Friday, September 30, 2011

Contest @ Lets do Something

Lets do Something (the activity center @ Velachery) is celebrating its 2nd anniversary on 2nd October. There is a Drawing and Painting competition for children 4yrs + between 3 PM to 4 PM. Prizes sponsored by Crossword bookstore, Chennai.

They are also offering discounts on their regular classes. You can call 9042806148.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Basket full of....

We went to this unique and wonderful story telling session by Anita Ratnam at Oxford bookstore last weekend. She came there with a basket full of sounds. Yes she had a basket full of instruments that make such unique sounds and she beautifully combined rhythm and different types of sounds so seamlessly into her stories. I have never come across so many musical instruments and some were so unique - a pipe that whistles gently when swung in the air, drum with pebbles inside that gives a wonderful effect, Bamboo rain sticks and something else that croaked like a frog, chirped like a birdie and a lot more. The kids had a great time trying out all of these.

There's another storytelling session at The British Council Library on 24th of this month between 3 to5 pm by Dominic Kelly. This is for ages 12 and above..yes, even adults are welcome catch it if you can.

This one is for my Bangalore friends - Acoustic Traditional is organizing some very interesting festival called Confluence, which is a festival of indigenous story tellers. They are organizing it at the Fireflies Ashram between 30th September to 3rd October. They are apparently flying down a few tribal storytellers. I hope they come to Chennai as well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Party Update

Warning: Ms Modesty was reading this post with a raised eyebrow and a smirk on her face. Very annoyed, I packed her off to Mars with a one-way ticket. 

Party was a soooper doooper hit! Kids and the moms and the few dads had a whale of a time! We had a good turnout too - around 67 turned up out of the 80 invited. Party started at 5.30 and went on till 9 PM. We had organised 4 art and craft activities and 3 traditional Indian games. Our wonderful neighbors volunteered as organisers for the events - party wouldn't have been a success without them. We managed to have a Healthy and Green party that was also interesting (thoroughly enjoyable; the best b'day party ever- said the kids). Yay!

The art and craft activities were:

1. Bead key chains and bracelets: Initially the boys shied away from the beads. One little boy made a key chain and that triggered the rest of them to follow suit. They even made their own little variations. I saw these key chains on many cycles later. Girls  made some very pretty bracelets too.

2. Block Printing: We had plain white hankies and two types of blocks. No two printed hankies were alike. After the beads, boys didn't shy away from anything else.

3. Decorative Terracotta Diya: We had the large size diyas. Some metallic colours, glitter and stones and the kids made magic! Again each diya was different ranging from simple to complex designs. Some kids were so interested that they made two diyas...

4. CD Painting: Borrowed the idea from utbt. We prepared the CDs beforehand - spread glue and smeared our own humble kola maavu instead of coloured sand. I made couple of samples so that the kids got an idea. Since this is a bit time consuming and effort intensive, we packed it for them to try at home.

And we had made newspaper bags for the kids to carry these back home.
G akka, Pattu's caretaker deserves all the credit for preparing the CDs and the paper bags. MIL pitched in too.

Kids and moms had total fun with art and craft. A mom of a sleepy 2 yr old dropped her son at home and came back to do crafts. Lot of moms further borrowed the CD idea and newspaper bag idea for the kids' reuse-recycle school projects.
All party decor conceived and executed by my mom. She also put up with resultant party mess in her house.
Pattu's hairdo (which was very pretty and attracted many compliments) and dressing by G akka.  Pattu also liked the b'day frock that G akka bought for her so that's what she wore at the party.

.........doing a virtual dhrishti.........I'm blessed to have such lovely people around......

Coming to Games:

1. Cycle tyre race - we had big and small cycle tyres for different age groups. Made some people nostalgic. Kids were oh so excited.

2. Gilli danda - Everyone (including some adults) had a go at this...

3. Bambaram (top) - Surprisingly, not many were adept at this. By the time we started bambaram, it started to rain and we had to cut it short and shift indoors.

All procurement for games by our driver and and event management by hubby, some wonderful neighbors 

Now to the Food:

Utbt - you were right about the food. Kids didn't even miss the chips and the samosas. And the parents really appreciated the thought and the effort (and our guts ;)  )

1. Whole wheat pasta + corn and veggies in mint and basil sauce - a huge hit across age groups. It just vanished in minutes! Kids came back for second and third helpingsMany moms called me later for the recipe ;)
2. Bhel Puri - a hit with older kids and adults and a few 3 yr olds as well
3. Chutney sandwich - older kids and adults
4. B'day cake and chocolates - the cake was the 'melt in your mouth' variety... from Hot Breads
5. Real and Tropicana fruit juices

I was planning to bake some muffins but most moms felt it would be an overkill and kids would not be able to eat more than these many items. We served very little initially and kids came back for a second helping of their fav snack. Very little food wasted.

Utbt - 'No Gifts' on the invite worked... only 2 or 3 gave gifts. The whole community is planning to adopt this policy of no gift - no return gift b'day parties. We were quite worried about the kids' attitude towards return gifts lately.

Pictures - next post.... 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pattu turns 5


She had 2 new sets of clothes to choose from. She chose to wear an old frock that she likes most. This is your day Pattu and your joy counts, who are we to tell you otherwise.

Pattu has been waiting to turn 5 since her dear friend P is 5. P is exactly 1 yr older than Pattu so I told her

Amma: "When you turn 5 P will become 6"
Pattu: looking all upset "Tell P to wait amma...then we both can be 5 together..."

