'Owl, Bat, Buc'

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction - Pattu's reactions sometimes make me laugh. That affirms my 'action' as positive. But through some reactions, I realise the folly of my 'actions'. For instance, what started off as a harmless cajoling by way of, 'let's beat the floor/ wall' when she got hurt has now become Pattu's solution to pretty much everything. If she gets hurt, beat. If the building blocks don't fit/ fall, beat. You get the drift...

Pattu: Amma, can we go to A's house tomorrow?
Amma: No Pattu, she is going to Bangalore
Pattu: Nooo... beat Bangalore...

She bit her tongue accidentally and said, 'beat..' and paused.
Amma: Beat your tongue or your teeth Pattu?
Pattu:  *confused*

I've been telling her to not use the B word. She probably thinks I'm unreasonable since I was the one who started using the word in the first place! If only I knew...*SIGH*

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Remembering the man who created the Amul Moppet

Eustace Fernandes who created the absolutely adorable Amul moppet passed away. I'm sure you all would agree - it is impossible to pass by an Amul hoarding without being affected by its humour and without feeling an urge to pinch the chubby cheeks of the cute little girl in polka dots. I used to arch my head eagerly to check out the Amul hoarding on the way to college and it continued for many years till I moved out of city limits.In a cluttered ad landscape, this brand has continued to evince interest and appeal across generations by being contextual and by maintaining its simple humour. It has been a record breaking 44 years and I hope it will continue forever... What a wonderful way to live on in our hearts, how utterly butterly  immortalised!

Here are some of my favourites. Check out the archives for more.

 Advocating the use of helmets
 Souyuz - Cosmonaut in space.

Introduction of the Escalator in India

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tags on Baby Clothes

I've noticed, much to my dismay, that most of the baby clothes come with tags, some so large and sometime too many in a single piece of clothing. The material is seldom soft and causes considerable irritation on the soft skin. Very often Pattu has ended up having rashes at the nape and near the waist depending on where these tags are. I've tried to chop them off but they still protrude as sharp edges. Pattu refuses to wear some of the pretty clothes only because she can't stand the irritation caused by the tags.

I am surprised that none of these major brands have realised how kid unfriendly the tags are. I'm sure there are other ways of keeping these tags if they are not totally avoidable. These things make me wonder how much research actually goes behind all these big brand baby products that we trust so much. I wonder how this piece of consumer feedback hasn't yet reached the brands....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Annual Day

...was last weekend at Pattu's school. Her second time on stage. The first time was a few seconds of, 'why have you put me here' followed by few more seconds of howling after all the decking up and waiting.

This time, luckily there was no major decking up (they made sure that the kids don't wear anything remotely uncomfortable) and they didn't make the KGs wait too long. The chief guests were sensible enough to make short speeches and the sound system for a change was well managed. Usually the sound managers make sure that it is loud enough for the Martians to hear. So Pattu was in a good mood and smiled through the song and even shook her arms and hips to the tune! Quite a leap from last time. She got a certificate, a trophy and some gifts and you can imagine the excitement...

We've got a whole new set of stories last week:

The Little Engine That Could - The Big Chase: Pattu Rating: 4 Stars
The blue engine that has a never say die attitude goes all out to rescue its best friend the toy clown who accidentally goes on the wrong train... a nice story of trust and friendship.

The Smartest Giant in Town - Pattu Rating: 4.7 Stars
George is a very cute and adorable giant. But he is scruffy. He decides to shake off this image and get smart only to donate all his smart outfits one by one to the animals that need help. There are some rhymes interspersed in the story and I made up a tune. Pattu has been humming that the last few days and I haven't stopped grinning :D

Angelina and the Butterfly - Pattu Rating: 4 Stars
Being trapped is an awful feeling - that's what Angelina figures out when she falls into a pit. And that makes her set her favourite pet, Arthur the butterfly, free despite feeling miserable about not having him around...
Mrs Armitage: Queen of the Road - Pattu Rating: 4.3 Stars
The madcap Mrs Armitage's adventures on the road and how her car comes apart with nothing left but the wheels and the steering! There are some nice sound effects every time she bumpps and screeches and klunks and krrrruuunncches..... we added some more sound effects to it and Pattu found it hilarious!

Mallipoo, Where are you? - Pattu Rating: 4 Stars
Paytu Pig goes for a stroll with her friends Amma elephant and Hutoxy the horse leaving Anna and Akka elephants to babysit her piglets. Anna and Akka get busy playing thinking that the piglets are fast asleep but to their horror, they find the piglets gone. They find all of them somehow but Mallipoosundari, the tiniest piglet is still missing....

Friday, March 05, 2010

Maami Calling Maami

I was witness to this episode.
The context: R's Paati is 96 yrs old and was admitted in the hospital. Maami's discussing the events

Maami 1 (on phone with Maami 2) - R aathulendu phone vanduda?
Did you receive a call from R's house?
Maami 2 - Illaye....ayyayo...enna aachu?
Oh no! What happened?

Me thinking: This is absurd. There's no reason for this 'aiyyayo' reaction! Its like wailing at the mention of 'telegram' in olden movies!

