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June 27, 2017

27.06.2017

Dearest Antu,

It is that day of the year you look forward to eagerly. You start planning your birthday as soon as your sister's birthday is done in April. You loudly announce that its your birthday month on 1st June. You begin to wish for presents and finally narrow it down to three from which you know you will get one. And as usual, you ask if I have bought the present the previous day just to make sure! And nag your dad to take that day off even though you have full day school! We don't call you high maintenance for nothing and you prove it every day of every year. We do love that about you and life would be so boring otherwise.You are so excited about our special days too and you could be a poster child for Hallmark! Birthdays, anniversaries, valentines day, mothers day, christmas, navarathri,... Name it and you are there 100% into it. Your enthusiasm is infectious and we all bend backwards to please you. And looks like, we always will.

This year has been totally glamorous, travel wise. San jose trip, Alaska cruise, Corsica, Ski trip to Solden, Bombay wedding, Milan and Gardaland, .. you do live the high life! You have had a terrific time everywhere. And your ballet school has an amazing show once in two years and this year you performed in six shows over two weekends in June. It was a 2 1/2 hours show with around 200 kids and you were in three group dances with costume change and everything. You had rehearsals every saturday and sunday for the last two months. And on wednesdays and fridays for a couple of weeks. You missed loads of play dates, birthday parties, .. You were tired and you complained. But you did nt give up. You worked hard, you enjoyed the rehearsals, you loved dancing in the show and were so proud of your accomplishment. We all were. These are the times I realize theres life beyond school and the commitment and responsibility, hard work and accomplishment is a lesson well learnt. Kudos to you, my little Ballerina! 

You have this amazing world inside your little head and you live in that little world of yours. Everything has to be fair, everyone has to be nice, every little thing has to be perfect and its always fun, fun and more fun there. You are always humming or singing or dancing or doing cartwheels and sometimes I am afraid to call your name and pull you away from that perfect world. You imagine a new world in every mundane thing. Rescuing the good potato person from the evil rasam rice, saving the soap bubble from the bad shower head, building a house made of grass for the ants, the tiny baby spider trying to find its mom,... Theres an interesting story behind every bug you see, every toy you have, every twig you find and every place you visit. Oh to be as young and as carefree as you! Though I am the stupid adult now, its so heartwarming to be part of your wonderful world once in a while and I will always cherish it. Keep dreaming, little girl!

Your friends mean the world to you. Your dad is your hero and your sister the boss. I am your universe and you will do anything for us. You are a proper Swiss who likes only freshly made bread, gourmet cheese and dark chocolate. You are a recent owner of a brand new swiss army knife (you assembled it on your own with your name engraved on it) which you always take with you on your hikes. You play outside snow or sun and speak Swiss German with an adorable accent. You are so funny and so practical. The other day I was brushing your hair and you were screaming bloody murder as usual. I asked you why you scream like that and you answered that it hurts. "Is it going to hurt any less if you scream, Antu?", I asked. "No, Amma. But you might stop doing it!", you replied. Jaw, drop and all that. But it is so you. Love you to bits, Pattu. Happy 9th birthday!

 Love,
அம்மா.

June 02, 2017

Baahubali.

I don’t think I will have any kind of closure until I put my thoughts into words and sent them away into the Internet Universe. I fell for Baahubali 2 hook, line and sinker and don’t know what to do with all the built up obsession and craziness that suddenly has engulfed my life. Flashback to July 2015, the kids and I were in India when Baahubali 1 was released and the husband watched it in Zurich with his friend and told me I have to watch it. I was a bit skeptical but went anyway to watch it with my mom leaving the kids home with my dad. Mom and I loved the movie and that was it. I might have watched the video of Manohari song one too many times after that but that was for the choreography. I did nt know who Prabhas was at that point of time. (ahem!) Did nt know the older Bhalla was Rana until the younger Bhalla showed up and I had goosebumps at Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj and Nassars acting and the whole story and music was fascinating. And then early this year, the whole Baahubali 2 release fever began and I was eagerly looking forward to the movie. The trailer was fantastic and I could nt wait! I listened to the songs a few weeks before the release and they were ok. And then the big day came. Hd and I decided to watch the part 1 the previous day and my kids who have almost never watched any Tamil or Hindi movie were invited to watch with us. 