Well, Pattu, Time is merciless...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healthy and Green

I've been going around with some dangerous ideas in my head lately. No, no...I'm not gonna enroll myself for music classes...not that dangerous.  I'm thinking of a healthy and green b'day party for Pattu. While it is generally very fashionable to use a smattering of these words in conversations, they are not necessarily party highlights...if u know what I mean... that too if your audience is kids.

I. Healthy....
Imagine a b'day party without fries, fryums, wafers, samosas/ puffs/ cutlets/burgers/ pizzas... more so, imagine b'days with cucumber, carrot, fruit salads, idli/dhokla, cup corn, sundal.... I sounded this off with a few kids here are some reactions,
'aunty, last year they served fruit salad at S's party... we are not planning to attend this year..'
'aunty you can serve corn and chips and samosas...let people take what they like' - the kid who didn't want to hurt me.
.... you get the picture. I don't have to tell you are ruthless. Imagine the kind of nick names they'll call me *SHUDDER*
But, but...I am not one to give up. Iron will ...heard of it?
So, here's goes my list:
1. bhel puri, small triangles of chutney sandwich - whole wheat/ multigrain bread, whole wheat pasta with corn, mini fruit muffins (that I plan to bake) + b'day cake ; non aerated fruit juice ; chocolates ; cookies
Any other non messy, easy, healthy and interesting option? Ideas please...

II Green
No plastic cups/ confetti, etc. Bio degradable cups and plates; etc. etc..
Hubby strictly said no gifts and no return gifts... it has to be celebration for the pure joy of it and not be burdened with gifts and such trappings. Very radical. But it is like serving cucumber and boiled carrots for the party. I told him that his daughter would be alone and friendless after such a party. None of that moved his Iron will...the family seems to have this in plenty.

But then I got a bulb... I thought I'll organise art and craft...

- Wooden beads - they can make bracelets/ key chains
- Pot painting - a pack of seeds with each pot
- Block printing on white hankies
- Danglers with used CDs
- Newspaper bags to carry these

So long as they have things to carry back home, I think kids would be happy...what do you think?
Any other ideas folks? Let me know before this weekend...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ms Pattu walks out of Mother India

and the producers had to rope in someone else to be ready for release for Independence Day.

Yes, Pattu was supposed to hold the flag and stand at the center while other older children danced to a patriotic number. But Pattu felt that the role does not give her enough opportunities to display her talent (too much nenappu (attitude) for being so damathoondu (small) I thought!!)

"Amma, I also want to dance like the others...I don't want to just stand"

That'll take a while my dear...maybe next year.

Instead, she was happy winning 2 prizes for sports and participating in a drawing contest. 

Psst: The drawing was too just had some blobs of colour though she called the blobs 'house', 'tree', 'sheep', 'sun', 'flower', 'cloud', 'girl' ...  

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Warli busts Gender Stereotypes?

We were trying our hand at Warli. We made a family for starters... and Pattu wants to know, "In Warli the men also wear skirts?" 

And while on this topic....

At Nalandaway's Art and Craft Carnival, I found many parents (both moms and dads alike) steering the daughters towards jewelry making and their sons away from it. Consciously or sub-consciously, I don't know. One of the little boys was so fascinated with jewelry making that he insisted on trying it out while his mum was pushing him towards greeting cards and the likes. I couldn't resist the aaarrrggghhh that was building up inside me, so I told the mom (politely only...) that a good number of jewelry designers are men and that it is a very lucrative profession. 
To which she said, 'but it is a waste of time...he cannot wear any of these na'. **Gggrrrrr...the woman didn't get it! ** 
and here's the best part... the little boy said, 'but I'll make bracelet and chain for you amma... see this one is nice..'  **awww so cute it was**

So, they were made by the boy and proudly worn by the mom. She came and showed me...she was beaming! **Gggrrr gone and happy**

So, Parents, leave them kids alone!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Pencil and Crayons

Still Life - Thandu keerai before it was  mashed into pulp.
I was quite happy with the way it turned out... I mean the sketch, though the pulp also turned out well ;)

This Mayil danced when it rained in Chennai - Crayons on wall

Upto something Fishy... Crayons on wall
What's the lone Warli man doing there? Wondering how to catch this fish...

Fragrance of Spring - Crayons on wall

Friday, July 29, 2011


...can be funny at times...

Hyderabad treated us to Punjabi food for lunch and we had Uttappam for breakfast in Delhi!

My craving for Hyderabadi biryani will have to wait for the next time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dr. Pattu

Pattu is busy role playing with her doctor set. I am the Patient. Pattu brings a stethoscope, forceps and a bottle of medicine. Putting the stethoscope to my back, she says, 'breathe'. I comply.

Pattu: You have cold, I'll give you syrup. It is sweet only, don't cry, ok.
Amma cries and puts up a fight.
Pattu: aaaa ... be quiet, else I'll call the doctor!
Amma: Oh, but who are you then?
Pattu: I'm the nurse
Amma cries and puts up a fight again
Pattu calls the doctor and Dr. Pattu arrives.
Dr. Pattu: Why are you troubling? Show aaa... it is a sweet medicine only... show
Amma reluctantly shows aaa and Dr. Pattu pulls out a teeth using the forceps.
Amma: Ouch! Why did you do that? You said I only have a cold!
Dr.Pattu: But I had the forceps...that's why. Now I'll put nose drops ok?
Amma is scared and objects.
Dr.Pattu: Looking annoyed.. If you keep troubling, then I'll have to call the plumber!

If Pattu becomes a doctor, god (or the plumber?) save her patients! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

We made it this time... Nalandaway's Art Arattai Aarpattam. Pattu along with her friend A explored all the art and craft activities by Let's do Something - pot painting, pop up cards, finger painting, jewelry making - they made their own bracelet and earrings.

