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January 30, 2006

Century. Ton. Hundred. 100. Nooru.


Yes, this is my hundredth post and I also complete exactly 5 months today as a blogger. Seems like a lifetime though. Nothing has ever been so addictive and eaten up my time like this. It’s both scary and interesting at the same time.

I wanted to write something in 100 words to mark this day but I could nt manage. So here are the words. Just the words!

Boo. Blog. Pregnancy. Baby. Arushi. Ashu. Mother. Breast-feeding. Photos. Funny. Praveen. Stone. Dooce. Nithya. aNTi. Guru. Alpha. Gabby. Ammani. Dubukku. Kumbakonam. Dindigul. Coimbatore. Trichy. Madras. Bangalore. Bracknell. Croydon. Tirupur. Basel. Ponniyin Selvan. Kalki. Books. Roald Dahl. Stories. Dog. Labrador. Honey. Death. Grandpa. Old. Young. Teenage. School. Friends. Fun. Travel. Venice. Water. Pisces. Vegetarian. Salad. Greek. Santorini. Sunset. Beach. Sand. Castle. Queen. Hearts. Red. Black. Dark. Night. Stars. Wish. Egypt. Wilbur Smith. River God. Lostris. Beautiful. Life. Love. Sharing. Sweet. Chocolate. Lindt. Zurich. Swiss. Watch. Time.Fast. Train. Plane. Fly. Bird. Sky. Blue. Ink. Pen. Paper. News. Television. Time pass. Movies. Children. Animation. Monsters Inc. Favourite. Boo.

January 29, 2006

Surprise Galore!


Probably my dad knows about this blog and secretly wishes that I write about him. Yet another surprise visit. Yes, he arrived today morning. The fact is that my sis's husband/bil/jeeju/athimber is arriving today from SFO. His trip is official and he has to join office tomorrow and he even won’t stay at my place as it’s very far from his office. Dad is here to surprise him too as BIL specifically told his parents and my parents not to bother coming to Bangalore. But how can my dad not come to welcome his "Maapillai"(son-in-law). I should have expected him, if I knew any better. Sis is coming next weekend and after a brief time in Chennai, will come to Bangalore with her in-laws and our parents as well. So our house is going to be JJ (Tamil slang for crowded) for 2 weeks! Yippee!! :)

January 27, 2006

Ni9e is not as cool as Se7en. Duh!

Ashu is 9 months old today. Girl, now you can go back into my tummy again. I would take those 9 months any day!

I bet this is how Sania Mirza would ve looked like when she was 9 months old! :) Possibly Serena Williams designed the dress!!

Happy Birthday Girl! 3 more months and it will actually be your happy Birthday. Gosh, don’t grow up so fast. What's the hurry?

January 26, 2006

Happy Republic Day.


"Thou Brave, be One! Behold, take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian and Proudly proclaim “I am an Indian. Every Indian is my fellow mate” – Swami Vivekanand.

I have taken a Republic Day resolution to watch the Republic Day Parade in DD like we used to do before the invasion of Cable TV and restrain myself from the "kuthu paatus" and other celebrity shows in the Tamil TV channels, however tempting(!) they are. On this note, I applaud all the Hindi channels for resuming their usual weekday telecast unlike the Tamil channels with their re-telecast of all the old Diwali/Pongal programmes and trying to make this day "special". How pathetic!

January 25, 2006

Dinner and 'A' movie.


When I went to Madras this time, we went out for dinner to a club by the side of the Koovam! (Did they anticipate the river's fate and named it thus?) They were playing the movie "Salaam Namaste" in the open-air theatre in the club. HD and I were interested only in the food and with Ashu, we can’t sit for a movie anyway. So we went, we ate and we left and thankfully this time Ashu slept the whole time! Anyway, there was this group of people sitting in the next table and a young girl of about 10 years was with them. But she went out of the dining area and was watching the movie and only came in occasionally to join her family and munch something before going out again. I overheard the mother of the girl telling the group, "Oh! She wants to watch the movie. There are some beautiful locals in the movie and she loves beautiful places. She never wants to leave them. So that’s why she’s not joining us at the table." After a while my FIL and I go out to see if the Buffet is ready and catch the movie on the screen for a couple of minutes. Saif and Preity are at it. A steaming love scene. It was nt vulgar though. Beautifully taken. But still it was a steaming love scene. And this girl was standing under a tree and watching the movie while her proud mom was eating inside. And there were some grand moms and grand dads with their grand children watching the same movie. I am not passing any judgment here but I would like to say something – Oh, I forgot! I am not passing any judgment here! :)

January 24, 2006

Travelogue - Part 2.