Side note:
Ashu and Antu have never watched an Indian movie in the theatre or at home. Hd has always wanted them to watch Tamil movies so that they can speak the language better, know the celebrities (Rajini!) and enjoy Indian cinema. But for me, no movie seemed appropriate to show the kids. So I was always reluctant.  Then a few years back, Hd tried to show them Anjali movie but Antu walked away after a while and Ashu watched the whole thing and did nt say a word. Many people think that if there are kids in a movie, then kids can watch it. Sadly, Hd is one of them! Then last year, I chose Kaaka Muttai and we 4 watched it together. My kids have no cinema sensibility (gee! i wonder why!) and kept asking stupid questions and I swore I ll never watch any more movies with them. Then early this year, we watched English Vinglish together and it was fun. Even though Ashu thought I chose the movie to teach her a lesson about respecting mothers! So yes, thats a grand total of 2 1/2 Indian movies my kids have watched.
End side note.


I was afraid Baahubali 1 would be too much for an almost 9 year old Antu. She enjoyed the movie but went to sleep during the climax war scene. And had dozens of questions and doubts the next day. I think Ashu enjoyed the whole movie because I did nt hear or see any groans or eye rolls! And thats high praise from her! But like a true Bhagyaraj fan, I sent them to brush their teeth and change into pajamas when the Pachai Thee song came! Well, sue me! (What were you thinking, Mr. Rajamouli?) On 30th April, Hd and I left the kids home and went for an afternoon show of Baahubali 2. I knew I was going to love it but did nt think how much! I had this stupid grin in my face the entire time Amarendra and Devasena were in Kunthala desam! Died at the duos archery scene! Oh God, it was so beautifully choreographed! The action scenes were mind blowing and the songs were so good. But the drama, oh God, the drama. Has any woman character so strongly written before in the history of Indian movies? Sivagami and Devasena were amazing. Rajamouli totally redeemed himself for that song in the earlier movie. And Amarendra is going to be my favorite character for a long, long, long time! Is it the same Prabhas I watched in Part 1? I mean, how did I miss THIS guy in that movie? He was born to do this role, I believe. His acting, his costumes, his action, his romance, his walk, his SWAG! Sigh. I was afraid my heart was going to give away before the movie ended! I have always been a big fan of historical fiction from Sandilyan’s Kadal Pura days. Not to mention growing up with our good old Ramayanam and Mahabaratham. The unmatched bravery, the promises that have to kept at any cost, that one does nt give their word that easily but once they do, they will die trying to keep it. Theres something to be said about these things. Raja thandhiram, Por murasu, Kottai vaayil, Vyooham,… these words give me goosebumps anytime I hear them thanks to Sandilyan! (side note- did u know Sean Rolden is Sandilyas grandson?)


Hd and I came out with a "did we just watch an epic” look on our faces. I came home and Antu wanted the entire story to be told. Gave her bits and pieces of the story while I downloaded all the songs and have been listening to them non stop on a loop since that day. (not exaggerating!) Take a bow, Madan Karky! And Maragadhamani! Dude! Where were you all this while? As a die hard fan of Sangeetha Swarangal from Azhagan, I salute you! And then I read every review, watched every interview, trailer reaction, poster reaction, movie reaction,… And watched Chatrapathi, Bujjigaadu, Pournami, Darling, Mr.Perfect and Mirchi in less than a week and came to the conclusion that its not Prabhas but Amarendra and just to make sure, went to watch Baahubali 2 again the next weekend! This time with Ashu. I still felt Antu was too young and Hd and I had to fight out for who will take Ashu. My love for Amarendra won over his for Devasena. I thought Ashu should be part of this movie making history and this had to be watched in big screen. And her first ever Tamil movie in Big screen! Could anything else be more perfect? I enjoyed the movie even more this time. I don’t think I have ever watched a movie twice in the cinemas back to back! I sent a text message during the interval to Hd which was not appreciated at all! Well, I had to try!  (“Can you take up archery?”)

I watched Baahubali 1 again a few times and the scenes where Shivu is running towards Devasena to save her and then sees her in the chains! Man, what a scene! I did nt appreciate it the first time. But now knowing what we know about Devasena, it was an Oh My God moment! How did Rajamouli even conceive this scene? And him cutting Bhadras head while Devasena gives that now familiar smile? I wish I could watch both the movies together in a chronological order! It would be fantastic! Anyway, it has been a month and Im down to looking at photos and gifs from the movie and reading every bit that has been written about this movie. I don’t know what happened to me.  For the first time in my life, I feel the need for someone to delete my browser history if I die suddenly!


April 27, 2017

27.04.2017

Dearest Ashu,

Twelve! You are twelve! Only twelve more months to hang on to this special age before the dreaded word "Teenager" is used to describe you! Sigh. Enjoy this year and don't be in a hurry to grow up, ok? This is the year you have gone very quiet and opening your mouth only to demand or complain. You must have rolled your eyes more than a million times and I wonder how your eyeballs have nt fallen out of their sockets! *insert eye roll* And a total homebody. "Can I stay home?" is your favorite question! Closely followed by "Where are we going?" and "Do I have to come?" But of course, you have no problem getting ready to go out to meet your friends or walking the neighbors dog. Who am I kidding? You are already a teenager!