We went back for the Sing along with Jeeva and Krishna Iyer. Awesome! Pattu and A had V as well for company and the three of them were super excited singing and jumping along! LB was just two rows away from us ... I can't tell whether the kids or the parents enjoyed it more.

And this Aarpattam continued all the way back home as well!

Highlight of the evening was V telling the girls, 'ayyo CD odanju pochu' (The CD got stuck) when the girls were stuck on a song trying to recall the next line. LOL! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CMM Level 4

I realised a few days back how efficient we have become as a team. I mean all of us at home - including the domestic help. I'm brimming with pride - we have almost reached CMM level 4. Let me explain.

While our home is not too dirty or cluttered, it doesn't fall in the 'always sparkling clean' category. If you have magnifying glasses for eyes, you'll find a layer of dust waving at you here and there and you'll hear the walls groan from the scrubbing of Pattu's murals, you might find a stray crayon, peanut, squeaky toy under the cushion, etc, etc. We are also liberated people who will keep things where we want to keep them; not necessarily where they belong by popular opinion - c'mon, what's a home if I can't do as I please.
The unspoken rule however is that, come visitors and we'll get into the teamwork mode. What we used to accomplish in 3 hours, we accomplish in less than 30 mins these days. Process, people, process is the key. I just have to 'blow the whistle' and we all get working like an army of ants.

- MIL will hide the laundry, clear the railing of stray towels and undies, restore doormats to their positions and walk around with a piece of cloth dusting here and there.
- FIL will put on his teeth, dab some talcum powder and excavate used bowls and glasses from under the cot, near the sofa, under the cushion etc and throw them into the sink and he'll switch on all the fans so that the dust on them doesn't show.
- I shove all kitchen clutter under the counter, clear the bathrooms of Pattu's toys and other things that you don't want to know and straighten the sheets (all the way to the floor so that the crocodiles and dinosaurs under the cot are well hidden).
- Hubby dear will clear laptops and such gadgets from dining table, put the wet towels out and shove folded clothes into the nearest cupboard
- Maid will sweep and swab in one efficient swoosh and clear the mess in Pattu's room
- Pattu will 'help' the maid clean up her room, plump the cushions, throw them around and jump on them again till I holler and refrain from causing any further damage.
- And we all put on our best smiles (like it is all so effortless).

What's more, we even categorise the visits.
1. Short visits limited to living, dining, kitchen.
2. Extended visits that can lead to bathroom and bedroom exploration as well
3. Stay over. We take 2 days to prepare for 3 - dusting, scrubbing, rearranging in full swing. For No 3, we actually clean the fans.

MBA project trainees are welcome to analyse and learn from our process efficiency.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carrot and Stick

Pattu's cousins were coming over. Two days before their arrival I started giving gyan on sharing and being well behaved and all that, Pattu nodding absently.

Amma: So, if there are only 2 candies, you'll give one to A and the other one to C and amma will get one for you later ok?
Pattu: No amma.
Amma: !!?? What?
Pattu: If there are only 2 candies, I'll take one and give the other one to C. A can adjust. It's ok.
Amma: That'll make you a bad girl then...
Pattu: after some thinking... that's ok amma... sometimes I'll be a bad girl... sometimes only, not always..ok?

Silence followed for few minutes.

Pattu: Amma, tell me a story...
Amma: I won't... because you don't share. Bad girl!
Pattu: That is only laaater amma... later only I'll be a bad girl, now I am a good girl. Tell me story now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mommy Guilty?

The other day I went shopping and picked up a few (which turned out to be quite a lot actually) clothes for self and Pattu. I did some quick mental math (which involves me spreading out my fingers and toes and at times asking my company to do the same)... anyway, the point is, I realised that it would make an obscene bill. At this point, I commanded the objective, fair judge (in me) to take over and be merciless in throwing out irrational items from the shopping cart. And the objective, fair judge (in me) threw out 2 of the 3 items that I had picked up for Pattu while all my 3 items made it to the billing counter.

My friend gave me a shocked look to suggest, 'a nice, selfless mom, aren't you?'. I actually felt a bit shame shame and all that but I put up a brave face and didn't show it.

There are a few more instances as well: If Pattu and I are both hungry, I gobble down a few mouthfuls (I can gobble down a full meal in a few mouthfuls, especially when I am hungry) before I even think of getting Pattu's food ready (but then I am usually very quick to download my few mouthfuls). A hungry me is not a very pleasant sight. But of course if there's only one plate of food between us, I'll give it to Pattu (expecting Pattu to feel blessed).

That made me wonder, I can't think of one instance where my mom has put herself before her children. And that brings me to the question, am I the only shame shame mom around or have we (as moms) changed? 

Inviting all you moms out there to pour your guilt here. However, considering the popularity of my blog (the lack of it), I think it is a better idea to tag a few of you than leave it so open ended. So, the tag goes to Artutbt and Vidya (because I think you all are very unlikely candidates to have done something like this). You have to:

1. Write about 2 instances where you have put yourself before your child/ children... been a wee bit selfish.
2. How did you feel? Did you feel a pang of guilt or were you comfortable?
3. Tag 2 more moms (I want to know I have company, you see **EVIL GRIN**)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Motherhood Lessons from Pattu

Hello all you lovely aunties! This is Pattu. You know Uma aunty has tagged amma and amma doesn't have time to do it. So, I decided to take a shot at it.... so here I go...