Click for Part 1 & Part 3.


In Jan 2003, inspired by my friend’s trip to Tanzania the previous year, we (read as 'I') do a lot of research (read as 'copy friends itinerary') and land in the Kilimanjaro airport. My mom, the travel freak, joins us too. We skip the trekking up Kilimanjaro part from my friend’s itinerary and do only the safari part. We covered Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire national parks. One word - out of the world! (Well, make it 4 words!) The whole trip was so fantastic that I can never ever justify it in words. Period.
Tip - What are you waiting for? Pack your bags!
ps. Can you spot the lioness in the photo?

A month later, we travel to UK again. The usual parents, in-laws, sister, friends’ routine follow and we buy a family annual pass at the Wax museum. In May 2003, we travel to Germany. Berlin and Munich. Neushwanstein Castle blows me over. Dachau Concentration camp chokes me. I loved every bit of Germany. An ugly beggar says Namaste and follows me for hours and asks if HD is my brother. By the time I tell my friends and sister about it, he starts looking like Denzel Washington!
Tip - Go in the peak season. We went in May and we were the only tourists walking on the roads and it felt weird carrying our bulky backpacks and cameras among the local crowd!

In March, I travel to the land of dreams USA. For a very long time, Foreign meant America to me and my sister was living there for 5 years and I was dying to visit her. So I travelled alone to SFO from London and the one month I was there has to be the best month of my life! It was like being with my sis again like we were a decade ago. Less fights this time! With 3 more friends(without our hubbies), drove to LA and SanDiego and had a blast. Best weekend of my life. Sadly, it was to be our last girls-only trip as all of our husbands realized what a huge mistake they did by letting us go! :)
Tip - Chuck the husband while visiting sister if you want to stay for more than 2 days and have more fun!

(To be contd...)

January 23, 2006

Sandhu was 13 when she discovered the joys of exaggeration


If you are nt the Queen of Quick Tales, Ammani's reader already, this information is for you. She gave an opening line, 'Sandhu was 13 when she discovered the joys of exaggeration' and asked her readers to complete the story and send her. Mine was one of the stories that got posted in her blog. I am all teeth. :) Below is my story. Check out here for all the stories.

Sandhu was 13 when she discovered the joys of exaggeration. She got more friends in school, her parents gave her more attention and for once she got more listeners than her sister did. She was thrilled to be popular. Her trip to her native village during the summer holidays became a trip to Kerala when she told about it in school. Her consolation prize in essay competition at school became first prize with an Eagle diary (stolen from Dads cup board!) at home. She got a new cousin who sent her chocolates from America and a pen (boy) friend from Australia. Strange but true, she started believing what she said and the imaginary world she was creating to gain attention was very soon becoming her real world. It was hard to keep up with the lies and she spent lot of time thinking about new ones and not to get caught with the old ones. Sometimes she wondered if people knew what she was doing and were just playing along to keep her happy. The thought made her sad. But there was no stopping her. Nothing yet!

Cheats!


Yesterday after seeing off my parents, we went shopping. And then to a petrol bunk to fill up the car. HD says "500 rupees" and the guy is writing a bill standing near the driver’s side while I look at the young boy setting the machine to Rs.500 and filling up. Ashu starts fiddling and I am taking care of her while HD asks me to check the reading. I turn and in a fraction of second, the boy resets the reading and I am doubtful. HD asks me again if the reading was correct and I say it said Rs.424 before the boy reset it. HD gets out of the car in a rage and I ask the boy why he reset the machine and accuse him that he has filled up for only Rs.424. The boy mumbles something and walks away to the back of the station and the guy who made the bill tells us that we are wrong. HD is furious and screams that he is going to the police. I am literally shaking. I tell the guy that he was nt looking and has no right to interfere and to call that boy who filled up. But he keeps saying that there is no problem. Then I ask him to show the last reading. He mumbles that there’s some voltage problem and he ll check out and presses a button. Rs.424 is displayed on the screen and HD is so mad that he is about to hit the guy. The guy mumbles again that it was a voltage problem and fills up for Rs. 76. HD and I are absolutely stunned. VOLTAGE PROBLEM? We shout some more and I went and told the boy what I think of him.
So people in Bangalore, do check the reading carefully when you are filling gas and stay away from this place:


Hymaesh Filling Station,Dealers in IBP Co. LTd,
#682, Sarakki Layout,
100ft. Ring Road,
JP Nagar 2nd phase,
Bangalore - 560 078

Visitors.


My dad, mom and FIL were here this weekend. Probably I should nt have told them I like surprise visits. Dads trip was official, Mom came to attend a wedding and FIL said he has some work but they were only a couple of phone calls. (Which he could nt have made from Madras itself?) But we all know the real reason behind all their trips, don’t we? Ashus charm is working wonders on them and she has literally twisted them around her fingers. So let me ask my most repeated question in this blog - What’s with the grand parents? Why are they going bonkers over this kid? I guess it will take at least another 30 years for me to know the answer with some personal experience!

January 18, 2006

Big Boo.

She is Harichandran's female version. I lie at the drop of a hat. She keeps things safely. I am accident-prone and always break or lose things. So Mom and Dad always believe her and take her side every time. It’s the price you pay for lying. No one believes you even at the rare times you tell the truth. So even when Miss. Perfect rarely made a mistake, she was easily forgiven without even a reprimand while I had to go through a painful lecture of how to be responsible and how money does nt grow on trees. So this one time we had a fight. I wanted to read her secret diary that she kept in a locked cupboard. The lower half of the cupboard shelves was mine (we took turns and after a couple of months, I get the upper half!) and I wanted to open the lock. But the number lock was on my way and she would nt tell me the combination. Suddenly I remembered that there was a small key with the 3-digit number to open the lock was kept in the top shelf of the living room showcase. By a freaky coincidence, She remembered it the same moment and we both rushed to the hall from our room. I pulled a chair and stood on it and tried to take the key while she climbed on the same chair and tried to grab the key from my hands.

CRACK! A noise and the chair bends and we both fall down. To my horror, the aluminum-folding chair had cleanly broken. It was one of the four chairs we had bought in New Delhi a year back for Rs.100 each and hauled it with us to our hometown traveling for more than 24 hours and 14 pieces of luggage. I knew I was as good as dead. I have broken more than my share of things at the house but nothing as "valuable" and as "precious" as this! ("Comfortable, no? We bought it in Delhi for so cheap!" - Priceless) And the fact that She also had a hand in this is not going to affect the outcome one bit as She is the good one. She will escape. As a 10 year old, I could think of only one thing - to run away from home. As if to seal my fate, She says, "Wait till Dad comes home from office. You are gone!" I quiver and do what every self-respecting girl would do in that situation. Beg her! "Please, don’t tell Dad! He would kill me. Especially if someone has told him how to do his job at office today. Please don’t tell him I did it." She does nt reply. I go and sulk in my room and then go to sleep. Forget homework, I am not going to be alive tomorrow to go to school anyway! I get up and Dad is already home and She had the first say. Oh God, I ve dug a deeper hole for myself! Nothing happens when Dad sees me. Nothing. Everything seems normal. I am confused. Before I open my mouth to say "Its all her mistake", She silences me with a look and we both go out of Dads earshot and She tells me that she has saved my ass this time and to be eternally thankful for it and to go and do my homework. Then Mom tells me, "Poor She. She had stood on the chair and it broke. Thankfully nothing happened to her. Where were you while this happened anyway?" I am dumbstruck. Though I am furious that She escaped without a scrape, I am thankful to her deep down.

And that was nt the only time She had saved my skin. She has always been there for me and without her, my life would nt have been this easy.

Thank you Sister for everything you have done for me and have a wonderful Birthday. This post is for you! :)

Krishna.