On the upside, you have become quite handy around the house though. You assembled your new ikea desk all on your own without any help. I was amazed! And putting up the Xmas tree, arranging the Golu steps for Navarathri, fixing a tear in my dress, crocheting, buying milk from the nearby shop, putting away the groceries, unloading the dishwasher, taking Antu to her swimming,... It's unbelievable! You made a pasta lunch for yourself and your sister when I was nt well and the other day when I was expecting guests, you chopped loads of veggies for me. I realize I have been expecting a lot from you the last two years because of your dads long commute and returning home late. But you have come through full and full and I am so proud of you. 

We have travelled a lot this year too and you loved Budapest and Corsica. Not to mention the Alaska cruise with your grand parents and uncle and aunt and the India trip to attend my cousins wedding. And we are in Verona on your birthday this year and I don't know about you but I feel you are the luckiest girl in the world. Every time you complain or whine about anything, I can't help but wonder what more can anyone want? But I guess whatever a parent does, its never enough for the child. You don't understand why I won't let you watch screen during school days. Why I won't let you buy chocolate from the nearest bakery even if its "your" money. Or the mother of all "why can't I have a phone!" Well, you are getting your dads old iphone this year finally and I can't think of anything to say other than, I trust you and use it well.

You got braces this year and took it in your own stride and even going to the dentist on your own when I could nt accompany you to some of the appointments. I ask you to proofread my written German and you have quite a laugh hearing me speak the language. Karma has strange ways to get back at you, I guess. If it was my moms English then, its my German now. You watch it girl! You are addicted to reading and Minecraft. We both enjoyed watching The Series of Unfortunate Events together on Netflix. You loved snowboarding this year too and continued your tennis and violin lessons without too much protest. You quit swimming lessons though you enjoy going to the pool now and then. Like I said, you are such a lucky girl. But I am luckier than you and feel blessed being a mother to you! Happy 12th Brithday, Chellam!

Love,
அம்மா.

March 13, 2017

How do I solve a problem like Ashu?

Every year Ashu does something really special and touching for my birthday and I tell myself that I should remember that moment of overwhelming love whenever I am upset or angry with her. But that never happens. 364 out of 365 days, I am impatient, angry, upset, mad, disappointed, etc...etc.. about one thing or the other. Things have been so bad with Ashu these last two years that I even told her 2 days earlier that I don't want her to do or give anything for my birthday and theres no point doing all these fake gestures when she has no respect for me and does nt listen to me and I even doubt if she likes me! (I am a harsh women. There, I said it!) I also warned the husband to make sure she does nt do anything for me. Yes, I spoke in anger but I somewhat meant it too. 

But since she does nt listen to anything I say anyway, as expected she shut herself in the kitchen and was doing something secretly during the weekend. I suspected she was baking a cake because Hd used to sneak out and come and ask me very quietly "what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder", "How many grams in 1 cup of butter", etc.. etc...!! Nambalaukku dhaan vandhadhum sari illai, vaachadhum sari illai!


So this morning dawned and Ashu was already in the kitchen and finally at 7.30 am a cake appeared on the table with fancy looking toast and I thanked them and then the kids went off to school and Hd to work. A friend took me out for breakfast and I had fun and came back in time to make a simple pasta lunch for the kids who come for lunch from school at 12 and go back again at 13.30. I told the kids I am not eating lunch since I had two breakfasts this morning and was going through the umpteen whatsapp groups to see who remembered and who forgot my birthday! (I am also a shallow woman!)

Ashu finished her lunch quickly and shut herself in the kitchen again and I was really curious on what she was doing now! She would nt even allow her sister inside when I sent Antu to spy on her. Uff! Finally 45 minutes later, she set the finished product on the dining table, said bye to me and ran off to school. I took one look and my jaw dropped! 










I hope this overwhelming feeling of love lasts more than 24 hours.

January 09, 2017

Winter Holidays and Another Year Gone By.

Half a school year is done and the girls are growing up too fast for me. Antu, who is into all things Christmas, made sure we buy a decent size Xmas tree this year and there begins a tradition! And she also kept nagging my sister and Bil to come visit us during Chirstmas and they landed exactly on 25th. We had fun skiing in Austria for a week. Ashu chose snowboading over skiing this year too and had loads of fun. Hd and I were much more comfortable skiing this year than the last but still I had this gripping fear of falling and getting hurt. Bil, the expert skier liked Solden very much and the girls had loads of fun skiing/snowboarding with him than their boring old parents!