These are some lessons I taught Amma:

1. I can't look cute when I'm crying. Have you ever tried it? It is tough, let me tell you.
2. Whaddya mean you can't sing? I don't care for the CDs ... I WANT MY AMMA TO matter how bad you are
3. No matter how well planned I am, Amma always starts digging into her food when I feel the urge to poop. Hullo, you can't blame me - I'm still grappling with all the levers in my body...
4. I can't be adorable all the time... not even to you amma... C'mon, I have to be myself at times...
5. When Amma is unwell, I so want to hug her and be with her all the time. I'm not being clingy! Why don't you understand?
6. Amma, I'm sorry, but I am actually enjoying 'Time outs' - the view of the room from a corner is always interesting. And why do you look like someone punished you? Huh?
7. There's no 'one size fits all' in parenting. I am different ...aren't you different from your friends?
8. WARNING: Comparing notes on my progress can adversely affect your BP.
9. I cannot play the piano at 3 yrs. And I don't intend to. Excuse me, what were you doing when you were 3?! You think ammamma hasn't told me ;)
10. Don't keep telling me about junk food. I know just as you do. Can you exercise restraint? And you've been trying for 30 odd years!
11. You can't tell me to be honest and be angry with me for telling that aunty that I don't like her. Make up your mind.
12. Sure there are some kids who do as they are told. But then, hey, won't you feel insulted if you were given a less difficult  interesting task (me, ahem!)?
13. Honestly amma, there are times when I don't want you. Now, don't give me that 'hurt-ba-lamb' look. I know you aren't going to the hospital every  time - you have fun with your friends.

And can I request my friends Jillu, V, and LG to take up the tag? Their moms have been on a break too...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sketchy.... mean, 'why suddenly'?? Nothing....jusht like that wonly...simbly...

Idle mind at Sea
Still Life - Flowers in Jaadi
Copy from a picture

Copy from a picture

Sunday, June 26, 2011

6 cups of tea

to light up your day...

Plain chai, Ginger, cinnamon, chamomile, mint and red bush.... what's your pick?

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Fragile 30-Plus Body - Tag

Apu has tagged me to write about my fragile 30-plus body. I moved to this category long back and have been at the receiving end of a string of threats and advice.

The first thing that I heard as soon as I hit 30 was, "Time is running out, have a child quick". To hear that time is running out at the ripe young age of 30 is scary to say the least. I was told that it is difficult to conceive after 30 and all the more difficult to produce a healthy child and to have a normal delivery. Well, I delivered Pattu when I was 32 and I had a normal delivery.
I'm sure all these were well meant, but again, I think we are focusing on the wrong parameter - it is fitness that counts and not really 'age'.
The next thing I heard was, "Eat less - after 30, it is easy to gain (weight) but difficult to lose". Given my 'un-feminine' appetite I still find this difficult to follow. Again, I think it is more about 'eating carefully' than about eating less/ more and also working out regularly. I know a few women in their late 40-s who are not necessarily slim but have the stamina to last a tough day and still wake up cheerfully the next day. Most of us would probably want a week off after that kind of physical exertion.
However, most of the ads I see harp on losing 'inches' but not gaining 'fitness'.

Like Apu mentioned, there's the skin and hair trouble that one can never be rid of. You take care of your tan and you have black spots, pigmentation, dryness, dull skin, dandruff, damaged hair and what not.
One thing that I have noticed is that my mom's generation had a routine. They had a simple routine but then they were more disciplined than us. For instance, they oiled their hair everyday and had oil massage and a shikakai bath once a week. Most of us do this only once in a while at a parlour, whenever we have the time.

On the other hand, I am quite happy about this 30+ awakening when it comes to the focus on routine gynaecological check ups post 30 yrs. A lot of women discover ovarian cancer and the likes quite late. With the increase in breast cancer, it is better to overemphasise than play things down. Many women are aware of osteoporosis and take precautions.
Those days, after childbirth the women were just expected to be plump,selfless and they seldom had life outside 'family'. It was not even a career for many women, it was just a job. I've seldom seen my mom's generation 'hang-out' with their friends for instance. Thankfully, these have undergone a change.

Summer Fun

Last summer found Pattu either moping or monkeying around since she was too small for summer camps and those that were willing to take her were too far off. This summer, however, has so far been packed and fun-filled and Pattu is having a great time.
She loves the summer camp and this time I managed to take her to a couple of sessions by Storytrails - The Seasons Trail and the Five Senses Trail. On both occasions she had a friend along and they had great fun. Only downside was that the venue was Fab India and I ended up shopping!
She has more friends now and I see her playing better in a group than she did a few months back and I'm glad for that.
We also went to a quieter beach on ECR (beyond Panayur) and got drenched and also collected lots of shells.

Pattu is moving on to a bigger school and she would also be commuting by the school bus. The two weeks in April was smooth - she settled in quite well, liked her class teacher, enjoyed the bus ride and even offered to take care of her friend who is 'smaller' than her (making a note to warn his mom about this). I also heard from the summer camp teacher that she is very protective around him. 

Monday, May 09, 2011

How Would You React? II

I've been off the web for a while - apologies. Since I asked for your opinions, I should have responded earlier. Thank you all for sharing here; Apu - thanks for the prod - much needed :) and thanks IHM for tweeting this :)
And, here I go, without more ado:

1. At an interview to a single woman: When are you getting married? To a married woman: Are you planning a family in the near future?
No matter what, these are personal questions and has nothing to do with ones capability. This is as good as saying married women and pregnant women are not 'employable'! Every employee is bound to serve a notice period giving the organisation enough time to replace the loss. I don't see how this situation is any different.
D, to your comment - What if a male employee moves on to a better job? Attrition is something that any organisation, small or large, will have to cope with. The trend analysis will tell you to expect a certain percentage of attrition every year and the organisation should have plans to tackle it. Moreover, this question assumes that it is always the woman who moves/ quits after marriage - Not so anymore. I see a lot of men moving places/ jobs as they see fit.