Ashu looks at the Lord Krishna picture at home when asked, "Where’s Krishna?". She looked at the Krishna statue and a painting when asked the same question when we were at my parents place. Then we went to Madras and asked her "Where’s Krishna"? Before I pointed at the Krishna photo on the wall, she looked up and searched in different directions before seeing the photo and smiling at it. We were stunned. I thought it might have been a coincidence and tried again. She saw the photo again. In a friend’s house, she searched for a photo everywhere when we asked her. There were some other pictures but she did nt stop at them. She also looks at the ceiling when asked, “Where’s the fan?” but not every time. She does nt respond for any other questions like where’s amma or where’s appa. It’s really amazing. I don’t know if its all the more eerie because its God Krishna’s photo. But it’s really hard to explain as she’s too little to associate things and remember them especially since it’s not the same photo everywhere. They are different pictures of Krishna. Sometime she gives a lovely smile and says "Kaa" looking at the photo and I get goose bumps. I would give anything to know what’s going on in that little mind of hers!

She also said "Mamamama" for the first time yesterday after months of Thatha, Kaka, tata, dada, etc.. and a few “papapa”. I can’t explain how exciting it was to hear her say that for the first time. And when she saw her father after 2 weeks in Chennai, she crawled up to him in fast forward and hugged his legs. For the whole day she was following him wherever he went like a puppy. I would change her potty diaper all her life for that. So why would nt HD do it even for one day?

January 17, 2006

Travelogue - Part 1.

Click for Part 2 & Part 3.

Since I started this blog a little late and could nt brag about my travels then and there, here’s a very brief summary of the travelogues. People who have already been bombarded by very long narrative of my travelogues through emails, please do not read further. I said no further. Stop. Here.

The rest of you poor souls and the stubborn people who did nt stop with the previous paragraph, here goes my ramblings...

I did nt know I liked travelling until I boarded my first flight to the Andamans for my honeymoon! I don’t remember much of the trip and I ve conveniently buried the photo album 6 feet under. (Thank God we did nt ve digicams then!)


The second time I boarded a plane, I was alone and had quit a job to fly to the UK to join HD. My first trip abroad and UK is still my best place to live and I made absolutely fantastic memories living there. We travelled in and around London like it was our last day on Earth. Also made a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.
A must-not-see tip (MNST) -> Edinburgh Dungeon



Like everyone who has a visa for more than 6 months in UK, our first trip was to Switzerland as we don’t have to get a visa. We went in November and the weather was surprisingly beautiful. Sunny days with enough snow to play around, who needs heaven? I did nt want to leave Swiss. Little did I know that my wish was going to come true and I would be living in Swiss for 2 years. I went up the Jungfrau joch more number of times than Tirupati! Lesson learnt: Be careful of what you wish for!
MNST - Are you kidding me? This is Swiss. Hole up in the hotel room and you will still love it! :)

The xmas long weekend of 2001 took us to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Since it was winter, we did nt visit Disneyland and the Versailles palace in Paris and I had a long face till we reached home back to UK. Since I had not learnt the lesson I mentioned in the previous paragraph, God decided to laugh at my expense. We had a surprise long weekend for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June and we went to Paris again for 3 days. Had my hearts fill of the city. Fast forward 2 years to April, 2004 when we were living in Basel, Swiss. Paris was 5 hours by train and I took my parents on a 3 days trip. HD wisely did nt join us. 3 months later, the in-laws come and we go to Paris again. If anyone of you looking for a cheap guide for Paris, you have my email id!
MNST -> Run if you hear the name Hotel Bellevue. (Very bad experience!)


We also travel to Italy for Easter holidays. Venice becomes by most favourite city in the world. (Till this day.) Though Rome was nt built in a day, we see it in a day. (Really a stupid thing to do!) A look at the Leaning tower at Pisa and I stopped at mid-sentence! (I was trying to say, what’s the big deal about a leaning tower?) The Duomo at Florence left us speechless and a few hours in Milan made me feel right at home as it was like walking in the crowded streets of Trichy being felt upon by perverted old men! They are everywhere I guess! Did nt do anything as I have seen more than my share of Italian Mafia movies!