Heres to a happy and fun 2017! 


August 22, 2016

Summer Vacation & another School Year.

Four glorious weeks were spent in sunny california and this trip coming after two years was a lot different. Girls are older, sis and bil have moved to a bigger house, parents were also there and it was nothing but fun. As always, we had a big jingbang group of 18 people flying from different parts of the US for an Alaska Cruise for 7 nights. Hd flew directly from Zurich to Anchorage, Alaska (where the cruise began) and flew back from Vancouver, Canada (where the cruise ended) If California was fun, this was mega fun! Kids had a blast. They did nt want to jump ship at any of the ports and wished the cruise was longer when it ended. Except for the trip in a Sea Plane, God knows why I chose to get in knowing my motion sickness, I had a fabulous time! The whale watching tour was the best part of the cruise for me. We saw a pod of humpback whales bubble netting and a humongous one breaching twice and it will be etched in my memory forever! Bil took a fantastic photo so I can see it in my old age to remind myself! Theres something to be said about animals in the wild! Sigh. I could spend the rest of my life whale watching, I tell you! Even the sight of a tiny bit of tail fin or the blow hole sent me into a frenzy and screaming "Whale Whale" on top of my lungs. Which will invariably matched by a even louder "Vetri Vel" from my annoying sister and an "Arogara" from the hubby! Idiots!



The other three weeks went in shopping, eating, more shopping and more eating. Kids were totally heartbroken to leave the two sets of doting people and came back on the plane with grumpy faces as if Im taking them as prisoners! Anyway, while still trying to beat jet lag for the past 3 days, kids began school today and Ashu is in 6th Grade, the oldest class in the school campus much to my shock! When and how did that happen? Antu moved to 2nd and suddenly I felt that she has grown up too much while she was standing next to the fresh off the boat first graders this morning! :( Another year of madness begins. And in this circus, I fell like I am the prisoner!

June 27, 2016

27.06.2016


Dearest Antu,

My 8 year old baby! Now I get why in almost every family, theres always an aunt whose nickname is Baby whatever old she is! The youngest in the household never gets old. Its a blessing and a curse. Ask me! But however annoying it is for you to be called a baby by everyone in this household, I will never stop doing it. So be warned. Whether you like it or not, you are special. Sometimes you complain that you are the odd one out in the family. "Why am I the only one who is left-handed, Amma?" "Why am I the only one who does nt wear glasses?" One day, I even found a note under your pillow begging Ganesha to make you wear glasses, being the drama queen that you are. This year, daddys girls kind of sort of leaned towards her mother and it felt like a sweet victory to me though it breaks your fathers heart. Well, no one can certainly take you for granted, thats sure. You sure keep us working. 

You are learning Piano this year and you love it. You love to dress up, sing, dance and read. And you are extremely imaginative when you are playing. You have a very nice singing voice and since I could nt find any suitable vocal music class for you, I signed you up for the local Choir group for kids and you had loads of fun this year with that group. Your school teacher also told me what a good singer you are and that you pick up lyrics very easily. Since your ballet school danced for some Mary Poppins song last year during the recital, you have listened to that soundtrack a hundred times and have memorized all the songs. You get deep into everything. You can’t just skim through books, movies, music, friendships,… You get into the bottom of it. You have a dozen follow up questions. You discuss it. You explain it. My god, its exhausting to just listen to you every day. I love it but its exhausting.

If theres one thing I will remember about you this year, it would be your laughter. You find everything funny. Every joke is hilarious. And your laughter is infectious. Your friends mean a lot to you and you tell me everything about them. “Don’t tell anyone, Amma but I have decided R is my BFF not A.” “I have a had a bad day today, Amma. R said she won’t play with me.” “Why are boys so mean, Amma? I hate them!”  “I like D and N though. Those two boys are ok”. And A who lives downstairs and her little sister are your constant playmates. You pretty much spend almost every evening in their house. As usual, Ashu means the world to you and even with all the fights, you can’t live without her. The one week she was in a school trip, you were miserable. You will do anything for your sister and Im amazed how strong your feeling are for her at such an early age. Tread softly, my dear.

The other day, I was in the middle of cooking dinner and you came to tell me something and I shooed you away. “But its very important, Amma”, you said. I panicked, switched off the music, switched off the stove, washed my hands and came and sat at the dining table and asked you to tell me what it was. “I have swimming class tomorrow at school and my teacher asked me to tie my hair for the swim class. Otherwise my hair comes to the front of my eyes. So tomorrow morning, you should tie my hair, ok? Don’t forget!” I just gave you a look and was about to yell at you. But the way you kept such a serious face and how sincerely you told me this information brought a smile to my face. Every little thing is extremely important to you. Whether its your stuffed toys feelings(!), or a slug on the walking path, they are equally important to you. Love you, baby.  Never change. Happy 8th Birthday!