2. Two male colleagues discussing the absence of another male colleague:
C1: "He left early (which was well past official timing anyway)... he had to take care of his kid"
C2: Looking surprised, "What does his wife do? Already henpecked is it!" sniggers

4. Male colleague sharing lunch that he had cooked. Another MC - "That's the plight of being married to a working woman"
A lot of men still think that it is sissy to change diapers, feed the toddlers, cook and run errands. So, it is more important to seem 'macho' than to be responsible and useful around your own home. It is as good as saying, "God, forget the brain but don't make me bald"!
PS: I have a feeling many men will resonate with that as well!!

Pooh - the best retort award for No-4 goes to you :D

3. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, a young woman is approached by a male colleague
MC: Making it sound like it is some great honor "We need a young woman like you to greet the chief guest .."(hold a tray and offer the scissors)
The irked young woman refuses and the man turns to another not so young woman in desperation. There are atleast 30 men - young and not so young at the ceremony!

KP, this one is for you.
In absolute terms, no, there's nothing wrong with holding the tray. However, this is not as simple as it seems. Have you ever seen a man holding the tray?
My peeve here is that women are perceived to be ornamental additions to such ceremonies where men hold serious offices. There were so many men at the ceremony - why weren't any of them approached? And how is it honorable for women if the same job is shameful for men?

5. Perception that women who drink/ smoke have 'loose morals'. On many occasions, I've heard comments such as, "She drinks and attends late night parties, so obviously...(men misbehave)"  And almost always it sounds like it is the woman's fault and not the man's.

DesiGirl - LOL!  **Hi-Fi** Best Comment award to you!
I can go on and on about this one but DesiGirl has just about put it in perspective. Quoting her comment here:

" Men drink and smoke DG hasn't seen them being sexually assaulted by women though often by other men. With the given logic, if a woman makes as much money as a man and has same level of education then she should be sexually assaulting drunk men. :)"

Only point where I disagree is - education or money has nothing to do with this. Just that the men have always drawn boundaries around women and if they step out of those boundaries, they are just 'asking for it'. And where are the boundaries for the men??!!

Another observation from KP - sharing it here:

this idea is perpetuated and drilled into the social psyche by movies and TV series. I dont need to tell you the number of times any female villain has been portrayed as a drinking/smoking and partying girl and the minute she is "rectified" she is shown as wearing a saree and bindi and being coy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How would you react?

Some statements/ situations/ questions that have made me go aarrrgggghhh....

Now, I'm inviting you all to give me your best retorts/ responses to the following aarrrgggghh statements/ questions/ situations... and do share some that you might have come across..

1. At an interview to a single woman: When are you getting married? To a married woman: Are you planning a family in the near future?

2. Two male colleagues discussing the absence of another male colleague:
C1: "He left early (which was well past official timing anyway)... he had to take care of his kid"
C2: Looking surprised, "What does his wife do? Already henpecked is it!" sniggers

3. At a ribbon cutting ceremony, a young woman is approached by a male colleague
MC: Making it sound like it is some great honor "We need a young woman like you to greet the chief guest .."(hold a tray and offer the scissors)
The irked young woman refuses and the man turns to another not so young woman in desperation. There are atleast 30 men - young and not so young at the ceremony!

4. Male colleague sharing lunch that he had cooked. Another MC - "That's the plight of being married to a working woman"

5. Perception that women who drink/ smoke have 'loose morals'. On many occasions, I've heard comments such as, "She drinks and attends late night parties, so obviously...(men misbehave)"  And almost always it sounds like it is the woman's fault and not the man's.

Now, kind readers, how would you react?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


ETA: Asha pointed to Saalumarada Thimmakka whose selfless dedication to planting hundreds of trees and also tending to them is truly inspiring.

Here's my entry for Feminspiration

These are couple of women I met during some of my social research trips. Their faces are etched in my memory and these are among a few women who have taught me a thing or two about life.

I met Ponni during my trip to rural Ooty. She lived alone with her son (an adolescent when I met her). She had a charming, friendly face and readily invited me for a chat. I didn't quite understand the stares and disapproving looks that I got from people till I heard her story.
The usual story - she fell in love with a man, had a child out of wedlock and he left her for an arranged marriage. Ponni came from a poor, dysfunctional family and was turned out of the house since she has brought shame to her family. She was a whore, an outcast. She crumbled and suddenly she was alone in this world that was alien, unfriendly and dangerous. One fine day she just decided to gather herself and make an effort to make the best of the situation. She found a job on a farm that gave her food and shelter. She decided to educate her son for which she had to work harder and also offer some favours in exchange. She is happy that her son is progressing well at school. She has no secrets and she is not ashamed of her life. Her days of self pity are over. She is officially an outcast in the village, but women in their suffering come to her secretly to borrow money or to just cry on her shoulders. Her son is the center of her universe now but she seems to know that she will end up lonely. She does not expect her son to acknowledge her struggles or even understand her. A stray tear appears when she thinks that he might even turn against her and call her a whore. She is preparing to face the world as a lonely old woman. Her wisdom comes as a shock through her bubbly, youthful, girlish charm. She laughs liberally and it is infectious.
I hope, for Ponni's sake that her son has grown up to be supportive and understanding.