Tip - Everything you heard about thefts in Italy is true. Be paranoid. Very paranoid.

End of UK trip. Going to every dear place (mostly restaurants!) and saying my goodbyes and leaving for India.


(to be contd...)

January 16, 2006

Back.

Home sweet home! How much ever fun you have else where, it's always good to be back home is nt it? Ashu got some mosquito bites while in Madras and developed rashes and boils on her face and hands. It is horrible. Took her to the pediatrician today and the doctor said its because of allergy (to mosquito bites) and prescribed syrup (Alerid) and lotion (Lacticare). It's heart breaking to see the swelling and boils in her hands. But glad that it is nt anything serious. Strange how Bangalore mosquitoes did nt have this effect on Ashu! Another reason to avoid going to Madras if you know what I mean!

January 12, 2006

Time to pack my bags.


I am going to Chennai tonight and then to Bangalore from there on Sunday. Almost 3 weeks of "sitting on my bum" blog hopping and watching TV has come to an end. Today I woke up and remembered I have a daughter to take care of and a husband who still believes I ll take care of him! So Auf Wiedersehen. Let me go and pretend to be a good girl for 3 days in Chennai(In-laws, you see!) and then do the "sitting on my bum" blog hopping and watching TV while taking care of my daughter and husband bit in Bangalore! :)

Wishing you a happy and prosperous Thiruvadharai, Boghi, Pongal, Kaanum Pongal, Maattu Pongal and Thiruvalluvar's day! (Wherever applicable!)

January 10, 2006

These are the few of my favourite things. (With a twist!)

No. This is not a mushy mushy post with a list of things that make me happy. In real world, things don’t happen that way. So here goes my list of favourite things with a not-so-favourite twist.

~> Eating hot Pakoras with a loved one on a rainy day when I have to make the Pakoras!

~> Cuddling up on the couch with my hubby watching a favourite movie when I hear snoring!

~> Kissing the baby on the tummy and smelling her sweet smell, when she farts!

~> Winning a heated argument and then having to eat my own words.

~> Coming back from a long vacation to home sweet home and having to cook with a dead tongue!

~> Listening to a favourite song for months and then seeing SJ Suryah dance (!) to it.

~> Making perfect round chapathis and having to serve them to HD to show off and keeping rectangle shaped ones for me.

~> Buying hot peanuts from the street vendor and eating them out of the paper cone. And the last peanut I put into my mouth is rotten!

~> One of the rare times HD and I get time to play a board game and HE wins!

~> Getting fabulous ideas to blog about just before I go to sleep and completely forgetting them the next day.

~> Laughing out loud at "Everybody loves Raymond" Ray do something stupid and then Bam! it happens to you and is not funny anymore!

~> When some loved one and I think exactly the same thing and s/he says it aloud first and all I can say is "damn. I thought exactly the same thing" while s/he gives me a knowing look! (I swear I did!)

~> When someone pick a quarrel with me and I think of a fantastic, irrefutable rebuff but like clockwork it always comes to me exactly 24 hours later!

~> Getting my hair cut, eyebrows trimmed, hands waxed, manicure and a pedicure and walking like a Miss. World back home when HD asks, "Too crowded? You did nt get an appointment?"

~> Writing what I think is the best of my posts and then having no comments! :)

January 06, 2006

Popularly known as...


If you have been reading this blog and think that I am a controlling wife and have a darling husband, have we met? No? You came to this conclusion entirely by reading my blog? Really? There! I have screwed up yet again! And this time we have nt even met and I have done the damage!

The root of my character assassination started even before I was born. Three years prior to my birth to be exact. That’s when my sister came into this world! From kindergarten to 5th standard, I was the geek’s sister. The geek who topped her class all the time, the geek who always won the first prize in elocution and essay competitions, the geek who won in dance and drama competitions too! So every teacher wanted me to be like the geek. The only times I climbed on the stage and won prizes were consolation/participation certificates.(I ve truckloads of them! No one can say I did nt try!) Also the times my sis passed out of the school and was still receiving prizes and I climbed the stage to receive them on her behalf! I was very proud of her! Did I mention I was also very naive then? Not so much later because I started becoming jealous! There was always comparison. She the outgoing, me the reserved. She the genius, me the dumbo. She the honesty-reincarnated, me the lying brat! She the school topper, me the just-pass. She the responsible, me the unruly,.. The list goes on! But being the youngest has its own perks and I thrived on those!