Love,
அம்மா.


June 10, 2016

Budapest.

It was our 16th wedding anniversary on 5th June and we went to Budapest to celebrate it. A dear friend has lived in Budapest before moving to Zurich and she said 3 days will be perfect for the city trip and off we went. I know I am easy to please when it comes to places. Give me a museum, a cathedral, a park bench with a view and I am sold. But still I can't describe how beautiful Budapest is. I was not prepared at all and I fell head over heels in love with the city. As always, I had this unbelievable look in my face and wondering why we did nt plan a trip ages ago! Sigh. How is one to see all these beautiful places in one life time?

We reached our hotel in Buda on Saturday afternoon. Freshened up and got out to take a boat trip. We had a wonderful two hours taking in the sights. Found a cute vegan restaurant very near our hotel and ate an early dinner. And called it a day. Day 2, we would have walked about 10 kms and covered the castle hill with the Mathias church, fisherman's bastion and the castle. At the castle, during the changing of guards exactly at noon, one of the guards got on his knees and proposed to his girl friend with a ring and she said yes! A collective awwww from the huge audience. Of course, being our anniversary on that day, I got all romantic and locked eyes with the husband only to be getting a blank look back and he asks, "Whats happening? What is he doing? Who is that girl?" Sigh. 


Then we took the funicular down and walked on the historic chain bridge to go to the Pest side and visited the St. Stephens Basilica and climbed up for a spectacular view of the city. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant nearby with amazing food and the food was much much cheaper than the uber expensive Swiss! It rained a bit on that day but thankfully not much. We walked around some more and got back to our hotel. Ate a late dinner at a pancake place nearby and paid less than 10 euros after stuffing ourselves! Another reason to love the city, I tell you.

Day 3 was bright and sunny. We finally decided to try the public transport and bought a 24 hour family ticket and took the metro to Heroes Square. It was beautiful with a huge park nearby with so many statues, play areas, restaurants, etc... Then we took a metro to the Pest side and did a guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue which is one of the largest in the world. It was an interesting tour even for the kids. Then we had a late lunch at a Hungarian restaurant nearby and tried the famous Langos. The classic langos is fried dough with cheese and sour cream. Here, they served it with vegetables too. It was yum like bhatura. Only the chola was missing! :) 

After the heavy lunch, we decided to walk it off and walked to the Parliament. My god, what a beautiful building! It was even more breathtaking up close and after a million photos, we walked to the Margaret bridge and to the Margaret Island. It is a quiet hideaway from the city with a huge garden, a big fountain, lots of trees, cafes and lots of entertainment. There was a bubble making guy there and Antu had a blast catching bubbles. Ashu was busy eating ice cream cones one after the other as if there was a contest going on! We ate the classic Langos at one of the restaurants there and the kids loved it. Then we walked back to our hotel as it was getting dark and my God, what a magical view once the lights comes on! I had to be dragged to the hotel. I could have just stood at the Margaret bridge and looked at the spectacular view all night long!

Day 4 dawned and we took the metro to the parliament to see if we could visit inside but they were fully booked so we just walked around, went to the cathedral again to do some souvenir shopping and walked back to to the hotel to get our luggage and got to the airport and were back in Zurich for dinner. One more anniversary done and dusted. Blank looks not withstanding, I would travel to the end of the world and back if its with you, R. Heres to many more! :)

On guard duty.

A certain soon to be 8 year old is a little young to lock the bathroom door by herself but needs her privacy too. So what does she do?




May 08, 2016

Mother's Day.

A couple of weeks back, Antu and I were walking back home from somewhere and Antu said,

Amma, I want to tell you something very sad.
What Antu?
The new twins who have joined my school? A boy and a girl? you remember?
Yes Antu.
So we were all making mothers day card and the twins don't have a mother. She died. So they made a mothers day card for their father.
Oh my God, Antu. Thats is so sad!
I am so happy I have a mother, Amma. I love you. *hugs me with tears in her eyes*
I love you too, Antu.

Today when Antu gave a card and a book mark she made for me for Mothers day, I thought of the twins and what mothers day means to them and to so many other kids who don't have a mother. Broke my heart a bit. 

I read a quote that said "The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her". That broke my heart a lot more. Heres to all those kids who don't have a mother this mothers day. I wish I could hug them all.