Amina worked hard to make ends meet while her husband came home drunk and beat her up. She decided to educate her two girls so that they can have a liberated life. The girls started going to school and she face opposition from men and women folk alike. Her husband had more reasons to beat her up - she was training her girls to bring shame to the family. The girls were threatened and were on house arrest. Amina was not one to give up. She found help in the form of a volunteer who came home to teach the girls. The girls would give their exams when they are ready. Amina is not sure if the girls would be allowed to work, but she believes that the education will liberate them, make them independent in thought and they will be ready when an opportunity presents itself. If none of these happen, they would still understand the value of education and pass it on to the next generation - maybe her grand daughters would be the real independent women that she so wants to be. But Amina knows that she has sown the seeds and it will bear fruit some day and that day is not far.

I so want to meet these women now - it has been 10 years. I want to believe that they are still going strong and are proud of their achievements.

Friday, March 11, 2011

African Bush Tea

.. was sipping African Bush Tea and thinking about Mma Ramotswe.

She is one of the characters that I've grown to like in recent years. I specifically remembered the part where Mma Makutsi one fine morning decides to brew the regular tea instead of the ususal bush tea. It is an awkward moment between the women where Mma Makutsi doesn't want to hurt her benevolent boss and Mma Ramotswe is a bit embarrassed when she realises that she has never bothered to find out if everyone else was ok with bush tea.

Anyway, I really liked bush tea (at least if that would put me in the league of Mma Ramotswe). For those who would like to try - it is available in the Twinings brand. In Chennai you should find it in Nuts & Spices and Brown Tree chains.

While on the subject of inspiring women, have you participated in Feminspiration at Womensweb yet? Contest on till 16th March and some nice goodies too... check it out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Attacked by the Green Eyed Monster

We were at a restaurant and Pattu was staring for a long time at a girl at the next table who seemed just a bit older than Pattu. While I was wondering about that, Pattu turns to me and asks, "Amma, isn't pink my favourite colour?". Still confused, I agreed and Pattu says with a frown on her face, "..then why is she wearing it!"

It starts this early!!??!!

And this is also the first time I'm sensing 'envy' in Pattu's reactions...

Btw, Happy Women's Day to every one of you out there!!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Vanity - Part II

Pattu's school has exams and they also give a report card at the end of it. I generally boycott this system by not acknowledging the time table and not 'preparing' Pattu to face the exams. She goes to school like any other normal day. After her drawing and colouring exam:

Amma: What did you draw today?
Pattu: A hill and an ant on top of the hill
Amma: (Who has her doubts since she's never ever seen Pattu draw anything like that before) Did you colour?
Pattu: Yes amma... I coloured beauuuuifully... so verrrry beaauuutifully amma
Amma: (with heightened suspicion) within the borders?
Pattu: Yes amma... only little bit...juuusssst a little bit went outside the border..

The report card arrives and madam has a 'D' for drawing and colouring!

Nenappu thaan pozhappa kedukkumaam! So much for all the claim...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


We visited the Perarignar Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram. The children's section is beautifully done. It has a lot of natural lighting and has bright cheerful decor. They are still adding to the collection of books. What we saw there included a lot of Scholastic, McGraw Hill and Oxford publication with some stray Tulika and others thrown in.

Image Courtesy: McGraw Hill

Pattu enjoyed reading a GIANT book - which was half as tall as Pattu
Hatty and Tatty and the bumping boats
Pattu Rating: 4.3
Two best friends Hatty and Tatty decide to get married and the story is about how they miss each other while on the way to the other's house. Finally the bump into each other mid way ... a simple and yet a cute one

Image Courtesy: Amazon

We also read the really beautiful book called,
My Love For You
Pattu Rating: 4.0

It goes, "My love for you is as big as 1 big bear, as tall as 2 giraffes, as deep as 3 blue whales..." and so on...till 10
I guess it was a bit too early for Pattu, so I had to explain to her a bit. I asked her how much she loves me and she started by saying, "Very very very very..." and then ended up saying, "..lot of very very much amma" :D

Image Courtesy: Amazon
Then we read, rather I read (while Pattu wanted to flip through some books on her own) another nice book called 

Grace and Family
The story is about Grace who lives with her mom and grannny in UK. She thinks that her family is short of perfect without a dad because all the families in stories she has read has a dad and mom, a brother and sister and a cat and a dog. Just then, she receives an invitation from her dad who now has another family in Africa. She decides to go accompanied by her granny and finds both joy and sadness during her stay. By the time she is back, she is all set to rewrite the myth of a happy family to include families like hers as well. Good thing about the book is that it doesn't ask for sympathy.

Image Courtesy: Amazon

and finally a well known tale of 
Chicken Little
Pattu Rating: 4.5

And in Pattu's words, "I loved this picnic amma... we will come here everyday!"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Real Cow or Ordinary Cow?

If anything, Pattu has a really wild imagination. Recently Pattu was telling her grandma not to go near a cow, so grandma asked, 'why?'

Pattu: ..because... (trying to think up something on the fly) is not an ordinary is a 'reaaallll cow'...
Gran: What is a 'real cow'?
Pattu: (again trying to think up something on the fly)...hmmm.. it has a switch on its belly ... and when it presses the switches it will become a crocodile ... (encouraged by the raised eyebrows of people around) ...and again if you press it, it will become a snake and eat you...that's why it is a 'real cow'...

So folks, watch out for the 'reaaallll cow'!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Battle of Water-Loo

Two years back, I met a mom who moved her son to a different school only because the previous school did not have decent toilet facilities. While there were enough toilets and in good condition, they ran out of water quite frequently. Now, we are not talking about some corporation school here. This is a fairly well known middle class+ school. The boy (who was only 5 yrs at that point of time) stopped drinking water so that he doesn't have to go to the toilet.
"I want him to be healthy first - studies can come later" was her opinion.