I thought I would find some solace when I joined a different school in 6th standard. But little did I realize that this world is full of geeks! Did you have a gal in your class who was neither the topper nor a dumbass? Who was teachers pet but not popular among girls? Whose hand was always on the air ready with an answer, a miss know-it-all? Always a group leader but never the class leader? Who had a different close friend each year? Well, well, well - we went to the same school after all! Yes, that’s me! Just when the teachers think I am a bright student, I ll flunk in an exam. Just when the girls think I’m out of the competition, I ll bounce back with a 100% in Math. I surprised myself more than the others, actually! And my dad signed my report cards without any fuss every time! (One of the aforementioned perks!) Thus ended 3 years and we moved to a different town. I can start afresh. I can get a new attitude. I will use my charm and become popular in this school. I ll lose my half-baked character. One month into my new school with my new alter-ego and God plays a cruel joke on me. The geek sister had to join the same school after topping the school, street, town, district, etc... in her SSLC exams! In a minute, she becomes the darling of the school and me - the infamous geek’s sister! 2 years of this shit and she passes her 12th board exams with yet another district first in her pocket and a big lump in my stomach! (The lump came out only after a decade along with Ashu!)

The next two years were nt so bad except that I found my close friend, Vee in a geek! Also, she had a brand new bike! (Sunny!) We became the inseparables. She was the darling of the class. The generous, helping, sharing girl while I was the selfish, snotty, "what does Vee see in her" girl! The fact that I won’t share my homework with anyone and that I would report anyone copying in the exams did nt get me much votes. (The fact that I copied from Vee during the exams notwithstanding!)

Then came 3 years of undergrad. Every time I vowed to myself that I would turn a new leaf and be different this time and be the darling. But the geeks beat me to it everywhere. Our group was always the popular one in the school/college but as an individual I always came in 2nd, 3rd or sometimes 47th. No one can say I did nt chose my friends wisely. Staying in a hostel was a new experience. But if you don’t share your lemon pickle, you are out of the league! You will never become the hostel representative or the class rep. But at least I got to finish the whole bottle of pickle all by myself! Not everyone who has stayed in a hostel can say that about themselves, can they?

Post-grad! At last God took mercy on me and clouded my dad’s judgment and made him agree to let me go to a co-ed college. Boys loved me. I knew I should ve studied in a co-ed school all along. I hate you dad for wasting a decade of my life trying to win over girls. Never knew boys were so easy. All I had to do was talk to them and I was treated like a princess. The fact that I talked to all the boys made me a bitch but this time in a completely different context. I did nt care. I was popular!

Then came the most important phase of any women’s life! Marriage. If you lose here, you are doomed. I knew that. I had learnt that lesson all my life and from my sis's life too. So I was treading carefully. During the entire 10 months of our engaged period, it worked beautifully. I could see a change in myself. I was proud of myself. HD felt blessed. The moment we get married, out comes the monster in me and HD absolutely becomes the nightmare of my life. The quiet, never gets angry, putting up with monsters type of a guy! And the whole world comes to know of it in a matter of seconds. Every one who knows me sympathizes with HD and everyone who knows HD says I am lucky to get a guy like him. Where were you people before we got married? Even people who we hardly know and new friends get the message. Husband - sweet. Wife - controlling. If the roles were reversed, no one even gives a thought about it. That’s normal.

I did nt even try this time. I knew it was bound to happen. People have already started saying "Poor Ashu". The fact that I can't even win against
something which came out of my tummy (along with a lump) proves what I am trying to say all this while - I am like this only!

January 03, 2006

Once upon a time in Boodom...