M 1 - Illa, avathu vaasalla ambulance vandadu...adanaala ketten
I saw an ambulance in front of their gate..that's why I asked
M 2 - Appadiya ... enakku onnum news varallaye...
Oh really! I didn't get any news

M 2 calling M 3 - R aathu paati poyitta polerukku... ambulance vandadaam... M1 sonna
R's grandmom passed away it seems... M1 told me
M 3 - Ooohhh... paavam... nallavela romba paduthukkama poyittale...
Ooohh...poor thing... good she passed away without suffering too much
M 2 - Avaa onnum sollale... news vanda poyi paathuttu vandu kulikkalamennu wait pannaren...
They haven't conveyed the news yet... I thought I'll offer my condolences and then have bath (it is a custom to have a bath after offering condolences).

So after waiting near the phone for a while and passing this news to couple of more random maamis and discussing bath plans in detail (if they are yet to have their bath, they might as well wait till they offer condolences), M 2 along with other Ms decide to go ahead with their bath. They will go tomorrow to offer condolences.

Later in the evening we see R's paati sitting on their verandah chatting with her concerned neighbours and assuring them that she is hale and healthy!

The Ms would have thought - 'Thank god we didn't delay our bath!'

Your turn next time...

The housekeeping staff at the resort we stayed at Kovalam were quite creative. When we got back to our suite we saw that they had not just cleaned the room but also made a cute elephant using couple of turkey towels and put him on the bed. He looked adorable! I know you are asking for the pics.... but I don't have one... Pattu was ahead of me - she was so excited that she jumped on the elephant, squashed him and brought him back to his towel avatar! :(

So I made the sad face and said, 'You spoiled it Pattu...I wanted to take a snap' and sulked.
Pattu: (In her consoling tone, wiping away some imaginary tears from my eyes) 'Its ok amma...don't be sad. Next time you can spoil it ok....now smile....'

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Our Latest Addictions

The Bullfrog and the Cow: Where the cow inadvertently kills a few bullfrogs while at the pond to drink some water. Mama bullfrog is so angry and wants to take the beast head on. But she has to puff herself up to match the beast in size...  

High in the Sky: Korean folktale. The mother selling Deok (rice cake... reminded me of Idly) and walking through forests and the tiger are all so familiar even in the Indian context. Pattu was upset about the mother being eaten by the tiger :(

Where is Gola's Home: Gola the yak goes house hunting with the help of his friend Muri the eagle. We get to see different habitats and how it suits the creatures that live there.

The Tiny Seed: What a lovely story to convey that certain perceived weaknesses could actually be your strength! Eric Carle's illustrations are wonderful as usual!

Pavo and Cavo: Cute little story of Cavo Pristatus and Pavo Cristatus that says, 'you could pretend to be anything but only for so long... your true colours would show some day'.

The never ending story: Addictive... Pattu just loves the last bit...

Its only a Story: The ant makes spicy curry for its friend the peacock but falls into the hot gravy and dies. Saddened by this, the peacock spreads the grief through the river, mango tree, elephant, crow, the Rani and all the way to the Raja.... and in a reversal of all the mishaps, the ant climbs out of the pot and says, "I'll never make spicy curry again"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Caught You...

Some delightful 'Caught you' moments with Pattu...

Making faces at the mirror
Trying to see her behind in the mirror... and trying very hard
Having deep conversations with the moon
Ballet dancing on tip toe (she stops the moment she notices someone's presence)
Admonishing her puppet for insisting to be carried
Making my white kurta more colourful using sketch pens
Sitting by herself and laughing .. (thinking of one of the T&J moments, I gathered later)
Soaking my washed and ironed clothes (some 15 pieces) in water
Wearing my dupattah and admiring herself in the mirror
Painting her legs in vivid rainbow colours (After reading 'The Boy Who Loved Colour')
Practicing to say 'Swish Swash' and making hilarious combos and faces...

Have some Caught you moments?? Please do share...

Monday, March 01, 2010


Amma and Pattu playing Jungle. After being chased by Amma Lion and some excited running and screaming, Pattu is cornered.
Amma: I am the Lion and I'm gonna eat you...
Pattu (meek and looking into my eyes imploringly): I am a small Lion cub...hmmm mmm... (almost licking)

What choice do I have but hug the little cub!

Morning, 7 AM.
Amma (Half groggy herself): Wake up Pattu... sun is up and ready... say Hi to the sun..
Pattu: (With eyes still closed): If I wake up will the needle come out of the well?  
That's a line from, The Never Ending Story

Pattu loses her sense of hearing while watching TV and she naturally gravitates towards the screen slowly. After many unheeded requests, appa switches to cricket.
Pattu: I like cricket appa.... yea... sixxxx....

Stories Galore

...at Hoos Tales. Thanks to Art, we had a wonderful weekend. I got to attend a workshop by Jeeva and Craig along with Art and Pattu got to attend her first story telling session at Nageswara Rao Park. It took some effort to get pattu to abandon play and get to the session. I was hoping the story telling to keep her glued but she wasn't impressed. It took a monkey puppet and later Richard and Jeeva to get her attention. She loved the 'lion hunt' by Jeeva and the 'Ghost with one black eye' by Richard. Missed Craig's session since we were late : (

I fail to understand why we can't get the sound system right - it was so loud that I ended up with a head ache. I notice this with most of the events that I attend, save some of the well known sabhas. Richard had the sense to avoid using the mic. I was hoping others to pick up the cue...but, well... And next time, I should remember to take some odomos with me for the outdoor events.

We followed that with a dinner at Veg Nation. Sadly they didn't have anything from the 'Continental' part of their menu. The mushroom starter was awesome though. And the mysore masala dosai was evilly (sooo oily) yummy!

Sunday was packed as we went visiting some family friends - Pattu got to play with some new friends and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was so excited that she refused to have her afternoon nap.