Recently I was talking to a bunch of older kids (10 yrs+) and they said something similar. They avoided drinking water so that they don't have to go to a dirty toilet.

"Thank god PT is the last period. After playing we'll feel so thirsty and we have to drink lots of water, since it is the last period, we can come back home.."
"It really stinks and during intervals it is so crowded"
 and apparently the teacher would, "say something in front of the whole class if we want to go during class, it will be embarrassing"

This again is a fairly sought after school. I can't believe that schools that take so much money in the name of fees should have such poor facilities. Wonder why most parents don't think this important enough to take up during PTA meets.

I've always wondered why women in particular consumed very little water during the day. Most women I know drink less than a litre per day which is abysmally low. Some of them atleast push themselves consciously to drink more but it takes a lot of effort.
I can't help but attribute this to poor public toilet facilities in our country. I've noticed that even some shops do not have such facilities - when I asked the female staff what they do when they have to use the loo, she simply said that they 'finish the business before leaving home'! Imagine the plight of these women when they have their periods! Or for that matter even a stomach upset.
And another shop which was in a shopping complex had the loo on the terrace and again the women never ventured up there since men were always hanging out there. Men obviously pee where they like so they are hardly affected.

I'm remeinded of a social research project that I did many years back. This was among the tea leaf pickers in rural Ooty. I was shocked to learn that it is a taboo for women to go too many times during the day. It apparently means, 'lack of control/ discipline' on the woman's part - they have to 'finish the job before sunrise'. An older woman then told me that if they have to go while at work, they have to go into the forest (the thickets nearby) since there are no toilets and it is not safe for women to stray away from the group and wander off alone. I guess it was the women's way of conditioning to save themselves from bigger dangers. This was almost 10 years back and I hope things have changed for good now... though I wonder...

On a lighter note, recently when I visited a public loo, I was really surprised to find it very clean only to realise later that the door doesn't lock!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


...thy name is Pattu

Pattu obviously noticed that I've been taking pictures (though occassionally) of things she draws, scribbles, cards and crafts that she makes, etc. Recently she did something that really didn't warrant a picture, atleast I didn't think so... (...... what kind of mom am I?? well, it takes all kinds...)
..but then, Pattu trillls...,"Amma, see!!! It is Wowwww!!! no amma?? Take a picture amma"

...time to take stock...

Monday, February 21, 2011


Lydie's @ ECR: A nice quiet place for a lazy weekend... good continental food, delicious desserts... the Indian fare is just so-so...

Bikaner Bhojanalaya @ Valmiki Nagar - for authentic home cooked rajasthani food, finger licking good... a no frills place, reminded me of Lalitha's, Bangalore... smaller scale though...

And.... had the Pav Bhaji at Novelty Tea House at Mint Street, Sowcarpet
Worth a try...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hide and Seek

Pattu is a total goof when playing this game. She still does an ostrich every now and then, tries to hide behind sheer curtains, under a baby cushion and giggles loudly while still hiding. Once, when it was her turn to play catcher, she looked around (she's a goof even while trying to find) just for a second and called out ,
"G akka, where are you?"

Since G akka is not a goof, this question met with silence and pattu repeated it a few times, the tone becoming more demanding with every repetition. Finally the frustrated Pattu throws her arms in the air and says with a sigh,

"I've no clue where you are...and now it looks like even you don't know where you are!"

to which G akka burst out laughing and ended up getting caught!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Out of focus

I happened to watch a bharatnatyam dance show on TV recently - a family friend's daughter was participating. It was a contest with a few theme rounds and had Sudha Chandran as the host and another dancer as the guest judge.

I was surprised to see that the cameraman had absolutely no idea how to capture the dance- the camera angle kept changing every few seconds which was not only a strain on the eyes, but also kept shifting the audience perspective continuously leaving them confused.

What really annoyed me was that the camera wandered, even as the dancers were performing, to focus on the judge's bangles, the host's elaborate bindi, their sarees and ther smiles. All these were very pretty indeed but distracting the audience from the performanc itself.

Finally when the 30 minutes show ended, I only remembered the bindi, sarees, bangles and a few disconnected snippets of the dance!

Wondering if all shows are like this one ...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From the horse's mouth

It is a routine for me to ask Pattu what happened at school and for her to tell me that she played with her friends and then ate snacks and got back home. Some days she gets punishment for running about in class, making noise and such things. 
The updates rarely go beyond these and sometimes, just to hear from the horse's mouth, I employ some tactics like these:

Amma: but what were you doing when B was drawing?
Pattu: But B was not drawing
Amma: So, what was she doing?
Pattu: She was crying
Amma: Why?
Pattu: Because she got hurt
Amma: What were you doing?
Pattu: I was not crying
Amma: ok, but what were you doing??
Pattu: I told B not to cry insightful!!
But then, amma is not the kind who'll give up...

Amma: So, what did you draw at school today?
Pattu: I drew thunder, lightning and lot of rain...and a storm
Amma: (not giving up still) what did your teacher say?
Pattu: She got wet in the rain

Finally the last ditch effort

Amma: Did you learn numbers or alphabets in school today?
Pattu: nothing
Amma: you sang?
Pattu: No
Amma: you danced?
Pattu: No amma
Amma: So, what did you do?
Pattu: Nothing amma, I was just a good girl 
Amma: What did you do to be a good girl?
Pattu: I played with my friends and finished my snacks

These days, I'm just happy to hear that she was a good girl.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


tried my hand at candle making... here are a few... floating candles and some coloured ones...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


It is funny how some impressions stick in your mind forever. The kind of impressions I am talking about here are not the deep meaningful variety, but some really silly associations instead.