Few years back, when we were living in the UK, HD had to go to work on a Saturday to London. We lived an hour from London in a small town. We planned to meet in London in the evening. I decided to do some shopping and left the house in the afternoon. As soon as I closed the front door, I realized I ve left the key inside. I had locked myself out and HD with a spare key was away. He had switched off his mobile as he was in a training all day long. I came out of the shock and proceeded to catch the train. I did nt carry a mobile then. So every hour, I called HDs mobile from the pay phones and his phone was always switched off. Anyway, we had planned to meet at 6 pm at the Waterloo station, so off I went to British Museum to spend some quality time without HD breathing down my neck! (Why men are so interested in visiting museums but not on seeing anything inside actually beats me!)

At 6 pm, we met and I told him how I was stranded in the middle of the street (nadu therula ninnen!) all because he had to work on a Saturday. My strategy of "blame him for everything" worked! (Also we were still in the newly-weds category!) We grabbed some dinner and watched the play, "Mousetrap". It was our first play and we enjoyed it immensely. By the time we came back to the station, it was 11pm. The last train to our place was at 11.30 and since we had 30 mins to spend, we quarreled. Over what, I don’t remember now. (The reasons are always silly the next day!) I stopped talking to him and started walking towards the platform. I thought he was following me and as the train arrived, I climbed in. I took a seat and then realized HD was nt there. I looked out of the window and could nt see him. Since it was the last train, I did nt want to climb out and told myself that HD would climb in too if he had sense. The train started moving and I started to panic. I thought probably HD was sitting in another compartment and walked the entire length of the train amidst drunkards but did nt see him. For the entire hour of the journey, my heart was beating faster and I did nt know what to do. I got down at my stop and walked home only to find that I did nt ve the key. Hd had it. It was almost 1 am and cold and I sat on the door step. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to call any of our friends and it was late in the night anyway! After a while, I heard the phone ringing inside and knew it was HD calling. Probably he forgot that I did nt ve the key. I called him from a nearby phone booth but the mobile was still switched off. So I just sat and waited near the front door. At 3.00 am, a taxi stopped in front and HD got down. I got up. He completely ignored me, opened the door with his key, and went inside to get some money to pay off the taxi. He came in after paying and asked me, "Are you alright?" I said, "You came by taxi? How much?" He gave me an unbelievable look, took my bag and opened it. The switched off mobile phone was in my bag all this time! More trouble at Boodom! "Why did nt you get inside the train? You knew it was the last train, right?” I asked. "I was looking for you. I did nt see you climb in and thought you were standing somewhere else. If you were on the train, good. But if you were on the station, and I took the train, it was unimaginable. That’s why I did nt take the train", said He. Oh, he had sense alright! I tried to say Sorry but it sounded lame. We went to sleep.

I am still paying him off the taxi debt.

January 01, 2006

01.01.2006

Since the time I remember, we used to go to the Uppili Appan temple near Kumbakonam (Kmu) every New Year’s day. After we moved out of Kmu, my dad and mom continued the tradition. If not my mom, then my dad would go. He has done it every year without fail for the past 25 years, I guess. When we were young, my sister and I used to get up at 3 am, take a shower, wear a new dress and watch my mom draw Kolam (Rangoli) as it was the Marghazhi month. She used to put huge color kolams and we would watch fascinated. My dad would always play the song "Happy little children" on the record and we used to dance around the pillars. New Year was extra fun as it had no religious customs and we were free to do anything we wanted. We would take a taxi (written "Vaazhga Valamudan" - Live prosperously - in the back) and go to the temple. Meet lots of our friends there; come back an hour later after visiting the temples on the way back home. My sis and I used to count the number of Star shaped lanterns on the way and compete on whose side had more stars. I cried if I counted less. While we came back, I insisted I sit on the other side as it had more stars and still lose as I would be still on the same side. Silly Me! We will come back home to some steaming hot Idlis and my dad would answer every phone call with a "Happy New year" instead of a Hello. New Year day was great because it was also Half-yearly holidays for schools and when the school re-opened in the first week of Jan, we can wear the new dress on the first day. After more than a decade, I am back in Kmu this year. Its bringing lots of memories back to me. Since we did nt want to disturb Ashu in the early hours of the day, I stayed back home with her while my parents and HD went to the temple. HD came back and told me, “Your dad asked me to count the stars on the way. Is he alright?"

Happy New year everyone! May the best of 2005 follow you into 2006.