I bumped into my brother's friend B recently - I couldn't really place him (the last time I saw him was as a schoolboy) but the moment he said, "I'm B, M's classmate..", I was almost about to say, 'yeah, the B of knife fame', but bit my tongue in time.
The story goes like this - B had some vegetable carving project at school and he wanted a serrated knife which was rare to come by those days and hence borrowed ours. This one just happened to be my mom's favourite and came all the way from Dubai and hence a prized possession. I didn't quite appreciate my mom's attachment with the knife at that time but I do now. Among the set of knives, I have my favourite and wouldn't let anyone tamper with it. Somehow, the veggies under attack seem to behave wonderfully with that particular knife. Anyway, let me come back to the point.

My mom must have had this ominous foreboding about lending the knife and she told the bro a million times that she needs it back the very next day and in perfect condition. As things turn out in most of such cases, the knife never found its way back into our house and my mom has neither forgotten this inciden nor has she forgiven the bro and his friend for this disaster. Everytime a tomato rebelled under the other knives, my mom lamented her fate loudly enough for the bro to notice. This, of course tormented my bro a good deal and provided me a lot of entertainment.

It has been a good 15+ years now and I was curious to find out if my mom still remembered it. So, when I got back home, I casually mentioned that I bumped into B. Quite predictably, she went on, "oh, the one who never returned my knife..." Poor B who is now a respectable family man and very successful in his career would be shocked to know that he still holds a criminal charge!

This was promptly reported to the bro over chat the same evening :D

It is funny how certain impressions stick in your mind forever....

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Zlooksh

The Zlooksh By Dominique Demers            Pattu Rating: 4.4                                                                        Zachary looks like any other normal boy but for his wild wild imagination. He believes himself to be the captain of a rocket ship and when he tires of such responsibility, he retires to his tree house which is in the tallest branch of the tallest tree. Sometimes when he is bored, he dives down to the ocean floor to meet his marine friends.

So, when Mrs Davey, his classteacher askes the class to draw their favourite animal, Zachary gets busy. So busy that he misses lunch, play and all the other activities for the day. He is surrounded by papers and his friends can't contain their curiosity. Mrs. Davy offers to help, but then Zachary's favourite animal is the Zlooksh and Mrs Davey is certain that there's no such animal on planet earth! However, Mrs Davey sure is in for a surprise....

Pattu and Buc (another figment of her imagination), I'm sure would be more than happy in the company of Zachary and Zlooksh. No wonder Zachary struck a chord with Pattu.... and I must say that the Zlooksh looks so adorable!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Potty Post

Pattu is peeing and I peep in (just the routine hygeine checks) and GASP!! She is peeing into the potty like a boy!!

To my, "What are you doing!!", she threw me confused look as if to say, "What else can one do at the potty"?

Amma: Whya re you peeing like that?

Pattu: Because it is easier...

Amma: Who taught you that?

Pattu: The boys in my school pee like this only and it is easy...

Amma - who is by now struggling to arrest all the thoughts from running wild, meekly says,

"But girls should not pee like that ok.. you have to always sit.." and 'gulp'-ingly adds "..and it is shame shame to look at others peeing is not good" ..and hopes she won't point out that I did exactly that just now...

Pattu: "But why amma?"

For which I scrambled a few hygiene points hoping she'll remember...

....ooofff! The kind of shocks!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cars, it is...

...the latest (and the longest) of Pattu's obsessions. Off she goes rattling out the names of all the cars that she sees on the road and she is almost always right! My categorisation stops with size, shape and colour, the details just elude me.
This obsession reached its feverish intensity when Pattu, running 104.5 and shivering, on the way to the doc despite the chattering teeth goes, ssa-ffa-rrri, bbo-lle-rro, ffi-ess-tta, ppu-nnt-tto and so on.

After a picnic to Guindy Children's park, I ask Pattu what she saw there and guess what she saw? She saw a Honda City, an Indica, a Xylo, and ... you get it... I had to then rephrase the question to ask, "did you see any animals" and then came a few names... rather reluctantly...
Moral of the story: You will only see what you want to see!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Harvest for this Harvest Festival...

.... is this... it always tastes sweeter and special when it is from your own backyard... and it ripened just in time for Pongal! Needless to say,  MIL who toils in the garden everyday had a very very happy  Pongal!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The year so far...

... has been great!

  • Met up with a few friends from college after many many many years! And realised that we still are the 'gang' :D. It is nice to see that nothing has changed between us...
  • Managed to meet more friends on a trip to Mumbai
  • A very good friend is moving to Chennai - yay!
  • Made it to the book fair - twice in fact. The first visit was short where I seemed to naturally gravitate towards the Tulika stall, salivating and buying followed - inevitably!  The second visit, armed with a huge backpack and some more bags was the one where most of the buying happened... CBT was a pleasant discovery - some really nice books there. Tara, Pratham, Young Zubaan were missing. 
  • My fav pick this year - Complete volume of Ponniyin Selvan and Silappadikaram with Sujatha's notes - both in Tamizh... 
  • Pattu's Fav - Tulika's Panchatantra (she goes 'valavalavala' - The talkative tortoise) and the globe from TTK. She now wants to go to Antartica and wants to know if even her susu will become ice in Antartica!! Of all things she would like to experiment!
We checked out the Sanga kala unavu at Rassa, the restaurant at Krishna Sweets. I was reluctant since the Krishna Sweets Ghee puts me off. But then, I was in for a pleasant surprise - the spread was very interesting starting with 'soma baanam' (translation: Nectar of Gods) made out of panai vellam (palm sugar) and raagi-thandu vadai to a few familiar recipes with an interesting twist. Worth a try!